The second team for HEAL this summer left and while they may be gone, their impact remains. They made friends, built relationships, worked, served, painted, cleaned, landscaped, prayed, ran kids clubs and women's studies, helped with preschool at Amani, held babies, talked with young, teenage moms, took Ekisa kids swimming, blew bubbles with kids, gave new bed sheets to Canaan Children's Home and that is just a short list of what they did. The important thing they did: spread the love of Christ.
One of the most rewarding comments that I have received so far came from a Ugandan man while the team was eating out at a restaurant in town. He told my son that he appreciated the way the ladies were dressed. There are many Americans and Europeans that visit the Jinja area. Many of them do not understand the culture here. Here, it is culturally disrespectful for girls and ladies to wear short skirts and shorts. It is also not appropriate for females to wear provocative tops, form fitting, and low cut. The HEAL team female members have respected the culture here and I am so appreciative of that.
The two Bible studies that I have in Masese have also mentioned that our groups are "different." They have many groups that go into Masese and I asked one of the lady's why she thinks our groups are different and she said because they dress the way they talk. What a simple way to witness. Not only are we to dress and act and say what we represent, but it is very evident that our outward appearance truly reflects our inner heart to the people here.
Another rewarding experience that the team got to be a part of is distributing shoes to the village children in Bujagali. We have delivered shoes 3 or 4 times to the same program that a Ugandan friend runs named Esther. We now have delivered about 200 pairs of shoes and only lack about 50 children in her program that still needs shoes. The joy of delivering shoes is more than just something for them to have on their feet. It means being able to go to school.
It means giving them a sense of pride in how they dress. One of our youngest team members, Braxton, was trying to help a boy about 13 years of age find a pair and there were not any big enough to fit him. Braxton took off his expensive sandles and gave the boy his since their feet were about the same size. The boy's face lit up and he literally ran away with joy!
Another rewarding experience that the second HEAL team did was taking the Ekisa kids swimming. Each member was paired up with a child and was responsible for that child in the pool. I was able to walk around and take pictures of them and at one point, I could honestly not tell if the team members were laughing more or the children! Everyone truly enjoyed it and was able to see how wonderfully made every person is that God created. The team gave ice cream to the children after they went swimming and on this particular morning with the Ekisa kids, God's glory was shining brightly.
Some of the favorite moments for the team were in Masese. We had a kids club program on Mondays and Wednesdays and a women's bible study on the same days. The children laughed, sang songs and played games with everyone. The instant joy that they show is contagious. The children come running in their torn dresses, tattered clothing and dirty faces. But their appearance is not the first thing that is seen. Their smiles and love in their eyes outshine anything they are wearing. It is very easy to see Jesus through the eyes and smiles of the children in Masese.
The women's studies at Masese have grown in size and in spiritual strength. The women are loving each other, meeting together outside of the weekly studies to read the Bible, and helping each other in many ways. They are looking after the children and claiming responsibility for their land that we have claimed for Jesus. The team was with them on their last day here, and the rain began pouring. We took shelter in a temporary building used as a church and were waiting for the village dancers. The ladies waited patiently for us to see the village dancers. They did not have to wait but because they are so eager to please and love us well, they wanted to be there with us for the 45 minutes that it took for the rain to let up. We learned love, patience and just being from these women. They know how to sit and wait, how to love unconditionally, how to see life through the eyes of their Creator, and how to enjoy each moment.
I could talk about many things that I have learned during the seven months here this year. But, mostly, I have learned the true meaning of friendship and love from the people that I serve. I have learned that Christ is all that matters and that home really is where love grows.........it is growing here in Jinja. I believe that the love of Christ is the answer to all the problems here.