I have started this blog four times. Hopefully, this time I´ll figure out exactly what I want to say. I feel like the journalist in the 80´s movies at the typewriter with crumpled pieces of paper covering my feet. Here we go. Take 5, Action!
I always so badly want to do what is right. It´s quite crippling at times. The story that I´m going to tell you today is one that brings me much joy, and yet people are split down the middle as to whether what I did was right or not. I guess that should make it clear to me that there isn´t a clear black and white.
Darn Wilmer has been a frequently recurring guest on this blog. I have spent 15 months praying fervently that he would get off the streets. I would beg. I would trust. I would act. I would try to give him up only to see a picture of him before he was on the street and the urgency would come back once again. On the flight here, I started reading a book called True Religion. I got to a part that says:
“God wanted to settle once and for all that He was bigger than my greatest request. He was larger than my greatest obstacle. He was sufficient for my every need. He was more than I ever wanted.”
He was talking about praying for big things. What was the example he gave? Praying for two 6´8″ guys to join their basketball team going to Cuba. And he got them. Really? You´re answering prayers about basketball teams and Wilmer´s still on the street? And the fire was reawakened. If You can provide basketball players, surely You can get Wilmer off the street. And the fervent prayers began again.
On Sunday, I randomly stumbled upon him. Other than being incredibly dirty, he looked so good. It was 8 in the morning and he was awake and drug free. (Last time I found him sleeping off the drugs at 2 in the afternoon.) He almost seemed like the old Wilmer. He wanted me to come back later in the day to hang out with him, but he didn´t want to go back to Proniño.
I came back. He was where he said he would be. He was high. We chatted. He didn´t want to come back. He said he was happy. And what keeps ringing in my head was how many times he said, “It´s my decision, Jenny.” I asked him if I should just forget about him then. He said yes.
We had called Reginaldo, the Director, and after they talked Reginaldo told me that I needed to look for the police and get them to bring them in. I want the kids to be able to trust me. I don´t want them to see me and have to start looking over their shoulder for someone laying in wait in the bushes to wrestle them to the ground and drag them to Proniño. The social worker in me knows that real change happens when people make the decision. But I also know that children need to be protected, and he´s not safe on the street.
That night I had two pivotal conversations.
One was about a boy´s brother´s ex-girlfriend (I know, it´s confusing) who is currently more or less a prisoner in a whore house (caring for children, not as a prostitute). Literally locked inside a room. I was trying to figure out what I could do about this and the person I was talking to said something along the lines of “Nothing is impossible with God”, which I believe, but it seemed like even though that is true, somebody´s got to actually DO something as well. The lock isn´t just going to bust off the door so she can flee. I expressed this opinion and he said “But believing is a verb, so you are doing something¨. Um….
The second was with Sean. We talked about Wilmer and I babbled about not knowing what I should do. To summarize a long conversation, Sean essentially said “He´s a child using drugs and living on the street. You are not helping him at all by hanging out with him every two months IF you can find him. You need to get the police involved.” Ugh.
Two days later I found him again. I gave him a letter that essentially said that after thinking about forgetting about him for roughly 5 seconds I knew that that wasn´t going to happen and that if he wasn’t going to fight for his life, I was. Then I started looking for the police. They were directing traffic about half a mile from Wilmer. I expected them to be confused, slow to act and thought that I´d have to chip in a few Lempiras to get them moving. As soon as I started talking, one of the policemen whipped out his notepad and started writing everything down. The one thing I tried to make clear was that I don´t want him to know I was involved.
We followed the police and parked about a block away so we could see what was going on. I can´t believe how easy it was. The police got out and disappeared for a few minutes. Then came back into view with Wilmer in between them getting into the back of the truck. Then my phone rang.
Jenny, we have him. Where should we take him?
Proniño, in Progreso.
We can´t take him all the way to Progreso! You´ll have to follow us to the police station so we can figure out how to get him there.
Remember how I didn´t want him to see me? 10 minutes after talking to the police I was following them, with Wilmer in the back, glaring at me with such piercing anger. My shock and amazement and joy that this was actually happening was overshadowed by feeling like I had lied, manipulated and completely ignored his wishes. And I knew that´s all he was thinking about.
After getting the logistics straight in the police station, I followed them to Proniño. I had to see with my own eyes that he had arrived. So he´s back. Fifteen months after he ran away, he´s back. My fear is that because he was forced, he´ll be even angrier about being there, which will lead to him running away again soon. My fear is that I´ve completely broken our relationship.
I´m excited that he has another chance. I feel like I slaughtered my relationship with one of the kids that matter the most to me. And I really, really feel like throwing up.
(To continue reading about Wilmer, click here.)