" And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free"-John 8:32
Wow you must be rich if you own a toothbrush" those are words I would have never thought would have been used to describe my financial situation. It literally opened my eyes on how much poverty there is within our our neighboring countries or even in our own neighborhoods. To hear these words out of a child's mouth left me leaving both convicted and ashamed. We were talking near the church that was being built. I was sweating and feeling drained, also feeling a little hungry. Some local children stopped by to say hello. I sat on the dirt road next to the van trying to get some shade, they sat next to me and just started a conversation. They asked where I was from, why I was there, if I had kids. I answered their questions then I started asking questions of my own, who they were, where they lived, if they wanted a granola bar. Of course they said yes, and I reached into my purse. The little boy (Angel) helped me and the little girl (Queen) waited patiently. As Angel helped he noticed a small container with a toothbrush, then he stated "wow you must be rich if you own a toothbrush!" I was shocked at his comment and I asked why he would say that, to which he replied " we can barely afford food we don't get candy unless visitors bring us candy and we don't have money for toothbrushes, that why I say you must be rich."
|Angel, Queen and I making sad faces|
Here I was sharing with them a granola bar and here he is letting me know how much more I have than he does. I have a toothbrush, I can take care of my personal hygiene, and he can't. I felt embarrassed and unworthy of how God had blessed me and in the meantime I had been walking blind waiting for larger miracles to happen. As we broke the granola bar in three parts, I felt that lump in my throat, my eyes watering and my lips trembling, I just wanted to pour on them everything they lacked, but I came to realize that I didn't feel sorry for them, I felt sorry for myself and for not realizing how blessed God had made me at this point on.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."- Hebrews 13:5
I lacked many things as a child, mainly my parents guidance towards God and towards being a good person. They weren't bad people, just too focused on trying to make ends-meet on a daily basis that they forgot to instill in us family values and the ability to be happy with what we had. As I have previously blogged, all we heard at home was lack of money and how to make more money, and I grew up thinking that I would be better off being rich, educated and away from my family.
What astonished me even more during this mission trip was that while I had more material than these kids, they had something that I had always wished I had, serenity, joy and happiness. Angel is a child riding his used and scrapped BMX bike. I never learned to ride a bike. He was playing and making memories with his little friend Queen. I grew up isolated and with younger siblings (Most of my school friends had grown in neighborhoods and I grew up next to highway 129). He was happy with what he had, I grew up unhappy feeling like I lacked things in life, and when I gained something I thought it was due to my efforts or my struggle. I never saw things granted to me as blessings from God. Indeed, they had far more than I expected. You can't buy happiness, joy or serenity. I've lived in anxiety trying to plan my days, my years achieve goals, and they were literally living a day at a time. I was missing out on my days and the moments that can help me grow closer to God.
That was my Aha moment...