They were starting to gather as I sit underneath the huge rain tree near the graveyard. As always Nikina was the first to reach me, throwing her arms open wide for her usual hug. Soon they were tumbling over each other for hugs except for Nikina little sister, Gloria. She hung back, eyes down, looking the worst I had ever seen her look. Soon all were seated and munching on the cookies I had brought, even Gloria. Tears filled my eyes as memories flooded me of the first time I tried to reach out to these children who played most days in an old graveyard. Memories of another little Gloria whose life touched mine so many years ago.
Dave and I met at bible school each with a different goal. I went because my parent insisted that’s what I needed to break the rebellious spirit in me. He was there because of something I could not understand at the time, a calling from God for missions. Every girl there noticed him, handsome, rugged, soft but firm voice when he spoke. As always I was too loud, wore too much makeup, anything I could to get his attention. The only attention it got me though was from the staff that was always pulling me aside to discipline me. I determined in my mind I was leaving this place as soon as I had enough money saved. With my part time job I knew it would take a long time but until then I would just have fun.
About three weeks into the first semester I had worked late at my job in a nearby restaurant and was cleaning up when in came this family with three children. The woman came to the counter and asks since it was almost closing time if there any food left that we were giving away. With my boss permission I gather up the left over’s and gave them to the family. . Goodness they were hungry except for the littlest girl; she was crying and had lain down in the booth. I continued to clean up behind the counter and heard the door close so went out to clean up their mess. What a surprise to find that little girl still lying in the booth. I shouted to the boss who came and he went out side to look for her family without any luck. I sit down besides her not really wanting to touch her since she smelled so bad. The boss called the police and while we were waiting Dave walked in. He was wondering if we were still serving food, he had worked late at the family shelter and was on his way back to bible school. When he saw the little girl and I explained what happened, he took a good look at her and said he knew who she was, that her family sometimes stayed in the shelter. Finally police came, Dave even talked to them and they called family services. The little girl must have recognizes Dave for she crawled upon his lap while we were waiting; he played with her hair, talked softly to her. She stopped crying until a person from family service came and took her away.
Well from that night I had a point of contact with Dave and I used it to my advantage, always asking him about the little girl for I knew he was checking into her upkeep through the shelter. It wasn’t that I was totally void of any emotions for the little girl, I felt sorry for her but mostly my focus was on Dave, he was so handsome. One day he asks me if I would like to go with him to see her, her name was Gloria. We arrived at the foster parent house which made me wonder what was wrong with the people who place her there. It was dirty, over ran with kids, the woman who answer the door was not friendly but she let Gloria come outside to talk with us. I found out later it was because Dave had been bringing food for them. Gloria face lit up when she saw Dave and she went into those big strong arms of his like he was her father. I was so jealous since I wanted him to hug me like that but of course I did not show it. All too soon we had to get back to the Bible school but I continue to go with Dave to see Gloria.
Close to thanksgiving we were taking a turkey with the works over to the foster house where Gloria lived. The foster mother met us at the door and informed us Gloria was in the hospital so we left and went straight there. The nurse informed us Gloria had pneumonia, a bad strain and was dying. She said, you are the first people to come see about her, and to my surprise they let us go in to see her. Seeing her laying so close to death shook me and for the first time I felt something stirring in me. I listen to Dave as he held her and talked softly to Gloria, her little hand in his. He told her the story of Jesus again and that if she wanted to she could go live with him in a nice warm wonderful place where everyone loved each other and there was no pain. As Dave prayed a prayer I felt the urge to pray also and ask God to forgive me and that I believed in His son. Several days later Gloria died. I was devastated but Dave was calm through it all and with such assurance in his voice he said the most powerful word at Gloria funeral. That nothing could separate us from the love of God. I knew I did not want to be separated from this awesome love I had experienced. I started paying attention in the classes and the Bible began to have meaning. Everyone noticed the change in me especially Dave for I had begin to love him the right way only to find out he already loved me and had been praying and waiting for me from the day he met me.
Well long story short, Dave goals became mine and we married and moved to a foreign land and began a ministry to street children. In this country you could not operate a children shelter; you had to go out where they were. That’s how I ended up in the graveyard for that is where they played hide and seek among the tombstones. Nakina was about 10 when one day she brought her three year old sister. Her mother had left her to care for her little sister who had no name yet. I called her Gloria. Their mother cared nothing for the children; she would not even acknowledge me when I tried to talk to her about them. At first I gave her money to help buy food but soon learned that was a mistake. So I begin to pack food to the graveyard so they at least had one good meal a day. Nakina had accepted Jesus as her Savior and prayed daily that her little sister would survive the lack of food, the beatings, the harshness of their living condition long enough to understand the gospel. Despite my gentle couching Gloria would not let me touch her. . Her pain was such a wall between us, she trusted on one by her sister. That day I told the Bible story of Jesus playing with the little children and how they sit on his lap because they were not afraid of him. After the children had eaten all the cookies they went back to playing tag except Gloria. I was so use to her silently just sitting there and was absorbed in watching the other children that I did not notice her till I felt her hand on my shoulder. As I turned my face toward her she open her little arms wide and fell toward me. I caught her in my arms. Tears flowed freely from both of us as I hugged her tight and stroke her hair and sang, Jesus love you this I know. She let me hold her till Nakina came and said we must go home before my mother get back or we will get a beating. Nakina did all the cooking for the family. How hard it was to let go of Gloria but the word of God came back to me, nothing can separate us from the love of God. God’s love in my heart was drawing little Gloria just as it drew the little Gloria to Dave many years ago. What I wanted to do was snatch both Gloria and Nakina and takes them home with me but I knew their mother would send the police and they would throw us in jail and deport us. Then I would never see the girls again or the other children too. Ministry in a foreign country can be so hard because of the cultural differences that sometime make us feel like our hands are tied. I just kept thinking as I walked back home anxious to tell Dave what God had brought about that day in the graveyard, God’s hands are never tied. There was no place God’s love could not reach the little children, and not even a graveyard could not separate them from the love of Jesus. Now I had something more to trust him for. I prayed, dear Lord untie the hands of that bind these little girls to such a life that will destroy them, work it out that Dave and I might be able to adopt them. While I wait for God to work I will continue to meet them in a graveyard and trust the one who defeated the grave.