Friday, March 6, 2009

"Sistah, you look like my Barbie!"

I spent my first day at the Redemption Children’s Home (RCH) yesterday—one of the groups of people and projects that my congregation, the American Lutheran Congregation in Oslo, Norway (ALC) walks in companion relationship with, and a Level II Giving Opportunity through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Global Mission office. I have been looking forward to meeting the children of RCH since I had the blessing of meeting Pastor Abraham—their ‘Daddy’—last fall when he visited ALC to share with us and teach us. I’ll write more about the specifics of RCH later, but for now, just one quick story…

As I said before, I spent my first day with the children at Redemption Children’s Home yesterday. A hot, hot, hot day, beads of sweat ran down my face even while standing still in the shade, and yet the children ran and played, colored pictures and played football, ran to their ‘sisters and brothers’, my fellow volunteers Sisters Marije and Fiona and Sir Mike, and welcomed their new ‘Sister Elly’ with open arms. They truly are amazing children!

And although I spent most of that hot, hot, hot day smiling and laughing, one moment will stand out for a long time. It was mid-afternoon and one of the girls was playing with her hand-me-down Barbie doll. I wasn’t paying that much attention, until she suddenly stood before me and proclaimed, ‘Sistah, you look like my Barbie!’

I don’t think I’ve ever been compared to Barbie in my life. But, there she was, in front of me, tugging on Barbie’s hair with one hand and pulling me down onto her level with the other. She put Barbie’s hair next to mine and said, ‘See Sistah? Same!’ She put Barbie’s and my hands together and said, ‘See Sistah? Same!’ The same with Barbie’s legs, Barbie’s back, Barbie’s face… Then she pulled me even closer, her face within inches of mine, her eyes staring into mine, searching them, her face lit up and she laughed, pointing to Barbie’s eyes—‘See Sistah? Same!’

I’m still not quite sure how I feel about being a Barbie, and I’m still struggling with the fact that the only doll they have to play with is a white plastic Barbie doll… Maybe, instead of comparing myself to Barbie, I should have shown her how we, too, are the same. I’m not sure she would have believed me. I’m not sure, seeing the stark disparity between the two of us, I would have believed me either. I love the idea of ‘accompaniment’, but the actual walking alongside, that I still struggle to figure out for myself.

But, you know what? She really got a kick out of ‘Big Barbie’ and ‘Little Barbie.’ She was so proud of her discovery that she insisted that I take a picture of Barbie and her. I really tried to upload it here, but the computer just wouldn't let me. I'll post it later.

More stories later too, I promise!
The Shoeless Seminarian in Ghana

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