This place isn’t lacking for stories that will break your heart. For some reason, I like places like that. Maybe it’s because places that aren’t lacking for stories that will break your heart also aren’t lacking for people that restore your faith in humanity. God works in the places He is needed. He knows how to pull the strings of people’s hearts. This is one of those places.
A little girl comes in every day, somehow she grins from ear to ear. Kids are resilient. I had no idea how resilient this little girl is. She is a scrawny, scraggly headed, little girl. I first met her after school one day. The bus brought her back. Nobody home. We sat in the office and talked while I waited to get someone on the phone to come get her.
“Who is usually waiting for you at home?” I ask.
“My grandpa.” She says, “But he likes to go to that store and talk to that Indian man.”
“Oh ok. Anybody else around the house?”
“My mom. She sleeps all the time.”
“Ah. I understand,” I reply. This becomes a fairly frequent routine. We get to know each other a little bit. She likes to talk. Doubtful anybody has much time to listen to her at home.
I seek out her teacher to get a little more information. Mom struggles with drugs. She has lost custody. Matter of fact, Mom doesn’t have many rights. At least not unless grandpa gives permission. She lives with Grandpa. Starts to make a little more sense now. Grandpa probably doesn’t know a whole lot about washing, brushing, and blow drying hair. He probably doesn’t know a whole lot about cute outfits that third grade girls wear to school. He and the Indian man probably don’t know much about hair barrettes, braids, or pig tails.
My heart starts to break for her. Who is going to read her Junie B. Jones books? Who is going to sing “Let it Go” with her while watching Frozen? Who is going to teach her to ice cookies and cupcakes and decorate the house for holidays?
Unfortunately, that’s the story for several kids in this place. Heartbreaking. Devastating. Tragic.
Not long after, I see her in the hall one day. Her hair is brushed. Her clothes are clean. Her step...a little more bounce. That raises questions in my mind. God must have provided someone. He is good at that. Way better than we ever could be.
Just a few mornings later, I see the angel. It’s one of our teachers. The girl is not even in her class. They have a date each morning. Brush the hair, check the clothes, get her some new ones if necessary. Creating memories, increasing self-esteem, allowing her to be a girl, and teaching her about love.