This week’s post comes from one of our wonderful volunteers, Stephen Hislop. He shares about his experience playing with the children who come to be seen at Hospital Arco Iris:
Every weekday at 9am, the Sala de Juegos playroom in Hospital Arco Iris opens its doors to dozens of children. The sala is filled with toys, puzzles, coloring books, and lots of love. The goal of the Sala is simple: to provide a fun and safe environment for children to play and learn while their families wait for medical appointments. Trained volunteers teach each child basic skills such as sharing, being polite, and personal hygiene. As volunteers, we work hard to teach these children, but truthfully WE are the ones who walk away learning way more from them.
Sitting cross-legged, doing a puzzle with a young new friend, I have spent many-a-morning in the Sala de Juegos. Opportunities to listen to what is on these children’s hearts present themselves in these playful moments. Oftentimes, a little boy or girl will come through the sala doors shy and unsure about themselves. But by the end of their stay in the sala, they are laughing, giving hugs, and begging their parent to stay a few minutes longer.
Observing this pattern helped me to understand more about what it means to have childlike heart. The majority of these children come from situations of extreme poverty, abuse, and chronic family illnesses. They usually don’t try to hide their tough circumstances. Within a short time, they will tell you what is going on, and will do so with a boundless amount of energy. These kids are genuine, joyful, and eager to share their trust, hearts and love.
As I reflect on my experience at the Sala, I am reminded of when Jesus says that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, WE need to become like little children. These children have inspired me to grow in my own authenticity and to find joy in the tough situations that I will encounter. They are my examples to follow. Throughout three months of teaching them, I have learned lessons that will remain with me for my lifetime.
“Live so that when…children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.” ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.