“We don’t remember days, we remember moments.”
His sweet face will be etched into my memory until the day I can’t recall my own name. Even then, I think I’ll remember his. Chay Ly’s first year at the hope center in Kampong Cham is vivid as yesterday…
They decided to do the birthday party differently this time. We usually just positioned ourselves at one station or another (From make-up to coloring they range). I liked to be at the Play-Doh station…name an animal, I could mold it for you. But this year everybody was to choose a child and follow him/her to whichever station chosen. It was so we could build one-on-one relationships. Sounded like a good idea!
I picked a shy 8 year-old boy (same age as my nephew at the time) who was new to the center and set to follow him around and play. He then spent the next 2 hours trying to ditch me at every turn. He would go to the painting station, see if I was still behind him, then quickly turn and go to the sticker station. He lost me when he sprinted outside to tie-dye a t-shirt. I had all but given up. This kid didn’t like or want anything to do with me! After the games we handed out the presents. We were to give “our” kids their gifts. He was thankful, let me sit next to him as he opened it, and I figured that was the last time he’d do that.
Was I wrong.
When we pulled up the next year, he was the first to find and hug me. He had grown up so fast! When they sang songs, he stood in the front and sang the loudest. His hand gestures were the grandest. He tried to lead those who couldn’t remember them. He dragged me around the hope center to play games with him and the other kids when I was supposed to be sanding and painting. He was my dance partner at the birthday party. He sat as close to me as possible during the Bible lesson. He clung to me. He had opened up in such a big way. It was then I realized the importance of cultivating relationships. I also saw how much good our hope centers were really doing for these kids.
Last year, he ran down the steps and jumped from them into a bear hug. If the trip had been going badly, that moment would have saved it. That one hug made travelling 8818 miles paramount. It made every frustration with fundraising, travel, and illness experienced worth going through to get to that moment.
The phrase “blessed to be a blessing” is thrown around a lot when it comes to mission work. To make it more practical, I think God allows me to be the person I am here so I can to do the same Cambodia. I think I am sister, aunt, and friend here so I can be one there too. There are times when I feel lost in my existence. I know writing is a part of it, but it’s not all there is to it. What’s beautiful to me is that in that instant, I know my purpose is to love on that kid as if he were my own family.