Brenda Hutcheson and Cindy Conner, teachers in the Riverside School District, spent their spring break with four other area citizens on a missionary adventure to Uganda. Other members of the group included Lisa and Lauren Weaver, Greg Douglas, and Jim Ladd.
They were not only helping the people of Uganda, they were helping their friends and former co-workers, Greg and Tammy Rainwater.
Mr. and Mrs. Rainwater, along with their daughter, Hannah, live and work in Uganda as missionaries.
The trip was very successful and the group visited three orphanages and schools.
"The people were so loving and appreciative," Hutcheson said. "They have so little and are so happy - it is amazing."
"The First Baptist Church in Lake City helped put a roof on a church. Our group paid to put a roof on a school. Riverside students made a donation and Nettleton ball players held fundraisers to help meet the needs in Uganda," Hutcheson said.
Cindy worked with teachers in the schools they visited. The group had enough money to purchase school supplies for 300. They led women Bible studies and attended church services.
"Tammy was helpful in letting us know the needs and what we could do to help," Hutcheson said. "We have so much in our classrooms here with our Smart Boards and technology. They are fortunate there if they have chalk and chalk boards. We took a lot of dental hygiene items donated by local dentists.
"We met so many interesting people. One lady we called Lucy Beads because she makes the most beautiful necklaces to sell and support the school."
Hutcheson said Greg Rainwater serves as missionary coordinator for the area.
"They seem to be happy people but they do struggle," Hutcheson said. "Children as young as four and five carry water containers on their heads because they do not have running water. They love to get seeds. We took garden seeds to use in our Bible lessons and Jim Ladd being a farmer taught them how to plant, grow and save the seeds to replant. We took soap and the people were so happy you would have thought we gave them a fortune."
Hutcheson said she can't even leave the water running while she is brushing her teeth now without realizing she is wasting water and it makes her think of the people she met in Uganda.
"We visited a village church," Hutcheson said. "We were greeted with hand clapping and chants of 'you are welcome in our house'."
The group enjoyed a day at the Nile River and a game park with animals.
"Our driver was named Solomon and he was wise in the ways of the area," Hutcheson said. "He took care of us. We had the opportunity to help a young man go to the university for two semesters. He was very grateful."
It was a busy trip and the group did not rest until the plane ride home.
There is a bank account set up at IberaBank for the work being done by the Rainwaters.
Hutcheson said $25 will pay a child's school fee. They purchase chickens for the people, water well projects, seeds, and so much more. There are so many ways people can help. A village can have a water well put in for $3,000 to $4,000.
Another group is going on a mission trip in June.
"I hope they have as rewarding an experience as we did," Hutcheson said. "All of the people in our group enjoyed working and doing what we could for the people. We had the opportunity to go but many people helped make the missionary trip successful."
The Rainwater address is: Baptist Mission Uganda, P.O. Box 1734, Kamplala, Uganda.