Gifts of Love from Children to Children

By June and Louis Eldredge

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    Eight-year-old Sarawuth Buttho’s eyes lit up as he looked into the package of clothes. He turned and darted up the stairs into the living area of his “home on stilts” in the Ubon Branch in Thailand. After a few minutes, he called to his father, “Dad, I’ve never seen clothes like this. Come and show me how to put them on.”

    Sarawuth’s sister, Oranut, and her friend, Chanchira Thondee, clasped their bags of treasure and ran next door to Chanchira’s house, where they tried on their new clothing. Seeing Oranut’s smile, watching Chanchira whirl in her ruffled lavender dress, or catching a glimpse of Sarawuth in his first-ever white shirt and tie would have been more than enough to thank the children in Bangkok for their wonderful gift.

    The Primary children in the English-speaking branch in Bangkok, Thailand, had heard about their brothers and sisters in the Issan region of Thailand. They knew that they were very poor and that they had very few clothes to wear. In fact, they learned that the only change of clothing these children had was their school uniform, which they wore to school every day. They did not have any special clothes for Sunday.

    Encouraged to begin to serve their fellowman in any way they could, the Primary children in Bangkok began a project to share what clothing they could spare with the children in the Issan region. They brought the clothing they wanted to donate to Primary, where the leaders made sure everything was clean, pressed, and mended. Clothing for about twenty children was then placed in plastic bags and tagged to show the size and age of the boy or girl who would receive it.

    After missionaries serving in the region distributed the parcels of love, they reported some wonderful stories of gratitude:

    Uthaiwan Arkomkong, age three, lives with her father and mother in a small room at the side of an equipment yard where her father works as a mechanic. Normally very shy, little Uthaiwan laughed and danced around the room when she put on the yellow ruffled dress that was in her package.

    In the Srisaket Branch, two eight-year-old girls received dresses on the very day they were to be interviewed for baptism. They were happy to have their pictures taken in their new dresses on this special day.

    When a pair of shoes was put aside by a teenager because they “squeezed her toes,” they were taken to Sister Pongsuwan, mother of three young daughters. “Do you want to be Cinderella?” asked Brother Dang as he knelt before her and slipped the shoes on her tiny feet. The shoes fit perfectly. Sister Pongsuwan danced and twirled with happiness, telling everyone that she had never had a pair of shoes before!

    The love of the Primary children in Bangkok for their young brothers and sisters in the Issan region was returned many times with bright smiles and warm “thank yous” as gifts of the heart were exchanged—children to children.

    Photography by June and Louis Eldredge