Tengo Hambre

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We knew she was coming…. 

We don’t always know, but they told us about her case and we had time to get our staff and girls ready for her arrival.  

Her story is among the darkest we’ve ever encountered yet. 

When the judge arrived to entrust her into our care, she was shaking and crying.  Not the girl.  The judge. I put my hands on her shoulders told her, “Today is her day of rescue. Today she begins her walk toward light and healing. Today she is safe. Thank you for going to those dark and scary places. We promise to hold her close, as a daughter.” I spoke in breaths helping her to breath. I said a quick prayer and we hugged as she began walking out the door.  
 

Moments after the judge left my attention shifted to the little girl. She wasn’t crying, shy or timid. She was demanding, fighting, swearing, flipping people off and sticking her tongue out at anyone who got too close. In her presence I was immediately full of hope!  

This little fighter is a survivor. I began coaching myself, believing we would get through this. The initial days can sometimes be the toughest. I became determined to show her that she is loved and her safety was our primary charge.
  

She is raw and raging— who can blame her?  I couldn’t help but want to hold her and wrap her in love so that she would lay down all the weapons that served her before, but are no longer needed in this foreign environment of healing and trust. 

But healing takes time…

Trust takes time…

And Love waits. 

Love listens. 

Love leans in but also steps back. 

Love gives space for the transformation to unfold.

She barks like an old lady. Swears like a sailor.  She knows how to take and give a punch.  If there’s anything we have relearned in our time with her is that we have to pick our battles.   

At dinner she yells in rebellion when it’s time to bless the meal. Disruption seems to be her greatest ally. 

One afternoon as we sat down for lunch I asked her if she wanted to pray.

Averting her eyes, she quickly blurted at me, “How can I pray. I don’t know how to pray. You never taught me to pray.”  

“But how can they call on Him if they have not put their trust in Him? And how can they put their trust in Him if they have not heard of Him? And how can they hear of Him unless someone tells them?”

 Romans 10:14

We have been talking about who we are and our true identity.  We painted beautiful, whimsical paintings to remind us. Hers turned out so sweet. At the very end I sat with each girl to help choose the words that she wanted to write on her painting to inspire her throughout the year.  

As I sat with this little one, I threw out many options.  

“Daughter of a King?” NO.

“loved?” NO.

“protected?” No.

“Fighter?” NO.

“Surivor?” NO, NO, NO, NO… 

Finally, a friend offered a suggestion.  

“Tengo Hambre”

I’m hungry.

This time there was just silence.

 Those were the words she said countless times throughout each and every day.  

“I’m hungry”.

She was always hungry. That was what she was becoming known for, what everyone else including myself had observed.

Later in the day when I had a quite moment to myself I picked up the book I was currently reading. I began thumbing through the pages, remembering I had written her name in the margin and underlined a passage that seemed to fit her fragile state. 

“Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied.”—Matthew 5:6

The same hope that had filled me when I first met her days before resided in my being again. I became convinced that she is the perfect example of who we are called to serve. The hungry, the thirsty, the left out to dry, the forgotten. Her disruption could never dislodge her from our care but rather she is the very reminder of why we exist.

What and honor and privilege it is to help feed.  

Joy Reyes