Most vs. Least

I’ve had this blog written for a few weeks. I wrote it around 5am one morning in Kenya when I had given up fighting my body clock. We had so many other things to post while we were there that I kept this one on the back burner. Once home, I started doubting my feelings about this blog. I felt that no one would understand, that I’m just being my weird self again. Then I got a new dentist…

Today I had to have a tooth fixed, and my old dentist has moved, so I needed to brave the waters and allow a stranger to use a weapon of mass destruction in my mouth. After she had numbed me, we started to talk. Because, of course, that’s when ALL dentists enjoy having deep conversations with their patients. We talked about my recent trip to Kenya and her experiences with Operation Smile. I told her about my feelings below and she got me! Maybe it was because she actually couldn’t understand me, but it reminded me of this un-published blog and I decided to dust it off and put it out there…

I still don’t get it. This is my third trip to Soweto and I still have problems putting into words how any of us who come over are serving those who are here. Pastor Sam will tell you we are an encouragement. How we show the kids that there are people who love them across the world. I can believe that is true, but still, that is truly a by-product of something that, at it’s core, is really pretty selfish. How can you not hug a child who wants to hug you? How can you not smile at a child that smiles at you? How can you not sit on the ground and allow 20 kids to squeeze up against you when all they want is to just be near you? How are we serving them when we are just allowing a child to love us? They offer unconditional love to us and make us feel like we are the most special things in their world and our acceptance is serving them? More the case that we are serving ourselves. They are reflecting God’s love and we are receiving it. We are the ones being served, we are the ones being taught, we are really the ones in need.

I am reminded of the passage where Jesus said “when you do unto the least of mine, you do unto me”.  I get very uncomfortable when people say things to me about how great it is that we are doing what we are doing. With a non-profit, the thought is that you are a “missionary” and you are going out to the “least” and “bettering” their lives. As for our family here in Soweto, they are not the least, we are the least. It is shown in every word they speak, every action they take. Kylie and Taylor are staying 5 days beyond the rest of the team. Sam and I had decided that they should stay with his family those extra days. Saturday I was walking with Pam, with Kylie and Taylor near. I mentioned something to Pam about the ladies staying with her. She got this confused look on her face and I asked “didn’t Sam tell you?”. I could tell he hadn’t. Without missing a beat she put her arms around these two people she just met and said “You are very welcome”. I was reminded again of who among our group was the least. How would I have responded if I found out I had two strangers coming to live in my house for 5 days that my husband had not discussed with me? Would I have called him over and took him to task for not telling me? Would I have thought about how this is going to disrupt my life and I needed to make scheduling changes? Later Pam took me aside and asked me what she needed to do for Kylie and Taylor while they would be with her. She wanted to know how to serve them best. This “least” person with a very full house and a very empty bank account wanted to know how to serve these “most” people. Our ability to withdraw cash from an ATM and grudgingly give it to others, as long as our budget allows, does not make us the “most”. Pam’s response reminds me that I am a “least” being disguised by this world as a “most”.

The first time I came to Soweto I brought leftover Halloween candy with me. There were about 40 kids at the school at that time and Kim and I gave very tiny boxes of Nerds to each child. This was before We Are Kenya. This was when most of the children had no idea when they would next eat. This was when most could go days between meals. Candy was something definitely not common. A young girl poured her box of Nerds into her tiny hands and came over to Kim and I. She held out her hands and asked if we wanted to share. I have never been so moved in my life at that moment, nor since then. How many times do I make sure I get my fair share of something? I have a sister. I would love to know how many times growing up that I complained that she got “more” of something than I did. Sharing in the states is seen as a sacrifice. To that little girl it was seen as a blessing – she felt blessed that she had something to share.

Pam and this little girl are just two examples, reflections, of the people here that we “serve”. The unconditional love from the kids and the sharing spirit of the adults is why I come to Soweto. It is selfish, and I need it.

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