Way Places 363 March 2019
Last Friday we visited some of the boys’ families who live in a city dump. I needed to find J’s mom. We had not been able to reach her for a couple of weeks, after her older son was murdered in another state. We needed her phone number. Her 12-year old here on the rancho, Juan, was spiraling down. And I had an open invitation from M’s mom to visit the neighborhood. Some brave friends from Colorado accompanied me. M’s mom proudly showed off her cart and horse that she uses to collect and sell cardboard, plastic, usable items and scrap metal, and she invited me to take a ride. She asked me into her neat home. Well, it is not what most of you think of as a house, but it is as homey as she can make it.
When we ask the boys what they eat when they are home on vacation, a common answer is, “Lo que hay” (whatever there is). Many of our boys’ moms struggle just to feed their kids and keep their clothes dry. The bus fare to come to visit their sons is sometimes more than they have. Although born into a cycle of poverty, abuse and addiction, most of these mothers are valiant and hard-working.
Two days after our visit, many of the moms (some of whose homes we visited) came to the Rancho to participate in a workshop on conflict resolution. They entered the library shyly and most grabbed a teddy bear and held it in their laps. After about an hour of fun, silliness and realism, several unburdened their hearts, meanwhile encouraging each other and sharing dreams. M’s mom, 29, now with five children, started her family at age 13. Her childhood dream was to get married (her first partner died of sniffing inhalants; the others encouraged her not to lose hope.) One mom spoke convincingly of the importance of marrying your partner. Only two of them are married. Others, giggling, said they would really think about it.
They do the best with what they have, with the education they have had, with the emotional resources and support they have. Our program reaches not only the boys, but their families and their neighborhoods. Their sons are here and have the opportunity to turn their families’ ‘world’ on its end because of your compassion.
Borrowing the powerful text of the song by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa, “Stronger than darkness, His mercy is More.” It’s more than our poverty and the darkness of our souls. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:8-9. And He calls us to live lives characterized by compassion and mercy. “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful …” 2 Samuel 22:26.
New financial partners, BIENVENIDO! Welcome to the family. Generous gifts toward campus expansion are being put to good use. The loud construction noises start early six days a week. Pray that some of those sad boys in the neighborhood we visited, walking barefoot in animal excrement, will be among the happy new boys in the new house next fall. Help us make new friends. We need new staff and income to meet current and future expenses in order to serve the boys that have been waiting to hear the answer, “Yes, there is room for you.”