Or, in our family's case, and especially our six-year-old son Jack's, the time to jump on a few planes, fly over the Atlantic, change eight time zones and break your finger.
We're an active-duty American Air Force family currently stationed in England. So anytime we want to visit home, the trip entails a whole lot more than just throwing the kids in the minivan and spending an hour or two on the freeway. Hence, we only plan on coming back once a year during the summer for the four years we're stationed in Europe.
Already, Jack has had quite the adventure. While visiting Grammy and Papa a few weeks ago, and while Mom and Dad were busy putting down his younger siblings for naps, he decided to play with a beautiful two-tiered water fountain in the backyard. It has a sizable cherub holding a water-spewing fish on top. When he pushed on the top tier to make the water flood over the side, the cherub (probably weighing at least as much as Jack) fell forward, crushing his hands underneath.
We rushed him to urgent care just a mile or two down the road. The building was beautiful: high ceilings, huge windows, clean as a whistle, air-conditioned, clean and cold water fountains in the corner, decorated with paintings and photographs of the beautiful state of Oregon, stocked with widescreen TVs and a play area for kids. We showed them our military IDs (because that acts as our insurance card) and the kind, trained professionals ushered us right in.
From there, they took X-rays and asked Jack his version of the story.
"There was a baby on top of the fountain, and it fell on me," he said. After thinking a moment, he helpfully added, "Not a real baby. A concrete one." You know, just in case there was any confusion.
While we were waiting for his X-rays to be read, I asked him a question. "What do you think Charly would have to do in Nicaragua if he got his fingers crushed?"Jack was quiet for a long minute, thinking about his Compassion brother, born on the exact same day almost seven years ago, thousands of miles away. "Maybe his fingers would stay broken forever?" he ventured.
I knew that wasn't true but wanted to continue the line of thought. "Why would that be?"
"Because in Nicaragua people are poor and can't go to the hospital."
"How do you think Charly's fingers would feel if no one was there to wrap it up? What would happen if they didn't have any disinfectant or a cast?"
Jack looked down at his smashed, bleeding hands. "He would hurt really bad, and might get sick or even die, right?"I let that sink in for a moment. "Yes, if you get an infection and don't get it taken care of, you might die."
My beautiful son looked at me, wide-eyed and crushed with the remembered knowledge that not everyone has it as good as him. But then I got to share the good news.
"Guess what? Remember how we sponsor Charly through Compassion?" I asked. "That means if Charly gets hurt or sick that he doesn't have to fight it on his own! He gets to go to the clinic and get medical help!"
For the next few minutes, Jack and I talked about what Compassion sponsorship meant to a boy like Charly. A solid, nutritious meal, a safe place to do homework and get school help, a chance to learn about Jesus...and medical care. So if anything does happen to Charly (and we pray it doesn't!), his mom won't have to do anything more than watch her baby boy be brave and heal.
We don't hide the reality of life from our kids. While we keep things age-appropriate, opportunities like X-rays and broken bones are a perfect opportunity to teach our babies about compassion (and Compassion!), social justice, poverty and perspective. So even though our boy has to survive the rest of the water-soaked summer like this......we know his crushed finger will serve as a reminder of his crushed heart, too -- healed and pieced together again by taking action for a brother he's never met.
About Crystal Kupper....Crystal is a passionate sponsor and advocate for Compassion. She is a military wife, mom to three kids and is a freelance writer, currently living in the UK. You can find her blogging at Crystal Kupper
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