Saturday, August 29, 2009

Liberian "small-small"

One of the things that moved me most during my visits to Addy's Hope was seeing the way the children shared with each other.    Despite living in the most desperate of circumstances with very little to eat and almost nothing to play with, every one of them is willing to give up some of what they're given to any one else who needs or wants it.

I was able to shop at a small, US-style grocery store in Monrovia on my second day there.   I didn't realize then it was going to be my only shot at buying what we needed for the week, so I didn't put much thought in to any sort of meal planning.    I bought a few staples--bread, rice, peanut butter, saltines, pasta, canned tomatoes---and splurged on a package of chicken breasts, a small bag of frozen peas & carrots and some pricey kiwis and apples.     At the last second, I noticed a small freezer case holding some M&Ms and a few chocolate bars.   I tossed a couple of KitKats into my cart, thinking Brant might need a sweet treat during the week.

Our days started following a pattern and at the end of each visit to Addy's Hope, Brant and I would walk out to the car with Amos and Kalee as the other kids clamored around to say goodbye.  They'd hold on to our arms and hands through the car windows until Mark would yell something that would send them scurrying off.    

Amos's friends called to him,  "A-mah!  Bring chocolate!"
Kalee's buddies yelled without fail,   "Ka-deee, bring me a car or a Jeep!"   
The girls would grin and shout,  "Baby doll for meeeeee!"
Charles always asked for a wristwatch.

Early in the week, this didn't worry me---I was careful not to make any promises, but I thought for sure I'd get out again to do some shopping and maybe find some things on their wish lists.   After a few days, I'd seen enough to know that toys were not to be had and the only chocolate anywhere around was back in that freezer case on United Nations Rd in Monrovia.

Brant and I talked about what to do.  My sweet boy offered up all four of his KitKat bars....but I fretted still.    Chocolate is a hard-to-find luxury in Liberia because of the expense.  The kids at Addy's Hope rarely, if ever, get it because the heat and humidity make it hard for parents and visitors to travel with.    There was no way we could give a few kids chocolate without giving all 50 kids some.

I prayed for a loaves and fishes moment.....and on one of our last visits at the home, Brant and I took the candy bars over to share them the best way we could.   I tried to have confidence---I had seen Pedelia, the school teacher, divide up impossibly small things during the week.  She'd broken off bits of her own boiled peanuts and even split Smarties candies into halves (!) so each child could have "small-small" from a parent care package.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about.   My long-distance friend, Carolee and I had chipped in a little money to buy bananas for the kids and Pedelia arrived with those just as I was unwrapping the chocolate.  The children were thrilled with one ripe banana each and danced around excitedly as they ate.    Then Pedelia used a sharp knife to cut the KitKats into tiny, bite-sized pieces and passed them out. 

I've never seen any one, of any age savor a bite of food with complete self control the way those kids at Addy's Hope did that chocolate.   They nibbled on the corners.....licked carefully around the edges.   Some held their little bite in their mouths without chewing while it melted.   They sucked on their fingers afterwards in case a bit lingered.  

There was no bickering, no squabbling.   No complaining about portions.  Nobody took the babies' shares.   There was no expectation for a second piece........or that there'd ever be any more.   

There was nothing but complete contentment and gratitude for what they had been given.     

God's lesson wasn't lost on me and Brant.  We heard him, loud and clear.


love2bmom said...

tell me more.......I need to hear more about these amazing and precious children........when are you going to start writing that book????

Johnson said...

Love this story! AWE!