A fun Week-end in Jinja and finding out about needs

Saturday was a great, sunny, hot and busy day in Jinja. There seemed to be more people out on the streets than usual. As David drove me around town and to Buziika (the village where Canaan Children's Home and the Amazima feeding program is) I felt like I was home and not just visiting for the first time. Jinja is really beautiful. It has so many pretty sights such as Lake Victoria and the Nile River. And, I know it sounds corny but I really do LOVE the red clay-like dirt. I don't even mind anymore that my feet are always a dusty red. The people are beautiful too. The children are so precious and as I drove into Canaan, I teared up because many of the children ran to the van yelling "Mama Tina or Auntee Tina". They remembered me. And it is not about me at all but it made me realize that God's business of relationships is really strong here with the children that the Heal Ministries teams have worked with.

Claire is a beautiful young girl at Canaan. She is pictured here with my sunglasses on her head and sitting on her bed. She hugged me and kissed me and started asking questions about everyone she met in the past on the Heal teams. She knew everyone by name and asked about each one. I gave her a letter that Jill wrote her from one of the teams and she acted as if it was Christmas! I'm going to encourage all the past team members to write to the children to give them encouragement. They love pictures and I want to develop some pictures for them to have in their dorm. Claire wanted me to take a picture of her on her bed because the HEAL teams bought sheets and blankets for the girls dorms last July. She is so proud of her bed and makes it look perfectly made every morning.
I talked with the older girls and asked them how they were doing and asked if they needed anything. They told me that the suitcases of sanitary pads that the Heal teams brought them in July have lasted until now and they are almost out. I promised them that the board members would bring some pads for them in March and they literally jumped up and down and started jumping on me and hugging me. Rice scattered everywhere during the chaos because their chores on Saturday include cleaning all their clothes and preparing and cleaning rice for them to eat. We laughed and I helped them sort rice and listened to them talking as teenagers do. We are going to have a Bible Study every Saturday afternoon and the girls are so excited about that.
One project that I have wanted to start for these girls that have no money for sanitary supplies is the paper for paper project - where teenage girls and college girls in America give one paper dollar to help supply sanitary supplies for girls in orphanages. Younger children in America could give one dollar to help supply school paper for young children in orphanages. I cannot imagine being 12, 13, 14, 15, or 16 years of age (or any age) and sitting in a classroom when a menstral cycle begins; having no supplies, nobody to get help from, and nothing to do. I asked the older girls what they do when they run out of supplies and they told me that they just use rags and stay home. The Mama of the girls dorm told me that years ago, girls and women would go to the bush and sit for days. As far as school supplies, many of them share paper and use pencils that are about 3 inches long. Please pray about this Paper for Paper Project. Until that is launched successfully, our teams send suitcases full of sanitary pads and school supplies. This is one way that anyone can help out: buy sanitary supplies or school supplies for our teams to send. Think of girls like Claire with no supplies. If you are interested in helping us with this please email me at tina@heal-ministries.org or you can email our board chairman at kevin@heal-ministries.org. If you would like to talk to a female on our board about this in the states contact Valerie Mowery or Dee Anne Proctor (our executive directors) at valerie@heal-ministries.org.
I visited the boys and told them that I would be spending time with them also on Saturdays and when I asked them if they needed anything, a few said they wished they had their own Bible. I told them that I would begin to work on that. They have all received Bibles in the past but somehow they slowly disappear and walk away. This is another great project that anyone can get involved with. I am often asked by people "what is something that my family can do" - and this is a great one! Lifeway Christian Stores sells paperback Bibles for $1.00 for mission purposes. The Canaan Children's Home has about 100 kids that could use a personal Bible. Even if someone donates just one Bible, it makes a difference! Marvin and Frank are two little boys that are pictured here from Canaan. Marvin loves to pose for the camera and Frank was scared of muzungus the last trip! On Saturday, he ran to me and hugged me!
After spending time with Pastor Isaac (who runs the Canaan Children's Home), I learned that the Canaan Primary School is in need of a fence as required by the government. This may be a project that one of the Heal teams can work on this summer. As I am working and researching in the Jinja area, I am also learning about needed projects for the three HEAL teams to complete while here.
I visited the Amazima feeding program after leaving Canaan and it is always amazing to see the hundreds of children and hundreds of families that benefit from this program. Katie Davis told me that she added about 150 children making it total about 600 now that attend on Saturdays. The most amazing part of that is everything still finished around the same time. She has done an excellent job of allowing the Ugandans to run the program and to take ownership in what they do. The Pastor that teaches the children the Bible Study on Saturdays is so entertaining and the children love him. It was so exciting to see Grace, one of Katie's daughters, walking after her surgery. She is literally a walking miracle and a joy to be around. I am looking forward to spending time with Katie's precious girls over the next few months. One of the highlights of the HEAL teams is to see firsthand the Amazima program on Saturdays. It is amazing to see that one person really can make a HUGE difference. Every child gets a HUGE plate of food on Saturdays in the program of rice, beans, chicken and an egg. They also take home flour, rice, beans and soap for their family. For more information about that program go to the Amazima website.
I ended Saturday by going with Danyne and her boys and Darlene & Ron (missionaries pictured that live below me) to Skewers. Skewers is the restaurant that Trey is managing. I am so thankful that Trey followed his heart and his calling to move to Jinja. It is so rewarding for a mom to see her children grow up and live in God's plan. He is really helping the local people and they are learning from each other and working together quite well. Sunday was a busy day for them. They cooked for about 50 people which is a very busy day for a new restaurant in Jinja!
Sunday we visited the Canaan Church where Pastor Isaac and Pastor Andrew preach. I was pleasantly surprised that Pastor Isaac was preaching and this is the church that the HEAL teams have helped with Sunday School. I am going to be working with Pastor Andrew a couple of times a month with the children and also with the women that we have worked with that live in the slums across the street from the church.
Sunday night Trey and I went with friends to The Keep (a restaurant owned by Americans) to watch the Ravens vs Patriots football game. Because of the time difference, we were there from 11:00 pm to 2:30 am to watch it! I felt like I was watching something foreign since we do not have a TV. And I have to say, it was fun but I'm enjoying the simple life without it right now. Without the many distractions that I have in America, I am more focused here. It is easier for me to focus on God and His plan here but I realize that because of where I was raised (in the wonderfully blessed country of the good ole USA) I can sit in an apartment typing on my computer looking out at the red dirt road and Lake Victoria. I can visit the orphanages, work with children and widows and abandoned women because of the blessings that I have been given. I can relate to the ones that I have been called to serve because of life experiences and I can pass on the HOPE of Christ that got me through life's trials. I am thankful and blessed and I pray that I'll never forget that.