Last month (April 2021) was a landmark occasion in the Persad home as Aynsley graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa, with a Bachelor of Global and International Studies; specialization Global Development.
Over these years my wife and I have been careful to celebrate character over achievement. Good character travels and is revealed in every circumstance. Achievement is subjective, and can be based on sliding scales and opinions. Achievement without the integrity of good character is hollow. Integrity without achievement still brings contentment. When both occur; it should be noted and even celebrated.
It is fitting then, that we get to celebrate this transition in the life of our little (not so much anymore) girl. She has been undeterred in her focus and undistracted by bright lights of the big city, as she pursues the goals that the Lord has given her.
She has an aversion to the spotlight and a deep compassion for those in need. Her swimming career came to a screeching halt when we realized that she was wound tight with anxiety because, while she wanted to win, she didn’t want anyone to lose. Every race, no matter the outcome ended in tears.
Until she/we realized that she is an excellent teammate, motivator and encourager. Her refinement of those skills continues as she teaches, supervises and coaches swimming at all levels, and as she influences others as a follower of Jesus, bringing joy and laughter with her.
Wins and losses are of little consequence when you’re focused on shining light into darkness and helping others to navigate through life.
The first is a picture of her first day of Junior Kindergarten. She was not very excited to go. However, it wasn’t because she didn’t or wouldn’t enjoy school. It was that she was no longer going to be hanging out with Mom and Dad. As we would discover over the years, she is not a homebody, rather she has an appetite for connecting with people and places of the world. True, she also has an appetite, in general, and loved the chance to join us as we met with people at cafes, restaurants and parks :)
The second picture was taken in the town of Santa Anna, in El Salvador. She was thirteen years old. I walked a few paces behind her as we visited a village that was literally carved into a garbage dump. She froze, in the heated stench and stared. Around her children were sifting through the mounds of garbage, collecting plastic bottles to help their family make $1-3 dollars a day. That trip was where she first saw, heard, felt and experienced the need for the presence of Jesus among the poor. She would barely speak for two weeks upon our return. But she would go back: five more times to El Salvador, before she finished high school, and then she would go to South Africa, and then she would go to Spain to delve deeper into the plight of refugees.
This is who she is…this is who the Spirit of Jesus is shaping her to be. She still takes time to work things through with the Lord and, thankfully, she still likes hanging out with us, particularly at a restaurant or cafe :). Which makes this time our privilege to cheer her on to do those things that God has in store for her to do, knowing she will bring joy, hope and ice cream to those to whom He sends her.
We give thanks to the Lord for entrusting her to us for these years, and to those who have invested in, taught, helped and mentored Aynsley.
Thanks for celebrating Aynsley with us! Join us in praying this prayer for her as God leads her forward: