Yesterday, Emmanuel pulled me aside.
"Keziah, you know how sometimes a friend needs to tell a friend something that he doesn't like about the friend but that doesn't mean he doesn't love the friend, it's just something that he doesn't like?"
"Oh, out with it, Emmanuel. What did I do to upset you now?"
"You almost made me fail my math exam."
"How did I manage to do that?"
"I asked you for chalk so I could do practice problems and you didn't bring me any."
Oh, dear me, I am guilty. Tar and feather me, burn me at the stake, off with my head! I forgot to bring the boy his chalk. Of course, it would never occur to him to send one of the janitors or nannies to remind me when he realized that an hour had gone by and I wasn't back with the chalk. No, this is Emmanuel we are talking about. I swear, he lives for those moments when he can point out something that I've done wrong or something that shows I don't really love him. Go ahead and pout, little man. Those boys right there, who happen to be your brothers, are using chalk. Why don't you ask them if you can borrow some?
But the strange thing about Emmanuel, is that he can also be completely and utterly endearing too. On Wednesday, he asked me to sit down with him and explain a few questions in the prayer journals that I gave the children last month. He listened attentively to everything I said. As we flipped through, I could see that he had completed the entire Bible study except for the pages that we were currently examining. Then he asked, "Keziah, sometimes I have more things that I want to write and I can't fit them all on the page. What should I do?" I told him to just use the blank pages at the back of the notebook but I could hardly contain my pride. Here was this boy who has given me more attitude and more grief than anyone else at the orphanage, and he is making the Bible a priority. Victory!
"So you really liked this, Emmanuel? Do you want me to write more questions when you finish these?"
He also told me about a dream he had in which a Bible was opened up in front of him to John 6.
"What does that mean, Keziah? What am I supposed to do?
So we read the chapter together and I asked him what stood out to him and what he thought it meant for him personally. The chapter tells the story of Jesus miraculously feeding the 5000 and Jesus' teaching about being the bread of life. Emmanuel said that he thought the reason he had dreamt about that specific chapter was because God was trying to tell him something about the hunger that is so prevalent in Haiti right now. God is the one who can provide for the Haitian people even though the situation looks hopeless, but even if He does, many of them will still not believe in the everlasting bread, Jesus.
"But what am I supposed to do about it, even if that is what the dream was for? When I'm a grown-up, I will be able to help lots of people get food and believe, but I'm just a kid right now."
"Pray, Emmanuel. That's the best and most powerful thing you can do, even when you are a grown-up."
He is such a puzzlement: frustrating and obnoxious one moment, sweet and faithful another. I'm pretty sure the sweet and faithful is going to win out, though. And I can't wait to get to know Emmanuel post-teenagehood.