I met him on his 17th birthday. I had never interacted much with him before that because he always kept to himself and I did not see much of him. He surprised me that day with a sweet hug as I wished him a happy birthday.
Then I watched as he was in “El Camino” (a home for boys coming off the streets run by YWAM) for a time where I realized how tall he actually is because he was eating more and stopped disappearing when he turned sideways. I remember going to his medical check-up during his first week where we chatted about his various tattoos and I learned more about him.
Then he was back on the streets, but now we were friends. Though he’s tall, he seems so little sometimes as he hunches just slightly and sweetly greets me, always with the greatest respect.
I remember a cold morning in the canal under the bridge as we all sat on their mattress and made him and another boy try atomic fire balls without warning them about the flavor. His face literally twisted, and he spat it right out when the kick came.
Then he wanted to go home, but he wanted us to go with him as he chose to face his mother and the choices he had made. We went and sat by his side as he made a promise to his mother to try. We went almost every 2 weeks to their house where we were given the tour of the neighborhood by him and his sister, played spot-it, laughed with his little niece, and tried various foods after he traveled to visit his father. We had various conversations with his Mom trying to understand her side and the rebellion he had chosen before while still always having his back as well. He fought to change and was home for four months. We were so proud to see xthe choices he made in that time. Things got hard though. There was sickness and complications in his family life. He faced it and was committed to stay with his family. But life gets complicated and restoring relationships is hard. In sickness and trial people are at their worst.
He went back to the street because he couldn’t be home anymore. He made that decision to go back though, and he has matured enough now to admit that without blaming others.
The best relationships are formed as you walk with people over time through life. Not just superficial moments hanging out and doing fun things, but real life. All of it. I am so thankful for the time that we get to spend with this young man and how we get to watch him grow. I am excited to see how God continues to work as he has the chance now to return to El Camino next week (Pray for him as he enters on Monday). Though he tried and stumbled, he is choosing to get back up again.