My name is Melissa Bennett Mukulu and I am 28 years old. I am currently serving as co-director of Sonrise Children's Home in Jinja, Uganda with my husband Ivan Mukulu.
My grandmother took me on my first mission trip to Honduras when I was a teenager. I soon learned that I was called to serve overseas somewhere. I felt a calling to minister and work with orphans since I was 16 years old. From that day, I prayed that God would show me where I was to serve Him. After years of praying God showed me Uganda in 2011. I fell in love with the country as soon as my feet touched the beautiful red dirt and met the wonderful people. I knew from that day that God wanted me in Uganda. He wanted me to move there and share God's word with those people. I prayed that God would show me how I was going to move there permanently, where I was going to stay, where I was going to serve, and who with? I was ready and willing to go alone, but as every person wonders, what if I get sick? Who is going to be there with me?
I kept in touch with everyone I met from my first trip to Uganda. That's when Ivan and I began talking more and more it was clear our interests matched. I wanted to work with children and he runs a children's home! I always wanted to be a pastors wife and he was a pastor. He loves the Lord with everything he has and I do as well. We both had the same vision for the future of the children at the home and the people in the villages. It was a perfect match! We were both waiting for the right person God had for us. I prayed and prayed. Is this the person God had for me? Is this the answer to all my prayers? I would have a place to serve, live, and someone to be there with me.
After much prayer from both of us and 2 years of talking, yes, we were meant to be together! This was God's plan for us. I began my planning to move to Uganda.
In February 2013, Ivan proposed in Canada! I moved to Uganda July 1, 2013. On July 6, 2013 we were married in a Ugandan wedding! We began working hand in hand from that moment on directing the Sonrise Children's Home.
I am so blessed to have this dream job. I have 23 loving children today and soon to be more. I couldn't ask for anything better. I enjoy working with the visiting teams and taking them to villages to share the gospel. I look forward to raising the children to know God and to serve Him.
My name is Ivan Mukulu and I am 31 years old. I am currently the director of Sonrise Children's Home in Jinja, Uganda along side of my wife Melissa Mukulu. My father died in 1994 with HIV/Aids and my mother died in 1998 also with HIV/aids. 3 years before she died, she knew she had the disease and was planning on what to do with my siblings and I. We didn’t know about it because we were so young. She took us to an orphanage called Good Shepherds Fold (GSF) in 1995 and she passed away while we were there in 1998. It was sad but she died while knowing that my siblings and I were in good hands.
GSF was run by missionaries from the US (Daddy Wayne Walker and his wife that we called Mommy). It was a Christian organization and it was the place that I learned about Christ and gave my life to Him. Daddy Wayne always told us that we were all there for a purpose, considering the 2 million orphans in Uganda (because of HIV,AIDs, and other diseases).
I knew from that time, that God had me there for a reason and he was going to use me for something in my life. GSF paid for me to go to Art school in 2000 where I spent 3 years. When I came back to GSF I resettled back into the community. One year later a couple sponsors saw my passion for God, so they paid for my way to go to Seminary. I spent the next 5 years at seminary learning God’s Word. One year before finishing, my sister (Damali) opened up the Sonrise Babies Home. When I was at school, I started coming to the home help.
Damali was concerned about where the babies would go when they got old enough to leave the babies home. There was no place that she knew of to send them, so I told her that I would open the Sonrise Children’s Home.
The children’s home began in 2010. Considering that I had been in seminary for 5 years, I decided that I not only wanted to share this knowledge with the children but with the whole community. I wanted them to also know the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I started up a church in 2010, which we call Sonrise Community Church. The church would also help our children to grow up under the fear of the Lord and to learn to serve the Lord. Through the church we can also reach out to the community and to help them.
In 2011, I met a beautiful young woman that was on a mission trip visiting Uganda. Two years later we married and now we are serving together at Sonrise Children’s Home.