There are national holidays and observances for every conceivable notion. Grandparents day, Ultrasound Day, and Groundhog Day for goodness sakes! Then we have Children’s Day – really? Yes! Because some children are not celebrated in this world. You will have to look hard to find it in the United States, but it is much more visible beyond our borders.

And as I looked, I found Global Handwashing Day. It’s the first thing I shout out to my boys before they reach into the bag of whatever is on the counter, “Did you wash your hands?” It’s one of the first things I taught my youngest to do, using soap. It’s one of the things I think they probably don’t use (soap) as is evidenced on the white hand towels in the guest bath.

It’s also one of the things Community Health Evangelists (CHE) teach children and even adults. The importance of one of the simplest acts of our day, yet taken for granted. Doesn’t everyone know to wash hands – before eating, after visiting the restroom, privy, or WC? When you’re sick? After a hard days work?

Yet, this is what I heard and saw. CHE workers teaching children in an orange grove near the Thai/Burmese border to wash their hands, explaining why they should, teaching the method, encouraging, even coaxing.


Remembering that time, I thought, “Surely they know this. Did he (CHE trainer) really just say and demonstrate how to do this?” He did, and all the children dutifully repeated, wringing their hands, pretending to be wiping soap and water all over dirty little fingers, covered with the play and work of their day.

It’s the first picture that came to mind when I saw October 15 is Global Handwashing Day. A year ago, I would have thought Global Handwashing Day absurd. What a difference a year makes. My perspective completely changed as I watched the much too young being taught by near strangers, the simplest of sanitizing acts. Parents away at work in the fields, children wanting to please. I prayed they understood.

There are those who don’t know. How will they know unless someone tells them? This is biblical and refers to the telling of Christ’s love for the world. Yet it applies to all things beneficial, not just eternal.

First teach them to wash hands.


Sick Day

Well, didn’t anticipate staying home with a sick kiddo to send me to couch clutching my stomach too! Feeling only slightly better and beginning to be thankful for the rainy day, fuzzy blanket and hot chicken soup in my belly. It’s quiet other than the tap, tap, tap of fingers to keys.

I’ve begged for a quiet space to just think over the last month. One month ago, Thailand surrounded me with it’s jungled mountains and elephant trumpets. It enveloped me with it’s wide eyed children, inquisitive touches and peppery flavors. It bowed it’s greetings to me and humble hearts shared the love that matters. It must have been a dream.

Re-entry is easy and impossible. Sleep deprived, 4 children, a job, grocery shopping, winter coat shopping (it was 85 degrees in the “Land of Smiles!”), and, and, and… not one second to think about 10 days of travel. “How was your trip?” All I can muster is, “It was great! It was a really great trip.” Wow, that was inspiring! And not at all what I wanted to hear come from these lips.

What I want to say is, “Do you have a little time? There are children with healing hearts. They are tending the hearts of other littles who are at risk of tremendous hurt themselves. There are people who risk their lives, who give of their time, their families, who trust the Maker with every second of every day to provide and care for a few, but with big dreams to see the reality of thousands, living in the shadow of a mountain. Safe, Fed. Educated. Whole.

misty mountain

Deeper, further in the North, boys and girls spend their days without the watchful eyes of mothers and fathers, waiting for their tired return from the surrounding orange groves. Faithfully, expectantly, young families nurture and treat lonely babes with love, tender hearts and a message of salvation and self-care. These soldiers drive the long bumpy road, sidelined with broad-leaved banana trees, mountains straight ahead. It looks like paradise. It’s beauty is surpassed by urine soaked clothing and dirt smudged faces. Yet those smiles, some scared tears, and shy giggles at a woman with peach colored skin and yellow hair. A small one sizes me up, daring a touch, her question answered. I want to stay until safety returns. It’s time to go. Urgent prayers offered on their behalf. God, see them. Don’t let anyone touch them.

Huge, looming Buddah’s climbing clouded mountains. Pad Thai with hot vinegar. Young boys, heads shaved, wrapped in orange monk cloth. And it’s beautiful. I see God everywhere, even in the midst of great deceiving. God is greater and I am not afraid.

These thoughts enter my mind daily. Just brief pictured moments, things I want to say without time to speak. So with a seized stomach, thick blanket, grey sky and quiet space, I say it. Completely thankful.