This week I spoke to a group of kids at a local Catholic school, grades 1 - 5, about our mission trip to Africa. I'll be honest, when I was asked to speak I really wanted to say no. I had no idea what to say to these innocent little children. You see, there aren't a lot of cheery things to say about Africa. How do you explain to small children, who live in nice homes, and have parents who love them, that on the other side of the world there are children who don't have enough food to eat, and are living without one or both of their parents. Aren't these little ones too young to know about that stuff? But, with the encouragement of the woman who asked me to come, and the global projects pastor from our church, Justin Mack, I agreed to go. Justin told me about the impact that visiting missionaries had on him when he was a kid. Why would I not want to give these kids a vision bigger than their own backyard?
I combined pictures of our last two trips. I showed them pictures of the children at the orphan care centers and explained how this was where they'd get what might be their only meal for the day. I showed them pictures of the huts where the children live, and the schools that they attend. I even showed them a picture of one of the outhouses at the schools. (We still aren't sure who took that picture but kids love that kind of stuff.) And, of course, I showed them pictures of the kids. No one seemed traumatized so that was good. I'm guessing they all went home and were pretty excited to use their very own toilets!
After the "mission" pictures, I showed them animal pictures. They LOVED that. The elephants, the lion, the zebras, warthogs, hyenas and the like. They were a HUGE hit. What I love about kids is how they think and the questions they come up with. One little boy asked me if there were more animals or more people in Africa. I don't know. One little girl asked me how many different kinds of animals there are in Africa. I don't know - though I did suggest she Google that. My favorite question was "how do you tell the difference between a male and a female warthog?" I did know the answer to that but here's what I said, "I don't think you'd want to get close enough to find out." Thankfully, that seemed to satisfy him. I think the teacher was relieved!
At the end of the program I slipped in another picture of the kids and asked them what they thought would be the very best thing they could do for the children in Africa. Kids are creative and so were their answers. They had the idea of doing a fundraiser or sending clothes and toys, but one little boy came up with the answer I was searching for. "We can pray." Everything we do is great, but God is bigger than all of our "stuff" and praying really is the very best. Putting feet to our prayers - priceless! I hope my little 30 minute program starts them on the road to thinking about putting feet to their prayers. You never know. In the meantime, we can all pray.