Truthful Hearts

When I was about 15 my mother and I took a trip to visit the University of North Texas in Denton. I was an intended vocal performance major investigating a potential college that would be my home for four years of my education. We saw the campus, we met music student and we were deceived by the words continental breakfast. We thought what you are thinking now. Bagels, cereal, fruit, yogurt and maybe waffles or biscuits and gravy in a small dining room laid out as a buffet service. We found a cold package of Little Debbie cinnamon rolls on a counter next to a coffee pot of not great coffee. I was even hit on by a college student. A point of fact I made sure to tell in detail to my best friends waiting to hear of my trip at our strip of lockers back home.

When our college hunting mission was over we left for the airport full of information and brochures. I was a fortunate child. When I boarded the plane I sat across the aisle from two girls wearing burkas. We spent our short trip talking. I don’t remember much of the conversation. I remember that they were kind and we related well. I left the plane with a pair of addresses and a promise to write. Eventually, I did write and they wrote back. I was a Christian girl from the Bible Belt in Texas with a pair of Muslim sisters that quickly became my pen pals. That striking contrast occurs to me now as an adult in a time that is very different from the one I lived in at fifteen. Our hearts met in our similarities and not in our differences.

A while ago, I wrote a post about the integrity of receiving a hand written note in the mail. I now have a pen pal. I step away from the computer momentarily to write in my own hand the story of my days. In a couple of weeks, the mail man brings me something warm in the mail. I open the letter quickly and with such lovely excitement. I read it quickly and then I read it slower trying to see between the lines. I imagine myself as Celie from The Color Purple creating visions of my sister’s life so far away.

The words “pen pal” have been playing a constant role in my life lately. When something in my life seems to invade with its repetition, I pay attention. If you are speaking to me God, thank you for highlighting the point so that I don’t miss it. I thought my longing was inspired by a general thirst for integrity. My response to the constant information overload without meaningful content on Facebook and Twitter was to seek something more personal in a handwritten letter. The idea was inspired.

Our family’s new Compassion child Tay will be receiving a letter from us soon. Compassion International places a lot of weight on the connection created between a sponsor and their child. Tay’s birthday was the day after we made our first donation. I was able to wish him a happy birthday in his first letter from us. What a wonderful introduction.

Dear Tay, we are so happy you were born! We look forward to watching you grow and celebrating your birthday year after year. Love, The Toroks.

This week I spent an hour connecting students from southwestern Uganda with students here in the United States.  I scrolled down the list of teenagers and matched them by age.  Names as American as apple pie lined up next to names as Ugandan as ground nuts made me feel like I was tying knots in the universe.   The children of the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project will receive letters in a month that they will carry with them on their 7 kilometer walk to their school.  The photos and artwork received will be the only decorations hung in their simple homes.  They will know that there is a world of compassionate people and they will know because it will come written in someone’s hand writing.  A little truth will come through the mail to our office, be packed in a bag and carried to them.  Their teachers will cross the school room and place that honesty in a teenager’s hand.

I imagine that truth will reside in many hearts and I am inspired.

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