The language of love.


Joe Fairbanks grew up in a family of nine children.  Money was tight, and, like many in similar circumstances, he wore mostly hand-me-downs.

But Joe was different from other children.  He was born with Down syndrome, and as a result he had trouble with language.  He often felt frustrated as he struggled to communicate.

When Joe was 23, his mother needed to travel to the Philippines for work, and she took Joe with her.  Before they left, she bought her son some new clothing for the trip.  Oh, how he loved shopping for clothes. He tried on each outfit, asking over and over again, “How do I look?”

A little while after their arrival in the Philippines, heavy rains caused mudslides that covered villages, schools, and homes.  Newspapers carried stories about the devastation and loss of life.  On the front page of one was a stark photograph of a man holding a dead child in his arms.

Joe stared at the image for a long time, his face etched with profound sorrow.  Later, he came to the lobby of the hotel where they were staying dressed in his old clothes.  At his side was a large plastic bag.

When his mother opened the bag, she discovered it contained all of the new items of clothing that they had bought for the trip.

His mother took him to the front desk of the hotel, where Joe’s desire to help created some attention.  A small crowd gathered as they realized what Joe wanted to do.

“Me give my clothes,” he said.

Nearly every eye swelled with tears.  The hotel clerks took the clothing and promised to get it to those in need.

In that moment, Joe spoke a language more perfect and eloquent than any other in the world.  He spoke a language that is native to every race and culture.  It binds hearts, overcomes barriers, and transforms lives. The language Joe spoke best of all was the language of love.



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