Part of what I do here in Jaco is meet with children to give them one on one time. After all, kids need discipleship too!
Nina is who I go out with most frequently, as she is a child that I believe God put in my path to mentor. She is one of the smartest kids I've ever worked with, creative, loving.... I could go on and on about her. But she also has a tough home life & going through situations no child should go through.
I went out with her this week to talk about some tough issues, and decided to do our one on one time at Pizza Hut. Every kid likes pizza, right? Nina liked the pizza, but what she loved was the... Salad Bar!
It was her first time being in Pizza Hut, and after she noticed the salad bar she said, "Oh Karen, I gotta go see this!!" (She actually reminds me of myself as a child- ha!) She stood at the salad bar for literally 10 minutes, in awe of the food there. She excitedly called me over so that I could check out the food with her. "KAREN!" she yelled across the restaurant, "COME!!! Look at all of this!!!"
She then proceeded to taste everything- by sticking her finger in the salad dressing, and pulling the croutons out of the bin. I tried to stop her but she was quick! I explained that with salad bars we use plates, and put everything on the plates, and then asked if she wanted one. She replied, "No, it's too much money. It's 2 dollars extra." If I could, I would buy the world for this child, and told her that it didn't matter the price, that if she wanted the salad bar she could get a plate. She continued refusing, and we went back to sit down.
She kept looking longingly at the salad bar as we were seated and finally said, "Really? It's okay?" I had the waitress get her a plate & she went to town! She stood for a long time looking at what to pick out, and came back with half the plate filled with croutons, and the other half with raisins!
She wasn't supposed to go back and refill her plate, but the waitress was so, so kind & realized that Nina was having a first time salad bar experience. And first time Pizza Hut experience. She let Nina fill her plate up to her heart's content as often as she wanted.
When the pizza came, I realized that Nina likes the powdered cheese even more than the pizza! She loaded the cheese on, and was about to take her first bite, when she exhaled & all of the cheese flew off her pizza. It was so funny. And also a little embarassing- but I loved being able to share those moment with her, knowing that my ability to love her unconditionally would be shown through giving her grace about restaurant manners, and a cheese- covered table.
These are the moments, and the relationships that make it hard to leave a town and move to the next. Nina is a child that I will truly, truly miss.