Nellie’s Mission

There is a third-grader named Nellie who is on a mission. That mission hasn’t taken her to some faraway country or even to an inner-city shelter or soup kitchen. Nellie’s mission has taken her to a work station in her home, a spot in the basement or the quiet of her bedroom, to create sets of earrings.

You see, Nellie received a jewelry-making kit when she was 7, has honed her craft in the last two years for such a time as today. She is creating sets of earrings to help a cause.

I wrote about my son-in-law, Kevin, last week and the serious accident he had. It’s going to be a while for Kevin to recover from the injuries, skull fractures and affected vision and hearing, but the emergency room personnel that attended to him were surprised he had not been killed in the accident.

Nellie’s family and our daughter’s family are close friends. In fact, the two families plus three other families had just returned from a “friend-cation” to Orange Beach, Alabama a week before Kevin’s accident. Nellie is one of three kids and our daughter’s family has three kids. The middle child in each family have proclaimed for several years now that they will one day get married. Friendship runs deep in the families.

When Kevin sustained his injuries, Nellie made helping his family her mission. She sells her earrings for $3 dollars a pair and is giving all the money from her sales to help with Kevin’s financial costs. As word has spread, supply has not kept up with demand. She’s working diligently to craft new pairs. Sometimes when a person is called to mission it doesn’t occur to us that perseverance is a part of the calling. Nellie’s “stick-to-it-ness” is evident. For a third-grader, she has an unusual sense of urgency. I doubt that she understands what the ongoing costs for Kevin’s physical therapy, doctor appointments, possibly hearing aids, and work reduction mean, but she’s going to do what she is able to do.

I asked my eighth-grade language arts students if they would try if they knew it would only result in a single drop in an enormous bucket. The question seemed to perplex many of them. Some, without hesitation, said no. Some responded yes. The perplexed were thinking about the circumstances, how many others were involved in helping, whether it was fun or not, and how long it would take them?

That’s what amazes me about Nellie’s story. She doesn’t know how big the bucket is or how many others are pitching in. She just knows that a dear friend of her family is in need, she has learned these last two years how to create something that has simple beauty, and she has an ache in her soul to help. There are an enormous number of people who never discover a mission for their life. They are satisfied with existence and focusing on their own personal pleasure. Sometimes it takes the perseverance of a child to make us look in the mirror at who we are and who we have failed to become.

Sometimes it takes a child to lead us. Sometimes a third-grader doesn’t worry about obstacles and complexities. This third-grader named Nellie just goes to her creative space and works on another pair of $3.00 earrings…and then another.

It’s what friends do for each other.

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