Uganda Blog: Looking at Hope

Can you actually “see” hope?

I think most of the time we think of hope as a feeling, something we experience, that is demonstrated by our actions. But after the past few days of pondering, I am convinced that hope is something you can not just feel but actually see.

As we arrived in Uganda I received a message from someone back home telling me her daughter had breast cancer. The message asked for prayer and shared that although the prognosis was not what they desired, certainly the outcome was something they felt was manageable because she had faith in God.

In that message, it was easy to see hope.

It made me pause and wonder how often do we see things as hope when a prognosis is dim?

I’m pretty sure hope changes everything!

Hope is something we have when we think there is a better reality than where we currently find ourselves.

Hope is all around us – it’s visible, and it’s clear that hope can be an anchor that holds us through whatever life brings. We just have to look for it.

Sunday it took us a little while to regain a vision of hope.

The morning was amazing, worshiping together, seeing the realities that hope brings. Being able to sing and dance, pray, and grow in faith together with children that are being developed socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually was transformational for us all. We also watched as the rebar for the school building was delivered because of the tremendous generosity of some friends at home. We watched as hope enveloped Geoffrey’s face as he explained that he isn’t worried about the rest of the $80,000 to build the school. He has faith that it will come. He is a living example of hope.

But the evening ended in a different vein.

The afternoon brought an opportunity for us to interact not only with the AOH children but also with the children of the community as we led a small Bible School-like lesson/activity. The longer we did the VBS, the more community children came. The day culminated in a birthday party for one of the teachers at AOH and by this time the number of children/adults from the community seemed to equal the people at AOH. “Masses” would be an accurate description. Everyone was singing and dancing, laughing running from the “lion” and “gorilla” (a few folks dressed up to give out candy for the party) and all was well til the end.

The AOH staff wanted to give each child/person a Jolly Rancher as they went on their way. It started out fine as the kids lined up to receive their candy. There was order and respect for the AOH staff but then the idea was suggested to have two lines because the numbers were so great.

Having been down this road before with some Smarties six or seven years ago, I had some reservations. But . . . we are here to serve and do what is needed so Leanne began the distribution and I held the bag for her. As the seconds went by, more and more chaos ensued. (Please note, chaos is my descriptor).

The children who were in our line were pushing, shoving, desperate for a piece of candy. It was as if hands were everywhere. The intensity of the situation was sobering at best.

We noted later that the difference between children from the community and children in AOH is astonishing. Not only by the clothes they wear but the way they interact and also the spark of life that is visible in their eyes.

As Leanne and I discussed the intensity of those few moments she remarked, “Acres of Hope is a haven.”

A haven . . . a safe place where people can find refuge.

Acres of Hope is just that – it IS hope!

As we’ve been here over the past few years, we’ve seen a community transformed. We’ve observed a fearless leader embrace a vision from God and pursue that vision at whatever cost. We watched his sacrifices, his commitment to excellence, and his tireless work ethic as he has done whatever necessary to take AOH from being a vision on a piece of paper and blueprints to now being an organization that is well on its way to being self-sustaining as children are educated, great staff, are trained and leading, food is being grown and sold, and women are being trained in business entrepreneurial skills.

The reminder was, however, that no matter how great things here are now . . . there is always more to do. There are so many more people that need hope. It’s powerful to think that we (you who are reading this) and many people across our nation are joining together to provide people hope.

It’s a game changer.

Thanks for caring enough to help other people not just have but also SEE hope!

P.S. Speaking of hope . . . if you would please surround Scott and his family with your prayers today . . . they celebrate the life of his 94-year-old grandmother. Hope is evident when I learned that friends at home were going to travel to be with him during the service so that he wouldn’t be alone since none of his family could be with him. That is another visible example of hope.