Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday the school bus drops a bunch of Hispanic kids off at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, where they play games, do their homework, and learn about Jesus, until 5:15 or so when we walk them home to the trailer park behind the Church.
Today me and a girl named Stephanie were assigned to the second graders. We took them to music class, but instead of sitting nicely in a circle with the rest of the kids, one little girl named Andrea (pronounced “Ahn-dray-ah,” as she is Hispanic) sat back with the teachers, her head in Stephanie’s lap.
“She refused to come to music class,” said Stephanie, “this was her compromise.”
When music class was over and it was time to go to the classroom, Andrea again refused to go. Finally she let me carry her. That was the only way I could get her to go anywhere.
But she was so mopey and pessimistic about everything. Repeatedly she complained about how she was so bored, how she wanted to go home, how everyone was mean and no one wanted to play with her, etc. It was constant, but I tried to pay attention to her and talk about it, because I got the sense that she desperately needed someone to pay attention to her and love her. As soon as I picked her up for the first time to carry her out of music class, I was her best friend, even though prior to that I didn’t even know her name.
I don’t really know what was going on with her. Stephanie later said that Andrea doesn’t normally act like this, and that she may have been sick. But she refused to participate in anything.
I carried her piggy back into Bible Class, where Sandy, the director of the after school program, talked to them about what makes the Bible more special than other books. The other kids excitedly answered Sandy’s questions and asked questions of their own, but all Andrea did was sit on my lap and mope.
Then Sandy said, “the Bible has lots of interesting stories in it. There is a story of a boy who kills a giant!”
Andrea straightened up. “Can you read it to us right now?” she asked.
Sandy didn’t hear her, somehow. But right then and there I knew I needed to pray. So I sat there, holding little Andrea in my lap, praying silently that somehow her interest in the story of David and Goliath, even though she didn’t seem interested in anything else, would help her see who God is.
A little bit later Sandy mentioned David and Goliath again, and Andrea yelled, “can you read it to us right now?”
“We don’t have time, now, but you can read it later,” said Sandy.
“Where do I find it?” Andrea asked.
No one quite seemed to know. But later, after Bible Class was over and it was time to walk the students home, Andrea came running up to me with a Bible in her hand. “Can you please find me the story?” she implored.
I found it in I Samuel 17. “This is kind of hard to read,” I told her. I thought about reading it to her and trying to explain as I went along, but we were going to leave soon.
She ran off. A little later I saw her go into the nursery, and I went after her. There was a small rack of children’s books in there. Was there possibly? Yes! A very, very simple telling of the story of David and Goliath. In fact, more simple than I would have liked, but we were leaving in a manner of minutes and didn’t have much time.
I grabbed the book and read it to her. She was enthralled. Then, as we left the nursery to go line up at the doors to take the kids home, Andrea bumped into another little girl. Excitedly she told her that she had heard the story of David and Goliath.
There seemed to be something miraculous in the way Andrea was bored with everything, but so completely fascinated with David and Goliath. It makes me wonder about her, and what goes on in her mind, in her life really, outside of the after school program. You can never really know what these kids’ lives are truly like. But they soak up every bit of love you give them, and make you feel like your life is worth something after all.