Saturday morning I met the saddest little boy.
As my morning rolled in, I started to make myself toast and pour myself a cup of coffee. From the corner of my eye, I saw movement outside of the kitchen door.
My good friend, Lauren, quickly stated, “That kid is so cute!” Which caused my attention to be greater focused on the little person standing in the sunlight, collecting plastic bottles from our trash.
She then briefly mentioned parts of his story to me, which immediately stopped me in my tracks and made me put down my cup of coffee (and that’s a big deal for me).
“He has aids,” she said. “He doesn’t really have parents, and he lives with his grandmother, who is about 90 years old. She’s a Christian, but they’re very poor. So Hong collects bottles, and she sells meth to make a living.”
“God is bigger! He can do anything. I have to pray healing over him!”
I asked Lauren how I should go about it, and she stated to just walk up and state, “khnhom athisthean”. Which means “I pray” in Khmer. So with my awkward hello and two Khmer words I stepped through the door netting and greeted the young boy, asking if I could pray.
A small smirk cracked over his sad, barren face. He was a bit confused, but he processed with a head nod and closed his eyes and clasped his hands. I quickly prayed a prayer over him. “God, thank you that you can heal and nothing is too hard for you. I pray healing over this boy in Jesus name! Amen!” He quietly said, “arkoun” (which means thank you) and put his head down.
After a minute of walking away, he peaked his head back in and sat on the rug near our kitchen door. We asked if he was hungry or thirsty, but he said “no.” Lauren went and sat by the boy and made small talk with him. Smiles and company can go a long way in any culture, but her heart, to sit with him and just be, said a thousand words.
I studied the little boy as I drew near and sat as well. He was wearing old, worn, dirty pajamas that he was clearly growing out of and no shoes.
“How old is he?” I asked. (Expecting a reply of 8 or 9.)
“12” Lauren said. “He’s a very small 12 year old because of malnutrition.” My heart was broken. I began choking back tears as I looked at his sad little face.
Our friend Tut came over and translated a bit for us. Young Hong said he doesn’t really do much because he’s so sick. He doesn’t have anyone to play with either. His mother died and his dad didn’t want him. He also doesn’t attend school because of his sickness. He has to collect bottles for money because his grandmother is so old and can’t do much anymore. The more he talked, the more heartbroken I became.
I then went upstairs and grabbed two small bags of Christian, kid trinkets made by my friend Chelsea’s church in Louisiana. I bought them down to the kid. He recieved and quickly opened with a blank stare of excitement.
He began to put the plastic cross necklaces over his head and play with the stickers in the pack. He was just enjoying this moment of beautiful interruption from adulthood, to be the child that he is and that God intends him to be.
It’s sad to say, but in places like Poipet, Cambodia, Hong is just one of the many stories like this.
Since that Saturday morning, we’ve seen Hong one other time. In which, my friend Lauren and I felt led to bless this sweet boy with shoes and a new outfit (he didn’t have shoes before and was in desperate need of new clothes). We were worried we would guess the size wrong, but wouldn’t you know that Holy Spirit guided us even in that?
As he placed the new shoes on his feet, a huge smile arose on his face. “Was this the same kid?” We also held the outfit up against him and it was a perfect fit! “Arkoun”, He said with joy!
Two of my students (that I teach English to) saw this event going down. They immediately said, “Teacher, this boy is always so sad but today he is so happy.”
And hopefully, there will be more to come of this story. Because just in that hour or two of my Saturday morning, I was wrecked for a kid and challenged to seek the Father’s Heart on his total healing!
I also had a thought that captured me. A thought I can’t seem to get out of my head. I was on my way to eat my peanut butter, honey toast, and drink my coffee on the rooftop with Jesus that day. Holy Spirit stopped me, and instead, I had my breakfast with Jesus, downstairs, on the kitchen floor of our Cambodian home, one Saturday morning.