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Mystery of the Missing Donkey

“Jared, Jared!” Susanna called. “Do you know where Ashes is?”

Susanna rushed into the house, knocking over her loom. Her brother came out of the back room.

“That silly little donkey?” Jared said. “He must have gotten loose again!”

Jared set the loom upright and led Susanna out to the post where Ashes was usually tied.

“His rope is gone and the post isn’t broken,” Jared said.

“Should we look in the stables?” Susanna asked. “Maybe the knot came undone and he went to visit the horses.”

Jared and Susanna walked to the stables. Lots of donkeys wandered around, but none of them were Ashes.

“I know where to look,” Jared said. “He could be at the well!”

But Ashes wasn’t at the well getting a drink. He wasn’t taking a nap in the shade of a tree. He wasn’t even at his favorite flower patch eating an afternoon snack.

“This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me!” Susanna cried.

Jared hugged his little sister. “Don’t worry, we’ll find Ashes,” he said. “Maybe Mama took him to the market.”

Susanna led the way to the village marketplace. After a little searching, they spotted Mama.

“Have you seen Ashes?” Susanna asked. “He’s missing.”

“He was tied up at home earlier,” Mama said. “If Ashes ran away or something happened, Ol’ Reuben would’ve seen it. He was out tending his garden this morning.”

The children ran home and went over to their neighbor’s house. Reuben was still busy pulling the first weeds of spring.

“Have you seen my donkey?” Susanna asked. “He’s missing.”

“I did at that,” their neighbor said. “He was tied near your doorstep this morning. Then your father sold him to some strangers. They took him away.”

“Strangers?” Jared asked. “Who were they?”

“If I knew who they were,” Ol’ Reuben chuckled, “then they wouldn’t be strangers, would they?” He bent over and tugged on a stubborn weed. “It’s for the best. That little donkey was always getting into trouble.”

Susanna was sure Ol’ Reuben was wrong. Selling Ashes would not be for the best. In fact, it was one the worst things she had ever heard. She and Jared went to their papa’s workshop.

“Did you sell Ashes?” Susanna asked.

“I didn’t sell him,” Papa said.

Susanna burst into tears of joy and threw herself at her father. He gently caught her and picked her up.

“I knew you would never sell him,” she said.

“I didn’t sell him,” he said gently. “I gave him away.”

Susanna’s tears of joy turned to a look of shock.

“Why?” Susanna gasped.

“I gave him to Jesus,” Papa said. “He was going to Jerusalem and needed a donkey to ride.”

Susanna knew Jesus was special. Just days before, He had called a dead man right out of the grave. Her uncle had seen the whole thing.

“We can go to Jerusalem,” Jared suggested on the walk home. “Jesus is only about an hour ahead of us.”

“OK,” Susanna said, wiping her tears. “I’ll go. But only to get back Ashes.”

Jared and Susanna weren’t the only ones traveling to Jerusalem. People from all over came to the Holy City for the Passover celebration.

“What are those people doing?” Susanna said, pointing to a crowd ahead. People lined the street, shouting and waving palm branches.

“Let’s run and see,” Jared said.

“Hosanna!” the people shouted.

The children squeezed through the crowd just outside the gates. A wondrous sight met their eyes.

The road was covered with palm branches and cloaks. They couldn’t see a bare spot of dirt. Palm branches waved in the air as Ashes walked along the street with Jesus on his back.

“Look at that!” Jared exclaimed. “Your little donkey is going to be famous. All these people believe Jesus is King.”

Susanna only stared at first. Ashes looked calm and happy. Finally she spoke.

“Ashes’ leaving is for the best,” she said. “It’s for the best King who ever lived.”

Then she took off her own cloak and threw it on the road in front of Jesus. “Hosanna!” she yelled. “Hosanna!”

Welcome to Clubhouse Jr.

Every month, Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. magazine provides age-appropriate, biblically based stories, poems, puzzles, crafts and recipes that can help children (ages 3-7) learn more about and grow closer to God.