The first day of school is often characterized by nervous excitement. Monday, October 8, 2012, was no different but for a few additions for our children at Alex's House. The overriding theme to myself, as an outsider, was pride. The good, healthy, ‘I’m a child of God who’s greatly loved’ sort of pride. Each child wore that new backpack all morning!
They were crisp and clean, chatty yet anxious, excited and prepared. Alex’s House thought of everything. Youse clipped fingernails. Patrick wiped down the bus seats to make sure they didn’t get dirtied on their way. Bill handed out those prized backpacks.
Jimmy made sure the older boys slacks and belts were just right. And just as any kid knows to do, they all smiled beautifully for their ‘first day of school’ picture. The pride that they felt in how they looked, what they had, and where they were headed was clearly written on each face.
With every child dressed (perfectly! Love those ruffled socks!) and fed and clad with backpacks full of all they needed, the family did what I keep seeing them diligently do. They circled together, sang their songs, said their prayers, and gave their day to Jezi.
It was, however, after school that really told the story. All over that campus, kids carried their books everywhere they went. Little boys sat in corners reading. Little girls sat with pencils, paper, and the biggest smiles of appreciation. They were filled with hope, already proud of what they were becoming.
On the way back to Ms. Bettie’s guesthouse after seeing the kids off, we passed a young boy carrying the family water bucket. He was probably about 11, looked much like Wilkens or Remy. He wasn’t dressed crisply in the most fastidious of school uniforms. He donned no backpack. There were no shining shoes. And there was no smile of hope or pride.
Even Willy tried to climb into that white truck as the kids loaded for school. They all knew the value of what they were getting. It’s the difference not between a crisp school uniform and a tattered hand-me-down or whether you carry a book or a water bucket. It’s who carries you, and the wings of hope on which He does so.