The sound of singing echoed from a small village school in rural Uganda. The voices grew louder as people came running eagerly from their homes to join in the song they had learned from four University of Mobile students the day before. The song resounded down the dirt-trodden paths: “Yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!”
The UMobile students were visiting the school as part of a 10-day project in northern Uganda. Led by Dr. Nancy Huff, professor of human performance and exercise science, the team taught lessons in local schools and consulted with teachers to improve educational practices.
Each year, UMobile faculty members lead students, church groups and individuals overseas to share the gospel through a variety of activities. In addition to gaining real-world experience, students may also earn college credit for University Missions trips.
The project in Uganda was one of seven teams of 80 participants sent by the University Missions program to Australia, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, the Far East, Portugal and Uganda in 2010-2011. Students have already begun to register for 12 new University Missions projects scheduled for 2012, which are also open to church groups and individuals. For information on upcoming University Missions trips, contact Dr. Cecil Taylor, director of University Missions, at 251.442.2255 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The education team spent their time between two local schools, teaching in classrooms of small bamboo huts with dirt floors, or even outside, beneath the trees. The UMobile students – though in Uganda, they were teachers – presented lessons in English to more than 350 children, using a variety of original lesson plans.
After the lessons concluded, the students spent the afternoon sharing ideas with teachers in the village school. “The teachers were so excited about the lessons that they spent the afternoon writing down almost every song and activity the UMobile students could recall,” said Huff.
Along the way, the team experienced aspects of authentic Ugandan life, from sleeping under mosquito nets to dealing with unreliable transportation.
Team member Cierra Giles, the 2011 Miss University of Mobile, said, “Getting to experience the African way of life showed me how I should not get so caught up in material things. Even though they did not have much, they do have what is most important: family, fellowship, and for some, a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Though the team embarked on the trip to teach lessons from a Christian worldview, the lessons they left behind – and the lessons they took home – exceeded those taught in the makeshift classrooms.
The real lesson they sought to teach, however, is the reality of Jesus’ love. As they gathered that hot summer day in a rural village school to join in the chorus of “Jesus Loves Me,” it was evident that their mission had been accomplished.
Huff said, “The mission team that went to Uganda from Mobile made a difference in the lives of so many people and the people in Uganda had a big impact on the lives of the team members.”
Team member Megan Pike described the impact the trip made on her life: “To experience the darkness of a war-torn country and their eagerness to simply sing the name of Jesus; to see deeply embedded scars and joy within the same hearts; to see the calloused feet of children and then hear their ringing laughter - that is God's work.”