I hate writing so whenever I am asked to write a blog I get really nervous and I don’t get nervous easily. I don’t know what to write about or what people want to hear from me. Most of the time we have people write about what HEAL is doing for the people we serve. So this time I think I’m going to share what I think it is doing for me. HEAL is here in Uganda as a ministry to help abandoned women and children and it’s crazy the effect it has on me as a man. I have learned so much through the women, the children, and the staff here about what being a man means.
The past couple of weeks haven’t been normal for me because I found out that I had a kidney stone. So instead of being outside I’ve been cooped up inside all day trying to find comfortable positions to get in, been on IV’s in and out of the doctor doing X-rays. I have new respect for women and childbirth! Thankfully it has passed but now I am dealing with malaria. Let’s just say I have had a rough couple of weeks. Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, sent me messages, and to our interns for taking care of me, and having to deal with me, I know it’s not easy and that I can be frustrating at times!
You hear stories all the time about people who want to go and change Africa but as soon as you get to Africa you never think that it is going change you forever. You see and do things that are not normally in your comfort zone, you get used to the way of life in a third world country. You will never be the same, and it is for the better. Everyday we have women and children walk through our gates with so much joy on their faces that you have to stop and ask yourself why are they so happy? Their homes are dirt floors, holes in the roof when it rains, sometimes no beds yet so much joy. It’s hard to imagine ever having that kind of joy, but for me being able to see that on these people’s faces brings joy to me. It has made me realize to find joy in the little things like just sitting down and talking with people not needing a TV or movie to watch, or going to the kitchen and joking with the staff and laugh for a little while. I have learned that I don’t need nice things to be happy; I just need people around me. I’ve learned here that relationships are so important, and that relationships and the people you are around change who you are. These people we work with have changed me, I will never be the same. These people are always so happy, which is why I think I keep finding myself so happy even in times of heartache. HEAL is showing me joy.
I can go on and on about our staff and how much I love them. They truly are my family away from home. We all get along so well and it truly has the family feel because every once in a while we will argue and be mad at each other but there is still that love at the end of the day. This past week we have all laughed together, all cried together, and all prayed together. We are all hurting for my mom to be here with us but that’s not God’s plan right now. We have all pulled together and are going to make these next few months the best we can without our fearless leader my momma Jaja Tina. I have had a really difficult time these past couple of weeks regarding my moms health news and it’s not something I really like to talk about and I try not to show it. Part of it is I’m 8,000 miles away; part of it is that I like to fix things and her sickness is something I can’t fix. I may seem happy and smiling on the outside but the inside isn’t the same. I try to hide it from other people and deal with when I am on my own. I don’t want people to see me hurting, I know that I may have been acting different ever since I got the news and haven’t really been the same, but the love our staff has shown me has been incredible. Not just regarding the news but ever since they were hired. Its crazy to imagine how a country boy like me and Ugandans get along so well, we come from total different worlds but we love each other. I’ve learned here no matter what your past, no matter where you’re from, no matter your differences, no matter what you are going through you can find love in one another. HEAL is showing me love.
The kids here at HEAL have stolen my heart. I would do anything possible to make them happy, or to protect them from any kind of harm; I love them as my own. They bring so much joy to me that it’s crazy, I can’t help but smile and be happy when I am around them. They are one of the reasons why I am here I believe. Yes there are times where they are frustrating, annoying, smelly, you name it but you have to realize they are just kids. Kids that are never going to grow up the same way you did, kids that don’t have a favorite TV show, or favorite pop tart flavor. These kids have to grow up fast. It’s frustrating for me to see that because you want them to be happy and just be a child while they can. Their childhoods are cut short here because they have to be. But these kids love so well at such a young age that it’s hard not to find happiness in that. I’m the kind of guy that wants to fix everything so people don’t have to struggle. It’s hard when you can’t help everyone but I am learning patience here, I think it is God’s way of telling me to slow down and that everything has a purpose and that everything will be ok. HEAL is showing me patience.
Heal is showing me a lot, teaching me a lot. But it’s not just Heal it is also the people of Uganda. They have shown me as a man that when in times of trouble, don’t just get up and leave. Fight for what you have and fight for what you love. I have seen this first hand and the effects it has on families. No one ends up happy from giving up. God gives us difficult situations in life to see how we react, and if we just give up we give up on God. We have to go to God during difficult times, and Heal has helped me understand that fully. As a man Heal has taught me to love more. Love the people you are around, love what you are doing, and just love life. We only get one life to live so why go around and not show love. Just like it says in 1 John 4:7- “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” We can’t make it through this life without love and without loving one another. I hope everyone gets a chance to experience the life changes I have since being in Africa. We have teams come over every year, team members expecting to make a difference, which they do. But the real change is going to happen with you, you will see life in a new way and be so thankful for it. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have had so far working with Heal. It has changed my life for the better. Heal is just in its beginning stages and I can’t not wait to see where it goes from here.