Hermano Manuel is part of the leadership of a small church plant about a half hour outside of the city. Every Sunday, both morning and evening, he drives out to the little church, usually taking two Casa Hogar children along with him. Today was the anniversary of the church, and I joined the large group that Hermano Manuel drove out to the church. This anniversary was not unlike the last church anniversary I attended, although more people were in attendance.
During the service, Kenia, Ana, a young college girl named Angeles, and I were in charge of the childrens´ class. More than 40 children, ranging in age from not yet two to 12 joined us for games, lessons, and songs.
Not too far into the class, the tiniest little one in the group started crying. She had been perched on her brother´s lap, but the little guy- barely bigger than his little sister- handed her over gratefully when I reached out to pick her up.
Probably about 18 months old, the little one was short and rather round. She had six front teeth on top and bottom, and short hair which someone had managed to corral into a pony tail that stuck straight up about three inches off her head.
I held the the now very calm child in my arms for a couple minutes before she started to appear rather sleepy. I eased her down to a lying position, as one would hold a newborn, and minutes later she was snoring slightly, her pudgy hand flung up over her little nose.
40 minutes later, the service ended and the kids poured out of the tiny classroom into the bright sun. It was 4pm and time for lunch. And still the baby slept.
Fairly certain that when the baby´s mother wanted her, she would know where to find her, I took a seat at one of the long white tables and ate the cup of bean soup that was handed to me. I chatted with the little ones seated around me, and brushed the baby´s short hair to one side with the hand that was not supporting her weight on my lap.
The little one had been asleep more than an hour when I finshed my beans and Fanta. I glanced around, wondering idly to which woman the little one belonged to, when her little hands jerked up to her face and she rubbed her eyes open sleepily.
I righted her on my lap and looked around me, wondering if now that she was awake, the child´s mother, or aunt, or father, or sister, would claim her. Seeing no one coming forth, I leaned forward and asked the young girl across the table if the knew who the baby´s mother was.
The girl, probably about 15 years old, looked at my quizically, “No…” she paused, then she said, “I thought you were her mother·”
Minutes later, I had returned the little girl to her real mother (whom I had located quite easily), and was in the kitchen helping dish out cake. But even as I passed out napkin-fulls of rich chocolate cake, I kind of missed the little baby girl.
p.s. We are having some internet issues, which will hopefully be resolved by next weekend. So If I am posting less frequently than normal, don´t worry!