“Fearfully and wonderfully made” – Psalm 139:14
This past Thursday, October 29th, Smile Again Families Uganda put on their annual ‘Your Worth’ summit. This was the first of many summits that will be held in the coming weeks! Due to Covid-19, a smaller number of mothers were invited to come to the mission house for this event so that we could follow the health guidelines set by the country. These next two weeks, we will be bringing the summit to the other villages and mothers that Smile Again Families serves! If I had to describe the day to you in one word, I would use the word ‘joy’- the smiles were big and the laughter was contagious.
We started the day in praise and worship so that we could invite the Lord to be with us. The words that were sung are “Baba, ninajua wewe unanipenda” (Swahili) – “Father, I know you love me”. Such simple words, but the place was full of life! Everyone was up dancing, clapping, and singing loudly. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit was present and that the Father was smiling down upon us. Right after worship, one of Smile Again’s volunteers, Matia, introduced the theme of the summit to the mothers- “fearfully and wonderfully made”. He made it clear that the purpose of this day was to help them come to believe that they are each created uniquely and beautifully despite their differences and how they see themselves.
Following the introduction, we had a few talks given before lunch with small groups in between each talk to discuss what was learned and to share experiences. I had the privilege of giving the first talk which centered on self-image and finding your worth. The main emphasis that I made was that our worth is a gift that is given freely from the Lord; one that cannot be diminished or taken away! The next talk, given by our program advisor, Franchesca, was on vision and the importance of making a plan for your life. Both are things we believe the mothers needed to hear- that they have an inherent worth and that they have the ability to rise above their circumstances through envisioning and planning their futures. We even had a representative from the health office come and share about sanitation and Covid-19 in the hope that the mothers may come to see the seriousness of the virus and learn proper precautions.
After a great lunch of matooke (a type of mashed plantain and a staple food in this area), rice, a meat sauce, pumpkin, and some greens we had two more talks before the day was over! One was given by Alex Okello (financial advisor to Smile Again Families) in which he helped the women see their potential in life, a message that strongly needed to be heard. He emphasized the fact that we all have so many gifts within us and we can choose to either hide them away or share them with this world; we have to share what we have been given! The last talk, given by Fred and Stella, was on rearing rabbits. This is a skill that they have taken up here at home and wish to share with some of the mothers so that they have the ability to earn some income! The market for rabbit rearing here in Uganda is quickly rising, so this skill holds a lot of potential. The next step is just to get funding to purchase the rabbits for the mothers, and they’ll be provided with a concrete way to earn some money!
All in all, it was a full day- full of talks, laughter, knowledge, joy, love, and ~most importantly~ full of our Lord. Yesterday, it was abundantly clear to me why this organization is called ‘Smile Again’- not one person left this home without a smile on their face. This organization provides so much more than simply helping teenage mothers support themselves. They help to provide healing, make sure that these women understand their worth, provide community for the mothers, and help them encounter the Lord. It’s a truly holistic approach; one that I am so humbled to be a part of.
We thank you all so much for your prayers and donations! This would not have been possible without your help. Thank you for joining us on mission, and for helping us show these beautiful teenage mothers their true worth. We are confident that our Heavenly Father’s hands hold this organization and that He will continue to provide.