And so our night began…
Without hesitation, Daisy immediately volunteered to take care of the boys. After one phone call, Telma volunteered to help take care of the boys. Chino, Eric, and Ronaldo volunteered to help also. Three Grace workers and 2 Colegio JET students willingly jumped to serve the children.
I came home to explain the situation to Soy. We really didn’t have much of a story to tell because we didn’t know any details about the boys. We have learned to always have extra food in our freezers for “emergency” dinners. Thankfully, our freezer and pantry provided dinner and snacks for the boys.
The firemen arrived at the mission house with 3 young boys. Their ages were 15, 14, and 10 years old. They looked so much younger. They were scared. The strong stench of the street lingered on their bodies and clothes. The only items in their possession were the clothes on their backs. Only one of the boys actually spoke some Spanish. The other boys spoke a Native language. The fearful look on their young faces seemed to relax as the firemen explained that we are Christians who are always willing to help other people.
The firemen were kind enough to feed the boys dinner at the firestation also. However, the boys did not turn down the apples and snacks sitting on the table at the mission house. Chino, Ronaldo, and Eric found some of our school uniforms and extra clothes for them to wear. They showed them how to use the hot water to bathe their dirty bodies. They replaced their soiled clothes with clean clothes. They fell asleep in a soft, warm bed and a full stomach.
At 11:00pm, we all sat in the mission house asking the questions, “Why are they in El Tejar? What are we going to do?” Chino said, “I promise, no one will believe the stories from our lives!”
The following morning the firemen came to take the boys back to the firestation. The officials needed to investigate their story.
This is their story:
“We live in a town near Coban (Coban is a 5 hour drive from El Tejar!) My father is very sick with diabetes and he only earns Q25 ($3.30) each day for our family of 6. Our family lives in a tin house but the rains caused the tin to cave in. Last Saturday, our father borrowed money from a neighbor to help us travel in order to find work. We walked 50 minutes from our house to the main road. From the main road, we paid for people and buses to bring us to El Tejar. We remembered that many years ago our uncle worked with bricks in El Tejar. I know how to make bricks so I came to find work. One man paid us a little money to help him make bricks. He could only give us work for 3 days. He did not have a place for us to sleep, but he gave us ponchos to protect us from the rain. We can not return home because we do not have any money to repay our neighbor, and we have no money to buy more tin for our house.”
The officials were able to call a family member to verify the story. The story was verified by an uncle. He explained how the boys needed to find work to provide for the family.
Do you remember the money given to me on Friday morning? I never imagined the money was to be used however we needed it. Just a few hours later, the need was obvious. Shadya bought food for the boys to eat at the firestation while they waited for Child Protection Services. Shadya, Chino, Eric, and Ronaldo bought shoes and clothes for the boys also. We filled bookbags with shoes, pants, shirts, underwear, socks, and a blanket. We gave the boys 6 weeks worth of food for their family.
The boys immediately took off their poor quality, dirty black boots and replaced them with their new tennis shoes. However, the shoes for the 14 year old boy were too little. One of our students, Eric, helped us deliver the book bags. It just so happened that Eric wore the exact size as the young boy. Eric took off his shoes and gave them to the boy! Perfect size! So Eric must have a lot of extra shoes, right? Nope! All of Eric’s clothes fit into 2 Wal-Mart bags! Eric entered the fire station wearing tennis shoes and he left wearing only socks. I smiled because Eric was so ecstatic to be able to help someone else in need.
Child Protection Services loaded the boys into a car and made the five hour drive back to their hometown on Saturday evening.
This is a small reminder of the harsh reality for so many people. The desperation for families to provide the basic necessities to live. A father faced with the reality that he can not provide food and shelter for his family. A mother watching her three young sons walk away without knowing their future. Three young, scared boys sleeping on a hard sidewalk, feeling hunger pains, and shivering from the cold rain.
If you pray, give, or go with Grace Ministries or SLAM then you are part of their story! You are part of giving to the “least of these”.
And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you accursed people, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or as a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [a]take care of You?’ Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me, either.’ Matthew 25:40-25