Tuesday, July 21, 2015

“You give until it feels good and then you give because it feels good.” ― Me

At some point about twelve years ago, Karen and I were hit with the realization that almost every single thing we owned was not going to Africa with us.  We sold many things to help us when we got to Tanzania as we were just going to be taking two suitcases and less than ten thousand dollars—plus a whole lot of faith.  At first, it was very difficult to let go of things.  We had memories wrapped in almost every thing we owned and letting them go was a little like letting parts of ourselves disappear.  We were not counting on God making us instruments of His love.  The more we gave away, the more we loved giving.  We started taking every single thing and talking about who would be best to receive it, who would love it, who needed it, who already had one to match it, who would be thrilled to get it, and what would makes us smile the most as we let it go.  It was a rush, a high, an incredible feeling of love that came from giving.  Finally, almost everything was gone except the big pieces of furniture like beds, dining tables, chairs, and big appliances.  I called a friend who was a United Methodist Hispanic minister and offered everything we had left to Hispanic Ministries.  Many members of his congregation came to Arkansas with nothing but the clothes on their backs and were sleeping and eating on the floors of their houses.  Romero made just three phone calls and within an hour, four pick-up trucks came to our house to remove everything that was left.  The people were so grateful we were embarrassed.  Not too embarrassed to eat the two dozen tamales they brought us, I mean, after all . . .  Every mission I took, I carried at least a dozen watches to give to the people who needed them, in Brazil, in Peru, and in Tanzania.  I still see people every now and then who are still wearing watches I gave them twelve years ago.  I collect inexpensive watches, but at one point had to sell all I had but one to keep buying food for the orphans we feed.  As a member of an inexpensive watch forum on the internet, people I had never met began to send me watches—both for myself and to give away.  I got over fifty watches and am still receiving them (a few are pictured at the right).  I got three just yesterday from someone in Michigan and have gotten them from Canada, Great Britain, China, and Australia.  Every one of our staff now has a watch, as do the teachers in our schools.  Both Methodist Bishops are wearing watches from a man in Southern California.  There are doctors, nurses, teachers, and police officers who are wearing watches sent to me by these wonderful friends I’ve never met.  When you live where almost no one can even afford a ten dollar watch, you get to see smiles from God on the faces of those who receive a simple, inexpensive watch.  None of them are pricy by American standards, but they are priceless here.  Right now, I am wearing a Chinese watch (less than $50) from one friend in China with a new watch band from a friend in New York.  Every time I check the time, I smile because they were gifts, heartfelt, and warmly received.  No one ever told me how wonderful it would feel to give, but I am telling you it is among life’s most profound joys.  There is no substitute and anyone can do it.  Giving gives life to the giver and the receiver.  To quote a sporting goods giant, “Just do it!”
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