Hope is Slow

As we ambled back up the rutted dirt path it finally happened. I knew the emotions would take over at some point, but I honestly didn’t expect to be so overwhelmed my second day here. On both sides, children scrambled about watching us with bold curiosity.

“How do you handle seeing this all the time?” I asked Shaun as we stepped gingerly over a stream of muddy water flowing through the red soil. My throat burned and eyes watered as the images of the family we just visited ran through my mind. It wasn’t the condition of their home that left me so affected, though the small, concrete structure that housed two adults and nine children did leave me a bit shocked.

The situation this family lives in is dire in more ways than just physical. There was a hollow emptiness in the eyes of the mother that struck me. A desperation in the grandmother’s voice that tore through me. Abandoned and alone, these women now work only when they can and pray for daily bread in the most literal sense.

Currently, two of this young mother’s five children are being served by Compassion – twins, Doto and Kuluwa. One is sponsored, the other is still waiting. They were all quiet, eyes downcast, shy. When asked what she hopes for her children, this mother replied, “I hope that they can grow up and do business so that they can take care of me.”

Doto is sponsored. Her twin brother, Kuluwa is not.

I left this home with a quivering chin. “How do you see this all the time and not feel overwhelmed?” I asked. “It just all seems so much, like it’s impossible to ever meet all the needs.”

“Hope is slow,” Shaun replied softly.

Just three little words, so simple to say but carrying weight and meaning far beyond what I can currently comprehend.



It is a beautiful word. It is ripe with expectation, with longing. Hope means looking forward, not back. Hope is a buoy in life. Without it we would be lost, for the opposite of hope is despair.

Thanks to the Compassion center in Buhongwa, Tanzania there is hope for this family. But what about the others? There are so many needs. So much that can leave you feeling hopeless, but…hope is slow.

There is more need in this world than any one person or group or organization can handle. When we’re far away from these situations it’s so easy to keep an emotional distance from the desperation. But even being here and seeing it firsthand, I find myself shutting down a bit. It seems impossible, insurmountable.

But hope is slow.

The hope to eradicate extreme poverty is not unrealistic. But it’s also not going to happen overnight and it absolutely won’t happen without the mobilization of masses. Hope is real. It is alive. But it is slow.

I will be completely honest with you. I felt a little hopeless this afternoon as I walked through the back alleys. This country, along with the people that inhabit it, is beautiful and stunning. But the dichotomy of how so many people live against the backdrop of brilliant rock formations, mountains, and a lake that gleams like a million crystals in the sunlight leaves me with a bit of vertigo.


Back at the Compassion center at the Africa Inland Church I saw hope. I saw it and I heard it. I hugged it and let it play with my hair. Hope revealed itself in the form of giggling faces, curious stares, sweet songs and a sermon from a ten year old named James that would put the greatest communicators of the pulpit to shame.

Hope. It’s slow. But it’s there.

Currently there are roughly 1.2 million children sponsored worldwide through Compassion International. That’s 1.2 million families who now have a hope for the future.

For the children who are sponsored with Compassion, hope is real. It means a future. It allows for more than just a meal now and then. It means education, health care, spiritual and leadership training. Sponsorship with Compassion is the birth of hope.

So far it appears that the theme of what I will learn this week is what it means to hope. I so often lose myself in the big picture. I see the need and feel paralyzed because how can I possibly do anything that will produce any kind of lasting effect? But though the need is great, hope is greater. It’s easy to get discouraged, but we cannot give up. I cannot give up.

I won’t give up.

Because hope is slow…but it’s also real.

Will you join the fight?


Clicking the above photo will lead you to a page where you can sponsor a child from Tanzania. If you are interested in sponsoring a child from the specific project center we visited today, there are 53 still waiting. You can click this link where a few of those children are listed as available for sponsorship.

There were so many experiences that we all had today. It seems every blogger gleaned a little something different from this visit. To see this experience through their eyes, click here.

All photos courtesy of the lovely and incomparable Keely Scott.





  1. Compassion truly is an amazing organization. Can you imagine being that child’s mother and knowing with reasonable certainty that your child will be forced to live a life just like yours in poverty and suffering? And then, all of a sudden Compassion comes in and there is HOPE for your child and his future? I cannot even imagine what a profound difference this would make for a mother….let alone the child!

    • Compassion is a profoundly wise and amazing organization. I was always impressed with it, but more so than ever now. Thanks, Lindsay, for following along!

  2. Nicole says

    Hey girl! Following your trip! Loving your posts! Praying for you, your team and also your hubby and munchkin’s back home!!!! Let him know we’re a call away if he needs ANYTHING while you’re gone.

  3. Sonya Roach says

    My heart sings at the sight of these wonderful children. Our family sponsors 3 children from Africa and I am a Compassion Advocate. One of our children is from the EGTA Ilula Student Center and is named Yakobo Shedrack Kahise (Tanzania) If any of you see him please send our love from the Roach Family. A picture would be priceless. I can not wait to meet him. Thank you for your acts of service. Sonya

  4. I can’t even imagine what it means to those families to have you there.

  5. Sam looked at the pictures and asked, “Is there no green valley?” I immediately thought of Psalm 23…”The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” There is always a green valley waiting…

  6. Hope is real. Amen! Thankful that God is using Compassion to bring His hope to these families. Praying for you all while you are there as well as the many awaiting sponsorship.

  7. First of all, you are simply gorgeous with your Africa-glow. I love it.

    I think, if more people realized how easy it is to bring hope to just one child, one family, they would do it. Too often we are overwhelmed by the big picture when we have the opportunity to impact several small pictures.

    Thanks for sharing with us again. How are you feeling physically? I can imagine the trip takes a toll on you.

  8. Bethany says

    I saw it. I looked through everyone else’s photos and I saw that stray photo of you singing. Let ‘er rip, girl! :).

  9. Oh, Kellie! That picture of you in this post is AMAZING! Hope…..one child at a time! Thanks for painting such a wonderful picture!

  10. Wonderful, effective perspective, Kelli. I know your face through Shaun’s blog. Nice to “meet” you. Praying for you this week and thank you for taking this trip.

  11. Ahhhh…I agree, you are glowing. I also agree with Michelle that if more people really understood the impact, if they could even experience what it’s like to get a single letter from their sponsored child, they would be in a hurry to dump stuff out of their budget to make way to sponsor a child or two or more. Seriously, when I go to the mailbox and find a letter from one of ours it feels like Christmas. I cherish each one and we love to send pictures and letters and see them grow. I dig their sweet faces smiling at me from our fridge door. It’s a blessing more people need to experience.

    BTW, your fox, um….err, dog, is doing great. She turned our cat into a raccoon (brown tabbies with poofed out tails and arched backs look like the little masked critters) the instant she came through the door. I took her for a walk and she met the Boxer down the road. It’s been a long time since Loosie was strong enough to pull that hard on the leash, but Sadie showed me that I a still good at concrete surfing. Right now she is sweetly guarding Kevin as he works on his laptop. I might not take her home tomorrow. Hope you slept well tonight and enjoy your fresh clean clothes and real hairbrush tomorrow!

    • Thanks so much for taking care of the fox, Jenni! I so appreciate your help during this crazy time. And yes, you’re right. IT’s easy to distance ourselves from the impact, but child sponsorship WORKS! I understand now more than ever. 🙂

  12. It’s amazing to me that it’s 9:30 my time. I am getting ready to go to bed. In Tanzania, It’s 7:30AM, your day is just starting.

  13. “The hope to eradicate extreme poverty is not hopeless.” This statement is so true and so hard at the same time. One by one, we can make a difference by sponsoring children through Compassion. I pray that many children are sponsored because of all the Compassion Blogger posts on this trip!

  14. Candy Martin says

    “to cherish a desire with anticipation” (Webster definition) That sounds like the heart of Compassion. The pictures of those precious faces melt my heart. I love that God is allowing you and the other team members shine His love in Tanzania.

  15. Thanks for going on this trip Kelli and writing about your experience. I have 4 Compassion children and can’t take any more at this time, but I will highlight your post on my blog. Sending you many prayers for this week.

  16. This is altogether beautiful. Just posted on Facebook. I pray that hearts are being stirred for these precious children. Praying for all of the Tanzania bloggers!

  17. “Sponsorship with Compassion is the birth of hope.” – I love this. I might just have to quote you in the future. The birth of hope – how beautiful is that? It really is, isn’t it? When a child is told they have a sponsor, I bet they begin to feel hope in so many ways.

  18. Hope is slow but real. I love that.

  19. thank you for sharing…. hope is slow…. one child at a time…..

    praying for you!

  20. Yes hope is slow…..but it will get there !


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