What I know now….
November 2, 2015
I did not know when I moved to Uganda that my heart would explode with love. The biggest surprise to me is how God took my heart and opened it up to hundreds of others. Having a passion and vision for serving and loving abandoned women and children was always there but I did not know that I would love so much it hurts when I’m not with them. I did not know that I would also miss all of my new friends and family in the missionary community of Uganda so terribly.
I did not know when I moved to Uganda that the thorn in my side would dig deeper to cause pain. Not pain because of the thorn (cancer), but a pain so deep in my heart that tears roll up in my eyes right now as I type this in America. I love the James Place in Jinja and everything it represents but I honestly did not know that it would become the biggest part of my heart through God. God took my little heart and made it so big that it is about to explode. Only God can do that. He makes us love the unlovable and I certainly did not know that I would worry more about my new friends and family in Uganda rather than worrying about the cancer. I did not know that it would remain my focus even in hardships.
I did not know that there would be days that the James Place is a lot of trouble. It is not all glamour and love and lollipops although the photos in social media are priceless glimpses of the JOY happening. There is emotional stress, hardships, staff issues (although we have a pretty incredible staff), and budget problems, cultural differences that make it difficult and daily new “normal” problems dealing with health and death and emergencies. But I did not know that I would grow to love every aspect of the ministry even the problems and difficulties and that my new “normal” would never be the same again.
I did not know that when I’m in the states for medical treatment and fundraising that my mind would constantly be thinking about a child or a woman or a family across the ocean. I did not think that I would worry about them as my own family, as my own child or grandma, as my own sister. I did not know that I would be known by hundreds on a little red dirt road in Jinja just as JAJA (grandma). I did not know how endearing that would grow to mean to me. I did not know that I would get offended when someone else mentioned a lady or a child in our programs negatively.
I did not know that I would be a defender of the defenseless; that working with a 14 year old depressed, pregnant young lady would lead to what we do today. I certainly did not know that I would be so quick to defend those that were making mistake after mistake and think that everyone else in the world is crazy for not seeing the good in them. I also did not know that same young lady today, now 17 going on 18, would be my biggest inspiration and best story to tell because she chose hope and family.
I did not know that I would feel the weight of the world on me when funds are low, yet fully believe at the same time that God is a provider and He will come through as He always does. I, for sure, did not know that I would become passionate about raising funds; a task that I hated in the past. I also didn’t realize that God would begin to show us ways to raise money to be sustainable instead of only depending on donors. I did not know that I would believe that it is a privilege and honor for someone to join us in prayer and financial support because of joining God’s cause.
I did not know when we began the programs at the James Place that it would grow into such an awesome ministry. I did not know that Bible studies (the first program in Uganda) would soon lead to a multitude of programs that would birth results that can only be orchestrated by God in only four years. I did not know that the terms “family preservation” and “sustainability” would be a HUGE part of telling what we do. I would have never known or guessed that God would provide passionate, volunteering people in both the states and in Uganda to carry out His purpose.
This is what I DO know:
Over 200 women have walked through the gates at the James Place – this is over 200 families that God has helped! Out of that:
· 5 business classes produced 120 graduates
· A Childcare Program began as a means of daycare so women could work or go back to school – today 60 children are registered in daycare
· A Preschool Program began out of the necessity of older day care children that needed to be ready for school. 4 graduates are currently making 90 to 100% in all areas of the report card! There are currently 20 preschool students
· KIDS CLUB started as an outreach community program for over 500 children and I did not know that we would be the means to their school supplies and weekly nutrition and enjoyment
· Over 6000 eggs have been handed out
· 28 families are farming because of classes
· Medical Clinics have provided health care for over 600 people
· The artisan program provides income for 65 ladies in pottery, leather trade, rugs and pillow making, and jewelry design.
· The sewing program has 35 ladies in a 3-year curriculum and will launch their own business in the community – some of them are currently providing alterations as an income.
· The emergency shelter started at the request of the officials to house a temporary family that is in danger. We currently have had 13 families that have successfully graduated out of this program and back into the community. The emergency shelter is literally saving lives.
This is what I NOW KNOW: Everything that we do preserves a family and helps that family stand on their own feet and it was totally not our plan! It would have been a mistake to begin what I went over to do: to start an orphanage. I now know that I have to keep leaning in and listening to God because He knows best. TRANSFORMATION is happening not because of me but in spite of me! Only God could take a little vision and mission and turn it into something so big and wonderful that it can’t be explained in human terms. I know that He is able and mighty and I now know more than ever that He is in total control. I now know that I don’t have to worry about any plans for me personally or for the James Place because He knew about everything before we did. I now know that nothing stops His plans and nothing takes our Creator by surprise; not even problems in the ministry or cancer. Everything I did not know is today a blessing because of what I DO know.
Founder and Director of HEAL Ministries