Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts. ~ PY
During all of our mission trips to Ethiopia, with all of the hundreds of people that we have taken and given the experience of serving, they all say the same thing. They talk about how in the midst of such poverty, there is such joy!
And where there is joy, there are smiles!
SMILES, SMILES, EVERYWHERE!
It doesn't matter where you go, those smiles are contagious!
The smiles from the kids are equally matched by the smiles from our team.
There is something magical that happens in Africa! You see it doesn't matter what you have been through or what is going on in the craziness of your life in America. When you go to Africa and a little child walks up to you, barefoot, with holes in what clothes they have, and through this little dirty face, these big brown eyes look right past your eyes and into your soul and suddenly they give you the biggest smile you have ever seen....well, it changes you.
You suddenly see joy coming from this child that has nothing and it changes you.
You, yourself, find joy in giving new shoes to a little child that needs them.
It changes you.
But greater joy when you see that smile light up her face because of it. You find that it is the small things that our own children would take for granted that bring such joy to these children.
11 year old, Este, on our team was a rock star! She loved on the kids and brought some extra sweet smiles from them.
Speaking of small things that bring joy....this man said all he would love to have was a pen.
So my daughter, Morgan, reached in her bag and pulled out a pen and gave it to this man that owned the land in the community we were in on the mountain.
He held it up with such pride and was SO HAPPY!
He kept talking about his pen and how thankful he was......
So we gave him another :-)
And speaking of joy....
We stopped on our way down the mountain and helped this sweet, young PREGNANT, woman with her load she was carrying down the mountain to sell for under $2 US dollars.
Our teammates, Brett and Asfaw could barely lift it off of her it was so heavy.
Brett, a little scratched up from the branches, was speechless when he got back in the van after experiencing a small portion of what this woman goes through every day.
But again...the smiles for just a small act of kindness! They are priceless!
19 yr old, Ashley from California and attending school in Utah, signed up for this trip completely on her own and joined a big group of people she didn't know. She ended up getting her world rocked by these sweet kids and made life-long friendships and found a new hope in God.
As we were up on the mountain, laughing and playing with the kids, I encountered something I had never seen before.
He was a little boy named Busi that had a MISSING SMILE!!
I walked up to him and tickled his belly, expecting a smile like I get from all the other kids, and....
So Morgan and Courtney, the expert smile catchers, kicked into action and started doing their thing (tickle belly, make funny noises, etc) to get a smile, and....
Little Busi, WOULD NOT SMILE! It was heartbreaking!
Everyone took turns trying to get him to smile and finally his dad came up to us and said,
"He does not smile. He never smiles, EVER. He doesn't talk or smile."
It was just heartbreaking to think of what this child must have gone through in his little life to be missing his joy.
How could a little child, just simply never smile?
It was just defying everything on earth that a child should experience.
It was so heartbreaking that our team worked with him for over 30 minutes....
searching for his smile...
AND GUESS WHAT?
LIKE A GIFT OF PURE GOLD...
WE FOUND IT!!!
Sometimes people ask "What is it you do on your trips?"
Well on this day, we walked into a little boy's life who needed a hug, and needed to find his joy.
We became the hands and feet of Jesus and showed him he was loved!
We helped him find his smile...
And the next time we saw him a couple days later...
HE DIDN'T FORGET HIS SMILE! :-)
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of kindness, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
Who's life can you turn around today?