“First we’ll have to cross crocodile pond, and then we’ll go up ice mountain,” little Elijah said, as he clasped my hand tightly and started to sprint across the gym. The five year old was one of many missionary children who attended the vacation bible school that was hosted by my church. The week took place at the Spanish Language Arts Institute in San Jose, Costa Rica. The institute is a beautiful college where missionaries and their families go to learn Spanish. My church went there to show God’s love, serve those who serve, and to give the kids the taste of America, that they had begun to miss.
It was only seven in the morning and I felt as if I had run at least five marathons over the course of our playtime. Although I could barely breathe at the moment, I ran alongside him. For no one, not even I, could say no to his pleading blue eyes that peeped through his shaggy blonde hair. When we finally reached the north side of the gym, Eli and I hunkered down like army men. While attempting to catch my breath, I watched as the young boy pulled out the crumbled paper he had found on the gym floor. To me, it was an outdated brochure, a piece of trash. But to Eli it was a priceless treasure map. His ability to imagine boggled my mind. In fact, I felt myself slightly jealous of his skill. The fatherless boy was able to escape the tragedies of this life and maintain true joy, regardless of his situation.
By the time my breathing patterns had finally normalized, the young child sprang up and began running again. The amount of energy Elijah had truly amazed me; the amount of sweat he let loose, surprised me even more. He was huffing and puffing as much as I was, but that didn’t stop him. He was determined to find that treasure! Not only did he run, but he would also do what he called break dancing. Now, this form of dancing was like nothing I had ever seen before. He laid down on the gym floor, kicked his legs, and spastically rolled around. The other children stared, and looked at each other, all petrified. The glares and horrified faces didn’t stop him. Elijah was simply unaware of the fact that his “dancing” was not the kind the other children were doing. His innocent ignorance was remarkable.
Towards the end of the week, it was time to say goodbye. I softly explained to Elijah that I had to go home, and that I could not attend his birthday party (which he had previously invited me to). He gave me a big hug and said that he’d see me tomorrow. Tears filled my eyes as he clasped his mother’s hand and began to walk away.
Over the course of the week, this young boy had shown me a different perspective on numerous matters. First, he demonstrated genuine joy. He was able to laugh, run, and play, without hesitation, even though he was going through a rough time. With the recent loss of my father, this was truly something I needed to learn. Secondly, Elijah taught me how to keep going, and never give up, concerning not only physical matters, but mental as well. Lastly, Eli showed me how to be confident, and stay true to myself, regardless of the judgmental looks of others. It’s incredible how a young child can be so inspiring and impactful, yet be oblivious to the matter.
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