Joy Is What Overwhelmed Me
August 5, 2014 -- a reflection by Ruth Marshall
Joy. Joy is what overwhelmed me this past June in Honduras. In the midst of such immense evil and pain, the smiles that came to people’s faces left me speechless. One of the first full days we were there, Michael, Stephen, my mom and I went to visit Marvincito at his rehab facility. Marvincito holds a special place in my heart because he was the first Micah guy I saw on the streets and I was able to get a glimpse of his life before it all. I had been to visit him at Rehab before but not since he went back to the streets for over a year, so I was anxious to see how he was doing. Turns out, he has lost family members in the past few months and has been left broken inside. All I could do after hearing this news was sit in awe of how strong he was and think how I could never endure what he had to. Even after all the emotional pain he had gone through, he still looked to God to find the courage to stop his addiction and had enough faith to continue. For us it might seem like an easy task but when nothing is going right and you just want to escape, drugs can seem like the only solution. God was able to show Marvin the long term advantages it would give him rather than just being able to live each day one at a time in denial of reality.
After hearing about Marvin’s progress, the man suggested that Marvin come to Micah and spend the rest of the day with us! Hooray! After grabbing a change of clothes, we got in Michael’s truck and the smile Marvin had on his face, just knowing that we were here to support him and that we had not forgotten him, was beautiful. From that moment on, I too couldn’t stop smiling, it’s contagious! He immediately asked to call Becca and even though he hadn’t talked to her in months, she was still so special to him. It made me realize that the guys remember the conversations we have with them and they really do value the relationships we build with them. Even though Marvin and I couldn’t have a very in depth conversation of any sort, hugs and smiles can be better sometimes.
On Friday of that same week, Stephen took a group of us to see where some of the guys had come from and to get a feel for the harsh realities of life on the streets. It was beautiful seeing the relationships Stephen has built with these boys/men. They were not afraid to approach us, and even before learning our names they gave us a great big hug. Why can’t that happen in the US? Surely these guys have more burdens and pain than we could ever imagine and they still choose to smile through it all whereas we don’t even look at strangers let alone say hi to them. Later on we met Belén. She is a 13-year old girl and is related to Axelito so Stephen knew her and talked to her for a bit. She had recently been in a lockdown center for street kids (pretty much they lock you in a cell and give you food sometimes, but that’s it; their theory is that it is supposed to help them). Thankfully, Belen escaped and some friends of hers were taking care of her and, whether they knew it or not, being true brothers in Christ to her. What a beautiful sight that was. She ended up walking back with us, her glue bottle tucked in her shirt, to the vans so that she could talk to Megan. On the way there, I just tried to give her as much love as I could but at the same time not make her seem like a charity case. As we walked arm in arm, she began to talk to me and I actually understood her!! She talked a lot about her nephew/brother (long story) Axelito and teasing about him. We had a lot of laughs but there was one point where she stopped me and said out loud “Thank you father for the food amen”. Then, she ate the balata Stephen handed her. This beautiful girl has been on the streets for a long time and she knows these words. Our Savior knows no bounds. He is everywhere. Belén has a beautiful heart and I just pray that God can protect her and keep her away from people who will take advantage of her kind spirit.
Victor amazes me. His heart is full of love and he is so caring towards others. Every morning I would come to Micah and be welcomed with a genuinely loving hug from him. Not those hugs that you give when you have to, but one that really means, “I love you.” This was a guy whom I had only had one conversation with and Pedro Luis had to translate but still we felt so close. Victor is the reason I come to Micah: even in the middle of the most violent country in the world, I find peace in my anxiety and comfort in the beautiful souls of all of these guys. I know we are supposed to be supporting and encouraging them, and of course I try my best to do all that I can, but they do more for me than I could ever explain. I really cannot imagine anyone more compassionate than this group. With God, they are the ultimate heroes in their own stories. I know they get stressed with school and whether or not they will go to college and what their futures will look like, but the fact that they have turned their lives around and are living (or on their way to) for Jesus Christ, is all that is necessary. Honestly, they are doing a lot better job than most of us in the states are as far as that is concerned; they know the true goal. Victor loves to play and chase you around with ginormous frogs that could pee on you at any moment, but he also knows when to just sit down, put his arm around you, and enjoy your company. It is amazing how he has been on the streets and in an orphanage up until January when he came to Micah and he is already so well adjusted and his grades are great too! At least currently they are :). His smiles are such a blessing and I just can’t wait to see what many great plans God has in store for him.
Noé is precious. I admit that we didn’t exactly get off on the right foot, but we got there! The first couple of days I tried to give him hugs and be nice to try to make him smile but nothing seemed to work; he would never fully pay attention and he definitely had no interest in doing so. Part of that is because he has been sniffing glue for most of his life and so he is still getting drained of all of that. But no worries, I learned the way to his beautiful heart :). We were walking in the mall and I could tell he was tired (or just lazy depending on how you look at it) so I asked him if he wanted a piggy back ride (in hand motions, of course). The smile on his face with his cute dimples was the best. I had broken down his wall and he loved me for my taxi service! From then on, we were great friends. During the Honduras game that wasn’t going so well for them, Anna and I decided to play cards and invite Noé to play. Who knew this kid was a master at shuffling and a very quick learner of Go Fish! He even learned to say the phrase in English! That boy is a genius and I’m so happy God led him to Micah. Even in a week, I saw his personality open up tremendously and I don’t think it could have happened anywhere but Micah 2.0. There, he is able to run around and let out all his energy (which is endless) and when times get tough (like he has to sit through a worship time on Sunday night), it’s not so easy just to return to the streets. Needless to say, I was his taxi for the rest of the week but I loved it because I had a beautiful and sweet little boy on my back. Satan might have thought he had him, but our Savior can rescue anyone at any point in his or her life, praise Him! Noe’s not really one to sit down and listen to people talk but for Sunday worship he sat in my lap and stayed there the whole time AND asked for one last picture. That made my week.