I think of you often, Allison. I see your face in my dreams some nights and when I wake up I am sad that I can't see you. When I close my eyes, the memories come rushing at me like a flood. Your smile. Your sweet voice. Watching you play. Your hugs. The smoothness of your cheek when I brushed your hair back. Your tiny hand encased in mine.
I loved you before I met you and I was praying for you before I even left the States. When I first saw you, I knew you were going to be something special. My heart connected with you in a way that I didn't know what possible. I was so glad when I found out you were in the age group that I was leading. You were still dressed in your dance costume and I was trying to tell you how pretty you looked.
The kids performed a dance as a welcome to us for coming. Allison is in the red skirt next to the girl in front of the line.
The next thing I know, you're holding my hand and you're wanting me to sit with you for snack time. You were the first kid to really open up to me. It made me so happy when you waved me over to sit with you. You tried to ask me a question and that was when the language barrier hit me hard because I wanted to talk to you too but I couldn't. I was discouraged that we couldn't communicate but it didn't seem to bother you at all. In fact, you thought it was pretty funny that this white girl couldn't talk to you and you were whispering something to your friend about me.
I only had three days to spend with you. And before I knew it, the week was over and I had to say goodbye. It broke my heart to see the sadness in your eyes when you realized what I was saying. That I wasn't coming back the next day. That I wasn't going to see you again. I still remember how you wrapped your arms around my neck and buried your face in my shoulder. I couldn't hold back the tears as I hugged you back. I knew saying goodbye would be hard but I didn't expect it to hit me like it did in that moment. I didn't want to let you go. I didn't want to let any of you kids go.
You have such a strong personality and at only five years old, I saw a great leader in you. The way you took charge of the games, even though you were a little bossy at times, showed me what a great influencer of people you are going to be someday. You were one of the best listeners in my group during story time and I hope that you took those stories to heart and learned about God. I wish I could be there to watch you grow up, because I know you're going to be an incredible woman someday.
I pray for you when I think of you. I pray that you would be safe and that you would grow up with a better life than your parents had. I hope you remember me and all the fun we had together. I pray that you still listen to the stories about Jesus and that you would continue to learn and grow in your relationship with him. I pray that you are loved and cherished and never beaten or abused like most children in your country are. I pray that you grow up and become a light for Christ in your community, serving God with wherever he has you.
You will probably never know the impact you had on me that week, Ally. I wish I had just one more moment with you so I could try and tell you how you left your handprint on my heart.