06 Nov Day 29
The Making of a Man
By Corenne Smith
On Day 22 we read about Carlos, who’s reclusive, mentally unbalanced mother had been unable to care for him. He was forced to beg – and eventually traffic – in the streets.
At Hope, instead of being resentful about the way his mom had treated him, Carlos fretted so much about her condition that it was interfering with his growth. As we often say “It can be hard for a child to concentrate on studying knowing his or her mother and siblings are hungry at home.” When we provided his mother with some basic care it made an enormous difference on his outlook on life, and he became a different kid.
When Carlos graduated earlier this year, secure in his new job, he had the option of a more comfortable placed to live. Instead, he decided to return to his mother’s dilapidated shack, so that he could care for her.
We were proud of Carlos’s decision, but the living conditions haunted me. I took my concerns to the maintenance department. It was the end of the day and the whole team was gathered in the workroom. I brought up the need to fix up Carlos’s home.
Marconi, now 38 and our maintenance head, was one of our very first boys at Hope Mountain. He nodded to the scheduling board. I looked at him. “This is not a work request. This is your Momma talking, asking you to volunteer.” I could see the remaining members of the maintenance crew back away slowly into the shadows. But as I waited, one by one, they stepped forward. Luciano, class of ‘98, Matteus class of 2018, and Lucas, a member of our graduate class who was interning.
After this, my part was done. The brotherhood took over. Marconi gave a rousing talk about being family and giving back. He then offered up 10 sacks of concrete.
The next day, hearing about this, other team members agreed to help. A WhatsApp link was set up to coordinate contributions. Graduate class boys sought out Marconi, telling him the amount of their meager savings they wanted to contribute.
The next Saturday a caravan of five cars carrying masked individuals armed with cleaning supplies, tools, and donated materials headed out. Arriving at Carlos’s home, plans were made: where the toilet would go and where the wiring would be.
Carlos’s mother, still silent in her illness, stayed in the shadows, but I saw an emerging alertness. At the end of the long day, we prayed, and I said, “Let’s all go for pizza.” Carlos softly took his mother’s arm. “Let’s go, Mom?” After six years in her home, she left.
A month later, Carlos told us that his mother was having a birthday. He came out on the weekend, and his “brothers” helped him make a cake and decorate it for his mom. Piling in the van, we all drove out to the little house to help them celebrate.
At Hope, Carlos had learned an important tradition – the importance of celebrating the preciousness of each life by commemorating one’s birth day. And he decided to carry this tradition to his home – to celebrate his mother’s life. Carlos got it.
On November 15, Carlos will be baptized along with 11 other boys. We will celebrate his rebirth. His mother will be there. I will be celebrating her rebirth as well.
We thank God today for His gift of rebirth. No matter what our circumstances. “Yet to all who did receive Him…He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent…but born of God.” John 1:12-13