We moved to a small town where my husband was assigned as aminister to a local congregation. I was unpacking one day when thephone rang. A voice on the other end said, "Your name was given tome as a possibility for a mentor in our school." Knowing very few peoplein town, I tried to imagine who might have volunteered me for this.Realizing the lady was waiting for an answer, I replied, "Let me thinkabout it and call you back."I returned to my unpacking, but my mind was busy going over all thereasons I couldn't be a mentor. I wasn't even a parent, so how couldI work with kids. I wouldn't know what to do. I don't really have thetime. What if the child didn't like me? My list of excuses (uh, I meanreasons) was growing by the minute and I did a pretty good job oftalking myself out of it.
Suddenly a thought entered my mind. Connie, do you remember all thepeople that have taken time for you over the years? I knew this hadcome from God, certainly not from me, as I was too busy being selfishat the time.
Faces of family, friends, teachers, and coworkers crossed my mindand all that they'd sacrificed to help me. I was a shy child and Godplaced many loving, patient people along my life's journey. He knewwho I would need at various points to help me through that particularperiod of my life. Could I do any less for someone else?
I was still hesitant, but placed a call to the school and agreed to bea mentor. The lady in the office said, "I have a fourth grade girl whoreally needs some help. Just sign in at the school office and we askthat you come one hour each week." The only other things I knew wereher name, Sarah, and that she came from a poor home situation.
I was nervous as I arrived for our first mentoring session. I was shownto Sarah's classroom and introduced to her. A room down the hall wasavailable for us to meet in and off we went. I sensed this was going tobe a "long" hour. Nothing prepared me for what happened that day.
Wanting to put Sarah at ease, I said, "Let me tell you a little aboutmyself and then you can tell me about yourself." So, I rattled offsome facts and then waited for her to talk. Total silence greeted me.Her long hair hung across her face and she didn't even look at me whenI was talking. We sat in silence for a few minutes and it soon becameobvious she wasn't going to share any information about herself. I hadto think of something quick.
Questions---wasn't that how you got information from others? "Tell meabout your family." When that didn't get any response, I tried, "Whatare your favorite subjects in school?" Then I ventured, "Do you haveany favorite foods?" Nothing. Not even a faint shrug of her shoulders.All my fears that I would fail at this came rushing in at once. Howcould I help a child when she wouldn't even speak to me?
Not knowing what else to do I said, "Why don't we go back to youclassroom?" She almost bolted from the room and was down thehall and back in her class before I could even say good-by to her.I prayed about this over the next week and decided to give it alittle more time.
I went back over the next several weeks and the scene wasrepeated over and over. I asked questions; she sat in silence.Her teacher assured me Sarah was benefiting from these sessions,but I failed to see what good I was doing. Then one week,something different happened.
I had just asked Sarah another question when she looked at meand said, "You ask too many questions." After I recovered fromthe shock of hearing her speak, I told her that one way to get meto stop asking questions was for her talk. From that time on, webegan to make progress in our relationship.
Bit by bit, she began to share about herself. I want to be a beauticianwhen I graduate from high school," she would often tell me. Sincemost of her family never went beyond ninth or tenth grade, this wassurprising to hear from her. We celebrated such things as improvedgrades and the fact that she was becoming more assertive in...