So, to continue with the Sale Story...
Sorry...this part starts on a bad note...but ends on a good one, so read on!
A woman and her husband stopped by. I explained what we were doing and that ALL of the money goes to helping the children in the orphanages. This is our conversation:
Woman: Is there an orphanage around here?
Me: No, we help homes in Africa, China and Haiti.
Woman: I grew up in an orphanage.
Me: Oh my word. Isn't that something.
Woman: Yeah, it was something.
They looked around a moment more. I wanted her story. I wanted to hear if she was ever adopted. I wanted to hear EVERYTHING! But I didn't pry. I felt a gentle tenderness toward her. She was rather closed off and I could tell she didn't want to discuss it. I was thankful she felt she could open up and be honest about being in an orphanage as a youth. I got the impression it wasn't a fact she generally shared with strangers.
And then, they left.
I am serious! A woman who had herself dealt with life in an institution, had MAYBE felt hungry, had MAYBE felt alone, could MAYBE sympathize with these children, and EMPATHIZE in a way none of US could. And she didn't even drop a nickel in the nickel basket. I was saddened, but also confused. What had I done wrong in setting up and preparing this sale? Where had I failed?
A mom and two girls came to the sale. They were such a sweet family and I loved visiting with them. I was amazed at the interest the girls showed in the the pictures and the orphans, and I was truly AMAZED at the fact that these two young women had more compassion than I had seen in many adults that day. They were genuinely interested in everything we were doing. The Mom wants her two girls to go volunteer! Anyway, they bought some things, paying more than the usual garage sale low prices and I was so thankful! After the morning I had had, I was ready to hug them and tell them to take EVERYTHING! I was just so thankful for their good hearts. I really couldn't believe how good-hearted these three women seemed to be.
Toward the end of the sale, these same young women returned to the sale! I was so happy to see them, but they had not just come to say HI. They had brought MORE MONEY! Each daughter bought a Sixteen Small Stones shirt, and I could not be more honored to have those two, wonderful girls wearing "our" shirts. Then, they bought a cake with some money that it sounded like their Grandma had given them. I was impressed with the way the whole thing went. I saw the Mom gently guiding the girls. Teaching them without words how to love and how to be compassionate. She stood back as the girls selected their shirts, and offered kind words when they asked her if this color or that one would be better. She was excited to tell them how great the shirts were, and then, again, stood back as they paid and selected a cake. Their mother was allowing them to exercise their own compassion so it could grow and become strong. I thought of how these girl's lives will be so different because of the lessons they learned from their mother about serving others, and caring about others. It really was quite touching to watch this lesson unfold, and it was so glorious to see these young girls follow their mother's example of sacrifice and give their money for the children.
Three women on their way to the gym donated money. They didn't want to purchase anything, but one handed me money anyway and offered words of encouragement. I was touched by that. They then returned to their car, but before leaving, another of the women came and said she, too, wanted to donate some and handed me some money.
Another woman did the same thing. She handed me some money without purchasing a thing and told me, "This is great work you are doing. Keep up the good work" and left.
I was so, so thankful to these women for their sacrifices. They are going to be feeding so many children and I am so grateful to them for giving without a thing in return.
A cute, young couple had stopped by the sale early in the day, but had left, saying they didn't have any money on them. I hear that at my job all day. An excuse to get out of having to spend money without having to look someone in the eye and say NO. However, these two surprised me! Later that afternoon, they returned. When I said, "All of the money goes to the children", the man said, "That is why we came back". Hearing that touched my heart. They bought a cake and then saw there were HOMEMADE Snickerdoodles, and wanted some of those. I was going to let them just take some, but a kind woman said, "Here. For mine, and his cookies". She handed me some money and took a bag of cookies for herself. I thanked her profusely and so did the young man. It was sweet to see someone sacrifice for someone here in her neighborhood as well as for people around the world, all in the same moment! What a wonderful experience!
Our neighbor from down the street came to the sale. Her little girl came with her. The mom had told her daughter that a single nickel would feed a child. The little girl danced up to the sale and begged her Mom to empty her pocket into the Nickel Basket. Out of her Mom's pocket poured two handfuls of nickels! The little girl was beaming! Those were HER nickels! When the little girl had heard that one would buy a meal, she had gathered ALL of her nickels to donate. My heart burst at this fact! Such a dear little girl. Her heart is so big, and she would give ANYTHING to anyone! The little girl and Taiger played (Taiger LOVES this little girl SO much! I am so thankful Taiger has such a good example for him. She is a bit older than Taiger and Taiger looks up to her so much!) and the mom stayed and helped with the sale. The little girl had brought a whole jar of small stones for people to pain! SO thoughtful! Not many children had come, so she and Taiger painted the rocks, colored with the chalk, blew bubbles, and sorted all of the clothes we are sending to Africa, China and Haiti. This sweet little girl sacrificed everything for others. I gave her a bag of cookies for her generosity, and she immediately gave a cookie to me and one to Taiger. That left her with only two cookies. When two small girls came to the sale a moment later, our neighbor asked her daughter for her last two cookies and gave them to these other two girls. The neighbor girl stood and smiled as she watched her last two cookies being handed to two complete strangers. We hurried to give her a new bag of cookies, thinking she would be sad that she had given away every one of her cookies. Quite the opposite. She looked up at Bryttan and said, "Thank you that I could give my cookies to those girls!" We were shocked! Such a good heart. Her mother had taught her to give and give and give and not think of herself. This little girl had achieved what many adults have not. She has gained an open heart, a giving heart, and a selfless heart. She thanked us for the new bag of cookies.
At the end of the day, I was finishing cleaning up after the sale. Everyone else was inside, and I was carrying in boxes of things, tables, etc. A young girl approached apprehensively. She looked to be around eight years old and long, red braids hung loosely over her shoulders. I said, "Hi sweetheart." She came forward and said softly, "I don't actually want anything. I just wanted to give you this." She handed me six dollars. I thanked her and gave and told her how much that would help the little kids. She beamed. Her smile was huge as she walked away with her head high. She realized what she had done. She knew she had sacrificed for others. And she saw that felt good.
My favorite story is from a bit earlier in the day. But before that, I need to explain something.
When Taiger was little, he LOVED the movie, "Cars". He had seen a toddler bed that was "Cars" themed. He was only about a year old, but he was so tall and so big that it was time to get him his OWN bed. I knew I could never afford this Cars bed! BUT I found a bed with a car on the headboard that I wanted to get him. One day, my mom and sister came home from shopping with this very bed! It had been on sale and they had bought it for me to give my son. I was so, so thankful. I had NO money and being able to give my son this bed meant a lot to me.
Taiger LOVED his Car Bed. He slept in it so well right from the first. I had made him a "Cars" blanket and given him a "Cars" pillowcase, so it really looked like a "Cars" bed, and he loved it. Taiger had that bed for years. However, about a year and a half ago, he was past outgrowing it and it was time for a "real" bed. I gave him a twin mattress and box spring from work. He thought it felt nice, but DID NOT want to give up his car bed. I put it in the basement, and he cried for about a week straight. Whenever it was bedtime, he would cry and cry for "his" bed, saying he HATED this new one, and he just wanted his old one back. Sometimes, while we were out for the day, he would suddenly ask if he could PLEASE have his old bed back. It was more than a year before he finally stopped asking for his old bed back.
Well, this bed was at the garage sale. I don't know if Taiger realized it was sitting out there to be sold, or if he thought it was just some strange decoration, but when someone drove up and offered me five dollars for it, I immediately looked over where Taiger was writing with chalk. His jaw was dropped and I could see the sorrow in his eyes. I muttered to Michael to go distract him. I was so worried a tantrum would ensue. I must admit, as they began loading the bed, my own heart became heavy. That was my little boy's bed. It was like letting a part of his childhood go. I wasn't ready for him to grow up! I wanted to grab the bed and tell the woman that bed was my baby's bed! I didn't WANT to sacrifice! The orphans could have money from something else! This was my only child's youth I was sending away with complete strangers for a lousy five bucks! I WANTED IT BACK! Then, I heard Taiger's little voice. I don't know what Michael had said to him, but this is what I did hear. "...It is okay, because it is to help the kids in Africa, China and Haiti have food and clothes...". And that is when I realized, my baby wasn't just my baby...he is a child of God and he has a good heart. He is filled with compassion for others.
The scriptures say to "become like a little child". I saw example after example of the goodness of youth and children. Sacrificing without hesitation. Having not a thought of themselves, but only of those in need. Giving their money, their cookies, their favorite bed. I thought of the adults. So many sacrificed, but many more did not. They are not "bad people", or "mean people"...they just have forgotten how it feels to be like a little child and give freely without considering the consequences. Without thinking of what they could do for themselves with that nickel. Without thinking how good the cookies would taste if only they kept them for themselves. Without thinking about the fact that they will never again see their favorite bed. Without thinking of what the money could buy them.
I only know this because I am this way. I think of myself all the time. I think of what I can do for myself more often than I think of what I can do for others. I think of me all the time. I am slow to part with my possessions and fast to look away from those in need.
May we all become more like these children.