With Sunshine and Ms. Bee embarking on a ‘pioneer trek’, we decided to wait for them to return to continue with our bucket list.
In the meantime, I recently wrote about an experience I had while helping members of our community. It changed things. It changed me…
June has been a beast. Among other things, He-Man and I are reeling from worries that come with a small business. We may have some pretty big, trajectory-changing decisions coming in the horizon and we’re dealing with a health insurance glitch that has rocked our personal finances.
This month in particular there have been more defeats and tears than triumphs. So tonight, as we bid adieu (AND ‘don’t let the door hit you in the bum on your way out’) to June, we’re both feeling a bit obliterated.
It isn’t so bad. Not really.
I recently had the opportunity to remember this when I was invited to volunteer with a non-profit organization called ‘My Story Matters’ helping young refugees from all over the world. They use Heritage Makers book publishing software (which also happen to be their biggest donors) to create custom storybooks for kids displaced by upheaval brought on by war, natural disasters and/or civil unrest. The goal of this effort is to let each child know his/her story matters and is important.
I joined their effort as a writer which meant I had the privilege of interviewing several youth at a local high school last week. Incidentally, the girls I interviewed were all Sunshine’s age. She would like them. How striking it was to realize these bright, beautiful girls were so similar to my daughter but had seen more struggle and hardship in their short lives than I had experienced in over twice that time.
It seems cliché to talk about how humbling it was.
One of my new friends talked about her sweet daddy in Africa. He was born with one leg but that didn’t stop him from working as a farmer and building houses. Living here now, her mother works many hours to provide for their family. And she hasn’t seen her older sister in 7 years. She absolutely loves to crochet and is really, REALLY good at it.
Another is from Nepal and misses the view of Mt. Everest from her home. She loves Bollywood, music and math. She is grateful her whole family is together because being displaced by tumult means that’s not necessarily a ‘given’.
I interviewed a girl with stunning eyes who wants to go back to Syria someday and play soccer for her country. She also loves math and adores animals. One of the most adorable things about her is that she finds cows absolutely hysterical. Cows. I’ve seen a million of them and had forgotten to marvel…then she reminded me.
Lastly, I worked with Desi. That’s not her real name. While she’s given me permission to write about her, I still feel fiercely protective of her privacy. We became fast friends. She revealed her indomitable strength as she briefly told me of her personal tragedies. Trust me. Some of us would not still be vertical….but she smiled broadly with a confidence she attributes to God.
‘Family is everything that’s good with the world’, she told me. She told me God is her best friend because He has helped her through every hard thing she’s endured. She’s hopeful and determined. Most of all, she has a heart full of love for her family, her brothers, her sister, her aunt and has no trepidation in expressing that.
These are incredible kids. I talked with each for only about 40 minutes but they left an impression. One of the most profound things I discovered about these girls was that most have the personal goal to study within the medical field because they would like to go back to their home countries and serve the people there.
Even after everything they’ve been through, these kids are thinking of others. They are determined to make the world a better place; more specifically, their home countries…where they face the possibility of nothing being the way they left it. That kind of courage is sanctifying.
I went home that afternoon no longer thinking about our little financial hiccup, my husband’s practice or the decisions ahead of us. Instead, I noticed the smiles on my healthy, happy and safe children’s faces as I walked through the door. I picked a snack from a refrigerator full of things to eat and noticed the comforting cool of my air conditioned home. This is abundance. I must remember that. I have that responsibility. I must share this abundance with others and always recognize it for what it is. If I ever forget this simple truth, clearly, I’ll need to change my perspective.