A couple weeks ago I was praying before I went out for the day with a team from the States. In my prayer time I poured out the the Lord my desire to connect that day. It is easy for me to get into the “management mode.” I can direct a group of mission trip guests all day without really connecting with a single child that we are ministering to. It is easy for me to slip into a heart attitude of managing instead of a heart attitude of ministering. That morning I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to submit my day to Him and to live the day conscious of the people he had placed around me.
In the afternoon, we took the group to a children’s home called Del Norte. As the Americans began playing soccer and jump rope with the kids, I noticed a little boy sitting off to the side of the soccer field, head down. I walked over and tried to initiate conversation with him, but he wanted none of me. So I sat down, rubbed his back and watched the soccer match next to him. A few moments later a stray ball beamed the child right in the head. He started wailing! Trying to avoid any more stray balls, I scooped Ricardo up and walked with him around the corner of the children’s home.
If there is one thing I have learned from nannying and having younger siblings it is what my dad calls “the art of distraction”. I knew Ricardo was not seriously hurt, just having a bad day and needed to be distracted from it all. What could I do? I had my backpack with me so for the time being I tried to interest Ricardo in the backpack… What could be inside? Was there something special? Would he like to see? In the back of my mind I was thinking, “Dear Jesus, please let there be something cool in here. I didn’t put anything cool in there this morning… but you do miracles, right?” We opened up the backpack and by the grace of God found one of those multi-colored pens, the kind that has the little tabs at the top that you can push down to change the color. Ricardo was fascinated!
Soon Ricardo had colored up nearly ten pages in a notebook I had! I began to see how creative this little boy was. Ricardo is about four years old. He has some developmental problems that affect his speech and his attention; however his creativity is out of this world. I wish I could show you the pictures that he drew! There were houses, pools, and, my favorite, a shark. Soon Ricardo found a jump rope one of the others had discarded. In moments we were rock stars singing into the handle as a microphone. Bored with the pages he had colored, and the “microphone” Ricardo, and another boy who had joined us, began making different styles of paper planes… super creative and super fun!
In no time, I realized that we had been there playing together for well over an hour. Ricardo was happy, as were the other children who had gathered around us. I was thankful that we had enough staff working that day that I could sit down and love on this little boy who was having a bad day. How many bad days go by for Ricardo, in which there is no one to sit down with and pull pens out of backpacks, color pictures of sharks, or sing into jump ropes? I was privileged to be Christ’s hands and feet to this little four-year old that day, to show him that he mattered and that he was worth investing in. I was also thankful for the Holy Spirit’s prompting that morning to keep my eyes open for how He wanted to use me. Never had I thought it would be through a little boy and a multi-colored pen.