Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Melted Heart

Yesterday my heart melted and I think it's still a sappy, drippy mess inside my chest.  

I took a little trip to el centro with three of my dear friends yesterday.  They work with me, but are also  involved in The Micah Project, an organization that works with boys on the streets.  They have gotten to know lots of street boys through a Thursday afternoon soccer event that Micah hosts. The purpose of our trip yesterday was to find some of the boys and buy them lunch.  
I had no idea what to expect upon meeting these boys.  I honestly didn't even know we were going to be hanging out with them until we left the house that afternoon.  The boys we met up with ranged in age from about ten to 18.  Some had large sacks full of the recyclables they'd collected that day, others had bottles of glue stuck in their shirts for sniffing, one had a shoebox for the money he begged for.   A few of them wore the new shoes that my friends' students donated to Micah Project to distribute.  

After sitting around in the park making mother's day cards for a bit, we took the kids to Little Caesars for pizza.  The guard outside promised to watch over their bags of recyclables, and the boys with bottles of glue left them outside, too.   The boys all washed their hands, as told, and sat patiently waiting for the food to arrive.  
When it did, I was shocked that not a single one of the ten boys grabbed at anything before being offered. As I poured the Coke into cups at the table, I remembered all the parties I've had with my spoiled students, during which they'd flock to the food table, beg for more, and grab-grab-grab before being given directions.  These boys, on the other hand, just watched and waited.  

Before the food was out and ready, a man walked in and gave a fairly common speech.  My son was hurt in an accident.  The doctors say he needs x-y-z.  I hate to have to ask, but we need money for his treatment.  These petitions often happen on buses, or restaurants, or from people walking door to door.  I, frankly, am accustomed to pretending I don't understand or flat out ignoring them. 
During this man's speech, I was, as usual, not paying close attention. The boys, however, stared, listening with rapt attention.  They were only people in the restaurant, actually, to be doing so.  When Brian, the boy to my right, noticed my inattention, he gave me a nudge and pointed at the man as if to say, "Don't you see he's talking!" 

When the man finished his schpeal, one of our boys, a quiet pre-teen who'd joined us after the card-making, pulled out a small wad of crumpled Lempiras and waved the man over to take them.   Following his lead, three more of the boys handed over a few bills as well.  They were the only people in the restaurant to give. 

My heart split in two, I swear.  I held back tears, silently berating myself for ignoring the man, for deciding not to give him anything before he even opened his mouth, while these impoverished boys gave their attention and the little money they had.  

Lunch ended.  Several boys quickly stood to leave upon finishing their pizza and coke.  When we asked where they were headed so quickly, they responded, "a pedir."   To beg.   
Mom gets mad if they take too long of a break.  

Mark 12:41-44
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.

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