Before ... NOW ... AfterNope. This is not a personal report on a weight loss program I've tackled. Nor is it a body building effort I've passionately committed to. I was thinking about some way I could describe the amazing progress I've seen in our daughter Sera's children. I remember decades ago, while I was in Junior High (that's Middle School for those of you decades younger than I) reading the Charles Atlas Ads on the back of comic books. Most adolescents during those two or three years struggled with insecurity and image challenges. The girls were seriously concerned about being beautiful and the boys were seriously wondering if they had what it takes. Too few received expressions of either given them by the previous generation, who may have considered such kind of talk weak and meek. The hope that we undeveloped, 98 pound males (weaklings) could move from where we were ... having sand kicked in our skinny faces on the beach by a Arnold Schwarzenegger type ... to looking similar to him motivated us to pray and work for change!
I love to watch change. I love the seasons the Unites States enjoys. Spring has sprung in America and the swollen buds on the trees have exploded into rich green leaves and the cold and dormant winter is a thing of memory past. Things have changed. Things are growing. That was before and now it is after.
|Richard and his mother Sera|
But, imagine having a person who believed in you and who loved you and who took you from a bare existence on the streets of Jinja, Uganda into a house and home you could call your own. And, a group of other boys who were now your brothers. And. your own bed and mattress in exchange for the cardboard you slept under on concrete. And, food ... everyday. And, toilets and showers ... everyday! And, more than one set of clothes to wear. School was icing on the cake. Imagine God, in His marvelous ways, provided school fees for you and you were going to get an education like other fortunate children.
|Young man vs old man!|
Sera's children are on holiday this week ... their last before starting the second term of this school year next Monday. Richard is now in Grade 6. BEFORE ... he was a lost and unidentified child who went from the trash, to the ghetto, to the streets, to Sera's Caring Place, to Primary School speaking NO English, and NOW to Grade 6 and ranked number 59th out of 117 students. The AFTER photo is not yet available. Richard is well on his way to being an educated, mature, man of God. This is where he is NOW and it is remarkable.
|Pascal with the two most important women in his life!|
The staff at the boy's Primary School is amazed at their progress and wonder what is causing these former street boys to score so well after beginning their schooling long after their peers. My opinion is that Sera has them speaking English at home and they have developed so much with that language that they are not attending school with the disadvantage they had when they first started. Given the healthy home environment Sera and her staff are providing, coupled with the spiritual and relational encouragement they receive, it is no wonder that they are amazing their teachers.
|Enjoying my African granddaughters|
Sera's little girls are doing well at Fountain of Hope Boarding School. Shakira, the middle girl, is already 6th in her class of 85. All of them, and their brother Gian, started late in the first term, but we expect each will do better and better as they experience the stable and healthy environment of Sera's family. Fountain of Hope Schools, where they are all boarding students, is directed by our Next Generation Ministries associate, Robert Sityo. We are confident in the strong spiritual environment they live in there.
None of us have reached our AFTER status, but some of us are some distance from our BEFORE status. ALL of Sera's children have a sad and undesirable BEFORE. They have yet to reach their AFTER too, but their NOW is pretty impressive. For that we give God glory. And, Pam and I are proud parents of our daughter Sera, who was lifted out of her own BEFORE of despair and is well on her way to her AFTER.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. (Psalm 40:2)