We, the Britton family, have served at New Hope since 2006, learning and growing cross-culturally more than we ever could have imagined! We deeply love children and staff beyond what we ever thought possible with our limited human hearts. And we now understand in so many ways WE, OUR family are not only the five of us. At first introduction and on a very basic level, Ugandan culture immediately stretches the individualistic western mindset by introducing the WE of people and things. WE: The collective sense of all things together is seen practically through terminology and expectations.
When a new baby is born the question is “How is OUR baby?” When there is a need for a useful item the request is for, “OUR bicycle,” “OUR bicycle pump,” “OUR ladder,” “OUR motorbike,” “OUR car,” etc. When we cultivate the land, the garden yields OUR crops so that during harvest, much is shared. And of the children, WE parent them together by working together in tandem–consulting, praying, counseling, never in an individual sense at all. So, when I say WE had cancer, I say it in sincerity and truth. For not only are Geoff and I one in marriage and our children an outpouring of love from that union, but the New Hope family is a very real part of us and us of them. Though the suffering, the diagnosis, the treatment and recovery all took place continents and oceans apart, the New Hope FAMILY walked with us in prayer and through letters, phone calls and emails. When we had cancer, New Hope journeyed through it with us. Though this “WE” stretched our comfort zone in our first years here, it is now a deep and abiding blessing to our lives.
Enter God’s perfect timing: On the day we started chemo, we received a THICK package of letters from the children and staff in David Family. As he received
chemo, I sat at Geoff’s side in tears as I read letter after letter of encouragement and love from our New Hope family. The package had been released from their hands long before that June day, but arrived in our hands in God’s time! In addition, often in the doctor’s offices our phone would buzz showing a New Hope number–the love and support coming again and again at just the right time. When we told Toby, Acacia and Kevin in April of the diagnosis, they cried. Now, before you think their tears were due to the real possibility of cancer bringing death, let me clarify that it was due to the inability to return to Uganda. Toby’s first question was, “You mean we can’t go home?” The real pain in his heart reflected the deep pain and sorrow in all five of us. So, we endeavored to remain thankful and we daily spoke aloud our blessings and thanksgivings to God in prayer and to each other. This brought a genuine thankfulness, joy and peace to our extended stay.
Every day in numerous ways our Father showed Himself faithful. Below are just a few of the intricate workings of God’s hand on us. We were stateside, among family and friends, and were able to share with them in person when the lymphoma diagnosis came AND it came early on in the disease process via a method not available in Uganda. The doctor who surgically removed the cancer from Geoff’s stomach “just in time,” is one to whom many travel from across the U.S. and other countries for treatment– one of the best in his field. Our oncologist acted boldly and quickly in our treatment plan and continued to treat the cancer aggressively, but us with kindness, over the course of six months.
Geoff is his first patient to be healed completely after only two treatments! God spoke clearly that He had chosen a house for us to live in and though we called on about 25 rentals, God led us to the right house and we moved in completely all in the course of ONE week- -unheard of in southern California! Six months worth of rent and 95% of donated furniture arrived in less than two weeks! Together we walked this. Together we triumphed. Together we came through victorious over cancer and fear. And we continue to walk together. Those at New Hope who feared we would not return have seen that our peace and contentment come from KNOWING that God is good. Even if Geoff had died, God is good. That fact has kept us settled, confident in His hand and His plan, His ways and His wisdom, and so we did not fear death or any other outcome. If Geoff had died, we would still be in relationship with a good God and He would still be our Loving and Abundant Provider, Savior, Creator, Friend, Father and the only One who NEVER changes in our life. This is the Fatherhood of God our New
Hope children have been able to see through our experience with cancer!
By Mary Britton
As published in NHUM’s November 2013 paper newsletter