4/18/16: With every "yes" that I say to Jesus, He takes me further and further into the outer edges of society. I first brought The Dignity Project to boarding school children, then orphans, then impoverished village women, then prisoners and now the mentally ill. It's been a progressive movement to the outside.
Today I spent my day in the largest psychiatric hospital in Uganda. Over 650 people find refuge there. Men and women who are survivors of genocide, war, human trafficking, abuse, trauma and neglect fill the wards. "These people are shunned from society. They feel utterly forgotten," my friend shared.
Soon after I arrived I found the staff making sanitary pads for the patients out of cotton and gauze. I was so happy to see first hand what the women normally use. It really is quite a creative use of medical supplies! As you can imagine, the patients and staff were absolutely thrilled to receive new reusable sanitary pads that don't leak and last years with proper care.
After one woman received the first pair of underpants she has had in SEVEN years she started dancing. I was so moved by her joy I started dancing with her! It was a taste of Heaven dancing in her celebration! I am telling you, it was as if she won the lottery. The ladies could not believe the care and detail that was put into these Dignity Kits made by you all! I am so proud of you!
Next week I have the honor of going back to the hospital to train a group of 12 women how to make our Dignity Kits. Several of the women are soon to be resettled back into their communities and want to make them for a sustainable income.
There have been times when I have been ashamed to tell people what my job is here. I usually say something like, "I am a reusable sanitary pad missionary of sorts". Today I have never been more proud of my title.
4/28/16: Within the first 5 minutes of being at the physictric hospital today I learned that a woman had just taken her life. A woman fiercely loved by God. A woman shunned from her family and society simply because she has a 'mental illness'. Today I walked around the hospital and my heart broke thinking of the injustices that take place in this country that I love. "Where is Jesus", I wondered?
Today I saw Christ in the nurses as they tenderly leaned over in love helping me teach the women how to trace, cut and sew. I felt His warmth as I lingered long in the embrace of a woman who so desperately needed a hug. I saw redemption in a man who was once a tailor until a mental illness changed his life; he is now the tailor of the hospital. The experienced tailor worked magic on the machine and blazed through one product after another. I heard the voice of Jesus in the mouth of a woman who had no idea how much I needed to be encouraged.
One woman fluffed her posture up like a flamingo and said, "When I have these Dignity Project sanitary pads on, I can just stand up like this." Another woman said, "I think if I were a high jumper I could jump high without having a problem!"
Okay seriously, I know those quotes are ridiculous. But do you realize where they are coming from? We journey into some of the darkest pits this world has to offer and put courage and confidence into those people who are forgotten and lost. To hear anything positive come from their mouths is a sign to me that God is there, loving and moving, spreading Himself like a warm blanket over the coldness that plagues us.
My heart hurts, my feet hurt. I'm tired and emotional and confused. It could be worse and I won't stop. Nathan and I are convinced that this life means nothing if it isn't given to the benefit of the lost for the growth of the Kingdom and the glory of our Lord.
5/5/16: For the last 3 weeks I have been working with a group of 4 women who are soon to be resettled back into their communities. Our hope is that they will make our reusable sanitary pads as a way to earn a sustainable income. Each week I help them perfect one part of the sanitary pad pattern. We don't move on to the next step until the current one is mastered. These ladies are meticulous and take their time on every stitch they hand sew. The results they are producing are BEAUTIFUL! I am so proud!
Today the ladies wanted me to read The Psalms to them as they stitched. I read one Psalm after another and explained verse after verse to them. It was so sweet! We shared our struggles and dreams with one another. We talked about how Jesus is our hope, our salvation and our joy. One lady shared about how Jesus is the only One who 'fully understands' her. We all nodded in agreement.