Godwill Ministries has been partnering with Fathers Kingdom Ministries International developed by a dear friend in Uganda who has become like a son to me. But our story started much earlier…
I met Elly Chelangat in 2011, while on a medical mission trip to Uganda. He was a single man with a heart for the Lord and a vision to help his village in Kapchorwa, in Eastern Uganda, up on Mount Elgon.
Elly married Carol shortly after and together they have Elian their son and Erin their daughter. They’re raising his and her relatives that needed a home. Nathan and Princess and Elizabeth.
He is a Christian, and wanted to share his love for Jesus with his village. He had been praying about how he was to do this. God gave him the idea of a sunflower seed oil processing machine, and he’d ask the whole community to grow sunflower seeds, and bring them in for pressing oil! They would sell the oil to raise money. He found a refurbished machine. We sent the money to purchase it.
This would change everything.
Kapchorwa is up on Mount Elgon, about a 6,280 ft. elevation. So beautiful; but impoverished. If it was in America, it would probably be ruined by a huge 5-star resort. It is pristine and completely untouched by development. There are tall rows of corn, sunflowers, and banana trees, with waterfalls in the distance and caves. The view is impressive and awe-inspiring, to say the least! The people are warm and welcoming, an ethnic group of Ugandans and Sudanese called the “Sebine Tribe”. They speak mostly Sebei, Elly was our translator when we visited. I took a team in the summer of 2019: Five women on a mission trip from Luweero to Kobwin with a stop at Kapchorwa to just say Hello and see this sunflower oil pressing machine. Little did we know that they had planned a beautiful program to thank and honor us for this machine and the support we had shown. We were absolutely surprised and humbled. It was an honor to behold.
After an 8-hour drive on Ugandan roads, ( A bumpy African massage) some of which are dirt, potholed and narrow. Ugandan infrastructure is not very developed. We arrived at this beautiful, mountainous region with a backdrop of corn fields, sunflower fields, and bananas everywhere! The road was pretty difficult to maneuver, due to the rains they’d just had. Our driver, Julius, hung his head out of the window to make sure we were not sliding into the deep ruts in the muddy terrain. He finally said “This is as far as the van can go, or we’ll get stuck”.
We got out and began to walk the final football field of a distance. As we walked, we saw 2 men coming toward us. I’ll never forget it: one man said “Auntie Joanne?” I felt like I was dreaming. How did this man know my name in the middle of Uganda? We then saw 2 women, who were bent down in the field. They stood up and heard “Auntie Joanne, you are most welcome!” Wow; I was dumbfounded! They put a green bean vine wreath around my neck. It was incomprehensible, what was happening? Then, accompanied with big hugs, each of our team got a green bean wreath put around their neck too. We were feeling the love! We could hear in the distance people yelling and singing and even a drum beating. We continued on toward the celebrating people. The ones walking with us were dancing, shouting, and singing. But what are they celebrating? I thought we must’ve interrupted a party? I think our whole team was curious and quite confused on how to feel, but we just kept going with the flow walking toward the people cheering.
As we reached them, they greeted us with the biggest smiles and the warmest hugs; all without any language, since they spoke only Sebei. They were dressed in colorful skirts and were absolutely filled with joy! It was contagious and, soon, we too were dancing and laughing and hugging and I had a child on each arm walking me. Were they celebrating US ?
As we continued toward the small built shed, I noticed there was a pink ribbon across the doorway. A man handed me a pair of scissors and motioned for me to cut it. What? I was beginning to get it. Tears began to fall. We were being honored! I noticed my friends wiping tears too. We felt incredibly undeserving of all this fanfare. I cut the ribbon and the noise level amped up! They were truly celebrating. Uncle Elly pointed to the machine and told someone to fire it up. It was loud! Next to the machine were 5 buckets of sunflower seeds he had gotten for us to launch the machine. We each dumped in our bucket and watched the liquid gold flow out into bottles. Incredible!
I was so honored! We all were. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why all the fuss and festivities. I just had to understand that this machine meant more than we could ever know. It was a catalyst—a new beginning of growth, prosperity, and a huge answer to prayer! God was moving, and they knew it. Godwill Ministries helped them build their much-needed school, where the kids could finally begin getting an education for the first time.
I felt tremendous pride as I began to understand. I then thought we’d say our goodbyes, and walk back to the van, but Elly motioned for us to continue walking up the hill and around the tall corn fields. As we rounded the corner, we saw the most beautiful sight: 25 smiling children and a few teachers standing poised waiting for us. There was another ribbon, (this one must’ve been 30 feet long across the front), and, again, I was handed scissors to cut it. We were, again, filled with tears, we were unworthy of all of this. I had my team put their hands over mine and, together, we cut the ribbon. As it fell to the ground, the children began singing. They had learned some English Christian songs! It was a beautiful Day!
They had made a pink poster that read “You are most welcome Madam Joanne Eytzen and your team to Fathers Kingdom Ministry International – Your partnership with this ministry is a call from God . Live long Live long” Beautiful! It felt surreal, and all I could do was smile and thank God for this very moment we were experiencing. After the singing, they escorted us to 5 dug holes & handed us young mango, avocado, jack fruit, and orange tree plants and helped us each plant ours. Everyone clapped and we were directed to go over to the school. The school had only 3 classrooms at that time. Very modest and small. The “Desks” are simple wooden planks and boards. There was a hand-painted chalkboard in each room and the kids’ work was hanging on the walls. It was really something to see. Learning is happening here in Kapchorwa for the first time ever! The kids looked so proud of their school. Elly had a small amplifier and a mic, and he explained the school and classrooms, introducing all the teachers with real love. I could hear it in his voice, and see it in his demeanor. It was apparent this was a cohesive community and these people were friends and family. Our team watched as it all unfolded. He took us to the kitchen building, where we met our Cook, Irene, a sweet widow, who so lovingly cooks the maize and beans for the kids each and every day with her assistant.
We then were escorted over to the pole building, and all of the parents sat down in rows of plastic chairs. Up front, there were 5 chairs, and a coffee table with a lace tablecloth on it. We sat down and the children came in and sang more songs to us. It was so special! We could feel the kids ‘petting’ us that were behind us, touching our hair and skin. it was really sweet. We are different than they had ever seen before. We are Muzungus! ( a term used for white people . Meaning Ghost) Elly introduced the board of directors at the school, which is called Kings Royals Junior School. It was a beautiful thing to see parents at school all together so very excited to be involved and to meet us, and thank us. Then Uncle Elly said “This is the first time Muzungu’s (white people) have ever been here; it’s a special day.” We all looked at each other, and were stunned!
I stood up and, through Elly our interpreter, told all the watching parents and children that, yes, we were white girls, but more than that, we were 5 Christian girls. I told them of our sacrifice to be able to journey all the way across the world to come here. How we had to work and take extra shifts, hold massive yard sales, have bake sales, and save our money. I really wanted them to know we aren’t just made of money. They see white people and think we are rich. They assume it all comes so easy. I wanted them to see we are just working people, who love the Lord, and it’s by God’s power and design alone that we were able to even be there.
Since our visit, they have added 6 more classrooms to the school. Making a total of 9. We put iron sheeting on the sides so when it rains, the kids won’t get wet. The school is growing and we now have a kitchen, boys & girls pit latrines, hand washing stations and a simple auditorium (A pole building), We built a teachers room and even made one classroom huge that doubles as our church. The Church of Moyok. (* See story about it.) They built a small barn and now have a couple cows so the school kids have milk with their porridge at school. Progress is happening, and, with this machine, they will press the sunflower oil and put it into labeled bottles, then deliver them to stores. Raising this money will help supply needs and hopefully pay our teachers salaries. A win-win.
We had just opened school when the pandemic struck. The president closed all schools for 2 years! It was heartbreaking to have to do this. But, finally January 2022 we opened our doors and the kids came. And came, and came. we had to cap it at 342. Too many will hurt us. For most of them it’s their first time going to school. We soon put down cement on the floors due to “Jiggers” a tiny bug in the dirt that digs into the kids’ feet. But, now we don’t worry about getting jiggers from school.
I mentioned the needs are real and truly immense. What God is doing in Kapchorwa is so special. I honor Elly & Carol and see their huge hearts. He is selfless and pushes himself on a daily basis to work with and alongside others, sharing the load. He leads, gives, teaches, mentors, guides and continually pours out all he has for his neighbor. God prompts me to want to do what I can, and I see that same prompting in Elly’s heart.
After all, Jesus said, we will always have the poor in this world. (But I know that, if we each do a little something, we can make a huge difference.) ~ Matt 26:11
If you feel led to contribute financially to Fathers Kingdom Ministry International, or to further the work of Godwill Ministries, please click on the ‘Donate ’ button. The needs are great; children’s school fees, uniforms, clean water and food. Water is a constant problem here. For now we have pipe lines that comes from a river sunk in trenches to our several faucets. We do however have natural springs under our land. This is our prayer request to dig a well and access all that fresh water. God is doing a work and I know that in time they will have their fresh water.
God continues to grow and build up Kapchorwa. He changing hearts and lives are being transformed, This is causing a ripple effect throughout the whole village. God is amazing, truly!
Please pray for this beautiful village in Eastern Uganda called Kapchorwa.