And we felt the presence of God every step of the way. Sixteen Highlanders represented our International Advocacy efforts by investigating more than a dozen ways we could collaborate as advocates and allies alongside Global Livingston Institute.

GLI and other organizations in Africa like to say, “Empowering women and girls will transform our world.” We agree! This sign at a female-owned/managed shop in Rwanda caught our attention. And so some of our future work in Africa will revolve around supporting and empowering women.

For example, Nakavuma Mastula Mercy, Director of Thread of Life, works with women living in the Katanga Slum. You can hear part of her story on our website.

But there were many other women proactively transforming Uganda and Rwanda: entrepreneurs, mothers, sisters, and grandmothers. And all 12 women on our team, including 9-year old Nikia, made a difference this summer too.

As we climbed the steep, rocky path leading toward Kuganga, a school near Lake Bunyonyi, the sounds of laughter from hundreds of children filled our ears. It was the end of their long school day (12 hours for some who live too far away to walk home for lunch).

The children immediately spotted Nikia Sage Bain, the “kid magnet” on our team. Within seconds, Ugandan kids surrounded Nikia wanting to touch her hair, listen to her talk, and play with her. It happened almost everywhere we traveled: Nikia was ready to make new friends. She led us into love and friendship with people all over Uganda and Rwanda. The power of a 9-year old girl to show God’s love is magnetic because Nikia’s love was born out of a pure, welcoming heart!

With thanks for their hospitality, we gave Kuganga school a gift of new soccer balls (donated by Chris and LaLa from church.) Our friend and GLI guide, Chibonile (whose nick name was “Bright”) had attended the Kuganga School as a kid. He was so proud to show us around and introduce us to his community.

And now… you too are invited to follow Nikia like our team followed Nikia. Consider applying for a spot on one of our Africa teams. Consider learning more so you can help us raise awareness of the opportunities to partner and serve in Africa. For more information, contact our Africa Trip Leader, Sumer Sorensen-Bain.

Together in Christ,

PS And make no mistake: we loved our men!! Check out a few of our photos. You’ll find not only empowered women, but also 4 strong, loving men from Highlands Church: Kylan Gray-Bain, James McClair, George Petro, and Todd Heppler.