Sunday, December 8, 2013

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”― Mother Teresa

At the age of 57, on a Saturday, the last day of a mission trip to the Peruvian Amazon, I swam across the Amazon River--just to say I had done it.  Now the Amazon begins in Peru, so it was not so wide as it is in Brazil.  Still, I am able to say that I swam from one shore to the other.  However, I picked up about 300 hitchhikers along the way.  Parasites that work their way into your legs, travel to your liver and hatch their eggs which then travel to your gut and your brain--known as Schistosomiasis.  My legs were on fire all the way home that Sunday.  Monday, I was in a doctor's office--a doctor who had just returned from a month-long medical mission to the Indians of the Amazon.  He knew immediately what I had and what to do, ordered the medicine from Tulsa which arrived the next day, and by Wednesday, I was free of the parasites.  While administering the medicine which saved my life, he told me of one night while he was in the jungle and the guides had cooked French fries for their dinner.  While he was eating, he noticed three, emaciated, dirty, and starving Indian children watching him eat from the edge of the campfire light.  He gave the oldest girl the rest of his French fries, who shyly took them.  The first thing this starving girl did was to turn and give the French fries to her little brother and sister.  Only when they had eaten, did the oldest girl eat the remaining three fries.  The doctor told me that that little girl had taught him the true meaning of giving.  He charged me nothing for his fee or the medicine, but gave me so much more than his skill and treatment.  I have never regarded giving in the same way since.  If you can give, as that starving little girl gave, then, and only then, do you have the true spirit of Christmas giving.

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