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To Raymond, from Mick, your sponsor

We met Raymond during our first trip to Uganda in 2013. He came across as a bit of a prankster to be honest, full of energy and always with that infectious smile. Our third trip was in 2015 and was to celebrate the opening of Solid Rock Christian School in February of that year. Joy and excitement abounded as 200 new children were starting their first year. That smile of Raymond’s that was so evident on our previous trips was absent during this visit. The reason, we learned, was that Raymond wasn’t going to be able to attend the school because he lacked a sponsor. As we had developed a relationship with Raymond, our family made the decision to sponsor him. I’ll never forget that moment where we had the privilege to express to him our intent. Tears filled our eyes as he sprinted off to tell the news to his parents. Those tears flowed even more freely when he arrived at school the next day to begin his first day at Solid Rock Christian School.

Raymond in the yellow collared shirt, sitting proudly beneath Mick.

We just returned from a trip to Uganda last week and once again our relationship with Raymond has dominated my thoughts. I no longer saw him as this mischievous prankster that I knew from our earliest trips. Nor did I see the forlorn version that I witnessed before he received a sponsorship. And I didn’t even see the unfiltered joyous Raymond that I enjoyed after he was notified that he could attend SRCS. This version was one of hope and confidence. It was one that read books with ease that he previously couldn’t have hoped to comprehend. It was one that confidently stated “I dream of becoming a pilot so I can care for my family”. It was a version that was just chosen “head boy” which is the Ugandan version of being chosen school president. He is seen as a leader and is looked up to by his classmates. He is a young man who is on his way to fulfilling his dreams.

I had the opportunity to chat with Raymond and look back on our relationship that has developed from that curious young boy joking with the missionary doctor. It has developed to a friendship that led him to look me in the eye and state, “I will always remember that day I was sponsored. It was my best day”. To have the privilege of being a part of someone’s “best” day is the most humbling of feelings. I say this not in a self serving way, as I too count this opportunity as one of my “best” days and an unending privilege. I say this instead as encouragement for those of you who may be considering sponsorship. It is a life changer and one that I now know profoundly effects both the child and the sponsor. I thank my friend Raymond for this honor. I look forward to the day he lands a plane with him at the controls. Go chase your dreams Raymond.


The Vision

Now that we’ve been in this for a few years, it’s about time we started to think bigger. Shana Reiss, a fabulous architect, has generously donated her experience to contribute to this vision of Solid Rock as it expands. Her artistry has put the dreams of our leaders, both here and in Uganda, into concrete goals. While there’s always potholes and bumps in the road when you’re working in the third world, we’re excited to have a road before us to begin walking down together.

Here’s the land as it currently looks. The buildings are the current classrooms.

With orientation picture:

 

 

What started as a vision for a primary school has, by necessity, grown. The church has become so big they now spill off their little concrete pad on a Sunday, so we include a larger church building. There are young children who walk by waiting to be old enough to go to first grade, so we add a preschool. The current students long to have sports and more space to play, so we add a football field. There’s a lot going on!

 

Right now, the preschool is underway, as you can see here:

Not only is your support and contributions building a preschool, you’re also providing work to local men who are in the construction business.

 

Not included here is the plan to add housing for teacher (a necessity for a rural school in Uganda. Teachers there see housing much like we see healthcare- as a basic employment benefit). Also, in the long-term, a secondary school. That would take a considerable amount of land purchasing and fund-raising, but with the blessing of God, and the work of us both in America and Uganda, nothing is impossible.

Thank you for supporting this journey.

If you would like to see how you can be part of the next step of the vision, outfitting the preschool, please check your options out here: Next Steps Giving Catalogue

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