Uganda Team Manual

Thank you for wanting to serve Christ in Uganda!  Please let us know how we may better serve you.  We do not promise you a comfortable or an easy trip, but we do offer you ministry opportunity among a needy, receptive people and a chance to see the hammer-stamp imprint of the faithfulness of our King in an “uttermost” part of the world.   You will also likely learn much—perhaps about worship, contentment, yourself and the Spirit of God.

The information in this manual is Uganda-specific and designed for both team-leader and team-member use.  We want to make your trip as effective as possible.  Reflections upon many trips to Uganda are condensed for your assistance.  Keep in mind that some suggestions reflect our comfort levels.  You will not need everything suggested. You’ll find great information and links at sites maintained by Bob Hayes and by Barry McWilliams.  Check also our Uganda page for short-term Team forms and Uganda information.  If you don’t personally have an email address or access to the Web, try to obtain it.  Otherwise make friends quickly with someone who does.  Such access speeds transfer of Team and personal information both before departure and while in Uganda, and provides access to tremendous resources.

Helpful Websites

The US State Department advises allowing several months to apply for a passport. Go to the State Department site for information about obtaining a passport or renewal.  
When you must apply in person, the site has links to locate passport agencies near you.

News and Other Sites:

BBC Africa news:

New Vision Newspaper (Ugandan govt. paper):

Uganda World Fact Book: [a “must”]

State Dept. Travel Advisories:

Ugandan embassy website is:

Currency conversions:

Evan Tell has evangelistic tracts in the Luganda language:

Jesus Film materials: Our teams frequently employ this film in evangelism.

Luganda Phrasebook: Here are basic Luganda greetings and  “small talk” used in the Baganda Kingdom—Kampala area.  If you learn some, you’ll bring much pleasure to our ACTI staff.

Swahili online dictionary: This is the African trade language known among many African tribes.

Teaching Helps: (links provided by Barry McWilliams)

How to prepare your personal testimony (Bob Hayes):

Cross-cultural witnessing resources from Evangelism Explosion:

Wordless Book, Child Evangelism Fellowship

Teaching Cross-culturally, by Rick Gray (western-Uganda specifically)

How to teach using an interpreter (very complete)

Shorter treatment of how to teach/preach with an interpreter:

General Uganda information:

(valid as of 5-03)

Useful Reading

Hiebert, Paul, et. al. 1999. Understanding folk religion: A Christian response to popular beliefs and practices. Order at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kinoti, George. 1994. Hope for Africa: And what the Christian can do. Nairobi, Kenya: Word Alive Communications. [Box 60595, Nairobi, Kenya] ISBN: 9966-9922-0-0.

Kohls, L. Robert. 1984. Survival kit for overseas living: For Americans planning to live and work abroad. 2nd ed. Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, Inc. ISBN: 0-933662-59-9.

Lamb, David. 1983, 1987. The Africans. ISBN: 0394753089 [crafted insights from a journalist who visited almost every African country over 4 years]

Lingenfelter, Sherwood and Marvin Mayers. 1986. Ministering cross-culturally. Grand Rapids: Mich.:Baker Books. ISBN 0-8010-5632-2. [excellent, short, insightful and even fun book for all team members to read]

Museveni, Yoweri. [Ugandan President] 1997. Sowing the mustard seed: The struggle for freedom and democracy in Uganda. Macmillan Pub. ISBN 0-333-64234-1 Pbk.

Sempangi, F. Kefa. A distant grief. 1979. Regal Books. [Out of print, but fascinating account of life during Idi Amin’s terrorism]

Schlorff, Sam. 1995. Understanding the Muslim mindset. 25 pages. Order at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Team Resources

  • Team building before leaving for Uganda is extremely important.   For an outline of items for team leaders to use in team meetings, see the Team Leader's Manual. Trust the Lord through your team leader. At minimum, your team should meet together three times before departure day.  Reconciliation Ministries Network requires at least one meeting for the entire team, including out-of-town team members, in addition to two meetings.  We also have a “Packing Meeting” the day before departure to distribute items for Uganda among participants.
  • More thorough preparation is available through Culture-Link materials, including the "Help! We’re Going On a Short-term Trip!” Leader’s Manual and Team Member’s Manual.  Ten team training sessions are outlined in full detail.  These are available through Culture Link, PO Box 6623, Marietta, GA 30065-0623 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 1-770-973-8809.
  • Short-term Team ministry with the Jesus Film at

Book & Video resources: (available at

“Go Prepared”—6 video sessions for short-term missions teams

Forward, David C. 1998. The essential guide to the short-term mission trip. ISBN: 0802425267

Stiles, J. Mack and Leeann Stiles. 2000. Mack and Leeann’s guide to short-term missions. ISBN: 0830822690

VanCise, Martha. 1998. Successful mission teams: A guide for volunteers. ISBN: 1563091690

Safety Issues

  • We recognize that dangers exist in going to Uganda.  We provide private-vehicle transportation for our teams, instead of public transportation, reducing health and other safety risks.  We try to avoid areas in which rebels are known to have recently operated, and we try to avoid night and pre-dawn travel, if possible.  The most recent US Consolate travel advisories for Uganda are at

  • Many helpful tips for travelers to Sub-saharan Africa are located at Being in a fallen world, there are many potential dangers.  The best insurance is prayer to God for safety, together with prudence.  Christians do not have the spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7).

  • Both to understand the potential physical cost of the journey, and to provide some protection for those leading the team in good faith, team members may be required to notarize a waiver of liability before departure.  Here is ours for example.


  • Team funds: Ministry costs money, and you will need it!  The reward for the investment is great, but not always immediate.  Check with your Team leader for the exact costs for your Team, items not covered by the Team fee, and schedule of payments.  Some teams book their own flights and arrange for their own short-term trip insurance.  Normally funds should arrive in Uganda one month before arrival in Uganda, so that timely arrangements can be made for your ministry.  Please submit funds promptly, since your ministry can be hindered by lack of funds or by funds submitted late.  Ministry venues increasingly ask  for a cash deposit before being scheduled. Teams are asked to give our Uganda staff $100 per Team member.  Please pay these funds directly to the ACTI Ugandan staff leader after arrival.  This helps to pay staff salaries.  Team leaders should build this cost into the fee charged each Team member.
  • Funds & ACTI: Funds for Africa Christian Training Institute (ACTI)-related teams arenormally eventually funneled through the ACTI Treasurer, Tom Graham, CPA,1612 Fourth Street, Suite 200, Marysville, WA   98270 (Tel.: 360.653.5521, Fax 360.653.0939, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   Please note: team leaders should track and total funds received for each team member, and remit checks either in groups, or combined into one check.  A spreadsheet works well.  Please be explicit as to the purpose of the funds.  Keep photocopies of checks received in case funds must be tracked or returned.  Please thank every donor and give them a report when your African adventure is over. Let our Treasurer know if he needs to issue any tax-deductible receipts.
  • Bringing a debit/credit card is advised because you can purchase goods without the extra cost of exchanging currency, and allows you to carry less cash.  You may wish to carry $100 to $200 in cash for personal items, such as souvenirs.  In-country living and ministry expenses are covered by the fee, except the $30.00 entry visa fee, payable upon arrival at the airport.  Alternately, you may obtain your visa from the Uganda           Embassy before departure.
  • The best rate of exchange is for new $100.00 or $50.00 US bills from 1990 onward.  Try to obtain bills without too many creases and in excellent condition.  Travelers checks, though safer, and bank cards have lower rates.  Keep serial numbers separately (you may also wish to photocopy serial numbers of larger US bills).  Try to have one of our Ugandan staff members exchange funds for you.
  • Valuables: It’s wise to carry your passport and funds concealed on your body, through a money belt, or concealed pouch handing around your neck inside your clothing.  Try not to access this or large amounts of cash in public.  Do not leave valuables unattended.  Give one copy of your passport photo page to your team leader and leave one with your family. Wear your fanny pack in front, not in back, since it can be cut off and grabbed from behind. Do not leave laptops locked in your lodging unless you are certain the room is secure.

  • Travel insurance: All those traveling under ACTI must have short term trip insurance. Otherwise you may expose your yourself, and/or your ministry/church to at least moral obligations for substantial medical evacuation, hospitalization and other costs. This cost is NOT included in the $100 fee for the Uganda staff.  You may purchase this insurance (The Overseas Travelers Protection Plan) online at  ACTI recommends the high option.  For greater coverage (and cost), check Adams and Associates’s Volunteer Missionary Travel Insurance at (800-922-8438).  Even if you think you have coverage through your own carrier, we want to make sure you’re covered.  Our Treasurer is quite willing to handle the enrollment for you and you can arrange for payment.  He will need the names of those covered, the destination and the dates of travel.  The important thing is that the insurance is in place one week prior to departure, so please take it upon yourself to inform the Treasurer if you’ve purchased the insurance yourself.


We want you at your best health, so we advise taking the steps which follow.  This advice is not a substitute for the counsel of your physician.  You may want to check off items þ.

  • Immunization is required
  • Bring prophalactic and therapudic mediations (eg. cholorquine for malaria or tetracycline for worms) if recommended and prescribed by your doctor.  Some recommend taking a small dose of Pepto Bismal™ (1 or 2 tablets) the day before departure to help coat your stomach against minor bacterial difficulties.  The treatment would include taking one tablet each morning, through to two days after your return. Consult your physician if this is advisable for you. 
  • Malaria is a serious threat.
    • Bring and USE a mosquito net and bring nylon cord to hang it. Malarial mosquitos are most active at night.  Army surplus will often have mosquito netting but be sure to check that it's not compromised with snags or tears.  Before going to Uganda treat the net with permethrin insect repellent spray (Repel™ has Permanone™), unless you are allergic, and allow to thoroughly dry.  Tuck the net edges underneath the mattress, and practice hanging the nets BEFORE going to Uganda.  Learn the square knot (  and two half-hitches ( to hang them.  We recommend hanging them even at guest houses.  Bring some small cement nails and a tack hammer for challenging situations.
    • Use mosquito repellent with a high percentage of DEET.  Army surplus liquid is good and inexpensive.  Note: spillage of 100% DEET can ruin some plastics.   You may wish to bring bug spray for your sleeping quarters and outhouses.  Cologne and perfume may attract peskies; leave it home.  Long sleeves and long pants (men and women) will help, and DEET can be applied to the clothing rather than the skin.  Avoid washing or bathing outside at night. 
  • Water: Bottled water is available, but if you will be in an extremely rural village for some weeks or on an island, a water filter which will filter out guiardia, cryptosporidium and other microbes is a good precaution.   If you have aluminum sensitivity, bring a non-aluminum pot to boil water.  Do not bring mineral/distilled/spring water, except perhaps for your flight over, since bottled water is available there, and it takes valuable weight.  You might bring a Nalgeen bottle to hold bottled water, since it is sturdier than bottled water containers.
  • Use a locking daily pill box for any medications taken. Store both Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication securely at all times. 
  • Some OTC meds to consider bringing (leave excess OTC meds and supplies with Ugandans). 
    • Vitamins, such as C and multi-vitamins can be helpful.
    • A laxative can be very important.  Ugandan diets include much tea and limited access to fruit. 
    • Benadryl™, Pepto Bismal™,
    • Asprin, Tylenol™, Ibuprofen, 
    • Sleeping aids, such as melatonin might be helpful
  • Remember to take enough of prescribed medication (and supply, eg. syringes for diabetics) for any medical condition to last beyond the duration in case of delays in returning when expected. 
  • Other common medical supplies to carry (you will not need all of this - let risk, suseptibility, need, and godly wisdom prevail rather than fear): 
    • Plastic bandages, two in extra large size.  
    • A triple antibiotic salve
    • Waterless hand sanitizer is very useful (carry a small bottle with you and have a larger one for refills). 
    • Alcohol swabs can be used with fruit that has a peel. 
    • Bring surgical gloves).  AIDS is widespread; whenever there is blood there is danger.
    • Chapstick™
    • Cough drops/syrup
    • Eye drops
    • Electrolite solution.  
    • A roll of toilet paper
  • Apart from personal and perscription medicines, your team may find it more economical to develop 2-3 combined first aid kits, especially if the team splits to different venues.
  • A disinfectant kit may be used.  Bob Hayes: “To sanitize critical surfaces in restrooms, etc., carry a disinfectant kit made up of a 2 or 4 ounce bottle of Clorox™ solution (1 part Clorox to 10 parts water), a single-use rubber exam glove, a Handi-Wipe™ ,and a generous supply of toilet paper.  Keep the solution wrapped in a paper towel and in a small Ziploc™ bag to guard against leakage.  Use glove to hold some toilet paper moistened with the solution to wipe…necessary surfaces.  Wait for at least one minute, then wipe solution off and rinse surface with clean water or Handi–Wipe.”  Others have not experienced difficulty so far without this procedure. We advise you against using the public toilet facilities in downtown Kampala.
  • For courses available in tropical medicine check  Another is offered by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene—

Clothing / Personal

  • Travel as lightly as possible.  See Gear List for a short list of travel “essentials.”  See Barry McWilliams for a longer list: (  Be guided by two constraints: (1 weight and size allowed by your airline for checked and carry-on items and (2 Space for gift items for Ugandans.  Some carry one duffel for personal needs and one for gift items.  Please do not rely upon someone else to carry your gear, and you may have to do some trekking with all your needs on your back.  For this make sure one of your Army duffels has backpack straps.  The weather is between usually in the 70s and 80s, but not humid.  For a detailed forecast see , navigate to “world” and enter “Kampala.”
  • Outerwear clothing for men and women:  one light rain coat (poncho), one light sweater (for London, the plane and some mornings), one pair of closed-toe shoes (broken in), one pair of athletic shoes, one pair of rubber sandals for bathing.   If you go during a rainy season  (October-November and April-June), galoshes are advised.   A fanny pack is useful, as is a canvas valise or backpack for books, teaching materials (good items to consider leaving as gifts).  A water-resistant unit is better.
  • Clothing for men and women: 4-6 changes of clothes, which can be mixed and matched, handkerchiefs, pj’s, socks/stockings, underwear for 7 days, and belt.  Consider taking items which you may wish to leave.   Ugandans will wash and iron your clothes for about 2-4 dollars per load (2000-4000 shillings).  You may wish to tip as you leave, for good work.  You may want to pack outfits in 2-gallon size zip-lock bags, to protect from rain.  Consider bringing your own powdered soap to wash underwear--items that some Ugandans don’t wish to wash.
  • Men’s clothing: one tie with a coat/suit if you will preach or lead the team, casual wear (good jeans and pants).  Consider a wrinkle-resistant jacket.  If you preach often consider a second jacket/suit.  You’ll find that almost all men wear Western clothing.
  • Women’s clothing: skirts, blouses, culottes, jumpers, and dresses are best.  Pockets are helpful.   Rashid, our Ugandan coordinator, helps us with a Ugandan perspective: “In general terms, it is abominable to see the legs/thighs of a woman in public.  So the missioners should avoid, as much as possible, to put on shorts, see-throughs, or long slit skirts when they go out (it may be OK to put on such while on safari).”   Slacks and jeans are OK for travel/free days.  An experienced Ugandan short-termer advises: “Leave your jewelry at home.  In some areas, jewelry is taboo with Christians.  In most areas, it confirms the stereotype of the rich American.  In all areas, it can be distracting and get lost or stolen.”  You will find Ugandan women increasingly in Western styles. Paul wrote, “ I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety” (1 Tim. 2:9a, NIV).  Let that be your guide.
  • Voltage in Uganda is 220 - power is sometimes unreliable. Carry portable surge protection/plug adapters for any electronics, such as recharable camera batteries, a travel hair dryers, and laptop connection. Some laptops handle 220 volts. Use a portable power converter for others. Various connecting airports. Consider an additional computer battery for long flights and if you’ll do preparation during the trip. A USB power supply is advised for any USB devices brought. A mobile printer can be helpful (or just preach/teach from the laptop screen).
  • Flashlight: 2+ disposable flashlights (Garrity™—very inexpensive at Walmart), or use alkaline batteries and bring extras.
  • Toiletries as they apply: toothbrush (with holder), 1 toothpaste tube, toothpicks, dental floss (meat is tougher), comb/brush, scissors/nail clippers, 1 bar of soap, Q-tips™, deodorant, 1 roll of toilet paper in a Zip-lock™ bag (extra rolls are easily purchased), extra disposable razors, shaving cream, small mirror, feminine needs/makeup, plastic bandages, wash cloth, towel, sun screen, moist wipes, contact lens solution (and possibly a second pair of glasses in case one is lost/broken).  Use good judgment.  We do not wish to appear that we are fleeing America.  Buy travel-size shaving cream, deodorant, etc. that reduce weight and volume and last 2+ weeks.
  • Camera and miscellaneous: alarm clock/watch, sewing kit, extra memory cards for camera.  Do not take what you cannot afford to lose or give away.  Protect your camera from thieves but recognize you may lose it - keep your memory cards seperate and hidden whenever possible.  Sometimes people will ask you to take their picture and afterward ask you to send them a print!  Make absolutely NO promises that you cannot/will not keep.   In fact, even qualified promises are sometimes taken for unqualified promises, so it is better not to promise.   It is a good idea to bring pictures of your family, with sensitivity to expensive backgrounds, and a US map to show where you live. “Photographing security forces or government installations is prohibited.”--US State Dept.
  • Cautions: Do NOT bring weapons or large knives.  Sharp objects, such as a small knife or scissors, if taken, go in checked baggage, NOT in carry-ons.  Large metal items will slow your passage through metal detectors, as will metal jewelry and coins in pockets.  Please do not slow down the team with unnecessary security checks, which also puts carryon items at risk of theft at the other end of the conveyor belt.  Ask someone to check you for any potential “alarming” items.
  • If you minister on Lake Victoria islands, consider bringing MRE’s (GI food packs), tent, lifejacket, light-weight sleeping bag, water filter, and a large “golf” umbrella (for privacy and rain).

Checklist of items to carry in your carryon bag or fanny pack:

  • Valid passport
  • Roundtrip airline tickets
  • Laptop, if taking it
  • U.S. $30.00 (check current amount) for Uganda visa upon arrival & money
  • Small flashlight
  • Medications (see above)
  • Personal essential toilet kit

Other carry-ons:

  • Cash and traveler’s checks
  • Camera, extra memory cards
  • Travel insurance information
  • Writing materials
  • Reading Items
  • Small rain gear pouch
  • Small first aid kit in Ziploc bag
  • 1 change of clothes
  • Essential teaching/preaching materials

Ministry Needs / Gifts

  • Gifts for Ugandan ministers (Rashid Luswa):  PA systems (Peavy “Solo™” systems included), generators (new, NOT used, due to shipping regulations), study Bibles (e.g. NIV study Bible), theological texts, concordances and tracts.  Books are not charged customs tax.  “The following saying elaborates well about the lack of reading stuff here, i.e., ‘When an old man dies in Africa, a whole library is burnt.’”  ACTI encourages bringing good Christian books, including evangelical commentaries and CD’s for libraries.  Rashid also encouraged those who can to bring extra money for benevolences, as they may present themselves in Uganda.   In addition, he encourages bringing clothes, old or new, and small electronic items, such as small radios, flashlights, etc.  Surplus Sunday school materials can be used by Christian schools, but these are bulky and heavy.
  • Bibles are better purchased in Uganda, since they are cheaper, in local dialects, and your bags can be packed with other items.  Exceptions are study and good leather Bibles.  Ask the Uganda staff to facilitate your purchase of Bibles.
  • You may come to know an artisan or small businessman who needs tools, such as a hand saw, or a multi-tester.
  • Suggested gifts for women: hand lotion, kitchen items, hand bags, cloth diapers, plaques, home state souvenirs, hot chocolate packets, scented soap, cologne/perfume, jewelry, small cans of meat, cassette tapes, book markers, books/Bibles, barrettes and hair accessories, calendars, sewing kits, bandannas, scarves, pencils, writing pads, towels, seeds (vegetable, flower), etc.
  • Gifts for children: balloons, crayons, coloring books, red pencils, snacks, hard candies, chocolate-covered raisins, Tootsie Rolls™, granola bars, gum, reading materials, retractable pens, stickers, dictionaries, etc.
  • Gifts for men: a Walkman™, with some good Gospel tapes, shirts and pants, cologne, handkerchiefs, alkaline batteries and key rings.  In fact, it would be hard to identify a gift which someone would not appreciate.  Forbear giving clothing which is too ragged.
  • Feel free to tell supporters when you have no more room for donated items. A extra checked bag not infrequently costs more to send that the contents are worth.
  • Portable computers are highly valued, even if obsolete by our standards. If you bring any new electronics, have a copy of your receipt so that you won’t be overcharged at customs, and the fair market value of used electronics, with any receipts.
  • Gifts of money: It is wise to check with the pastor of those asking of you larger gifts, to get  background.  Let the giver beware!   Be aware that some who want your name and address will write to you asking for financial assistance, and they may give your name to others.   Be even more careful with your email address.  Some will just want to be friends.   One suggestion is that you say that you will read their letter, but that you might not have the time or be able to respond.  Again, promise nothing unless you will certainly do it, and do not even appear to promise unless you do.  You will need God’s wisdom.  If you are led to send money, cashing a check in Uganda can cost $25.00 or more, and sending funds to Africa via Western Union may cost you $25.00.  You may ask our Treasurer to forward funds clearly designated to a specific person.  Funds are usually wired to Uganda monthly. Giving gifts as you leave Uganda is more sensitive, so that people do not feel obligated to you while you’re in-country.
  • Your ministry: a NIV compact concordance is very useful for your teaching and counseling.   Bring along any needed handout masters for courses and seminars.  Copies can be obtained reasonably in Kampala.   If you use a textbook, you will probably be asked to bring a free copy for each student.  Instead of bringing your best (or marked) Bible, you might bring one you’re willing to give.   Page protectors in a 3-ring notebook with flexible cover are excellent for preserving notes and messages, etc., and copies can be made in Kampala without taking out the paper sheet.  It is wise to bring extra pens, pencils, and a clip board.  You may want to buy an inexpensive 3-ring notebook and take your regular daily planner sheets along.  Bring some important email addresses with you in case a message can be sent to America.  Web cafés exist in Kampala. Ministry updates and prayer requests can be sent to your own intercessor network.  Since our coordinator is busy, at present we can accept email from Team member families, but we don’t promise return email messages.  
  • Barry McWilliams’ suggestions relating to teaching seminars:
    Teaching  Seminars
    The "Requested topics" are likely to change as you arrive at venues [My position is that if a venue has not given topics within an adequate time frame, we’ll regretfully proceed with what we’d prepared in the absence of prior direction, unless a last-minute change is not a problem for the teacher. JS]  Handouts (bring master copies for duplication there)
    Try to teach something you know, rather than attempt something you don't.
    Practical topics are preferred: Christian Leadership, Basic Doctrines: Christ, Salvation (Grace),Covenant Theology, Stewardship, Christian Living and Spiritual Gifts, Evangelism and Disciplemaking, Marriage and Personal Relationships,Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Peacemaking, Work of the Holy Spirit and Empowerment, Various Bible Studies
    Question and Answer Sessions
    Try to answer by referring to the Bible if possible
    Expect questions on matters not even remotely related to your talks
    Don't hesitate to refer to your Ugandan brethren for clarification of the issues involved and for assistance in answering questions.
  • Since you will be busy inside Uganda, bring along sermons, lessons and teachings for various audiences, as applicable.  Try to study Uganda before arriving, to gain a hearing and draw pertinent applications.
  • You may wish to bring recreational reading as well for the long trip.

The Trip!

Team leaders: Reserve tickets as many months in advance as possible and try to arrange for payment no earlier than 30 days before departure.  This is a problem for teams under 10, but can be arranged through SIAMA, Willcox Travel, Ethiopian Air (directly with , them) an, d ot, hers.  You may book tickets through the ACTI Treasurer.  Check also cancellation fees, if any, and deduct them from any refunds.  Team member information needed varies according to the travel agent.  Also, do not distribute tickets until you are at the airline desk for departure and check before leaving home, to make sure that everyone has a passport (you should have a copy of the photo pages in case of loss).

Air travel websites:

British Air:

American Air:


Ethiopian Airlines: 

United Airlines:

SIAMA: Travel agency for missionaries: [fares fluctuate with strength of dollar]

Willcocks Travel:

Frequent flying: Increasingly, some classes of discounted tickets will not earn frequent-flyer miles.  If yours does, make sure that you have a frequent flyer number with the airline you’re using, and then make sure that your frequent flyer number is credited with these flights.  Ask a ticket agent, or call the frequent flyer phone number (British Airways Executive Club™: 800.955.2748 from the U.S.; Sabena Belgian World Airlines: 800.873.3900) before you fly.  To be safe, keep all boarding passes until the airline sends you a record that the miles were indeed credited to you.  If you don’t hear from them within two months of your trip, check with the airline.  If you wait too long, you will not be able to get credit.  Two round-trips to Uganda may gain you a free roundtrip ticket within the US!

Airport transportation: Check out your transportation to the airport ahead of time, to make sure it is in good shape.  A last-minute ticket change, due to missing the plane, can be costly.  Plan to arrive at the airport two-three hours before scheduled departure, for international flights.  Make sure that your return pickup arrangements are finalized, and that your driver has your return airline, flight number and arrival time.  Suggest that they call the airline before they come to get you, to see if your flight will arrive on time, and give them the airline phone number (British Air: 800.247.9297).

Luggage: Check your airline for current baggage allowances and keep strictly to them.  Seventy pounds per bag does not now apply to some airlines.   Since the needs are so great, please fill up your limit with ministry items.  You may take your bag to the local airport and ask to weigh the bags, bringing along extra “stuffers”, until you reach the limit, or purchase a large readout scale if you travel frequently.  Generally you may take a carry-on bag which will fit in the overhead compartment, and a briefcase or purse which will fit under the seat in front of you.  Army duffel bags, one with backpack straps, are inexpensive and easily re-useable.  Currently, checked baggage must be unlocked for security inspection, but you may be able to send the lock along to have security lock it after inspection.  However, avoid looking like para-military!  Culture-Link seminars advise us to tag all bags with the SAME color large ribbon, and to appoint a baggage captain who counts and re-counts bags as they are moved from point to point.   Others should stay with the bags at both points.  Do not put expensive carry-ons on the x-ray conveyor belt without first having someone waiting for them, to avoid theft at the other end.

Make sure your passport, funds, and yellow immunization card are handy.  Currently the yellow immunization card is not checked by authorities, but this may change.

Make sure that  baggage is checked through to Entebbe (“EBB”), Uganda when going, and through to your USA destination, returning. Otherwise you may have to deal with customs in more than 1 country.  For London terminal transfers, currently you must physically transport your bags to the other airport, for security reasons.

Note on London: Try to arrange your flight to avoid both a change from Heathrow to Gatwick and an overnight in London, which can be done, particularly if you reserve tickets early enough.  If a shuttle is necessary between these airports, consider Speedlink’s [Airlink] roundtrip ticket (17£ in 2004) available at the airport.  If using SIAMA as travel agent, their London hotel is not expensive and is close to Heathrow.

Travel clothing should be very comfortable.  The plane and London can be chilly, so dress accordingly, with perhaps a sweater and jacket.

An inflatable pillow is an asset to your neck in air travel and doubles as a regular pillow.  It is available at some office supply stores, as are money belts/travel accessories.

Drink lots of liquids on the plane, since you lose fluid in a pressurized cabin, and try to exercise.   A good time to use the restroom is immediately after a meal, or just before the conclusion of a film. You can find out what happened later.

Lost luggage: if your bags do not arrive at your destination, make sure that you report this to the airline immediately, before leaving the airport.  Give them the luggage tag number, a description of the bag and contents and how they can reach you, including phone number and address.  For British Air you should go to the baggage services department where you will be instructed as to the procedure.  Keep calling the airline each day that it does not arrive.   If all else fails, contact your travel agent for assistance.  British Air has been quite responsive to customer concerns, an agent tells us.

Laptop computers: if you wish to risk taking one, it may be a good idea to disguise them in a backpack.  An extra battery is useful, with power service unpredictable in Uganda.  If you bring a laptop, consider also bringing a portable printer, but guard them well.  They could be very useful in the jet and airport and in situations where you need on-the-spot preparations, but your laptop would need to be watched.

London layover?: you may have a long layover at Gatwick airport, enabling you to sightsee.   Again, return at least 2 hours before departure.  To avoid a flat exchange fee per person, which is high, combine your funds to exchange dollars into pounds sterling (£--compare rates at a couple of forexchanges [forex]).   If you don’t spend it all going, you have some funds for your return trip.  Better, you can use a debit/credit card to avoid exchange fees entirely.  Train agents and many restaurants take debit/credit cards.  The English have excellent soaps and body lotions, as gifts, for purchase upon your return, so you won’t have to carry them all over Uganda.  Check duty-free electronics stores for prices.

London sightseeing: you may get a roundtrip ticket on Gatwick Express or a less expensive train from London Gatwick airport for Victoria Station.  There you can buy a “London Visitor’s Map” at a news stand and conduct your own tour.  Many sights are within walking distance of the station: Westminster Cathedral and Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the National [art] Gallery, the Horse Guards, St. James Park, etc.  You can purchase a one-day bus or Tube pass Be aware that the toilets may cost money (free at the National Gallery—which so far is also free).  STAY TOGETHER  in London, and try not to look too much like a tourist!


  • Congratulations!  The good news is you are suddenly wealthy!  The bad news: many will likely want to share your wealth!  The truth is you are wealthy by comparision, and the wealthy are commanded to be generous (1 Tim. 6:18).  Ask God for great wisdom and grace to handle this typical missionary/host country disparity.

  • Your passport will be examined at Entebbe airport and given an entry stamp.  You may be asked for our Uganda address and the dates of our stay.  You may use the address of Rashid Luswa, First Presbyterian Church (off Rubaga Road), Kampala (POB 31270), tel.: 77-406-118.

  • Picking up bags and customs: After gathering your bags (marked with bright ribbon, right?), gather, and go through customs together, which can help speed the process.  Any items that are for the Ugandans are ministry gifts, and the rest are personal items.  In case you are challenged, having a bill of sale with you will settle the issue on new items.  “If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue…” (Rom. 13:7, NIV).   Honest differences of opinion exist on how to proceed through customs, sometimes based upon perceived unfair treatment by customs agents.  We should do what is right.  You and your support team back home can be praying for fairness and favor in the sight of the customs agents.  If you expect or encounter any trouble, insist on seeing Rashid Luswa or his assistant, who can be of great help and who will be awaiting you in the lobby, before customs determines your bill.  Be prepared for a wait in Entebbe at customs.  Once through, DO NOT let anyone automatically take your bags from the airport for you, unless they identify themselves credibly as ACTI workers.  You must be firm.  Remember, you are now a person of wealth in the eyes of most Ugandans.

  • Eight ACTI missioners evaluated the difficulty of cultural entry into Uganda, and the difficulty of re-entry into the U.S.  On a scale from 1-10 (10=most difficult) the average entry level was 4.6 and the average re-entry level was 3.6, although two found re-entry more difficult.  Talk about your entry and re-entry feelings with team members, and try to meet as a team soon after your return to the U.S.

  • Time adjustment is largely an individual matter, but expect some tiredness, particularly since sleep on a plane is interrupted.  You may wish to take a sleeping aid the first couple of days. You will generally be taken to the Kampala area and allowed to rest from traveling (over 18 hours in the air) and jet lag.   Try to adopt to the Uganda clock as soon as possible.   East Africa Time is 7 hours in advance of Eastern Daylight Time, and 8 hours in advance of Eastern Standard Time.

  • We come to Uganda as servants of the Uganda church.  Although people may honor us, we come to serve, as Jesus gave example (Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.")  Humility is not associated immediately with Americans, but should be with Christians.  We can learn much from Ugandans about endurance, patience, prayer, the Holy Spirit, faith and love.

  • Food and beverages: some bring snack foods, such as granola bars, nuts, crackers, to supplement the diet.  Some snacks are available in Uganda.   Our ACTI team is very careful to instruct your hosts about proper cooking methods.   As for fruits there, unless you can peel it, it is better left alone.  This goes for salads too, unless at a good guest house or from an ACTI cook.  Beware of ordering ice, unless you’re sure it is from pure water.  Generally, try to eat the food offered (unless perhaps in a strange home while witnessing, perhaps), but if you are sick or know the food to be contaminated (as for instance, smelling rancid), you may politely decline.  Use bottled water to brush your teeth.  Bottled soft drinks are fine, but preferably use a straw, or wipe off the bottle mouth with an alcohol pad.  Again, carry good water (available in Uganda) with you.

  • In the unlikely event of robbery, give up your valuables and don’t try to fight robbers.  They are probably armed, and we aren’t.  Stay very cool.

  • You may be tempted to feel like Superman or a super-hero for Africa—beware.  You may even be encouraged by others to feel this way!  So that you do not suffer burn-out, take adequate time alone to re-connect with the Lord.  Otherwise you may be become spiritually ineffective, and exhausted.  Namirimbe Cathedral in Kampala is a good, quiet location.

  • Ugandan culture: Rashid Luswa’s counsel:

Time:  “Most Ugandans will not keep time.  Quite a few may have the watches on their hands, but they tend to look at the sun instead.  A 1:00 PM appointment may mean general lunchtime between 12:00 noon to 2:00 PM!  One therefore needs to be very emphatic when making especially critical appointments, to avoid disappointments!  Most people will come one hour or so late.  It is partly cultural, but also greatly depends upon events or any other limitations (e.g. in the event of a rainfall, people may be delayed for as long as it lasts, because they won’t walk in the rain!”).

Breast feeding:    “Breast feeding is naturally accepted in public, nobody cares!”

Males: “Uganda (Africa in general) is a male-dominated culture.  Women will, for example, kneel down when greeting men!  This is not expected of Muzungu [white] ladies when they come on mission work!”

Greetings: “Greeting usually takes time.  Rushing through it may be regarded as being disrespectful!  Be prepared for a triple kind of handshake.”

Food: “The food tends to be of the unprocessed kind, so one may not really find much tinned stuff!  The people are generally VERY poor.  I have no basis to compare the poverty here.”

Ugandans: “Ugandans are in general very friendly to strangers.  Many people may approach a Muzungu (white) mainly because they want to be of help in any way possible.  However, care must be taken, as many if not all people here associate Muzungu with money or any other economic benefits!”

African Americans: People here may not really see a difference between themselves and the African Americans, until they speak.  African Americans intending to come for missions in Africa should know that the people, though they look alike physically, are very different culturally.   Ugandans do not face the same problems, and if one assumes that the problems [that the Ugandans face] are the same, it will result in a lack of understanding and confusion among Ugandans.

Religion “Uganda is often times refered to as a Christian country, with 85% of the population being Roman Catholic, protestants and/or other non-mainline Christians.  Muslims comprise about 7%.  The rest are either animists or pagans.  Out of the 85%, there are VERY few committed Christians, say 15%.  One therefore has to be very careful when using the word “Christian”.  The right wording should be “born again Christians.”  There is freedom of worship here.  This has a disadvantage in the sense that a lot of junk religions are coming in.  It has advantages too, as the Gospel is preached without hindrance!  The Gospel here can be preached in the schools, hospitals, prisons, cities and villages without any hindrance!”

Little public romantic expression is acceptable in Ugandan culture, even between husband and wife.

Tribes in various parts of Uganda—Rashid says there are 52-- have different characteristics.  For instance, the Buganda tribe in Kampala is very industrious, while a distant tribe may have a reputation for laziness.

  • When you are being translated, pause at the end of a phrase, and try to get into synch with your interpreter.  Don’t run over the translater—his sermon may be better than yours.

  • Make friends.  Tell stories.  Ugandans are very intelligent, even philosophical.  Refrain from being condescending.  Ugandans are very well organized, though it may not look like it to you.  Accept their way of doing things, unless the Bible speaks clearly against it.  Trust the Lord, trust your leader.  PRAY.

  • Form a group of prayer warriors who will commit to pray for you every day you are away.

  • Sickness:  please ask your prayer warriors to pray that you and the team will remain healthy.  Those who do become sick report this as the lowpoint of their trip, naturally, and feel lonely.  Should you become sick, you can use that time for prayer and reading and correspondance, if well enough.  Arrange for a team member to stay with someone incapacitated.

  • As God leads, look for ways to involve your home church in meeting needs in Uganda after you return.  Get any needed email addresses.  Ask about priority projects.

  • You may wish to record some music with a small tape recorder to enliven a presentation later.

  • Gifts for those back home:  you will be given an opportunity to buy souvenirs in Uganda.  Since prices for whites are sometimes 25-50% higher, it is good to have a Ugandan friend with you, or bargain yourself.  Consider getting small gifts for your donors, such as wooden letter openers and other handicrafts.  Beware of getting ritual masks or items which appear to be art, but may be associated with the demonic.  You will probably be able to visit the “African Mall,” behind the National Theatre, which has a great handicraft selection.  Compare prices, since they vary even within this Mall.  Excellent woven mats are to be found near Bishop Tucker College, outside of Kampala, in case you travel that way, and many items are to be found more cheaply outside of Kampala.


Re-entry: You may be disgusted with American affluence upon returning, and astounded to walk into a large supermarket. You may also kiss US soil!  Someone has rightly observed that we do not know our own culture until we have seen another.  What have you learned from the Ugandans and from the Ugandan church?  What do you now see about your own culture?  Where does each culture obey or disobey God?

Team meeting: Try to gather again as a team with your pictures soon after your return to the US, as Culture-Link advises.  It may be the last time you’re together, and it provides closure.

 Reporting: Now it is time to compile a report of your journey for your supporters while the memories are fresh.  You will encourage them with a timely letter.  Your team leader may ask you to complete a follow-up survey as a way to improve the ministry (a form is available here). Ask your pastor for the opportunity to report and present ministry opportunities to your church soon after your return.  Consider a PowerPoint presentation, using sound bites.


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Permission is granted to ministry teams to reproduce this material for their use. Thanks to these contributors to this manual: Culture-Link, Bob Hayes, Henry Krabbendam, Bertha Lloyd, Rashid Luswa, Barry McWilliams, Randy Nabors, John Pickett and Jim Sutherland.