In March, we watched R grab his chest in pain while tears streamed down his face. This was extremely abnormal for the 13 year old boy who is always full of life and energy. The teachers calmed him down and provided him with some food and drink. A couple of hours later he was in tears with chest pain again. We immediately called his mother and she explained that he had been dealing with chest pains for several months. The teachers took him to the doctor for them to do all necessary tests. All tests and x-rays showed no signs of any medical problems.
However while talking to R, the teachers soon realized the weight of his problems were extremely burdensome. Problems and changes within his home were causing anxiety, stress, and sleepless nights. We could see R physically losing weight and his skin pigmentation changing. The doctor confirmed that his chest pain was simply from anxiety. We did not have a definite plan but we knew that R needed some type of intervention.
In April, R and another student entered our “English Immersion” house. A few weeks prior R and the student nervously entered my office and asked if they could just move in with my family. Obviously, they quickly jumped at the chance to live on Grace mountain. They would spend the following 8 weeks receiving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They would be provided a warm bed with a hot shower. R asked if he needed to bring all of his clothes to the mountain. He brought all of his clothes in one small “walmart” bag. They work in the morning helping at the school. They attend church on Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings, and Saturday nights.
What happened after 8 weeks? They figured out that if they call me mom then they can get away with anything. I told them that they needed to return back to their own houses. They looked at me and said, “Soy is our dad, you are our mom, and we have 3 sisters.” They managed to stay just a bit longer than planned and now they are Wednesday night and weekend guests. Did all of R’s problems go away? No, but he is no longer dealing with anxiety and he takes great joy in knowing that we are not going to abandon him.
One afternoon, C sat at my kitchen counter eating a snack. He is a sweet, shy child with a toothless grin. I noticed his hair was long so I asked him if it was time for him to get a haircut. He said, “Yes but my mom doesn’t have a lot of money.” We found Q12 ($1.60) in loose change in one of our “junk” drawers for his haircut. Lizzi gave him her tooth fairy money to buy a drink and snack. C left with $5 for a haircut, snack, and drink. He came to school the next day with the same cute, toothless grin but a sharp looking hair cut.
Worn Shoes. Dirty Feet. Reality. These are the same feet that we see playing along the road leading to our house. The same feet that find joy in climbing trees. The same feet that walk through the mud left by six months of rain. The same feet that search through the local dump for things to recycle.
But the same dirty feet came to church last night and ate tamales with us. The same feet walk into a classroom and are greeted by a teacher who gives lots of hugs. The same feet eat breakfast and lunch at the feeding center every day. These feet are under the voice of a teacher telling how we were created by a loving God who has a purpose for our lives. These dirty feet represent a little girl who is being given the opportunity to break the generational cycle of poverty.
This is our normalcy!