“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty
of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.”
- Mother Teresa
The first place we served in our Mission of Love, 2015 was Sapa. The life at Sapa was so very simple and peaceful. The people here live in great poverty, but how rich their hearts could be in the midst of nothingness. Very simple people they are; and very patient and enduring they must be. Nature was truly their home. I saw this especially in little children’s play: how they run up hill tops and hang on hill edges without any fret of danger; how they so comfortably climb and ride on giant ox; and run barefoot through the dirty mud. I admired them and their simplicity so much.
But will I dare take a chance to look deeper, further and through the rosy colored glasses? Will I dare to look with not only my eyes, but with my heart? Because a part of me wants to see what is comfortable to bear and accept— that part of me perhaps saw the free-spirited smiles in each person. Perhaps they were truly genuine smiles, but a part of me still urged me onward to look even deeper and more. Look, Cam, what do you see? And so I closed my eyes, and let my eyes not deceive me, so as to really see with the eyes of my heart, and hear with the ears of my heart.
And what did I see then? Lives that are deprived of what every human being seek for and are in need of: love. On the other side of the glass, very little children who carried baby siblings on their back, walking around the streets of Sapa and asking passersby to buy their knitted products; parents working day and night, tilling the earth for barely any food to bring home; bare feet walking through dirt and mud mixed with trash and manure. The children selling on the streets, and even the children that I saw playing on the hills of Sapa—where were their teachers to teach and help them learn and grow? Where were their parents to care for them, to love them? Where was life and all of the possibilities of life? The parents working tirelessly in the fields—will anyone hear their silent cries of sufferings? Will anyone notice them? Will anyone help them? Yes, they lack very much all the opportunities that I’ve been fortunate to receive in my life: a comfortable home, more than enough food and water, an enriching education. But what was even more important—they lacked love.
When I look with my heart, I see this more clearly for my heart and their hearts seek and yearn for the same. And so I realize, with a now deeper conviction, of this something greater than we could ever imagine that connects the whole humankind. We are all firmly planted on the same earth on which we are striving and growing to find our purpose of life, our source of life, our giver of life, and our Creator of life, namely, God Who is love. We are like flowers planted in one vast garden field. Though we are each our own individual flowers, there is something—something far beyond our perceived reality—that interconnects each of us to one another. Underneath our appearances, our actions, and our words, is our very core seed that all searches and yearns for the same: for life, for love, for God. From these seeds springs our roots, and it is these roots that connect and unite us to one another. We’re all trying to grow, to find the purpose of life, to find love, to find God. We are all together in this life, breathing the same air, standing on the same earth, living under the same sky; yet, we are still separated by barriers of poverty. Some of us are suffering much, much more than should. Some of us are deprived and are lacking of the most basic, fundamental human needs. And some of these people are just right next to us.
Seeing a glimpse of this grim reality, will I still choose to see with my heart, and see all the sufferings, the poverty, the homelessness, and the hungers for love that stand right next to me? Will I share the light and love that my heart has blessedly found and received to my brothers and sisters who are lacking love? Will I respond to love? Yes, God: I will serve and love You in the least of my brethren.