there's a group of kids who live across the street from the church i go to, and they show up every sunday morning bringing an assortment of neighbors, cousins, and older siblings. what amazes me is that their parents are rarely there, but they show up nonetheless.
i've probably heard the bible stories we go over a million times, but they've never heard these stories before. they like playing the games, and don't always get into the craft activities so much. they draw me pictures and i make hot chocolate for the little ones, who want at least three scoops of swiss miss and two packs of sugar.
they range in age from 3-12, and i still haven't figured out how they're all related.
the one girl was freaking out because her cousin showed up wearing these earrings that looked a bit like this:
"you're not supposed to wear those to church!" tiasia says and he felt all embarrassed and asked me if he should go home because he did a bad thing and i said no. that it didn't matter to me and
i was just glad he was there.
we did a prayer walk through the neighborhood this afternoon and me and tiasia walk together on the one side of the street and pray for everyone who lives there. she prays for the kids on her street and the people who are in prison and the people who are on drugs. the boys are across the street alternating between showing off their favorite wrestling moves they saw on tv, quoting souljah boy, and praying that their families get back together and "heavenly father, please help the neighbors across the street who are smoking weed to not do it anymore because it's bad!"
at the end of the walk, they take us upstairs to meet her aunt and there is no furniture upstairs, just inflatable mattresses spread out on the floor, milk crates instead of chairs, and a pile of clothes in the corner. i've met her aunt a couple times and the guy that lives there, and little ones greet me with hugs and tell me they want to come along with the big kids next time too.
i see the older kids walking around the streets down there and wonder what the future of these small ones will be. i pray and hope against hope that it's something better.
i find myself choking up as i walk down the stairs and back to my car.