31 Oct Day 23
Second Story – Worried About the Future at Graduation
“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
As Carlos transitioned from our normal houses to our “Conquerors” final graduate program I could see the old worries resurface.
One summer night, as he and I were checking out some eerie noise coming from the pool. (It turned out to be a drain.) We paused to look up at the stars. In the silence, Carlos looked at me and said, “Aunt, I’m gonna miss this place.” Gone was the “I can’t wait to get out of here,” that comes after being caught with listening to sexy funk music behind the dorms.
With adulthood around the corner, reality was sinking in. “I’m not sure I am ready to take care of my mom,“ he confided. I could see he was struggling with leaving the comfort of the Mountain’s cozy beds, hot showers and good food.
His mother’s electricity was three months in arears. Plumbing–non-existent. And, of course, there was only one rudimentary bed. And caring for a mother who is mentally ill would be daunting–even if he had training.
This big strong boy, once known for commanding the sale of drugs and arms on his street corner, literally sobbed in my living room—and was unashamed to do so. The complexity of his emotions was too much for him. Wanting to leave, wanting to stay, wanting to take care of his mom, wanting to be taken care of, wanting time to be a kid and the freedom to listen to forbidden funk music, and most of all, mourning the loss of his mother who could never be there to bring him a treat on his birthday. I grieved with him—as I just passed the three-month mark of being separated from my own family. He didn’t articulate all this. He just cried…and cried…and didn’t know why. I was glad he had the ability to cry. At least he felt safe.
Make no mistake. His love for his mother had not waned. When another boy’s mother made and brought by bus some treats for her son’s birthday, and two other boys stole and ate half of them, it enraged Carlos almost to the point of violence. A mother’s love was sacrosanct.
Later that day. Carlos and a buddy said they wanted to replace the treats that had been eaten. We donned our mandatory masks, grabbed alcohol wipes and I let them break quarantine for this important mission.
Can you imagine how proud I was that these two boys who earn 10 reais a week (less than $2!) wanted to give what they had to save a younger boy’s birthday? They bought the ingredients and made them in our bakery. Touching on so many levels. No longer boys. Young men. Tears again, but this time from me. Carlos is ready to graduate.
Father, we thank for the privilege of watching these young men and women grow, but we know that they remain vulnerable — please protect them. Thank you for their generous and compassionate hearts. Give them the confidence to know they are never alone, as You are always with them and they will always be part of the Hope family. Lord, create in me the same compassionate heart as Carlos’s. Help me to find ways to right wrongs and give from the abundance You have given me.