From my seat in the van, the rows of tomato plants looked like neatly laid pick-up-sticks. It was harvest time near Quincy, Florida, picking season for hundreds of migrant workers. With a team of youth, I was ready to spend a week renovating an old church and community center. Yet after that week of labor, my most valuable lesson came not from my own efforts, but from spending time with the church community.
One kind family invited us to come with them to the tomato fields. Early in the morning we rose, dressed in long sleeves for protection, and went to meet the family. They smiled, slowing their routine to be patient with us. I met their daughter, who was almost my age. She and her brother taught me how to pick the best tomatoes, those of good size and color. In the hot sun, they showed us where they kept water, and laughed with us when we took breaks. I realized how much I had in common with the girl, two young people with hopes and dreams, separated only by space and culture. I learned what it is to understand, to be open to new people and ways of life. That Sunday, I met the girl and her brother again. They came to the church bringing tomatoes and fresh watermelon to share. This family, whose life depended on filling baskets with tomatoes, took precious time to share their profits with us, with me. They understood the joy and goodness of life far better than any of us, teenagers from the city. We were the ones who seemed to have everything, yet it was I who had so much to learn. From their warm and open kindness, I saw the beauty of sharing with others. They, who had little, truly understood the value of giving.
I think often of the girl and her family, where they moved, and how they are living. Her family sparked my belief in the necessity of caring, compassionate respect for others. The migrant people showed me that I, one with so much, have a responsibility to share with those who have little. I went to spend a week giving and ended up receiving so much more. I believe that by giving, with honest respect and cooperation, we can truly be part of the human family.
Submitted by Anonymous