BY MELANIE HOWARD
“Don’t let anyone tell you your dream can’t come true,” an international cartoonist told a group of Lakewood School fifth-graders Tuesday.
“But you have to work for it.”
Guy Gilchrist, who has drawn the cartoon “Nancy”for the past 20 years, brought a message encouraging the children to lead positive lives, including taking care of the environment.
The program was hosted by the Henry County Litter Program and sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
“Laugh, smile, be kind to one another, be a positive person,” Gilchrist told the students. “One of the ways we can be positive is by helping the world out.
“If you chuck something out your car window, that is not cool. It makes you look like a pig and someone else has to pick it up,” he said. “You guys know more about not littering than most grown-ups do,” he said as he asked for ways the students thought they could help the environment.
Suggestions included recycling, carpooling and picking up trash.
Along with his environmental message, Gilchrist challenged students not only to dream about their futures, but to actively pursue those dreams.
“When I was a boy, this was my dream,” Gilchrist said of his cartooning.
We had an incredible day at Lakewood elementary school in Paris Tennessee yesterday! we drew, shared poems and stories and got motivated to help protect the environment and to be the best we can be!
Last month, I took my art assistant, Anna Marie Guthrie with me to Haiti on a trip to serve the Mission Schools and Orphanages I support through tithing and sharing funds from "Nancy" merchandise Sales. I do this through my brothers and sisters in Christ, Cross International. I urge you to look them up.
This trip was a heart and life and soul changing time for me. I have always tried to lead a life of Love and Light in the Lord, our God, but this really overtook all my senses. Yes, there was death, and destruction, and heartbreak. But, the thing is..... there was so much love. So much hope, and the strongest sense of faith in our Lord God I have ever felt.
At each place we went, I would draw pictures on the chalk boards or on paper....sometimes Anna and I would draw on the walls! Murals that would be painted in by the Missionaries and children after we left to colorfully decorate the Missions and Orphanages.
All the kids knew Mickey and Minnie, and Bugs, and Tom and Jerry, although I doubt any of them had ever watched a TV set. But, those characters were our universal language of light, laughter, and love. Never did I dream, as a poor child, of a single mom, who learned to draw these characters to please myself and my friends so long ago.... that this would be the bridge to a thousand island smiles all these years later.
We also were blessed to prepare lunch for the students. These meals at school are the only food some of these children have. They go hungry most times if they are not in school. They cry sometimes on Fridays because they may not eat over the weekend when school is closed. No more rice till Monday. Can you even imagine? This is where my donations go. My blessings through NANCY. Oh, thank you, God, for giving me this chance.
I had an Epiphone Guitar that we had decorated with art. Pictures of angels and NANCY and crosses. I would sing some songs, such as "I'll Fly Away" to the children, and then continue strumming as the hundreds of kids sang it back to me in French. I'm tearing up just thinking about that. Think of the words of that song....then think of the terrible things those children have had to face, and overcome. Think of an everlasting love and joy and peace that can come over our hearts no matter what obstacles we face..... "Just a few more weary hours and then....I'll fly away.... to a place where joy will never end....I'll fly away.... I'll fly away, oh Glory...."
I'd like to thank Juan, Zac, Melanie, Tom Lewis and all my friends at Cross Int, and Gladys and Gladys and all the strong, brilliant teachers and preachers that embraced Anna Marie Guthrie and me in Haiti. I will see you in September.... I left my guitar there, and they are building a Music Room at one of the Missions, and the guitar is the first piece in it. I'll bring a new set of strings, my friends. Save my place at the Devotional Service. I love you.