Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More reflections from recent team members...

Two more recent team members share their heart:

Working with HEAL ministries for three weeks has been an eye opening and life changing experience. The work that this ministry does for abandoned women and orphans is so amazing because not only is it changing the lives of these individuals, but these individuals can then change their own communities. God has such a great plan for this ministry and HEAL is truly doing His work. I got to experience this first hand on the very first day of my trip when we had Bible Study in Masese with the women. Their faith and passion for the Lord is overwhelming. It fills the visible poverty and hardships of this slum community with loud joyful cries praising the Lord. With the new James Place property, this work can now be even more effective and outreaching for these women and children. Seeing the Dedication of the James Place and watching the women pray over the property, showed me how important this building will be to the community. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for the future of HEAL Ministries.
Brennan Frazier, Harpeth Hall Winterim 2013


Traveling to Uganda with HEAL Ministries presented me with the most amazing opportunity and easily the most incredible experience of my life. Just being there for about 2 and a half weeks I have been able to witness the work that HEAL has done and that they will doing in the coming years. It is like a huge movement is being rooted all throughout Jinja and I can see the beginning of it. 
In the villages of Masesse as well as all the partnering ministries, it is amazing for me to witness how many women and children have already come to know Christ through Tina, Trey, and HEAL, and I know God has a great plan for the future work of HEAL in Uganda. The joy and thankfulness of all the women and children in the villages never ceases to amaze me. Jinja is a special place that has stolen my heart as well as many others. I hope to go back with HEAL in the near future to help continue the wonderful work they have already begun! 
Liza Southwick, Harpeth Hall Winterim 2013 Team

Monday, January 28, 2013

Reflections from Recent Team Members

Here are the team reflections through the eyes of the team members:

"It is hard to put into words how incredible the past three weeks have been. To have been able to serve on a HEAL ministries team has been such a privilege and a blessing. Over the course of the trip, my eyes were opened to the magnitude of God's unconditional love. 

To have been immersed in a culture so openly loving and welcoming of me, an utter stranger, has demonstrated to me the loving acceptance of the Lord. To have had the ability to serve alongside and fellowship with the rest of my HEAL team members has been inspiring, to say the least. I am so thankful and in awe of the work HEAL ministries is doing in Jinja. The importance HEAL places on building relationships with the Ugandan community has led to lifelong friends between the two. It has already left permanent impact on the people of Jinja, who never for a second take for granted the love and fellowship shown to them by HEAL. I cannot wait to return to Jinja as soon as possible to see the continued work and growth of this awesome ministry!"

Becca Morris, Harpeth Hall Winterim 2013 Team

"Being a part of a HEAL ministries team was truly a blessing and an experience that I will never forget. Being half way around the world in a completely foreign environment sounds intimidating and somewhat scary but on the trip I felt so safe and loved that my anxiety for the trip quickly diminished. It is so evident that The Lord has his hand over HEAL by their mission as well as how they build relationships with the people of Uganda and show them God's love through their actions as well as their words.

I learned the value of strong relationships and how much the small things you do for others can impact them in a big way. I also learned that God works in incredible ways, has blessed all of his children, has laid out a perfect and flawless plan for each of us, and has a holy and powerful love that we can never fully understand. On the trip I saw God's love and mercy in ways I never had before and I am truly blessed to have seen how he has worked in the people in Uganda (both the missionaries and the Ugandans). Seeing the people of Uganda so on fire for The Lord was incredible and I am so thankful I was able to see that. My experience with HEAL was truly indescribable and I would not change a single thing about the amazing journey!"

Maddie Dugan, Harpeth Hall Winterim 2013 team


This trip to Uganda has been the greatest use of my time. I cannot think of anything I have enjoyed more in my whole life. This trip has taught me that there is more to life than just me. It has taught me that there are other people in this world who lead an extremely different lifestyle. I am so thankful for my trip and also for HEAL ministries. HEAL has taught me about serving. 
It has taught me that we are called to serve orphans and widows and people in distress; it states that very clearly in the Bible. Because of HEAL’s work with the people of Uganda, I was able to see the Lord at work in a place very far away from home. HEAL has already formed such strong bonds with the people there and it was an honor to be a part of that for three weeks. These ladies love what HEAL is doing through their ministry and the James Place. Seeing their excitement has helped me to reevaluate what is important in my life and has made me begin to prayerfully consider what I need to do to help.

Kayleigh Land, Harpeth Hall Winterim 2013 team

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord."   Romans 12:10-11

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

That's what LOVE looks like

Our Team 1 of 2013 had a joyful AND sad last day in Jinja.  It was so joyful because the girls had the opportunity to pass out clothes and shoes in the village and to the children at Canaan Children's Home. It was sad because they have fallen in love with God's people here and they do not want to leave. Passing out the clothes and shoes proved to be passing out HOPE and ENCOURAGEMENT also.  That's what LOVE looks like.
The first stop was Canaan Children's Home.  The older girls (which are also the same age as the Harpeth Hall girls on the team) were so excited to meet girls their own age across the world.  Across the world, they are different and, yet, very much the same.  It was very humbling for the team to see the excitement on the Canaan girls' faces when they received their sanitary pads.  To be a teenager and not have these necessities is hard to comprehend.  The Harpeth Hall Team organized a school drive and collected sanitary pads and children's vitamins.  What a joy to see the results of such hard work:  happiness and excitement.  When the team members each passed out a skirt to every teenage girl at Canaan, the room was full of smiles and hugs.  That's what LOVE looks like.
We also passed out letters from the Christ Presbyterian Church (Nashville, TN) youth.  The girls could not wait to open the letters and read them.  Many of them immediately began writing a letter back to the teenager that wrote them so that they could be delivered back to America.  We are so appreciative of teenagers taking the time to write a letter..........taking the time to send a message of LOVE to an orphan across the world.  That's what LOVE looks like.

Our next stop was to Fazirra's home.  Fazirra is a name familiar to most that read this blog but for those that do not know her:  She is a single mom that HEAL has been working with the last year:  mother of six, poorest of the poor, converted from Islam to Christianity, JOY to know and serve.  The sweetest moment was when Shariffe (her oldest boy) opened the suitcase full of clothes and shoes for the entire family.

His excitement brought tears to my eyes.  And that is the moment that makes us all realize that every hot and dusty day is worth it.  Every drive, every dress sewn, every suitcase filled with shoes is worth it.  Every moment like that (and there are lots of those moments here) reminds us what LOVE looks like.

Fazirra worked hard with us to make sure every child had shoes and clothes.  Dee Anne presented her with a Luganda Bible and she was so excited.  Out of all the gifts that the team passed out, the Bible is the most important.  And not just because it is the Bible and the right thing to say:  because it is the hardest thing to find and purchase here in Uganda for most of the people that live in the villages.  They can somehow sew and make an outfit, find a pair of OLD shoes.....but the Bible is the most coveted item by new believers.  Dee Anne saw this first hand last year and helped HEAL with a program to sponsor women with Bibles in Uganda.  That's what LOVE looks like.
The team said good bye to the babies at Amani Baby Cottage after dropping off a suitcase full of children's vitamins and floppy hats for all the mamas.   When they got back to the Surjios's Guest House, there were tears.  There were tears because the relationships built in such a short time are very real.  There were tears because God takes a teenage girl and sends her across the world to spread HIS hope and love to a girl that needs it in Uganda.  There were tears because those girls have become friends with not only people their age but with the babies and mamas at Amani.  They saw first hand the impact that HEAL Ministries is making and they want to go back and have more drives.  They saw the need for backpacks and the team is going to organize a backpack project.   That's what LOVE looks like.
The team is now on a 2 day safari after working and serving for the past two weeks.  They are enjoying a well deserved break before returning to the U.S.  There are many here that will be sad to see them leave.  There will be some that will return one day.  All of them will forever have a special place in their heart for God's people of Uganda.  They will always remember a smile on a girl's face when receiving a new skirt.  They will always remember Shariffe's face when he opened the suitcase and joyfully clapped.  They will always remember the baby they fell in love with.  They will always remember Magdalene that joyfully washed their clothes.  They will always remember the importance of spreading HOPE.  They will always remember that they were present when HEAL Ministries had the first prayer walk at the James Place.  And they will always remember Uganda and spread awareness to others.  That's what LOVE looks like.
"What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like." 
Saint Augustine

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blessed and Thankful

It is only fitting that God puts a HUGE TREE in the front yard of the place that He ordained for HEAL Ministries in Jinja, Uganda.  It all started under a tree in Masese.  This big, beautiful tree on the property  we call The James Place is a reminder to all of us how HEAL Ministries started in Uganda.  Today was a special day under that tree.  We invited the women and children in our programs to come and do a prayer walk around the property.  Today, we dedicated the property to the Lord and we wanted to stand together in prayer and claim this ministry in HIS name.  What an overwhelming response and successful beginning for the James Place.  The James Place is named after James 1:27 (the scripture that has been a part of HEAL Ministries since the beginning.) We had over 150 women and children.  To stand there and watch the women walk all around the property singing, praising, praying and claiming this land for God, binding Satan and witchcraft and claiming it all for Jesus was just about the most blessed event that our team has experienced.  
 The women brought scripture cards and signed their names on it.  Dee Anne Proctor (a HEAL board member) was present to witness all that God has ordained and she is going to take the scripture cards that the women prayed over the property and laminate them to hang all over the classrooms and house that the programs will take place in.  We both were overwhelmed at the amount of scripture and prayer and praise that was lifted up for HEAL Ministries.  The abandoned women and children of Jinja, Uganda are excited about the programs that they will be a part of.
 We have become friends with many ministries here and it was only fitting that our friends from Amani Baby Cottage came to this special day.  The director and mamas that have been on this property for years with babies came to share our joy, our excitement and our prayers.  Mama Susan (a prayer warrior at Amani) prayed a prayer that brought tears and cheering from the crowd!
 After singing and praising the Lord for over an hour, we watched the children's village dancers from Masese.  The children are led by two young men that had a desire to teach children dance and music and keep them off the streets.  What a wonderful ministry (Talent Africa) to celebrate with us.  The women and children loved the many tribal dances.  When a certain tribe's dance was being performed, those women would get up and dance and cheer.
 The dances took us all around Uganda and even other countries of Africa.  The beauty of this was that all the women present represented many tribes.  There was a day in the past that this joyous celebration would not have happened together.  Today, they all sang and danced and prayed together!  God is at work in Uganda and it is humbling to be a part of it.

 As I drove back to the James Place to unload some supplies at the end of the day, I saw the sign that a local Ugandan artist painted for us.  It is absolutely beautiful.  Beautiful describes the sign, the property and God's work.  We are blessed and thankful on this very special day.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Visiting and Serving

The last two days for the Harpeth Hall HEAL Ministries team has been rewarding beyond words.  The visits to Masese bible studies and kids club programs have given us all a new perspective on life.
Yesterday, we visited Serving His Children in Masese.  This program is incredible.  Renee, the founder, talked to the team about her passion and ministry focus and it so fun to see God's plans unfold for a person and a ministry.  This program accepts children that are malnourished, most to the point of death around the corner.  The best part of the program is that the moms (or guardians) must be in the program with the sick child.  That way, they learn how to nourish their child back to life.  Seeing the before and after pictures are shocking.  Most of the children are only in the home for about a month.  There are some cases that have needed 3 months.  Seeing these drastic results in such a short amount of time, shows me the value of nutrition and the value of teaching this to the young moms in our programs.  While it was difficult for the girls to see the children and even more difficult to understand how a mom could allow this to happen, the girls did walk away seeing the beauty of God all around it.  They are beginning to see the value of education and how ignorance can lead to death.

Today was a sunny, joyful morning!  We arrived on the Ekisa property with children running and laughing all around our van.  Ekisa is a special needs orphanage.  Emily, the young lady that started the ministry is a rare find.  The first thing the team noticed was how wonderful it is to see these children being treated "normal".  They are so loved and happy.  There was one young boy that could not go swimming because of getting in trouble and not swimming was the consequence.  Another boy was in time out for yelling.  While these "things" seem normal to most of us, it is not typical for children with special needs to be treated with love and respect and discipline.  Especially in Uganda - where these children have been deemed outcasts and not wanted.  We loaded the van up with all 12 team members and 11 children and took them to the swimming pool.  For the next hour, the children were screaming and laughing and swimming and I'm not sure if the children had more fun or if the team members had more fun but for sure:  we were the ones blessed to serve.

We ended our day at Amani Baby Cottage which is always a favorite place for our HEAL teams.  The girls played with the children for a little bit and then we gave Mama Cook (Sarah) a ride home.  She invited us into her house and as we sat around her living room, the girls on the team were amazed at how pretty her house was and at how proud she was to have us in her home.  This hospitality is very typical in Uganda.  Mama Cook (Sarah) is another example of selfless love.  She has a daughter and a son and has taken in three girls.  One of the young lady's just had a baby.
We have learned alot in the short time here.  We have learned about selfless LOVE, HOPE, and FAITH.  We have seen the need to help the abandoned women and children and we have learned that the best way to prevent orphans is to keep the mom and baby together.  And we have learned from God's people around the world that every single one of us can make a difference.  We can all reach out and love our neighbors and we can be a light to every person that we meet.  Because one day those are the very people we just might be spending eternity with.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

blessings from Jinja!

 I can not say enough how much FUN this team is having.  The word FUN does not even begin to describe it.  Everyone has such a shared passion for serving and helping the people of Uganda now that  even when there is work to do, it doesn't seem like work.  When the team is painting for Amani Baby Cottage, they are singing and praising and having fun.  When they are playing with the children they have fallen in love with, they are having fun.  When they are in Masese bombarded by 200 plus children, they are having fun.  When they are driving around town to shop for the James Place and it takes two hours to just find a shower curtain after visiting 6 shops and delivering fencing, they are having fun.  And this fun is a blessing. While we hope that we are a light to everyone we serve, we see that THEY are a light for us as well.
Under the tree, in Masese, we had an overwhelmingly joyful praise and worship with about 75 women and 200 children.  The women all praised God and shared their joy and answered prayers.  I was humbled when they shared how they have gathered together to pray for me.  The team was humbled at how they accepted them and became instant friends.  We are all amazed at their joy.  Sometimes, God takes us around the world to see pure JOY that can only come from above.  The team played games and sang songs with the children.  I listened to the women's hearts and prayer requests and then they told me their idea that brought tears to my eyes.  After passing out 5 scripture cards, the women decided to use one of the cards to write scripture and sign their name.....so that it can be placed permanently at the James Place.  Saturday, we are dedicating the James Place to the Lord.  All the women and children in our programs are going to meet us at the property at 9:00 am to sing, pray and fellowship together.  We are going to do a prayer walk around the property that God has provided.  What an exciting time for a team to be here.  Dee and I are thrilled that they are such an important part of such a strong beginning.  And what a wonderful blessing to experience..........to see the James Place come to life.

The girls on the team have officially been emersed into the culture:  they went to the market to purchase the food that Trey cooked for us last night and tonight, we all went to a Ugandan restaurant downtown to eat the local food.  And......to my surprise...... most of the girls tried the goat!  I love that they are here in the moment and enjoying and experiencing it all. 

The power has been out at the James Place for a couple of days and many things happen behind the scenes with or without power.  The property has many things going on to get it up and running and Trey, the operations manager, has done an exceptionally great job.  He is not only good with the teams and helping out with logistics, but he is great with the locals.  It is a joy to see him in his element.  He just finished the dog house and fenced in area for the new FEROCIOUS guard dogs pictured below:) 
 The girls on the team are so thoughtful and intentional.  They heard Trey talking about how hot it was in his apartment and reminded me to get a fan in town.  They are seeing how hard he works and wanted his new home to be pleasant.  
We all share each night how God speaks to us throughout each day.  Trey shared how he was working and looked over at Magdalene washing the team's clothes (a lame lady in our program with a 10 month old baby boy) and he said he saw her carry the baby several feet away, place him in the grass and then walked away to show him how to walk.  Walking is difficult for Magdalene.  When he turned and saw her laughing and smiling at little John Jacob with arms stretched high, he was reminded how thankful he is to be here......to experience God's love and pure JOY at this new place we call home where abandoned women and children are welcomed and loved.

About H.E.A.L. Ministries...

My photo
H.E.A.L.’s vision is to bring hope and healing to widows, orphans, and abandoned women and children in a Christ-centered environment. HEAL Ministries was founded on James 1:27 - "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."