Lord, take this time. It’s yours. Use us. Let us be conduits of your love. Whatever these children need, whatever you want to give them in these next hours, here we are. Use us. We are available, to be your hands and feet. Anything that would get in the way – our pride, our boredom, our distractions, we lay it down now. Wake us up, let us be alive, alert, engaging, connecting. Use us, Lord. This time is yours. Have your way.
She appears in the window and immediately starts pounding on the glass store front.
I open the door and she throws herself carelessly into the room and lunges to the toy town of Fisher Price Little People all nicely arranged. She tips over houses and tosses cars.
No space between thought and action.
“Jocelyn!” I exclaim, “I’m so glad to see you!”
“What do you want to do?” I’m trying to redirect her from destruction to a productive activity.
She darts toward the felt board corner. Palms up, she roughly wipes all the felt board pieces off, taking down a carefully designed picture.
She pulls all the pieces under her, sits on them and then cries for the last small felt board of ocean creatures that another girl is trying to save from her path of destruction.
She is not content until she has every felt piece. She starts trying to dress people and cries out, “ROPA!” (Clothes)
I begin to hand her pieces of felt clothing for her people, but she’s frustrated already that she can’t get the clothes on right.
We need to see this girl more often, I’m thinking, She needs something everyday.
Out of the corner of her eye she sees another girl has chosen to play with Viewmaster. She snatches the Viewmaster out of the girl’s hand and shoves discs in the slot. She tips over the container of discs, scattering them across the floor.
She shows me pictures from her viewmaster, shows her friend pictures, cries when her friend finds a princess disc.
The afternoon proceeds and we begin to play with a dollhouse. But another girl approaches to play as well and Jocelyn loses it.
She begins thrashing on the floor. Flailing limbs.
Body limp, she crumples on the floor sobbing.
I begin to rub her back as she sobs.
I keep rubbing and stroking her hair.
The minutes tick by. The room is tense. The other staff are doing amazing engaging with the rest of the children, keeping them focused, as I sit rubbing the back of a sobbing child.
Slowly, cautiously, I ask. “Can I give you a hug?”
She lets me hold her and we’re sitting on the floor, just rocking and rocking.
She begins a steady wail of, “Quiero jugar sola, Quiero jugar sola…” over and over and over. (I want to play alone, I want to play alone).
And it’s not about the dollhouse anymore, or anything, it’s just a steady cry of I want to play alone, I want to play alone.
I echo back to her what she is saying. I want her to know that I hear her. This 3rd youngest sibling of 8, living in a one-room, tin shack, all she can cry over and over is, “I want to play alone.”
I look around and see through her eyes. It’s all too much. The toys, the doll house, the bright colors. It’s just too much for a little five-year-old who has nothing.
We rock and rock and she sobs and sobs.
I don’t rush her or shush her. I want her to have this time to just cry if she wants, in a safe, secure, comforting place. Because that’s what Jesus does for me.
And after awhile, her eyes clear, she settles.
We find a simple wooden puzzle of animals and build it over and over again and again.
As she puts an animal in it’s place she says, “Toma culo!” (jackass) and laughs.
At the end of club, she doesn’t want to leave so she gives us all the finger, saying, “Toma esta!” (take this), again laughing to herself at her cleverness. She knows how to use big words and she knows it.
We pray and thank God for this day, for this group, for all of our friends here today. We hug, we carry her off to the car to take her home.
And inside, I’m at peace, trusting, knowing, that our prayers have been heard and answered. That this little girl received what she needed, what Jesus wanted to give her in the short hour and half that we have with her.
And we’ll do it again next week. And the week after, and the week after that. And we’ll continue. We’ll be with this little one. We’ll watch her grow, we’ll help her in school, we’ll walk beside her and keep demonstrating Christ’s love until she knows it deep down, believes it, lives it.
I’m hanging all my hopes on this and with this faith I keep moving forward.