I’m sorry I was in Guatemala on your birthday. You are in El Salvador. We were so close yet still so far away.
You were on my mind all day. I prayed for you as I ran my hand over El Sal on the map hanging outside my hostel room.
As I walked along the mountain overlooking the Guatemala City dump, I prayed for the cleanliness and safety of your street. You tell me you play there. You tell me it’s not dangerous. I thanked God that you are not in the dump scavenging for treasures. You are a treasure to me.
As I listened to Marlon, I praised God that your testimony is different. As I visited homes in the slums, I wondered what your home looks like. Do you have a place to sleep? A blanket to keep you warm? A ball to kick, a doll to dress, or a toy to play with? A change of clothes? A toothbrush?
As I served trays of lunch to the children at that morning’s ministry site, I prayed for you and the other children receiving lunch at the Compassion project. As I looked them in the eyes and told them how important they are, how beautiful they are, I wished I could do the same for you.
Oh, Smile, how I wish I had been with you. My half birthday is the day before your birthday. It would have been a great gift for both of us. Instead, God had me in a different Central American capital city so I chose to love on the children in front of me as if they were you.
I chose to love on them the way I hope someone does for you.
That afternoon, some other Guatemalan children loved on me the way you do in your letters but in real life.
“I want to meet my sponsor because I want to hold her hand. I want to hug her. I want to sit next to her. I want to thank her.”
That’s how you’ve ended your last several letters. And, Smile, it melts me heart every time.
I sat in the grass watching gringos lose to guatemaltecos in fútbol and baloncesto. I wished you were there beside me cheering for the opposite team.
And in an instant you were. Not you but a little one about your age named Michelle. She sat beside me (nearly on top of me, really) and draped her arm over mine. We took pictures. We laughed. We made bracelets. We braided hair.
It made me miss you. Someday, my sweet Smile, it will be you sitting beside me, holding my hand, laughing at the silly faces on my camera. Someday it’ll be your brown fingers running through my dirty blonde hair. Someday I’ll wrap a braided bracelet around your wrist and a matching one around my own.
Until then (and beyond), I will thank our God for those at the Compassion center pouring into you the way I wish I could. I thank Him for your precious letters, your beautiful drawings, and your sweet words. And I thank Him that He gave me children to love on me and to love on her when we could not be together.
Until then, I’ll be grateful that I know you’re taken care of. That your birthday is celebrated even when I’m negligent in card-making. That encouraging words are being showered over you, even if they can’t come directly from my lips. I love you, Smile.
Dios te bendiga, mija,
What are you looking for?