Hanna Kingsbury, teacher, Rift Valley Academy, Kenya
Holding it up to my nose, I breathe deeply. Inhaling the familiar, memory stirring scent of a smoky campfire, I cannot help but smile in delight. The wood is firm beneath my hands, silky smooth from hours of sanding. Fashioned out of a single piece, the handle is long and slender, while the main part of the spoon dips gracefully, leaf-like in its shape. A strand of worn leather loops through the hole in the end of the handle.
He was almost bashful as he offered it to me, simultaneously serious and sweet, with a sheepish grin peeking through. It was blessing enough to see his bright smile on the first day of school, an unexpected, sweet surprise to have him offer me a gift. “The ones on the side are the nicest,” he pointed out, splaying a collection of large wooden spoons.
Glancing down at them, I smiled. “Why don’t you choose one for me?” I offered. The thought in itself was precious, and the gift would be treasured regardless which spoon he handed me.
His smile brightened as if he’d been hoping I would ask him. “Here.”
I wanted to wrap him up as tight as I could in a hug… but he’s a junior high boy, in the awkward stage between child and adolescent, when hugs are occasionally acceptable, but more often taboo. So I settled for a delighted smile and a touch on the shoulder. “This was really sweet of you,” I said. “Thank you.”
He shrugged and averted his eyes, obviously equally embarrassed and pleased. “One of the guys where we live makes them. I wanted to make one for you myself,” he made a face and shook his head, “but it didn’t really work. So I got these ones instead.”
I look out at the faces of my students, just back from vacation, separated from their families, their hearts, hopes, and fears shining in their eyes, and I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ words ~ “Whatsoever you do for one of these little ones, you do unto me.” Their hearts are treasured by His heart, and oh how dear they are to my heart as well!
Sitting here after my students have left the classroom, I feel tears pricking at the back of my eyes. This. This is why we are here. This is what makes the hardest, most frustrating, longest day totally, undeniably worth it. These precious, sensitive, wonderful MK hearts make every tear and heartache, every separation, worry, and missed memory, so completely, utterly, unquestionably worth it.