I have always considered myself a person with a big heart, the gift of mercy. I can remember one of my dreams in college (along with a good friend) was to run an orphanage. We dreamt of a huge, white columned house filled with children who needed love. With the recent turmoil in Syria, my heart has broken for the refugees fleeing the only home they have known. I gave what I could to Preemptive Love but wanted to give more. So I did what I know to do, take photographs. I had the idea for the children to write notes to the children of Syria- I did not direct, just wanted it to come straight from their heart. Of course, it was beautiful and real. Just as children always are. Then one night lying in bed after a really hard day as Mom, I decided to ask my daughter, Bella, to write a note. And in her big hearted way she said: We will take good care of you.
The next day, the kids and I, along with a few friends took some gifts to a refugee family who recently fled here from the Congo. As most of you know, I asked you for help. And you showed up in big ways. The need was bigger than I originally thought and knew I couldn't do it on my own. And I didn't have to. Friends, near and far, came to give. I was truly astounded by the generosity.
Ok, so you know I tend to be quite honest, sometimes to my vulnerable detriment. So here comes my honesty, once again. I got a lot of praise for my actions. People were like, "you are amazing." "Your heart is so beautiful." etc, etc. And I liked it. It made me feel good, like I was a better person than I really was. So the van was packed to the max with groceries, gifts, clothes, etc. And I FELT LIKE A HERO. So, in my imaginary superwoman cape, I walked in with my 3 children and guess what? My cape didn't work. There was no one to save. I was no hero. Yes, we brought food and necessary things for them to live but they were happy and alive. They didn't need Misty Trone to come rescue them from their tiny apartment packed with people.
The next day all I could think of was Bella holding that sign: We will take good care of you. And all I could think of was: You will take good care of us. I didn't want to leave that apartment because even though we brought material goods (in a way sort of Americanizing way too much goods), they gave me so much more. Their smiles and love in the midst of all they had lost was balm to my American soul. I wanted to curl up in a ball in the corner of their couch and just stay. Let those kids bring me their smiles hiding behind foreign words and let it soak up my egotistic, American way of being.
I walked away feeling like a bit of a failure. But not in a completely bad way. Just in a way that humbled me and gave me eyes to see my motives behind my actions. And also to ask these people who have lost their homes along with their homeland what they really need. Because when we were leaving, one followed us to our car. She was trying to speak but we did not understand. Finally my friend who spoke Swahili said that she was trying to ask the girls names and wanted them to know hers. And then she pointed back and forth saying "friends." Maybe that is all we really need in the end, is friendship among us all. Needing each other instead of them just needing us. I hope to make it back to that apartment soon with an open heart and open hands ready to receive instead of just give. And bring my gift of friendship instead of a car full of things.