Sometimes I can only shake my head in disbelief, when disbelief is exactly what I shouldn’t be feeling. As socially awkward as it may seem I’m trying to nod my head in belief instead.
I’m often at a loss about what to write when it comes time to talk about what we’re doing. So much has become routine here, and lots of that shouldn’t be routine because it’s so very different from what most readers experience. I’m learning to see things with a fresh pair of eyes, say through the eyes of a tourist or first-time visitor to Uganda. The Keep is a great way to keep that perspective because we get a lot of first-timers in the restaurant. Too often, I find myself writing about what is bothering us, or troubling us, or “oppressing” us and I hate that because it sounds like I’m whining.
Last week, I was hyper-sensitive to whining because we were out of money, flat broke. I whined to my Board, who was understanding but really powerless because we don’t have money as an organization (and none of them are independently wealthy anyhow) but it felt like the right thing to do. I kept this off the blog because I’m really starting to loathe asking for money all the time. I kept quiet about our financial problems and we just prayed that God would show up, at the very least to encourage us to keep plugging away here.
I spent a lot of time on our website, which I found to be horribly borked in so many embarrassing ways and in that process it dawned on me that while we’re in a constant cycle of needing support from donors, I had neglected the one interface we have to our supporters. I had felt for a long time that I had to “prepare the field” in expectation, and although I had no idea what that meant specifically, taking care of the website in preparation for relief felt like a reasonable act of faith. I also plugged into our info@ email account to keep closer track of incoming “Contact Us” requests, and to our new Paypal account, which changed after we gained 501(c)3 status. I had delegated that job to others in an attempt to “focus on Uganda”, which I now realize was causing some real short-sightedness and disconnecting me from the big picture.
Things last week got really desperate and we were at the end of our rope. Literally. The end. The money was gone, and I had no idea what we would do for food, or how in the world we would continue operations and continue to support the 49 Ugandan workers that keep our programs running and who rely on us to support them and their families.
Days went by, and still there were no miracles. Jen and I started discussions about our exit strategy from Uganda if this was really the end.
Then on Saturday a flood donations come in, all from Kentucky. Each was a $40 donation and most were marked as “Long Journey” which meant it was to support our family. It was really a miracle. I realized that the ISSA Kentuckiana Pen Testing course had run and as I began to research it, I realized that Jeremy, who was running the class had run the course for free, asking only that students make a $40 donation, not just to HFC but specifically to our family.
I reached out to Jeremy to thank him as best I could (still in shock that this was happening) and his response floored me:
I saw you present at the DerbyCon and was amazed at how many people you help; especially when more “opportunities” were thrown in your path than seemed manageable. Our preacher challenged us to either go on a mission trip or help support someone already on a mission. Your mission struck me as soon as he mentioned it.
He went on to say that other had pitched in as well including Adrian Crenshaw, Carl Alexander, Conrad Reynolds, the KY ISSA and even the local OWASP chapter. It was an amazing team effort that had been sparked at DerbyCon and through Jeremy’s pastor, Kyle Idleman. The story got even better, as Jeremey revealed:
This is the first time I have tried such a stunt and I was a little shocked at how it turned out. We thought about 20-30 people would show and planned for 40, but then 50 people bought a seat. I didnt have the heart to tell them I’m not that good an instructor to have 50 students so I went with it.
I’m not sure what floored me more: the explosive response, Jeremy’s humility or the obvious miracle and encouragement that we were in the right place.
Our financial future is still uncertain, with a house in the US about to foreclose and back US taxes threatening to clean us out once again, but one thing is for sure: we should not focus on the fear and the worry, but only focus on the task we’ve been given.
I’m so encouraged and blessed by Jeremy’s faith in action, his effort and sacrifice, and all the folks who played a part in this, from the DerbyCon staff that made that talk possible to Kyle for the message of encouragement, Adrian for his work on Mutillidae and for recording the talks, Carl and KY ISSA for providing lunch, Conrad who pitched in two modules, Brian from ISSA who helped with the donation links, OWASP for their support and the 50+ students who generously donated in some cases beyond the minimum. Thank you all.
We are truly blessed, humbled and encouraged.