Alyssa Stephens
Alyssa Stephens
Uganda, 2022-2023
Grace and peace to you! My name is Alyssa, and I am spending a year in Jinja, Uganda working with HEAL Ministries. HEAL is an organization that offers wrap-around services to champion sustainability and family preservation. I graduated from Belmont in May 2022 and feel abundantly blessed to embark on this new journey. Read More About Alyssa →

celebrating small moments + church worship



Thanks for tuning into another blog post!

As I reflect on these past two weeks, I can’t help but notice that there is a fairly steady rhythm to my weeks nowadays. Because I am working in HEAL’s preschool department every day from 8:30 until 1:00, my mornings have a usual flow to them. In the afternoons, I either help out with social work, leather and pottery, or prep preschool crafts for later in the week. This is continually fun and feels fresh because I switch around. While my evenings and weekends may be filled with spontaneity, attending church and Bible study are other staples in each week that give even these times some form.

Something that I find special about having these rhythms to each week is that smaller moments and interactions really stand out. Nuances—for better or for worse—are noticed and felt because they give depth and particularity to days that otherwise feel routine. With this in mind, here are a few small moments from the past two weeks:

—In class, we learned about letter S last week! As special touches for the week, we made paper plate sunshine crafts on Thursday and drank soda together on Friday. Oh what fun the kids had celebrating letter S with these special activities!

—At the church movie night I went to on Friday, they had a special treat for everyone to enjoy while watching the movie—sweeties (lollipops)! Hehe the staff kept giving sweeties out throughout the film so that by the time it was over, my friend P and I realized that together, we had eaten 10!

—Lauren and I went on a two-hour walk yesterday after work! We started walking and talking at about 4:40, and before we knew it, the sun was starting to go down. It was fun to chat with her, and the cool weather throughout the walk was an added bonus!

—While playing Candy Crush and Balloon Pop on C’s phone with her and her two sons, someone started teasing that “whoever loses the level is a failure.” The song of the afternoon became “I’m a failure, you’re a failure” as we all lost level after level. Though even in this lighthearted moment it felt a bit vulnerable to acknowledge my failure, it was a good reminder of the acceptance and grace others can extended as we share our shortcomings.

—Without going into too much detail, I did something careless to one of the gals I consider a friend at HEAL. Later in the week, I had to apologize.

One bigger moment that I want to share is the time I spent in Danida (a nearby town) with J and his family. J work for HEAL throughout weekdays and serves at a church on evenings and weekends. He invited me to come on Sunday to listen to him preach and experience the community he cares so deeply about. It was a privilege and treat to attend! After the service, I met his wife and went back to his home to share a yummy meal with his family. One of my favorite moments from the day was listening to J, his wife, and fellow church members talk about engagement and marriage customs in their tribes in Northern Uganda as we ate together. A second sweet moment was dancing and singing alongside the church body during the church service. The church members sang and danced with abandon, grooving to the music and singing with boldness. It was as if the Spirit of God was palpably moving in and through the people in the room. I was touched by the way they were so present and open and was delighted to participate with them!

I suppose that if you asked me: yes, the past two weeks have been normal with not a whole lot going on. AND yes, the past two weeks have sparkled with precious moments of wonder.

What have the past two weeks been like for you? What is one smaller moment that you’re thankful for as you walk into these next two weeks?

With love,


High: A few days ago, Anna, Lauren, and I came home to the power out. Lauren suggested playing a game, and Anna asked if we could sit outside on a picnic blanket while we did it. We ended up turning on some music and playing Bananagrams together and had SUCH a fun time! We kept playing until it got too dark outside for us to see the game pieces.  What a sweet time it was!

Low: For better or for worse, I have begun thinking about the end of my internship at HEAL and what the months following may have in store. I want to be present in the place that I’m at and also feel peace that whatever comes next will be good. Nonetheless, the low moments of the past two weeks have been when I let my mind wander and start anxiously ruminating.

Buffalo: Have you ever stood outside at night and looked for planets? It is a pretty neat thing to do! If you are able and interested, there’s a cool phone app called Night Sky that helps with stargazing. The other night, we used it and saw Jupiter and Saturn in the sky. Haha it was pretty out of this world, if I do say so myself!

Words of Wisdom: These are the bridge and chorus of Slow Me Down by the Porter’s Gate, a wonderful song

“On the busy streets trying to make myself a name
If the work is Yours, there is nothing I can claim
Will you lead home to the pastures of Your peace
The house is Yours, I’m sitting at Your feet

O Good Shepherd, O Good Friend, slow me down.”

a photo with J’s daughter after church and our meal together

cheesin’ with G and her daughter P during an afternoon visit to their house!

hehe what is brighter—their sunshine crafts or their smiles? they radiate!!

a mug the perfect size for a mouse! we were teasing one afternoon in pottery + made this!

I found himself a hat while we were on the hunt for traditional African dresses

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