Happy New Year!
I still cannot believe that it’s already 2021… Remember when we said that it seemed like 2020 would never end? It turns out, time doesn’t slow down for anyone… not even because of a global pandemic. Speaking of time not slowing down, as I’m writing this blog I have less than two months left here in Uganda before my visa expires and I have to return home to the States. 4 months in Uganda feels more like 4 weeks most days. I cannot begin to express to you the deep joy I have experienced so far! Throughout my time volunteering with Smile Again, so much has happened and I have been able to witness the organization grow in the most beautiful ways. It is abundantly clear to me that the Lord’s Hands are deeply intertwined with this work.
Due to COVID-19 and election season here in Uganda, Smile Again staff has been staying in office throughout January. It has been a fun time of orienting ourselves as a team considering towards the middle of December, Smile Again Families welcomed two new staff members! As we work towards expanding the organization, we want to make sure that we have a firm foundation built. As part of this process, Fred and Stella invited a facilitator to come and guide us all through a leadership training. The day was full of helpful tips on professionalism, becoming a great employer/employee, building a strong organization culture, etc. One of the most important things that we discussed was the dynamic between ‘Customer 1’ and ‘Customer 2’. Customer 1 includes the leaders of the organization, and customer 2 are those that the organization serves or benefactors/ supporters of said organization. If the focus ever strays from the needs of customer 2, the organization will cease to be. In this we were reminded that our focus must always be on the needs of the teenage mothers that we serve, as well as those that help aid this mission. If we are to ever drift from their needs, the organization will fall apart. The Lord has called Smile Again Families to serve the teenage mothers, His beloved daughters. Everything must start and end with them.
As a team, before we start each meeting, we’ve decided to spend the first thirty or so minutes together in prayer. Afterwards, we leave time to share any messages that the Lord has placed on our hearts. One message from a staff member that has spoken deeply to me and relates to the concept above is that ‘we are called to carry these mothers and to do something extraordinary for them’. At the end of the day, the greatest thing that we can do for these young girls is to bring them into relationship with their Creator. Of course we would love to see them back in school, in better homes, and to be able to fulfill their physical needs- and in time, we believe that we will be able to. However, in order to fully heal, we must first carry them to the One who loves them above all else until they learn to carry themselves to Him. Then, as time goes on, we cannot wait for the day that we are able to provide for many of their physical needs as well. We are called to do extraordinary things for these teenage mothers, and we fully trust that the Lord will provide so that His will may be done. He is always faithful. Always.
As an organization, we truly cannot thank you all enough for the ways that you have supported us and allowed us to help the teenage mothers we serve. As I mentioned at the beginning, we have seen quite a lot of growth in just a few short months! Remember around Christmas time when I mentioned the need to build a large gate around the mission house so that the mothers will be able to stay here someday soon? The gate is now built, which means that the construction for the mother’s dormitory can now officially begin! We are so excited for this next step and so blessed by the support of all of our benefactors- you are making such a huge difference! We have set the date for the ground breaking of the dormitory to be on February 8th– just two weeks away! If you would like to join us in prayer as we wait on more funding, we are asking Saint Joseph for his intercession to make this possible 🙂
Our God is BIG and we are confident that He will provide for all things.
So, you see, even though 2020 held a lot of confusion and stress, here at Smile Again Families the year ended very fruitfully. Though at times the mission seems daunting, the Lord has consoled us with His word “you were wearied with the length of your way, but you did not say “it is hopeless”; you found new life for your strength” Isaiah 57: 10. As long as we continue to walk in His footsteps, He will provide all that we need for the journey. Even in the midst of chaos and darkness, our Lord will always bring light. When we are faithful to Him, He is faithful to us and He is never outdone in generosity. We cannot wait to see what 2021 holds for this organization and for the teenage mothers! More updates to come soon, but until then please continue to join us in prayer and on mission 🙂 May God bless you all abundantly in this new year!
Listening *attentively* to the facilitator as we began the day!
An example of how an employee can look great on the outside and on their resume, but how overtime they can become diluted and not “taste the same” when they stop putting in effort. Don’t become the diluted employee!
We moved outside for the second half of the day to enjoy the beautiful day 🙂 This is when we were talking about customer 1 and customer 2!
A photo of our staff and volunteers with the facilitator who joined us for the leadership training day!