It is very rare that a team of 11 arrives in Uganda, on time, with all 24 pieces of luggage. We count that as an example of how awesome this adventure is going to be! As we exited the Entebbe airport, the Harpeth Hall team of 9 young ladies, along with Dee Anne Proctor and myself, were beyond excitement for the next few weeks. I teared up as I returned to my adopted country and in the words of a 5 year old little girl, "Mama Tina, you are home".............I am home.
The passion that this particular team has already developed in a short amount of time can only be a gift from above. The team drove the 3 hour journey silently through Kampala, through the villages, through the rain forrest and into Jinja not knowing what to expect. After being here five days, they have come to know that Uganda is a beautiful place with beautiful people. My heart is full of joy as I watch their eager hearts fall in love with the land that God has blessed me with.
The first stop was a visit to Masese, a slum in Jinja with about 5000 people. 85% of those people are abandoned women and children. The girls on the team expressed the joy and love that they found upon entering Masese. The women and children in the programs of HEAL Ministries greeted us with singing, dancing and praising the Lord. They were excited to see that God answered their prayers and their overwhelming excitement was contagious! As the women expressed their praise in the Luganda language, I saw how each team member: Abbie, Brennan, Alexis, Liza, Kayleigh, Claire, Sarah, Maddie, Becca, and Dee Anne saw Jesus first hand through the eyes of precious people they were becoming friends with across the world. Across the world, traveling through airports, sitting on planes for 18 hours, and then landing to drive another 3 hour journey to discover this: LOVE responds and LOVE acts. That is what this team is receiving and giving: LOVE. Love expressed through people that are living with HOPE. LOVE expressed from poverty and little means to a team of blessed young ladies from America. And that is how God does it. He takes HIS people and bonds the most unlikely ones together to reveal the true meaning of life on this planet: LOVE. LOVE that can only be fully understood through the LOVE of Jesus Christ. LOVE that shows that we are only different by birth location and all the same in that we all need the ONE that gives us meaning in life. LOVE that does laundry for two hours to serve people that God unites them to.
The girls have all seen and caught the vision of HEAL Ministries. They see the need to respond to orphans and widows, abandoned women and children, the defenseless. And I'm excited to see what God does which each single one. I watched the girls each laugh and play with the children and listen intently to the "mama's". They are intentional in every step of the journey with no complaints.
Tomorrow they will work at the James Place for HEAL Ministries assisting us in cleaning it up to get ready to open all the programs. They asked me if they would get to see the women from Masese walk into the James Place for the first time because they are now just as excited for these treasured women as I am and just as excited as the HEAL board is! What a joy - to be a part of a team that experiences the "first" of many programs walk onto the property that God has ordained for HEAL in Jinja, Uganda.