13 Oct Day 5

Alfredo- The Gate is Open


By Corenne Smith

“Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.”  Matthew 7:13


He’s not with us right now. I don’t know where he is.  It keeps me awake at night.  What’s odd is the first time I met him, I didn’t want him on the Mountain.  We had just locked the doors for quarantine when the youth authorities brought him to us.  

How do you safely quarantine when they keep bringing new boys from the streets?  And Alfredo was sick – coughing, and a fever.  What now?  I resented him for bringing the threat of COVID to the rest of our boys. We don’t have an endless supply of single rooms.  We finally put him in a room with two new arrivals.  

The two weeks of his isolation flew by, and he was slowly integrated into family life – though nothing infuriated him more than giving up his heavy gold chains and baseball cap, which he had worn backwards. But it turns out this scrawny kid with the tough guy swagger is funny, and a hard worker.  

He’s also an addict, so we subjected him to our detox program:  menthol hard candy, laps in the pool, chewing gum and prayer. We had to make sure he didn’t run away, because this 4 foot 11, 100 pound kid was trafficking guns in the neighborhood, and people were after him.    

We couldn’t get him to do anything until we found his soft spot—which turned out to be his mom.  Every Friday, when he called her, his house mother Cida overheard a different kid, promising to be good.  Promising to stay in the program.  One especially trying day, after he threatened to run away,  Cida said wisely “Well, then, let’s call and tell your mother that you’re leaving.”  He changed his mind.  ​

One day a pharmacist came to administer COVID tests. I saw him and Alfredo nod at each other. Later the pharmacist took me aside and said, “I know him from the neighborhood. I was a teacher, and he was never in class.  This little guy – he’s seen it all.  His mom used him to deliver drugs. When he was little, she would make him swallow balloons with cocaine to take across town.”  I was dizzy.  This was the woman he venerated so much?  But then he said, “She’s a churchgoer now.  She cleaned up her act. Probably too late for him.”  

When Alfredo got in a tussle with another new boy over a skateboard, I was sure Alfredo would mortally wound him in retaliation. But instead, his eyes welled up with tears. There was a little boy in there after all.  As I gently cleaned and bandaged the cut on his forehead, I could not believe that I ever resented his coming to the Mountain. I loved every little bit of him.  

Then one day another kid from the neighborhood showed up.  He was an addict too. You could see the internal tug of war going on in Alfredo, with this reminder of life on the streets. That night he and the new boy ran away.  We haven’t seen him since.  Neither has his mom.  

Several times a day, literally, I think about Alfredo, and become sad—and worried.  I say a silent prayer, “Lord, he’s not safe out there! Bring this precious boy back to us. Bring him back to you.”


Today, please pray for Alfredo and for all runaways, wherever they may be.  Pray that God will help them find their way home.  We’ll leave the gate open.