Last summer while spending ten days in a third world country my entire perspective on love changed, San. Pablo, Guatemala, to be exact, doing some missions work. It wasn’t anything major, like building houses, just spending time with the local villagers’ children. Before meeting the children, one of the workers there gave out some rules and “regulations”. The children in third world countries don’t bathe often, which makes them more prone to having an illness and lice. They told me to try to keep some what of a distance, about foot, so that no one would catch the lice or anything else. I guess you could say that I kind of rebelled against that. I bear-hugged any child that came to me. To see their faces light up when someone showed them enough love to cradle them in their arms beat out the risk of having lice any day.
Before that trip to Guatemala, I was not much of a “love” person. There were people in my life that I loved, but not totally open to the idea of love. With my little community of friends, I knew how to love, but to care for a complete stranger walking down the street was something completely different. But know, after that great experience, I believe in love. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the states or a third world, sometimes people just need a bit of love to get them through the day. Having lice is something temporary. If you wash your hair enough they will eventually go away. Hugging a child whose own parents neglect them because they aren’t important enough to them, that will last a lifetime. Most of those children grow up and look for the love that they were deprived from in wrong places. To do something some thing as little as giving a hug was more than what most of them received from anyone else. You could tell that that small show of affection change their lives. I will never forget the laughter and smiles of the children in my arms. The funny thing is that I still never had lice, even after all those hugs. That just proves how a little love can go a long way for everyone.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.