If you're wondering where I have been for the last few days, it's a well-known place called Illness. All last week I had a cold, but nothing too severe. Then on Monday night, I developed the cold's nasty relative, the flu (I don't really care if they aren't really related. I only got a degree in Microbiology, it doesn't mean I remember anything). Meanwhile, the cold hasn't exactly gone away. I've been doing everything possible to improve but it's been an ugly couple of days. Since Tuesday I have only eaten half a bowl of noodles, one bowl of congee, and a few cookies. Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes. I'll be back to my sarcastic self in no time.
I miss Chile and not only because the weather there was steaming hot... I miss the friends we met and the happy kids we saw. One kid I met didn't want to open his box... he opened it to show me, we both looked inside, he pulled out one item, put it back, and quickly shut the box again. Maybe he wanted to savour the moment... not overwhelming himself with all of the toys at once, but just looking at one thing at a time. Or maybe he thought I'd take it all away if I looked too much :) I gave him a lollipop (should we debate whether it makes sense to give kids so much candy?) and he gave me the biggest smile. I met another kid who received a hat that said "Canada" in his box and he promptly took off his own hat and put the new one on. I met one family who asked me what the note in their daughter's box meant. Given that my Spanish is pretty limited, it was a bit of a challenge ... but I think I managed to eke out that it was a box from an 8 year old girl in Canada who said Merry Christmas to her new friend... and they were thrilled.
I think as adults we can often become jaded and cynical... we sometimes receive gifts with more attitude than gratitude (shockingly... I didn't even intend that to rhyme).. we forget to be thankful for God's blessings in our lives, choosing instead to think about the challenges we face instead.. we might not even really believe that a shoebox from Canada can change a child's life in another country far away... but if there is one thing I learned from Chile, it's that God is so much bigger than we give him credit for, that he is amazing and all-knowing and has the perfect timing for everything. I almost can't wait until November when we get to pack boxes again!