Photo Credit: pezibear/pixabay
I was looking for some content/reference material in my archives for a book I’m writing when I came across this story written back in March, 2009. Thought some of you might enjoy.
This may be a little rough…I wrote it as is, before the experience left me, and moreover before my thoughts escaped me…and, I posted before I could polish and ruin the story. ~ Dave
Today was a little out of the ordinary hustle and bustle that normally consumes an average day in the life of yours truly. Today was part of the Easter holiday and I spent it with my foster daughter. She has been with us for about two months now; I’ll call her Ann for confidentiality, and until this day there has not been a time where we could let down our guard because of her many conditions. She is diagnosed with ADD (attention deficient disorder), and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). To date she has been kicked out of every school, off every school bus, out of every special after school program, and there are very few EA’s (educational assistants) left who will work with her.
To be honest, in spite of all her nastiness, I fell in love with her from first sight. I felt there was something hidden beneath her hard surface that was waiting to be discovered; like a pearl trapped in a shell waiting for a diver to retrieve her from the depths of dejection.
She is tens years old, feisty, definitely has her own opinion about most everything, on occasion she swears like a trooper, and curiously she is rather emotional about animals and cares for them with great compassion. She is not afraid to speak her thoughts and can be quite frank without hesitation. For example, when she was first introduced to our foster son who is thirteen years old…and who is also diagnosed with ADD and ODD, her first words to him after only three minutes of conversation was, “You’re a bit of a pompous ass aren’t you?”
Their relationship has gone downhill ever since.
Today was different however. Quiet and unusually reserved Ann was sitting beside me watching TV this morning. After a few minutes of watching one of those programs about starving children we tend to switch off quickly because we feel uncomfortable, I picked up the converter and switched the channel to a cartoon I thought she might enjoy. Ann asked me to turn it back to the program with the starving children. I complied. We watched the whole hour together and at the end of the program with her voice choking full of emotion asked, “Can we sponsor a child?”
I asked her how she would do that and she said, “You could do it for me!”
I explained that it costs about thirty five dollars a month to look after one of these little ones and I didn’t have any money left over at the end of the month to take on anymore children. She was not about to take no for an answer and true to character she pushed a little further. I didn’t have the heart to refuse her empathy for her fellow human beings, but sponsoring another child at this time was not an option. So rather than reject her request, I told her about a child that we were already sponsoring in Africa and perhaps she might like to write him a letter. I got out his picture and told her that he had a birthday on the fifteenth of March and that he was ten years old as well. When she saw his picture and learned his name she melted and asked, “Dave, could you help me write a letter to Millhouse.”
In the back of my mind I thought of all the things I needed to do today, things that were important to me, but sometimes opportunities come only once, and I found myself saying that I would love to help her write a letter.
From my office I retrieved a piece of paper and pencil. Ann asked, “Can I write it on the computer?”
“I think Millhouse would most likely be writing back to you on a piece of paper because they don’t have computers where he lives. It might be nice if he got a hand written letter from you.” I said.
She thought about it for a moment and then we sat down to write. I must confess I thought we would be done in about twenty minutes at the most because of her ADD. Boy was I wrong. She wrote a rough copy with all of her questions for Millhouse, and then she wrote it again in a good copy, and then a third final copy. We were writing together for about six hours and she never lost her focus on the letter. When Ann finished writing she asked for more paper so she could draw some pictures for Millhouse. I sat with her for another hour until everything was ready and we put the papers in an envelope.
Today was a special day indeed, for I witnessed something in a certain little girl that most people in her life had overlooked, a rare pearl hidden except for a few moments when she ventured out of her shell in the only way she could to touch another child who lives halfway round the world. She had no money; she had nothing to give except the love she felt in her heart for a foster child she had never met living on a continent she had never visited. She gave something more precious than she may ever realize…she gave someone her time, and she gave a little piece of her heart.
Today was special because she also gave me something I needed…the reminder that no matter how awful people may seem on the outside, everybody is special in the eyes of God, and He has hidden treasure in each of us waiting to be discovered. Ann taught me today that sometimes we don’t have to look much farther for that hidden treasure than to those who are right in front of us.