I am excited to go to the U.S. in a few days to see friends and family. And I am sad to leave Uganda in a few days because I'm leaving friends and family. What God has done here is amazing. The James Place (where HEAL Ministries programs are running) has become a family center for the abandoned women and children that we work with. "When people come through the gates, they don't want to leave." Staff quote from one of our weekly HEAL staff meetings here in Jinja. In a couple of days, I'll be going to the U.S. for a few weeks. I'll be leaving the gates that I don't want to leave. It is ironic because I'm having some of the same feelings that the women have expressed to me over the last several months.
Family..........one dictionary definition reads "a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for." The HEAL FAMILY is definitely a social unit and everyone cares for each other. We have many women....about 175 to be exact and there are more than 400 children involved. We have about 25 children that attend childcare daily during the week and another 25 to 40 children that come with their moms to learn a few hours a week.
When the children are here......they don't want to leave. They are well fed, well loved and well taught. They learn a preschool education centered around God and they blurt out songs like "Jesus loves Me" as they play in the large treehouse or swing or ride the new tricycles.
Here, the women laugh as they learn from many classes but the most fun is to just sit with them and get to know them when they are making and creating hand-sewn rugs or hand-made jewelry. They laugh and cry and love. They are family.
It seems to me that we are not that unique after all. God created us all to love and to be in relationship with each other. God so loved the world........the whole world. So we are not unique in that we are doing anything new.......we are just doing what God has called us to do. What we all have been called to do. To love unconditionally so that all we meet feel like family. To sit and smile and laugh when a friend or family member needs it. To not judge but love unconditionally and point the broken hearted to Jesus as they piece their lives back together. To sit and sing "Jesus Loves Me" with a little girl that calls me "jaja". To be like Jesus.....to LOVE so that all feel loved.
It's no accident that this year's benefit dinner has a theme of "Time for Family". My prayer is that everyone reading this will attend October 26th. (www.heal-ministries.org for more details). Attend because you are going to hear what God is up to in Uganda..........making time for the least of these. You are going to hear about our family...........family that I'll look forward to seeing again when I come back through those glorious gates at the James Place!