In Boy Scouts, I learned to always “Be Prepared.” It is a motto that has served me well in my life, and yet I am still learning how best to apply it, especially when generosity and charity are involved.
For instance, this is the second year we've held a small Easter egg hunt for the neighbor children, and this year we were able to dye and decorate the eggs beforehand. (Thanks to the help of Annika and Eva, our neighbors and volunteers from Germany, who supplied the dye and decorations!)
We planned a modest expansion, because really it's not very much of a sacrifice for us to buy a couple dozen more eggs. Logan told me to get 4 trays of eggs (at 30 per tray, that's 10 dozen total) and I bought 4 trays of eggs... in my desire to “be prepared,” I figured our family would be prepared to use about one tray of eggs for omelets and pancakes and muffins or whatnot, and we'd dye and hide about three trays.
Well, it turns out that between my 7.5 dozen and Logan's 10 dozen, we should have gone with my wife's numbers. The egg hunt was wildly successful, and we were so happy to share a little bit of our culture. Some children walked away with two or three or more eggs... this in a place where teachers tell their children to beg their parents to give them one egg a week for the protein and nutrition. We eat eggs all the time, we're comparatively rich Westerners.
The thing is, an egg is about 75 francs or so, which is less than 20 cents. However, a teacher gets a monthly salary of less than 80 dollars. Comparing the economies of the USA and a developing country is tricky, but in terms of buying power and percentage of income, it's more like each egg costs $5. And here we are, just giving them away! No wonder it was a popular activity with the children. An average family doesn't buy eggs by the trayful... let alone three traysful.
The colored eggs were a bit of a shock to every Cameroonian. Who has ever seen a blue egg? Or a bright red egg with a bunny face? We explained to the children how the eggs represent new life in Christ, and how we celebrate Easter by dyeing and hiding and finding eggs. Then we let them loose, and everyone (including our own children) had a grand old time.
Of course, not everything went smoothly... we told the children to come at 11, and as things were wrapping up and everyone was heading home, a good half dozen or so children showed up, ready to enjoy the mysterious game we invited them to come play. Well... Cameroonians aren't known for their timeliness, so we had started late by 15 or 20 minutes to accommodate... but an hour and a half? Sorry, kiddos. Several of them stayed and ended up playing at our house and reading our books, so at least they got SOMEthing.
Next year, we are talking about dyeing and hiding even more eggs. I'll be prepared—for generosity.