Monday, December 22, 2014
“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.” — Charles Dudley Warner
I have been a watch freak all of my life and collected them for a goodly part of it. Here in Africa, I even belonged to an internet forum devoted exclusively to watch collectors. Due to a reversal of fortunes, which happens here a lot, I had given away many of my watches and were forced to sell the others on Ebay through my daughter-in-law in order to keep feeding our orphans and to buy a computer for my son. I was left with only one watch and explained on my watch forum that I wouldn’t be posting any more because I only had one watch, and I was sure they would get tired of seeing it over and over. A few weeks later I got a “personal message” from the watch forum (which means no one else can see it but me) from a man in Canada who was sending me three watches as gifts from his own collection. I need self-winding or solar here because we have no jewelry stores and no way to replace watch batteries, so those were the kind he sent. I posted pictures of those watches and even wrote a blog about how kind this stranger was. Then a man in England sent me two watches as gifts—ones he hoped I would like from his collection. I thanked him, too. Then a man in New York sent me a personal message telling me that he was sending me fifteen watches from his collection, so I could continue to give them to pastors and evangelists who needed them. He also told me that some were for me to keep. The picture at the right is of the watches that came in that shipment, bringing my collection from one to twenty-one. Of the ones in the picture, I gave away eleven, bringing my number down to ten. I, of course, began posting pictures of the ones I had received as gifts and kept and thanked the anonymous givers. All this took place from August to October. Then in late October, a man in Southern California, sent me fourteen watches, mostly fairly inexpensive, so that I could give them away to people who needed them. He said there would be a couple just for me as he had seen the kinds I like when I posted pictures. These watches arrived in late November, and some are now on the wrists of Bishop Monto, Bishop Festo, Bishop Ndege, and every member of our staff now has a watch. When the doctor who treats me most often had his daughter graduate from high school, I was able to give her a very nice brand new watch in the box it came in. The guy from Southern California also included a bunch of different watch bands so I could mix and match and make old watches feel like new ones. At the first of August, I had one watch. Then people I had never met, sent me (at their expense which is considerable) 35 watches from three countries and both sides of the U.S. But it doesn’t stop there. Two of the watches I liked and kept were quartz (the rest self-winding, hand winding, or solar) and with no batteries for exotic watches here, I was just going to wear them till they stopped and put them aside, but a guy in Maryland wrote me immediately and said he would find the specific batteries for those specific watches and send them to me at his cost. They are now in the mail and on their way. Thanks to gifts from strangers, I am back into watch collecting with about fourteen that I rotate through and have given 21 watches away to clergy, staff, doctors, and others who had need of them. There are very few people here who can afford a watch, so just having one has given them status in this society. Yesterday, I wrote about the Fourth Wise Man and began thinking about the gifts he gave and then was gob-smacked as they say in England when I realized how strangers who I have never met and will never meet, wanted me back in the watch collectors fold. There are several watch forums but the one I am on is called “Affordable Watches” so we have lots of Timex, Casio, and Chinese watches on it. We post pictures of where we live, our pets, and our work places as well, so it gives me points of contact with folks from Portugal to Shanghai that know about my surgeries and I know about their daughter’s graduations and jobs (three are helicopter pilots). I am truly blessed that these souls on the affordable forum (not the rich folks of the world) would care enough to do this for me—and not just for me because they told me to give many of the watches away. This is my only hobby, but it is something I can do every day, and I keep in touch with other collectors all over the world. Christmas doesn’t just come once a year, not by my understanding. There are a whole lot of good people in this world, and I’ve been lucky enough to make contact with quite a few. I pray God’s blessings on all those who give freely of what they have to help others—in whatever form.