She walked into my classroom Friday afternoon and into the hearts of a bunch of teenagers. I passed out our Honduras/Haiti bank bottles to most of our students this past week. Our kids at WCS for sixteen years have collected pennies/nickels/dimes/quarters to help build and sustain Christian orphanages in Honduras and in the past four years, Haiti. The amount has accumulated to between $135-$140,000. On Wednesday afternoon, our first graders climbed the stairs to my classroom and watched a short video from Hope For Haiti's Children followed by a short talk by me about what we are doing and why we are doing it. There were the inevitable questions that only first graders can come up with. Then we handed out the bottles, making sure the kids understood this is voluntary. The project is explained and defined in a e-mail home to the folks so even if the kids don't quite get it, their folks do. They have close to two months to find loose change around the house before bringing their bottles back the first week in May. At least, that is the plan.
On Friday morning, Mrs. Taylor, one of our first grade teachers, e-mailed and told me one of her students had already filled her bottle and wanted to deliver it herself. She wondered when would it would be a good time. We were on a special schedule so I told her between 1:15-1:45 PM which on Friday meant in the middle of seventh period, or during my ESL Bible class. She bravely marched in, bottle in hands, and right up to my desk and gave me her bottle. I made a scene, acting like I couldn't lift it because it was so heavy with change. She is tiny, a child of Cambodian descent. And as she left, she went up and down the rows of desks, giving high fives and hugs to all takers...... and all were takers. She gave me a hug before rejoining her teacher at the classroom door. The other first grade teacher, Mrs. Fenwick, told me later she was telling her folks all about her adventure as she got into the car and began her Spring Break. You just can't beat six year old exuberance!
After she left, I talked about the little girl to my students who seemed mesmerized by her demeanor and confidence. As she strolled up and down the aisles, I kept hearing my students murmuring, "She is so adorable/she is so cute!!!" And she absolutely is. I cautioned them, though, to remember there are many more children in the world who are not as cute/adorable but still deserving of our kindness and respect. And then I reinforced something she had said in front of all twenty-five of them. After I had her introduce herself to the class, I asked her this question:
"Why did you bring your bottle back so quickly?"
Her priceless response?
"My mom and dad always give money to people who need it."
You can write a thousand books on child rearing and not come closer to the truth of love/guidance/example/generosity. In twelve words, she nailed it. And so are her mother and father nailing it. God bless every mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, aunt and uncle who are bringing up the next generation to be like Jesus. Someone is soaking it all in.
Applicable quote of the day:
“Children see magic because they look for it.”
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org