410 Days of Lifelong Lessons

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410 days. 13 months. A little over a year of my life and I will never be the same. This time at HEAL Ministries and in Uganda has taught me so many things. I grew in ways I never thought I would and learned life lessons from the people I got to work alongside every day. As I prepare to go home, these are a couple things I always want to hold onto. 

Coming to Africa for the third time, I knew that the African culture favored relationships over tasks, but I got to experience that in a whole new way this time around. When I first came to the James Place, I would greet groups of people such as the child care workers, the jewelry artisans, the kitchen, etc… with a general “good morning everyone and how was your night?” I quickly learned how important it is to greet each individual person and say their names. This can seem like a silly thing and definitely takes more time to do but what a sweet lesson to be learned. Each person is shown that they are important, seen, loved and known. 

It is also vital to greet someone and ask how they are before launching into what needs to be done or what is ahead. The relationship over whatever task needs to be completed is always placed first. This is a lesson I never want to forget and something that the people at the James Place embody. In America, it can become easy to be success driven and just look at the things that need to be completed while overlooking the people in our lives that truly make the difference and make the tasks meaningful. 

Patience and giving up control is another life lesson that I saw lived out by my sweet friends. Whether it is patience with us, the interns, as they teach us how to cook, wring out clothes, roll beads, pound pottery, etc. They never get upset when something is not done completely right the first time. Whether we have not rolled the beads tight enough or messed up one of their baskets while we are learning, these women meet us with a laugh and a smile – just happy that we gave it a shot. They give out so much grace and are just so thrilled to include us in their lives. 

It is hard to put into words what these 410 days, 13 months have meant to me. I have learned more than I could ever put into words, and I will be processing this time spent in Uganda for the years to come. People are always more important than whatever goal we are trying to accomplish. I have learned it’s not about saving the day or changing the world but rather showing up for the same people everyday to show them that they’re worth it

- Sarah Aschfort, Long-term Medical Intern

Twin Interns Serving Together

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From Emily Slenk, Volunteer Intern:

Someone once told me that everyone will have the chance to do something that knocks them off their feet and exceeds their wildest dreams. Never in my life would I have dreamed that I would end up here in Jinja, Uganda, interning at the James place, but WOW do I feel honored and blessed that God chose to send me here.

Life here in Uganda is both beautiful and challenging. I’ve have learned so much about this place, myself, and about Jesus. I feel blessed and honored to be able to experience the lifestyle here and these real life experiences will forever change my perspective on the things I have at home. 

Daily life here is a crazy adventure, but I absolutely love it! From the moment I wake up to the time I go to bed my heart beats for the women and kids that I have met here. The relationships I have formed are friendships that will go far beyond my time in Jinja. Whether it be the happy laughter of the kids, the singing and worship of fellowship on Fridays, the flowers kids hand me from the ground, the daily washing of my crocs, the bandaids I get to stick on scraped knees, and every moment in between, I see Jesus shining through these people. 

The biggest takeaway I have from my time here is to BE BRAVE. Meet the new person, smile when language is a barrier, laugh when I goof, weep with those whose hearts are broken and celebrate with those who are experiencing joy. Search for Jesus in the little things, allow myself to feel all the emotions, find the people that go unnoticed, and take every single opportunity that is given to me to learn more about this crazy amazing place. There is a lot of new experiences that arise each day. From riding bodas to get around, or walking down the red Ugandan dirt roads to discover the markets and cute shops, there is never a dull moment! I go to bed each night exhausted from the activities of the day, but I wake up excited to see what each new day entails. To the women and kids at the James Place, I’ve only been here for seven weeks and the time has come for me to return home… but you will forever hold a piece of my heart here. Thank you for being Jesus to me in my sweet sweet home away from home. 

 

 

From Erica Slenk, Volunteer Intern:

My heart is so full. These past seven weeks in Jinja, Uganda have filled me with so much joy. I have had the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and grow in ways I didn’t think was possible. As much as I love each and every one of the people here, I know God loves them indefinitely more. These people have faith in God like I have never seen before. They have taught me more about what it looks like to have complete trust in God. God is here, and He is working.

I am beyond grateful for the relationships I have made throughout my time here at the James Place. Every morning, as I walk through the gates, I’m greeted with hugs and warm welcomes. The preschoolers come running up to me saying, “teacher Erica, teacher Erica!” The sweet babies come walking over to grab onto my legs and give me a hug. It has also been amazing to sit beside the hard working and talented artisans at the James Place. These close relationships I have formed with the women and children is going to make leaving so hard. The love and compassion they have shown me is something I will never forget.

Spending time in the preschool has been an amazing experience! I have loved seeing all of the passion the teachers have for teaching, and the love that they give their students. The children are receiving a Christian education that will change their lives. I am so excited to see how the preschool at the James Place continues to grow and impact the lives of children!

As I say goodbye to these beautiful people and this wonderful place, I know this will not be goodbye forever. I will never forget about the amazing women and children here, and the work they are doing. The James Place is something really special, and it will always have a piece of my heart.

Seeing Growth and Change

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It's been two years. Two years since I last entered the gates of the James Place in Jinja, Uganda. I have been anxiously awaiting my time to come again. Now that I am here, everything has changed. Everything is different--and oh how sweet it is! My favorite part about being back is seeing all of the growth. From the preschool, to the artisan programs, to childcare. Everything has changed and everything has grown. The one thing that has stayed the same is the people and the relationships I share with them.

The sweetest part about being back is seeing all of the growth and development. The preschool has grown so much! There are now multiple classes. The childcare has grown to two times the size at least! The artisans program is HUGE now. The coolest thing to me, though, is seeing my friends move into new departments and positions. Most of my friends have been promoted to newer and higher positions in the program. They have excelled beyond their wildest dreams and are making a better life for themselves with the help of the ministry. This has been the best part about being back again, seeing my friends become better, more empowered versions of themselves.

- Caroline Ambrose, Volunteer Intern

Staying Connected... Thousands of Miles Apart

Returning to The James Place felt a lot like coming home. Although HEAL has made so many amazing changes and expansions, as I walked up the red dirt driveway for the first time in two years, it felt as if nothing had changed at all. 

My friends greeted me with massive smiles and warm hugs and we picked up right where we left off, barely skipping a beat. 

As I looked at my sweet friend Aisha I thought to myself, “Wow.. she’s wearing a beautiful head scarf today!” and went on with my day working in childcare. After lunch, Aisha and I sat down for break. As I took a closer look at her, I noticed her head scarf was a familiar pattern of pink, blue and white. 

“Aisha, your headband looks so familiar. It reminds me of a skirt I had last time I was here and I donated it to HEAL at the end of my trip.”

She told me “a skirt was given to a woman who works in sewing but the length was too long for her. She cut it to make it fit her and gave me the extra fabric to make this.”

I looked at her in disbelief and said “Aisha... that was definitely my skirt!” I dug through my camera roll and found a photo of myself wearing it in 2017. She laughed as she scooped me up in her arms and hugged me tightly. “God knew we needed to stay connected,” she said. 

Out of all 70 HEAL employees, for the scraps of my skirt to end up in Aisha’s hands, who I had a close friendship with last time I was here, was concrete proof at how God is always working in our lives.

Without us even knowing it, He’s keeping friendships alive and allowing us to grow closer, even from thousands of miles a part.

- Sophie Fish, Volunteer Intern

Surrounded by Instant Love

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To me, the James Place immediately felt like home. As soon as I walked through the gates every morning, smiling faces greeted me from a million different angles. The women, the children, the preschoolers all just want to hold your hand as they walk to their workspace, the treehouse, or to their classes. It was hard not to scoop up 3 kids at one time just to love on them before the day even started.

I have never experienced an instant love like the love given by the people at the James Place. I never knew how easy it would be to love on every child and every staff member there. I also never knew how much and how well I would be loved back. The relationships that I formed are so genuine and I never doubted one day that God was working in the hearts of every person at the James Place. He is so evident in every word spoken and every action that happens there. I am so thankful for my time at the James Place and look forward to seeing all the growth that will happen there and those smiling faces again someday!

- Olivia DeMontbreun, Volunteer Intern

Returning to the James Place

Two summers ago God gave me the opportunity to come to HEAL Ministries and intern at the James Place. I’ve always had a heart for Africa, but I didn’t know that I could fall in love with it SO much more. I made friendships with the interns, women, children, and even people in town that I will always cherish. It is rough leaving a place with people that you love so so much, not knowing when you’ll see them again. Before I even left the James Place I wanted to come back.

God is good, and now I’m back with some of my favorite people. Being reunited with everyone is SO sweet! I am soaking up and loving every second with these beautiful people. The friendships that are made here are REAL and GENUINE. I am so so thankful to be here again, and I already am bummed when I think about having to go home, but like I said before God is good, and I know that I will see these people again someday.

- Jade Bowman, Volunteer Intern

Developing Relationships

Coming back to intern with HEAL Ministries has been amazing. Even though I was just here in January 2018, it feels so different. The children I once knew to be a part of childcare are now a part of the rapidly growing preschool, the facilities have changed and expanded, and the staff has increased. Nonetheless, the feeling of overwhelming love and joy still remains at the center of the James Place.

I’ve found that I quickly made so many strong and impactful relationships with the women. They care so much about our stories, and it was great to see familiar faces. Though seemingly different, we have so much in common and share what feels like never ending laughter.

Working full time in childcare has also helped me form strong relationships with children as well as the childcare staff. Playing with the kids all day is what I look forward to each morning when I wake up. While chores sound bad, the interns and childcare staff take this time to bond and make jokes and it’s truly a time of the day I enjoy (even though I really thought I wouldn’t).

I’m so glad to be back at the James Place and I can only imagine what these next few weeks have in store!

- Grace Harris, Volunteer Intern

Home Again

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Ever since i stepped foot in the James Place for the first time 5 years ago I knew this place was filled with so much love and joy and was truly a special place. Returning to the James Place 5 years later, I am amazed by how much change that has happened like the preschool opening, staff, and the new programs for women but, the one thing that has not changed is the amount of love there is at the James Place.

I was eager yet scared to come back because it has been so long that i did not know what to expect. When i walked in the James Place this year, I felt like I was home again. The staff and kids greeted me like I was family and have shown me love like I have never seen before. I have loved my return to the James Place because I see familiar faces and have also gotten to make new friends along the way. I will never forget the friendships I have made here and the love that everyone at the James Place shows me each and every day I walk into the gates. 

- Sara Grace Black, Volunteer Intern

"I'll be back"

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When you leave The James Place, you plan on coming back. That’s just how special this place truly is. There is a certain joy that accompanies being here that doesn’t compare to anywhere else I’ve ever been so I knew one day I’d be back. Upon my arrival here at the beginning of June (2.5 years after my last visit) I was struck by how familiar everything felt and even more surprised at the amount of HEAL staff who greeted me with open arms and wide smiles to say welcome back. The people at the James Place do a wonderful job of mirroring Christ’s love: making each person feel known and loved. 

As my time here has gone on, I’ve been able to build upon old relationships and make new ones. Friendships form quickly at the James Place because the staff and the children are so open to new people. The beauty of the hearts of these people is hard to articulate. All I can say is that their joy and steadfast faith encourages me towards a closer relationship with Christ. I’m ever so thankful for this place and it’s people. I can already tell you, I’ll be back. 

- Margot May, Volunteer Intern

Returning to Jinja

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I was pretty nervous about coming back.  I do not like the long days of travel to get here, and once I arrived; I was throwing up something bad I ate on the plane.  I keep thinking to myself, “well great, maybe this is God telling me I should not be here.” 

I stayed in bed the first day, but when I was feeling better, I came back to The James Place for the first time in two years.  All the things were going through my head; what if they don’t remember me, what if I make a wrong first impression again, basically all the worst-case scenarios of everything that could happen.  When I drove through the gates, I just felt immense peace all of a sudden.  I got out of the car and starting walking from department to department and everyone would get up and yell of happiness and wrapped me in the warmest hugs.  My heart was too happy for words to explain.  I am still taking it all as my heart is becoming fuller every day.  I feel like I have so much to catch up on with everyone I could spend another year here and it still would not be enough time.

I became very close with one of the girls here who now works in the kitchen.  She and I are 18 days apart in age and she has a 6-year-old now.  Even though she has a child, there are still so many aspects of life that we could relate and talk about for hours.  Coming back and seeing her, we just picked up right where we left off.  We have become even closer in the month that I have been here than I could have imagined.  We have a special bond that I hope will never be broken.  I spend most of my days in the kitchen trying to help them out and they act like I am the biggest help in the world, but I know in reality I just slow them down. 

The women here are more special than I can put into words.  These women have the most incredible stories.  I thought I learned a lot about all of them women in the year I spent here, but I am still learning so many things about them every day.  There is nothing quite like getting a hug from any child here.  No matter how you are feeling on any given day, it is guaranteed to make your day even better.  Seeing how much the children have grown in size and smarts since I have been gone is a beautiful thing to see.  Most of the kids that were here when I was here are now in preschool and have even graduated to P1. The word proud does not even begin the explain the feeling.  I told everyone before I came that all I want to do is talk and hold babies.  I have done both of these things every single day and truly my heart is fuller than I can even begin to explain. 

- Halina Hannon, Volunteer Intern

A Home Away From Home

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You know those little moments in life when everything just feels right? Those experiences and places that can’t help but conjure unbridled joy? Maybe it’s being home for Christmas after a grueling semester at school, coffee with a friend you haven’t seen in years, or holding a new born baby for the first time. This is what The James Place feels like. It builds a piece of real estate in your heart and moves in – permanently.  

This same time last year, I was preparing for my first ever trip to Uganda, and had no idea of lifelong friendships I’d develop, the women and children I’d meet that would inevitably mold me into a new person, or the heart wrenching pain I’d feel when it finally came time to say goodbye.

My very first day as an intern was Pre-School Graduation and KIDS club, which is when hundreds of kids from the surrounding villages swarm to the property for hours of games and bible study. Because it was a special day, there was no time for introductions, and there definitely wasn’t any “easing into it.” All around me were hundreds of Ugandan women, children, HEAL staff, donors and visitors. Although a bit overwhelmed by the heat and slightly jet-lagged from a grueling 38 hours of flying, I quickly learned the joy and love that exudes from this place heavily outweighs any reasons for a bad mood.

I spent the rest of June firstly as a Childcare Intern, moved on to the Art Intern, and capped off my time here filling in for one of the preschool teachers for a week (shout out to all the teachers out there - that was an experience!) My mornings began with hugs, hugs, and you guessed it, more hugs from the childcare kids and preschoolers. (Pro tip: if you ever want to know what it feels like to be loved on 24/7 by the most adorable children in the world, work here!), and days ended with excitement to wake up the next morning and do it all over again.

Today, almost exactly a year later, I sit at The James Place and reflect on what I’ve lost and gained from this place. I’ve lost the doubt I had in the Lord to take care of his people, the dissatisfaction of living in America and constantly wanting more, and lastly, I’ve lost a piece of my soul that will always reside here - It will live among the kids that run along Jinja’s red dirt roads and within the homes of my friends here in Jinja.

While it’s one of the greatest pains in the world to head back to my life in the states, I’m thankful for what I’ve gained: a new appreciation and understanding for God’s love, and countless lessons of humility and knowing my place as a servant – a position that isn’t meant to be praised or applauded, because the Lord is doing the real work.

To The James Place and HEAL Ministries: thank you for opening your gates to me. 

- Emily Fritz, Volunteer Social Media Intern

Empowering Ugandans

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Empowering the Ugandan staff at the James Place is something that has shown me clearly how Jesus shows up in our lives.

Coming to Africa I thought I was the one that was going to be teaching the people here the important life lessons, but very quickly I learned that the roles were going to be reversed.

One of the things that I admire most about The James Place is how mainly every job is led by Ugandans, it’s not the interns that come in and run everything, and I think a lot of us (like me), before you see it with your own eyes, think well how does that work? Well I quickly learned how it worked after seeing how hard the women in the kitchen work everyday to feed at least 360+ kids, and I knew this was Jesus telling me, “you’re the one that is going to be learning something here” because Lord knows I have no idea how to prepare that much food in such a short amount of time.

Being able to spend time in the pre-school and in childcare has taught me the importance of patience. The patience that the teachers have with their students is inspiring. Proverbs 14:29 says, “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” Being able to observe and help the teachers in the preschool has shown me that having patience is a key quality when it comes to children’s education and I will constantly be reminded of this verse when I am working with the pre-school and childcare.

I pray every day that I will continue to see Jesus teaching me things through the relationships I have made with the Ugandan staff at the James place because I know the lessons I learn here will last me a lifetime.

- Kathryn Stockhoff, Volunteer Intern

Finding Love Here

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In the middle.

In the middle of tying preschoolers shoes, in the middle of cleaning babies' runny noses, in the middle of serving cooked cabbage to hungry staff, in the middle of folding towels, in the middle of painting pottery - He is there. It is in all of the "middle" moments through out my day, that I see Him clearer. I feel Him closer.

I subconsciously came here with a "hero" mentality, like anyone would traveling to a third-world country. But that was turned right around, the first time one of the sweet childcare workers insisted on washing my feet. Yes, I came here to serve, but the way that my heart is being served at the James Place every day is far beyond any "rescuing" my "heroic" self could do. HEAL ministries is all about love, and I can vouch for the fact that it goes beyond the pictures on Instagram.

I am forever thankful -  for the relationships I've built at the James Place, and for a loving Father that meets us in the middle.

I pray that I never forget about the middle moments in the day-to-day here; where the love is real and Jesus is near.

- Genesis Lin, Volunteer Intern

"I Did Good Work"

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There’s nothing better than a student who is so proud of the work they have completed in class. Faces beaming with pride and plastered with huge smiles, I often hear this phrase throughout the day, “Teacher Delaney, I did good work.” From the kids I work with in class to other students out in the sandbox at recess, kids all over the James Place are proud of their education. I never get tired of students showing off their papers, their handwriting or whatever they may be learning in class.

 You don’t have to spend much time in the classrooms before you realize the education students are receiving at the James Place is absolutely incredible. Every single classroom is full of kids who are excited to learn and teachers who push their students to reach their potential. Working alongside Teacher Aisha in top class, we get the opportunity to teach kids before they go off to primary school. We are creating foundations for the rest of their education. 

For these children, learning to speak English well will change their life since all of their future schooling is focused on English. I love hearing my class work hard and encourage their classmates to speak in English.

Our preschool recently memorized this verse from Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that He who began good work in you will bring it to completion…” The Lord is certainly at work in the preschool changing the lives of students, families, and teachers (especially mine). Our preschoolers definitely know how to love well and they teach me how love better.

- Delaney Stephens, Long Term Volunteer Education Intern

Known and Loved

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Being a nurse is one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities I have ever known. As a nurse I end up in some of people’s most vulnerable and sometimes weakest moments. I get to “know” them in a way others won’t ever understand. Because of this I also get the opportunity to love them right where they are.  

My idea of love as a nurse has been challenged so much since I have come to Africa. My first instinct is to want to fix everything. I want to solve the problem however small or big. I want to be the hero. I am reminded time and time again that my idea of loving is so limited to what Jesus can actually do. For instance, every time I walk in the preschool or around the kids they all shout “Nurse Sarah You See” as they show me small cuts or scrapes on one appendage or another. To be honest, at first this really overwhelmed me, because I felt the need and responsibility to fix it all for them. I equated love to having to bandage their very small wounds. I have come to love these moments though, because I have realized that these kids, like all of us are just asking, “Do you See Me?” I love getting to bend over, look at their healing scrape, tell them I am sorry and that I love them. I love getting to hug them and, in a way, say back to them, “Yes, I see you, you are so loved, and so important.”

I so believe that Jesus does this for all of us as we walk through life with what may be a “big bleeding wound” or “small scrape.” As we look up at him and say, “Do you see?” He leans over and says, “Yes, I see you. I know you and I love you so much.”

One of my favorite quotes is by Tim Keller it says, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

Here at the James Place the woman and children are learning about a God that fully knows them, sees them, and loves them. It is a family that sees one another in vulnerable places in life and loves each other abundantly. It is a place where life may be difficult at times but we get through it together.

- Sarah Aschfort, Long Term Volunteer Nursing Intern

 

Loving Like Jesus

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Normally, you have to choose.

You choose which sports to play. You choose who your friends will be. You choose if you are left or right brained… but not at The James Place.

Ampersand.

We are in the business of the ampersand, &.

Many of the Ugandan mothers have not witnessed a healthy marriage or healthy parenting habits. Many grew up in orphanages and someone took a chance on them. They need someone to see them, to believe that they have something worth offering. They need tough love when they are out of line to show that someone cares enough about them to hold them accountable. They need someone to call out their strengths and give them leadership opportunities.

At the James Place, we are truth and grace. We are hard talks and long hugs.

HEAL has pulled women out of difficult (sometimes life threatening) situations, cared for them through abuse, and led them to the feet of Jesus where there is true healing. Children can grow up with the Ugandan curriculum & know how to critically think. Women can start off in an artisan program & later become full time staff. Mothers can have no idea how to raise children & have the space to rise to higher standards once they are at the James Place. Ampersand.                                                                                                   

Second chances.

If there were two words to describe the James Place, “second chances” would be up there. We believe in people. We empower them. We teach them how to be accountable for their actions & we give them second chances. Grace upon grace. We allow our employees to take out loans & they pay them back in a specific time frame. We have a discounted preschool and childcare program & they pay for their own children’s education. For me, ampersand is the ministry of Jesus. He is always offering us second chances and calling us higher.

- Rachel Smith, Long Term Volunteer Admin Intern

Two Long Term Interns' Perspectives

Fridays are my absolute favorite. Not because it is the last day of the week. Not because the weekend is here.

Fridays are for worship and Bible Study. Every Friday every single person on the compound comes together to sing Praise to our Father. It is truly heavenly. The kids are dancing, jumping and raising their hands. The are silly but also passionate. The women have voices like angels and their love for the Lord is so evident. 

Fridays are also for fellowship. On Friday all the staff and interns eat in the same place celebrating the week and each other. After lunch volleyball is played and cheerleading for the players commences. It is such a special time each week. 

Fridays are for chores. After volleyball comes deep cleaning of the compound. To some that may sound awful, but I LOVE it. It is so neat to see all the staff work together to get all the tasks done and work alongside them. It truly takes a village to run the James Place and that is so clearly demonstrated during this time.

Fridays are for feet washing.  After chores all the staff wash their feet. They think we so poorly wash our feet that I have had my feet washed more times than I can count by them. It reminds me every time of Jesus humbly washing his disciples feet and loving them so intimately. I have experienced the most sacrificial love by the people here. 

The people at the James Place are amazing. They love with all they have got and then some. They care for one another in a way I have never experienced and truly are a family.

- Sarah, Long Term Volunteer Nurse


It takes a village. 

We’ve all heard this saying as it relates to rearing children. We use it as we are carpooling to a soccer game or taking food to a family who lost a loved one. It’s parents bringing food to an after school event and kids sleeping over at a friend’s house when their parents are out of town. It takes a village. 

Never has this well known phrase come alive than during my time at the James Place. 

We have women here who have taken in children and raised them as their own. It might be a neighbor, a niece, or a child that their husband had with another woman. Often times, women send some of their children out to “the village” to be with their Jaja’s (grandmothers) because there are many children already living in their homes. The women at the James Place have become their own village. Because most are abandoned mamas, they only have each other. When they cannot come to work because they are sick, another woman will bring their child to school. When the money runs out, they borrow from their neighbors knowing that the shoe will be on the other foot in the future. 

And we have learned from them. As interns, we have joined this village. We are there to wipe each other’s tears and give each other a pat on the back for a job well done. We are there to care for one another when we are sick or broken hearted. Because that’s how we are made to live - in community, in a village. 

- Rachel, Long Term Volunteer Admin Intern

The Lord Alone

Where to even begin... The James Place holds such a special place in my heart and has been such a place of healing, joy, and spiritual growth for me. The women and children that HEAL Ministries serve are some of the most beautiful people (inside and out) that I have ever met and have taught me what it looks like to trust Jesus fully and live out my faith in day-to-day life. Their strength comes from the Lord alone, and thanks to this incredible place and their hard work and dedication, so many of these women and children are being empowered with trades, skills, and education so that they can truly “be the change” in the Jinja community and beyond! I am so blessed to be back for 6 months this time, after such a life-changing internship I had here last summer.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about the James Place, but truly it is, in many ways, the way I believe heaven will look like one day. All hands on deck and all parts of the body of Christ being used to further the kingdom of God - one diaper, one meal, one student, one laugh, one woman’s dream of opening a business, one smile, one hug at a time!

-Emily Carpenter, Volunteer Education Intern

Overwhelming Joy

Before walking into the James Place, I had fears of being inadequate and unworthy of the job set before me, in a place where I knew no one and had been stripped of everything comfortable; but from the first step I took inside, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy – a joy that can only come from the Lord. In the book of 1 Peter it talks about how when you believe in Jesus you are filled with an INEXPRESSIBLE and GLORIOUS joy and that is so evident here at the James Place because Jesus is the center of all the work being done. The women have taught me what it looks like to serve with abundant joy and the children have taught me what it looks like to love with endless joy.

The Lord has taught me through the James Place the freedom that comes from truly finding joy in the day to day life that comes from fully surrendering and trusting in God’s plans. The James Place is building up world changers by teaching them about the pure joy found in Jesus, ultimately and radically changing their lives, which has been a JOY to watch first hand.

- Lauren Crow, Volunteer Intern

He is Present Here

When I first came to the James Place just over four years ago, I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know how quickly I would fall in love with Uganda. I didn't know how deeply I would love the staff, women, and children who immediately became my family. I didn't know that there would be some extremely hard days, filled with loss and heartbreak, and that most days would be extremely beautiful, filled with joy, laughter, and fellowship. I didn't know that I would fall into the swing of missionary life, pouring my heart into those who would come for short periods of time, only having to say see you later’s too soon. I didn't know that I would soon come to call Jinja my home.

Four years later, what I do know is that Jesus has been with me every step of the way, giving me the strength, energy, and endurance to fight the good fight. I know that He is present here and that He is working in powerful, mighty ways. I know that I love the people of HEAL Ministries with everything that I am. It breaks my heart having to leave them, to leave this place, to come to America. However, I know that for such a time as this, this is what my God is calling me to do. I know that this is what is best for everyone at HEAL Ministries, even if it means that my heart breaks a little bit in the process. I know that My God is strong; my God is mighty; and there is nothing that my God cannot do. 

- Betty Ross,  Administration Manager and Marketing Coordinator