Words from Elizabeth Wilcox, Year Long Intern at The James Place

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“Accept each day exactly as it comes to you. By that, I mean not only the circumstances of your day but also the condition of your body. Your assignment is to trust me absolutely, resting in my sovereignty and faithfulness. On some days, your circumstances and your physical condition feel out of balance: The demands on you seem far greater than your strength. Days like that present a choice between two alternatives- giving up or relying on me. Even if you wrongly choose the first alternative, I will not reject you. You can turn to me at any point, and I will help you crawl out of the mire of discouragement. I will infuse my strength into you moment by moment, giving you all that you need for this day. Trust me, by relying on my empowering presence. ”

            This is what my Jesus Calling read today. I tend to laugh out loud these days because I used to be surprised at Gods work, and now I just find that he always provides for me exactly when I need it. The past couple days had been harder than expected, especially with Momma Hope passing away, a momma enrolled in childcare program at the James Place. Honestly, I didn’t know how to deal with it. It seems as though precious Hope is about to begin a very difficult path of life.

Kara, my sweet friend, got a text from one of our staff members on Sunday afternoon that said the burial was going to happen in the next hour. She showed me the text, I told her, “I don’t think I am going.” She said okay and turned around and walked downstairs. I knew she was going to get ready. Something was tugging at my heart. It was mixed emotions between telling me to get up off of my rear-end and go change and the other really, really dreaded the thought. I couldn’t figure out why. Selfishly, I didn’t want to travel all the way to the village, to bury a woman I didn’t know very long, where we would be the only white people in a group of over 200 people. I knew what I needed to do, stop being selfish. This was not about me.  A little girl, whom I dearly love, had lost her mother and I wanted to sit on the couch and watch Lost. Wow. Sometimes my self centered tendencies blow my mind.

We met up with about 5 of our other staff members and we got on a Matatu (taxi) and headed for the village. It took around 45 minutes to get there and as we hopped out of the van, all eyes were on us. We walked in, surrounded by hundreds of Ugandans, gathering together to celebrate the life of Hope Kezaabu. As we sat down, it had not been 5 minutes when I looked up and sweet Hope was walking by. She saw me, and her eyes were as big as baseballs. She immediately smiled from ear to ear and ran into my lap, hugging my legs. I picked her up, placed her on my lap and tears started streaming down my face. I had come to the burial for a reason. God knew even though I did not. But his will did not just stop there. After about 30 minutes of being there, my good friend and coworker Aisha turned around and said, “Are you ready Liz? They’re calling for you!” I looked at her baffled because I was unaware of what in the world she was talking about. To my horror, the ENTIRE crowd was staring at me as the preacher was calling my name. “Liz, it’s time to make a speech and represent the James Place. They’re calling for you!”

I stood up slowly, to make sure that I did not pass out. I was utterly shocked. I slowly began walking up the path to where the preacher was waiting for me and he looked me in the eyes and said, “this is the last chance that you have to send this family some kind words etc.” I was dumbfounded, literally. I looked up at the sky and knew that this was the second reason God had pulled at my heart to attend the burial.

I took the microphone and tears were streaming down my face as I said how sorry we were for their loss. I did not understand why this was happening but I knew one thing; that we would do our best to help raise their little girl into a strong, capable, brilliant young woman. The James Place loved her and we would do anything that we could to ensure that she would lead a somewhat ‘normal’ life. As they thanked me for my speech, I walked back and sat down. Hope came back and sat with me, handing me her food and said, “welcome to the party.” She had absolutely no idea that she was attending her mother’s funeral. It broke my heart but I was rejoicing in the moment that I was there to be a supporter. Her sweet innocence was protected by her age and lack of developmental mind, but God has a plan. He always is watching out for us. He is my protector.

Today was a good day though. The sweet, beautiful, loving children wrapped their arms around me as we played. They make my life better. God makes my life better. There are hard transitions here in Uganda, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But as I trust in him, I learn to love myself more. To be content with myself is a hard journey but as I walk alongside him, he is protecting me and teaching me ways to love that I never thought possible.