Hope Endures – A Reflection from BWAP Louisiana by Clare Aeschbacher
If you’ve been present in Worship or keeping up with the Pres House blog the past couple of weeks, you’ve already heard some of the stories from the winter Break With A Purpose trip to Denham Springs, Louisiana. First we heard Taya share about ‘hope is born’ and how we saw hope fill Mawmaw, the 80-year-old owner of the house we worked on, as she was able to walk on her new floors for the first time since the flood ruined them in August 2016. Next, Steven shared about hope being tested in Mary, our host at the Fuller Center where we stayed, as she gave away her last towel, but received many more to give away shortly thereafter and as Mawmaw watched the flood waters rise closer and closer to her home, eventually coming in through the floors and causing significant damage. Today, I will reflect on the theme hope endures.
One of the ways from this trip that I saw the continuation of hope was through one of the construction consultants who worked for the Fuller Center, Brian. Our group didn’t directly work with Brian a whole lot, but he was still very open to sharing why he is where he is in his life. I don’t know all of the details, but from what I’ve gathered Brian has a young daughter who lives in Boston, but because of his past with substance abuse, he was only able to spend one afternoon per week with her. In December, he came to Louisiana to do home repairs and was offered a paid position to stay with the Fuller Center which is how we met him. Because he is currently living in Louisiana, Brian no longer gets to see his daughter on a regular basis, but he believes that this experience of helping others will strengthen him, give him the ability to be an even better father, and allow him more time to see his daughter once he goes home. He even speaks to local youth about the dangers of drugs and substance abuse so he can prevent them from falling down the same trap that he did. Brian may have come from a broken past; however, he is hopeful that through his experiences with the people of Louisiana, he can provide a future of hope for them as well as for himself and his family.
Though not directly related to this trip, my second story carries a similar message of hope. As many of you know, I spend my summers working for a nonprofit that does emergency home repairs, similar to those we did on this trip, in rural Appalachia. Last summer, while my co-worker Lucas was running errands around the community, a woman stopped him upon seeing the name of our organization on the vehicle he was exiting. She approached Lucas with tears in her eyes and thanked him for the work he did in the community. It turns out that she had received help from our organization about ten years ago and said it completely changed the lives of her and her sons and gave them all hope for the future.
It may seem that we did something as simple as replacing some floors or something as (not so) simple as moving a giant handicap-accessible ramp, but, in the eyes of the people we served and those who witnessed our serving, we did much more. We inspired hope that we may never see the direct effects of. But that’s not the point. The point is not to be congratulated; it is to do God’s work. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” When we can come together as a group, a church, a community and do God’s work whether it be on a service trip, baking treats for homeless people, or volunteering at the Grace Food Pantry, we can spread hope that endures.