By Clare Pursch, UGM Camp Photographer/Blogger
Mina is the name of the little girl that came into my life this last week at UGM Camp and left a mark that will never be erased.
Mina showed me love in its truest form. She showed me sacrifice, joy in the midst of darkness, bravery in the face of great pain, strength in the midst of the storm that is her life.
I don’t know all the details of Mina’s life. I don’t know the life that she wakes up to every morning, or the pain that she falls asleep to every night.
But I do know this— Mina understands the love of Jesus better than most people I know who have grown up sitting in church.
On the first night, I saw Mina off on her own, in the middle of the big field, crouched down looking for something. I was struck by her beauty, her innocence, her sweet spirit.
Then she came to me, with her hands gently clasped over something. When I asked her what it was, she opened her hands ever so slightly to reveal the little grasshopper that she had been patiently waiting for in the grass. I asked her what his name was and she replied so sweetly “Little Hopper.”
From the moment I saw her, I knew she was brilliant and beautiful.
The next day, I sat with Mina on the log while everyone else played the big group game and started asking her about herself. She opened up right away and it felt as if we were old friends.
She told me about how happy she was that she had been able to convince her little brother to come up to camp with her this year. When I asked her why she wanted him to come so badly, she humbly replied, “I want him to know love. I want him to know that it’s okay to be happy and to have fun.”
We talked about all the different insects in the world—the ones she likes and the ones she dislikes. When I asked her what she thought about flies, she said, “They are gross pests!”
Grasshoppers are her favorite, she said.
Mina is only twelve, and yet, she holds the wisdom of a thirty-year-old.
I looked into her eyes and saw years of pain and suffering.
I looked into her eyes, again, and saw oceans of compassion and strength.
She told me about how she helps raise money to donate to children's hospitals. She had passion in her voice as she said to me, “Those kids need as much love, support and encouragement as we can give them. That’s why I give what I can—they need it more than me.”
I was struck by her selflessness. I could tell that this little girl beside me had known years of pain…Yet, she knew how to selflessly and sacrificially give of herself to those who needed her.
I was humbled beyond words.
I was sad to see my time with Mina come to an end at the end of the week. I simply wanted to take her into my arms and keep her forever—to protect her from any further pain that life might have in store.
But instead, I held her in my arms one last time, told her how deeply she is loved by her Creator, and let go.
I gave Mina to God…He can give her the life of joy, love and hope that she deserves.
I waved to her as she got on the bus and said a quick prayer in my heart for the little girl that had changed my world, and I remembered the words of wisdom that she spoke to me when I asked her how she was so good at catching grasshoppers: “You just gotta think outside of the box and be quick as a fox!”
Send a kid like Mina to UGM Camp.