Hope

I’m getting my post up a little later than I’d hoped, because one of our team members has been injured.  Keely slipped and fell in our hotel and banged up her head pretty badly; Sophie, Anne and I have been been playing momma bear with her until the medic could arrive.  Please pray for her, that her injuries will be mild and easily treatable, and that she will feel peace.

We had another day that it’s hard to describe in words.  We began the morning at the national office for Compassion’s work in Uganda—they employ 80 staff members.  Oh, I wish you could meet these people.  As is their policy, Compassion only puts nationals out in the field, so these workers are all Ugandan.  They are powerfully committed to the work they’re doing, and you’ve never seen such graciousness and hospitality.  They were all so excited to meet us and they’d even been reading some of our blogs. 

I also wish you could hear these Ugandans pray.  I’ve gotten to hear several of them now, and it is the most beautiful, reverent thing you’ve ever heard. 

After a morning at the national office, we headed out an hour outside Kampala (along the bumpiest road on the planet, by the way) to visit a birth-through-age-three program geared toward educating mothers and families.  We broke into smaller teams and wound our way through this village…

Villagesmall

…going to visit one of the participating family.  I couldn’t even try to pronounce (or spell) this mother’s name, but here’s a picture of her sitting just inside her front door:

Musahomesmall

The little boy in her lap, Musa, is 15 month old.  Her older son, at the bottom left of the photo, is named Abraham.  He’s very sick with sickle cell anemia.  Their home had dirt and stone walls, and it was as spotlessly clean as any home I’ve ever seen.  Every surface was draped with a lace table cloth, including the sofa, which was actually an old bench from a bus.  Photos of the children and old calendars lined the walls, and Musa’s mom proudly showed us toys:  a ball and a doll she had woven of banana husks, and two old rusty Hot Wheel cars she bought for him.

The precision of the Compassion case worker was remarkable.  She had pages of records on Musa—I’ve seriously taken my children to well-child check-ups  in the U.S. that were not this thorough.  They talked about Musa’s physical development of course, but they also talked about his social development (he loves to kick balls with older kids) and his cognitive development (he can say his brother’s name).

After the home visit, the team met back at the project center for the kids to show off what all they were learning.  But not before they had gathered around us to eagerly touch our white faces and shower us with greetings and hugs.  Mzungu!  Mzunga!” they shouted.  One little boy eagerly added, “California!”

We listened to their songs (the mothers sang some too, and OH, only video will do that justice—unfortunately I’ll have to wait to post that until I get home).  This little peanut of a girl had been following me all morning; as we listened to the songs, she fearlessly climbed up into my lap for a snuggle:

Peace1small

Her name is Peace.  She was carefully peeling a hard-boiled egg for her lunch, but as soon as she peeled it, she offered it to me.

After the songs, we played with some of the older kids—I had brought some bubbles, and you would’ve thought I had opened up the very gates of Disney World for these kids.  They squealed with as much glee as I’ve ever heard children squeal.  And they darn near trampled each other trying to pop those bubbles.

Bubblessmall

   

This little boy especially caught my eye.  He didn’t have a backpack; he carried his books in a yellow grocery sack, with the handles wrapped around his shoulders:

Backpackboysmall

(How many backpacks do my children have?)

After such a bleak day yesterday, I will confess that I got out of bed this morning wondering if my heart could even take in anymore.  But even in the rampant poverty today, I saw hope.  This Compassion program was run with such efficiency and effectiveness that the impact on these children is profoundly visible.  Their eyes are full of expectation and confidence, and nearly every single child I talked to has plans to grow up and be a doctor ("to treat the HIV," they say).

They won’t all be doctors.  But some of them will.  Many of them will grow and flourish, right here in their country, and they will find a way to make it better.  And they’ll do it because a sponsor family in the West, who had much, stepped in for a child who has so little.

Kidssmall

62 thoughts on “Hope

  1. Jen says:

    I don’t even have words as I sit here with tears in my eyes and goosebumps… Thanks again for sharing such beautiful words and pictures!

  2. Jenn says:

    I feel like I want to comment but don’t know what to say. I’m just so moved that you all would do this and so moved by the children there. the hard boiled egg story really got to me.

  3. Jenni says:

    Talk about the widow’s mite…that little slip of a girl offering you her egg! Oy!
    I’m sorry your teammate had an accident! Was there blood involved? Egads. Looks like you’re getting to nurse people back to health even withOUT the lion factor.
    Continued prayers…

  4. Mary B says:

    Wow! I am speechless again after another post from the bloggers. It is amazing how everyones words are opening up their world in a way the pictures and video we have seen before haven’t.

  5. T with Honey says:

    I can only imagine what could be done if the people in Uganda had access to the materials that lay in our landfills in the US.
    My daughter has more toys and clothing than she needs. Many she doesn’t want. Before Christmas we went through her toys and she made a pile of items that she wants to give away to another little girl, so she can love them and play with them. Is there any way we can ship them directly to that little girl in your lap?
    I wish it could be that simple. To take all of the seconds of wealthy nations and people and send them to those who could give them another life.

  6. A&EMom says:

    Around here, our tax bracket is not enviable to most. But as I sit here in my warm kitchen feeding my child, I am grateful that I don’t have to worry about her next meal. Though we are low on baby food, I can go to the store and get more. Today. Yet our position here is not enviable… imagine.
    Thank you for even more reasons to be grateful.

  7. Dawn says:

    Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into this other world that few of us really ever get to see.
    We truly are so spoiled compared to these families and children, aren’t we?
    We complain about a traffic jam and these people don’t even have cars.
    Or we complain because our cell phone or lap top quit and we throw a hissy fit over what? STUFF…
    The people you are with right now are trying to survive day to day and here we sit in our posh houses complaining (metaphorically speaking).
    Thank you again for sharing…for opening our eyes to another world. To another country filled with precious souls.
    Dawn

  8. Scott says:

    Amazing!!! I can’t find any other words than Amazing. Keep up the great work Shannon and I can’t wait to see more of your great adventure.
    Scott

  9. Tootie says:

    Wow. You have a great way of describing everything there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. And, of course, our prayers are with all of you!

  10. Jenny says:

    The pictures are wonderful and for some reason hearing from people who we don’t know but we know through the internet makes it more real than TV.
    Thank you and I know lots of people are praying for you all!

  11. chilihead says:

    This is an amazing post, my friend. I lapped it up and wanted more. I cannot wait to see the video you have. These children are beautiful. I wish I could touch them, hug them, and bring them home.

  12. Pam Creech says:

    Shannon,
    I am so touched by what you and the others are bringing to us. I am praying for all of you. You are precious!
    Pam

  13. bee says:

    Wow. My heart can barely hold up reading your posts. I know I would not fare well being there. Thank you & the others for going and sharing with us!

  14. Andrea says:

    Shannon,
    I have been following your blog for several months and I love it. Your Uganda posts are what inspired me to comment. I think what you’re doing is great, and with all the people that read your blog, you have potential to change literally hundreds of these kids lives. Bless You!

  15. Jenn says:

    I don’t know if I can keep reading these posts! I have got to go to Africa – soon! And I need to talk to Hubs about finally following through to sponsor a kiddo! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  16. Katie says:

    Delurking to say that I have just signed up to sponsor Titus, a six year old from Uganda. Its something I have always wanted to do and your story has confirmed God’s will for me in this. Thanks for the blessings I have received already from your blog.

  17. Amy says:

    Bless you for everything you are doing to help these children, and to open our eyes to their plight here at home. The impact you and the whole team of bloggers are making for the Kingdom of God is huge!

  18. TracyMichele says:

    I.have.tears. Y’all are certainly putting my heart to the test this week. I find myself coming back two and three times a day hoping to learn more about your trip, Compassion and these amazing children you are blessing. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this journey with us!!

  19. Angela says:

    Praying for you Shannon and the people of Uganda. Your stories are inspiring others to look at their own attitudes and hopefully make some much needed changes.
    Thank you for taking this trip and sharing with the blogging world what is happening outside our comfort zone. I am following each post with eager expectation and pointing my readers to you as well.

  20. Marianne says:

    There is nothing more full of hope than the smile of a child.
    Thank you for making this journey; you’re opening so many eyes.
    Our family is now sponsoring a child in Uganda as of last night.
    Safe travels!

  21. Rhonda says:

    Oh.my.word. That sweet child offering her treasure, a boiled egg, to you. In her young life she knows more about living a Christlike life than I have known in all of my 36 years on this earth. Beyond that, I am speechless.

  22. Gego says:

    What an incredible woman my son chose for a wife! Brave, fearless, concerned, independent, faithful, determined, resilient, convicted, dedicated. How blessed I am having you as the mother of my GRANDS! Love the posts and the pics of the children. Blessed, indeed, we are. Love you bunches, Gego

  23. Fran says:

    I remember seeing that little girl, Peace, as I scrolled through the Compassion children that needed sponsors. Sunday night….I picked a little girl named, Sophia. Her eyes were beautiful. If you see her….what are the odds of that….tell her that her new sponsor and family love her to pieces and are thrilled to have her. Praying for you all Shannon.
    Glory to God for the great things he does.
    Hugs~

  24. mimi2six says:

    How precious….both the stories and the pictures. I’m so deeply touched by what you are experiencing. And I’m touched by the real joy I see in your face.

  25. Brian says:

    I know what you are feeling. I have been blessed to have hosted teams of engineering studetns to Kenya and Uganda. It’s powerfully moving and life altering. Once Africa gets into your blood, you will be back. Kwaheri Muzungu!

  26. Grace says:

    I live in Uganda and my Mom sponsers a little boy here with Compassion. We visited him when she was here to visit 1 1/2 years ago. Although always a bit skeptical about big organizations like Compassion I must say, I could not have been more impressed! Their field workers are amazing and this is SUCH a better alternative that plunking children in orphanages. I’m adopting one out of an orphanage myself so know that institutionalized care, no matter how good, is NOT the best option. Staying with thier families is! And Compassion helps make this possible in so many cases.

  27. Ann @ Holy Experience says:

    Peace peeled the egg and offered it…
    We have a little girl named peace too… our Shalom…
    Could our two Peace girls reach across the world and love? Because of you, today, Shannon, they can…
    We reach back… and offer to sponsor another child. The perfect Valentine’s Day gift: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 Jn 3:16
    Shannon? You and Peace are changing the world. Go, Brave, Courageous-in-Him, Girls!
    I send so much love, Shannon….
    Ann

  28. Erin K says:

    Wow. I stumbled upon your blog a couple days ago because I was surfing around looking for ways to organize all my stuff.
    And today I find this post. And I am in tears, and suddenly all of my stuff seems very silly and overindulgent.
    And I just might have to talk with my hubby about sponsoring a child.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences, and for going to show God’s love to these precious people!
    Oh, and, your mother-in-law’s post is so beautiful that it made me cry all over again. I’m sure my co-workers are wondering what all this fuss is about!!! 😀

  29. kdaily says:

    This post has left me in tears. My 4 year old daughter is trying to console me and I don’t know how to explain to her how lucky she is.

  30. vanessa says:

    I must say you are a very pretty women of God. Inside and Out. I know you have many fears but so far those fears are not holding you back and that pleases God’s heart. So girl even we you are scared take a deep breath grab God’ss hand and DO IT!!!
    He so delights in who you are.

  31. onemotherslove says:

    Oh, my goodness, I just discovered your blog from your trip. Thank you so much for sharing it!!!! I just can’t tell you how much of a blessing it is to read this. I’m a compassion sponsor, too, and I’m so thankful for all they do for these children. You are truly blessed!

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