It's the Story of my Life
His name was Adam, and he changed my life. I met him the summer before my junior year in high school. I was 15 years old in June 1978, and I was pretty satisfied with my life. I had a comfortable home and parents who loved me. My biggest problems were which jeans to wear to school and what movie to see on the weekend.
Before you jump to a bunch of crazy conclusions, let me enlighten you. I was selected to go on a Mission Education Tour through my church, Madison Avenue United Methodist Church in Derby, KS. Each church nominates a teen girl every year to tour several missions of the UMC. Thirty silly teenage girls from Kansas hopped on a bus and rode around the country, eating potluck meals, sleeping in church gymnasiums and fighting for mirror space the whole way through.
The tour included a Goodwill warehouse in Oklahoma City, which employed a number of intellectually challenged adults, an inner-city soup kitchen in Memphis and Red Bird Mission, high in the Smoky Mountains of Beverly, KY. Red Bird provides education, nutrition, health care, job training and spiritual support for hundreds of poverty-stricken folks who inhabit those green hills. And that's where I met Adam.
All of the girls were asked to form small teams to help all over the Red Bird campus for the two days we visited. My friend, Sheila liked kids, so she suggested we go to the daycare center. As we entered the room, 20 preschoolers were finishing an art project. Their teacher suggested we read to the children and handed me a book. I moved to a large, open area on the floor, sat down and began to read.
Something happened then, that's hard to explain. As I read, these young ones came closer to me, as if my words were physically drawing them in. My voice rose and fell with the rhythm of the story and I used my face and hands to express the words. That's when Adam, wearing an orange, flowered cardigan and shoes two sizes too big, snuggled into my lap. The back of his neck was dirty and it looked as if his fingernails needed a good scrubbing.
I ended up reading three stories in a row and then stayed on to help with snack time. Adam never left my side the rest of the day. I never realized how great it could feel, being needed. These kids, with so little, were giving me a gift that would last my whole life. I could make a difference, just by showing up. My life, up to that point had been so sheltered, so easy, and I didn't even know it.
When the tour bus pulled out the next afternoon, I kept my head pointed out the window. I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. My ears rang with the goodbyes of the preschoolers, especially Adam. His light blue eyes pierced my heart as he clung to my leg when we left. The church tour was meant to be educational, and I got one.
No, I didn't become a teacher, or a missionary, or a nurse. I became a storyteller. And so I am a teacher, a missionary and a nurse, of sorts. When I share my words, I want to create scenes, characters and situations that readers can relate to, or dream about. I want to touch hearts, like God touched mine in Kentucky.
Momala's Book Club: I finally finished "So Long, Insecurity" by Beth Moore. It took a long time, because it was an intense, emotional book. I waded through a lot of ancient personal history and cleared out a cellar-full of bad emotions. I highly recommend this to all women, especially mothers of girls. You won't regret it. (I've already loaned out two copies of the book.) Five out of five stars.
Female in Motion Exercise Update: I did four workouts last week. The aerobics are still proving to be a good time.
“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”--Forest E. Witcraft, American scholar, teacher and scout leader (1894-1967)