We met Sammy on our first day of camp at Camp Calumet Lutheran in Freedom, NH. Well, I should say Alia met Sammy, and then introduced him to us. That first day she came bouncing back from the playground telling us all about her new friend, Sammy. You could tell she was completely enamored with him. When asked to describe her new friend, she said he was tall, had a twinkle in his eyes, and a smile that lit up his entire face. She was spot on.
They were instant friends. I could tell every time she'd laid eyes on Sammy by the light in her eyes and her joyous smile. Sammy would take time out of his day to talk with her, push her on a swing, swim with her, walk with her, sit with her, or would invite her to continue their conversation later when he was done with his work. He was the first person on her mind in the morning, and that last at night. On the rare night she didn't see Sammy in the evening to say goodnight to him, she'd say a sleepy "goodnight, Sammy, wherever you are" as she drifted off to sleep.
Sammy was more than Alia's friend. He was a friend to everyone he met. One of the highlights of my week was the conversation Sammy and I shared on the beach as he told me of his home in Rwanda and some of what he'd been through there. We talked about what it might mean that he left a tumultuous home near a recently erupted volcano to be standing on the beach of a lake in the serene remains of an ancient volcano in his peaceful new home.
You can tell he carries the weight of what he'd witnessed, a deep love for his homeland, and a passion to grow and learn and be free from the troubles that will plague him should he return home. More than that, Sammy radiates love, faith, and gratitude. Looking into his face, it isn't at all difficult to see God looking back. I'm sure anyone who has met Sammy would say the same.
Thanks to Sammy, our week at Calumet was that much more special. I wish him a bright future -one that's filled with limitless possibilities and that shows him the abounding love and kindness he shows to others. I can only hope that one day I can live with half as much faith, heart, and passion as that which comes so naturally to Sammy.