Thank You for the Bread
by Joel Reyes
Ramon was a very quiet kid. He had lost his family at a very young age and lived in a children’s village for orphaned and abandoned children operated by International Children’s Care (ICC). He tried to cooperate with everything he was asked to do and did his best to fit in with the family. Mealtime was his favorite time of the day. He would sit at the table and anxiously wait for his housemother to serve the food. One day she noticed that Ramon saved some of the food she served him and took it to his room. His mother spoke with him about it and asked him to stop.
However, as his mother was cleaning the children’s room one day, she discovered a variety of food items stored under Ramon’s mattress. She realized that he had not only continued to take food into his room, but had also gone into the kitchen pantry and taken food items from there as well.
I was administrator of the children’s village where Ramon lived at the time, and decided to talk with him about it. He didn’t try to deny or justify anything. He would only say that he was sorry.
It was not until sometime later that I realized the reason Ramon was storing food under his mattress. I visited him in his room one day, and asked him to tell me a bit about life before coming to the ICC children’s village. At first he was reluctant, but slowly he began to open up. He told me how he had to learn to fend for himself at a very young age. He never had a mother to call him to dinner. He ate whatever he could find whenever it was available. He also learned to save and make provision for tomorrow, because on the streets you never know what tomorrow will bring. I had a hard time keeping my composure as Ramon spoke. After he was done, I hugged him very tight and told him, “Ramon, you no longer need to worry about food. You are our son and it is now our job to make sure you have food to eat every day. You will never have to live in the streets again. This is your home and you will always have all the food you need. I make that promise to you today….” A long silence followed, and as I looked at Ramon’s face, I could tell he believed me. I left his room that day and went to the farm--one of my favorite places on campus. I didn’t want anybody to see me as I let my emotions drain. It was beginning to get dark and the solitude of the cornfield felt good to my soul.
That day I had a long talk with God, as I tend to do when I have no answers. As night began to fall I could see the lights of the big city behind the towering volcano. I thought about all the street children in the dark back alleys, looking for a spot to prepare a “bed” for the night, hungry and sick. I felt so small and insignificant that evening.
But as in the case of Elijah hiding in the cave, the Lord never abandons us. As I made my way back into campus, from the cornfield, I saw lights in one of the houses, and then I heard the typical song the children sang when they sat at the table for a meal. “Thank you Lord for the day, for the sun and for the bread. Thank you for your love and for providing for our table today….” I stopped to listen until they were done then looked up to heaven and said, “Thank you, Lord, for providing for these little ones, and thank you for allowing me to be part of their lives."