While at Rehoboth, I had the privilege of reading stories to the children before we had our group devotional time. I would finish up dinner and then head over to the older children’s house. As soon as I entered the room, I was instantly flooded with joyous children whose hands were usually heaping full of books. I found somewhere to sit down and begun to read a book. Some of the children would sit and listen intently, but others were always up and down. They would be listening to me read, then head off to listen to someone else read, and usually find their way back to me with a few more books in their hands.
It was always a hard choice as to what book to read next as they were shoving the books in your face saying, “Next, next!”, pointing to the one they wanted you to read. I never wanted to disappoint any of them, but I couldn’t read them all at the same time. When you picked the book that they wanted their faces lit up again with even more excitement than before. It was fun to watch how each child interacted with me while I was reading. I always had at least three books on my lap. Some of the children would take the book, if you didn’t pick theirs, and run off to try and find one of my other team members to read to them. I loved reading the books to the children as they would always cuddle up nice and close to me. It was a special time that allowed me to love on the children even more and in a completely different way than playing games outside. Nothing beats having a child come up to you with a book and then sit down next to you or on your lap. They usually were trying to hug me or they had their arms around my arms. I will never forget these moments.
One night a special little girl came over to me with a book that was in Tagalog. A few others joined her as they sat intently listening to me as I stumbled over the words. I did not pay attention to the drawings on the pages as I normally would, nor did I point out extra details to help make the story more interesting. Yet these children listened and loved me reading this book to them as it was in their language and not English. Don’t get me wrong. They loved us reading the books to them and most of them were in English, but it was extra special to them that I was at least trying to read to them in Tagalog. I butchered the words, yet the little girl nodded as if I had said them correctly. If I was way off in a pronunciation, she would gladly correct me and then move on. I read that little book three times and I am not sure if I got any better. This was my favorite moment while reading over those few nights. As their faces lit up more and more when I continued to read that Tagalog book, I couldn’t help but be lost in that moment. The joy that was on their faces was indeed priceless. I miss reading each night to these children, but I will cherish those moments I was able to read to them, FOREVER.