One great thing about living with family during my Visa process is it allows me to set aside lots of money for Immigration fees, and still have enough to buy some really cool stuff (amazing how much you can save living in your parents basement). Looking around this room alone I can see a LCD television, new laptop, iPad, Garmin Watch, and two pairs of high quality running shoes; thats not even taking into account drinking enough twelve packs of Diet Dr. Thunder to create a house of empty cartons.
But this morning I was given something that blew all of the other stuff away.
This is Carlos and Margarita, two of the students who I teach English twice a week at the local YMCA. He is part of the maintenance staff at another YMCA in the area but she doesn’t work, so having three children creates a pretty big financial strain. Last month after our final class before Christmas I gave them a card with some cash hoping that it would help during the holidays…they didn’t say a word about it but came back today with a blue bag in their hand.
It was a gift for me.
These people who barely had the money to pay their bills went out and bought a package of chocolate and t-shirt and gave it as a late Christmas gift.
They may have felt obligated to give a present because I had given them something for Christmas, but their willingness to give sacrificially in a time when they had very little money moved me. And it reminded me of my own hard times in Australia.
When the American dollar went south and suddenly I started losing $250 a month after currency exchange instead of gaining $200.
When my diet consisted of grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches three times a day.
When I had to turn off the heat in my house one winter because I couldn’t pay utilities.
Trust me when I say the LAST thing I was thinking about in that situation was giving to someone else. Yet my students facing financial hardship went out to buy a Christmas present for “Mr. John”, and this is why their gift is so precious. Because giving while living in your parents basement is easy, but giving when your struggling takes real character.