I mean, sure, I wasn’t really using that red crayon in my hand as it was actively colouring my Winnie-the-Pooh masterpiece. Feel free to grab it mid color if that’s what you really want.
It’s very common for a child to struggle for a few days or weeks when he first arrives at Proniño. The street is a place that is free from the norms of social etiquette. You go where you want to go when you want to and you do what you want to do when you want to do it. So when you arrive and are expected to get up at a certain time, dress, go to breakfast, school, lunch, work in the garden, eat dinner, etc. all on a schedule, there’s a definite learning curve. Even knowing this, I sat in relative shock after having my red crayon stolen right out of my hand. I watched Lisandro color frantically for a few seconds before he tossed it aside (my hand slowly inched towards it so I could reclaim temporary ownership) and grasped another tightly in his fist. Impulse control was at an all time low. He and his brother had arrived a few weeks before and they were majorly struggling with things like taking turns, asking for permission, speaking in general.
I recently found out that I wasn’t the only one to have a slightly disconcerting first impression of Lisandro. Doug and Shell came to Proniño for the first time on a trip with Mountain Park Community Church. As the team got off the bus, the kids mobbed them with their excitement. And Lisandro, well, remember the whole not really understanding social norms thing? Yeah. As Doug got off the bus, he reached out, grabbed Doug’s watch and, um, broke it. This did not fill Doug with warm fuzzies. Exact opposite reaction, actually. Doug is sort of like a big teddy bear. But after receiving that type of greeting? Quite frankly, he wanted absolutely nothing to do with Lisandro. He thought some unkind thoughts and did his best to stay as far away as possible.
The next year rolls around. Mountain Park again visits Proniño. Doug gets off the bus and spots Lisandro. He thinks something along the lines of “There’s that $^#% kid. I’m avoiding him like the plague,” as he scurries away protectively covering his watch. (I’m not sure if Doug actually cusses so please insert something mellow into that quote.)
Then comes February of 2014. For the third time, Doug gets off of the bus. I’m not sure exactly how it happened. But somehow he finds himself with Lisandro. And he’s overwhelmed. He’s overwhelmed by how much Lisandro has changed. How much he’s matured. That he’s actually a kind child that Doug finds himself WANTING to be around. By the end of the day Doug and Shell have made a decision. They are going to sponsor Lisandro. They are going to choose to invest in him, to pray for him, to get to know him. They are going to be his padrinos. Out of all the kids, they have chosen him. Somehow, the watch Doug is wearing comes up and Doug wants to give it to him. But it’s broken. And he doesn’t want to give Lisandro a broken watch. A watch is what prevented them from getting to know each other three years ago. And now a watch is what will solidify their friendship.
There are so many reasons why I love this story.
I love being reminded how much Lisandro (and his brother) have changed and grown in the last few years. It’s not their fault that they had to survive on the street as opposed to learning the intricacies of how to behave with other people under the tutelage of their parents. But I love that they have had that opportunity (and so many others) in Proniño.
I love that Doug and Shell come back regularly enough that they have been able to witness this change. If it had only been that one trip, they could easily spend the rest of their days talking about that brute that broke his watch that one time.
And I love that they chose him. There’s something so special about being chosen. And it becomes even more significant when being chosen comes after being forgiven. I’m so thankful that Doug and Shell could move well beyond their first impression to a place of love.
And I can also report that I can now safely color with Lisandro with no fear of having my crayon stolen at a critical point of my masterpiece.