Piecing Hope Together

One of the goals of Camp Hope’s Wacky Wednesdays last month was to create a lasting work of art–a mosaic–for Hope Place’s reception area.  It was a huge undertaking, however, that quickly became much more than mere art.

For several weeks, I scoured Louisville-area Goodwills and peddlers malls for brightly colored ceramic plates that we could smash into thousands of pieces.  By the third week of camp, we had built a large enough supply that the camp children could each break one. We wrapped the plates in towels, donned protective goggles, and began smashing with abandon.

Confused, a tentative little boy with raised eyebrows asked, “More?”  A little girl begged to break another dish, “Pleeeeeeeease?” she pleaded.  A dad dropping his son off late stared in shock as a kindergartner giddily slung a hammer toward his towel without aim.

That afternoon, I began to outline the design on concrete backer board.  I can now freely admit that I was in over my head. I had never attempted a project this large and I had no idea how much time and material I would actually need.  I formed the shapes of the iconic buildings in my design with small glass tiles in order to keep the lines bold and straight. During week four of camp, the art class began to piece together the sky.  

“There are many things that have happened in our lives that have made us feel like these beautiful plates that have been broken,” we explained.  “Right now, they may seem like useless pieces that serve no purpose, like maybe the pieces should just be thrown into the trash.  But we will soon see how God uses all of our broken pieces to make a beautiful masterpiece.”

Fifth-grader Jonathan learned to use the glass tile cutters.  Phoebe and Fikir glued geometric teal forms to the board. Chrisily delighted in placing a single aqua bead in the growing atmosphere which looked like a fading star.  Still, only a small portion of the 5’x6’ canvas was finished by the close of camp.

In the days that followed, help trickled in each evening.  For several days, we ate pizza and played music and neighborhood kids shared their lives with me while we worked late into the night.   

Hadeel, a local mom, built celadon-hued windows into the exterior of the iconic Galt House.  Malik, Ruby, and Layla glued tiles to the dual red-topped Waterfront Plaza towers. Isaiah, Joseph, Donald, and Yerandy affixed hundreds of irritatingly irregular pieces of pea gravel that, much like them, would not stay put.  Mariam sorted through piles of glass to find the perfect shades of blue for the Ohio River. Hope Place Director Kristy Robison used them to build portions of the shimmering, patterned water.  After his African church service ended on Sunday afternoon, four-year-old Frank firmly held the tiny pieces of a heart in place while the adhesive dried. My husband built and stained a frame.  This truly became a community project as the weeks passed.

The mosaic process itself is a piecing together of many different types and styles of glass, just as our neighborhood is a blend of people from all around the world:  Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Burundi, Nepal, Cuba, and America, to name just a few.  Each of these cultures contributes to the unique beauty we find here.

I knew at the start that I wanted to make a mosaic of the Louisville skyline and the word HOPE.  Although I had a basic image in mind, it began to take on additional symbolism as we worked. The sunrise signals the hope of a new day.  The Hope Place tree grows along the riverbank. Small strips of mirror create movement and also point back at the viewer who himself becomes a part of the artwork.  And at the bottom, a tiny heart waits anxiously to break out of its stony prison into the hope above. It is buried, yet it hopes.

The grouting process was the hardest for me personally.  Burying what was already a perfectly nice picture beneath messy black sludge is a slightly terrifying process.  In only a few minutes, long hours of tedious work become concealed by a dripping, charcoal-colored mess that stains everything it touches.  All of the children who saw the mosaic during this time thought that I had certainly ruined it. But as I slowly wiped the drying grout away from the tiles, they saw the image being revealed:  the hope of something more glorious than they ever could have imagined back when we began with just a pile of broken shards and sticky mud. How often it looks like all is lost when we are buried in the pain, only to see God make something so much more beautiful out of our situation in the end.  And sometimes we can’t see this until we can step back and appreciate the process from a distance.

The finished mosaic is a piece of art, for sure.  But it has also been a process in growing and cementing relationships, a remedy to fear, a call to courage, and a monument to what God is doing through his people at Hope Place as he builds this diverse community. It was an honor to be able to collaborate on it with so many talented, but unknown local artists–our own campers!

We invite you to come by Hope Place and see where you fit in the picture.

(Thanks to Elevate Dance Ministry for inspiring this idea.)

By | 2018-11-07T23:52:20+00:00 August 13th, 2018|HopePlace|0 Comments

Answered Prayer

Hope Place is located in the beautiful neighborhood of Beechmont in South Louisville. There are over 100 languages spoken within four blocks of the building, which is an amazing representation of what heaven will look like. While the neighborhood is wonderful in many ways, there are also challenges which include a high crime rate, addiction, homelessness and high unemployment. Many immigrants and refugees face challenges adjusting to the culture and struggle to learn English which makes finding jobs difficult. This is why Hope Place was started – to make hope tangible. To empower local churches to meet needs and bring hope to the hopeless in South Louisville. We have seen God do just that in the short amount of time that we have been here!

Hope Place was started in March and we have already watched the Lord mobilize his people to help! When we have presented a request to the Lord, it has quickly been met through the church.

We needed someone to handle day to day maintenance, we prayed, and God provided someone who volunteers much of his time to help with whatever is needed. Whether that is plumbing, HVAC, cementing in a basketball goal, painting, changing filters or lightbulbs, or organizing a work crew – he is here to help!

We knew that addiction recovery was desperately needed in the neighborhood. We prayed, and God answered with a man who just moved into the nearby apartment complex came over to see if he could host Alcoholics Anonymous here! We now have six AA meeting times per week. Shortly after a lady also called because she wanted to start a Christian addiction recovery program and they are now meeting one evening a week.

Realizing that many residents needed help learning English, we prayed for someone to help us get an ESL program started. God answered, and within a week, we met with COFFEE Louisville (an ESL ministry) who has started a Friday morning ESL class at Hope Place.

Our first Block Party was in May and we didn’t know what to expect. We prayed for volunteers and neighbors to come. God answered and had 40 volunteers and over 500 people come out to celebrate the opening of Hope Place! We were absolutely blown away at the support from local churches and the community!

We stepped out in faith and created connection cards for neighbors to complete at the block party. We added things like dance and summer camp, though we didn’t have a plan for how they would actually happen. We prayed and God answered – shortly after, I met a young woman wanting to start a dance ministry and a High School Pastor looking for a place to plug his high-schoolers in. A dance studio is in the works and we are now in our third week of camp, thanks to the help of 40+ high-school students!

We prayed for a volunteer who could help with financial sustainability and we now have an amazing lady with a business background who volunteers 3 days a week of her time.

In June we began praying for a co-laborer for myself as the only Hope Place employee. Two weeks ago, we hired Lindsay Shores as our Neighborhood Ministry Associate, who couldn’t be more perfect for the position.

We have been praying about doing some renovations in the basement and this week we got a call from a local church wanting to serve us by donating all the supplies and time to help us!

God is moving! He is at work at Hope Place and it’s fascinating to watch! The question is, do you have a role to play? Maybe there is something that we are praying for right now, that God is calling you to do. Maybe you are a piece to this puzzle that is so clearly coming together.

If you are interested in finding out how you can get involved or want to volunteer, contact Kristy at kristy@hopeccd.org

By | 2018-07-26T14:49:06+00:00 July 26th, 2018|HopePlace|0 Comments
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