In September 2012 I had the joy of participating in CGI’s 5K. I signed up anticipating my husband would watch our 15-month-old son and 3 ½ year old daughter while I lazily jogged the trail. Well, husband dearest needed to rescue a jet engine, leaving me with our children. I quickly realized my simple, sweet trot to raise awareness about Cambodia would be much more work. I loaded our double stroller, packed a bag of snacks, filled sippy cups to the brim and trudged off to the race.
My daughter Nellianne began asking questions: “Where are we going? Who are the people we’re running for? When do we eat next? They don’t have nice water?! I have to pee!” general questions and comments for a three-year-old thrust into a 5k. We arrived, unloaded, and checked in. The event, geared toward children, bustled with carnival games and parents as runners registered and proudly pinned on their badges. The large group headed toward the start line, funneling together like clowns in a car.
Just after the start gun popped, Nellianne looked up at me and politely asked, “Momma, may I run, too?” A thousand thoughts zoomed through my brain (as often happens in a mother’s mind). In the end, I let her run.
And she ran. And ran. And ran some more. In total, Nellie ran ¾ of the 5k and, in honesty, motivated me to run more than I would have otherwise.
After the race, I asked her if she understood why we were running. “Ummm…” She paused.
“For the kids in Cambodia.”
“But, Nellie, do you know what that means? Why do they need people to run for them?”
She waited, then responded, “They don’t have water or anything and we’re running for them.”
“That’s right sweetheart. We ran today so they could hear about Jesus and have jobs and clean water and so many more wonderful blessings! Our running raised money to help them!”
Two months later, she came to me and asked if she could give some of her toys to the Cambodian kids that don’t have any. We gathered some stuffed animals and books she no longer used or needed and gave them to Jaime Roscoe. When Jaime asked her why she wanted to do that [give her toys away], she said: “It made me sad they didn’t have anything to play with.”
I completely underestimated my daughter. Not only did she run – she grasped the idea of the run. It stuck somewhere in her tiny toddler heart, causing her to make decisions later in the year to help someone else, without provocation or motivation for herself. CGI Kids is helping change distant ideas into concrete concepts for children to grasp. Nellie isn’t just putting money in a jar to help change lives in Cambodia, she’s visualizing another child in need and asking, “What else can I do? How can I help more?”
CGI Kids is doing so much to help me teach Nellianne about people in need, about what it means to have a servant’s heart and what loving one another is all about. I am so grateful for their ministry and the way it is shaping my daughter.
by Emily Golbov