Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The power of a ball...

Before I was adopted there was one thing that I wanted more than anything else.  I wanted my biological dad to take me outside and play catch; I wanted to throw a ball.  I remember one time he got a ball out and we got into his truck.  We drove to the park.  He stopped and then turned around and we went back home.  I remember feeling so hurt and crushed.  I thought that we were actually going to have a catch.  The power of a ball crushed me.    

After I was adopted, my new dad took me into the yard and taught me how to throw a ball.  We would go to the park sometimes and throw there.  I remember feeling so loved by the act of throwing a ball.  It was awesome!  The power of a ball showed me love.

For some reason this morning, I was thinking of this.  So on my way into town this morning I stopped and picked up a few balls like the one pictured here.  I made my way down near the Khetias where the street boys I've made friends with hang out.  I sat down and bounced a tennis ball on the ground.  I sat there for a few minutes; maybe 10 or so waiting for the kids to show up.  I looked to my left and saw two of the boys walking.  They saw me and yelled my name and came running down the street to me.  Let me say, the looks on the faces of the others in town was priceless!  It was great!  I showed them the ball and asked if they wanted to play.  They said yes and we threw the ball around for a little while.  Right there, just off the dirt road and only somewhat out of the not-so-busy intersection, we played catch.  In short time, other boys joined us.  The boys were all smiles as they began to throw the ball back and forth.  We played a volleyball-like game with a squishy ball.  The people walking had all kinds of reactions.  Most of them just stared at us as they walked by, usually with a smile on their face.  It was seriously like these kids were at a park.  For a few hours today, they may have even forgotten that they were street boys.  For a few hours today, these boys were just that - boys.  They were able to be kids.  I pulled out the checkers board and a deck of cards and it was like play time.  Some played more ball, some played checkers and others played cards.  

The Khetias across the street was getting a delivery early on in the day.  The truck driver came over and played with us for a bit.  He actually picked up three of the balls and juggled, which the kids really loved!  I tried to juggle, but it wasn't nearly as impressive.  

What I love about these boys is that they call me friend - and they mean it.  They spend time with me because they enjoy it, not because I give them things.  In fact, they know that I won't.  Most won't even ask.  There was a new boy today who wanted to keep one of the balls.  Another boy got it from him and gave it back to me and said, "put this back in your bag".  Honestly, there have been more adults asking me to buy them things than these boys.  Today, a grown man handed me a letter, that appeared to be from the government (probably a fake), that gave him permission to solicit funds from strangers in order to get to Lodwar.  Grown men will boldly ask for a few hundred shillings and then walk away when I tell them that I have no money.  Yet these kids hang around and talk to me.  They teach me Swahili words and expect no money in return.  They hang out and just have fun, like kids are supposed to do.  They know that they are protected when I'm there; they know that they are safe.  In fact, the number one thing that they have asked for is me to take their pictures.    

I know that the power is not in the actual ball but instead in the act of playing a game.  But what power there is!  It's so easy to show these kids love.  Many consider them a nuisance.  But when you get to know them a little bit, they're a ton of fun to be around!  I look forward to the days that I can spend sitting on the street with them.  

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