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Oak Harbor churches reach across the globe

The Oak Harbor Lutheran Watoto Team will travel to Gulu, Uganda this summer to build a medical clinic. Last summer the group traveled to the Watoto Village in Uganda to dig wells and construct a brick and mortar building to house the Watoto Orphanage nurses.  - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
The Oak Harbor Lutheran Watoto Team will travel to Gulu, Uganda this summer to build a medical clinic. Last summer the group traveled to the Watoto Village in Uganda to dig wells and construct a brick and mortar building to house the Watoto Orphanage nurses.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

The Oak Harbor Lutheran Watoto Team is at it again. The group of about 11 adventurous volunteers from the Lutheran Church, First United Methodist Church and Saint Stephen’s Anglican will travel to Uganda for the third consecutive year to work with the Watoto Childcare Ministries, an organization that provides residential care for orphaned and vulnerable children.

During the three-week excursion, they’ll build the Watoto Medical Center in Gulu.

Over the last year, Skip and Judy Lycksell, Willard and Dottie Krigbaum, Sharon Erickson, Joan Flowers, Janann Roodzant, Cynthia Fletcher, Lenita Forester, Kathi Phillips, and Billie Tull hosted raffles, an Oktoberfest supper, garage sale, holiday bazaar, spent an evening serving coffee and cookies at the Northbound Bow/Edison rest stop, and held other creative fundraisers.

Every penny raised by the team goes toward the Watoto Childcare Ministries and construction of the medical clinic. Each member pays for his or her own airfare and travel costs. In at least one case, a team member saved for two years to finance the travel.

They hope to raise an additional $60,000 to reach their goal of $130,000 before they leave on July 29.

Last year the group built a brick and mortar house and dug a well in Pader. The Living Water Project of Edmonds Lutheran and Trinity Lutheran of Lynnwood funded the installation of another well in Kitgum.

Although the area is located in a former war zone, said Skip Lyksell, it’s now relatively safe.

When asked why so much time and effort is put to this cause, returning team member Krigbaum can only say, “If you’ve met the people over there, you’d understand.”

Tull agrees.

“It’s a life changing experience,” she said.

Roodzant, a Watoto Team newbie, sponsored a little girl name Helen after the Watoto Children’s Choir visited Oak Harbor last July.

Although she hasn’t met Helen yet, Roodzant looks forward to their introduction this summer while she’s in Uganda.

Many other members sponsor Watoto orphans as well, and find the long-distance relationship very rewarding.

Support the Watoto Team’s mission by attending their benefit dinner and auction, Saturday, March 13 at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge. Preview is at 5 p.m.; silent auction from 5 to 7 p.m.; dinner from 6 to 7 p.m.; and live auction starting at 7 p.m. Cost is $20 per person. Call 679-1561 for tickets.

Follow their Facebook fan page, OHLC Watoto Team, for updates on more upcoming fundraisers.

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