I’ve been rediscovering the simple wisdom of Sara Groves recently. Her songs have such a quiet resolve to them. And many of them have had a profound impact on my life. Painting Pictures of Egypt encouraged me to continue moving into uncharted water even though I was terrified. I Saw What I Saw is the clear cut answer to “Will I ever be the same now that I know these kids?” For the past two weeks Loving a Person has been on the tip of my tongue at all times.
Loving a person just the way they are,
it’s no small thing.
It’s the WHOLE thing.
Because of this song, I’ve been thinking about David. He was a regular part of my days in July. One day we found him and played cards for a while. The area where these kids regularly hang out is well shaded and far enough from other buildings that there’s a near constant breeze. It’s pretty darn comfortable! We played with one boy sitting on his bucket of water and squeegee; Jose Luis getting higher and higher by the minute, visible dirt on David’s thickly gelled hair that had probably been in there for a week and all the while I couldn’t stop noticing Haley’s brilliantly white and clean shoes. Oh, what a contrast we made.
A few days later, the team had arrived and we stopped by to say hi. David was laying on the ground and wouldn’t talk to anyone. Jose Luis said he was sick. I asked what was wrong and he pointed to his foot. It looked like he had somehow replaced his toes with sausages. He had gotten a cut in between two toes and said cut was angrily infected. Team nurse, Carissa, checked it out and said that he needed a doctor asap. We devised a plan where he would come back with us to shower, change clothes, eat, then he and I would go to the hospital. There are so, so many things that I want to remember about that night.
How something as simple as a shower can instantly transform him from street kid to looking like any other teenager.
At yet how that shower didn’t change how he thought people would perceive him. “Just take me back to Ciento Cinco, my foot is fine.” He was so scared that they were going to be able to tell that he was a street kid and treat him poorly. The look on his face when I told him with his clean hair and new clothes, no one would know, they may even think he’s my son.
The hospital itself (my first time in a public hospital in Honduras – WOW).
Filling out the paperwork with a nurse who kept asking where he lived as David kept responding “I live nowhere.” I was about to make up an address when he said “I live in the street.” Something as small as seeing her pen momentarily stop on the paper before she got a hold of herself and continued with the exam brought home the shame he feels from this identity that he has.
Leaving the hospital and passing a casket shop. I was about to make a joke about how that’s not a comforting sight to see across the street from the hospital when he said “That’s where we bought my mom’s casket after she died.”
I tearfully dropped him off (do you have any idea how hard it is to drive a sick and sad child to a deserted and dark corner and watch him join the shadows of other bodies sleeping on cardboard??) and then for the next week would find him in the morning and evening (thank you team for being SO incredibly patient!!) to clean the cut and give him his antibiotics. Sometimes he would argue with me that he didn’t need it to be cleaned. Sometimes he would chatter away. Sometimes the whole process would happen quickly and efficiently and the only words we’d speak were “What time are you coming tomorrow? … 8 o’clock” And one time it was pouring rain so he got in the car. This was one of the silent cleanings. When I hugged him goodbye he held on and cried. Those deep belly shaking sobs. For ten minutes. Not even a time exaggeration. The team was waiting for me so I was well aware of how late I was. He got out of the car and walked back into the rain.
We were at Proniño the next week so I didn’t see him at all. Everyone left on Saturday and since the airport is so close to San Pedro I headed in that direction to spend some time with a few kids. David was my last kid. I stopped at a Baleada Express to buy him and the other kids he hangs out with some food and was kicking myself for letting him see all the money I had (I was switching hotels and had everything with me) when I paid. Ten minutes later I pulled into a parking spot and got out of the car to hug him goodbye. I remembered the money in my purse, but since I could see him, didn’t think it would be a problem. When I got to Proniño I realized the money was gone. I have no idea how he did it.
I spent the rapid trip back to San Pedro crafting my words so that I could trick him into admitting what he had done. When I got there I was shaking so badly that all I said was “Give it to me. Give it to me.” Eloquent, I know. He listened to me go on and on about how he just needs to admit it and how much I couldn’t believe he would do something like this and all he said was that he didn’t do it and was I coming back to see him in October? I wanted to say “Unless you confess to what you did, I’m NEVER coming back here!” Instead I just said that I don’t know.
For a few days after I got home I didn’t talk to anyone about it. It was way too embarrassing to admit that this naive gringa got had. But then I realized I needed to figure out what my next step should be. So, I emailed a bunch of people to have them tell me what to do. (If you’re one of those people, thank you mucho for your advice.) They all had different theories about why he did this, but they were consistent in their adamantness that this, in no way, should end my relationship or love for this child. (I’m just gonna make sure my money is safely locked in the trunk.)
And then I rediscovered good ol’ Sara.
There’s a lot of pain in reaching out and trying…..
Let’s find out the beauty of seeing things through….
Loving a person just the way they are, it’s no small thing. It’s the whole thing.
Then it ends with
Takes some time. Takes some time. Takes some time. Takes some….time.
Ain’t that the truth.
(To read about David from the beginning, click here.)