Pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, notebooks, toys, socks, sweets … all packed. Just two more items to place on top, a picture of myself and a letter. The shoebox was wrapped and marked: for a girl. In 1995, just five years after Samaritan’s Purse started Operation Christmas Child, I packed my first and, I’m ashamed to say, only shoebox.
To my surprise, several months later I received a letter postmarked: Bosnia-Herzegovina. A young boy had received my shoebox and had a friend translate a thank you letter for me. Amongst other things, he asked if he could be my friend, even though he wasn’t the girl that I had expected to receive the box. Of course! I quickly wrote a letter, added in a few photos and sent it off to him. After waiting a few months, I receive another letter and some photos back from him. And so we became friends. The following Christmas I packed up a larger Christmas package for him – this time, specifically knowing it would go to him and his family. I heard nothing for months. One day we received the post and in it was a beautiful tapestry that his mother had made for me.
As with so many things when we are young, correspondence drifted off until one day a few years ago I received a friend request on Facebook. There was only one person I knew by that name and face! Sure enough, it was my friend from all those years ago. We were not so young anymore. I was amazed that he would even think to look me up after all those years. We still don’t share a common language so never write to each other. Last week he sent me his first message. It consisted only of a picture – a digital of that original that I had sent in the shoebox. I looked at that picture and wondered in amazement at the girl staring back at me. She believed in small acts of kindness for kindness sake.
You never know how much one interaction will change a life. Without words, I was shown again how just one gesture can mean so much without even realising its worth.