Can I have a...?

"Can I have a...?" We hear this often. An unfortunate thing about Africa is that people have a "give me" mentality. We are constantly being asked for things not only from people we know but from complete strangers as well. "Can I have some money?" "Can I have a job?" "Can I have a pair of shoes?" Sadly, the requests are not often polite; the Basotho--normally a peaceful, warm, friendly people--can get obnoxious and aggressive in their requests for "stuff".

This past week, we were ministering with a team in the village of Bluegumbosch. Towards the end of the week, the whole village was buzzing with the news that "the Americans are here". The team had Sesotho Bibles which they were giving to the families that they had gotten to know and had ministered to all week long. News that we were there distributing Bibles spread like a wildfire. All day on Thursday (their last day in the village), many different Basotho approached me and asked, "Can I have a Bible?" I had to explain that the team was giving them only to the people they had gotten to know during the week. I encouraged them to attend the local church and that perhaps down the road they would be able to receive a Bible. I had this dialogue about a dozen times before lunch. It got old to have to explain this so much, at times in languages other than English.

At the end of the day, as the team wrapped up children's ministry and returned to the vehicles, swarms of kids followed them. One girl approached Rebecca and I; she asked, "Can I have a..." She paused. We knew what was coming. "...Bible?" or "...sweet?" or "...t-shirt?" When she opened her mouth to finish the sentence, we were stunned.

"Can I have a...hug?"

She received a big hug from both of us. And I received a hug for my heart.