“How Are You?”: The Power of One Question

How are you?

That is a question I will never hear the same again.  That is a question that I believe will make me smile a little from my cheeks from this point forward.  You know, the type of smile that transforms your face with warmth that radiates to those around you? That phrase filled my heart with an insurmountable joy as I heard it echo through the slums of Nairobi in the sweet tone of little whispers and bellows.

How are you?

We were American and white walking through the slums.  We were exciting to see and probably somewhat of a novelty.  The children would race to meet us, which was overwhelmingly humbling.  The children in the school and many of the adults speak Swahili and English, but a lot of the children we encountered on the street did not speak English.  The phrase so many of them knew, was ‘how are you?’  Whether in the neighborhood or the schools, the children would beam with pride as they sang it out to greet us.

How are you?

Walking to a home visit with a social worker, I heard a commotion a good hundred feet away.  I didn’t consider for a second it had anything to do with our team.  I couldn’t even see the source.  Next thing I know, a group of little children were bounding up the hill cheering ‘how are you?’  …running toward us, leaping over obstacles and the sewage in the alleys.  The heartfelt enthusiastic run of a child seeking joy with complete abandon, arms extended wide for a hug.  They spotted us from so far away and ran full force for the opportunity to shower us with love and affection.

How are you?

On this specific encounter with a young group of children, I asked our social worker if they understood what they were saying.  It seemed they didn’t when we’d give any reply.  She gave a soft smile brimming with wisdom and amusement and said, ‘they think it’s your name.’

My answer little one, is that I am wrecked.  Your exuberant love and joy have changed my heart for eternity.  I cannot wait to come back to see you.  I pray that you’re thriving.  That you’ll be connected to a school system where you can thrive and grow.  I pray that you remain in good health and spread your exuberant joy to all that you encounter.  I pray that joy never ceases to exist in your spirit.

How am I little one?  I am blessed to have had a moment with you.  I am inspired to do what I can to create a better life for you.  I am privileged to be able to carry our exchange with me in life.  I hope I somehow play a part in bringing honor, health, and hope to you little one.  You deserve it all.

Photo credit to Kevin Smith

12 thoughts on ““How Are You?”: The Power of One Question”

  1. I loved reading this article!

    It was so vivid and descriptive I felt like I could see the kids running towards you and asking How are you!

    This was heartfelt writing!

    My day is better after reading this. Thank you!

  2. Beautiful article made interesting reading..I could relate to it as I have been through similar experiences in my country…
    God bless you .

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you could relate it to some of your personal experience. I think that just strengthens the lesson we learn through the love of others. God bless you as well.

  3. Beautifully said! The smile on the little boy’s face in the picture is infectious! I couldn’t stop smiling while reading!

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