Saturday, February 6, 2016

Palm trees and sunsets

Sometimes when things are so tough around here, like they have been these last two weeks, it is difficult to see the good in the days.  Every thing passes by in a blur as we struggle to just stay afloat in the madness.   I switch to autopilot to get done what needs to get done and I don’t pay attention to much else.

Last week, a boy from the street was beaten so severly.  When I found him, they were refusing to let anyone move him or take him to the hospital.   After arguing and insisting, I was finally able to get him taken to the hospital.  That was Monday night.  He had to be moved to the national hospital because his injuries were so serious.  The hospital has some amazing doctors, but because it is the free hospital where everyone goes, it is incredibly understaffed, and lacking resources.  He wasn’t worked on until Tuesday morning.

Tuesday morning when I got to the hospital, I was certain that he was going to die.  I begged the nurses to help, but there was nothing they could do.  He was having seizures and was unconscious.  It was the longest day.  A doctor finally came and if she would have came any later, I think the story would have ended much differently.  She got the seizures stopped.  He came back to and we were able to get a CT scan.  However, he was really confused and still losing a lot of blood.  Everything was a struggle to get him treatment.  He had to be held down for every shot, test, blood draw.  The stitches in his head were the worst.  It took 5 people to hold him still enough for the doctor to stitch up the wound that was at least what seemed like an inch deep and 3 inches in diameter.  It was an exhausting day, both physically and emotionally.  

After around 13 hours, he was stable enough and I finally left the hospital.  My mind was all over the place.  Wondering how someone could inflict such pain on another, wondering if he was going to make it and if he did what would his condition be, would he really be the same boy we knew.  So many thoughts were wandering through my mind.  

When things were so bad in the morning, and no one was helping, I felt so helpless.  Literally, all I could do was pray continuously and beg God not to take him from us.  I begged for a miracle.  Where I started the day in a panic and terrified, soon this strange calmness came over me and I just knew everything was going to be fine.  On my way home, all of the things that were distracting me and consuming me, made it difficult to pay much attention to anything.

But then.

All of a sudden I looked to my left and saw a cluster of palm trees and the sun was setting so perfectly behind them.  I am sure I have seen the same thing 1000s of times and never paid any attention.  But that day.  The beauty of it struck me to my core.  It consumed me.  At that moment, that quickly fleeting moment, everything fell away except the perfection of the scene and I realized that people dream of living in a place where they can see the same sunset and palm trees that I see every day.  And I felt peace.  I felt hope.  I felt how beautiful and perfect this life is if only I look.  

I keep having these moments, where I feel complete serenity despite life falling apart around me.  They come in a smile or a look, or seeing a boy playing football with the neighbor kids, or the house full of laughter.  I use to take those things for granted.  Didn’t see the beauty in them, but now God uses those moments to speak to my heart and tell me He has got me and I shouldn’t fear.  It is those moments, where I feel like life is perfect, that make me to keep pushing forward.  They encourage me that it is all worth it.  They are always there.  They were always there.  I don’t know what has made the change that I can see them more clearly now.  But because I do, I no longer feel like I am drowning.  I encourage you to see the small moments, those that are ever so brief and can pass in the blink of an eye even go undetected and unnoticed,  but that God is using to encourage you. They are life giving.  Life changing.  Life sustaining.

Be blessed friends.

PS.  The boy is doing so much better.  He is at home and can move on his own and do lots of things for himself.  He still isn't 100%, but he is getting there.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Whose side are you on?

My heart is so heavy today.


Maybe already broken.  

The more I fall in love with these kids, the more their truths come out.  It is so difficult to see the choices that they have made.  Make.  Not because they don’t know what is right, but because this world has removed them to the margins, so they stopped trying to fit in, to be a part.

They are so full of hurt.  Deep wounds, that words can’t even begin to heal.  Scars that may never go away.  Their world is so upside down.  A little bubble.  And the more I am included, the more I weep and mourn.  For their hearts.  For their souls.

They have been so wounded, they think nothing matters and live so recklessesly.  But one day, they will grow up and regret their choices.  They will feel the full weight of everything that passed, and there will be no take-backs or do-overs.  And unless they find a way to cope, they will drown in the sorrow that they created for themselves.

I think that is why these cycles, continue, over and over.  Generation after generation.

But who is to blame?  Our choices are ours.  And ours alone.  But is it really so simple?

Over the last 5 years, I have watched things change.  Boys become harder.  Tougher.  And I don’t think it is their fault.  It was a matter of survival.  They have watched too many friends die.  And unless they wanted the same fate, they had to become different.

Boys used to collect scrap.  They worked.  Hard.  More than any one I knew.  But then people started burning boys alive when they found them looking for scrap.  Are the boys supposed to starve?  Are they supposed to go back to families that don’t love them and beat them mercilessly?

Of course not.  

So they adapted.  They stopped caring.  How many people can you lose before you choose to turn everything off?  And because they learned so quickly how dispensable their life was, everything lost value.  They learned those that get them hooked on drugs walk freely, while they get arrested for taking them.  They see how those that beat them and kill them parade around, but they are burned alive for taking a saucepan or a phone.  They experienced being used so others could make money or for entertainment, so they quickly learned how to use others.

How can they be expected to make the right choice?  The choice that I would make?

Today I was faced with a hard truth.  One that can challenge your love for someone.  And I had to wonder if I could still love him the same.  

Is it possible to know the worst about someone, and love them anyway?

I thought, and I know it is.  It is absolutely is.  I didn’t feel anger or outrage, I just felt overwhelming sorrow.  My heart weeps.  For him.  For all of them.  For all of the ways this world has broken them.

Because it has.  And we need to take responsibility for it. 

Even if you aren’t actively beating him, or devaluing him, are you doing anything to make his life better?  

Or any of the millions around the world that are suffering in complete and utter despair?

Your silence is killing them also.  It is showing them that they don’t deserve a voice.  They don’t deserve love.  Or to be safe.  Or to have their basic needs met.   They have seen the rest of the world with plenty.  Meanwhile, they either have to eat from trash piles or risk their life to get a meal.  

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.  We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  Elie Wiesel

Whose side will you be on?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Greatest Reward

I want to tell you a story about these kids and why I love them more than anything.   It isn’t that I don’t see what others see.  I see it, but I also have the rare gift of seeing their hearts.  Seeing who they really are.  When we went to the beach on Christmas, the boys were scattered all over the beach, swimming, dancing, and walking around seeing the different statues and old airplanes.  I was seated on a bench and they would periodically come and check on me and sit and chat.  

One boy, Arthur, was sitting with me almost the whole time.  As the day went on and turned to evening, the beach got even more crowded.  There were a lot of people around where I was sitting, including 3 guys that were being super weird.  They kept coming around, seeing what I was doing and trying to see what I had.  I think they thought that I was alone. Little did they know, I was with a small, but fierce army.  The guys disappeared, but they passed when some of the boys came back to check on me.  I mentioned that they were being super weird, and the boys noticed that they wanted to steal.  So 2 boys sat with me, while another went to tell other boys.  Soon, like 10 boys came, crazy annoyed, asking who was trying to steal from me.  The one sat by my side, holding my hand, while they all assured me I was fine.  

The guys got scared away, and I was fine.  Others came and asked if I was fine and felt comfortable.  Others refused to leave my side until we left.  The way we walked back to the taxi, I have never felt more safe.  I always feel safe when I am with them. They know I would do anything for them, and I know they would do anything for me.

The crazy thing was, when we entered the beach, the man at the entrance was slightly concerned.  He happily welcomed us, but tried to gently say, “I’m sorry to say, but your kids look like they are from the street.  Please caution them on how to behave, because our security is really tight and they will be arrested if they don’t follow the rules.”  I assured him that they are well behaved and he would have no problems from us.  Sure enough, he didn’t.  But almost he did, because they were doing the right thing.  It wasn’t just me that the other guys were trying to steal from, but also another man sitting a few benches in front of me.  

I could go on and on with stories of how these kids protect me.  On Saturday in the slums, a drunk man was trying to disturb me.  A boy quickly told him to leave me alone.  It is crazy how love changes people.  Just that same day, I was told that I was a liar and God sees me as a liar because I vouched for a boy saying there is no way that he could steal.  

I don’t know how I got so lucky to deserve these boys’ affections, but it is definitely the greatest reward of this life.