Being away from Jinja the last month has given me the opportunity to reflect on all that has transpired the last two to three years. Looking back, God was so brilliant in shaping and forming the ministry that is totally HIS in Jinja.....HEAL Ministries has transformed into something so beautiful that it can only be attributed to God, and HE gets all the glory. Even when I think about how we obtained the James Place..........a true gift and a true blessing that would not have happened without our friends at Amani Baby Cottage (an orphanage that HEAL partners with). Because I had to be away at times for medical treatments and scans, there was an urgency in 2013 to prepare and train the staff for my absences. 2013's focus was just that. Training our 15 full time Ugandan staff members and our additional 8 part time workers to take the lead. Under Trey Weir's guidance (Operations Manager at the James Place) they are not only running the ministry, but also loving it! Our desire was always to have a ministry that is totally Ugandan led.
It starts with Juliana......she has the sweetest spirit and manages the staff and the women's programs. Juliana is a widow and has a passion for HEAL. She loves the children and the women and is a team player. She has the skills to not only lead but to lead by example. She speaks several languages and assists us out in the field for social work. Juliana is a friend to all that walk through the gates, and she diligently interviews each person and makes sure they are in the right class and program. She becomes everyone's friend.
Then, there is Regina. Regina was the very first woman that I met in Masese with Pastor Andrew three years ago. Now she is a most valuable resource for HEAL. She is a translator and helps out in childcare and women's ministry at the James Place, as well as leading the Masese Bible study on Mondays. Regina is also valuable in the outdoor kitchen helping Babiyre, the cook. Mama Cook at Amani Baby Cottage trained Babiyre. Babiyre makes sure that the staff and children in childcare are getting nutritional meals and snacks daily.
The remaining childcare workers: Jackie, Jennifer, Rebecca, Irene and Aisha are wonderful. There are many days that they work before and after hours and never complain when a parent is late to pick up the child. They are there with smiles on at all times. Aisha has a teaching certificate and is doing a remarkable job with her lessons plan in preschool.
Some of our most loyal workers come from the cleaning crew. Harriett and Lydia both have twins, and we met because of our partnership with JPCC. They work hard and they play hard.....and they are devoted and loyal. One of my favorite things to see is the smiles on Harriett's and Lydia's faces during Kids Club on Saturdays. Harriett and Lydia are working hard with the others to serve 200 - 400 kids each week. They make sure their "regular jobs" are finished so that they are a part of the weekly Kids Club. That is the beauty of our staff. They all pitch in when necessary, helping out in other areas.
The men on the property are a HUGE needed asset. They are strong Christians, family oriented and they are role models to the children and even to the women that come and see them. They never ask for days off and most often hang out after work because they love it! Joshua, Edward, Dennis and Wilbur are definitely a big reason why Trey is comfortable when visiting the states. We know that things are left in good hands.
Perhaps the way that I feel most blessed is that these people I've mentioned are not only friends; they have become family. Family that loves on other broken people that walk through the gates beaten down.....only to get built up. They literally breathe love into others and support HEAL's vision: helping every abandoned woman and child find his or her value, purpose and hope through the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
Yep, looking back.....I'm so thankful, humbled and blessed beyond words. HEAL has been blessed with people.......people that love, and support us, people that we partner with, people that we work with, people that keep us lifted up in prayer, and people that we serve. I'm thankful that God's plans prevailed over my plans. And that is why the ministry is such a beautiful thing!