The sun had already touched the top of the mountain in the west, and had just sunk down out of sight. Darkness would soon envelop our valley among the mountains of Guatemala. I was busy in the kitchen, preparing a chicken pot pie for supper. As happens any time I'm baking something, little ones of all sizes gathered around or were coming in and out, asking for little bits of dough, or just watching the whole process. I noticed Johanna, our sweet little preschooler and one of my most regular visitors in the kitchen, was not present.
"Johanna!" I called. She did not answer, and I was so busy, my mind went on to the next task. A few minutes later, Jillian came in. "Where's Johanna?" she asked.
"I don't know," I said. "Why don't you go and find her?" Jillian obeyed, and a while later she passed through the kitchen again, reporting that she had not been able to find her. A fearful feeling began to settle over my heart. Just then, Daniel came in, asking where Johanna was, and nobody knew.
So supper and everything else was put on hold, and family members went in all directions, looking and calling for our pig-tailed, blue-eyed, spunky Johanna. Daniel went out the front door to look outside. While some of the children searched the rooms in the house, I went to the back yard. Darkness was quickly falling, and there were no outside lights on yet. I flipped some on and urgently called my little lamb by name. Every second that passed, the feeling of dread gripped me more. I thought of the boys that herded sheep around our house, who had been close by, rounding up their sheep to head back home. They were older boys, wild and unruly. I knew we must find our Johanna before anyone else did!
I sent one of the older children to check the schoolroom, and I headed back toward the house to look in places where she might have fallen asleep, when I heard Daniel call from inside, "I found her!!"
I followed his voice to the living room, and seeing him holding her tightly, I rushed to join the embrace. Relief washed over me, and I thanked the Lord over and over again. As we comforted her, Daniel explained that she had wandered outside, and was locked out front when the door closed. Thankfully, she had not been out there long, and the Lord had protected her.
As I tucked her into bed later that evening, I breathed another prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord, our Good Shepherd. I am humbled and grateful that HE IS where I am not or can not be. Lord, thank YOU for your hedge of protection around our little ones!