Way Places 355 February 2018
Miguel, age 12, started today as the newest member of the Rancho Del Rey family. He is shy, has a sweet smile, a lot of street savy, and a hunger for food and for life. He was working with his mom collecting and selling trash using a horse-driven cart in a city dump. By age he should be in 7th grade, but because of the death of his dad, no money for food or bus, he has barely advanced beyond 2nd grade. His mom can’t read at all. He arrived with the clothes on his body, and a few things in his backpack. His sisters threw in whatever they could find, girly erasers, bits of pencils, and a half-eaten bag of chips.
Jenny, his new house mom, remarked that when he took off his one outfit she was shocked to see his tiny, skinny, undeveloped body. The first night is so hard. They all cry. Nearly all our boys are used to sleeping with the entire family in a single bed. It feels so lonely to have your own bed and sleep in a big room.
MIguel’s parents began living together at the ages of 11 and 12. His mom lost her first, and then gave birth to Miguel when she was 15. He is the oldest of five siblings. His mom is 27. His dad died at age 24 of a drug overdose sniffing cheap solvents. He was already addicted at age 11, but was a much-loved dad. Both mom and dad were born to parents who worked collecting and selling trash. His mother, although she admits to having no parenting model, sees the need to stop the vicious cycle. Before she loses her son to the Street she is asking for an opportunity at Rancho Del Rey.
We thank Sister Olivia again for her timely intervention. You may remember she brought us Alejandro Ornelas 4 years ago (now is in the Hope Program at Back2Back) . His mom died when he was 12. Alejandro learned to collect and sell trash with his dad. Now again Sister Olivia steps in to try to rescue another street kid, Miguel.
We have learned that Miguel suffered from epilepsy (after sticking a fork in an outlet as a toddler and receiving a strong shock). We will need to take care of whatever evaluations and follow-up may be required. We also need to consider the effect this new addition would have on Javier and Jenny’s group of 5, each of whom is practically the equivalent of 3 kids.
Last Sunday at the close of our Sunday service I asked the children and visitors, “What should we do with the offerings that you have given weekly (for needs outside of Rancho Del Rey)? I mentioned a few options including a gift for folks in a retirement home, something special for chronically ill children, or paying for the medical needs of a single child with a possible neurological injury.
It was overwhelmingly voted to help pay for Miguel’s medical needs, although he was last week unknown to them.
Here is our take-away:
Do the prudent. Do the evaluations. Take down the information. Interviews with house parents, social worker, director, psychologist. Consider the implications, count the cost.
Say, “Let’s do it! Let’s get involved! Don’t let this ball drop.
Says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
This time we decide to take the lead from the kids. And of course, as always, from the LORD. We say, “Yes, we have room for you, Miguel, and for your needy family. Room in the house, room in our hearts.”