Wednesday, February 15, 2012
a story about Edilberto (Enrique's dad)
my blogs have been sporadic lately. different reasons. mostly i think just going though an introspective season lately. lots going in here - tough challenges, amazing praises, and some normal "life stuff" that just adds up. all in all we are doing well and we push forward. a quick update...
i have blogged about enrique several times. you can scroll down and see his pictures, his warm smile. he's a boy in the academy here who has a very tough home life. every day he enters the academy with a huge smile on his face, so happy to be here. but he goes home to an abusive father who makes life at home beyond miserable for the whole family. i have shared it before, but enrique goes to bed each night with 2 options - try to stop his dad when he starts hitting his mom in a drunken rage and get beat up himself, or lay in bed crying, trying to ignore what's going on. we've been praying for enrique, his dad, his home for a long time, and when i ask enrique how things are going, its always the same story...
some time ago, as i was praying, God challenged me to reach out to enrique's dad. up until this point the only interaction i had planned to have with this man was to walk into his house and smash his head through a wall. so hearing God say "go love on him" was difficult to accept at best.
after some time, i submitted begrudgingly to the conviction and began visiting enrique's dad. we would sit and talk. i struggled with balancing being kind with being honest and forward. i hated it when he would feed me "music to my ears" and tell me about his family, his wife, his kids. all seemed so fake.
over time, maybe 4-5 visits, i began to start liking him, sort of. i saw some of enrique's sweetness in him. even when he was under some influence (not drunk - when i've been with him when he's drunk he can barely stand up straight), i could see that some of his kindness was genuine. God revealed to me something i already knew but had struggled with in this situation - that this man has a heart, has a desire to know God, love his family, and do good - but that the addiction has captured him and he is trapped.
after spending some time with mom and the kids one day when dad wasn't around, i received their blessing to talk with him about going to rehab. i had done some research and found what seemed like a great option for a place in the city. to my surprise, mom and kids were overwhelmingly supportive. she described it as a last chance, because they had all basically reached the point where they were going to leave. (almost unheard of in the village, where women simply accept their situations and never stand up for themselves.)
so i asked mynor and anthony to walk down with me and present the idea to him. we all knew it was risky. we prayed against the enemy's desire to harden Edilberto's heart. he could easily write us off - 2 gringos and mynor - as thinking we know better than him...as trying to take him away from his family, steal his home from him. he could portray it any way he wants. he could respond in anger and pride. after all, the program we were going to recommend he go to requires him to be gone for 9 months...
he listened. not much of a reaction. said he would think about it, talk to his family.
weeks went by. i would stop in, see what he had to say. he brushed it off, said they "hadn't decided as a family yet." meanwhile, mom and kids were telling me he had never mentioned it to them and refused to talk about it. the drinking and abuse continued...
i was at the end of my rope. in fact i mentioned it in a blog a week or so ago. just frustrated and feeling like there are no more options. i cant spend every day being this guys friend if he's beating his wife and/or kids every night. enrique would cry if i even asked him "how is your dad." i was done. throwing in the towel.
until monday, when enrique told me his dad wanted to talk. mark and i went down to see him right away. when i approached his home, he came outside and said "i need help, i'll do anything." we hugged and prayed. he probably thought i was weird.
yesterday, mynor and i took Edilberto to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in guatemala city. later in the day, as we were eating lunch together, we both agreed that it was one of the strangest, most difficult experiences either of us had ever had.
it started when we picked him up. we watched as he said goodbye to his family. his wife was nowhere to be found. his 3yr old granddaughter cried, seemed to know what was going on. his mom (75yrs old) sobbed and didn't want to let him go. he cried too. his teenage daughters didn't say a word, just watched from their window, as if they were doubting he would really leave. both mynor and i felt as if they were giddy with excitement, thinking of the new freedom that would soon exist in their home...
knowing he would be gone for 9 months, all he had was a small backpack (like half the size of a normal backpack) of clothes. when we asked if thats all he was bringing he said "thats all i have."
when we got there, we listened through the orientation and toured the facilities. he had tears in his eyes the whole time. before we left, we gave him a large box that contained a month's worth of food, all necessary hygiene items, a bible, notebook, and pen. i told him that i had already told his family that i would bring them down to see him during visiting hours anytime they wanted to go. he responded "they wont want to, but thats ok, i'll be fine."
as we left, he gave us an unexpected hug and a sincere thank you. again, with tears in his eyes, he shared with us that he has no friends that would ever do this for him. that he realizes we are doing this to give him a chance to save his life and his family, and that he will always be thankful. wow. he had never talked like this before. i had always wondered if our "friendship" was real, or if he just thought i was annoying and strange. i silently praised God for this encouragement and affirmation.
so mynor and I left him there. we may have driven all the way to the fast food restaurant before we said much. it all just felt surreal.
oh, i almost forgot... something had happened on the way down to the rehab center that we will never forget. we were making small talk with Edilberto. you know, how many brothers & sisters, what ages, etc, etc. he said he is one of 3 but that his older brother died some years back. "how did he die", mynor asked. "the alcohol... he was an alcoholic and it eventually killed him." "how old was he when he died?", mynor asked. "42", he said.
"how old are you now", i asked. "42", he said.
silence came upon us. no words were necessary. we were all thinking the same thing. Edilberto doesn't want to end up like his bro. this was his chance to start over. God was throwing him a rescue line and he had finally decided to grab it.
will you join us in praying for Edilberto for the next 9 months? for strength during the tough days? for a soft heart to accept Christ's love and grace? for a changed man-husband-father to eventually come home to his family?
thank you so much for the continued love and support.