Emily Carlson goes to Uganda

Hi, my name is Emily. I’m 18 and live in Roswell, GA. First, let me start off by saying that it was an honor to get one of these scholarships and to be a small part of all the big things Mackenzie did. She will now and forever continue to live up to her middle name. She was a stranger to no one & a friend to all. Mackenzie was the human embodiment of sunshine and I feel sad for the people who never had the chance to meet her because she was amazing & a world changer.

My flight to layover in Europe ended up getting cancelled. We took a flight to layover in Ethiopia of all places! I feel like that was a nod from Mackenzie. Anyways, I went to Jinja, Uganda for my first mission trip for 2 weeks this summer with HEAL Ministries. HEAL stands for “Hands Embracing All Lands” and was founded due to the high number of abandoned women and children in Uganda. HEAL provides a place for women to work and their kids can go to the daycare/preschool. Most of the women do have kids that attend. My team and I served at what’s called the “James Place” and it’s named after the verse James 1:27 about taking care of abandoned women and children. The women each have a trade whether it be pottery, jewelry, leather making, basket weaving, etc. HEAL advocates for family preservation and keeping families together in Uganda. They also advocate for education as a foundation. The kids go to the preschool and learn english as well because english is big in Uganda. The kids have to know it when they graduate so they can be successful in primary school. I was so nervous to meet my team, but my goodness, they are amazing. I have met my best friends from this and I’m so grateful.

My leaders were amazing. I miss waking up to their bright faces. The quality of time means way more than the quantity of time. I didn’t want to leave Uganda even right when we landed. I absolutely loved being with the women and children. The women were the leaders and told us how we needed to contribute. I liked to hear their stories and their backgrounds. Being with the kids just filled my heart. Whether it be just being with them in their classrooms, pushing them on the swings, having tire races - I miss hearing those giggles and even all the rice that got stuck on my feet during lunch. You could really feel God’s presence at this place. One of my favorite daily moments was bath time for the daycare kiddos. When the bell rang at 12pm, everyone stops what they are doing. All of these kids backpacks with their clothes and towels are laid out. There are tubs of water. All the women leave their work stations and come to get these kids ready for their nap. My team and interns stood by and take each kid and take them to their classroom after they were bathed so they can nap. This is every day! I just love how that was a moment where everyone came together to get these kids ready for their nap. I’m planning on going back to Uganda to intern for HEAL longer. I felt so much love and community here. I just got back over 2 weeks ago and I miss it like crazy. I can’t wait to step foot in Uganda again. To wrap this up and my final comment just in general is be kind to everyone because you will never regret being kind and loving people hard. After all, people need people. For more info on HEAL visit https://www.heal-ministries.org!

Tai Anderson