Your eighth birthday is a very important one, as you well know. It is your first opportunity to choose baptism and membership in Jesus' kingdom. This decision is quite grown up and will affect you eternally. Choose well.
One gift we are sending needs a bit of explanation. The Pied Piper of Hamlin is a picture book, true, but it's not for little children at all. Based on a German medieval legend, Browning's classic poem, tells of a stranger who offers to rid the town of rats for a fee. When he plays his pipe, the rats follow him to their deaths in the river. When the piper asks for his money, the dishonest mayor refuses him. In revenge, the piper lures the children out of town into a cave, forever separating them from their parents.
So, why did we choose this for you? Yes, the poetry is beautiful and the illustrations lovely, but the book is worthwhile for another reason. The story makes one think. There are many who wish to entice people to follow them into sin, rebellion, and worse, as the piper did with the rats. If we refuse to listen to his song, then we cannot be tricked.
To whose song should we listen? Why, Jesus' song of redeeming love of course! Jesus is ever ready to show us the way to happiness and help us right our wrongs. He will never lead us into forbidden paths. Whenever choices are placed before you, stop and ask yourself, 'What would Jesus do?' If you pause and think like this, you will never go wrong. Sure you will still have trials and hardships; everyone does. But those trials and hardships won't be your fault if you act like Jesus. Understand the difference?
The other book we sent was one of Uncle Spencer's favorites at seven or eight, so we thought you might like it, too. Then there is the surprise, which we hope brings you a measure of happiness.
We are taking a trip to Arkansas in September. Can you find it on a map? We've never been to the southern part of the United States. Arkansas is in the deep south along with a few other states. Once upon a time, with the other southern states, they tried to leave the US because of a fight over horrible institution of slavery. A huge war was fought over this, finally making slavery illegal in the United States. My great-grandmother's grandfather was a slave. I loved her very much and can't imagine how it would be ok to make her a slave for any reason. Anyway, hopefully, we will see and do interesting things in Arkansas along with our business.
We hope you are happy these days, swimming at the pool, riding your bike, and just being a child. We hope you study hard in school and learn to love learning. We hope you love going to church and all the things you learn about the gospel there. We hope you choose to be and do good.