Tuesday, September 26, 2017
“Simple, genuine goodness is the best thing to found your life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and it is the only treasure we can take out of this world with us.” ― Louisa May Alcott
A nearby neighbor died and the whole area is especially quiet today, the day of the funeral. We are far enough into the bush that we hear no traffic sounds, no airplanes, no sirens, no people yelling, and no sounds that are normal to so many places in the world. The first thing we hear every morning are birds because we have many, many birds that live around us and with us. Then we hear laughing children, loud laughing children. Children who have no parents, no money, old clothes, and are picked on and bullied by non-orphans. Here, though, they laugh, except today when we have to tell them to be quiet—and they understand because they know about death. Still, they love to be here because here they are loved, hugged, fed porridge in the morning and rice and beans at noon. Here they love all the adults and all the other children. School starts at nine but they start piling up outside the gate at seven and we let them in at eight—laughing all the way except today. They are not unique, almost all the young children here laugh and laugh a lot.
The Swahili word for kindergarten is “chekechea” which means “laughing children.” They not only love to laugh but they love learning, too. Sometimes I hear that kids that like to learn are like sponges, but, if so, these are aggressive sponges that will come grab the knowledge from you and then treasure it. They are taught by being inspired to learn for themselves, and boy, do they ever. If we have done nothing else, the twelve years of preschool and the English classes alone would have made all we have suffered and struggled to overcome more than worth every second. Here, we know and live what Christ knew and told us: “Let the little children come unto me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” They are so very full of love and hope and excitement about the future. They are quiet today, but not because they are sad—because they are respectful.
How we wish we could somehow capture what these children give us and send it to all our friends in the United States whose hearts are full of hate, distrust, and who even lack common courtesy and decency in many cases. You can support whoever you want and whatever stance you want to take, that’s what so many Americans died to insure—even if you don’t like it. How you behave though, that’s a choice you make, and you have to decide if that’s what you would want a four-year-old to learn from you because they watch and learn and model us. I learned the hard way that my very young sons so wanted to be like me that they would repeat what I said and how I treated others to the extent that I was embarrassed and ashamed of how I was speaking and acting. The little children here come to us laughing, and because we love them, teach them, feed them, and respect them—they leave laughing as well. Do what you do when you express your beliefs so that four-year-olds will learn love, decency, integrity, and courage from you. According to the Christ I love and follow, those children represent the Kingdom of Heaven. Kind of a sobering thought, huh?