Harriet has a smile that lights up a room. The same smiles have been passed on to her three children. When I first met Harriet, she lived in a horrible condition. Her husband had just left her and the children for another woman. I met her in my friend's organization, JPCC (Jinja Pregnancy Crisis Center), which I've talked about so much. They work with teenage pregnant girls and then help them through the crisis and HEAL walks alongside them for the next step. Harriet needed a stepping stone so that she could stand on her own two feet. She was a single mom raising three children until the father of the children saw a difference. He began to see that she was strong and joyful. He began to see that the children were full of light and joy. He began to see Christ in Harriet and his children. Today, Harriet and Richard are a family. They have a home with their three children together and Joseph. Joseph is six years old and belongs to Richard and another woman that deserted him. Joseph's mom dropped him off and disappeared. And just like that Harriet said, "we have to take him and help him and teach him what a family is." Harriet has become a remarkable young woman at the age of 21. Today, she can be found at the James Place always working with a smile on her face and always taking the time to serve and help others. Her heart is full of love and we have seen a transformation that can only occur because of the eternal hope that we all have. She has learned to forgive and she has learned to love Christ through hard times and trials and through good times. She knows how to be content in need and in plenty. I have personally learned a lot through Harriet.
Lydia and Harriet are friends. They were both at JPCC when I first met them. Lydia has twin boys and was deserted by her husband. He was drinking and abusive and not providing for her and the children. Lydia began working and growing in Christ. The first year that she worked, she literally had to ask for an advance on a monthly basis and was always in a bad mood. Last year she saved money every single month and had enough money at the end of the year to purchase furniture for her home. Lydia now has a smile that radiates, especially during praise and worship. I visited her in her home and had the privilege of sitting on her sofa recently and asked her what her favorite thing about her home was and she said: "I have a place for my family." That in itself makes a mama's heart smile.
There are many stories like this that best explain why we do what we do. Like Faith and Parvin. Both are 17 now. Faith was 14 when I met her and Parvin was 16. Both were pregnant and scared. Both kicked out of their homes. Both were abused and should not have gone through what they did. Both today, living together as one happy family. Faith has Catherine who is now almost 3. Parvin has baby Benja that was just born last fall. Both have chosen family and hope and joy. Both are in high school together making great grades in the very same class. God put these two wonderful young ladies together and they now understand that God has made something beautiful out of something terrible. A new family that God chose.
We are learning that all mamas want the same thing: children to grow up and learn about love and grow in God's favor and strength. Harriet's story now has a complete family with mama and daddy in the home. But Lydia's story has a complete family too. It just looks different. There is only a mama and two boys but our heavenly Father steps in to complete the family. Faith and Parvin have their own blended family that looks even different than the other two. They would not have chosen this path but they are making the most out of the path they have been forced to go down. It is such a joy to see all four of these mamas running to their children with arms wide open.
Every family at the James Place looks a little different but one thing is for sure the same: we have a lot of mamas a lot happier because they can work or attend school and have a safe place to bring their children. We have a lot of mamas working hard and learning trades so that they can provide for their family. We have a lot of mamas that needed the James Place stepping-stone to get to the next phase. I'm just one happy mama that gets to give you a small glimpse of what God is doing through these four particular mamas; four reasons that we believe in celebrating family preservation.