A Band of Strangers

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.-John 15:18-19

If I say that it has been a tough week, it would automatically set a precedence for this post. I have to explain what happened. I am not willing to commit to this. It would suffice to say that we experienced some unpleasant events. The details are irrelevant. They were disruptive but they did not steal anything from us. I am writing exactly what I wanted before these unfriendly interruptions. We had a special encounter with two older boys, Felipe and Wallace. It was so ordinary that it was special. I wanted to share it everyone.

Wallace wanted to know if I had some pictures. “Any picture will do,” he said. I took one of our coloring books and he chose a picture from it and took out a tattered notebook and started drawing. This was something new. Wallace never liked to draw before. His specialty was coloring and he did an excellent job of it. However, he wanted to do something new and different. Felipe took out his favorite Japanese comic book and started drawing a picture of the main character. He was drawing something for us to show to the people in the churches in Florida. Not too long ago, both these young men lacked the confidence to try anything new. Now they are challenging themselves. Mary and I decided to color. There we were, all four of us sitting in a church square doing our respective projects. Not a word was exchanged between us. Everyone who walked by was curious to see us sitting in silent harmony. It was peaceful. It was at this time that I thought about writing this post. It has been a long journey to get to this point where we can be silent with each other and yet at the same be challenged by each other’s presence to grow and develop our respective talents. Felipe felt confident in our presence and Wallace was beginning to nurture his self-esteem too. They both were doing very well in their drawings. Wallace chose a complex picture of a peacock and Felipe was having a conversation with himself on what to erase and how to make the perfect nose for his picture. Wallace completed his picture first and it was amazing. He was a natural, something he did not realize that he had in himself. Felipe was revealing his perfectionist side. Everything needed to be just right and mistakes were not allowed. Consequently, he took a longer time to complete his drawing and he divided it into sections. No one has ever taught him to anything of this sort. He did it naturally. We sat there in our quiet meditation for an hour at least and then we were briefly interrupted. This was a pleasant break. It was a homeless adult who came over with another teen from our group. She was carrying a cake. It was the adult’s birthday. We have seen him before but we do not know him. All the children and teens are friendly towards him. He wanted everyone to give him a hug. In the midst of all the hugging, I was overlooked. Felipe took a piece of cake and he wanted me to share his piece with him. He insisted and I took the piece that he broke off for me. Then he told the others that we shared the cake together. The birthday boy was obviously mentally challenged and behaved like a child even though he turned 36 on this day. I realized that our children and teens were looking out for him.

We returned to our quiet time. Unfortunately, it did not last long. There was an incident. There were verbal intimidation. It was teens from another area and they were being disrespectful and aggressive. Felipe decided to stop drawing. The moment was gone. We decided to leave the scene. As we were leaving, Felipe reminded that I owed the birthday boy a hug. I gave him a big hug and he was pleased.

Next day, we arrived and everyone was waiting for us. The group extended from two to eight. We decided to go to another place so that we wouldn’t be interrupted like the day before. We went to the steps of the cathedral. As incredible as it sounds, we had a repeat of the same quietness and peace we had the day before. Unfortunately, we also experienced the same interruption. This time it was people of authority with their guns in their hands. They surrounded us for no apparent reason and started uttering abusive words to our children and teens especially to a young 13 year old. Their crime was that a couple of them had paint thinner in a bottle. None of them were sniffing. They knew that they were not allowed to do so in our presence. These men of authority did not care. They wanted to show their power over us. Their abuse of authority continued until almost all the teens stood up and walked away except one who stayed with us. Before they left, they said that they would be back when these people were gone. We did not want to come back there. It was a horrible experience for us all. We went home a little sad. So many interruptions and verbal violence, all we wanted is to have a quiet time with these children and teens. There is always the next day.

There was no one around when we arrived on the following day. We waited for a while and then they started showing up one by one. We told them that all the hurtful words that were said yesterday were lies. They told us that they were used to it. They always heard these words hurled at them by people in authority. This wasn’t the point, we insisted. We wanted them to know that they were all lies. Words like worthless and trash should not be used in reference to people. They understood what we were saying. They know that we don’t approve of anyone talking about them in such manner. However, we were just as powerless as they were when it happened. Those with the guns have the protection of the authorities. We were nobody just like the kids in the eyes of society. However, we were someone to the only One that matters. We sat and played a game and it was peaceful once again. There were no interruptions this day. Before we left Felipe said, “It is wonderful when we can just have these peaceful times together without any interruptions.” I don’t think that I can say anything more after these thoughtful and sincere words.



One thought on “A Band of Strangers

  1. God bless you and Mary as you continue your wonderful ministry! Jesus is on the throne and he will not fall off of it! No matter what may happen! He will protect your ministry! And your wonderful street children too! Heb. 12:2!

    Sharon O’Connell

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