Blog post by Belikis, staff at ROOM Honduras.
Impacting the life of a person can be so simple: a hug, a word or just a smile. This time I had to give a little more than that.
I met Jessica* (name changed for privacy) at a children’s home. She has the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. The day
I found her she was play on her own rocking from side to side on a swing. I saw she was looking at a book and asked, “Do you know how to read?” She answered yes. I sat down to read the story with her and when I looked to her we sat there with a deep silence between us. I gently asked her again, “Can you read?”
This time she answered sadly, “no”. In that moment my heart began to throb. Between the pain, confusion, sadness I was feeling my lips pronounced the words “I’m can teach you how to read!”
That moment was unlike any other, it drew a smile to her face. Within a week we had our first reading class. When I arrived at the home, she came to meet me and told me “I was waiting for you.”
And so, we began our great journey.
We became a team. She could not read, and I had never taught someone to read, especially a girl like her who has been through so much difficultly in her few years of life.
We both knew something about being scared and that became our common ground to build a trusting relationship.
In the first four weeks we encountered all sorts of challenges. She was facing more than learning how to read. It was as if any time she struggled a voice in her head would take her elsewhere. She had to learn to believe in herself. When her gaze would go elsewhere, my voice would have to guide her back. I would reassure her we are in this together.
There is no time frame there is no failure: Trying is succeeding.
As I got to know her and her story more I realized our reading endeavor was about much more than reading. It takes so much bravery to learn something new. It takes vulnerability and trust. These were all things she struggled with every time we sat down. This has been a long process. Even though there have been times when I feel like I am not cut out for this, I have been encouraged to show up every day. I know it means something to her. She has chosen to trust me when I say she is capable. She feels hope when I reassure her. She believes in me. No matter how hard this process became I decided to keep trying.
Every day we sat down I began by encouraging her. I would say, “I know that everything seems so difficult, but you are a very intelligent, capable girl. You are doing great! I believe in you, your capacity, and intelligence.”
Six weeks passed, and the moment finally arrived that we were both so anxiously looking forward to: She was READING!!! Yes, she was reading! It so unreal to hear her say those 5 words all by herself. She recognized them and every syllable that she has worked so hard to remember just to forget. But she remembered! She was reading!
The serious little girl broke out a smile and it lit up the world!
She bowed her head and whispered, “I’m reading.” And continued more confidently saying, “I am reading! Now I want to read everything. Even the words on the Lempiras!” (Lempiras are the equivalent of a dollar bill.)
I laughed, and we soaked up the joy that came from this moment of breakthrough.
Since then she will not stop. Not even for a 5-minute stretch break. She is full of passion, motivation, determination, and life.
She has transformed.
Her life has been changed. One life, forever changed. Not just because she can read now. But because she believes in herself. All those hours and struggles are worth it. To impact one life is so much greater than we can imagine.
It is not just her life that was changed. All those hours and seeing her persevere has changed my life too. She has filled my heart with more hope. This has transformed the way I serve and love others. She has taught me that even when everything is so dark and heavy the light of Jesus’ love can always be found. It can lead us to build a different world than we see.
I would love to change to the world. But Jessica* has taught me that I do not need to impact a thousand lives. I need to impact a life. It makes so much sense because that how transformation is. Her story is transforming. She has lost so much just by arriving at a children’s home. It can feel like a place without hope.
I see now that bringing hope to home means bringing hope to one. She is full of hope. I will see the world change, ONE by ONE. She shines so bright.