Joy is a funny thing. It sometimes manifests as an invisible and quiet stirring in the heart.  Sometimes it shows itself in a smile or a laugh.  And sometimes, it shows up in the form of dancing. 

As a new staff member at the Hope House, I am constantly trying to get to know the girls.  I have the overnight shift, so when I arrive it is later in the evening.  School, dinner, and homework are long over.  The girls are ready to unwind and enjoy some relaxation time.  We spend a great deal of our time on these evenings talking, laughing, and being silly in general. 

But there is one thing that has been happening since my first week here that absolutely blows me away, and that thing is dancing.  Nearly every time I have had the evening shift, one or two girls will walk over to the large radio speaker in the living room and turn it on. 

What happens next is amazing.  The girls begin to dance.  More girls start to come out of their rooms and join in on the fun.  Sometimes they do traditional Shuar dances.  Sometimes they do dances that they themselves have choreographed.  Whatever dance they choose, they will get in formation and begin to spin, jump, and twirl around on the living room floor.  They smile, laugh, and sprinkle joy all over the room as they whirl around.  It is fun.  It is silly.  Most of all, it is joyful! 

This is an especially incredible phenomenon in light of the fact that every single one of these young ladies has a story that would break your heart, shock you, and might not ever leave your memory.  

The beautiful thing here is that their stories don’t end there.

These girls are re-writing their stories with every new morning, with every new week and month and year.  And they are writing them well.  They are penciling in knowledge they gained at school.  They are noting wisdom they gained at church.   They are taking note of hugs from friends and learning the words to all their favorite songs.  They are writing in love from a whole lot of staff who are absolutely crazy about them and who are making sure they are prepared as they launch into the world. 

Most of all, they are penciling in hope, joy, and dancing…. lots and lots of dancing.

- Monica