After 7 months of patiently waiting, Brandon finally got into his school’s Technology Club during the final session of the school year. He was very excited to be in the iMovie class where he could learn to make and edit digital movies using a camcorder and a computer. However, to attend the class, my wife Wendar needed to wake up an hour earlier every Friday to take him to school.
Prior to his first iMovie class meeting, the school asked for parents who could to attend the class and assist the instructor during club meetings. Wendar kindly volunteered me to help out in the class since she felt that I was more familiar with computers and gadgets.
Because Wendar was usually the one who participated in our children’s school activities, and as I had not performed any volunteer work at their school in the past, I felt very awkward participating and working with the other parents and children. Also, since I am not a morning person, getting up an extra hour earlier was not the kind of sacrifice that I looked forward to giving. I hesitated and told her that my daily Mass starts at 8:30 AM, and since the class goes from 7:30 to 8:30, I would have to miss Mass. She responded by saying that the instructor would most likely let class out before 8:30 so that the children could get to their classes, therefore I should still be able to make it to the Mass. Since my excuse did not work, I ”gladly” got up early and attended class with Brandon.
During the first class, a volunteer parent teacher asked the students to pick a topic for their movie; for example, it could be a pet, a hobby, a game, a family member, or a sports event. The teacher also said that it would be nice if someone would make a movie about the Computer Maintenance class, because these fellow Technology Club teacher and students have been quietly going around school cleaning computers. This was an extremely valuable service, since it reduced computer problems and increased the lifespan of school computers during a time when our public schools lacked adequate funding. The members of the Computer Maintenance class have been quietly working without any recognition and appreciation.
The project seemed like a good one, but making a movie about people cleaning computers seemed really boring, especially to ten year old kids. So some kids picked their pets as their theme, another picked his Kung Fu class, one wanted to make a commercial, and another chose to produce a movie based on his summer vacation. As I was still wondering what topic Brandon would pick, he had already told the teacher he would make a movie about the Computer Maintenance class. The teacher was delighted that someone would give up his personal topic and make this choice.
Since nobody else wanted to work on that ‘boring’ project, Brandon did not get a partner, and so I acted as the cameraman while Brandon interviewed the teachers and the students of the Computer Maintenance class. Even though I knew they were the forgotten group, I was surprised to see their excitement and joy when Brandon interviewed them and showed interest in their work. They proudly introduced us to the interesting aspects of their work not usually known to many. They took out little brushes and sprays to show Brandon how they cleaned the keyboards and screens. They took out a special CD and showed Brandon how they cleaned CD drives with it. Brandon also asked some funny questions that made them laugh. The kids were very happy to show off their work. The parent teacher was also very pleased, and he told us that he had been a volunteer for many years and this was the first time anyone had showed interest and appreciation for their work.
Brandon’s choice and his little project made many adults and children very happy. The iMovie teacher was happy that someone was willing to give up his own interest for others. It made the previously neglected Computer Maintenance class teacher and students feel wanted and appreciated. It was also very gratifying for me to be part of this joyful work.
The bell rang at 8:15 AM, and everyone was dismissed from the Tech club meeting. I asked Brandon, “Why did you pick this subject?” He replied, “I just want them to be noticed,” and then quickly left. I easily made it to the church for my daily Mass on time. This happened to be the first Friday of Lent, the first fasting Friday. The first reading in the Mass was from Isaiah:
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke;
sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer,
You shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!”[Isaiah 58:1-9a]
With this, the priest said physical fasting was the smallest fasting that we could do and encouraged us to give up our interests for the interests of others. He said to “go and make somebody else happy today.” My heart started to pound quickly and my eyes began to tear. All of a sudden, I realized why our graceful God arranged for me to be in Brandon’s class on this very special morning. He gave me the opportunity to experience joy by helping others through small sacrifices. By giving up a little of my sleep for Brandon, I had the opportunity to see how Brandon gave up his interests for others which made so many people happy. It was truly joyful to see that sowing only a few seeds of sacrifice brought forth so many joyful fruits so quickly!
This was a wonderful lesson in the beginning of this Lent season. May God continue to lead and guide us to fast the way that truly pleases Him. Furthermore, this Scripture even promises that when we fast with our hearts, act with compassion, we shall see God’s glory in our lives, our wounds shall be healed, and when we cry out to Him for help, He will answer our prayers. How incredible and amazing our God is!