I stood in the hallway as I watched his little hands scavenge through his toy bins. I heard the clinking of toys. He was searching. Searching for the perfect car or truck to give to William on C ward. Although I found myself hoping he wouldn’t choose one of his favorites (afterall, did his almost-three-year-old little mind REALLY understand that this was a gift…as in…gone forever). But as soon as that thought entered my mind, I was quickly reminded that this was HIS idea. When I informed Simeon earlier in the morning that today we’d visit the surgery ward and some sick children that Daddy had helped to take care of, I asked him what he thought we could take to those kids to make them happy. I also told him specifically about William, a 6 year-old-boy, who three weeks ago was walking home from school when his feet and the bottom of both legs were run over by a Land Cruiser. Of course, Simeon has a fascination with all trucks, so that led to a lengthy conversation about the specifics of a Land Cruiser. I informed him that its the same type of truck that we have here on the Station and that he’s ridden in many times and he seemed satisfied with that. He asked curiously about William’s injuries and I explained that he had broken the bones in his lower left leg and foot and that he lost his skin on both feet as well. (Simeon is quite used to medical talk, given that he’s the child of two physicians and the grandson of one too and he is ALWAYS curious and asking about scratches or marks on someone’s body and wondering if they need some cream to make it feel better.) So, as I shared matter-of-factly about William, he listened intently. I asked him if he’d like to take a gift to William. I tried to explain (in several different ways) that whatever he gave to William would be William’s toy forever. He’d take it home to his house when he left the hospital. Simeon didn’t seem bothered by this at all and actually seemed eager to share something with “his friend.” He had two ideas—a lollipop (thanks to the recent box we got from Ohio) and a truck. It was at this point I realized we were about to have our first lesson in gift-giving. The lollipop was an easy one and he was frequently happy to share his food treats with friends and family. The truck, on the other hand, might get a little dicey. Simeon has a fiercely strong love (bordering on obsession) with any wheeled vehicle and when he suggested he’d like to give a car or a truck I worried that it might be harder than he thought. I just decided I’d let him lead the way and as he emerged from his bedroom with a (previously favorite) blue HotWheels truck I explained again that this was going to be a GIFT and William would get to keep it. He smiled and nodded and I knew at that moment that he got it. I was proud as proud could be and couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when he got to experience the true joy of giving that sweet little sacrificial gift. I loaded the dum-dum’s, blue truck and the two boys into the stroller to make our 1/4 mile journey to the hospital.
Ben met us in the breezeway outside of C ward. I was behind him with the stroller when Simeon hollered back and excitedly waved me into the ward, “Come on Mama!” William was in the far back corner of the ward. We made our way past the two rows of beds filled with sick, but smiling patients and their families. Simeon and Matthias were (of course) the
main event as we strolled through the center aisle. With very little prompting, Simeon gave his sweet little wave and said “apinun” (the afternoon greeting here). The Papua New Guinean people love to shake hands and both boys obliged. We finally reached William’s bed where he was joined by his mother and younger sibling. He is one of five children. Simeon stood sweetly at the side of his bed and gladly shook his hand. William was quiet, but did seem interested in this little white boy who had come to visit him. His mother was delighted and grinned from ear to ear. I handed Simeon the prized blue truck and he knew JUST what to do with it. Without a moment’s hesitation he put that truck in William’s little hand and then glanced back at me and smiled. He reminded me about the lollipops and I encouraged him to give one to William which he did with somewhat serious determination. After we sang a song with William we decided we had enough suckers for the rest of the children on the ward and Simeon very willingly handed one to each outstretched hand. Its easy to think that Simeon couldn’t possibly know the joy he shared with those children, but then I remember that Simeon himself can easily be overwhelmed with joy at the sight of a lollipop! He was doing EXACTLY what I’d hoped he could do. He was giving to them some of the things that he loved very most in life. And he reveled in every minute of it.
As we were getting ready to leave the ward we decided to sing one last song with the patients. Its one of the pidgin songs that Simeon has been singing for months now—Jisas Laikim Olgeta. Its a simple song with a simple message of Jesus’ love for all of us. There’s nothing profound about it, but as we stood around the beds of these sick men, women and children, their smiles and joy were a testament to God’s love for us. We went to give gifts and spread cheer, but in the end we were given an even greater gift of fellowship with some very precious people.