BY BERNIE WILLOCK. PHOTOS BY CARISSA YOUSSEF.
My legs ached but I welcomed the burn. Cycling has always brought me equal parts joy and challenge, but today it was giving me the time I needed to process all I had seen.The journey began Thanksgiving weekend and ended just after Remembrance Day. A team of Canadians from all walks of life accompanied me as we visited developing partner communities in Guatemala, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Uganda.
We spent countless hours walking and talking with leaders, parents and children all working tirelessly to overcome extremely difficult obstacles - cyclical droughts, health concerns, limited access to water and education - just to name a few.
Now home, I’d gone out riding and reflecting.
As I came to the end of my route, I crossed paths with an old cycling friend whom I haven’t seen in over a year. We greeted each other, laughed about our age and whether we should still be wearing spandex. Then he asked about my recent travel. Suddenly serious, my friend went right to his point - How had my visit with our global partners impacted my view of God? And most importantly... did I still have hope after all the poverty I had seen?
There was a sense of deep longing to his question - can we really experience hope with so much suffering, violence, and injustice in our world?
My answer came quickly. Yes.
Because intertwined among all the hard things I witnessed in my travels, I encountered undeniable joy, courage, and potential in those we walk alongside. (SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE PHOTOS)
I experienced hope as I watched FH staff live out life as if they were the very hands and feet of Jesus to the families they serve. I experienced hope as I listened to Aisha, a Ugandan dairy farmer whose family has been completely transformed by the opportunities that have come to her through partnering with Food for the Hungry. And I experienced hope as I listened to my Canadian teammates share about the impact in their lives through their involvement with our partner communities.It’s Christmas. A time of year when we, from the Christian tradition, pause and reflect on the wonder and mystery of God coming and dwelling among us. God among us, from cradle to tomb. God among us, showing us humility, grace, and truth lived out. This is the hope of the nations and the hope that propels me forward.
|AISHA WORKS THE TREADLE PUMP TO IRRIGATE HER CROPS, AND LAUGHS WHILE SHOWING HER SPRAY CANISTER.|
This Christmas, I thank God for you. We may come from various walks of life but we can come together around one great call - to end poverty one community at a time.
Bernie WillockPresident & CEO, Food for the Hungry (FH) Canada
TRIP HIGHLIGHTS ("PROOF OF HOPE")
|THE LEADER OF THIS SAVINGS AND LOANS GROUP IN SASIGA SHARES A HEARTY LAUGH WITH OUR TEAM. (ETHIOPIA)|
|A YOUNG GIRL TENDS THEIR FAMILY GOATS. (RWANDA)|
|TAKING A FEW MINUTES OUT IN THE AFTERNOON FOR SOCCER... ALWAYS WORTH IT! (RWANDA)|
|CHILDREN FILL JUGS WITH CLEAN WATER FROM A NEW PUMP IN SASIGA. THEY NO LONGER SPEND HOURS, AWAY FROM SCHOOL, WALKING TO CONTAMINATED SOURCES. (ETHIOPIA)|
|LIVINGSTON (FH STAFF MEMBER) SHARES ABOUT THE SUCCESS OF THE TECHNICAL SCHOOL (BACKGROUND) IN THE GRADUATED COMMUNITY OF MAKHAI. THE VILLAGE SET UP THIS SCHOOL THROUGH THEIR OWN LEADERSHIP AND FUNDS. (UGANDA)|
|UREZWENA, A FARMER IN BUSEKERA WITH A GROWING HERD OF PIGS, IS THANKFUL FOR YOUR DONATION OF PIGS THROUGH THE GIFT GUIDE! (RWANDA)|
|COMMUNITIES IN UGANDA HAVE A WONDERFUL TRADITION OF ASKING GUESTS TO PLANT A TREE IN THE VILLAGE AS A SYMBOL OF LASTING FRIENDSHIP AND WELCOME.|
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