Sometimes bonds take awhile to form between people. Sometimes they don’t. I feel that children are generally quicker to be vulnerable with new people because their souls are usually a lot more innocent and trusting than their older counterparts. The kids we’ve met the last few weeks have normally been hesitant to talk to us or play with us at first-a big part of that being that we look so different than they do-but they warm up after a little bit and treat us like their own.
One morning spent on Kinatarkan I had coffee waiting for me when I rolled out of my hammock to greet the day. It was glorious. I then went to clean up and make an even bigger cup of coffee to take to the beach. I spoke with one of the older men who lives on the island to help coordinate typhoon relief efforts and enjoyed the ocean breeze on my face.
I stood their in my malong thinking about how glorious of a place I woke up in. I took a big sip of my instant coffee and thanked The Lord for that island and everyone on it, and giving me the opportunity to share life with them for awhile. Once my coffee was gone I put my mug away and took a stroll on the beach. Within 10 seconds I was joined by some of the kids I had spent the most time with. They walked with me for awhile then hung back a bit so I kept going, thinking they were just being shy or silly. After awhile I turned around because I heard a giggle, and I saw that they were in a single file line walking in my footsteps. Literally walking only in the places I had already stepped. It soon became a game of me taking long strides then little steps then jumping, etc. until we were all a little winded.
We laughed together and walked back to where we had started and on the way back I reflected for a couple of minutes. They liked me. They trusted me. They went wherever I went. Obviously it was just walking on the beach, but through interactions during my time there I know they looked up to me and respected me even though they barely knew me. They could understand 30% of what I said but they looked at me like my words were all that mattered in that moment.
People over here give me all sorts of credit I don’t deserve simply because of how I look. They tell me I’m smart without knowing my merit. They trust me without knowing my heart. They respect me because I’m white. They say how friendly I am before I ever get a chance to be friendly. I could seriously just coast on what people assume about me and have a great time, but I’m not about that. I do my very best to earn the respect of those around me even if I don’t need to. I’m also very conscious of what I say and how I say it, because someone is always listening. Most folks here can understand a good bit of English even if they can’t speak it- though most do both. The same applies to the kids. I could be an awful person and teach them terrible things, yet I’m pretty sure they would still follow in my footsteps. Therefore, I’m treading lightly and carefully these days being sure about the places and the ways I choose to step.