I remember strange details from that day. I remember wearing a pink Strawberry Shortcake shirt and denim overalls. I remember that my white-blond hair was pulled into two pigtails. I remember the smell of wood chips and the hot steel of the monkey bars on the playground. I remember the looks on the kids’ faces when I asked them where they were going when they died.
“Do you know for sure?” I asked when one girl, maybe around six years old, with chocolate smeared around her mouth had answered, “Heaven.”
There were two boys who were ignoring me, which I had found to be very detrimental to their spiritual well-being. It had been Missionary Month at church and school, because I went to the church’s school. I had heard about the communists in Russia and the few people that smuggled Bibles through the Iron Curtain. The words had made me tingle when I rolled them like marbles around in my mouth. Communists. Russia. Iron Curtain. It sounded so cold and thrilling. I had heard about Amy Carmichael, who had been alive when my great-grandmother was interceding for her sons during World War II. Amy had rescued orphans in India and saved their mortal souls as well. In my fourth grade class, we started writing letters to children in Haiti to tell them about our personal Lord and Savoir, Jesus Christ. I had asked my teacher for more than one child to write to. I wanted to do my part. I would lie awake at night, thinking about all the souls of children who were dying of starvation and sickness and going to hell, all because no one had told them about Jesus. This burning desire in me to save souls was countered by my extreme fear of speaking out loud. I was terrified of talking to people, especially strangers. I had been going to this playground every day all summer, watching the other children: Toby was the bully who picked on the little girls, Sarah and Holly were little princesses (snobs I called them because they made fun of my...