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Posted on Jul 25, 2011

Ugly Gifts Too

Ugly Gifts Too

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We’ve spent a week travelling from central Costa Rica to Northern Panama. While in transit, we have had the joy of briefly meeting beautiful souls who have blessed us with their unique gifts. These gifts have come in all sorts of packages. Some of them I didn’t like. They hurt. But those, too, have left us with something precious we’re supposed to receive.

We met David in the youth hostel in La Fortuna. David’s super fun to talk to. He’s excited about life, easy to laugh with, and is happy to just hang out and share stories. He hurt his leg pretty badly when he was jumped in the streets of Nicaragua too late one night. He’s postponed bungee jumping to get his leg looked at in San Jose. His three-month solo Central American adventure is inspirational. He’s heading south in our direction and we hope to have more time to hang out with him.
Claire and Josh are a couple enjoying 6 weeks on the road before Josh starts medical school the first week of August. They make an adorable couple who both have a passion with this region, and are both so open to give and receive gifts from others. They said that one day when they have kids, they’ll buy our book, so they’ll know how to do an open-ended world family adventure too. Claire is just beautiful (she actually shines), is intelligence, and is lovely to talk with. It is upon Claire’s prodding and her genuine concern that David finally got his leg looked at.
We spent almost three days with Lori and Mike, and their daughters Gloria and Erika. Our kids spent hours splashing in the pool;  we spent hours bonding with these fascinating people. As foster parents for the past 22 years, they have provided a safe landing ground for over 150 kids. Both Gloria and Erika are adopted. Mike and Lori feel that their calling to foster parenting is just because, as Mike says, “It’s all about the kids”. They gave us (are you ready for this?) a huge, family-size tent complete with screened tent and rain tarp! We’re excited to use it as soon as the ground is dry enough to hold us. Because there was so much to learn from Lori, I had the honor of interviewing her for the NightLight Parenting Series. What a gift she has given to us all.
And lastly…
In the youth hostel, we met three young women. They were on a three week Central American adventure and we met them on day four. As I worked on a side table on the upcoming book, they chit chatted. Kobi enters the dining hall- sweet, full of light, and very friendly. He walks over to the kitchen sink, smiles right at them, and asks them, “How are you?”
It is moments like this that baffle me. I fail to understand what’s the point in being ugly to your fellow man. Maybe it makes people feel good about themselves. They gave him fake smiles, looked him up and down, and burst into laughter. I sat there in the corner room and watched his sweet face so from ‘open to giving’ to ’closed to receiving’. He didn’t want (and didn’t deserve) to get their snobby slap in the face.
They also have some gift to give us. Even though at that moment, I felt like tearing their designer clothing, just-so hair, and manicured nails; I know they had something to give us. What was it?
That we are grateful that we are not like that? That there are lovely and less obviously lovely souls in every race in the world? That I love my family and their meanness just made me appreciate how sweet my Kobi is. Or when we saw another table full of young tourist at the pizza place in town, and they joyfully and so friendlily spoke to my son; the foil between the formers’ meanness and the latters’ kindness renewed my faith in my fellow traveler.
So the gifts keep coming, and we’ll just keep receiving them with hearts full of gratitude. This trip, in and of itself, is a gift. And the world, is our package. How lucky are we?



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