“Hola Papa Dios” – “Hey Papa God”
Words from our four year old to start off a prayer. It was just like any other night, we were all gathered in the living room upstairs and it was time for our prayer before sleep. I asked the girls who would like to pray and the four year old said “me!” Everyone laughed immediately. I understood the laughter but wanted to use this moment as a lesson to the girls. I told them that God wants us to be like children again, God wants our prayers to be raw and honest. I told them that some of the most profound prayers come from little ones. So I turned to our sweet four year old and said, “siga” – ‘continue’.
As I expected, her prayer was one of the most profound. She thanked God in her own little way for her story and how she arrived to the house. She thanked Him for what happened then thanked Him for being in this big house now.
I often get so caught up in the day to day life of teaching the girls in the morning then working with homework and tutoring in the afternoon. But this day, I felt like I just needed to listen and be present. Be present with the girls no matter if they are yelling at me, crying with me, laughing with me, stressed with me, fighting with me, loving me or hating me. Just be present. Show them that I am showing up. Showing up is the most important part. Each caretaker, psychologist, teacher, cook, director….showing up for them. Showing them that they are important. We can use all the words we want to describe how important they are but they’ve had empty words in their life…our job is to fill the words that we say to them. Fill those words with matched actions. Actions that the girls deserve. Actions of sitting with them after a long day of school, walking to the track with them to get some energy out, crying with them as we both miss our families, singing at the top of our lungs, just being with them. Intentional presence.
Entering my fourth month here, I am learning presence. This is something that I never want to lose…intentional presence with someone. Presence with someone that is important to us and presence even with someone we barely know. Presence allows us to learn about one another, get to know their story, see where they come from. Presence brings value to us as human beings. We crave presence because we want to feel known and feel seen. Here with the girls, we recognize that that craving does not fall short in the house. With the time that I’ve had here, little by little I have been able to understand how each girl receives the intentional presence to feel known and loved. As I learn, I get to spend time doing things that they love to do, hearing stories that they love to tell. My favorite thing so far in this job is the ability to see how each one is their own self. To see how each one wants to share their time with someone that is there to listen closely. Discovering how they learn best in the classroom, but more so discovering what makes their eyes light up with joy. To each one their own in every way.
Sit down. Listen closely. Be present.