Day 1. Wow, the past 24 hours has been quite an awesome ride. After 16 hours flying, we landed in Kampala around 12:00 o’clock a.m. (4 o’clock p.m. our body time), so I guess you could say we were a little exhausted. The ride to Patrick’s house, where we are staying, was about an hour from the airport, and finally we fell asleep around 2 o’clock a.m. Patrick is a father of 4 and has already been incredibly hospitable to us allowing our team to stay here and to show us around Kampala, all while helping us become better accustomed to the African culture. Today, we woke up around 11 a.m. and traveled with Patrick and our bus driver Jack, to African Renewal Ministries in Gaba. Here, we met the entire staff including many of the students that attend the school right next to “ARM” who we met up with later in the evening to play a great game of soccer on the school (dirt) field. After our orientation at African Renewal Ministries, Jack took us to get some lunch. I suppose my initial thought upon arriving to Uganda was that we were going to be eating African food the ENTIRE time, however on the first day we went to a pizzeria and ate some delicious Hawaiian and BBQ chicken pizza. After lunch we came back to Patrick’s house to relax for a little bit before the game, and we met up with the other Cornerstone Church team that has been in Uganda for 10 days and is leaving tonight to head back to the states. Man, is it awesome to see familiar faces from Auburn, all the way across the world!!
After, relaxing and hanging out with the other Cornerstone team, it was time to play some ball. Jack took us back to Gaba, and we strapped up our laces, put on bright green pennies, and began playing. Half of the field was complete dirt and the other half was incredibly muddy. The combination of the two did not make for the best pitch in the world but that did not take away the excitement of the game. Kids and adults surrounded the field on all sides as our older Americanized team took on some Ugandan teenagers. Also, it’s pretty hard to complain about the view when you are right next to Lake Victoria – the largest lake in the world. The Ugandans went up 1-0 with about 30 minutes into the game, however, our team did not lose hope. During half-time our team regrouped, hydrated, and got our bearings straight as we have never played on such a field before knowing the locals had 100% advantage over us. In the 77th minute in the second half, Bram drew an incredible foul right outside the box (or what would be the box) setting up a free kick that Justin Weimer would take. The stakes were high as the crowd of kids and adults surrounded the field and suddenly became silent to see if these Americans really mean business, coming to Kampala from the states to play with them… That being said, Justin lines up to take the kick, strikes it, and goes in the bottom right netting into the goal! The crowd erupted as high fives and chest bumps were given left and right… The game ended up going into penalty kicks, and the Ugandan school team ended up winning.
After the game we debriefed a little about the day and remembered why we are here – to build relationships through playing soccer and being a Christ-like example to everyone we come into contact with. We discussed about tomorrow and the days to come, we are going to make it a priority to go out of our way to acknowledge one of our good friends we play with and do our best to connect with him. To hear and share stories about each other’s lives in hopes that authentic friendships will emerge from them. As for now, we sleep and wake up tomorrow ready to play two more games in Gaba, at the same place. What an incredible opportunity it is to be here.