Smiles are only the beginning


The most amazing this about this photograph is that it doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what will happen in this place.

Yet, so often, we get caught up in images like these. Don’t get me wrong, there is every reason to. The first drops of clean, safe water for a school bring dramatic and immediate changes.  In an instant, children – often young girls – are freed from the daily burden of carrying water from a far away stream or infested pond. Water is used for washing and cleaning, restoring dignity and pride. Crops are irrigated and parched plants begin to show new signs of life as the fear of hunger subsides. Stomach aches fade and soccer games take on a new found energy. Childhood resumes.

But it’s the unseen that is truly remarkable. When you step back for a moment, another image emerges.

When I gaze into these faces, I see the future. I see young men and women engaged in learning. I see healthy, rested minds hard at work. I see this young girl, Purity, with time to dream about what she’ll be when she grows up. I see a market stand opening, packed with vegetables and crafts – products of fertile fields and productive hands. I see a leader, Steve, inspired by what someone did for him, yearning to help his own neighbor escape poverty.

I’ll admit though, I still get caught up in the moment. Water flowing, children splashing, and everyone cheering the opening of a new well will do that. In our narrowly focused world, we’re so used to goals and accomplishments. We love to celebrate what is “finished.” But if we stop there, we’ll miss the fullness of what is happening.

So let’s not forget that today is day one. The hard work of the next steps begin now. Hope is only beginning to bear fruit.

Then, when we celebrate with a community or a school like this one, we can celebrate things that we’ll likely never see – future events that we’ll certainly not have a hand in. We can celebrate Purity’s graduation from high school. Or Steve’s successful new enterprise, fresh out of university. We can cheer as a new school is constructed or as the local church fulfills its mission and raises nearby villages from poverty. We can celebrate things we cannot even imagine.

That’s what it means to join in their story. That’s what it means to hope for Steve and with Purity, and all their friends at the Care Compassion Orphanage.

When water comes… everything changes. These smiles are only the beginning.

What do you see?