I have just returned home from a 10 day trip to Burkina Faso, Africa. I saw hunger, disease, hope, joy, generosity. I felt hot, dusty, thirsty, loved, appreciated, encouraged, hospitality, inspired. I was filled with heart-breaking experiences that consumed my heart with compassion. I wish I could put it into one simple post and tell you what what all this means. But I cannot.
It’s interesting how we can live in one world where second graders are coming to school with their own phones, can shop in their own designer stores such as GapKids or Abercrombie, are able to navigate a computer faster and more efficiently than their parents, and now have the added option of choosing a McFish sandwich in their happy meal when on the other side of our world a child doesn’t know what to do when handed candy.
When we stopped at a village, before leaving, we would give the children a sucker. They would line up and we would start passing them out. I found it curious, that first day, that they weren’t particular about what color they were given. At FaithWorks! when handing them out, which we do occasionally, everyone knows what color they want and digs to find it. Many times I find myself saying, to avoid mass chaos, “You get what you get and if you don’t like it, trade with someone!”
But I then noticed that these children were just holding them.
I grew up on Dum Dum suckers. (They were invented in 1924 – way way way before I was born!). Every week after getting my allergy shots as a child, the doctor would let me pick one out of the can by the front desk. I had my favorite flavors: butterscotch, cherry, oh and the mystery ones! The ones with the question marks all over the wrapper! Today they have new flavors: blueberry and pink lemonade!
I can remember going back to the front of the line to show one how to take the wrapper off. And then pointing out how to put it in their mouth. These kids were quick learners and soon the wrappers were all over the ground and all suckers were in their mouths! With smiles around the sticks.
Every time we handed them out, I had to remind myself: go back and show them what to do with these! Some figured it out on their own. One, I noticed, had the stick end in their mouth holding on to the ball end of the sucker. He was trying to figure it out!
We started giving them to the adults as well. And they loved them too! What a treat they were. Their giggles and smiles brought laughter and grins to our hearts as we enjoyed a few moments of respite with them.
I still marvel, every new day, at how different our worlds are.