Arriving in Uganda

Submitted by: Ron Smith - August 13th, 2015

 

UgandaShapeFlagEditors Note: The following report from Uganda was received several days after it was written.

By Karlie Storkson

Hey everyone! We are alive and in Uganda! It has been a crazy whirlwind of travel and beginning to experience Africa! We spent too many hours to count in airplanes and airports. We flew from LAX to New York. New York to Amsterdam. Amsterdam to Rwanda. And then finally to Uganda. We left at 5:00 a.m. from Santa Barbara on Thursday the 6th and arrived in Kampala, Uganda at our hotel at 11pm on the 7th. Needless to say, we were exhausted. But in Warrior Basketball fashion, we were up at 7:15 am the next morning for conditioning. We wanted to run off the jet lag and ensure we were in shape to play the Ugandan National Team..

After our conditioning on day one, we visited a slum called Bwaise where we were able to put on a basketball clinic. This was our first interaction with a large amount of Ugandans and it was memorable. We taught kids on a large dirt field how to dribble and pass, from the age of five up through high school. After, Morgan Haskin, Aimee Brakken and I shared our testimonies with different age groups of the kids we were with. Sixteen kids came to Christ in Aimee’s group. Praise God! After sharing smiles and photos and hugs we had to leave in order to get to our second slum visit of the day.

Our second stop was the Katwe slum in Kampala. Here we visited the Sport Outreach International’s (SOI) chess academy started by Robert Katende. It was inspiring to hear from the chess students about how chess had made an impact on them to be able to have the confidence in their day to day lives and challenges. We responded by sharing what basketball has done in our lives.

Later that night, we had time as a team to journal and worship and process our day together. We questioned how we fit into this place as well as what to do with the relationships we get to engage in here. We then ate dinner and then settled down into our rooms for a time of debriefing with our roommates and rest for the evening.

Day two began with breakfast and then we took a long ride to an area outside Kampala where SOI is going to be holding a future ministry center. Robert showed us around where the houses for kids will be, the basketball court, volleyball court, soccer pitch, and building for holding chess tournaments. We were wowed by the beauty and cleanliness of this area in comparison to the slums we had visited the day before. Robert plans to host dozens of kids for around eight years at a time to empower them to be able to be successful in life. They will be able to be removed from the slums and cared for and loved at this facility. Praise God for Robert’s vision and faithfulness and the plan enacted for these kids.

After praying over the future ministry center we were off to church in Kawempe. We walked into a cool open building and were greeted by angelic singing by some ladies leading worship. Next thing we knew there were older teens doing a fun tribal/hip hop dance as worship. Again we were wowed. This was not church we were used to but it was incredible to see people so free in their worship. After being warmly greeted by the Ugandans in the church after the sermon, we were able to head back to the hotel for lunch. We then had a little bit of down time before we headed off for practice.

We practiced at Makarere university, the largest public university in Uganda. There was a catch to this practice though, it was on an outdoor court. We had the court, which was graced with a faded sprite logo, and a scout team consisting of our sports outreach ninja Cat, spiritual guru Kristen and team BFF Jenny. We had to execute and make shots on a crooked rim with the sun beating down on us. We even had some spectators who came and watched our practice. One of them happened to be the university coach from the college and he was asking coach tons of questions after our practice. We are absolutely stoked for the opportunity to be playing the game we love half-way around the world. In the words of my roommate Aysia Shellmire, “we are so blessed” to be able to do that.

We ended day two with worship and debrief time and then headed off to bed in order to be able rest up for our game the next day!

Your prayers have been felt and answered for travel mercies and a great experience so far! Coach is the only one who has gotten sick so prayer for her healing as well as continued protection over our bodies is essential.

Our lives our never going to be the same. Here’s to more adventures!