Today we went to a going away party for our friend Akewak. A 14 year old ray of sunshine, he was brought to Denver, from Ethiopia, for lung and spine surgery and for six months lived as a “ward” of dear family friends.
If any of you have children, I’d like you to stop reading right now and look over at them, or at a picture of them, and imagine they need life saving surgery … and the only place they will get what they need is in a foreign country, hosted by people you have never met, in a hospital you have never seen the likes of. Can you begin to imagine what life must have been like for his family in Ethiopia and for the family that welcomed him into their home? Who knew he would end up in the safety and love of a Jewish community, millions of miles away. And who knew that he would touch the members of the community with his eyes and heart.
When we met Akewak last Spring, he trustingly climbed into our car and headed to the Ethiopian market in search of Injera – Ethiopian bread. You would have thought he had known us for years. He and my 12 year old daughter became fast friends, and while she wasn’t around this summer to play often, when they were together, they were bonded.
How lucky for them to have struck up a friendship that can span the world.
Last week, my daughter and Akewak enjoyed a trip to Pinkberry’s and the video store. He had gotten a gift certificate to the yogurt chain and saved it to share with her. She had the idea of buying him a Nintendo DS for his hospital stays and together they picked out two new games for him to take home.
There must have been 200 people there today (circling through the 2 hour party window). 200 people, who’s lives were touched by a young boy with a crooked spine and a missing thumb. Funny, we forgot to notice. All we ever saw was the spirit of faith and the trust of G-d.
As we left, he hugged us good-bye and handed us a thank you note. A thank you note! Handwritten in English on stationary. He not only has courage, he also has class.
We can only hope that his next note says, “Hello”. We will miss him in person, but hope to find new ways to stay in touch. We take for granted computer access and the US Mail. They have neither readily available. But I’ll bet we will find a way. After all, look at what we have all found already.
How do you MindFULLY say hello? Let us know!