God brought these three boys into my life last year and somehow they have wedged a place in deep. Three run-away boys who sleep on the streets.
I don’t know what it is – their tough exterior, yet child-like grin? Or the way they seem so on edge, but once they are comfortable they will play like little children and paint with abandon? Whatever it is, they’re in my heart now and they are here to stay.
I drove by the corner where all the skaters hang out and saw Steven sitting there with a crowd of teenagers. I pointed towards the library and shouted, “Biblioteca!” He gave me a nod.
Then I turned the opposite direction and went to pick up the group for the day from Invu.
With a van full of kids I headed back towards the library only to see Steven zooming towards me on a bike he swiped somewhere. Instead of heading to the library he followed the van!
I laughed and shouted again, “Biblioteca!”
He followed behind the van.
We had a fabulous day that day. A group of boys with leggo in one corner and Lisa the leggo master. Another corner with Mr. Potato Head. Monopoly at the next table and then my table filled with budding artists.
I helped the other kids get started on their masterpieces, but Steven needed no assistance. He grabbed black paper and chalks and made the most interesting picture. Then another colored paper and another picture. Now a white sheet with an intricate, colorful design of flames and flowers.
He was completely absorbed, each picture taking his full concentration. He would shyly show me each picture when he finished, anticipating my smile.
Finally, he sighed and put his chalks down. He was tired. The other kids scattered to play.
Do you want me to read you a story? I asked. Steven nodded. Go pick one out and I’ll read it to you. So he went and found a story – something about a wise monkey king.
And we sat there.
Steven and I, the fifteen year old kid who smokes and sleeps on the street. We sat there in that library and I read a story out loud to him. A boy whose childhood has been lost, but something inside wants to reclaim it. For some reason he rushes to the library when he knows we’re there. Something in him is longing for the chance to be a kid.
Today I got a phone call, a frantic mom shouting on the phone.
I can’t understand you, I said. Please slow down.
It was Kevin’s mom. He escaped from home, ran away to Jaco. Can I find him? She’s desperate.
I haven’t seen him in the last few days – but I ran out the door on my bike in the night sky, pounding the pavement, looking for this boy.
The rain drizzles as I ride up and down the main street. The skaters and guys who hang out on the street know who I’m talking about.
He’s that way, I saw him up there.
No, he’s over here, I saw him a few hours ago.
I pedal madly, praying with each breath, but they’re all dead ends, I can’t find him anywhere. Slowly I turn back home in defeat. On the way I see my neighbor walking home from the store.
She whistles at me and makes me laugh. I ask her if she’s seen the boys. She hasn’t.
I ask her to call Kevin’s mom for me and find out what’s going on.
Turns out they are due in court at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. They are being prosecuted by the municipality of Liberia for vandalism and destruction of property. If they don’t appear at 8 a.m in the morning a warrant will be out for their arrest and they will go to jail.
My heart sinks. There’s no way they can get to Liberia by 8 a.m. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t drive them because Scott is with the car in San Jose.
I can’t bear the thought of them in jail. They’re kids. They’ve made mistakes. They run away, they do bad things, they’ve made bad choices. But were they really choices? Or is it just the natural course of things for kids like these.
That don’t know how to read, don’t even know letter sounds. What kind of upbringing is that? How is that fair? What choice do they have? Of course they run, they lash out, why wouldn’t they? Why would we expect different?
They’re so hungry for love. I wish I could do more. They need more. And right now what I have to give cannot meet the needs they have. That’s a hard reality to face when your heart is breaking.
Yes, prayers are powerful, but right now, though I’m praying will all my might, it doesn’t feel like enough.