BY RACHEL DAVIS
A visiting missionary told 10-year-old Arianna’s Sunday School class about life in third world countries. Arianna was especially moved when she learned kids in Haiti had no toys and often played with pieces of collapsed buildings or parts of old cars. That night she looked around her room at her stuffed animals. When her mom came in to say bedtime prayers, Arianna shared an idea she believed God gave her.
“What if I gave my stuffed animals to kids in Haiti? What if I asked everyone in my class to give their extra stuffed animals? What if I asked the whole school?” Arianna asked her mother.
“That’s a sweet idea,” her mom replied. “But you’ll probably need to ask your principal for permission.”
The next day, Arianna wrote to her principal.
“Dear Ms. Parks. This is Arianna Miskowski. I am in Ms. Dubois’ class. I found out in Sunday School that kids in Haiti have to play with parts of old cars for toys. This made me sad. I don’t have money, but I have a lot of stuffed animals I don’t play with anymore. I know my classmates probably do also. I was thinking I could collect them all for the kids in Haiti. My mom said she could wash and dry them and help me get them to Haiti through our church. Would it be OK if I asked the kids to bring me the stuffed animals they don’t play with anymore? Can you help me with my idea? Thank you for reading my letter. Sincerely, Arianna Miskowski.”
Arianna gave the letter to her principal and waited and prayed. Days passed. Her principal didn’t say anything. Arianna had done her part. Now she had to wait and have faith that God was going to do His part.
The next week, Arianna was called to the principal’s office. She was told the following Monday would be “Stuffed Animal for Haiti Day.” The principal put a letter in the school newspaper asking parents to donate gently loved stuffed animals to this cause. She activated the school’s phone tree so parents would have the information.
Before they knew it, the local newspaper heard about the story. They showed up on Monday to take pictures as a line of elementary students dropped off their beloved stuffed animals. The newspaper reporter interviewed Arianna, and before the week was over, people from all over the city were calling to see how they could donate their stuffed animals.
There was a hitch in this plan. Arianna’s parents had called different churches and organizations, and no one could take the toys to Haiti. They all had strict guidelines. “No used toys,” one said. “No room,” said another. “We can’t take cloth because of the cholera outbreak,” said another.
“How are you getting these toys to Haiti?” the reporter asked Arianna’s father.
“We don’t know yet,” he answered. Her parents were worried, but not Arianna. “It was God’s idea, not mine,” she said. “He will make a way.”
The article came out the next day. And the phone started ringing. A wealthy business owner in the city had read the article. He supported a missionary in Haiti named Megan. Megan happened to be in town gathering supplies to send back to the orphanage where she served.
“We thought of everything for the children — food, medicine, clothes — everything except toys,” he explained. “Please let us have them. We have a cargo container with just enough room to spare. If you give me the stuffed animals, we can load them tonight before the shipment leaves tomorrow.”
Arianna and her family washed and dried the stuffed animals, boxed them all up, and turned them over to Megan, who shipped them to her orphanage in Haiti.
“‘For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” (Matt. 17:20).
Arianna gave what she had: three used teddy bears. She didn’t know if her principal would read her letter, but she wrote it anyway. She didn’t know if the kids would bring their toys, but she asked anyway. She didn’t know a reporter from the paper, but God orchestrated their paths. She didn’t know a wealthy businessman would take notice of her, but God did. She didn’t know anyone in Haiti who had an orphanage full of kids who needed toys, but God did. She didn’t know there was a cargo container with room for her toys on its way to Haiti that same week, but God knew, and He did not let it leave without them. At every turn, God made a way, because a little child with faith believed He would.
How do I know this story so well? Arianna is my granddaughter.
Rachel Davis, an award-winning author and retired educator, resides in Forest City, N.C., with her husband, Bobby. She enjoys encouraging women through inspirational speaking. Mother of four, grandmother of 10, Rachel loves gardening, traveling, and volunteering.
This article originally appeared in the January, 2012 issue of Mature Living. Subscribe