Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kevin's Story: Part 1

Two years ago Mark and I went to Nicaragua for the first time.  For some reason we were sent to work with the older boys.  I was terrified and sure that the leaders of the orphanage would put us with either the older girls or the younger kids within a couple of hours.  I was wrong.  Very, very wrong.  We developed meaningful relationships with the boys there, ones that have grown and flourished.  

That first trip I got to know the boys, but it was during the subsequent trips that our really friendships really grew.  The more often we came, the more they shared.  Soon LT Wonderful and I were answering to Mama and Papa, and regularly hearing stories of the boys' lives before the orphanage.

I can't say that one boy in particular captured our hearts, because they all did.  But we did get a sense of the boys' backgrounds.  We got to  know which ones would be able to survive outside of the orphanage and land on their feet in case of a problem.  We also started identifying which ones would not. 

From the second trip onward, my heart started to ache for a boy named Kevin.  He was 13 at our first trip and was very rough around the edges.  He was wonderfully sweet, but had a rebellious streak a mile wide.  When things were going well he was happy and full of laughter, but when he was feeling down he would stay away and sulk for an extended time.  

One of our main topics of conversation at the orphanage is school and plans for afterwards.  I knew Kevin was particularly guarded when I asked him what he was going to school for.  His standard answer was, "eh, I want to be a drug trafficker."  Then he'd laugh and say, "No, no, I'm just joking."  But behind his eyes I'd see fear and sadness.  The longer we talked the more I learned about him.  His mother never finished primary school.  He lived in the ghetto.  He was the second of five kids and he doesn't know his dad.  

After our trip last Thanksgiving, LT Wonderful and I came home knowing that Kevin was going to play a special role in our lives.  We committed to praying for him.  There were nights that I was up for hours praying for him.  I wasn't sure what was going on, but I knew that he was struggling. 

This year during our trips Kevin opened up more and more.  Every time we talked about his upcoming graduation from primary school, he'd clam up.  He was terrified of graduating.  He didn't want to move up because he was scared of failing.  One day we were talking about classes after lunch.  I asked him how classes were going and he told me they were difficult.  I asked him, "then why bother?  A drug trafficker doesn't need an education."  He looked ahead and behind us to see how close the other kids were walking.  It must have been a safe distance because with his eyes downcast, and barely audibly he whispered, "I want to guide airplanes."  He told me a secret.  The biggest one he had. I understood the significance of the moment.  He was giving me the most precious thing he had to offer, his dreams.  

In July of this year I knew Kevin was scared of graduating, so I made him a deal.  When he graduated we'd take him with us on our Christmas vacation (we already had plans to go to San Juan del Sur or Granada).  He agreed, but told me hesitantly that he was really scared to graduate.  Secondary school is hard and he wasn't sure he could make it.  We prayed for him and continued to try and encourage him.  In August we celebrated his birthday.  He was uncomfortable with everyone's attention so I tried to not overwhelm him.  I got him a simple bracelet and wrote him a simple note saying how glad I was that I he is my friend and how special I think he is.   In turn, he responded with a  note that brought me to tears.  It said, "My mom, I love you very much.  You are a very good mom and a very good person.  You are very loving toward us.  God will always keep that in your heart.  I hope that you come back to us soon.  We love you so much; never forget that because we'll never forget it.  Keep following God.  I love you Mom.  Love, Kevin"

As it came time for me to leave, Kevin grew very distant.  I wasn't surprised, the kids don't do very well with goodbyes.  However, before I left I made sure to remind him of our deal and encourage him to keep doing his best.  However, I felt in my soul that there was a lot bubbling under the surface and I was very concerned about what was going to happen as promotion got closer.  It was with a very anxious heart that I left Nicaragua.

*Story shared with permission*