The last two weeks have been extremely busy. Tina arrived on Monday two weeks ago, and then the next day I had to go to Entebbe to pick a team that was arriving that night. Since then, it's been balancing trying to go over everything that's happened during the time that Tina was away and getting stuff that she needs done with doing all of the activities with the team. The team that is here is from Harpeth Hall, an all girls high school in Nashville, TN. Every time this year, they send a team of girls here to work with HEAL for a few weeks. There were originally supposed to be 22 girls coming, however, a lot of their parents freaked out about ebola (even though ebola is closer to them in Tennessee than it is to us here in Uganda. So, the trip ended up being only 7 girls, led by a woman who is on our board.The last two weeks have been extremely busy. Tina arrived on Monday two weeks ago, and then the next day I had to go to Entebbe to pick a team that was arriving that night. Since then, it's been balancing trying to go over everything that's happened during the time that Tina was away and getting stuff that she needs done with doing all of the activities with the team. The team that is here is from Harpeth Hall, an all girls high school in Nashville, TN. Every time this year, they send a team of girls here to work with HEAL for a few weeks. There were originally supposed to be 22 girls coming, however, a lot of their parents freaked out about ebola (even though ebola is closer to them in Tennessee than it is to us here in Uganda. So, the trip ended up being only 7 girls, led by a woman who is on our board.
The Lord chose these 7 girls to be the ones to come on this trip, and it has been an honor getting to know them during these past two weeks. In just this short amount of time, I have seen each of them grow so much. This is the first team I have really gotten to experience and watch grow in its entirety. There was a team here when I first arrived in Jinja, but I had no idea what I was doing and they were only here for a couple days. With this team, I've gotten to see them from their first steps here until their last. I've gotten to hear their testimonies and see the way the Lord is working in each of their lives. I've gotten to see God plant little seeds in their lives and I'm so excited to see how this trip is going to change their lives forever.
Since the team has been here, I've gotten to do some things for the first time that I've been here which is pretty cool. I got go with the team while we took kids from Ekisa swimming. Ekisa works with children who have disabilities. In Uganda, having a disability is often seen as a curse, and it is common for these people to be shunned by their communities and their own families. Ekisa creates a safe and nurturing environment for people with special needs. To learn more about this wonderful organization, go to www.ekisa.org.
I also got to do some home visits of people I've known basically since I've been here. We got to go meet the Jaja of three girls that we pay the school fees for. She has 11 people living in her tiny little house. We stopped at a bunch of the little stands that were near her house before we went there and bought food and drinks that we then gave to them. Jaja suffers from HIV/AIDs, but she loves the Lord and she goes and gets the free treatment that Uganda provides. We also help provide some other medicines for her that she needs but that aren't free. She is a strong women and I pray that she is able to stay healthy enough to keep taking care of all of the people she is providing for.
We were also able visit the home of a woman named Fazira who has been in our program for a while. She lives a little bit farther out, and provides for her children by selling fruit that she grows on the land that she has. When asked if she had food, Fazira replied that she didn't. We immediately got in the car and drove down the road a bit to a bunch of stands. Tina went and bought a bunch of items from different stands. It was amazing in that moment how many people we were helping. After finishing buying food, we went back to Fazira's and delivered it. Seeing the joy that Fazira had because of this simple gesture was overwhelming. Then the moment that almost shattered me was when everyone was back in the car, one of Fazira's little boy came running to the van with a bunch of sweet bananas in his hands, with the biggest smile on his face. He passed them to us through the window. I almost burst out in tears during this moment. I was so overwhelmed by this, because those bananas were her livelihood. I knew how much those bananas meant to that family, and to see them give them to us, with a huge smile and much thankfulness, tore at my heart.
We also got to take our preschoolers swimming for the first time. That was such a fun experience. We told the kids right before we dressed them and left for the pool. We walked to one of the hotels right down the road and took them swimming. Some of them loved it, while others weren't huge fans. However, all of the children were freezing afterwards. It was so sad to see their little bodies shivering (especially because the water wasn't even that cold). I got to take Joseph, and he was all for it. He kept running around the pool, not wanting me to hold him and he was the first to ask to go into the bigger pool. It was really cool to be with them during this, because it was their first time ever to be in a swimming pool.
Besides that, we got to visit other organizations that I've been too, such as Amani (www.amanibabycottage.org) and Serving His Children(www.servinghischildren.org). After HEAL, Serving His Children is probably my next favorite organization here in Jinja. There goal is to break the cycle of malnutrition on life at a time. They have saved hundreds of children since Renee started the organization. I was happy to find out that a little boy who I had held and played with a bunch last time I was there, was doing very well.
We've also gotten to eat many delicious meals together and just fellowship with one another. It has been very nice getting to know each of the girls and Lisa on this trip. I'm sad that they are leaving, but I know that they were here for a reason. The Lord has a purpose in everything that happens to us. I'm excited to see what comes next for these girls. We got to spend the last couple days they had in Uganda in Kampala at a very nice hotel. We got to go see a show called Ndere which is a dinner and show of all different dances and music of Uganda. It was an awesome experience that I wish I could have shared with many of my friends.