The little guy in the back seat will never lead you astray.
My son has an uncanny ability to recognize landmarks. Whether it is on the way to his grandparents’ house or even new terrain one day into a vacation, Dawit has always had the ability to know right where he is.
I’m not sure if it is simply a gift he has or if it has something to do with coming from Ethiopia when he was 4. He was limited in language and had to find his own way without the normal signposts we take for granted.
I guess it could be cultural. Tradition says that the wise man that brought frankincense to Jesus was from Ethiopia so maybe he just follows the stars. I don’t know how Dawit does it, but it is impressive.
Tuesday night, the little voice in the back seat became a beacon to light an entirely different path.
We went to one of Dawit’s favorite places — the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant in Oklahoma City. Every time Dawit walks in the door, he breathes in a hint of the life he left behind and then enjoys the food that reminds him of everything he loved about his life half a world away.
On the way he noticed the McDonald’s where we stop and get his brother something to eat — Blake never fell in love with Ethiopian spices — and many other points of interest along the way.
Little did we know that his heart was hurting as we made our way across town. There were many people panhandling on medians and at busy intersections. Many of their signs said they needed help with gasoline or something to eat. Unfortunately, many of us have grown accustomed to seeing people in need and driving by without a second glance. We’re cynical, skeptical and egotistical
I’m so glad my son isn’t.
On the way home, Dawit was singing along with his favorite Christian music radio station when suddenly he stopped singing and started talking.
“One day if I get rich, I want to take care of all the people who are on the sidewalk,” he said. “Because God gave me so much, I want to give to other people.”
My wife and I locked eyes. We were equal parts caught off guard by and impressed with the generous and caring little person in the back seat of the car.
Then he started asking how much cars cost. I asked him why he wanted to know.
“I might get them a car so they can go see their family,” he said. “Because God gave me a family. Everyone should have a family. You guys gave me so much and I want to give that to other people.”
Dawit went back to singing and, needless to say, no one in the front seat was able to talk for a little while.
He is 10.
In his short life, Dawit has known pain few people will ever know and he has brought joy to lives that few people could.
He wants to be rich, not so that he can live in the lap of luxury but so he will have more to give to others.
Anne Frank said no one has even become poor from giving. Far too few people have tested that theory.
When we first started the process to adopt an orphan from Ethiopia, we thought our family was going to help a child in need. After 6 years of having Dawit in my life, I’m still not rich. But I am richer for knowing him and seeing how much joy having a family has brought to him and how he wants to take the joy the overflows from his heart and share it with others.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.