The Rachel Kendall Team shares a strong ethic of giving back to the community – and when it comes to one of our newest members, the giving back recently took her across the globe. Brette Pankratz recently took part in her first mission trip; a 13-day assignment to Uganda through Hope Community Church. The group of 18 included trip leaders, and a pastor and his wife.
“There were 3 specific sites we visited and spent time,” says Pankratz, “Suubi/Baby Watoto, where babies were rescued and brought in to be cared for. Watoto Village, designed to take in orphans and give them a healthy place to live and go to school.” She says in this environment one mom is hired in each home to “raise” 8 or so kids.
Finally, there was Living Hope / Neighborhood where they brought in vulnerable women who either came from abusive homes or suffered with AIDS/HIV. Living Hope allows vulnerable women a safe place, medicine for their disease, and a place to learn skills they can take back into their community to start their own businesses and provide for their families with dignity.
Pankratz says while In Baby Watoto, Uganda, they got to spend time the with babies and toddlers, to play with and show them love.
Working With the Community
“In the Watoto Village, we were able to work with the moms, relieve them of their duties for the day, play games with them, dance with them, the men in our group served them meals. In their culture, men serving women is very unheard of, so it was very special to the moms.” The group also had a chance to minister to them, talking about forgiveness and self-identity.
“With all of this, we believe they will be able to take what we have taught and shown them, and pass it along to raise the next generation of leaders in Uganda.”
“We also had the chance to work with the teenage children and help answers any questions they had that they may have been afraid to ask their moms. Things like relationships, college, and having integrity in the workplace in their future careers.”
In Living Hope, they duplicated the process from Watoto Village with the vulnerable women.
Monies donated by the mission group’s friends and families provided for a number of families get their own businesses started.
Lessons Learned in Forgiveness
The experience in Uganda had a profound impact on Brette. She says the effects may take time to be truly realized.
“I brought home new perspectives about the world, as well as myself, and the community I live in. I have taken so much for granted, and I think it was important for me to see people living with little to nothing, remaining faithful and joyful.”
“We heard many stories from both the women and the children about how horrific people in their lives had been to others. Whether it was from when Joseph Kony raided their communities and forced them to kill their parents, and proceeded to train them to be child soldiers, or even another family member brutally murdering their brother and leaving him behind the bushes to die. Many stories of these horrible things left them very desensitized.”
“Despite all of the horrible things that had happened in their lives, they were able to let go and forgive in order to pursue a beautiful and abundant life. I believe they were able to do this because they have grown so close to God through it all, and understand that He has more in store for their lives. He has a beautiful path laid out in front of them, and they have to be willing to trust this His path is the best path.”
“Something I took away from this trip was: The women and children we had the opportunity to meet are beautiful people. They have been through so much in their lives already, but they are ready for the new challenges they face, persistent to work hard and achieve their goals, and then pass those same values onto their children. They were so passionate when they spoke, and they showed us all so much love! I have no doubt in my mind that someday those women and children will be impactful leaders in their country, rebuilding it with integrity and honesty and love.”
Carrying Lessons Forward
Pankratz says this trip will not be her last. She anticipates doing this again.
“Now that I am back home, I know there are many things I can work on to be a better person each and every day. The sense of community that the people of Africa had with each other, and the love that they showed us will stick in my mind forever. That is the kind of person I want to be. That is the kind of nation I want to be. I want this idea to stick and spread, so that through my relationships, I can emulate the warmth and grace I saw in Uganda, and reach many other people’s lives; and maybe someday, it will reach so far that our country can piece itself back together and learn to show love and compassion for each other again.”
The Rachel Kendall Team will soon share an opportunity for you to give back to your community this Holiday season, and will have an exciting announcement coming in early 2018! Keep up with all the ways you can get involved in giving back to the Raleigh-Triangle community & beyond.