Encounters, episode 2: Girl

She’s a little uncertain as she pushes her way through the swinging door into the big room where we’re all standing in a circle. She’s wearing a striped shirt that’s too small on her, and an inexpertly-tied ponytail that looks like it could fall apart any minute. I smile big and wave her in and we all say the Pledge.

Later, she is in the classroom full of fifth and sixth graders that are jockeying to see who can be the most cool and annoying. I take attendance and hand out books so they can start learning their verses. We are on the verge of chaos, so I quickly tell the kids they’ll have to stand in line and wait their turn.

She tries really hard. She wants to learn the verses, wants to do a good job, wants to catch up with the kids who were here last week. She waits patiently in line, shuffling her booklet from hand to hand. When it’s her turn she struggles a little bit, but she gets the verse out: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” I smile and scribble down my initials, and then it’s on to the boy behind her.

At the end of the night she is excited to tell me that she said her verse to three different people and earned a candy bar. She a face of eager participation in a sea of boredom, and I can’t help but smile at her excitement as I give her a high five and send her out the door.

I sure hope she comes back next week.

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