I love this place. The people are wonderful, and every day has been so full. There is so much that happens in each day, and it's so cool to be part of life here. We took the preschool kids on a boat ride the other day to the source of the Nile River, and that was a blast. Moses, ironically, was the boat driver, and the kids were so excited. We were each responsible for 2 kids and they couldn't keep seated because they were so interested in everything around them. A small leaf in the water would set off a "Flower! Flower! Flower!" chant.
I loved their wonder at every little thing, and it was really cool to see through their precious eyes for a little while. A monkey was incredible, and a lizard was a new thing for most of them. How cool is it that the field trip was a boat ride on the Nile though? It is really exciting to see how much the preschoolers are growing and learning through the HEAL preschool program. It is a blessing to watch them recite, sing, and answer questions about numbers, colors, shapes, days of the week and so much more. Health and hygiene is important at the James' Place, and it is exciting to see the children even learning hand washing so early. The teacher encourages the children to thank each other, and teamwork and love are major aspects of class, which is an exciting thing to learn from a young age! The children are learning about the Lord and are so excited to sing that they often shout the words of the songs they know well.
On Saturdays, we have "Kids Club", which is when the gates are opened for many children from the small fishing village and slum nearby to play and learn about God. The first week, a girl needed her foot examined because it was hurting her. I did what I could to clean and cover it, and that led to many other kids for the next hour and a half asking me to look at their cuts and injuries. It was hard, because with some of them, I couldn't get the wounds very clean or didn't recognize the injury, but I was able to at least try. I want to be a nurse in order to help those who may not have access to good care, and this was a good opportunity to see how it may be in just little ways sometimes. The Lord helped me love through that, and it was comforting that He is in control and has a plan.
Conversations and many other things happening have blessed me, and I see the Lord all around me. The joy of the Lord is so present in this place - in the faces and laughs of the children, and the teamwork and smiles of the staff. There is a humility that flows from the staff, whether it be in their regular work, or in doing extra work like helping to wash toys, comforting a crying child, or kneeling in the dirt opening candy wrappers for the children at Kids' Club. There is a peace that can be found from just sitting in the sun, laughing while cutting watermelon, or taking a deep breath when the children fall asleep, excited to see their rested faces later. Jesus is so present, and it is an incredible thing, despite the fullness and craziness of everything that happens in one day.
One thing we talked about was how much easier it seems to be to love outward and upward (God and others) here, when at home it is easier to get focused on our needs and ourselves. Maybe it's because here there are just so many needs that there is not time to think about only us.
I know there are needs in our own country, and that God is doing things and moving people all over the world. However, I think that being in a less individualistic culture for a change is refreshing.
"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love." Psalm 103:8