It is my first time away from home for so long without my parents. I am 14 not yet in high school. So sure we will change the world or at least these kids lives for the better on this Missions Trip to middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. I am ready to let these people, almost all older than me become my best friends. I have idolized them for the past year, carefully watching and listening to them to pick up their youth group lingo. I already know how to laugh at the right inside jokes. I am becoming fluent in the spiritual jargon that is bantered about. I am so ready to set the world on fire for Jesus and change people’s lives. But it comes, slowly. . . creeping in. At lunch I sit through a conversation that makes my cheeks burn as I look around nervous that some of the young campers might overhear. (I now realize it was some pretty mild sexual banter when compared with what I will hear later when I enter public high school but it was a shock to learn that not everyone here was totally focused on God). I later am mocked by the boy I’m pretty sure God wants me to marry because I don’t understand the sexual jokes and my face is as flushed as when we dug the trench, though now I’m sitting in the shade no physical exertion to blame my blush on. But the blows keep coming. I meet a beautiful girl, 5 years old. I remember being drawn to her smooth creamy skin. She tells a tale of heartbreak and abuse. It’s not the worst I’ll ever hear but it’s the first. The first time I see someone damaged by the lack of love I take for granted. Missing the very air I breathe at home. And now I’ve lost it. The ground seems unsteady and for the first time on this trip I wish to be alone. I run to the stream and fling myself onto the smooth dense stones. Sobs are ripping up my deepest held assumptions: Mom’s love their daughters, Christians have the right intentions, I am able to make a difference. As my sobs quiet I hear a voice searching for me. I pray I won’t be found. I’m not ready yet, haven’t pieced back my mind and my heart. I can’t present a Christian smile to the world. But she comes, relentless in her responsibility. Its dinnertime she says. I know I reply looking away trying to keep my voice steady. But I fail, I crack and she sits down as I once again sob out all that’s wrong with the world that I have just realized. She is older than me, almost done college. She doesn’t smile, or dismiss my realizations as something I will get used to. She sits. She says nothing. She is Job’s friends, letting me weep in silence. She is Christ, allowing the pain of my world to break her heart. Dinnertime ebbs away and she doesn’t move, she misses dinner as she sits, the uncomfortable stones digging into her butt because she knows I need presence. And when she speaks she is honest, she has no answer. It breaks my heart is all she says. But she is the one who is there. She is love.