By Chelsea Pardue, Samaritan’s Purse staff writer
Our van pulled up beside a thicket in the small Lebanese community. In a small clearing, I could see a house of sorts—mostly sticks put together to form an area for living. Outside, there were eight young girls, plus their older sisters. The brightly colored shoe box gifts we carried in our arms hardly seemed big enough.
I got out of the van and approached the young girls. I attempted to ask some basic English questions, and a few of them understood. One of the older girls said that her seven sisters and her parents lived here. She was 18 and had recently moved into her husband’s house. We would be distributing gifts to the six youngest girls, ages 16 to 5, and their friends.
Although we typically don’t give gifts to children who are 16, this girl was a special case. She has been cancer-free for two years. The three years she spent receiving treatments put an enormous financial and emotional strain on the family.
The girls’ parents are farmers, and were busy working when we arrived at the house. We couldn’t make the children wait, so we let them open their gifts. I could understand their smiles and excitement through any language barrier.
I motioned to one girl to show me what she received. She pulled out several items, and then handed me one. It was a pink nail file. I was confused, so I pulled our interpreter over. “Does she know what this is?” I asked. She nodded, and made the motion for filing nails.
Then she spoke in Arabic, and our interpreter said, “She wants you to have it.”
“I can’t take this,” I said, and started to hand it back. I looked at the small house she shared with so many people and knew she didn’t have many belongings. I already carry a nail file in my purse; I keep another two or three with my fingernail polish. I didn’t need this one. Even if I were to lose mine, I could easily go to a store and buy more.
The girl looked at me with a smile but didn’t offer to take the file from my hand. The interpreter said, “She really does want you to have it. You should keep it.”
I grinned and said, “Shukraan.” Thank you was one of the few words I had learned in Arabic.
By that time, the girls’ parents had arrived. Their father said he needed to put out a net to catch any sort of animals that would try to crawl into their house during the night. Their mother said that the person who owns their land wants to build on it, so they soon would have to move. She didn’t know where they would go.
And yet, in these circumstances, their daughter gave me a gift. It reminded me of the story in the Bible where the widow gives all she has to the church, and although it’s not much, God appreciates it so much more than those who gave a small portion of their money.
“Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on’” (Mark 12:43-44, NIV).
This girl was a good reminder that God appreciates a giving heart. I have carried that nail file with me ever since as a reminder of the life Christians should live. And this Christmas, I will pack it into a box full of other goodies for another child in need.