I left the United States covered in snow and returned to Uganda covered in red dirt. I left freezing weather and family and friends to return to wonderful weather with family and friends. Coming back to Uganda after being away for four months was very emotional. Nakato, a 4 year old, began crying when she saw me and it, of course, made me tear up. She was crying because she was excited to see her JaJa and had been waiting on the day for me to return. She might have been crying because she wasn't the first one hugged - or she might have been crying because she didn't know what else to do. Whatever the reason, the tears were real and heartfelt and pierced a deeper sting of love in the deepest parts of my heart. Nakato teaches me about love.
In just four days, I've lived a life. We've taken several to the doctor saving a child from Malaria, discovering an excited young, married staff member is pregnant, paid all the ladies in the sewing & rug making department their 2014 bonuses from the rug sales, had a staff party to celebrate the new year, received the first 2015 mission team from Harpeth Hall (Nashville), and smiled til it hurt because a little boy with a cracked bucket over his head is smiling. That little boy is Joshua that I have often talked about and requested prayers for. He has battled sickle cell disease and was in terrible pain the last month. But today, with a bucket over his head and a smile on his face, he reminded us all to live life to the fullest no matter what we are dealt.
The James Place is a family home of love. Everyone here is family and family is what we are fighting for. Some of our family members are widows, some abandoned, some are staff and some are children in the community. Teams that come become family quickly and they help us to build deeper relationships with everyone and to show what love looks like by traveling across the world to serve the least of these. But whoever walks through the gates, they come here and find love. Not because of me and not because of what we are doing but because God is in this place.
This thing called love is hard and real and wonderful and crazy. "We love because HE first loved us" according to 1 John 4:19. But it's hard and easy all at the same time. Loving others unconditionally has been challenging and rewarding...it's been easy and hard...it's been tearful and joyful...it's been a whole string of contradicting emotions but one thing is for sure: This deep love has shown me how much our heavenly Father loves us and that we will never, never, never measure up to HIS love. Til I reach my final home, I'll just keep trying to love more the way Nakato loves: a love so deep that it flows with uncontrollable, heartfelt tears. That is how I imagine God's love is for us.