“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
Upon arriving the last barangay we helped in Tacloban, I heard children singing and chanting with much enthusiasm and joy. They were led by social workers who gathered the children so they could give them inspiration. Here’s how their chant went:
Social Worker: Buhay ba kayo?!
SW: Kung buhay kayo ipakita sa katawan. Boom-tiyaya-boom-tiyaya-boom-yeye!
SW: Buhay ba kayo?
SW: Kung buhay kayo ipakita sa katawan. Huminga ng malalim at bumuga! Hah!
SW: Isa pa, lakas pa…hinga ng malalim at buga! Hah!
SW: Isa pa…hinga ng malalim at buga! Hah!
It was a beautiful sight of life to behold…
In the midst of death was life.
In the midst of nothingness, they had everything.
Jimmy Kimmel, a TV host and comedian, posed a youtube challenge a couple of years ago called – “I Gave My Kids a Terrible Present.” Parents started giving their kids the lousiest presents – from a rotting banana, to a sandwich with a bite in it, to potatoes and empty milk bottles. All of them either whined or cried or screamed. None of them hid their disappointment. One chubby boy even received a hello kitty sweater and he expressed great anger towards his parents to the point of saying “I hate you.” Great way to see what stuff kids are made of, hehe.
But among all the Christmas pranks done to kids, here’s a different reaction I found.
Here’s one cute little girl named Gabby, about 7 years old, who was given a big Christmas present (size means everything to kids). As she opens the box, she finds things that make no sense – a slice of stale bread, a white plastic bag, a dishwashing sponge, 3 identical water bottles, a can of evaporated milk, a bathroom tile brush, and a piece of cardboard. She just stares at her parents in disbelief. Brian, the gift-giver asks her, “So what do you think? Was that a pretty awesome gift?” And she replies, “No!” He says, “I thought it was a great gift. Don’t you like my present?” And then, she begins to say, “Well, I do like this.” Raising the bathroom brush. And she adds, “Yeah, it’s my favorite thing…that’s cool…and I do like the sponge. I do like the brushing stuff.“ She giggles at the end of the video.
Here’s one little girl who got over her emotions and learned to appreciate what was given to her. She didn’t just dig in the box, but she dug in her heart and found something beautiful in the nonsensical.
When we were looking for a spot in the squatters area where we could set up our medical mission, we asked Arthur for his suggestions. It was tough for him because no place was conducive for such a setup. One of us suggested, why not here in your place (what was left of it). He was very happy. He said: “Wow, nagamit ang bahay ko.” (“My house was used.”) He felt so privileged. Even a person with nothing can be a big blessing.
May we learn to find life in death, good in bad, order in chaos, light in darkness, beauty and purpose in the ugly. May we learn to be thankful and content, to make the most of what we have and just keep striving to improve ourselves and our priorities. May we learn to give Him thanks in ALL circumstances, so that the worst of times can be the best of times.