Meet Les, Hope and Dorcas
The People Behind the Vision
As told by Les
Hope grew up in a conservative religious family. When missionaries came to visit their Evangelical United Brethren Church (EUB) they would stay at Hope’s parent’s house. Becoming a missionary burrowed into Hope’s heart and it appeared to be the calling for her. I grew up as an anything-goes Methodist. I never felt any “call” to be a missionary but had an interest in world affairs. We both had a concern for people.
We met in 1959 when I was a high school senior, and Hope was a high school junior. We attended separate schools but ended up working at a stamp redemption center (Gold Bond gift stamps) in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Hope was a sales clerk, and I was a stock boy. It will remain a secret what we did in the stock room warehouse. I graduated in 1960 and had enough of anything related to school. Hope graduated in 1961 and went to Westmar College, an EUB college in LeMars, Iowa. In 1961 I decided I could handle the school environment again and enrolled at The University of Denver. In 1962 I matriculated at Westmar joining Hope.
Our first date was at a drive inn restaurant for a root beer/hot chocolate. On our second date, we went to a Kingston Trio concert where Hope committed her first sin by attending a concert on a Sunday. Our third date was at a sinful drive-in theatre to see the Ten Commandments. And it grew from there. This “sin” stuff had some appeal to it.
At Westmar there were several former missionaries that served in Sierra Leone, and a few of the students were from Sierra Leone. In addition to Nigeria, Sierra Leone was one of two main missionary projects of the EUB church. The first missionaries went to Sierra Leone in the 1850’s. While talking about what we would do after graduation we considered both the Peace Corp and the EUB mission field. Hope could satisfy her zeal to be a missionary, and I could satisfy my curiosity about the world. We applied to both. The Peace Corp wanted endless information about my hay fever and the EUB church no longer sent missionary teachers (Hope’s chosen profession) to Sierra Leone. In 1961, Sierra Leone gained their independence and wanted to fill positions with indigenous people. Someone told us we should apply directly to Harford School for Girls in Moyamba, Sierra Leone. We did and within a month had contracts with the Sierra Leone government to go to Harford. As luck, or maybe some other force, would have it, Harford needed a math teacher and a business person (Les’s chosen profession) for the office.
We graduated in May of 1965, got married in June of 1965, and were in Sierra Leone in August, 22 and 23 year old “kids” in a foreign country committed for three years.
When our three-year commitment ended in 1968, we knew we wanted to keep a connection with the country and the people we had grown to love. Dorcas, a student at the Harford School for Girls, had stood out as a student with vision and purpose. She wanted to start a clinic in her mother’s village, and we knew we could help her. And so, in 1969, we asked Dorcas to join us in Colorado so she could pursue her BA in Nursing and become a certified Nurse.
God played a role in our lives from the very beginning. There is no way the Nar Sarah Clinic, Heritage High School/Kabala and the numerous related programs, the involvement of Heritage High School in Colorado, and now the related job creation and orphanage programs, would exist without the presence of a higher Spirit.
I am quite happy and eternally grateful that Hope pursued and chased me unending to convince me to marry her, and that’s the truth no matter what she says!