It all started with a bit of play-doh on that humid August afternoon.
I was uncomfortable, but I knew I had to dive in and trust that God would make things happen.
She sat there at a wobbly desk, playing with a lump of dough that matched her own skin tone.
We tried to make a person, but each time the circular head toppled off, her contagious giggle reassured me that I must be doing at least something right.
sweet and gentle
with smooth, soft skin
that never seemed to get sticky,
even in the harsh August heat.
Then the evening came and so did the fear that I wouldn't recognize this girl that I seemed to be connecting so well with.
But one thing stood out to me. The blue bracelet with the shells.
The next day I felt a little hand reach up and grab mine, and as I looked at the wrist, I knew for sure that it was her.
The things in between are starting to blur, but the little details are still there.
Her servant's heart that I so badly want to imitate. The way that she shook the polaroid continually and tucked it away near her heart into that large pocket of her pillowcase dress. The concentration and determined look on her face as we played Cat's Cradle for several hours without a break. And the joyful grin that stretched across her face as she pointed to pictures in an old math textbook and I said the words in English.
And even though I only knew here for five short days, it was the hardest goodbye that I have ever had to say.
All that's left now are the pictures and a constant prayer:
"God I pray that as she begins to learn how to read, that she will be eager to completely immerse herself in your word and choose to daily live her life for you. I pray that the light and joy that she had while reading to me that last night will not be dimmed by the things that she may experience in this life. And God, as selfish as it may be, I pray that some day I will be able to go back and see the woman that you are shaping her to be."