Once a World Apart

Nallie peered out the window, watching the white tap-tap rattle and bounce down the bumpy gravel driveway. A cloud of dust trailed behind the taxi. It pulled onto the property and slowed to a stop in front of the children’s home.

Cheryl took a deep breath and climbed out of the truck. Her two daughters, Claire and Collete, scrambled out behind her. Cheryl and her family had sponsored Nallie for several years, but this would be their first time meeting the 7-year-old girl who captured their hearts.

Will Nallie recognize me? Cheryl wondered. To be safe, Cheryl unzipped her backpack and fished out a copy of a family photo she had sent Nallie months before. She planned to show it to Nallie when she introduced herself as her child sponsor.

Scanning the group of mission trip guests gathered outside the home, Nallie quickly spotted Cheryl and her daughters. No introduction was needed. Nallie instantly recognized them from Cheryl’s family photo, a cherished keepsake she kept tucked in the pages of her Bible.

Nallie’s eyes caught Cheryl’s and the tiny girl broke into a broad smile, sprinting across the yard to greet her. Nallie threw her arms around Cheryl.

“I’m so happy to finally meet you,” Cheryl whispered, brushing away tears.

Nallie grabbed Cheryl’s hand and led her on a tour of the home, pointing out the dining area, her bunkbed and the schoolroom. Every so often, Nallie would pause and introduce Cheryl to a friend. The shy girl beamed with pride as she explained to her friends that Cheryl had traveled from a far-off country to visit.

As they made their way back outside, Nallie spotted her friends playing jump rope on the playground and ran over to join them. Soon, it was Nallie’s turn. She glanced over at Cheryl to make sure she was watching, before jumping in, sandals slapping the dirt with each turn of the rope.

A minute later, Cheryl watched as her daughters ran across the playground to join in the game. The girls had been nervous about the language barrier. “How will we play with Nallie if she doesn’t speak English?,” the youngest had asked, as they packed for the trip.

Claire and Collete joined Nallie, and each girl took turns jumping while the other two girls turned the rope. Cheryl breathed a sigh of relief as she looked on – three girls once a world apart now connected through the common language of childhood play. The days that followed were filled with giggles, piggy-back rides, high-fives and hand-holding. The afternoon was prime time for bubble blowing, chalk art, face painting, jump rope marathons, Frisbee and endless rounds of Chutes and Ladders.

All around the world, kids are kids. Hugs, games, and body language are enough to bridge the language gap. Sometimes a game of jump rope says more than a conversation ever could. In a tiny town in Haiti, Claire and Colette learned that lesson first-hand through an unexpected friendship. They experienced the thrill of serving a God who is on the move all around the world.