It was said many years ago: “When in doubt... punt!” Had our 2018 KidZ at Heart Uganda Team been playing football, there would have been some punting going on! But football was not the game plan—instead, the plan was building a school and presenting the KidZ Ministry Teacher Certificate courses to the local teachers. Our team had to be curious, observant, and flexible—and discovered that the unexpected parts were some of the most fun!

The team “captain” was a young man named Jackson. Two years ago, he had been an exchange student at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at which Caleb Metroka was also a cadet. The two became friends and Caleb’s parents, Andy and Patty Metroka, had Jackson in their home several times. The Metroka’s relationship with Jackson was the basis for the project.

Jackson’s friends had formed a school in the village of Rakanda, Uganda—and the school was doing well! But help was needed for a permanent building. Through Internet communication, Jackson developed a plan with the Metrokas. Churches teamed up around the U.S. to raise $16,000 fo  r the building. In the meantime, the Metrokas headed up a training team from several churches. Then they put together a team that would both build a building and build up the teachers through KidZ at Heart training!

After traveling from Kigali to Rakanda, the team arrived at the Rushenye Academy—five temporary classrooms and a concrete floor foundation with about 30,000 bricks in piles around it! Over the next week, the team worked alongside locals to build day by day, into a strong, beautiful building!

Andy writes, “We were definitely a new thing for the village. Many in the village had never seen a white person before... children wanted to touch us, the teachers had questions on why our veins were blue, and the site engineer was so flustered that he had trouble reading his plans as he showed us around. It was good that we had a little time before work began, so that people could get used to the sight of us!”

The teamwork continued, with a few more punts: because of language issues, it wasn’t easy to integrate into the locals’ building teams. So the KidZ team punted and became the brick movers! The Ugandans were impressed with how hard they worked. When it came time to bring bricks inside the building, the Ugandans watched in amazement as the Americans formed a line and tossed bricks from person to person to bring them indoors!

As for the KidZ training, 15 teachers completed all four modules! Several others completed a part of the course. Because of the literal way in which English was perceived and translated, the team had some doubt that they were being effective. Were the teachers “getting” what the team was teaching?

All doubts were erased on the last day! Andy writes, “The team arrived late to the school that day. The night before, we’d had a flat tire and had to replace the tiny spare with a full-size tire. This took some time. But when we arrived, we were pleased to see the teachers hard at work. They had been moving on without us!”

The teachers practiced what they had learned with kids who were willing to come to school, even though it was a school break. The team was delighted to see how well the teachers had grasped and could use the concepts they’d learned!

And so, with a few punts, and a lot of Holy Spirit-given grace and flexibility, the building was completed and the teachers were trained—all with a view to developing long-term relationships and returning to complete the full KidZ at Heart training!

Punt, score, and a successful win!

You, too, can serve on a KidZ at Heart team in another country. KidZ at Heart trainings are now used in more than 40 countries, including the United States. Get started today!