I confess – I blew it. I asked ROP volunteer, Jeff LoCricchio, to write a story about taking a bunch of Karenni (Burmese tribe) kids trick or treating, and then I forgot to publish it. But it is a great story and I am pretty sure you will enjoy it even if Halloween was several months ago. Check it out.
“What time does Halloween start?” asked Neh Reh dressed in his ninja costume nervously pacing back and forth.
“When it gets dark.” I replied.
“Do I have to wear the ninja mask? Will I still get candy if I don’t?’’ he asked.
“Don’t worry Bud.” I answered.” You don’t have to wear the mask and you’ll still get candy.”
A wave of relief passed over his innocent face followed by that huge bright smile that I have become all too familiar with. And it’s because of that Karenni smile, the one that infects my soul, this is why I come back to them. Volunteering as an ROP mentor to Karenni refugee families has truly changed me.
Neh Reh was one of ten Karenni refugee kids, ages six through fourteen that I was taking out trick or treating this year. In their low income neighborhood on East Colfax, Halloween at night is not quite the safe American holiday that most of us are used to. And realizing that many of these kids had never been out on Halloween….well I couldn’t have that. With the help of ROP and their van I brought these kids Halloween – in my neighborhood in Highlands Ranch.
Sure there was the last minute panic of costume details as the kids fought for mirror space in the bathrooms in my home applying their makeup. “You have more than one bathroom?” a surprised Jae Meh asked.
Keeping up with these kids was challenging as they ran, often sprinted, from house to house taking in as much of this holiday as they possibly could, as if they were making up for lost years. Some of the older kids asked my permission if they could venture out on their own. “Sure!’’ I replied. “Just be careful.” Their excitement was overwhelming. “It’s so fun to be young!’’ Soe Meh screamed.
I saw surprised looks from neighbors from the multitude of “Thank you’s” these kids gave. And that made me beam like any proud parent.
And at the end of the evening, having finally convinced my crew that two hours of trick or treating was enough, they all gathered in my home like a band of pirates comparing their overflowing sacks of plunder and already reminiscing about their adventure.
And there it was again, that Karenni smile. I’m pretty sure I’ll do it all over again next year.
We thank God for partners in ministry like Jeff LoCricchio. Pretty sure he would agree with me that when you step out of your comfort zone and choose to invest time and love into the lives of others, you are the one most blessed.
***Reminder – Please mark your calendars for Friday, May 4th (2 months from now). This is the
date of ROP’s Annual Dinner where celebrating God’s faithfulness will be the primary theme for our evening together. We have some encouraging stories to tell. So we hope you will plan to join us. Stay tuned for more information.