12/06/2008

What Kept Me Awake


I’ve always been proud of the fact that I can sleep at will—anywhere, anytime. My friends who have problems with insomnia say it is a “gift.” Grace it is.

Sleep, or power nap, as corporate people prefer to call it—in the car between meetings, in receiving halls before meetings, in boardrooms during meetings—made me survive the rigors of the workplace.

In the last three days, however, I have had no power nap. I was out of town for Compassion International’s Selection Camp.

That meant we had to do interviews all day. Those interviews were so heart wrenching (choosing only 40 among 70 needy students to be supported through college), I stayed awake, holding back tears over and over again.

Those kids (15 to 17), who walk to school, barefoot sometimes because they have no money for shoes or transportation, and who still have to taste fried chicken, gave poverty a face. They all have one desire: to go to college, hoping to make something of themselves with nothing but determination to forge ahead.

We started the interviews at nine AM and knocked off at six PM. After an early supper, because there was no internet connection, one had nothing else to do but sleep—for 10 hours straight, two nights in a row. Those were gifts, too.

For how could one sleep after listening to a series of heartbreaking stories—stories that make you angry and helpless and guilty at the same time? I read the morning papers and saw the other side of the track—gloating politicians, wallowing in wealth and promising to help the poor.

On my long ride home, I didn’t doze off as I often do. I talked to the God of grace. And I gawked at buildings. Architecture in this country is extremely varied and each block is different. Two buildings made me smile. One was McDonald’s. It looked like a pack of French Fries!


And the other was OMF Lit's. It has a billboard of my latest book.


At the Compassion Selection Camp, I learned that you don’t find joy. It finds you. It also found me in traffic watching these buildings—which were a balm to a heavy heart.

2 comments:

Tribo said...

Poverty is a reality, and we do need lots of people who have the heart to help those in need... And one thing I've learned in being an activist, politicians, we can't rely on them but there are still people out there who can and are willing to help those in need... We need to have faith in these people... and we need to have faith in God cause I know he always good things to come to us...

Grace D. Chong said...

Hi, Tribo! Thanks for the reminder. Having faith in people, and specially in God, to make things easier for those who are mired in poverty will keep us going.