Kelly Moore, who has been serving at Love & Hope since early this July, shares today’s post:

For the past 4 months I have watched a little 6 year old girl crinkle up her nose, scream “no!” and make fists at me.  No matter what, she defends herself from my hugs, my smiles and my attempts to love on her.  (One thing she can’t defend herself from though is a tickle fight!)  It is clear to me that she pushes people away so that they can’t hurt her first.  I’m not at all surprised by her coping mechanism and how she has learned to mask her want for love and fear of rejection.  

Vanessa has really taken to playing BINGO every Friday night.  She checks in throughout the week making sure that there’ll be another game on the weekend.  When asked what she wanted to do for her birthday awhile back…”play BINGO” she said.  This past Friday, the kids gathered around with their yellow numbered cards and watched Mandy and Eliseo pick out numbered balls from a bin.  Vanessa sat quietly studying her card.  She doesn’t yell out “What number was that?” like the rest, she doesn’t get frustrated if the game is going too fast or slow, she just sits there challenging herself to do the best she can.   Half way through the game I heard a soft, “b-i-n-g-o” come from the little toothless niña.  She happily walked over to the prize table to claim a crowd favorite “Maruchin” ramen noodle soup container.  

Nearing the end of the game, a tired little 5 year old melted down over his brother’s attempt to wreck his bingo card and pieces.  Vanessa watched Herberth cry, cuddle with me, and listen to me convince him that everything was going to be ok.  When there was no one left on the terrace but me and Herberth, Vanessa walked over to me and whispered in my ear, “Can you give this to him?”.  She didn’t want anyone else to hear or to know what she was about to do.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The girl who pushes others away wanted to offer her Maruchin to the sad boy who didn’t win.  Vanessa hid behind a pillar while I passed on the Maruchin to Herberth.  He took this thumb out of his mouth and quickly changed his mind about being sad.  He and Vanessa walked down to the kitchen together to make some soup.  

My heart smiled because I knew I had just witnessed something special.  To see a child sacrifice what was a gift to her, what she had been waiting for all week, what she had worked so hard for and earned, made me think about the kind of love that they are learning here.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell because these kids come from difficult beginnings and are working through so many different things but then there are moments that confirm everything and make every last little effort worth it.  

I know that Vanessa will push me away again, hide her smile behind a crinkled nose and try to fight against my hugs but every brave attempt to show love to another is a sweet victory.  I praise God for what she is learning here and for all the people who have committed to showing the love of Christ at this home.  Seeds are being planted, watered and grown into beautiful little flowers right before our eyes.  

– Kelly Moore