The Trip: The Kids
This is going to be quite odd to admit, especially as a two-time missionary who felt the call to minister to kids, but I, in actuality, don’t like kids . . .
Maybe I should be more specific, though, right?
I don’t like American kids. They, for the most part (at least I’ve observed), act very entitled and, well, bratty. I don’t know, but maybe this is due in part to how easy some kids have it here (I know, I know, this is a super-generalization, but spend time with kids from another country and you’ll see what I mean). I’ll use myself as an example. I mean I’m not a kid anymore. I’ll actually turn 25 this year (yikes!), but I spent 18 years as an overpriveleged American kid, so I have a bit of experience ;).
I was the little girl who cried if she didn’t get a balloon at the local shopping mall. I was the little mocosa who wasn’t satisfied with the one outfit that her Barbie came with. I was the little brat who couldn’t stand it if her little brother got to open the last Christmas present around the tree (and would “appropriately” react by screaming her lungs out). In lesser words, I wouldn’t want to spend two weeks of my time with 7-year-old me.
Enter Venezuelan kids.
I am not the most affectionate person (seriously, ask people) and it really takes a certain type of person to work with kids — someone patient, open, intuitive, loving, affectionate, tolerant, and the list goes on . . .
I wouldn’t say I possess all these qualities. So the fact that I loved my time with these kids (and it seemed like they liked me too) made the trip true destiny, a God thing, a way in which God portrayed His perfect timing, His compassion, His kindness, His rectitude . . . Again, I could go on and on.
So what is it about these particular kids? It’s a bit difficult to point out. But there’s just something about kids who smile, whose faces visibly brighten, right as you walk into a room.
I remember that on the first day of a small camp we were running, some members of the team and I arrived late. As the 40-year-old taxi pulled up to the modest church (a roof held by four posts), I saw the thirty or so kids waiting quietly for us. Naturally, I became nervous. I thought, “Keeping kids waiting is never a good idea. First impression points knocked off for sure.” (I can be quite pessimistic, I know). I walked the plank towards the church with a shaky Hola!
Much to my surprise, I received warm and energetic Hola!’s in return, enthusiastic waves, and curious Cómo te llamas?’s. It was the loveliest. It seemed like I didn’t have to do any work at all.
Maybe it’s because these kids are so open to hugs and affection (as God miraculously also worked in me to become just as open), maybe it’s because though they don’t have much, they buy you popsicles to help alleviate the sticky Maracaibo heat, maybe it’s because they sincerely want to learn more about you and why you’re there. Or maybe it’s because my heart was fated and ready to be gently stolen on this trip. Or maybe The Beatles were right, and all you do need is love. Yep, I’ll chalk it up to all those things.
To be continued . . .