As we come to the end of the calendar 2009 year, we also come to the end of the second year of existence for Hope for Opelousas. I find it so easy to forget how we got here, how we remain here, and what’s really going on at HFO. 2009 was a year of stress, turmoil, and economic struggle for the whole world. I got caught up in the struggle in my role at Dupre’ Logistics, this has been a very tough business year. 2009 has been a year where my idols let me down, really stomped on me. 2009 has been a year where God’s law did what it and only it can do, lead me to Christ for Life. What does this have to do with HFO? 2009 has been a year for me to see that only through God’s Grace am I where I am and HFO is where it is. In a year where lots of governments, businesses and ministries shrank in size, HFO expanded. Growth could be measured in number of kids tutored, number of volunteers, tutoring space at Hill House, number of ministries serving Opelousas through HFO, and number of board members. HFO was recognized by local newspapers, TV and radio stations. Loren was able to introduce HFO by speaking at civic clubs, churches, local schools and to various local political and civic leaders. At our year end board meeting, we approved the hiring of our second staff member. These are only some of the milestones of growth at HFO during 2009. We have much to be thankful for.
“What does HFO do” is a common question asked. The most visible aspect of HFO is the Tuesday-Thursday afternoon tutoring program. Many of the same children tutored are able to go on field trips which venues vary from Chinese acrobat performances to LSU football games. Several of the older children made up what we call the HFO Adventure Crew which completed several days of outdoor high adventure in the mountains of Tennessee this past summer. HFO also partners with several ministries such as Home of Grace in Van Cleave, MS. HFO provides transportation and facilitates financial support for men and women addicted to alcohol and drugs who are recovering and finding Life at Home of Grace. HFO also works closely with the Opelousas Lighthouse Mission, a shelter for homeless men. HFO and OLM have done renovation projects, fund raisers, and bible studies together. Some men from OLM are volunteer tutors. HFO has been the destination for church youth groups, college mission teams and provided summer internships for college students over the last 2 years. This gives some of the answer to “What does HFO do” but not all the answer.
As I stated above, 2009 has been a tough year in business but it has also been a trying year for another love of mine, LSU football. At a game early in the 2009 season, my Tigers were not looking good at halftime and I was really disappointed with them as I wanted a “beatdown.” Many times when I’m disappointed with one aspect of my life, the gloom colors all of my life. In this disappointed state I asked a close personal friend and supporter of HFO, “Is HFO making a difference? Are we making an impact on those we interact with?” My friend and his wife are supporters and have been from the very beginning of HFO. She is a regular tutor and interacts with many of the kids on field trips, parties and other activities. His immediate response was, “You know HFO is making a difference. It may not always show up on report card improvement but yes, HFO is making a difference.” My friend and his wife are not real religious people but God has used both of them to encourage me and show me how to love and accept people with different backgrounds and viewpoints. Through a close, non religious friend, at an LSU football game God reminded me of what we really do at HFO. HFO is a place, a platform, a point of intersection for God’s love to overflow onto us, and through us. Not just our loving the forgotten people of Opelousas, but their loving us. HFO is not a one way street where the haves help the have nots. It is a place for all of us to realize none of us has what it takes for joy, peace, and rest in this world. At HFO the haves and the have nots can come to the One who has Love and Life. HFO exists because God makes it exist to be a place where we live out of His Love and reflect that Love to each other. It’s hard to measure what’s done at and through HFO. It’s hard to measure Love and Life. 2009 was a year for me to see why HFO exists and what we do; we Live and Love out of His Love and Life. That’s how He changes us, others, and this tiny piece of the world known as Opelousas. I now realize I have been asking and answering the wrong question, What does HFO do? 2009 helped me see it’s what He’s doing!!! Thank You Lord for 2009 and for HFO.