I woke up with a headache. It being a Sunday morning, I decided that was a good enough reason to stay in bed a little longer. I had been invited to go and help with a children’s ministry down the road. I didn’t know what it would be like. I didn’t know what I would do. I don’t know their language. I didn’t really want to try to help, being the shy person that I am. I was scared. I was selfish. But the headache was a good excuse not to go, right? Wrong. I didn’t go, and have felt completely terrible about it ever since. I came here to serve, and what did I do? Stayed in bed for a few more hours. Lame Talea, really lame.
After about a month, I finally asked to go and help. I worked up the courage and talked to the lady in charge Sabbath night, volunteering my help Sunday morning.
Sunday morning came, and I went.
These kids don’t have money, they don’t have food. They belong to a village that used to be full of thieves. The church here worked with them, teaching them about God, and now they don’t steal anymore. God is so good!! Since they don’t steal, they don’t have money to buy food or other things they need. They try to find jobs, but it’s hard to get a good job here without an education.
On Sunday mornings, there is a group of missionaries here that goes down to this village and teaches the children there about God. We sing songs, they listen to a Bible story, they learn a simple memory verse, they color a picture, they learn a little bit about the body, and they play a game. I was in charge of the game, and hadn’t come up with anything cool. At all. So “Duck Duck Goose” it was. I have NEVER EVER seen kids have so much fun with that game. They loved it so much!! Their joy at such simplicity was contagious and I felt myself relax and enjoy it just as much as they were.
Then we gave the children food. That was an adventure. They are all hungry, and they all try to get their hands on as much food as they possibly can. I was passing out pieces of bread and one little boy held out his hand for another piece.
“Did I already give you a piece?” I asked suspiciously, pretty positive that I had.
With a full mouth he emphatically shook his head no.
“Open your mouth,” I told him, pointing to my mouth and demonstrating so that he would know what to do.
He opened his mouth. There was bread. I wanted to give him another piece so badly. These kids really need the food. But there was only enough for one piece of bread per person. So I said no and went on to the next child, all the while wondering which boys I had already given bread to that were crowding around me and demanding bread.
They demand things. They don’t say “chonde” (please), and nobody said “zikomo” (thank you) after I gave them bread. But they don’t know any better. And my heart breaks for them. Why are some blessed with so much, yet others have next to nothing? It isn’t fair. Not fair at all. I don’t like it. I wish there were more I could do. For now, getting myself out of bed and walking down to play games, hand out food, teach the kids about Jesus, and loving the kids is going to have to suffice. And it will, because God will take care of everything, way better than I could ever imagine.
*This was originally posted on Talea Shupe’s blog on Nov. 9, 2014. Talea is a student missionary from Walla Walla University (through Office of Volunteer Ministries and Adventist Volunteer Service), serving as an elementary school teacher in Malawi. This has been re-posted with her permission.