Musical, Medical, and Mentorship Missions, Summer 2016!
“Here I am, Send me.”
Our members of Uptown Violins have been busy this year with two missions trips, one to Uganda, and the other to the Dominican Republic. I thought we should include a special edition blog for everyone who attended one of these two missions trips to tell about their experience. This includes the “Men of Uptown Violins” as well!
Uptown Violins participants at St. Mary Kevin School in Kajjansi, Uganda: Dr. Stacy and Allison Peterson, Brittany Peterson, Ben and Sheree Lutz
AR: Dr. Peterson, what was your experience working at the hospital in Kampala? What do you feel was the most meaningful part of your trip?
SL: While in Uganda I had the privilege of working at Mengo hospital. It is the oldest hospital in Uganda and was originally started by British missionaries. There are three observations I would like to make. First, I was impressed by their medical staff. With very limited resources they worked tirelessly and effectively against unlimited needs. Second, the Ugandan people were extremely appreciative of any care that was provided to them. They would even wait in line for hours without complaining. It made me so thankful for our medical care here in the U.S. Third, God has his remnant of Christians throughout the world. In so many ways they were just like me, wanting to practice medicine like Jesus would! I would like to close with Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 2 v. 19-20: Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens but citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
AR: Allison, what did you enjoy most about teaching the children at SMK? What struck you most about Uganda?
AP: I enjoyed seeing how excited the students were to learn new concepts and play sounds they may have never heard before. Not only is violin rarely played in Uganda, it is rarely even heard on the radio! The violin originated in Europe, so most classical music isn’t part of the African culture. Rhythmic instruments like bongos and drums are the basis of their music. Some of the students entertained us by performing native dances accompanied only by drums.
The students were thrilled to play the simplest of songs, like “Jesus Loves Me” and practiced them over and over. I was also able to teach two of the students, Ambrose and Elijah, how to play fast by changing their bow grip and having them play in the middle of the bow. They really liked going fast! Because the students have fewer opportunities to be involved extra activities, I think they really enjoy playing their violin more.
What struck me most about Uganda was that even though the country is behind in their infrastructure and housing, the people live above their situation. Maybe they don’t even realize that not having running water isn’t the norm in the United States. Cooking over charcoal rather than ovens is normal for them. It is interesting, however, that they have cell phones but no paved roads. The people work very long, hard days just to survive, yet in general they are very happy! I’m so glad I was able to meet these kind people.
AR: Ben, what kinds of activities did you conduct while working with the children at SMK? What was your favorite experience while in Uganda?
BL: SMK had six laptop computers in their computer lab, but computer lessons are not a part of the regular curriculum. I spent a few hours every day overseeing the kids using a typing program, and gave some limited instruction in Microsoft Word. The students loved getting to spend time on the computers and asked me about getting on them whenever they saw me. I also spent time having conversations with the older students as a way to improve their English skills. I really enjoyed getting to interact with the kids and making friendships with them.
AR: Brittany, what did you find most rewarding working at SMK? What did you enjoy most about your trip?
BP: What I thought most rewarding was being able to really love on the kids and also be loved on. It was a mutual joy to be around each other and learn about one another. We were able to share our likes and dislikes with each other, including our mutual love for puppies when “Scooby” wandered onto campus and found his home there. Most importantly, we were able to share our love of Christ with one another, and even the kids who had never heard of Christ before were open and willing to hear about his love.
I had fun working with the violin students and hearing their progress even in the short time we were there. I also really enjoyed being able to share resources and pedagogical information with their violin teacher so that he can help the students grow in their violin studies while we are gone. The kids were so eager to play it was incredible! They practiced practiced practiced in order to please us the next day at lessons, and what teacher wouldn’t want to work with kids who practice?!
Uptown Violins participants at Makarios School in Montellano, Dominican Republic: Forrest and Kerri Parr
AR: Kerri, you helped lead a group of American students on a mission’s trip to the Dominican Republic. What was most rewarding for you in serving both the citizens of the Dominican Republic, as well as helping the American students learn to serve?
KP: I found that the most rewarding part of the trip was watching the high school students grow throughout our time there. Students who originally were not comfortable with kids were giving them piggy-back rides and playing duck duck goose by the end of the week. Overall, I was touched by how joyful the Dominicans were, even though they had very little. It really brought my attention to how materialistic we are in America, and it inspired Forrest and myself to live our lives differently.
AR: Forrest, what kinds of activities did you conduct while working in the Dominican Republic? What was your most memorable experience there?
FP: We were responsible for running Vacation Bible School, doing construction at the school, and helping organize and facilitate a neighborhood soccer practice and soccer tournament. We also went into the surrounding communities and played games with the children. My most memorable moment came when we took the students from the school to the beach for a morning. They rarely got to go to the beach because they had no form of transportation. The kids just grabbed our hands and we all ran into the water together. Despite the language barrier, the kids just wanted us to play with them and hold them.
AR: I would like to say thanks to all of our participants for their inspiring stories! I pray we can all develop a spirit of gratitude for our many blessings as we approach Thanksgiving this year!
First Fridays with Uptown Violins is hosted by Ashley Rescot, Director of Public Relations. Ashley received her Bachelor of Music from Baylor University, as well as minors in French and English. She taught English as a Fulbright scholar in France for a year, and then obtained her Master’s Degree in French Literature at the University of Kansas. She has taught French to all ages, including a Maman et Moi baby French class, as well as collegiate French levels I-IV. She teaches her own private violin studio and performs throughout the Midwest. Research interests include the relationship between music education and language acquisition, as well as the connection between music and other forms of artistic expression.