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| Thursday, April 05, 2012
The simple things...
One thing I have noticed throughout my time as a missionary, camp director, mother of four and simply by working with young people for the past 30 years, is that children are pretty much the same all over the world. They all desire to laugh, play, have fun, learn and be appreciated for who they are.
In America, we sometimes make “being a kid” about becoming an adult as opposed to keeping it simple and allowing children to just be children.
I was reminded of the simplicity of childhood recently as I was visiting Brazil with WinShape Camps. The children were so full of life and love and my heart leaped as I was able to engage with them on their level, playing simple games, singing simple songs and having a simply wonderful time sharing in the fun of camp.
Many years ago when my family lived in Rio de Janeiro, my son, John-John, had a friend named Ednie (Edgy-nay). Ednie’s father was the garage gatekeeper at our apartment complex, so the boys became the best of friends. They would play together in the parking deck garage of our apartment building almost every day after school.
One year, during the summer, our family came back to the States for a couple of months. We loved visiting family and friends here at home, but John-John soon found himself homesick for Brazil, and he missed his dear friend, Ednie. John-John wanted to send Ednie a gift to let him know he missed him and looked forward to seeing him in a few weeks, so I agreed to go to the store and help buy a gift.
John-John knew immediately what he was looking for as a gift. He excitedly approached me with a small, plastic bag of rubberbands.
“Rubberbands?” I asked. “Why in the world do you want to send Ednie rubberbands?” I thought perhaps a toy truck, a game or new ball would be a better gift, but John-John was determined to buy the rubberbands.
“Mom, what Ednei and I enjoy playing the most is taking rubberbands and shooting them into the garage wall and see who could shoot the farthest. But Ednei would always find his rubberbands from the apartment trash stored in the garage. Wouldn’t it be fun to send him some brand new rubber bands? This is what I want to give him. He’ll love these!”
I hesitantly agreed, and we sent Ednei the bag of rubberbands the next day.
When we returned to Brazil a few weeks later, Ednie’s mother approached me to thank us for the thoughtful gift we sent her son. She said that Ednie was so excited to open the gift and that the rubberbands had made his entire summer. “It was the perfect gift,” she said.
Edie’s mother cried when she told me that Ednie had never received a “brand new gift” from anyone, and that he had spent countless hours playing with each and every one of them. Meanwhile, I looked across the courtyard to see John-John and Ednie laughing and playing and shooting rubberbands high into the air, having the time of their lives.
The joy that can be found in the simple things doesn’t just apply to children. The simple things in life can make a big difference for all of us: a handwritten note of encouragement; taking someone’s tray after a meal; opening the car door for someone; taking five minutes to listen to someone’s story… even a rubberband can make a big difference.
Do something simple today for someone else. You might just make a big difference!