Love needs no words
The time was two years ago. It wasTuesday and our weekly kids club continued as normal. I was romping and playing with the rest of the children who live in the slums of Armenia Bonito, the village we work in. I am a kid missionary to Honduras. Looking up, I noticed a little girl standing far away. Sitting up a little I smiled and waved. She seemed shocked at the acknowledgement and backed off a few steps. My smile faded as I got a better look at her. She was tall, compared to the rest of the Honduran kids, tall, and far too thin. Her filthy shirt fell flat around her body, which gave absolutely no indication of age whatsoever. She was tall enough to be 11 or 12, but still far, far too square with utterly no figure. Her dark hair was matted and dirty far beyond any recognition. Bursting from my chest, my heart grew wings and flew, going out to this unknown girl.
Week after week I came out for kids club, and week after week she was standing there. Every time we came out to Armenia from downtown, where we lived I saw her there. My mom saw her too. School had started and my visiting times were limited to how fast I could cram down my homework. But while I was glaring at my 20 math problems, my mom did some research. She started asking around Armenia Bonito. Who was this girl? Where did she live? Why is she so timid? Why is no one else noticing her presence?
When the answers finally came together, it was not a pretty picture. Her name is Oneida. We know of at least two siblings of hers. Her mother is dead and her father is… drunk. She takes care of herself with no help. When she’s not ignored by the other people in the village, they hit her. She is stuck at the bottom of the godlike social hierarchy right next to the dogs. It’s no wonder, then why she hid for so long. But she did eventually come out.
She finally started coming to our kids clubs and even participating in the VBS style games and activities therein. It was then I really met her. Using my bad Spanish, I tried in vain to start a conversation with her. She said absolutely nothing in response to my words. Only sitting and refusing to pick up the crayon we had provided for coloring, insisting through gestures that I color the picture. I met her insistence with my own and inserted and utter refusal to even touch the crayon. “It’s your paper, you color it”, was met with a look of ‘what?’ though it had been spoken in a language she clearly understood. Grasping her hand in mine I realized just how small it really was. I led her hand to the crayon and she grabbed it. As I guided her hand in a small scribbling motion, Oneida tried to slip her hand out of mine, and force the crayon into my possession. Squeezing my hand in a definite ‘No’, I led her hand to scribble another mark over the paper. I let go and she looked up at me. I smiled, and she smiled back. Finally.
Now two years later and I’ve never heard Oneida make a full sentence using words. She’s not mute; she just doesn’t speak. Her most common sound is a ‘tii’ followed by many signs and gestures that I speak fluently. Both my mom and I have developed a full relationship with Oneida. I first met her across the street as the most horrible personification of the word ‘lonely’ I had ever met. Now we will have full conversations. Me and my mom have made it fully clear to all the other kids that there will be full and severe consequences for hitting Oneida in our presence.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is notquick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Cor 13:4-8)