On our trip to Uganda in ‘09 Bruce met a young man in a Karamajong village that impressed him. This young man helped with a food distribution that actually became a riot as the people were so hungry they were fighting over the bread we brought for them. Hillary was only about 11 or 12 but he was responsible and helpful even to giving away all he was entrusted with keeping nothing for himself. Bruce was proud of him and remembered him after we returned home. He decided he would like to make sure this young man had a chance to be in school. He tried to find him. We had a wrong name (thought he was Michael) so no one knew who he was. We sent a picture and a pastor we know recognized him. We sent money for his schooling (only about $10 a month!). Hillary was surprised and delighted to have been remembered. His Pastor also recognized him as a honest, upright boy.
This trip we sought out Hillary to get to know him better. Our first Sunday we went to the church called Light and Life where he attends. He proudly sat with us and my heart was touched as my husband sat with him arm around this young person who has no father or grandfather to embrace him. I could just feel him soaking up this simple affection. He lives with his grandmother. I really know very little of his story, but as we were in the village next to his, he came to see us each day. One day Bruce was helping him understand how far away Colorado is from Uganda. They did a Math problem together. Without paper Hillary jumped up and took a stick writing in the dirt to help him do his figuring. We got him some paper to work with and he persevered until he got the right answer. Sharp kid. I saw this and gave him some little project to work on each day he came. Mazes, word searches etc. He loved the challenge along with the special attention. He was always happy to see me but he mostly looked for Bruce. We may never know what influence a man like Bruce had on this boy’s life. We can pray that we reinforced values and work ethic and thirst for knowledge sowing into his life seeds that will be nurtured into a man of integrity as he grows into manhood.
As we were packing up to leave Uganda I picked up the tennis shoes I had been wearing. They were dirty but in good shape. I wondered if I should thow them away as I didn’t want to bring them home. Bruce said to take them to the village and leave them for whoever wanted them. I hesitated as they looked pretty used up but since they were still in good shape and many have nothing on their feet I followed his advice. When Hillary came in to say good bye he showed me his shoes. They were falling apart! I was surprised I hadn’t noticed before. I would have bought him a pair but now there was no time. I remembered the pair I had been wearing and just on a hunch I found them to see if they fit. Lo and behold, they just fit exactly. He was so happy with them that he took them off and put them in his backpack to save for school. I was sure glad I hadn’t thown them away! To me they were dirty and used up (I had actually bought them in a thrift store), to him they were a treasure.