This is a story about Lili (Lee-Lee), one of the little girls I met in Mexico. She was so very tiny, and one of the youngest kids there, at 3 years old. Her mom worked with Buckner so she was always there before our team even got there in the morning. I knew she was going to be on my team and I was hoping that we would get to be best friends before the week was over.
So when her mom brought her up to me during our story time, I was excited to see her and I sat down next to her to listen to the story. But then she started crying. It wasn't a loud scream or anything, just a pitiful little whimpering like a puppy would make, and big tears welled up in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. She looked up at me and said "Mama." over and over again.
I was a little disappointed, but I took her downstairs to her mom. Oh well, I thought to myself, I have all week to win her over. I'm sure we'll be friends by then. I underestimated how stubborn Lili was going to be. For the next three days, every time I saw her I would smile and wave and try to get her to come play with us. Sometimes, she would take my hand and follow me outside, only to change her mind and ask for her mom.
I never got a smile out of her until the last day and we played peek-a-boo behind the wall. She would peek out, ever so slowly, until she saw me and then quickly hide behind the wall again. Then I would lean out over the wall, find her, and then quickly pull away. I was so excited to finally get a smile from her even though she still wouldn't participate with the other kids.
During lunch that day, I had just sat down to try and eat. I had been really sick the day before and I was still not feeling so great. All of a sudden, Lili came around the corner with a toy in her hands and a big smile on her face. She climbed into my lap and started talking. I had no idea what she was saying but I was so surprised to hear her talk, since the only thing I had ever heard her say all week was "Mama." She brought me toy after toy, telling me something about them, all the while smiling and laughing. I couldn't believe it.
Was this the same girl who started crying in my lap not three days before, asking for her mom and frowning at me every time I smiled at her? Was this the same girl who refused to participate with the group at all?
I have one picture of Lili that my group leader snapped for me and every time I look at her picture, I can't help but smile, even though she looks so grouchy in the photo. She was so hard to get to know, so hard to play with and I wondered why I was putting so much effort into her when the other kids were so easy to get to know and so likable. For whatever reason, I just couldn't give up on her, I couldn't stop trying to show love to her. Even when I was certain she was probably never going to like me back.
Lili taught me an important lesson that week. You see, Lili and I really aren't that different from each other. I'm really stubborn too. I don't trust in the love that my Father has for me and I refuse to participate in all the great things He has planned for me. He constantly tries to win me over and I just frown and turn away, thinking that I know what's best for me instead of trusting Him. Yet, God never gives up on me, never stops loving me, never stops calling for me, never stops offering his hand out for me to take.
It took Lili four days before she decided not to be scared of me and that I was actually more fun to play with than playing by herself. It's taken me most of my life to realize that I don't have to be scared of God and that I can trust Him because He loves me more than anyone on this earth ever could.
I'm so grateful to have met Lili and for the lesson that she taught me. I'm grateful for the last day that I got to spend with her and for finally getting to see her smile and laugh. I'm grateful for the handprint she left on my heart.