People stop and ask me questions when we stop for bathroom breaks as we travel all the time. Most of the time it catches me off guard - how do you know I'm traveling with 22 African children? Oh yes, I remember- I am clearly labeled with a massive ACC logo covering my chest and, the logo on my jacket (yes a jacket- it is getting cooler...but I also fear that no Canadian winters and a winter in Texas has left me a wimp!) Anyways, today as Ang and I brought up the must try Wisconsin cheese curds to the cashier the lady at the till asks:
"Where are you performing?"
us: " Well, we just did a performance in Fish Creek, and now we're headed to Washburn to do a concert Sunday evening."
"So where are you from then- Fish Creek or Wisconsin?"
to this we smiled "Neither- the children are from Uganda" (to which she stared at as blankly- so we clarify "Uganda, Africa. They travel as part of this choir to get the financial support they need to get an education back home"
At this point she gets very excited "Africa!" and turns to the cashier beside her "Did you get that? They're from Africa!" To which the lady just nods politely.
"But don't they miss their families?" she asks. We explained that most of them are partially orphaned or come from very vulnerable situations. "What? That happens? Oh my goodness, that is so sad, that is just so sad isn't it?"
As we're collecting our cheese to go, Angela adds "It is but these kids have the greatest joy, love, and happiness for a hope in the future."
At that point all the lady said was "Oh wow."
She was completely taken back by it all- the fact that the children are from Africa, that they live in poverty and come from needy situations, but that they are joyous. That amidst their sufferings there is a hope for poverty that is hard to imagine and shockingly sad.
As we walked out of the store my first thoughts were that the cashier was quite naive. But immediately following was my second thought- that how great that couple minute by chance counter was with her. That lady was both so genuinely concerned and excited by what little information she'd discovered through our conversation together. It just got me thinking how much more I want to influence people here in North America to broaden their perspectives and get them involved, connected, educated, hurting, and caring for those in poverty in this world. This one cashier made me imagine just how many more people there are out there- ignorant to the realities of how most of our world lives. It made me imagine just where we could be with more people aware and ready to help bridge the gap between rich and poor- ust imagine, with people on board- excited, educated, ready to give, where we would be?