Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)
TITLE: Stitching up Opportunity
By Helen Murray
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They weren’t Lilliputians really, but Africans of fine and dainty build, with white teeth flashing brilliantly in the beautiful dark faces as they responded awkwardly to him with shy smiles.
One by one they came to shake his hand, doctors, lawyers, teachers, farmers, builders, and pastors and more. What a powerful community they had developed, and how faithfully they served their own people. “If only we understood their commitment to the Lord and to each other back home”, he thought as his eyes wandered to the children with their dancing eyes, disciplined but most certainly loved, so many of them without parent or hope except for the mission. He could not help but reach out to them, and immediately there were many at his side, laughing and jostling to touch him in their amiable, friendly fashion.
They walked to the garden to see how the well was working. Such a magnificent vegetable patch exploded all over the ground as the chief gardener explained finer details, and some older boys came out to select the vegetables to be prepared for the luncheon. Potatoes, carrots and silver beet disappeared into the kitchen as the giant walked among the fruit orchard, trailed by dancing children. They had a song for him, they said, and his heart melted with the hearing. He also took a turn to sing a rendering of “All things bright and beautiful…”, his heart skipping a beat at the words “He gave us eyes to see with…” The children demanded He sing the song over and over again until they could sing it themselves. Then they asked for stories of Australia, and heard of the giant’s favourite places, of dancing days, picnics in parks, games of football and tennis, of study and difficulties to be overcome, of his own three children, of kangaroos and koalas, emus and the crazy, laughing kookaburras.
He sat with the leaders at lunch and marvelled at their achievements, for they had all begun life with very little sight. There had been a pool of glasses sent from overseas, from which they had each received one pair, specifically chosen for them as a match for their special requirement. Secondhand spectacles had been collected for them. They had been able to learn to read after all. They had studied with these spectacles for years. Proudly they exhibited for him the great gifts they had received so many years ago, treasured now, which had opened up the world of opportunity for impoverished, sightless orphans to become the doctors, teachers pastors etc that today provided their wonderful pool of talent for life.
Close to tears, he thought, “It was every bit worth the collection from Australian chemist and optometrist shops of thousands of used glasses and preparing them for their next owners. It was worth every tedious lunch-hour of the hundreds spent, identifying the prescription of each second hand pair of spectacles that were to be sent overseas for use in the orphanages. Pastors, doctors, farmers, teachers all because of those hours of lonely labour. Did he regret a moment? Not one. His determination to continue unabated was set in concrete right then and there.
Based on the true story of my childhood dancing partner and friend, who later became an optometrist.
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