Kelsey’s silky blond ponytail bounced with the jostling of the van as she rested with her head on David’s shoulder. His muscular arm lay across the back of their seat, his head against the window as dust from the lead van billowed past. Sarah made herself stop staring at them and continued writing in her journal.
"valentine’s day. i AM happy for david and kelsey. it IS
romantic that they got engaged today. but i can’t help
"38, Lord. nearly old enough to be their mother and
now THEY’RE engaged. i love serving you, but i am so
LONELY. i would really like someone
to walk this road
with me. i’m afraid it’s too late for me now.
"everyone on these trips thinks i’m happy and content.
mostly i am. but all i ever wanted was to be a wife
and mother. and here i am, a single, childless career
woman. my job is great. and my work with the ministry.
but God, PLEASE, i want my valentine."
Sarah closed the notebook as the van pulled to a stop outside the orphanage. She stowed it in her backpack and helped pile everyone’s personal belongings in one of the seats. Kelsey reached back and stuffed a flier advertising the mission trip into her backpack's front zipper pouch.
Sarah knew the front of that flier by heart. Not only had she taken the photo, a close-up of a slightly dirty Mexican child with large brown eyes, she had chosen the caption. “Look Into the Eyes of Jesus.” And at the bottom, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these…Matt. 25:40 NIV”
Everyone spent the next thirty minutes fighting blowing dust as they unloaded boxes of lice shampoo and spray, clothing, school supplies, medicine and more.
With everything intended for Santa Maria’s stacked next to the school building, the four-man evangelism team prepared to leave for town. David hugged Kelsey goodbye, jumped into the van and waved goodbye, an enormous grin plastered on his face.
The remaining group separated into teams and began to attack their specific responsibilities. Sarah’s group worked for hours de-lousing the children while others played outside with the untreated children, helped the treated children find new clothing or entertained them inside the school house. Still others cleaned and de-loused the sleeping quarters, boiled laundry and worked in the kitchen.
Sarah look down at her hands as she combed through the last child’s hair. These were not her hands. They were her mother’s. So many lines.
She was brought back to the present by a small hand on her arm. “Gracias, Senora.” The little boy had turned around in his chair and was gazing up at her with a faint smile.
“De nada. You’re welcome sweetheart.” She pointed him toward Jennifer who was waiting to take him to finish cleaning up and get fitted with a fresh outfit of clothing.
Sarah and her team cleaned up their mess, grabbed their backpacks and the last few boxes of lice shampoo and headed for their make-shift bucket shower next to the stream. “Don’t forget to keep your mouths closed when we rinse,” she reminded the others. “We don’t need anybody down with dysentery.”
By the time they were finished, everyone was gathered around a bonfire eating beans and rice. Sarah sat on the ground as she ate and listened half-heartedly to Chale’s Bible lesson. “Jesus told us that He is with us always.”
Suddenly Klay was standing next to her with the little boy who had thanked her. “Amador wanted to see you,” Klay whispered. Amador held out a construction paper heart. Sarah took it and read the crayon writing on the back.
Mi amor por ti
Es mas grande
“My love for you is greater than all the mountains,” she translated.
She gazed thoughtfully into Amador’s large brown eyes as he shyly smiled down at her. In her heart she heard a Whisper. It was startlingly clear. “I love you. Won’t you be MY Valentine?”
She hugged Amador. “Gracias, Amato, Beloved. Gracias.”
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