John is a man who is well dressed, well spoken, and cares about the people in his community.  He came to the Outreach House as a caretaker for some children in his neighborhood who were infested with jiggers.  Together the small group made their way over 200 kilometers of dusty potholed roads, down from the mountains, and into Jinja.

“You know, these children have heard of Lake Victoria and they have heard of the Nile, but only in textbooks,” John says.  He carries himself with a stately posture, and has a smile that’s infectious.  “Even me, I have never seen a body of water like this.  If while we are in Jinja, we could see them…” his voice trailed off wistfully, then his face lit up with a smile.  He knew I couldn’t say no.

And so we loaded up, 24 kids and adults piling into two vehicles and heading for the lake.  

The kids laughed and shouted each time we hit a pothole, and stared out the windows, pointing at each new site.  The excitement level built as views of the lake appeared between trees and buildings. The vehicles lurched and growled down a steep dirt road, and as we came to a stop the doors burst open.  John lifted child after child out of the doors, before dashing to the water.  

When he reached the lake John knelt down, plunging his hands into the water and lifting them to his face, over and over, water streaming across his smiling features, eyes searching the distance, trying to take it all in at once.  

From the lake we went to the banks of the River Nile, walking together between trees to the water’s edge.  We stood together, watching diving birds fishing in the currents, calling to fishermen as the paddled by in wooden canoes, feeling the breeze as it swept across the water.  An otter broke the surface and smoothly disappeared into the water below.  We stayed there as time passed slowly, witnessing something beautiful together.  

Hope is bigger than a new pair of shoes. It’s about one generation exploring something new with another.  It’s about witnessing simple things with your heart wide open.  It’s about finding beauty, joy, and laughter.  It’s about being together.