“Mama?” Six-year-old Ashlynn-Rae’s voice chirped up though her eyes remained focused on the picture she was coloring. “Does Jesus love South Americans?”
Mama stopped dishwashing and glanced at her daughter. “South Americans?” She asked.
“Uh-huh.” Ashlynn-Rae continued to color, her small pink tongue curled over the corner of her lip as she concentrated.
“Jesus loves everyone, sweetheart.” Mama promised. “Even South Americans.”
“How do you know?”
Mama rinsed free of lemony bubbles and dried her hands. Ashlynn-Rae continued to color, pausing only to trade her Cotton Candy Pink crayon for one of Fire Engine Red. Mama smiled at her daughter and wondered where she had come up with such a question.
“Well, Jesus doesn’t care what continent a person comes from. He loves us all.”
Ashlynn-Rae turned to face Mama, and her deep brown eyes were brimming with serious intent. “Are you sure? ‘Cause Tray Hooper said that Jesus doesn’t love South Americans. He says Jesus only loves North Americans.” Ashlynn-Rae regarded her mother with earnestness as she awaited a response.
Mama sat in the chair next to Ashlynn-Rae. She inhaled the scent of her daughter’s sweet shampoo and smiled at the remnants of oatmeal cookie crumbs adorning her chin.
“Why did he say that?” Mama finally asked.
“Tray says that South Americans talk funny and North Americans talk right, and so Jesus doesn’t understand the South American language, and so he loves North Americans better.”
“Hmm,” Mama said. “What do you think?”
“I told Tray that Jesus can talk any way he wants, even South American, so he can love people from South America too.” She scratched the side of her nose and pushed a wayward curl from her face. “Was that right?”
Mama nodded. “That is exactly right! Jesus made all people, and he speaks and understands all languages, even those spoken on the continent of South America.”
Ashlynn-Rae resumed her coloring. Mama admired the pink and red pony and kissed her little girl’s cheek before rising to continue her dishwashing chore.
“Mama?” Ashlynn-Rae’s voice piped up. “What’s a continent?”
“A continent is a large mass of land. There are seven continents on our planet. South America is one. So is North America, where we live.”
Ashlynn-Rae burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Mama asked.
“We don’t live in North America, Mama!” Ashlynn-Rae giggled behind her hand.
“Noooo. We live in South America! Everyone knows that.”
“Did Tray Hooper tell you that?” Mama asked, wondering what other misinformation Tray Hooper had imparted.
“No. Paw-Paw told me that.”
“Paw-Paw? I don’t think so,” Mama chuckled. “Your grandpa knows the difference between North and South America.”
Ashlynn-Rae nodded in agreement. She made her voice go as deep as she could manage and pushed her eyebrows into a stern V, looking very much, her mother had to admit, like her grandpa. “South America, land of the free and home of the Braves!”
Now Mama laughed too, as understanding dawned.
“So Tray is a Yankee and thinks we talk a different language down here in Georgia?”
“He says South American language is hard to understand sometimes, but he likes the Braves!”
“I bet he does,” Mama grinned. “And I bet he likes Coca-Cola and sweet tea, and going to Stone Mountain, too.”
Ashlynn-Rae nodded with vigor. “He does, Mama! How did you know?”
“I’m pretty smart.” Mama told her.
Ashlynn-Rae considered this as she resumed her coloring.
“Mama?” Ashlynn-Rae asked after a long silence.
“Yes, beloved,” Mama answered.
“What’s a Yankee?”
Mama grinned and shook her head. So many questions!
“Someone from up north is sometimes called a Yankee.”
“Oh. If a Yankee moves to Georgia is he a South American?”
“Well,” Mama thought for a moment, “I guess he is!”
“Good,” Ashlynn-Rae sighed with relief. “I’ll tell Tray Hooper first thing tomorrow that he’s a South American now, and that means Jesus still loves him even if he talks funny. I think maybe he was worried about that.”
“Yes, by all means. Tell Tray Hooper that Jesus still loves him. Jesus loves us all.”
“Even Princess Pony?” Ashlynn-Rae held up her picture.
“Even Princess Pony.”
“Tray Hooper says South Americans are rednecks. Does Jesus love rednecks? Is Tray Hooper a redneck since he’s a South American now? And Mama? What’s a redneck?”
Mama glanced heavenward and prayed for wisdom, thanking the Lord that love is a universal language….even in South America.
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