A Bike for Christmas — Selfless Giving that Opens the Heart to Love
It isn’t the size of the gift matters, but the size of the heart that gives it – Eileen Elias Freeman
This past November, 74 individuals from across the globe were heading to Malaysia for a retreat in the jungle, in Lucky Valley. All had one goal in mind, to transform so that they can then serve humanity in the highest capacity.
For 15 of us, the mission started earlier, with a project that brought toys, arts and craft supplies as well as hope to the 40+ orphanged boys of the Agathiains Shelter in Selangor, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur.
With our friends and local guides, Jayawani, Param and Raymond, we visited the kids of the Agathiains Shelter on a warm, humid school day, just after they had returned from classes and lunch. The kids were beautiful! Most seemed energetic, upbeat, excited and ready to meet us. They especially perked up when they realized that we brought them 4 big boxes of supplies that contained toys and “goodies” that our friends and family members sent them with love for the holidays.
The Director and the boys male caretakers also graciously welcomed us and made us feel at home. They prepared for us a special, delicious vegetarian lunch. After we ate, together, we opened the boxes full of “goodies” and watched with excitement as each child pulled out what he wanted. The 3 soccer balls that my sorority sister, Sandy Cupac-Ford, sent were a hit. Everyone wanted them. The boys even passed the balls around and each one of us visitors signed them. We felt like soccer stars, putting our signatures on the 3 balls.
The markers, crayons and coloring books were also prized as well as the puzzles and the stuffed animals. Yet, regardless of what we brought, the kids still each had their own personal wishes for a gift. One boy told Andrea Thorstensen from Virginia Beach that he really wanted us to get him a bike. When Andrea told me this later on, I understood completely his desire and I said, OK, let’s make this kids wish come true. Let’s get the kids bikes for Christmas!!!
Even though the boys are of different ages, 4-16, they can share the bikes, so regardless of how many bicycles we buy them, they’ll get to ride them and have fun.
That’s where you now all come in. Please help us get these boys new bicycles by Christmas. In Malaysia, the boys bikes are in the $50-$100 range. You can make a donation in any amount by December 24th and we’ll purchase the children bicycles in time for Christmas. Thank you!
I will be going yearly to the shelter, to visit the kids and to establish programs that will empower them. Together, we will make a difference in this world, one child at a time. – Jill Mijanovic
My recent visit at the Agathians Shelter in Malaysia penetrated my heart so very deeply.
This all boys shelter consists of 42 and ages ranging from 4yrs to 18yrs old. Their lives have been broken and traumatized, yet they have a delightful spark of
light within their beautiful eyes. Jayawani Shiva introduced us to Sivabalan (Director). We were greeted by bright smiles and I could feel the boys excitement and wonder.
We were given a delicious lunch which consisted of rice, vegetable curry, 2 types of veggies, vadai, payasan, appalam, mix fruits and cordial juice which has sassafras.( Maybe some would be reminded of the taste of root beer) I came to find out that the shelter has budget constrain to provide a full course meal, so they eat 5 times a day. Their meals consist of bread, fried noodles, rice curry, vegetable and drink.
Knowing U.S. restrictions with children ( such as hugging or touching) and not sure what past experiences each child endured; I felt limited to how I would approach these beautiful brown eyed souls; not to be view aggressive and with careful soft compassion. If I had it my way, I would have scooped them all up with motherly love and kisses! As God always has a plan; this tension eased very nicely as the boys eagerly looked for the attention and I was so willingly ready to give. Siva told me, “they need exactly what anyone needs…LOVE” I was elated to see their embracing us, which shows hope and trust in others. Jill and Vanaja brought the donated boxes of toys, markers, crayons, puzzles,stuffed animals. We opened them and I watched as some looked at the stuffed animals. I told several of the boys about my own children and when they heard I have two boys and a girl, it seemed to personalize our conversations. I whispered, ” I know boys like snuggling with stuffed animals, it’s ok!” I received surprised looks and smiles and watched several grab a few. They played music and I was asked to dance by this strapping 13 yr old. We spun around in laughter. The boys showed us their talents of dance, playing football, and told us what they desired to be in their adult life; such as doctor, army, professional soccer, mechanic, engineer, teacher etc. Another handsome young friend sat comfortably, talking with me about his love for God, and we reminded one another that God is with us in all ways no matter what the situation~trust. He asked if I could find a way for a bicycle and that they could use more footballs. (soccer) I told him I would do my very best to make this possible. He told me , ‘I know you will.” Siva told me one bike per 4 children would be sufficient. Of course monetary donations of any kind for food and clothing are needed also. My personal intention is to raise $2000 and I will be sending a bike. The boys asked all of us to sign their footballs, balloons and papers. Yuriy, Aijan, Maxim, Zhanar, Yuriy and others gave a special wish & blessing to the boys. We presented a frame of pictures of ourselves that Vanaja put together and within it was a picture of a heart I had drawn after one of our pre-retreat practices. An embryo is within it, representing the ‘inner child, self’. It stated, ‘Your loved and never alone’
We came together, from all parts of the world. Jill, Jayawani, Maria, Vanaja, Indyra, Irina and I sat in a large circle holding hands together with the boys as Zhanar, Yuriy, Maxim, Yuriy and Aijan stood on the outside circle. The Grace Light of Jothi filled the courtyard as we came together holding hands and filling all our lives with love. I looked at each young boy, and could feel their lives. Within each second of this pure profound moment I realized we have come together saturating oneness. irina, Zhanar, Aijan and I spoke different languages, yet we all amazingly spoke the same language all day long with the joy, compassion and love in our touch, our eyes, our hearts and our spirit. At this very moment, I felt pure Bliss penetrating from each adult and child in this courtyard.
Toward the end of our visit, several of the boys came up to me with a green heart made of construction paper. It had Agasthian crossed out and replaced with ‘We Love You’
Jaya stated that Agathian was crossed out so the boys would let me know this was from each of them, not to be looked at as shelter group. I told Jaya the story behind the heart I had drawn as her eyes filled with tears. This love touched me so deeply. I told the boys how they blessed me today with a dance, laughter, playfulness and conversation. I wanted them to realize they are beautiful souls. My construction paper heart sits on my alter at home and is remembered everyday.
There is no doubt we were all to be together this day ~ A special thank you to Jayawani, her husband and their neighbor, who offered his van and drove us to our destinations. Thank you everyone~ Andrea Torstensen