The leper who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry, `Unclean, unclean.' He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone in a habitation outside the camp.
Leviticus 13: 45-56
This verse was on my mind today at the dump site. Melissa and I went, as has become our usual Thursday afternoons, with Father Heinz to the dump site today. We did the usual handing out of cookies and medical check ups. Though, this week we decided to change it up a little bit. We went to the local department store and bought a cheap volleyball and some stickers for the little kids. So instead of helping with the medical checks we played with the kiddos the whole time. We started playing volleyball but it turned out to be a little bit risky since it had just rained (resulting in black tar water lining the streets). So we broke out the stickers. Mass amount of children piled around and placed loads of spiderman stickers all over their faces and arms. When they started to run out of room on themselves they started putting stickers on us instead. Trust me, we have the photos to prove this. Once the stickers ran out, I decided to start spinning the kids and making them fly like I do with my 3 year old class during the "Jesus is my Superhero" song. They loved it! It was so great! But they were all a little timid at first... I couldn't realize why until one the kids looked up at me, looked at themselves, and said "but you're going to get dirty" and kinda started stepping away. I looked down and realized that indeed my arms and neck were on their way to a blackish color. At that moment I realized what was going on- they were ashamed for me to hold them because they somehow knew that I was "cleaner" than them. I finally looked at the little girl, said "I don't care", and went to pick her up. They all were ready to fly after that little conversation.
This all brought me to this verse in the Bible. During those times if you had leprosy and you came into town you had to shout "unclean" everywhere you went to warn people that you weren't safe to touch. It was pretty much public humiliation. You already have to live with the fact that you are sick and hurting and now whenever you're around other people you have to let all of them know it too. It made me really sad that these kids are living that life. We're the white people who walk in and suddenly they are self conscious about the fact that they haven't bathed in a while. They're scared for us to touch them because they don't want us to be dirty too. All of them were like this. They were worried about our arms that were getting dirty because of the volleyball. They were worried about holding our hands or riding our backs... they were worried about them being who they are. My heart broke at this moment. I don't ever want to be the person who puts on hand sanitizer after they shake hands with a child. Or not hug a kid for fear of getting dirty. My arms are open for them. They'll always be. I love these kids already and I want to play with them and hug them and let them feel safe with me. I' happy that we got to be the light to them today. We got to have open arms and smiling faces. I love this trip so much... :D