Friday, May 14, 2010

Roberto, Part 1

The kid in the middle is Roberto and this is his story.

His dad died in August of 2008. A short time later, his mom ran off with another man. You can imagine the heartache he feels...
Roberto is the youngest of 8 kids, all of his brothers are living with their girlfriends, looking worse and living an even wilder life than Roberto. It’s easy to see whose example he is following.

Three months after the death of his dad, we met Roberto. I was a little surprised at his appearance. To see this scrawny 12 year old with a mohawk, piercings, dyed hair and painted eyes was quite a shock.

Honestly, I didn’t know how to respond. He was shy—friendly enough— but I was definitely out of my comfort zone. What do you say to someone whose life has just fallen apart? I was thinking, “Do I act like nothing is wrong? Do I hug him or would that embarrass him? Maybe I should just ignore him.” That is what I normally would do when I saw these kinds of kids on the streets.

I remember one of the first services that he came to. It was song service, the Holy Ghost was moving and most everyone was dancing and shouting…some of the kids and I were in a circle holding hands, dancing and praising God when I look over and see Roberto. He’s watching us, but so intently with this hunger in his eyes.

Then Eduardo comes over, taps my shoulder and says, “Roberto wants to dance too.”

So I took a deep breath…and waved him over. (At this point, all I could see was the porcupine hair). He hesitated for a moment, but came over. I watched him as he tried sincerely to praise God like his cousins, jumping and raising his hands. He had a huge grin on his face the whole time. I guess he really had wanted to dance.

That was his last service.

I forgot about him for 2 years. Then one day, the guys were over working on our house. Israel was telling crazy stories about when he was a kid and casually mentioned something about Roberto, then went on. But for the rest of that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about that boy.

Of course I’m thinking, “Uh oh. God…no way. No way, no way, no way! Not me.” I did not want to have to get close to this kid…he made me nervous. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that wouldn’t go away. That first day I thought maybe something was going on with him. Maybe Roberto was in trouble. I prayed and prayed, but the heaviness wouldn’t go away. I went to bed that night still crying and praying. So I’m trying to get to sleep when I hear the front door open and someone say, “Armando and Israel are here!” (Roberto’s uncles). I thought, “…Oh great. They’re coming to tell us that something happened to Roberto.” My imagination was running wild…hospitals, crashes, blood…

But they were just bringing over el Pastor’s birthday present. Haha!

So the praying continued. For days and days and weeks, just thinking about Roberto’s hurt. The young people were fasting, everyone was praying. Through all of this, our church, especially the young people, were AWESOME. They got a hold of this burden for Roberto.

After-church visiting time sort of turned into “Roberto News Time”. Had the kids seen him lately? If so, what was he doing? Did you talk to him? Where has he been living this week? What is going on with his brothers and sisters? We would sit around and talk about what we would do if he refused to come. Would it be wrong to trick him into coming? We could tie him up…We would laugh, but we were half serious. We would go over to his house looking for him and he would refuse to come out or would run away.

Then our April conference rolled around. I had been begging God, “Bring Roberto to the conference.” I really believed that this was when Roberto would come to church. I knew that if he could just come to ONE service, he would feel the presence of God and NEVER want to go back to that pitiful life he was living.

I'll finish this tomorrow.

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