I had gone to Africa for 3 summers before my husband finally made the trip with me in 2010. Up until that point, Africa, was my “thing.” Don’t get me wrong. I had his complete blessing to “go.” He always worked it out so that he was able to care for our five children while I was away. That task was not easy considering that our youngest children, twin girls, were only three at the time of my first trip.
The summer of 2009 was different. After three years of going to Africa, praying and crying out for God to show me what I was supposed to do, I finally gave in to that “still small voice” beckoning me to embark on this adventure with Him. After that third trip, I prayed for God to either take away the passion that He had placed in my heart or implant it deep within my husband. I knew that God would not call one of us, but both of us.
By August of 2009, it was obvious that God was moving us to start our own nonprofit organization. God opened every single door that we needed to walk through. Every time I stated that we needed something, He immediately provided for it. The only thing I can think of to describe that season is, it was as if He was placing stepping stones directly in front of me to show me exactly where to go. My husband had come on board wholeheartedly and by Christmas break of that year, I overheard him sharing the dream with someone saying, “WE are starting a nonprofit to do water projects in Africa.”
By the spring of 2010, it became apparent that we were going to have enough money to start our first project. We decided that four of the seven people in our family would be going on that first trip. My husband, two sons (ages 16 and 13) and I would be traveling with some close friends on our first water project trip. I was nervous, excited, somewhat overwhelmed, but most of the time filled with sheer joy that some of “my people” were finally going with me. It was time for them to experience Africa.
The village was chosen.
The project funds were being raised rather quickly.
The team had come together.
It was time.
After several long exhausting flights and nearly 3 days of travel, my guys were in Africa!! An overnight stay in a modest hotel in the city was refreshing. Travel out to the village was around 6 hours. Tarmac roads turned to dusty gravel roads and finally to rocky areas that looked like something I had seen once in Colorado. The mountainous terrain resembled another planet. The boulders we had to drive over meant we often had to get out and walk so that our weight didn’t cause the bus to drag.
When we arrived at the village, a group of 40-50 villagers ran up to the bus singing, dancing and welcoming us. It surely sounded like angels. Women dressed in an assortment of bright colored floral prints with matching cloth wrapped around their heads framed their smiling faces. Each one of them greeted us with a strong hug or a kiss on the cheek and the typical women’s sound of rejoicing that is difficult to explain. It is the way the women show their happiness or the way they cheer when something good happens. It sounds something like “ye, ye, ye, ye, ye.” But even seeing that typed out looks ridiculous. Just ask anyone who is from East Central Africa or anyone who has visited there to demonstrate that sound. They will know what I am talking about.
The group started forming a line and motioning for us to follow them. With their choruses of singing, we marched toward a half finished building made of handmade brick. The building had the beginning of slots for windows with simple rough openings for doors. No roof, only hand hewn wood beams where metal might someday sit. It was a work in progress. As soon as we entered, it was obvious that it was the beginning of a church building. The floor was made of dirt and rocks. Small smooth hand cut logs made benches for seating and some of the locals had brought plastic chairs from their homes for extra seating. Plastic chairs set up front for us. We were honored guests.
What seemed to be the whole village and even some from neighboring areas had gathered to welcome us. Singing choruses learned from their grandparents, who also had learned from their grandparents they moved in rhythmic dances that gave meaning to the songs. As I looked at our team, our “first” team, my heart was overflowing. Each of them had smiles as they clapped their hands to the beat of the African drum and wiped tears away as they stood together in awe. I looked around the room and saw my husband wiping his own tears away. You see, the songs were about how thankful they were. The songs glorified God. The songs asked God for blessing… not for themselves, but for us. They waved their hands as if they were throwing something on us. It was symbolic of the blessings that they were asking God for us. With song and with motions, they were heaping blessings on our team.
Even today, the memory of this time brings sweet joy to my heart. I have so many more details in my mind than I can put into words.
That day, we became one with them as they welcomed us with singing.
Founder/CEO Maji Hope