Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Mary Syndrome

I've met some of my favorite people on the planet during my trips to Vietnam, #8 of which commences on July 4th. This is from August 6, 2014.

If you followed my trip to Vietnam on Facebook or my nightly e-mails, you probably recognize Ngan. An eight year old with a ten year old sister named Thuy, Ngan is absolutely adorable. She is precious in every way imaginable; smart, kind, funny and photogenic. If it seems like the two sisters were featured in my updates more than other folks, it's just because I was around them more. I stayed in a room where I put many hours in typing e-mails and posting photos and they wandered in and out ceaselessly, They were living in the church building/school with their cousins, most who are significantly older than the siblings. They love to play and I'm a big kid so it was a match made in heaven. Thuy begged me everyday to play basketball with them; she cannot easily make the ll sound so it came out like bon which also was incredibly cute. They would run ahead of me to the bottom of the stairs or before a door and make a spirit tunnel and give me the Vanna White treatment before I entered any space. They have no money so they made amazing cards and letters for me as I prepared to leave. They also don't have a great quantity of clothes so they are often dressed the same in pictures no matter the day. They are sisters so they fight; Thuy is considerably taller so she tended to have the upper hand. I really miss both of them and I had to remind myself while I was there of this: they aren't valuable because they are adorable. They are valuable because they are children of God and less attractive children are no less beautiful.

After lunch one day, I was typing on my daily report when Ngan came in and completely on her own, tidied up and organized my room. There was not much space for me to use so it was a tight fit. Ngan even took elaborate care folding and smoothing the Ziploc bags I use to carry shampoo, snacks, etc. It wasn't a big deal but then again, it was. In a world dominated by larger people, children have limited options for feeling useful and they need to feel useful. In Mark 14, Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, was criticized for pouring expensive perfume on Jesus. In verse 8, Jesus rebuked the complainers and praised Mary, saying, "She has done what she could." I'm not comparing what an eight year old child in Can Tho, Vietnam did in moving toothpaste and aspirin and a soap dish around to sacrificing a year's worth of wages, which is the value Judas put on Mary's gift, but is that far fetched? Both gave the maximum to honor someone else in the best way they knew how. I'm pretty sure Ngan knows I'm not Jesus but I was the nearest other person at the time.  Gifts like two pennies and washing feet were always big to the Savior and I'd like to think He's smile upon Ngan's efforts that day. What was it He said the kingdom of heaven is like? That's right- little children. I know one of them! 

Applicable quote of the day:
Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.
Dennis Prager

God bless,
Luke 18:1

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