The first time I saw her, she was walking through the village under the scorching mid-afternoon sun. Her body was heavily tilted to the right to balance out the burden on her left side. As she walked, she radiated a sense of determination and responsibility that made her look more like an adult than a child.
She was holding a toddler on her left hip and a vaccination record in her right hand. She was barefooted. The only piece of clothing that the little boy wore was a small T-shirt that barely covered his very swollen, parasite-infested abdomen. She was just a little girl who didn’t look a day older than nine. Her name was Lualinda. The one thing that caught my attention the most about this little Miskito girl was her smile. As she hastily made her way through the village, she would often turn around and smile at me. So, I smiled back and caught up with her.
When I got closer, I noticed that her bottom teeth were full of stains and cavities. But that didn’t stop Lualinda from smiling.
I had recently arrived to fulfill my missionary assignment at the Tasba Raya Adventist Mission located in the small Miskito community of Francia Sirpi, on the northern Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. It was vaccination week, and Lualinda was taking herself and her little brother to the clinic to get their shots. We were both headed toward the clinic, she as a patient and I as a nurse.
Lualinda didn’t speak Spanish, and I knew very few words in Miskito, but that didn’t stop her from making me feel welcomed.
As we walked in silence next to each other, my mind dwelt upon the story from John chapter 6 of the little boy with the two fish and the five loaves of bread. Like him, Lualinda didn’t have many material things to offer. However, just like him, she didn’t hesitate to offer what she did have: her smile and her friendship.
This is exactly why Jesus said that to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must all be like little children: pure in our motives, always ready to forgive, and never hesitant to give.
Lualinda’s life is difficult, as are the lives of the other children who attend the Tasba Raya Adventist School. Most of them struggle to have shoes, clothes, appropriate health care, balanced nutrition, and school supplies.
From Lualinda I learned that it doesn’t matter how much you have but what you choose to do with it. Whether it be time, resources, or talents, we all have something to offer others. No contribution to the well-being of someone else is ever too small or insignificant. Remember, even two fish and five loaves can go a long way when put in the hands of the Master.
Jasiel Ordóñez, from Panama, earned a nursing degree from Southwestern Adventist University in the United States and volunteered as a medical missionary in Nicaragua.