It was one year ago, on a cold and snowy day, that my Kinders finally got to meet Sergeant Ryan Lehman. After serving in Afghanistan for a year he was FINALLY home! Sergeant Lehman's mom and I had been friends for a long time; in fact I knew Sergeant Lehman when he was a very little boy. Early in the school year, I thought of a way to teach my kiddos how to love and care for someone whom they had never met! So we began learning about Sergeant Ryan and seeing pictures of his day to day life in Arghanistan. One day his mom brought in pictures of the soldiers giving the Afghan children pens and how much joy it gave them to receive such a little, inexpensive item. Another day she brought in some MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat) and we had a tasting test. We learned that Sergeant Ryan's favorite was the Beef-a-roni. In fact we had a little Science lesson about how the soldiers "warmed up" their packets of food.
Then one day we decided to take up a little collection. The Kinders brought in all kinds of colored pens and little "gumball machine" type toys and we sent a package all the way to Afghanistan. We heard in a letter from Sergeant Ryan that the Afghan children had loved their surprises.
We thought of Sergeant Ryan weekly and his mom would come in to our classroom and give us little updates about how he was doing. And then we heard that he was coming home!!!
Over Christmas Break I came in and decorated our hallway. It had to be a hero's welcome! We were FINALLY going to meet Sergeant Lehman!
The morning he came in we could hardly contain our excitement and then THERE HE WAS!
I can hardly put into words the lessons that were learned by all of us! I saw children with very little material possessions of their own GIVE out of their own hearts. I saw them learn to show love and care to someone who they had never met. I saw them feel compassion for children from another country who they saw as worse off than themselves! And I learned once again that paying it forward is one of the best ways to experience joy in your own heart!