Jinja is simply put, chaotic. From the street vendors, to the bodas, to the eyes that seem to double in size when they catch a glimpse of blonde hair. It is a place of pain, a place of struggles my friends and family have never had to face (myself included.) However, once you walk through the gates of the HEAL, the atmosphere changes. If I could describe the James Place in one word, I would choose peace. A peace that could only come from above. God has blessed this place immensely, I get to watch His works happen right in front of me every single day.
The friendships I have made through HEAL are so very special. They are so real, so raw. When I think of all of the relationships I have made here, one sticks out to me in particular. Her name is Kwagala Betty, she is 50 years old and in the pottery program at HEAL. In Luganda "kwagala" translates to "love." I can't think of a name that suits her better! I refer to Betty as my African momma, the love she showers upon me each and everyday is something that I will never forget. Betty is simply put hilarious and wonderful; joy just radiates from her. She is a mother, and a grandmother, both a woman and a warrior of the Lord. Betty is more then twice my age, and speaks limited English. She has not had an easy life. She has faced rejection, neglect, abandonment, fear, shame.... But it is in this pain that she found redemption in Jesus Christ. It is in this pain that she was able to see that while the things of this world will continue to disappoint, He is constant and unfailing. He will always provide. My first month in Uganda, Betty invited me for Sunday lunch at her home. I have been there every weekend ever since.
Each morning I wake to the sound of children's voices chattering outside my window. It is magical. My mornings at the James Place are spent with the preschoolers, while my afternoons are spent with the babies in childcare. This means I end most days covered in dirt, boogers, food, spit, milk, and Lord knows what else! By the time 6 o'clock rolls around I am an exhausted, germ covered mess. These all may sound like complaints, but they are far from it. I love these babies and their mommas from the bottom of my heart, and the mess shows I have been loved on to! How lucky am I to have snuggles, kisses, and hugs showered upon me all day long? There really is nothing like the feeling of laying your head on your pillow knowing you have had a full day. I get to experience this every single night.