We were out to change the world. This was our time, our senior year. My best friend Beth and I had big dreams… big hopes for our last year in high school. We had prayed and we were ready for the miracle we knew we would see. With great anticipation we started the year as I remembered my senior quote: “But God and I have big dreams and with big dreams you can’t give up, you have to keep pressing on.”
I would like to say that I was the first to notice her, but in my world of “big dreams” this one small quiet freshman did not appear on my radar. My sensitive best friend Beth was the first to notice her.
Kristi did you see the girl standing by us in the lunch line–she looks so lost, so out of place.” We had heard of a family that had just moved to our town from the country of Cambodia. We knew there was supposed to be a new girl at our school from that family, but we had yet to meet her… until now.
Leourn was a small dark haired beauty. She was thrust into a new country where she struggled with the little English she knew and that made it very hard for her to get to know people in our small town. She was starting her freshman year and was trying her best to blend in without attracting any attention.
We watched in the lunch room from our “Senior Table.” This table was reserved for our “senior sport jock friends,” and no one else. Leourn would get her lunch tray with the rest of the students but she always kept her head down with her eyes focused on the floor. She would then head to the only table of girls she recognized… unfortunately it was the table for the most popular girls in the freshman class. Every single day Leourn would sit at the very edge of her seat and eat as fast as she could. She kept her eyes fixed on her food and we never, ever saw her look up. We would watch in dismay at the interaction of the other girls at her table. They would make gestures to one another and laugh at Leourn while she ate.
As we paid attention over the next week we never heard anyone so much as say “Hi” to Leourn.
We watched as Leourn walked, with her head always down, through the halls of a high school where most didn’t even acknowledge her existence. She was a girl invisible…
Beth and I prayed and talked — what could we do to help Leourn? With love and faith we decided to try our hardest to let one lonely girl know that there were people who knew she existed and more importantly, that there was a God who knew and loved her.
As the weeks and months passed, Beth and I made an effort to let Leourn know that we cared. We sat with Leourn at the freshman girls table. The other freshman girls tried to let us in on the joke that “nobody talks to Leourn.” Their lofty glances and laughs were met with death stares from two upperclassmen.
We sought out Leourn in the halls and said “Hi” and tried to continue to engage her in conversation. I would like to say at this point that Leourn responded to us with smiles and small talk. But Leourn still kept her head down and responded very little. That was okay with us for we knew that just spending time with Leourn was what God wanted us to do, regardless of her response to us.
When February rolled around our school would sell carnation flowers that we could send to one another for Valentine’s Day. I immediately thought of Leourn and decided I would send her a flower for the holiday. When I thought about what to write, it occurred to me that keeping it simple would be the best for someone just learning our language and customs. So I just simply wrote, “Happy Valentines Day, Leourn– I want you to know how much God loves you. Your friend Kristi.”
I will never forget that Valentine’s Day.
For the first time, Leourn was the one who sought me out. She found me in the hall with the carnation clutched tightly in her hands. Then she did something amazing. She looked up…
She actually took her eyes off the floor, looked up at me with beautiful beaming eyes and in a low choked whisper said two words: “Thank You.”
It was a life-changing moment for me.
You see, Beth and I were out to change the world, but instead God was changing me. I learned that I may never be president, be famous, or have a million dollars to my name. But I learned that what Christ wanted from me was for me to love Him with all my heart and all my soul so that I could spread that love to everyone around me — one flower at a time.
It’s like walking out to a pond and throwing in one tiny pebble. Though that pebble is incredibly small compared to the pond, it still creates ripples that affect the water around it. As I learned my senior year, so does every word that comes out of our mouths and every action we do for good — or for bad. It affects each of the people around us, whether we realize it or not.
We ended our senior year not really knowing how many people’s lives we touched. However, Beth and I knew that our two lives were changed. Leourn went on to graduate from our small high school three years after us and I went back for her graduation. As Leourn walked out of the gymnasium after the ceremony, I gave her a big hug and told her congratulations. As she looked up at me the tears streamed down her face. I asked her if the tears were happy ones or sad ones about her graduation. She said they were both. I gave her another hug and then she walked off among the crowd.
As I look back, I hope in my own small way that we helped to make her first year in a new country easier and that we brought a little light into her world.
As I write this, I am on the other side of the country. Michael and I are in Alaska to minister to native Eskimo children and teens. I am here to spread the love of Christ to each one of them. Earlier today, I was walking hand in hand with a little native girl named Angela who asked me about God’s love for her. I spoke with her about Christ and she gave her life to Him as she heard His knocking on the door of her heart. As we walked slowly back to her cabin it was then that it hit me. God had me come all the way to the utmost corner of Alaska, along the Bering Sea, to tell this little one next to me about God’s love for her. It was up to me to listen again to God’s call in my life… to change the world, one flower at a time.
Kristi Powers [email protected]
Contributing Author to Chicken Soup for the Christian Teenage Soul and 7 other inspirational books. Check out her book co-authored with her husband Michael: Heart Touchers “Life Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter” by visiting: http://www.HeartTouchers.com