Maybe someday I’ll be able to start a post without prefacing it when it’s a rough one. Today is not that day. This post is a little rough.
I first met Nelson and Moises when they arrived in Nueva Esperanza in August of last year. I found them huddled in a corner, crying. They were brought to NE because their step-dad tried to kill them. Pretty traumatic. But then they arrive in NE, the new kids, and they are constantly being hit by other boys and their food is being stolen by the kids. They were completely shocked and overwhelmed by what they were experiencing. It killed me that there was nothing I could do. I sat with them as they cried and made sure everyone left them alone while I was there, but that’s it.
Over the next few months, Nelson learned that in this place, it’s survival of the fittest. And survive he did. He became one of the biggest bullies. I would try to get some alone time when I was there and remind him of what it was like when he first arrived, and how he’s doing the same thing to other boys that was so hard for him. But in order to survive you need to throw reason out the window. The climax of his reign came when I was there in January. I made sure I was in the center during lunchtime so I could try to prevent some the food stealing that happens. Before we all went to the cafeteria I found Nelson standing over a kid who was crying in the corner. I pulled him away and we went to lunch. I watched as the crying kid got his food, sat down at the table, looked at the food for a minute, then picked his plate up, walked over to Nelson and gave him his food. So, not only is he stealing food from other kids, he’s intimidating them before they even get to the cafeteria! But Nelson wasn’t stealing the food for himself. All the extra food he got went straight to his brother. Was what Nelson was doing wrong? Absolutely. But he was going to great lengths to protect his brother.
Nelson and Moises (Notice the amount of food on Moises’ plate. This was at the end of lunch.)
Fast forward to February and as I was looking online at pictures of new kids at Proniño I was shocked to see a picture of Nelson. He had been transferred from Nueva Esperanza. And he was doing great. Nueva Esperanza has the tendency to transfer the ‘bad kids’ to Proniño. But then once they’re in Proniño, they excel. Because the reality is these aren’t bad kids, these are kids that are surviving and you’ll do some crazy stuff in order to survive. (Think Lord of the Flies.) When kids arrive in Proniño, they usually spend the first 3-6 months in Nueva Vida which is the first level and it’s more restricted. Nelson made it to level 2 in a little over a month. What does that say about his true character?
Nelson on his bed in Proniño with a picture of him and his brother that I brought for him.
The problem is, Moises is still in Nueva and Nelson was his protector. I talked to the Director of Proniño about it as soon as I arrived in March and he immediately said he wants to bring Moises to Proniño. (Insert praise for Proniño!) I talked to the Director of Nueva Esperanza and she said that she just needs to get permission from the judge or caseworker in his hometown and then I can take him. Wonderful! But I had this nagging fear. Things rarely work out smoothly in Honduras. This was on Tuesday and I was supposed to take him to Proniño at 9:30 the next morning. I prayed and I prayed. Got a call from the Director that I won’t be able to bring him Wednesday, but probably Thursday. I prayed and I prayed. I emailed a few prayer warriors and asked them to pray. I sat with Moises Wednesday afternoon and felt like it was August again. He cried and cried telling me what he was experiencing. Every single morning he wakes up to a kid on top of him hitting and hitting him. Every morning. I cried out to God that that would be the last day he would experience this. I get a call from the Director saying that I can’t take him on Thursday. At this point I’m stressing in my most polite and urgent Spanish that the last day I can take him is Friday. Thursday evening she says “Don’t worry. We’ll take him there later.”
Moises in Nueva in March
And I don’t doubt that eventually, Moises will be in Proniño. But how much is he going to have to endure before that happens? I don’t normally expect my prayers to be answered exactly how I want them to be. I’m fine with coming to God with a struggle, desire or need and trusting that things will go according to His plan and that His plan is better than mine. But this one has left me flabbergasted and feeling a little empty inside. Everything was all set. All we needed was a simple phone call with the go ahead. Instead, Moises is still waiting to experience some sort of justice and protection in his life.
And I haven’t been able to shake this feeling that my prayers for these kids are being sent out into this great void. Or that I’m shouting them at this wall and they’re just bouncing back and slapping me in the face. Which brings me to part 2 of this post…
Wilmer and Jen – who he turned into Cousin It
This is Wilmer and he is incredible. He’s been in Proniño for 3 years and before that he was a 10 year old crack addict living on the street. He’s come so far and has so much potential. He’s smart and funny and artistic and strong (but I did beat him in an arm wrestling competition last week. It was a challenge.) And even though he has a rough past he’s overcome so much and is now one of the most stable kids in the center.
Wilmer ‘driving’ (steering) my truck 2 weeks ago. Don’t worry, we were going 10mph on a deserted road.
But Wilmer ran away on Monday night. I don’t know all the details, but it’s something along the lines of him getting in trouble and being both ashamed at what he did and angry at what his punishment was, so he left. I’m afraid for him. I’m afraid for what he’ll experience on the street. I’m afraid for the decisions he’ll make. And I want a miracle. I want to open my email and find an email from Kevin saying that he’s been found or he came back on his own. But I have that current issue with my prayers and the wall. So I just feel sick and worried and helpless.
Lord, please remove this weight of unbelief that is dragging me down. Remind me that you love these kids even more than I do. And you want justice for them even more than I do. Please protect Wilmer. Please bring him home soon.
(To continue reading about Wilmer, click here.)