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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Rich (04/26/12)

TITLE: A Different Kind of Wealth
By Steve Uppendahl
05/01/12


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A father and his eight-year-old daughter were reading one night. During the reading, the father could tell something wasn’t quite right with his daughter. She wasn’t paying attention as she normally would, or asking questions every other line. He knew something heavy was on her mind.

After the story was over, she thanked her father, gave him a hug, and turned to go to bed. But, he held on, and had her sit back down.

“Dad, what is it?” she asked.

“I was going to ask you the same thing. Something’s been bothering you all night. Talk to me.”

She sighed and bowed her head.

“Remember I told you about the new boy in class, Enrique?”

“Yeah,” he answered cautiously, his dad alarm beginning to heighten.

“Well, we were in Social Studies. Mrs. Kent was talking about how in old times the rich were mean to the poor, when Enrique said his family was very rich, but they were nice. Dad, everyone laughed at him.”

“Why?”

“Enrique’s only been in class about two weeks. He wears the same clothes almost every day. His jacket has holes in it. Everyone knows he’s not rich.”

“Did, you laugh, Grace?”

“No! I didn’t say anything. You should’ve seen his face, Dad. He was so sad the whole day. I didn’t know what to do. I felt bad. But, he shouldn’t have lied.”

“How do you know he was lying?”

Grace leaned back as if her father had suggested she clean her room. The father gave a closed-mouth smile and a slight nod.

“I want to tell you a story, Grace, about a rich man. You know Daddy’s best friend, Curtis?”

Grace nodded.

“Before your mother and I were married, we went with Curtis to Mexico. He was still a youth pastor. He was taking a group of high school students and chaperones to Mexico. We were going to build houses and put a new roof on the orphanage in a small town along the central coast area.

“It was a three-day drive from Portland to the town in Mexico. It was July, so it was very hot the entire trip. We were all exhausted when we arrived. We had only been at the camp for about an hour, when Curtis told us we were going for a drive.

“After three days in those vans, none of us wanted to get back in those things. But, Curtis insisted. Curt said he wanted us to see who we would be helping. We drove through some massive strawberry and watermelon farms.”

“Strawberries! Watermelons!”

“Yes, Gracie. Focus.

“We stopped at some kind of camp. Everything seemed to be coated with dust. There was a water pump with a handle and a line of metal buckets beneath it. There were five very long and warped tables made from plywood. And there were two lines of small huts. Pieces of aluminum for roofs connected them all. It was amazing, Gracie. There must’ve been one hundred and fifty of them.”

“What were they?”

“Homes for the people who worked in those fields. Every hut was the same, about five and a half feet tall and maybe eight feet wide. Our interpreter found a man willing to let us enter his hut. We had to stoop to enter. Only two of us could go in at a time.”

“Why?”

“Because, sweetie, that’s all that could fit. There was only one room. It was hot and smoky. There was a small fire burning in one corner on the dirt floor. Six, small, filthy blankets lay in another corner of the room. He and his family slept there.

“After we all had seen his home, the interpreter and the man spoke. We were told that the man wanted us to be sure to notice that his walls were white. He set aside extra money each week to keep his walls clean. You see, the smoke from the fire blackened the walls. Every month, he repainted them. The man nodded and gave a huge, glowing smile.

“He said the money was worth it. For his family to have clean walls, to be proud of their home.”

The father’s chest hitched at that point. He took a deep breath and covered his face with a hand.

“Tell me, Gracie, why was he rich?”

Grace thought for a long time.

“Because he was happy with what he had. Just like Enrique.”

The dad smiled.

“Correct. Always remember, there are different kinds of wealth.”


**Based on true events**


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This article has been read 280 times
Member Comments
Member Date
CD Swanson 05/05/12
An important message and beautiful sense of reality. This entry was done in a clever way while bringing forth a wealth of information for one to consider.

I loved the interaction and the powerful dialogue between the child and parent.

Thank you. God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/07/12
This is a super sweet story. I loved the idea of dad and daughter having the special quiet time together.

The first paragraph seemed a tad stilted and that you were doing more telling than showing. Just a simple thing like giving the girl a name and rephrasing the first sentence something like this -- Daddy and Emily snuggled into bed to read a story, when Daddy noticed his daughter furrowing her eyebrows. That's just a quick example to show you what I'm trying to say.

This would make a darling kids stories. With some slight polishing, I could see it as a early reader book. I love the lesson in the end. I also really appreciate that though the father helped the daughter resolved the conflict herself. Often when adults write for kids the adult in the story is the hero. Here you bring it full circle and deliver a perfect message without coming off as preachy.
Graham Insley 05/08/12
A great piece and very well written.

The only critique I can give is that the first line or two didn't really grab me. Once I got into it I was fine, but I feel it needed more of a hook.

You write a really good story and I thank you for the lesson.
Dannie Hawley 05/08/12
I love that this article is based on a true story, as well as the father-daughter thing. One teenage boy I knew needed to go shopping for school clothes; but, after two weeks working in a Mexican orphanage, he told his mother he just couldn't buy any new clothes for the school year beginning in the next month. He already had so much. His little Mexican buddy had only one shirt and one pair of pants. Hopefully, your MC was able to help his child communicate the truth of "real riches" when she returned to school. Nice job.
Ada Nett05/08/12
The story fit the title well. Wealth can truly be a matter of perspective and is founded on being happy and thankful for what we do have.
~Cathy~
lynn gipson 05/08/12
I loved this...precious relationship between father and daughter...excellent
lynn gipson 05/08/12
I loved this...precious relationship between father and daughter...excellent
Marina Rojas05/09/12
This was a good story about a simple truth of riches that were imparted to a child's heart at an early age.

I really enjoyed reading this!
Janice Quimby 05/12/12
That was a very touching story with a great message. Would that we who have so much could be satisfied with what we have.

The beginning of it could stand some work. I thought Shann had a good suggestion.