Bud, February 2017
My name is Bud. I’m ten. As soon as school is over for the day, I start running. I want to be the first one out so I can sit behind the bus driver that way the kids in the back won’t tease me. As soon as the bus stops, I run and keep running until I’m home and in my room. My father told me I should face my fears and hit the bully in the nose. But when dad ripped the sheetrock off the wall and found mold, and then lost his job, he didn’t face his fears. When he was in the hospital, things got bad. When de disappeared, Mom said the sun went out.

John, May 2020
It is Monday, and I am looking at that table that is my makeshift desk as if it were the virus itself. I don’t want to go there even though when I sit, I am comfortable. Isn’t that an analogy that summarizes this time? I want to touch my face, I am tired of masks, distancing of any kind, and I am really tired of washing my groceries before I put them away. I go to work at that desk while Kay is in the back bedroom wrestling with new software, spending as much time helping kids log on as teaching her 4th graders. Once I sit in that seat, I am okay, but it is hard to go there on Monday mornings. I am tired of this. Yes, I know I am whining.

Bud, February 2017
My mom always wants me to come out of my room for meals. But why? I don’t like people. I don’t even like me. If I sit on my bed, I can eat on this TV tray and look out the window and not be bothered. Now she tells me some man is coming by tomorrow to be my mentor, whatever that is. Well, I’ll go. He’s going to buy me a slice. But I got a dad. He’s going to come back soon, I know it. When dad comes back, everything will be alright. He will fix the walls, make things better at school, and will take me fishing. I bet he even buys me a whole pie! Then everything will be alright.

John, May 2020
Last Thursday, I went to a honking drive-by birthday party for a boy in foster care. He is now 13. I could tell by looking in his eyes above the mask that he was smiling ear to ear. Most of the ministry staff were there. Zoom is just not the same. It was good to see them. Kay and I did stop by Salpino’s for some Italian groceries while we were out. That’s my excuse. I miss the little things in life: grandkid hugs, going out to dinner and taking a road trip without feeling like I have to explain myself to the world. This is getting very old.

Last night we had spaghetti and meatballs outside on the patio. Yes, I made sauce with all the ingredients from Salpino’s. It was so good to do something normal. They say all of this is a new normal. I do not believe it. But even if all of this craziness does become our new normal, God is still in charge. I trust Him. I can’t imagine what it would be like for someone who does not know the Lord.

Bud, August 2017
I have been matched with my mentor for six months now. He takes me out every week. He is a nice guy. I can tell he likes me by what happened yesterday when we were out on a Youth Mentoring fishing trip. Right after the boat started up, he told me to sit down because we were moving away from the dock. I guess it’s dangerous at that time. Well, I have a hard time sitting, so I stood up. He told me to sit; I turned and spit in his face. I really did not think about it, it just happened, and when it did, I knew it was over. What happened next was amazing. He reached into his pocket, took out a rag, and dried his face. I could tell he was mad, but when he wiped off the spit, he seemed to wipe the anger away too. He looked me right in the eye and said: “We are friends, and that’s not how friends treat each other.” “Friends,” that is exactly what he said. I spit in his face, and he called me friend. On the way home, I told him I was sorry, and I didn’t mean it. He sounded like my dad, but he’s not. When he dropped me off at my house, he said he would see me next week. Can you believe that? He’s coming back.

John, Now
As I reflect on my COVID whining, I cannot help but think that one of the takeaways of this event is how blessed I am. Even when our whole world changes, we know God will work all things together for our good and that even if we face the worst that this virus offers, we win! We will be with Him for eternity. But you and I are still here. Let’s use this time to participate in God’s agenda. These kids need the hope you an I have. We do not need to know the right thing to say or do. We only need to know the Right One, Jesus. It takes two to three hours a week. Imagine, if God would use you to reflect His love, His way, and the hope of tomorrow for one child. Amaze a child. Come back next week. What a bright and beautiful reflection of our Heavenly Father.

*Names in stories have been changed to protect privacy.