Five Years

A lot can happen in five years. To know this is true all I have to do is look at my sister who, in the last five years, got engaged and married, then with her husband adopted a couple of dogs, bought two new cars, had a child (see pic to the right), changed jobs, moved homes, and did a million other little things.

That’s a lot of change in five years.

When I look at my own life it is no different. Over the past five years I went to Nicaragua for the first time, moved to New York City for the first time, moved NYC apartments (twice), officially started With One Hope, took a leave of absence from Accenture for the first time, moved back to Texas for the first time, moved to Nicaragua, moved homes in Nicaragua, moved back to Texas for the second time, bought my Jeep, started back with Accenture, moved back to NYC, got into Bschool at SMU, started a second LOA with Accenture, moved back to Texas for the third time, started my MBA, went to China and Japan, and now sit here exhausted just thinking about how many times I have boxed up all of possessions in just the last five years. Ha. That is a lot of moving tape!

As we all know, change is not easy. So when I look back on each life change I am so grateful for the people that God had placed around me. They encouraged me, fussed at me, made me stronger, smarter, better, and, most importantly, brought me closer to the Lord. I know the same is true for my sister.

In fact, I bet many of you or your loved ones have similar stories with tons and tons of change over the past five years – some from good influences and others from bad ones. Go ahead, spend a few minutes thinking of all the things that have changed in your life or a friend’s life or a child’s or parent’s life in the last five years and the people that influenced those changes.

My point is that a significant amount of change – even life altering change – can happen in a very short amount of time, even in a moment, and that the people that are around us in those moments can have a dramatic impact on us and how we go forward.

Now, some of you are probably thinking, “Thank you Captain Obvious.” And I get that. But I have a point.

This is the fourth year of With One Hope. That means that our first two schools (we have helped open seven) are in the middle of year number four. They have been in operation for FOUR YEARS!

Getting My Nerd On

Now, that may seem like a short amount of time for some people, but let’s look at that closer. Both schools are preschools with three levels. That means that when a kid starts in level 1 they are in the school for three years.

Our first school consistently has around 50-60 children attending and the second has grown from 30 in year 1 to now 55 students. Given that only 8 of our original 80 students were in school previously, each year between 70-100 students are receiving an education that wouldn’t be otherwise.

Now, if we count the number of years of education added to Nicaragua by those 70-100 students for four years, by the end of 2013 just these two small preschools will have added almost 350 years of education to the nation’s total, or about 2.7 years per child per school. That may not sound like a lot to those of us in countries with advanced education systems, but in Nicaragua it is huge.

The average Nicaraguan child only completes 5 years of education. You are helping us add 2.7 years to that total. That is a 54% increase in life-time education!

AND, there are numerous studies that show if you get children involved in school early (ages 3-7 which is the exact age range of both of our schools), they are significantly more likely to stay in school longer than if they had not been involved. That means that the number of years your support is helping us add is in all likelihood greater than 2.7. It may even be even greater than 3.5, or 4, or even 5.

We really don’t know how big of an impact it will ultimately have (we won’t know for at least four more years), but we DO know that it has already had a HUGE impact now. I mean, 350 years of education from just two schools is nothing to sneeze at.

Getting to the Point

Ok, now that my inner nerd has met my numbers quota for the day, here is what I really wanted to tell you: four years is almost five years.

“Thank you Captain Obvious… again…”

What I mean by that is this: if my life and the life of my sister and your life and the lives of so many others can change so much and so dramatically in five years, and we can be so shaped by the people around us during those changes, why can’t the same be true for these students?

Why can’t it be true for their brothers and sisters? For their parents?

And with that we arrive at my point. We have been walking alongside these families and communities as they have experienced life-altering changes throughout the last four years and it has given us the chance to be the serving hands and feet of Christ. Sometimes we have been the change agent (starting schools or challenging preconceptions about what an individual is worth) and sometimes we have just been around when change occurred (flooding, heartbreak, hope).

But either way the Lord has allowed us to be there building trust and relationships so that when those moments occurred we were able to point back to Him that heals, that encourages, that leads, and that saves.

We view our schools – all of our schools – as more than a place for 3-7 year olds to learn the alphabet and get a meal. They are a place where mothers learn they are capable and have value as individuals not just as baby makers and sexual objects (as many have been told). The schools are a place where young children hear a different story from the poverty stricken noise around them. They are a place where communities can come together and strive for something better for their children.

You see, we believe these schools are more than just a school. They are a place where people are finding hope and truth. A place where the healing love of the Lord is present.

The Lord has been so active and has blessed this work so much thus far. And just think, it hasn’t even been five years yet.

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