Sometimes in life we come across moments that make the effort we are putting forth worth it, in whatever realm that may be. That happened for me last week and so I thought it fitting to use the experience as a “top story” in returning to Nicaragua after being in Canada for 2 months and “letting go” of all cyber responsibilities such as updating our Facebook page and/or blogging regularly.
For the first time in a VERY long time I felt culture shock upon returning to the country God has called me to. In fact, I didn’t even anticipate it until I was sitting on my bed the next day after getting a short night’s sleep following the 28-hour trip. I felt STUNNED, like I had made a terrible mistake. The water had already gone out that morning by 8 am, the mosquitoes were already biting me, the heat already had me sweating and red-faced and the house was turned upside down waiting for me to clean it of the hundreds of pounds of dust I could sense creeping into my nose as I breathed. This time it felt different, and I wasn’t even sure this was where I was supposed to be, as if the conviction that was once so strong all of a sudden was failing me.
I mechanically got into the swing of things, and then I had one of those moments that make all the hard things here fade into black.
Gerardo is 13 going on 14 and goes down in history as one of our greatest accomplishments here at Light & Salt Ministries. Gerardo lives with his two sisters and mother who, for reasons that would break your heart, offers him absolutely no attention, support, guidance or love. Day in and day out, from morning to dark, Gerardo could be found sitting under a tree on the corner of his block with an old cell phone in his hands, something that reminded me of the movie “Cast Away” and the love the main character Chuck had for his volleyball.
That was before our center invited him to be a part of our program. Now, from one year to the next his life changed. At the beginning of last year Gerardo was our biggest challenge, that kid that wouldn’t let us sleep in peace, even after supposedly “leaving” work and all its beauty behind for the day. He would abuse our instructors both physically and verbally and threaten to leave the center if we tried to enforce any kind of discipline or consequences for his actions. We certainly didn’t want to see him leave in light of how much help he needed. If he saw our same teacher pass by “his corner” in the street, Gerardo would take after him, throwing rocks and yelling profanities until the teacher high-tailed it out of there.
This year Gerardo has taken the bull by the horns in a much different sense. In a few short months he learned to read and write at a grade 3 level despite never having gone to school a day in his life previously, and he took the challenge LASM offered him to study with a private tutor in the afternoons to heart. Just last week he had his first day of school and passed the entry exams so he could study with his own peer group and not have to start in Kindergarten. This is one kid who was destined for the streets who is now on his way UP in life, with so much power and potential still to be discovered.
All of this happened because God said so. He has the last word on a person’s life and whether or not they are going to be left to drown or swim.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you”. John 14:18
Why do we think it is so hard to do His will? If we would open our eyes for but a moment we will see that we need to set a watch before our hearts so that the comforts of our homes and the selfishness that so many of us allow to seep into our lives does not hinder us from hearing the Father and obeying. His will is for us to know Him personally, to have friendship with the One and Almighty God, and in turn help others to do the same. I am so glad I am back here, and I am so glad for all the little friends that surround me. Thank you, Gerardo. You made my days manageable again. Good luck in school, buddy!