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Companion Reflections: Chella’s Experience Finding Meaningful Connection in Uganda



I’ve had the incredible opportunity of participating in two Kindred Exchange trips to Uganda: first to kick off the cohort training program in 2022, and again for the cohort graduation in 2023. Both were truly transformative experiences for me, and defining points on the timeline of my life that will reverberate for many years to come. Yet there was something unique about the second trip that was unmistakable and unexpected – something I’ve spent many hours reflecting on since returning home.


The first trip was a remarkable time of connection and getting to know one another. It was the start of something beautiful, like a seedling stretching toward the light as it erupts through fresh, fertile soil. It was organic and hopeful and so good that I secretly wondered if a return visit could even compare.


But the second trip...to be honest, I’ve yet to find words that can capture the vibrancy and richness of that experience. It was genuinely like coming home to family. Like reuniting with loved ones that you haven’t seen in quite some time, and picking up where you left off like no time had passed at all.


It took me by surprise in the very best way. At first, I contemplated if this was just the nature of returning to the same place for a second time – though I’ve had the opportunity to do that in the past and this still felt completely different. Even our teammates visiting for the first time were experiencing the same depth of meaningful connectivity and the joy of being grafted into this beautiful, loving family. We all watched in awe as our expectations of what we thought relationally possible on a short-term trip were exceeded by leaps and bounds.




Time and space for reflection have allowed me to see that this difference was, in large part, a result of the Kindred Companions program.


Kindred Companions was created with relational connectivity in mind. Each entrepreneur in training is paired with a companion through Kindred Exchange for the simple purpose of having a friend to lock arms with as they complete the cohort training program. Companions have access to the training content for reference and engage in monthly video calls with their partner for an intentional time of encouragement, brainstorming together, and connecting relationally. One of my favorite aspects is the accessibility - you don’t need to have a business background, or meet a financial threshold, or even participate in a trip to be a companion. It’s an opportunity designed for anyone who enjoys connecting cross-culturally and can simply commit to a season of walking alongside another person in meaningful relationship.


I signed up eagerly. Another companion and I were paired together with Lydia and Esther, two entrepreneurs in Uganda that are starting a restaurant together. I was excited for the opportunity but not entirely sure what to expect. Would it be difficult to stay in touch? Would we run out of things to talk about? Would our cultural differences leave us struggling to relate to one another?


In short order, all of those anxieties melted away. What started as monthly video calls to discuss the training material quickly blossomed into a deep, meaningful friendship – sharing in each other’s joys and sorrows alike, praying and encouraging one another, and engaging in rich conversations about our hopes for the future. Not a week goes by that we aren’t chatting or sharing pictures over WhatsApp, touching base to check on a family member or situation we’ve been praying together about, or celebrating one another.


Connecting with these women has been a source of pure joy in my life – the friendship, the compassion, the shared humanity. In a world that is so often determined to divide and tear down we have chosen to unite and build something beautiful, together. Through that experience I have learned how to be more intentional. How to slow down and savor the holy moments in life that could be too easily dismissed as ordinary. I’ve experienced community in such a way that the very word itself has taken on new meaning.


You see, it’s no small coincidence that our return to Uganda felt like being grafted into a family, even for those who were meeting the cohort for the very first time. Through the Kindred Companions program, the roots of meaningful, cross-cultural relationship had already taken hold. Each new friendship forged by a companion and entrepreneur added strength and depth to that foundation, serving as a beautiful reminder that we are created to flourish together. Suddenly, us and them became we – and the fruit of that transformation was utterly powerful.


When I reflect on my experience as a Kindred Companion, I am filled with gratitude and sheer wonder at God’s goodness on display. Every moment has truly been a gift, and I know the impact of these relationships will continue to resonate throughout each of our lives. We face the future hand in hand and brimming with hopeful anticipation of what’s to come, together.





 


GET TO KNOW CHELLA


Chella is the Executive Business Administrator of a healthcare company in North Texas where she lives with her husband, Steve, and their two [mostly grown] children. As young parents, Steve and Chella first discovered a passion for cross-cultural connection through short-term mission opportunities in Nepal. This spark ultimately led to the Lorenz family relocating to Nepal for a season, during which time Chella organized and facilitated short-term trips for incoming teams. Since then, she’s had many opportunities to lead or participate in trips around the world, finding joy in simply connecting with and and learning from other cultures.


Chella loves to travel, will spend endless hours reading, and is happy to go anywhere there’s going to be live music. She especially loves taking unique trips with her family that revolve around concerts, record stores, and bookshops.



 


LEARN MORE ABOUT KINDRED COMPANIONS


The Kindred Companions program allows you to intentionally build friendships with the entrepreneurs that are a part of our global business cohorts. If you are interested in becoming a Kindred Companion in the future, join the waitlist here. We will be sure to notify you when we have availability.




SUPPORT THE UGANDA COHORT


As we continue to work alongside national voices to to grow and inform the future of this program, we are looking towards our community to help us make this next year of the Uganda cohort possible. We are looking for 40 people who feel called to give $50/month to support the Uganda Cohort this year as they get ready to launch or scale their businesses. Your giving is what makes all of this possible! Thank you for your generosity and willingness to partner alongside us to sustainably support these entrepreneurs.




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