I would like to tell a story about a little encounter my friend, Cyril and I had about two weeks ago in Manila, Philippines.
Walking around the metro, we were on a hunt. My camera by my hand, we were actually filming a vlog for my YouTube Channel. I was going to name it, ‘Things to Do in Manila’. We walked and walked and we eventually reached the newly opened National Museum for Natural History. I was so excited to go inside…but just our luck, they were closed!
Bummed out, we sat down by the steps of the museum. Seeking refuge from the shade, we put our bags down and tried to review the footage we have taken from the hours prior. Then a little girl approached us.
This little girl in the middle sat by my side and she started asking for alms. I told her I was sorry I did not have any spare money. I didn’t really have any. Cyril and I were actually looking for the nearest ATM to get some cash so that we could buy some water and quench our thirst. The heat made us uneasy and a whole lot miserable. In this little shade, we found our solace. The girl was still sitting by my side, and this time she was fascinated with my camera. She asked me if I could take her photographs. I told her yes, but only if she told me her name. She gladly obliged and posed as she spoke to me, “My name is Pauline.”
A couple more shots later, Pauline called in her friends to join the fun. They posed and posed and eventually the little guy in the photograph said, “Okay, that’s enough.”
I did not get the other children’s names. But they stuck with me. As we were leaving, I reached into my bag and gave the kids the chocolate the Cyril got me from Paris, France. It was only a bar of chocolate from one of the most amazing cities in the world. They would probably never ever see it, so that is the closest thing that can take them there. The smiles on their faces were priceless. I smiled too, and then we left.
These kids stuck with me for quite a while. How can somebody have so little yet feel so happy? The thought is unfathomable. But then again, I realise that we live in a world where we think that being happy means owning more or earning more or, I guess, having more. There is something wrong with that attitude and it is a serious problem that we should find a solution to. Material possessions does not guarantee your happiness. It also does not guarantee other’s happiness. These things are luxuries not necessities.
Your newest phone? I know you have to call your parents. That is a necessity. But did you really need that upgrade? I don’t think so.
Your new closet? I know you need clothes to wear. That is a necessity. But did they really have to be $300 USD a piece? I don’t think so.
Your new house? I know you need shelter and a roof to sleep on. That is a necessity. But did you really have to put an elevator just because your neighbour has a dumbwaiter? I don’t think so.
I am not saying that being luxurious is a sin. By all mean, splurge if it makes you feel better. I splurge at times, especially when I feel like I have really earned it. But I know my limits. I know when to stop, and I know whether it is time to take things to a whole new level. Not being able to control your need to be luxurious, for me, that is a sin.
But these kids, they do not even have basic shelter, clean clothes and fresh food on their tables. Heck, they don’t even have a proper table! I don’t even know where their parents are. But their spirits lifted mine up. I was being salty about the museum closing and the heat being horrible and I forgot how blessed and great my life is. These kids, who have nothing, showed me that if you have the right attitude in life, you might as well have everything.
I am actually considering printing this photograph and putting it on my desk. These children give me hope. They give me a sense of longing at what it feels like to be innocent. They are, indeed, children of God. These are the kids that God told us about. He wants us to be like these kids. He even said in Matthew 18:3 NIV, “And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
So the next time you find yourself thinking and struggling with the wrong attitude, think about these children instead. They have nothing, yet they are happy. I hope I could be the same when I have none. Because in the end, we would still have God. I think that is everything we can ever need.
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
John 15:7 NIV