By Amy Speake, missionary in Costa Rica
As I was interviewing his mother about Stuart attending Alturas (Children’s Ministry in Costa Rica), I heard a huge ruckus. Stuart proudly displayed a huge rat that he had killed. I was very impressed that at such a little age (and being such a tiny boy), he had conquered such a big rat. I complimented him on his courage (to which he responded with a big smile). The first time I met five-year-old Oliver (his mom calls him Stuart), his dark eyes looked deeply into mine. He did not speak, but his immense, seemingly unlimited bursts of energy captivated me.

Oliver, happy with his new pencil case.

Oliver, happy with his new pencil case.

When he came to Alturas, I explained several rules to all of the children. These included cleaning up their messes, behaving well, and respecting the Alturas staff and fellow kids in the program. Needless to say, Oliver was a hyperactive train wreck, who required correction on more than one occasion. When his time came to say the memory verse in Spanish and English, he said angrily that he could not. I assured him that the most important thing was to try. He did try and when rewarded with candy, he smiled again!
This past Saturday, Oliver’s (and each of the other children’s behavior) was so exceptionally good that I was shocked. As Oliver was throwing out his trash, I went over and hugged him.

“Oliver,” I said, “I love you a lot and I am so proud of you for behaving so well today!”

He looked at me shocked, lowered his head. “Last time I behaved very badly,” he said.

“Yes, Oliver, that is true,” I said, “but the past is the past. Today is a new day! Today, we are celebrating your good behavior!”

He looked at me, beamed, and ran back to his seat. Being a child, he accepted a simple truth: you can’t change the past, but you have today to do your best and celebrate God’s love changing us. How many of us are still trying to stay in the past, lamenting past decisions? Let’s let it go like Oliver and enjoy God’s love today!

GOD, through Alturas Children’s ministry, is making big changes in tiny hearts. Thanks for your help in changing these tiny hearts with your big hearts!