Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn Hop on Our Boat

Last Saturday.
Royalty's Fishing Camp & Marina.
1 Mile Down the Road from Our House.
Harrodsburg, KY.

We found them on the dock, casting a net near an unsuspecting fish, hoping that a dead fish they had tucked in its folds would lure the live one into their trap.

"We already caught a big 'un," the older boy says.

"Yeah! You should see it!" the younger one exclaims.

"How did you catch it?" Brent asks.

"Well, see, we find these dead fish by the edge of the lake and we put them in this here net," the older one drawls in a central Kentucky accent. "Then we come over to this part of the dock and dip the net in. The fish come over to us! And we catch 'em!"

Brent and I exchange glances, eyebrows raised.

"You're really smart," Brent tells the boys.

Their grins stretch from cheek to cheek. "Thank you," the little one says, turning back to his task at hand.

Neil is kneeling at dock's edge, peering into the water, watching as the large fish circles the net. "Fishing is easy," he says.

We all laugh.

Brent and I head over to our pontoon, parked a few feet away. A few seconds later, the boys follow us.

"Is this your boat?" the older one asks.


"Can we sit with you?"

"Sure! Don't you want to fish with your net, though?" I ask.

"We like sitting on boats," the little one says.

"Do you need to let your parents know where you are?" I ask.

The older one quickly says, "They don't care. They're just sitting at home. They don't care where we are."

The information takes me aback, but I just try to act nonchalant.

Neil happily jumps aboard. As an only child, he's thrilled when any other small person gets in the near vicinity. He chatters happily at the boys, and they respond sweetly, even though a lot of what he tells them sounds like jibberish about Sonic the Hedgehog.

We pull out a Scrabble game, and the boys are surprisingly fascinated by it. They spend the next half hour building words and helping Neil sound them out. They're pleasant. Boisterous, but well-behaved. Energized, but respectful -- and obedient.

They abandon Scrabble for the dock, where Neil suggests a wrestling match.

"Buddy, I don't think so," I quickly intervene.

"Shh," Brent says under his breath. "I'm watching them. Go back to reading your book. I'll make sure they don't get too rough. Boys need to play."

I huff and uneasily turn my eyes back to the pages of "East of Eden," all the while keeping my ears tuned firmly on the three.

I'm very surprised at the vocabulary of the younger child. He is Huckleberry Finn personified -- bright eyes, tussled hair ... and language peppered with the F word.

His older brother senses my displeasure and quickly comes back onto the boat to sit next to me. I look up from the book.

"I'm sorry about my brother," he says sheepishly. "He uses a lot of bad words. It's not very good, is it?"

I smile at this child who has such a generous and tender heart. "It's OK," I tell him. "Don't worry."

But I can see the boy is worried. Before I have a chance to interject a motherly plea for the F word to stop, he yells over to "Huck."

"Hey! Stop using that word! That little boy sh'nt hear it! Cut it out!" he says, then looking back at me and smiling for my approval.

I pat him on the shoulder. "You are a sweet boy and a good brother."

I learn more about their family situation. He continues to sit with me and prattle, sometimes about school, sometimes about fishing, but always returning to their family.

I feel a question burning in my heart. I feel a strong sense from God that I am supposed to ask it. "But are you sure?" I question Him silently. "Ask," He tells me.

I take a deep breath.

"Hey, listen. Do you two guys go to church anywhere?"

The child looks down at his feet. "No ma'am."

"Would you like to come to church with us? We have a really cool church."

He meets my gaze. His expression is filled with hope.

"Really? Sure! I would love it! I know where you live!" (this last sentence surprises me more than a little!) "I will ride my bike to your house. Tell me what time to be there."

We talk about Quest Community Church, and then I write down our name, address and phone number for him to give to his parents.

He and "Huck" excitedly take the paper and leave, tromping up the hill towards their home.

"Look at them, Brent. They're just like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Aren't they so cute?"

Brent rolls his eyes. "You just want to save the whole world, don't you?"

"Well, what's wrong with trying? One person at a time. I didn't come up with that church question by myself, by the way. He was telling me to ask it."

Brent takes in this information solemnly and nods. "OK. Well, if He was telling you to ask it, I guess you can't ignore that."

The next morning, we wait to see if the boys will show or if their parents will call.

The phone stays silent.

The driveway stays empty.

We leave for Quest.

But I pray.

And when we return to the dock later that afternoon, we see them coasting around on another boat. They wave, and we wave back.

"I want to be on that boat with them," Neil says.

"Neil, we have a whole summer with them," I tell him.

"And besides, I think it won't be long before they start coming to church with us."


  1. You are one SMART lady and so, so sensitive. How you "weave your experience into a story that "reels us in." Go, Girl!

  2. I LOVE this story regardless of what others might think. The self agrandizement aside,i love how the story is peppered with little "tells" and Freudian slips...I do want to make an important point about the "ittle fellers".if they should take you up on your offer to take them to your long are you prepared to do this? long before the novelty wears off and you find yourself hiding from them and not answering the door?..seems you might have set yourself up to fail..not to mention this a recuring pattern in your life?

  3. Anonymous #2 ...

    Feel free to criticize me. My motives and my actions are between me and God. My conscience is clear.

    As for setting myself up for failure, well that would depend on whether I keep Jesus at the center of the relationship now, wouldn't it?

    If we aren't willing to take in the world and bring them to the One who loves them, we are not worthy of His Name. Should I fail that calling, then I would deserve your harsh judgment I suppose

    Until then, I leave you with Matthew 7:1.