top of page
  • Writer's pictureKathleen Holyoak

Teaching Music in Uganda - Part III

I met Justine and Isaac before church so we could rehearse the song they were planning to sing. I was so excited to share my experience about how their names came to mind in those early morning hours and said, "Justine I have a guitar for you and Isaac, you will be getting a keyboard." In complete dismay, she hardly knew what to say. As I opened up the guitar box and placed it on her lap, Justine's eyes widened in disbelief and immediately she gave me a huge hug and said, "Thank you!"

We sat and talked and then I told them I was hoping to continue teaching them online and through skype. I showed them how to tune the guitar and they agreed to help each other and teach others once they became proficient. I challenged them to set some goals, take baby steps, and encouraged them to help others share a musical number in church every month. Both agreed.

As I accompanied their song in church, I got goose bumps because I don't believe the Kololo Ward had ever had a special musical number before that day or the Sunday when I played a piano solo. I asked Isaac if he would help organize a ward choir but to my surprise he said they already had a choir and he was the director! Of course, what else would I have expected? Issac knew how to direct music, had a nice singing voice and engaging personality and was a leader among his peers.

In the meantime, I arranged to see Isaac after church to explain more about the keyboard he would be receiving. As we were walking down the hallway, Isaac leaned toward me and whispered,

"I need to tell you something. Justine is my girlfriend and we have been dating for 5 months!"

I could have dropped my teeth and said, " I had no idea you were dating and knowing this is truly the frosting on the cake!" While shaking his head in disbelief Isaac said, "This is all so amazing. I have been praying about wanting to learn an instrument and to learn to play the piano but I didn't know how to do that. . . then I came to church and you were there. You were an answer to my prayers!"

I was thrilled and marveled how everything had come together, realizing that there truly are no coincidences and this was all part of God's plan and timing. To say the least, I felt extremely humbled . . .all the pieces of the mysterious puzzle had come together and finally I understood why their names were placed in my thoughts.

Justine and Isaac are beautiful people.

This is not quite the end of the story. After I paid for the instruments, I was sure we were short on American cash. I was worried because we had yet to cover expenses for an upcoming trip to see the Silver Back Gorillas. However, it just so happened that my conversions were wrong and

I had miscalculated the amount and we actually had just enough $ to cover our trip. As my father, Sylvan, would say, "All is well in River City!"

I wasn't able to get the keyboard for Isaac until our last day in Kampala and anxiously awaited for him to meet us and pick it up from the mission office. With only minutes to spare before leaving for the airport, he came running in. I choked up with tears as I handed him the keyboard and could barely speak. After a tender hug, we bade our last goodbye. It was really hard to leave because we had come to love so many beautiful people and didn't know if we would ever see them again.

Isaac and Justine

In case you are wondering whatever happened to Isaac and Justine, we have remained in close communication through the years. They have shared their highs and their lows and often ask for advise. They love having instruments in their home and just last week Issac said he has taken an interest in learning the guitar.

When Isaac was planning to propose to Justine, he shared his plans with me and I helped him order her ring online. I'll never forget waiting on pins and needls from thousands of miles away to hear all the details of that unforgettable evening on the beach.


Brides-to-be wear their engagement ring on their left middle finger.

I would have given anything to attend their wedding but

at least surprised them to stay in a honeymoon suite the night of their wedding.

Eventually they moved from Kampala to Cape Town, South Africa for work and have lived there the past several years.

Through the past 6 years, it has been wonderful to continue our communication as they've shared their lives from Africa.

This was the photo on their wedding invitation. They were married Dec. 25, 2014.

Justine with Harry & Hayden

They have two little boys and a baby due in December, 2020. They've become "family" and address me as "G'ma."

Teaching music to young adults has been one of the greatest joys of my life!

When Garth and I left Uganda and returned home to Arizona, we left a little piece of our hearts with the dear people there. They have forever impacted our lives and made us better individuals. We are so grateful for the many opportunities we've had to serve abroad in numerous humanitarian projects.

An African sunset

I love this quote by Erma Bombeck: "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope I would not have a single bit of talent left and I could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"

Next week: Uganda IV (Traveling 12 hours north to Bwindi, visiting schools, a Pygmie village and seeing first-hand the Silver Back Gorillas!)

39 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page