I've been in Uganda for three years now. I've learned a lot, grown up a lot, and found that I'm not as strong as I thought I was. I have no idea how long I will be in Uganda. I know this is where I am supposed to be at this point in my life and I am happy to call this my home.
Living here has taught me a lot of different things. One of those things is that God is in control of everything and I have to stop doing things my way. I am a family man. I love my family and love being with them. But when I am in Uganda, it's just not possible to always do that. It's hard knowing that they are going through hard times being here because I am the kind of guy that likes to fix things, and it's hard to try and fix things 8,000 miles away. That's when I have to lean on God's shoulder and just let Him do His thing. At the end of the day really everything that I could possibly do God can do it 1000 times better. Just like it says in Isaiah 55:8-9:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
It's these little reminders that things are going to be ok.
I've learned God has me in His hands and is taking care of me. Dealing with life here all day can be stressful. I can't always figure something out to help everyone and it gets overwhelming and stressful at times because there are always so many needs. Every single day something new comes up and sometimes I just don't have the answer for it. I think: "how will this ever work?" Or, "how can this be fixed?" Stress is a common thing for me here. I am 26 years old and I have white hairs in my beard! But I am thankful for stress because it reminds me to turn to God. God is a great doctor and a great teacher. He teaches me that things my way aren't the best way, and my solutions and stress is temporary, but that's the thing; IT'S TEMPORARY; and God's solutions are eternal.
When I first came to Uganda I was coming to do business and to be here with my mom because I wasn't comfortable with her being here because of the cancer she has battled. Yes, you can call me a mama's boy. I was excited to tap into the international business realm while looking after her. Then God closed those doors and opened the doors to get more involved with HEAL. I am beyond thankful that HEAL hired me as the Operations Manager in Uganda in 2011.
I started work immediately on The James Place in December, 2011. There was a lot of manual work to do and I love working with my hands. We've come a long way since we first got this place. I remember having to wake up to our neighbor's goats, cows and chickens every morning. Now, it's waking up to kids laughing and women singing in the mornings. It is a rewarding way to wake up each morning knowing that people on this property are happy when they come through the gates. A little look into what I do: I over see all of the day-to-day operations that we do here in Uganda. And every day is different. One day I might be shopping in Central Market to get food for the week with Joshua; one day might involve taking people to the hospital; one day involves going to pay all the bills; one day might involve repairing and improving the property; and then one day might be solving a flooding issue on the property, or backed up sewage problems, or just solving people issues with the women and children and staff. There are always new problems that come up and we learn to deal with the moment. I also handle all the finances and make sure that we are staying within our budget. Teaching the Farming God's Way classes to the women is rewarding because I know that they are learning productive ways to feed their families. I teach the class on the property twice a year, but also conduct field visits to the ladies gardens or plots. I truly love what I do. It is rewarding to feel that I'm making a difference and God has taught me so much.
Now, about when I said "I am not as strong as I thought I was." I may come across as a big macho guy, but when it is all said and done, I am a softy at heart. I love waking up and going down to hold the babies, to see all the kids, then get to work. The kids and staff make my day. Yes, I love seeing the women come through those gates and get equipped with everything we know how to equip them with to succeed and learn sustainability, but our staff and these kids have become my family away from home. I am thankful for them every single day. If any one of them ever has a problem outside of work, I would probably be the first one to show up at their door. God works in mysterious ways; He has provided me with another close family in Uganda.
HEAL Ministries is doing a great thing here with the abandoned women and children. Because I grew up with a single mom, I understand the issues of abandonment. Over the past few years I have seen changes in these ladies' hearts and changes that can make their future better and brighter. We are equipping women, who have been through a difficult past, with skills and education that can help them get out of the rut, so to speak. We are a stepping-stone for them to succeed. It is a rewarding job, but it is a hard job. We want to help every single person but at the end of the day, that is just not a reality. We have around 125 ladies in our program, 50 children in our childcare, and average 300 children every Saturday for KIDS Club. We are making a change in this community; even with the kids in childcare and the youth in KIDS CLUB; and I believe that they are going to go out from here and make the real change in Uganda in the future. And speaking of the future, we are not sure what the future holds. Maybe one day we will expand. Maybe we will get a new place. Maybe we will add a new program. We don't know everything that will happen, but whatever it is, we know who holds the future. I am just thankful that God used me in this journey to be a very small part in His ministry and I wouldn't change a thing.