Koehns were part of mission trip to Uganda

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 2/11/97.

The father-daughter team of Ric and Beth Koehn, Paynesville, traveled to Uganda, Africa, to help build a church. The Koehns were part of a six-person mission team, through United with Uganda, who were going to help build a church in Jinja, a town located on Lake Victoria in the southeast part of Uganda, from Jan. 9 through Feb. 2.

The church was started in 1991, but when the people ran out of money, work stopped on the two-story building. ďBecause the church is located in town, they have to meet some codes,Ē Pastor Koehn said. His mission team brought along $11,000 and were able to erect the walls before their money ran out.

Last year he helped erect a 25 by 50-foot church in a rural area of Uganda. That church only cost about $12,000 because there were no codes required. The church in Jinja will cost more than $50,000 by the time it is done, he said.

ďWe saw a lot of buildings half finished,Ē Pastor Koehn said. ďWhen they get the money, they will complete the buildings. Their culture is in no hurry to finish anything. They donít build things on credit. Everything is with cash or you donít do the project.Ē

ďIf the mission team took a day to tour an area, the volunteers would wait for their return when they ran out of materials. All work would stop,Ē he added. ďMost of the workers could speak English, more so than last year. Some were easier to understand than others.Ē

The team spent two weeks working on the church. The church volunteers mixed cement by hand, then formed a bucket brigade to pass the cement to the men working on the walls. They had no electrical tools to work with.

While in Uganda, the mission team visited two national park reserves and toured the countryside. At one church, they presented Pastor Moses with a bicycle as he lives three miles from his church. The bicycle will help him get around. They attended a church service with Pastor Moses in Kogombe. The service lasted three hours. ďThey have no time schedules for their services. The womenís club and kids danced and sang songs.Ē Pastor Koehn said.

The Grace United Methodist Sunday School dedicated their Christmas offering toward the purchase of school supplies. Pastor Koehn said they took along books, crayons, rulers, pencils, and various supplies that would fit into their trunk. They also took soccer balls, frisbees, and jump ropes.

Beth Koehn had to return to Bethel College for classes on Feb. 3. ďI had expected to be going over to build a church, or at least helping the Africans build. However, that is not what God had in mind for me,Ē Beth said. ďI ended up making friends and developing relationships more than working. I did pound a few nails, stuff some cracks to prevent cement from leaking through when it was poured, and I carried a few bricks. . .

ďI had an experience that I will never forget and have made friends that I hope to continue to develop friendships with. I am very thankful for the opportunity to see Uganda and to be able to bring that experience home with me,Ē Beth added.

Pastor Ric agreed the trip gave him a satisfying experience. It showed him another culture and that our way of life is not the only way. ďBy helping them, we got so much more in return. They have a way of looking at life. They take life one day at a time. Their life is less stressful and so easy going. If something doesnít get done, it doesnít. It is no big deal. It was hard for some of the team members to adjust to the slower pace,Ē Pastor Koehn added.

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