Happy Birthday, Precious Ones!
Last Monday, in a tiny pueblo called Xiloa (Hee-low-ah), I sat on a rock wall and watched a group of kids play frisbee and other games.
I was not alone as I sat. These amazingly friendly and funny women and the son of one of them sat with to me. His name is Jordi; his mother is the woman in the white shirt. During the course of our conversation, she told me that the next day, Tuesday, was his 2nd birthday. I was overjoyed; what mother doesn't celebrate the first years of every child's life? The sad news was that, as happy as she was that he was strong and happy and about to enter his third year of life, she had nothing to give him as a gift.
"That is simply unacceptable," I told her. I promised her that I would bring something for him the next day. When we went back to our mission compound that night, I put together a gift bag for little Jordi. One of my roommates had brought a suitcase full of toys and goodies to give away, so I picked a blue Nerf football, a dinosaur toy, a car, and another cosmetic pack for the little fellow. I threw in some lollipops, and a few treats for his mother as well.
When we arrived in Xiloa the following morning, I saw him and his mother immediately. This is the little face that greeted me when I got down on my knees and wished him a happy birthday. He didn't let go of his toy car or football for the remainder of that day. The morning after that, he pointed me out to his father - with the car still clutched tightly in his tiny hand.
In gratitude, his mother wrote me a note thanking me for my tenderness and love for them and promising me that, no matter where I went, they would love me and think of me with affection. Do I even have to say that her note made me cry?!? We never formally introduced ourselves - I found out her name from the letter, but she doesn't know mine. She referred to me only as "mi amiga" or "my friend" in her note - but we are sisters and friends for life.
Two days later in the ill-named pueblo of Paradise, I took this little boy into my arms so that his mother could attend an adult meeting while the children sat and watched us gringos sing. Most of the time he had a lollipop in his mouth, but when he was done with it, I was able to capture this image. It was a little tough to take a photo of him while I held him, but here he is.
The next afternoon, as we were packing up and saying our good-byes, his mother, the woman in the red shirt, told me that he would turn two on Sunday - three days later. Once again, I was overjoyed for her, but sorrowful that I could neither be there with them on his special day, nor did I have time to gather gifts for him. I promised them that I would look at the photos that I had taken of them on Sunday and that I would pray for them as they celebrated his birthday. I tearfully kept both of those promises.
Happy Birthday, dear little precious boys. Your special days are now on my birthday calendar ("Xiloa boy" on August 5th and "Paradise boy" on August 10th), and I will pray for you every year when those days come around.