From Our Founder, Kimi Toyota
It must have been their smiles.
Something about their smiles was captivating enough that it finally brought me here, to Africa. How I ended up in Uganda may seem like chance at first but I hope you’ll be able to see the hand of God in every step of the journey, as I do. I can’t call it fate or luck or even my destiny. Instead I call it a God thing.
I first came to Uganda over seven years ago with a friend for a short missions trip. We lived and worked in a small children’s home near a town called Jinja that was run by a Ugandan man. I fell in love with the nine children and the country instantly. Within months of returning to Canada, I felt God calling me back. Seven months later I was back at the same home for a longer seven month stay. My love for the kids and the Ugandan people grew every day and I agreed to partner with the Ugandan man and his small ministry.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as I expected. Everything fell apart, including the children’s home, and allegations were made against me that went up to the highest levels of government in Uganda. They had me questioning whether or not I would ever be able to set foot in this country again. My hopes were crushed. My dreams were dying. Things seemed impossible. But I still felt God calling me here.
I came back to Uganda for three weeks in September 2008 to try to find the kids from the home and see if I could still have a future in this nation. I was met with threats of arrest and more accusations and lies. But somehow God brought me through. There was still hope.
In the spring of 2009 I officially moved back to Uganda and started an organization called His Hope Uganda. We found incredible favour with the government. We located all the children from the home who I’ve come to call my own and started supporting children in our Child Sponsorship Program. In a few short months, we built homes for two needy families, gave ten women valuable tailoring skills, and built lasting relationships with hundreds of beautiful Ugandan people. The organization has continued to grow since then, all by the grace of God.
He was the one who brought me here and who used all the trials in the past to teach me and grow me. He is the one who gives me the strength and wisdom that I need to run this ministry. And He is the one who is working. I am just incredibly blessed to be here.
It all started with a smile. But it has grown into a desire to learn and serve and love. And I have a passion for this country and these people that I never would have expected. And a plan that is far beyond my vision. Along the way there have been lots of adventures, lots of challenges and lots of beans and lots of cockroaches. But God continues to lead us along and surprise us with what He has in store.
I know that no matter what happens, I will always be thankful for their beautiful smiles.
This book is a collection of emails that chronicle the monthly encounters of pure joy and absolute frustration in establishing a children’s ministry in Uganda. If you’d like a copy of Kimi’s book, please contact us.