Sunday, July 1, 2012

Meet Maria Belen and little bits of BIG Happiness

I’m surprised how long it’s been since I posted something. I guess I just write these in my head or jot down notes and forget that it never quite made it all the way to the blog. I came back on here yesterday to find a link for the paypal button for a few friends who really wanted to help. God bless ‘em. I think God must be a big fan of children, especially ones in need of a little extra love. Turns out there are a lot of amazing people out there who’ve got the extra love to give. I’m so happy I got the chance to be here and to see so much good in the world. Thank you to each of you who have offered, prayers, financial assistance, encouragement, kindness, and many combinations of these and more.

I must let you know that people here, here in Ecuador, are generally the friendliest and kindest people I’ve ever met. And I’ve lived a lot of places. They are more than just kind, they are very giving. I’m always surprised by how many people hand over change to anyone who asks it, whether it be a street performer juggling between stoplights, a person jumping on a bus with some spiel or song, or even just a beggar woman who’s in the same spot everyday probably making a killing off of people’s goodness and generosity, they give. I’m always surprised just how many of them do give.

I have to relate a story to you that happened to me just last night before I forget to write it down and I will also try to get additional past stories up for you to read as well. (Even if I’m not the best at writing/keeping a blog just know that goodness is here and the children I work with...if you can call work-I love every minute of it-continue to melt mine, and many others hearts. And although I only got to be here a short time...just shy of 3 months...I’ve loved as much as I could. I’ve done as much as I could. And even if the only life here changed is mine, it has been changed forever and for the better. I do hope that the love I’ve given, or should I say that God himself allowed to just pour, no flood, right out of me, makes a difference to these little ones. (In fact, I loved one little girl so much she got a bit jealous the last time I came to the orphanage and had to take time away from my talking practice to help another little boy who fell. She cried for a long time and just looked deserted. I can’t say that I didn’t feel a little bit of sweetness in that moment. I do hope that someone continues to work with her after I leave.

Speaking of which, thanks to many of you and another baggage miracle (if you don’t remember the first one, or if I didn't post it here...I don't remember...I was over weight by like 4 pounds, I almost had to leave some stuff behind and the lady at the counter let me take out some of my own books (my scriptures: Bible and Book of Mormon), she weighed the bag and was like, "hey look it's good", printed the tag and then let me put my books back in. this made sure all the donations and my scriptures, really everything I'd packed made it to Ecuador. :) ) a plethora of books will be arriving tomorrow! In fact, 5 boxes of books and developmental toys arrived at a friend’s house and he will be transporting ALL of them to Cuenca, Ecuador in his suitcases. I really believe that this sweet girl (approx 1yr 3-4mos old)-who is so full of happiness, I just refer to her, and her baby sister (6mos-ish old) who looks just like her-as liquid sunshine, will take to the books so rapidly that who ever comes after me won’t be able to stop her from talking once she starts getting read to. In fact, I’m going to have her saying at least 5 new words before I leave this next weekend. I WISH I could show you pictures of these heart thieves. And so you that bright smiles of the faces of the children you’ve helped, but gladly the government does protect them and I’m not allowed to post pictures of them on the internet. (If I’m every in person though and you’d like to see them you can bet that I’ll be so excited to show the photographs of these angels...and terds. Funny how kids can be both and so often at the same time. Aaaaaah, little buggers! I’m tearing up just thinking about their smiles and mischief.)

I will describe this one little girl to you at this time know, instead of getting to that story from last night that I initially intended to write first. I doubt you’ll mind the side track though. :)

She is light as a feather and so small you wouldn’t expect her to be able to be so incredible and agile and balanced as she is. She’s an expert walker even though she looks too young to walk. A pixie really. She is black...well African American, but I can’t really call her African American...I mean I guess she could be. More likely Caribbean? Islander? African-South-American? Whichever is correct, or whatever you prefer. I guess she’s just Ecuadorian to me, or really she’s just a cute piece of heaven to me, with slightly darker skin and tight black curls, yes, a little fro. It’s short, or looks short and tight against her head. Lots of hair, a little pixie sized afro. And the BIGGEST smile you’ve ever seen with lots of excitement lines around her eyes and mouth when she does smile. Her eyes are beautiful, too. Super dark. Almost like a mirror (I’m so glad there’s another one just like her-her baby sister/clone.) In fact, the other day when I walked into the orphanage I mused to another volunteer, “does her hair suddenly looks like a whole lot bigger?” We both giggled as we realized her hair was definitely...bigger. Later that morning the speech therapist (I think that’s her title) came into the room we were playing in and patted her head and started laughing. My Spanish is  horrible, but I did understand the story. She, the therapist, had tried to brush out--I’m pretty sure with an actual brush--out her hair. She said the little girl wouldn’t have any of it and hated having her hair brushed, but brushed it was and the more it was brushed, the bigger it got. Hence, the aforementioned, new...bigness. She was so extra cute that day with her poofy hair. Now big hair or not this girl is the happiest little thing I’ve ever had to pleasure to meet. I can’t believe anyone is just born that happy. Let alone able to be SO happy SO many times over SO little. At the mention of her name this little girl is rendered immobile. She gets so excited by someone saying her name that she smiles so big you think the skin on her little face may stretch so far it’ll never go back, and doubles over, more like curls into a ball and can’t move. If you happen to be holding her when you say her name she’ll wrap around your hand (or arm, but really she’s so slight  that you can hold her with just one hand) like a little potato bug (aka rollie pollie bug). She laughs so hard she only squeaks at the very beginning then can’t make a sound for the duration of her giggle just jiggles like a silent Santa Claus. I love this little girl so much. I’m so glad God made a clone. her baby sister-also at the orphanage-will light up just the same when given any kind of attention. It’s as if the entire human race could be rebuilt from ruins just with the glow and happiness contained in the tiny little package of this one little girl.

She’s like the all-spark for the human race (for those of you who know transformers ;).)

Back to my story from last night. I was chatting on Facebook, of course about my time here and how I don’t have much left, specifically about wanting to get some propane tanks (for hot water and fuel for cooking) for one orphanage (the one with 51 kids...that’s a big hot water and cook need)...that they have asked help in getting when someone, Amy Awesome Big-Hearted Sharpe, mentioned posting on my old San Diego ward’s Facebook page (a ward being what we call a specific geographic congregation in my church). Now Amy has already done a lot with helping with books and so much else, wanted to be able to contribute as well. So I posted on the Pacific Beach ward’s Facebook page and on my status as well that the opportunity to serve had once again come. I was overwhelmed by the response. In fact, some people who probably don’t even want others to know they’re big ol’ softies, donated as well. An old friend from High School that I haven’t seen since caught the conversation and donated. Even a sweet cousin (Cherie-yes you) who I remember only meeting a few times when I was young (thanks Facebook for keeping family reachable). People just want to help. Not only do they want to help, people, given the opportunity WILL help. Even some that may not have much to give, give, and wish they could give more. I found myself wishing I could help. My heart was bursting with how many wonderful people there are in this world. There are so many people who showed me what I want to be. People I wish I was more like. I was absolutely glowing by the time I headed home from the internet shop last night, bursting with gratitude and the excitement of being able to go to orphanages and tell them, “YES! We can help. We can get you the propane tanks. YES! We can make needed repairs, and YES there is good and beauty and God in this world.” As Mother Teresa says, “God does still love this world. He loves it through me and through you”. (Or a very close approximation of those words. She repeats that several times in a book entitled, “Where There is Love There is God”.)

I can’t believe with as many good people I know I ever forget that. That God does love this world, and also according to a friend, “’s contagious”. It totally is. And thank you for infecting me.

Anyway, so here I find myself walking home, starving, and fully infected wishing I could pass this on RIGHT NOW. Wishing I could give and share the love that I’d just been filled with. I detour a Pizza Hut I’d seen near my house to pick up some dinner and to honor my American peeps who’d just donated...and because it’s my last week here and it’s Saturday night. Turns out it’s 2 for 1 night at Pizza Hut. What I’m going to do with one medium pizza, let alone two is craziness. The lady seems stunned I don’t my second pizza, but really, WHAT am I going to do with a second pizza. Again, I do not speak Spanish, but we all got each other when I turned to the lady next to me and asked, “tu quiero?” She smiled, I smiled, the cashier smiled, her teenage son (or kid with her, don’t know if it was her son) smiled. We all smiled. And she got a free pizza that night. I know it’s silly and small, and didn’t cost me anything, especially compared to what many of you gave, but I’m sure it made her night. Or at least made her smile for that time. It was a kindness of another human being. And she appreciated it. And good humor filled that little Pizza Hut waiting room.

I thank God for that little opportunity it forward...I guess one could say. Because I was about to explode with happiness, gratitude, and desire to give more. I’m glad that silly little opportunity came my way.

It really is the little things. The one dollar, the ten dollars, the free cup of coffee (or hot chocolate in my case ;) --Mormons don’t drink coffee ;)...) on a any given day, especially one when you’re in a funk and don’t deserve someone to be nice to you, that makes all the difference. And even if one can’t give something tangible, the kind word, the whispered prayer. It all, though small, makes the biggest difference in the world.

I’m glad to know such good people, including these children that I’ve grown to love so completely.  It’s makes me want to curl up like a little potato bug around God’s strong hands, I’m so excited and happy. :)

Maybe this is why I don’t post so often...a small post turns into several pages of me gushing. :)
Also, for those who were looking for it here's the link again so you don't have to scouring through old posts to find it:

1 comment:

Lois Draper said...

In telling that story about the little girls hair, just let me say, I can relate!! Hearing these stories and experiencing my own little miracles sure gives us hope in the human race when the bad is the headline news.