Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ancient Civilization

Recently my family got to visit the Tonto National Monument here in Arizona. We had been camping at the base of the mountains, on Lake Roosevelt and decided since we were only a mile away from the national park that we’d drive over to check it out. Amazingly, this “monument” turned out to be ruins left by Native Americans who first settled the area.

The hike to the ruins was pretty steep, but paved the whole way. So, the younger kids had no problem traversing the trail. The more ‘mature’ among us quickly realized how out of shape we really are! As we hiked, I found myself wondering why in the world this ancient civilization decided to build their city almost at the top of a very steep mountain. Of course, there are the obvious reasons like safety, but what struck me was that here we were on this paved trail and all they had was rough desert at the time they built their domain.

It taught us a lot about who these people that lived so long ago were. They were obviously not afraid of hard work, given that they had to make that trek over and over again while carrying building materials to build their homes. They must have been quite resourceful, given that all these years later huge portions of the walls they built still stood, and, as my 9 year old son pointed out, they didn’t have very supportive underwear, because they had some garments on display at the museum at the base of the hill and seriously, they did NOT look comfortable!

Knowing these few things about the people who lived so long ago, got me thinking about what future generations might say about us. My hope would be that they’d talk about how much we cared for each other, how much we gave of ourselves for each other, and how much we worked to help heal the hurts of our generation. Unfortunately, if all they have to go on are old news reports then that might not be the impression they’re left with. However, if they happen to dig deeper and find things like Hoops of Hope, and other organizations working to make a difference, then I believe they will get that picture. They’ll see that there was a generation of people who saw hurting, and vowed to help do something about it. They’ll see that kids stood up and decided to think beyond themselves to make a difference. They’ll see adults who’s hearts were so heavy by the hurting they saw that they would volunteer their time and give of their resources to help. Just through Hoops of Hope alone, generations in Africa have been impacted in a hugely positive way!

The reality of it is that this generation IS making a difference. This world we live in has many problems, but it also has many good people who are taking their best shot and making themselves available to be part of the solution. Hopefully, we are leaving a legacy of giving, helping, and loving so that when we are an “ancient civilization”, those looking back at us will see that legacy above all else. That’s my hope and I believe it will be realized, because I look around and see all of you who are living it, giving of yourselves for people you don’t even know. You’re amazing, and it’s awesome to see!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Across a distant sea

I imagine you woke up today in a pretty nice bed. You probably took a shower, had breakfast, and went about your daily routine. I did too. In fact, I woke up in a large, warm bed. I took a hot shower, walked into my closet full of clothes and picked out an outfit of my choice. I then applied makeup to my face, dried my hair and straightened it with the necessary appliances. I took a look in the mirror to make sure I looked decent before going out. I went downstairs, ate a piece of toast with peanut butter, then headed out of the house for the day. I got into my car and drove two miles to school. And as I was sitting in my Astronomy class, I began thinking about the many children and adults across a distant sea who had a drastically different morning than I.

Take one person similar to me. In this case, a young old girl in Zambia. This girl probably woke up this morning on a dirt floor squished next to her brothers and sisters. I’m sure she didn’t take a shower. In fact, she probably hasn’t had one in days or weeks. I bet this girl didn’t walk into her closet to pick out a set of clothes, because the only outfit she has is already on her. I’m sure she didn’t apply any makeup or even look in a mirror. Who knows if she has ever even seen a reflection of herself. I’m pretty sure this girl didn’t eat breakfast this morning because there might not be any food available in her household. I can guarantee she didn’t get in a car to drive two miles to school. Instead, she probably walked 20 miles to fetch a bucket of water at sunrise. And I imagine that the rest of her day was spent working outside in the heat and taking care of her siblings, while I enjoyed a bagel, coffee, and some magazines at a bookstore.

I couldn’t stop thinking about these kids today. What’s tragic about this is that there are millions of children around the world who live this way every single day of their life. It’s heartbreaking. But you want to know also what is incredible to me? There are hundreds of children in Zambia who are in class right now studying and gaining knowledge because you have provided a hope and a future for them. Not only are they getting to go to school, but they will soon have a nice place to sleep, in dorms at the school! These kids are now waking up with a joy in their heart because they get the opportunity to attend school to learn so that they can grow up to live a better life. And you know what? These kids aren’t the only ones who will be impacted in Zambia. There are hundreds more who will receive this same blessing if we all keep doing what we have been the last few years. I can’t even believe that as I sit in my Astronomy class, a young girl in Africa gets to sit in her class and have a complete hope for the future. It amazes me how much of an impact kids in blessed nations, like America, have made on kids in developing countries like Africa. Never forget that lives are being impacted and forever changed because of you. Keep it up!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Key Club Hoops of Hope

Check out this video from the Dysart Key Club Hoops of Hope event.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Africa update

Thought I'd share a couple of pictures from our dormitory project at the Jonathan Sim high school. As most of you probably know, when we where there in March, we learned there were tons of children sleeping on the floor in the classrooms because it is too far to walk home each night. So with the help of incredible donors around the world, we were able to raise money to start construction of four dormitories at the school. The girls dorm is finished and you can see the bunks being moved in.The 1st boys dorm is under construction as well
you to everyone who took part in Hoops of Hope so far this year. You've made such a difference.

- Dan

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lettin' the laundry wait

Do you ever feel like you have so much going on that it's just a bit overwhelming? I know I do! For me, there's getting the kids to and from school, piano practice, chess club, mid-week church events, and whatever else they have happening in a given week. On top of that there's grocery shopping, house cleaning, laundry, finding time to connect with friends, and, oh yea, work! I'm lucky, though, because my work is actually something I LOVE. I get to work with people all around the world who are making a huge difference in the lives of kids orphaned by AIDS, and I get to do it with a team of people I think are absolutely incredible. Honestly, I don't think it gets any better than that!

Right now is the busiest time of year for all of us at Hoops of Hope. Austin is traveling just about every week, speaking all over the country, and World AIDS Awareness Day on December 5th is fast approaching. Some days, things like laundry just have to wait. But, it's o.k. It's o.k. because right now the kids in Africa are what matters most. They're getting the help they so desperately need, and that's more important than always having my favorite pair of jeans clean.

So many people have stepped up to partner with us this year, and it's totally amazing to be a part of it. Between now and December 5th, we have 14 confirmed Hoops of Hope events all around the country. Another 38 events are scheduled for the month of December, and 20 people have already said they're on for hosting an event in 2010! Every single day we are contacted by more people who want to get involved. Wow!!

I just want to say that you all are amazing! The kids you are helping will forever be grateful, and as busy as it is, we at Hoops of Hope wouldn't have it any other way. So, "bring it on!" I say! Keep me busy - let's help some kids together... my laundry can just wait.