Well it seems pretty crazy to think that we’ve actually been back from Uganda for a few months now; it’s been even more insane thinking how different things will be now for both the team and for the kids back in Uganda, as we get back to doing what we normally do.
I think everyone in the team was extremely excited to go to out Uganda (I mean, Africa, come on) but I don’t think any of us really anticipated just how much of the heart and soul of the people of Africa that we would bring home with us.
Everyone we met whilst working in Kiti Parents School were such passionate followers of Jesus and you could see so clearly that they depend on Him, every single day, because they were constantly thanking and praising Him. This thankful attitude reflected in the way the kids acted as they were all so humble, yet so excited about life! I think for the team this, alongside their joyful style of worshipping, was enormously encouraging to see, as these kids are the next bunch of Christians to go out into the world and to see that the love they have for their Saviour is real and tangible was amazing. It really was.
I think I can safely say on behalf of the team, that our mission trip to Uganda was one we’re not going to forget in a hurry. We saw God’s love in a way that you just wouldn’t see in Norn Iron, because we witnessed a people eager for it. We hardly stopped smiling the whole time (except Michael Wray who has a grumpy resting face) and that’s purely because the children give you so much to smile about. We honestly loved every second so thanks to everyone who helped us get there because it was incredible.
(written by Saz Monty)
The time is one thirty in the morning. The location; Bihor County, North West Romania, and as we stand under the stars of a clear night sky, I (and I suspect many others) truly learn the meaning of the phrase “leaving with a heavy heart”. In the very early hours of Saturday the 26th of July, the High Kirk Romania team said their last goodbyes to the Smiles Centre and set off on the long journey home, and as I started to embark on what would become the most uncomfortable bus journey of my life, it hit me; our adventures in Romania had come to an end.
Since that last emotional night in Romania, we have all returned home safe and sound to our families. I imagine that we have all re adjusted to life back in Northern Ireland, and that we have grown familiar with “home comforts” once again. However, as I write this and look outside I can’t help but wish for one of the Smiles staff to suddenly appear and take me on another trip into Bihor County. I suspect many of my team share the same sentiments, and for good reason.
From the 19th to the 26th of July our 10 strong mission team was given the opportunity to witness and take part in the work of the Smiles Foundation. It was truly a blessing and an unforgettable life experience. We were challenged by the most desperate and hard hitting examples of poverty, and given hope by the positive impact that the good work of the Smiles Foundation is having on these people. We saw families and individuals living in harrowing situations, but took heart in the fact that the children still had hope and joy in their lives and still had a chance to have better futures for themselves. We were impacted by the social injustices we encountered, but took strength in the fact that God was working in the lives of the people we encountered and through the good works of the Smiles team.
Throughout our time in Romania, last July, I was often reminded of the following verse:
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV)
With this in mind it would be my wish that we would continue to pray for the work of Smiles so these aims can continue to be achieved in Bihor County.
Of course, our team wouldn’t have been able to take part in this wonderful experience all by our own efforts. As a team we would like to extend our most sincere gratitude to all of the parents, High Kirk Church, The Smiles Foundation, and all of those who supported us and donated to our fundraising efforts. Without your support, none of this would have been possible.
I sincerely hope that our mission trip will not be our last encounter with Smiles, and that one day we will get to visit and serve God in the wonderful Bihor County once more. I also pray that God continues to challenge and develop the team in the future in the way that he has done throughout the entire trip. Perhaps one day we will be fortunate enough to return, but until then, it’s over and out from us here at Team Romania
God has big plans for his church. He sees the church as the primary means of bringing his kingdom reign into the lives of people. However too often the church seems to be ineffective in bringing that change into the world. We are not good at being salt and light. But God persists with his plan despite our failings. Perhaps one of the reasons why we are not as effective as we could be is because we ignore a simple channel for growth, meeting together in small groups.
God has made us to be relational creatures: the phrase “it was not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) not only applies to Adam and Eve and a marriage context but to all of life. John Donne said it another way – “no man is an Island entire of itself”. We need each other: we are better together.
Many churches like ours have small groups, but many churches like ours, find that the majority of their membership are not in small groups.
We would love to see this change because we believe that as we share life together with others it makes a difference and helps us to be better disciples. Not that small groups in themselves are the answer, it is what we do in them that counts.
In this series through Sunday mornings in September we are exploring the benefits of being part of a small group of people sharing life together. We see that the small group can improve our reach into the world, help to answer our questions, enable us to care for each other and, of course, have fun.
Rev. Norman Cameron
The notes and study questions for this series have been produced to help guide you in your small groups. Click here to listen to the sermon series online. The study notes are available for download by clicking the relevant pdf.
Think Small Dream Big Study – Week 1
Think Small Dream Big Study – Week 2
Think Small Dream Big Study – Week 3
Think Small Dream Big Study – Week 4