“Shopping” in the City

by Jen Esh

I was in charge of all the little ones during play time. We had walked to the “ground” – our big, dirt field, lined with garbage. We picked a spot on the ground and made pretend houses out of stones and leaves.

Noami and Lata decided that they were going “shopping in Mumbai.” I didn’t know what this meant but played along. Pretty soon, they had plastic bags that they had found on the ground and were walking around looking for things to buy.

I stared in disbelief as they joyfully exclaimed, “Look what we bought in Mumbai!” A piece of a box became a cake. A cracked light bulb was a lamp. And an empty bottle was a delicious drink. My heart broke at the thought of children using garbage as toys.

Lata brought me an empty packet. She stuffed her fingers in it and gestured for me to smell. The aroma of Indian perfume wafted out. Her smile lit up her face.

“Wow! That smells beautiful!” I said as I returned her smile.

My frustration at their situation fizzled out as I saw the joy that this simple piece of trash had brought. No child should have to play with garbage. But I was reminded of the goodness of God in the midst of pain. These girls had lived in a garbage dump on the streets, but now were rescued. Now they have a home, food, education and people who love them.

“God, thank you for rescuing these children from the streets,” I prayed. “Thank you for showing your love for them.”

As I went to bed that night, I was reminded of Isaiah 61 – “you have bestowed on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” Or now I could say the “sweet smell of perfume instead of trash.”