It Was in Mexico

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It was in Mexico, during worship, that I first felt the tug of a small hand on my hair. I turned round to see a little girl racing back to her seat, about two rows back. She looked to be about five or six, with long, dark hair, and a mischievous look on her face. Realizing that this impish child was playing with me, I knew I had to get even with her. Despite the fact that we were in church, I crept silently back to where she was standing, gave her hair a gentle tweak, and was headed back to my seat by the time she turned her head.
I was fully aware that this game would now continue all through worship, but that did not lessen my surprise when, from under my seat, emerged a pair of big, dancing eyes, followed by a small brown hand. I had to suppress my laughter when I realized that my little friend had crawled under the seats up to mine, so as to gain the element of surprise.
Well, eventually, worship ended and the younger kids were dismissed for Sunday School. I stayed in to hear the teaching, hoping against hope that my friend would still be there after the service. I sat through the teaching, which I would normally have enjoyed, but throughout which my mind kept straying to the lively, bright dancing creature that I had known for such a short time, but who had already left a lasting impression.
Scanning the room after the teaching, I did not see her, much to my dismay. I glanced briefly at the play set on which kids were swarming, and then, in a flash, I saw her! I reached into the play set where she was standing, waiting to go down the slide, and tickled her stomach. A delicious laugh bubbled out, and I laughed with her. Then I met Samantha.
A group of kids, apparently realizing that I was there to play, mobbed me. I had six or seven children clinging to me, but there was one persistent little clinger that I noticed after the others had scattered. She, too, had long dark hair and large, dancing eyes. I was delighted with my little playmate, and she seemed to reciprocate the feeling if the fact that she was following me around wherever I went – or, rather, she ran where she pleased and dragged me along – meant anything.
I was fine with this arrangement, and we went along merrily enough, laughing and running and screaming and giggling together, until disaster struck. Using my limited Spanish, I inquired after her name. she told me Samantha, and then proceeded to say something very rapidly, and of which I caught maybe two words. All of a sudden, my enjoyment vanished. My world tumbled around me, and suddenly the smiling faces seemed empty. I was on the outside looking in. it seemed to me that all the other faces around me vanished, leaving only Samantha and her unintelligible words. What would this lively young thing think when she realized that I could not understand one word she was saying? Would she think me stupid? Boring? Would she, in short, reject me as a playmate? I did not know what her reaction would be, but my insides squirmed at the thought of a negative reaction from this darling creature. “Come on,” I pleaded weakly under my breath. “Stop talking. Come on.”
All this passed through my mind in the few seconds given me while she spoke. When she was obviously finished, I knew that I must say something, though at that moment I would have wanted nothing more than to simply drop through the floor. “No hablo Espanol.” I answered weakly. ‘I don’t speak Spanish.’ That was all I could manage.
Not easily defeated, Samantha apparently decided that she hadn’t spoken loud enough because she repeated herself in a louder voice. I followed suit. Samantha, laughing uproariously, screamed out her message once again. Then it dawned on me: this was a game. I didn’t need to worry. The language barrier wasn’t going to stop us from having a wonderful time together, for we spoke the universal language of laughter. I was so happy I wanted to take Samantha up in my arms and kiss her. I loved her more and more every second, and I knew that I would never forget the girl who taught me the invaluable lesson that laughter and holding hands and running through a crowded room transcends any barrier.





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