A JOY to serve!

Our team woke up this morning and walked from the Surjios Guest House to the James Place.  The James Place is the location that HEAL Ministries has secured so that programs can be developed for the women and children in our programs.  This place will train women in health & safety, Bible, sustainability, farming, money management and life skills.  We will also host a kids club program on the week-ends for the kids in the slum nearby and the street kids.  We will work closely with the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Jinja and assists with the problem of teenage pregnant girls that have no home......many have been forced into prostitution and once pregnant become outcasts in their village.  We hope to help these women figure out the next step, train them and walk alongside them helping them to see that they can keep their babies.

The team worked on the grounds pulling weeds all morning.  They actually enjoyed it!  The girls were laughing and talking, listening to music while making the James Place look awesome!  I'm so thankful for their attitudes and hearts.  These are 16 - 18 year old girls that chose to travel to Uganda during their winterim experience and they are receiving much more than they bargained for.  They are receiving a glimpse of the reality of how most of the world lives.  And they are accepting the challenge and digging in (literally today) to see how they can help.  It is a little comical to walk up and see the Ugandan scaffolding created to put a new window in a team room upstairs!

Pulling weeds is not the "ideal" project but the girls saw their project complete and what a difference it has made.   They also assisted with Magdalene (a lame single mom in our program) as she did our laundry.  Her beautiful baby boy (John Jacob) was being passed around from girl to girl.  In one morning, he received 9 new "auntees" loving on him and playing with him and it made my heart smile to see these young ladies from America loving on a lady and her son that have come a long way.  Magdalene lived under a cardboard box last year and today:  she is a leader among her group at the Crisis Center.  She thrives to show others that no matter what circumstance one is in, HOPE is always there because Jesus is always with us.  The team is paying this beautiful young lady to wash our clothes.  That may sound simple but to Magdalene, it means food on the table.  It means milk and baby food and diapers for John Jacob.  It means she is seeing Jesus in these girls that have traveled half way across the world as she sits and scrubs their clothes smiling and watching them play with her son that she chose to keep.  And the girls on the team are seeing Jesus through Magdalene.   Through her servant's heart and smiles as she works.
After the girls had lunch, we all crammed into the matatu (Ugandan taxi) and drove to the village of Buziika.  There we visited my sweet friend Fazirra and her six children.  It is very humbling to see how a typical Ugandan family lives in the village for the first time.  Her humble 8 x 10 hut with a dirt floor was neatly picked up and welcoming.  It was also humbling for me to see how far Fazirra has come in the last year.  She is the lady that so many fell in love with reading the blog about her transformation (she converted from Islam to Christianity) and her son Shafikke.  Today, she surprised me as she was so excited to introduce me to a new girl.  This young girl is about 13 and has a baby and Fazirra has learned that we all have responsibilities in helping with orphans and widows.  She has taken in this new "daughter".  Now, her humble home has 8 children living in it instead of the 6 that I left her with a few months ago.  Fazirra has taught me more about Christ and LOVE and HOPE than I could ever teach her.  She taught the girls a very valuable lesson today too.  We can all reach out and lend a helping hand.  We can choose HOPE.  And we can pass that HOPE on to others much more easily than we sometimes choose to believe.  The team was so excited to deliver the bags of food that we bought on the side of the road for Fazirra's family.  The bag of food costs about 10,000 shillings which is about $3.00 and will feed her family for a few meals.  
We then visited the Canaan Children's Home in Buziika which is always a favorite spot for teams.  This ugandan run orphanage is unique but today, most of the children were on holiday.  There were only a few teenagers on the property and 2 of the smaller children.  The team still was able to see what Canaan is all about and visit the dorms.  
We have a fun day planned tomorrow after church and I'm excited for them to see a village dance and ride a boat in the Nile River.  Moses (this is seriously NOT made up) will take us for a boat ride in the Nile River.  How many people get to say that in a lifetime?