I cannot even bury the lead as I am so darn excited about this one! I am going to Uganda, Africa this summer for a mission trip!! This has been tugging on my heart for years, so yes there’s a good blog-worthy story behind it.
Furthermore, I’ve found a creative way to do it so I want to share it with y’all. Additionally, if you’d If you would like to support this mission and the orphans I’ll explain how you can help.
My Introduction to Uganda & Juna Amagara Ministries
Prior to getting sober, I rode my bicycle…a lot. My ex-boyfriend and I would take these long bike rides (often 50+ miles) through the Metroparks. Sounds healthy, right? Well, the only caveat is that we were high on drugs and would stop in bars along the way.
Upon getting sober, I was cautioned to stay away from triggers. Well, believe it or not, biking was a trigger for me. Furthermore, it reminded me of some of the fun times rather than the negative times and consequences of drugging/drinking to excess.
One day I was attending a church service at Cuyahoga Valley Church and learned about a mission trip in which a team was going to bike from Pittsburg, PA. to Washington D.C. on the great Allegheny trail to raise money for orphans in Uganda. I prayed and pretty quickly realized this to be an opportunity from God to redeem biking for me.
I was broke and a debt-burdened gal so I certainly didn’t have the funds to do it. However, I signed up with faith and got back on the saddle training with the team. It felt great! Additionally, I raised the several hundred dollars needed for my trip.
We left for our mission and overall it was a win/win/win:
- We were doing something physically healthy
- The spiritual focus of the trip was refreshing
- And we got to help sweet little orphans in Uganda
The day I rode in the support vehicle with Dr. Ben (founder of Juna Amagara ministries in Uganda) was by far the best. Everywhere we stopped, I was able to witness how a true evangelist operated in love.
When he learned of my testimony, he pled with me to come to Uganda to teach. I remember feeling a strong call to go but also held back by the albatross of debt around my neck.
He simply said, when you pay off your debt, Uganda will be here for you.
I made a personal vow that day to tackle my finances.
Paving the Path with Debt Freedom
I wasn’t really able to start really making progress with my financial affairs until 2014 but by the end of 2017, I became debt-free for the first time in 23 years!!! Yep by paying off my debt, learning to budget and track my expenses, developing a high savings rate and embracing travel rewards, I’m able to actually consider doing such a big mission trip.
I’ve written about my calling to travel to Uganda here and here. Am I called to take a sabbatical and teach in Uganda for a longer-term? I don’t know but I do know I’m called to go over there on this short term trip to find out. Who knows maybe I’ll be able to go back yearly and work with orphans on short-term trips.
One thing is for certain and that is I’ll never know unless I go! I’m not one to cower to a challenge so I say bring it on…
Embracing Travel Rewards to Do Mission Work
As I’ve gained more financial literacy, I’ve learned to use credit cards responsibly. How do I use credit cards responsibly? By charging only what I can afford to pay off in full and on time each and every month.
There are benefits to using credit cards like building good credit and earning travel reward points.
I’ve known for a year that I was ready to travel to Uganda in 2020 so I’ve been racking up a bunch of travel rewards points. The three types of cards/points I’ve used are American Express, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One. I’ll explain briefly how I did it and then share affiliate links for cards if you are ready and able to use credit cards responsibly. Of course, if you click and sign up for any of the cards, I’ll receive some bonus points so thanks in advance!
Since I’m flying into one country (Uganda) and out of another one (Rwanda), I was able to embrace different reward miles and purchase two one-way tickets. I employed the help of my friend, Anna Zaks, in figuring this all out. She is for hire so if you have some upcoming travel and want to earn and use points for it, reach out to her. Additionally, she speaks all over the Cleveland area at libraries teaching on how to travel the world for free!
We first went to Award Hacker to figure out the best route & points. The site is totally free. Here was my strategy:
- First I transferred enough Chase Ultimate Reward points from my Chase account to United which is a travel partner of Chase. I used these points to purchase my flight to Uganda.
- Second I transferred American Express points to LifeMiles (points program for Avianca) for my flight home from Rwanda. The nice thing about LifeMiles points is if you have multiple flights you can pick some to be coach and others to be business class. I upgraded my longest flight on the ride home to business class. I paid extra for this.
- Third I used my Capital One points and erased the charge for the upgraded flight. Capital One’s eraser lets you erase charges for items that code as travel if you have points.
Voila, free flights!!
Here are some affiliate links for credit cards used. Please, please, please only do this if you will charge only what you can afford to pay off in full on time each and every month. Accruing debt and paying credit card interest negates the benefits of all of this.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Chase Business Preferred
- Chase Ink Business Cash
- Capital One
- American Express (this one is not an affiliate link)
Keep in mind to have access to Chase Ultimate Rewards you must have at least one preferred card which means you’ll pay an annual fee. I’ve personally found this fee worth all of the travel benefits I’ve received but do the math specific to your situation.
Uganda Mission Support
So my goal in getting my flights purchased with travel reward miles was so that most of the money I raise could now go to the orphans. I still need $960 for my accommodations while in Uganda but anything above that will go directly to the sweet orphan children.
I will be traveling with a small team of ladies through Juna Amagara. Juna Amagara is a well-established non-profit organization that helps orphan children whose parent(s) have perished from AIDs/HIV by providing love, shelter, food, education and Christian discipleship.
The purpose of our trip is to visit children at several of the care centers. We will be loving on them, teaching and disciplining them. Furthermore, we will be interviewing them to gain a deeper understanding of their personal lives so their sponsoring families in the U.S. can know how to best help them. In addition to teaching the children, I will have an opportunity to share my testimony to some of the older teenagers.
Lastly, we will travel to the new JOY Care Center to work on restoring a historical landmark to the ministry if funds allow.
If you feel led to partner with me and provide financial support for my missionary work, please make your check or money out to Juna Amagara Ministries and mail to:
P.O. Box 670164
Northfield, OH. 44067-0164
This ministry is a registered non-profit organization and your donation is tax-deductible. If you prefer to donate electronically, you can send money to me via PayPal or Venmo; however, you won’t receive a tax-deductible receipt. Sending a check or money order is the only way to receive a tax-deductible receipt. I apologize for this inconvenience.
If you prefer PayPay or Venmo my accounts are under my full name, Deanna Broaddus but feel free to email me to confirm you got the right gal. 😉
More than anything I covet your prayers in all of this. Thank you so much for your love and support.