09 July 2013

my God is so faithful

During the summer of 2011, I worked with Sacred Road Ministries as an intern on the Yakama and Warm Springs Reservations here in the Pacific Northwest. While there, I wrote about Darius.

Quiet. Shy. He has the cautious hope of a boy who is often picked on. His eyes fit perfectly into his face behind his glasses. They give him the appearance of being much older than he is.
"There's a boy behind the tree...crying." Her nonchalant expression tells me she had seen many tears in her seven or eight years. She cares enough to tell me, but not enough to care. Turning the corner of the building, I can hear him. Now circling the tree, I follow the edges of the roots with my heals and watch the tree revolve, waiting to see who it is. I'm not expecting anyone in particular, but I'm certainly not expecting to see the sun glint off of glasses. I see his helmet as I stand above him, round and scratched up along with the knee, elbow, and wrist pads that accompany the huge roller blades on his feet. It isn't until I get down on my knees and sit next to him that I can see how upset he is. "You okay?" Pointless question, but they're words to say and he responds to them. "They got me wet. I hate getting wet." Words spoken through a wet nose and shaky breath. "I'm sorry..." "I told them I don't like getting wet." Inconsolable. We sit silent.
The parade goes by to blaring country music. The fire truck, misting most and soaking a select few, blissfully cool in the ever present sun. Next a van with a poster taped to it about a support system for domestic violence. Next, the same for diabetes prevention. Following them comes someone who decided they wanted to join the parade because they had nothing better to do. I see the sun glint off of glasses  and see the roller blades. He's following one of the vans and chatting with a friend until he sees us, fourteen white people in a line of native faces. It's the first time I see his smile, radiant under his waving arm. "Hey you church people!" "Hey!" "You back?" "We sure are! Will you be there today?" "Oh yeah! MY GOD IS SO BIG, SO STRONG AND SO MIGHTY THERE'S NOTHING MY GOD CANNOT DO...FOR YOU!" As he gets further away, his voice doesn't fade, but grows louder. Faces turn and look, immediately puzzled by the white sunburned faces the words are directed towards. I don't look to see who sees. 
Gone a whole week. Finally back. Children running everywhere, jumping out of their skins. My arms are filled with bodies, one after another. My chin on so many heads. Names trip out of my mouth. I know I only get to use them for four more days. Glasses. A smile, but such a different energy coming from it, unidentifiable until a ball is in his hands and then in another boy's face. Destruction. A desire to be anti-matter. Creating hadn't helped. relationships had gotten him nowhere. He gave up. The violence built up, getting stronger and stronger until the four-square ball was rocks and faces were targets. 

All I can hear as I watch them holding his hands, trying to protect the other children is "MY GOD IS SO BIG, SO STRONG AND SO MIGHTY, THERE'S NOTHING MY GOD CANNOT DO!"

When I returned to Warm Springs the next summer for a week, I looked everywhere for Darius. His face constantly came to my mind through the months that followed my internship and I desperately wanted to see whether my prayers had been answered...whether the Lord had preserved this one boy...whether He had restored some kind of balance or peace to his heart...whether he had kept him from being torn apart by violence unlike so many of the lives on the reservations.

I didn't see him.

Still I prayed and waited and wondered. I have always struggled with leaving the reservation. I want to be doing, not watching. I want to make God's Will happen. I want to make a difference. But there was nothing I could do. God kept me from working on the reservation that following summer and this summer as well. While I desperately wanted to dive back into the mountain of work to be done, He kept me home and then He kept me abroad. All the while I had to trust that the Lord was keeping those who were working...that He was keeping the children...that He was keeping Darius.

This summer I returned to Warm Springs once again for an all too-short week. When our church was assigned to begin a new location for the children's ministry, I gave up the idea of getting to see Darius again. Still, while working with our hands deep in the earth of the community garden, I asked one of the current interns whether she had seen Darius. She didn't recognize the name. She didn't recall the description. He hadn't been to kid's club that summer. He was gone. I gave up.

Still, there were many children to be cared for, loved on, and prayed for. I threw myself into their stories. The week continued on until Wednesday. Standing under a shade tree after two hours of follow-the-leader through the nearby playground in 98 degree weather, we opened a large cooler of watermelon and tried to cool off along with the kids. A group of older boys who had been swimming in the river came closer and, on seeing that there was food  to be had, joined our little group. One of them came, took a piece of watermelon, and stood next to me. I turned to ask him what his name was and saw the glint of his glasses. It was Darius. 

He was right there. He looked content and comfortable and was clearly a calming influence on the other boys he was with. While they acted out, throwing watermelon rind across the circle, he simply observed. He turned to me and said "Hey. How've you been?"

"I've been good Darius." A shocked look. Whoops. He didn't remember me. I explained that I used to work at the Boy's and Girl's Club when he went there before. His face relaxed again. "It's good to see you again, Darius." A smile.

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There is nothing my God cannot do.

1 comment :

Hannah! said...

I love you and miss you so much. Thank you for sharing such an incredible story. Beautifully written, too :) <3

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