Thursday, August 2, 2012

GUATEMALA 2012: (28) Chat I Am

I am Chat.
Chat I am.
Although I'm Gringo, I understand!
Sidewalk chalk. 15 assorted colors standing on end, arranged in a plastic box with a clear lid. When it is placed in the hands of children in a village on the outskirts of nowhere… it becomes an invitation to limitless possibility.

I slowly walked around the concrete as colors seemed to explode all around me in the hands of 100 children. Bumblebees, flowers, trees, butterflies, hearts, houses, rainbows, and smiling stick figures took form as tiny hands swept the plain surface of the ground and created wonder.

What kids draw seems to be universal… they draw happiness. Kids paint the world with the colors that make up their dreams. No matter what country you were born in, you want to feel loved, safe, and comfortable. I stood and stared as I saw little girls drawing two-story houses with a door in the middle, two windows on the second floor, a peaked roof, and flowers in the front of the house. It looked just like the houses my daughter draws... and just like the houses I remember drawing years ago. How can it be that so many of these children have no father, or no mother, or no bed to sleep in at night? And yet... they still draw happiness with colors of chalk.

I felt a now familiar tug on my left hand. I smiled as I realized that Kenya had my hand. Without looking I swooped her up onto my hip and then turned my head to look her in the eyes. She smiled from ear to ear and then leaned her head onto mine. I felt her arms wrap tight around my shoulders as she squeezed tightly. We stood in the sunlight amid the colors and dreams, taking that moment for all it could give.

When I eased her feet back to the ground, she immediately began tugging at me to follow her. I planted my feet on the ground and feigned stubborness, teasing her that I would not go. She laughed and pulled me with both hands. I jumped forward as if her strength had overcome my own. She ran to a clear space on the ground, swept the dirt away with her hand, and then pulled a pink piece of chalk from the pocket in her skirt. 

She began drawing in big sweeping motions... and then my attention was diverted by several other kids who wanted me to inspect their creations. As I laughed and nodded at more butterflies and flowers, I noticed that Kenya's feet were patiently standing at my left side. I grinned as I saw that her sandals were on the wrong feet... again, some things are universal to kids everywhere!

I started to look up into her sparkle-eyes when I noticed something that couldn't be... and so I looked closer. I blinked my eyes and looked again. I looked up into her face and she was smiling down at me with the sunlight behind her. I had one of those moments that seems to happen often here in Guatemala. What is commonplace here is non-existent elsewhere. I again felt as if the eyes of God were staring at me.

This beautiful child had written out my name in a heart.

Yeah, I know it says Chat... and that is what it should say. When I am in this village, holding these children, Chat is my name. Whatever they chose to call me would simply be perfectly right. 

I thought back to elementary school days when names would frequently be written in hearts... and Kenya had used her chalk to cross the barriers of language, of culture, and even time... to find a way to tell me she loved me.

These kids in this village truly do see us with the eyes of God. They teach me to open my own eyes to glimpse people the way He does. God once told His disciples to reach out to all His children. We are each and every one... one of the least of these.

Wherever you are in this moment... I want you to know that God has chalk in His hand and the picture he paints is the world. He sweeps His hand and the dust forms bumblebees, flowers, trees, butterflies, hearts, houses, rainbows, and yes... even smiling stick figures. He even formed you from the colors of the dust of the earth.

And He has drawn a red heart. In the center of it He has written your name.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Chat! I treasure my pair of work gloves that have my name inscribed within a heart, also done by a girl of Cerro Alto. I love those children...hug them for me and treasure every moment. Keep sharing!

  2. You are Chat. I answer to Abuela Daisy. I truely treasure this name given by a little boy in Guatemala. I can't wait to see him in October as well as all the other children.

  3. Bless you Velma. I thank God for you. He walks with you this month.