I knew she walked in with a buzz cut, I had to glance twice to realize she was a girl. I knew she sat a couple seats down, squirming and whining. I knew that she was becoming one of the biggest struggles on my Sundays. Little did I know that the five year old had arrived that morning on a train from Montana and jumped on the church bus. Little did I know.
Leading the kindergarten through second grade girl group on Sunday mornings in church has become my favorite thing about Sundays. Teaching them about Jesus, answering their questions, and building relationships keeps me thrilled to be here. However, I’d be lying if I said that it’s easy. From just a couple to nearly sixteen girls on occasion, I never know what my morning will look like. Sometimes I get anxious when I see certain girls walk into church that I know I will be fighting small battles with all day. The now six-year-old from Montana quickly became one of those girls.
I knew her hair was short because of the bugs. I knew she acted out because of things beyond her power that had happened in her life. What I didn’t know was that this crazy girl would become my favorite face to see every Sunday.
Now, I know Jesus had her in his hands.
Now, my eyes sting when I see pictures of her.
Now, I hope that our relationship had a purpose.
The Montanan six-year-old got back on a train to Montana only weeks ago. I was warned by her cousin a week before that she would be leaving soon. She came to church for two more weeks and then her cousin came without her.
“Did she go?”
“Yeah. She left on Monday.”
‘Cause that’s how life is on the rez. They move from house to house until they find somebody to stay with for a while, and when that falls through they’re sent away. Some stay for decades, some stay for years, some for a month.
I often think of her raspy laugh and our race to the playground after church. I told her every week that her hair was getting longer. She ran into church every week and I drew pictures with her before church. My favorite part was telling her about a God who held her in his palm and loved her more than I did and washed away sin because he cares that much.
I don’t know where she is or who she’s with, but all I know is that God wanted her at Hope Fellowship for the eight months that she was here. All I can do is pray.