She’s only six years old.
She arrived at the Casa Hogar the week before Christmas, mere days before I arrived.
She and her older sister.
The littlest sister’s too small; she’s at an infant orphanage.
They need to be here. Need a safe place. Need to be with people, adults, parents, who care for them, love them, show them the love of Christ.
She needs to be here.
Her older sister knows what to do. Knows how to build walls around her heart, how to keep people on the outside. She’s nine years old and already practiced at hiding her heart.
But she can’t hide her desperate plea for love, she can’t cover the way she longs to be loved, longs to be able to trust someone completely.
And she’s in a place where she can. She’s right where she needs to be. To heal, to love, to grow.
The little sister doesn’t know yet. She’s too little to have learned. She doesn’t know how to lie to protect herself. She doesn’t know that life is ugly, harsh, and broken. She doesn’t know that she’s not supposed to melt into a angelic lump in my arms on the way home from a party, breathing the deep, sighing breaths of a sleeping child.
She doesn’t know, but she’ll soon find out.
She’s in a place where she can grow and develop. She’s not impervious to the world, and its tendency to hurt and destroy, but here she’s shielded from it.
She smiles shyly at me. She follows her older sister devotedly around the Casa Hogar. She laughs gleefully when it’s her turn to hit the Christmas piñata.
She’s six years old and she’s in the right place.
And then one morning I’m pulling up to the Casa Hogar with Hermana Tere. Hermano Manuel is standing in the office doorway, silent. Serious.
The court decision came through. Big sister will stay, the two little sisters are leaving. Leaving safe. Leaving trust. Leaving the Casa Hogar.
They’re being legally returned to where they were before.
And the little one is clutching her gift bag from the Christmas party in one tiny hand. The bag that she was given at the party that left her curled, exhausted, in my arms not three days prior.
And she’s wearing a new dress and a jacket that we found for her in the Casa Hogar storage area.
Her maryjane shoes are still shiny on her tiny feet, only slightly smudged with the pervasive Mexican dust.
The social worker is leading her away, toward the waiting car. Away from here. Away from us.
I stand with Hermana Tere and Hermano Manuel and we watch. We wave and force smiles onto our faces. We tell her we love her and remind her to be good.
We bite our lips as the small one climbs obediently into the back of the car, glancing back at us for just a second.
And then she’s gone.
And I don’t know where she is now. I don’t know whose home she is living in, what she’s eating, or how she feels. I don’t know if she understands or knows. I don’t know if she’s hungry, if she’s sick, if she’s hurting.
I don’t know.
The only thing I know is that God is sovereign. He knows. He loves. He plans.
And I can trust Him. Trust Him when He brought her to the Casa Hogar. Trust Him when she climbed into my lap and talked to me about six-year-old things. Trust Him when a prim social worker packed her into a black car and drove her away.
I trust Him and I beg Him to care for her, to love her, to protect her.
Because there is nothing I can do but trust Him and pray for her.