|Carlos at the amusement park|
but this blog is to celebrate a couple of the "ups" that do come and drown out the downs.
both enrique and carlos are back! carlos (17yrs old), after a year and a half in the program (and a lot that we've been through together) decided a month ago to walk away from the program and never come back (long story). but a few days ago, he came to us out of the blue saying he was sorry and asked for another chance. he was genuine. he had been having major arguments with his parents, and his parents finally told him that he hasn't been the same since he stopped coming to the academy. they told him how disappointed they were in him, etc, and encouraged him to come talk to us. we agreed on an appropriate punishment, forgave him, and accepted him back in to the program. its been great to have him around the last few days.
enrique had left us about a month ago as well. he had become hardened, rude, and mean. similar to carlos, one day he just disappeared. we have talked to him at different times throughout the month, and he just scoffs at us and acts like he doesn't care. i have never felt a peace in my heart about it. monday morning, anthony and i walked down to his house. he was working in a nearby field, but his sister went and got him. we talked. the holy spirit clearly moved in this moment, and softened his heart. he cried. i mentioned many of his friends in the US - by name - and asked him if he remembered... that all of these people ask about about him and pray for him regularly. he broke. he cried, and cried.
finally, after talking about all the details, the opportunities he was missing out on (for no apparent reason), about how many people love and support him, about how we (johnsons, leivas, wideners, etc) love and care for him like our own son... i told him that we had not touched his locker, that his shoes, uniform, practice gear, etc was all still there. that the door is still open if he wants to return, but this is it... if you say no, we need to offer your spot to another boy who wants it. he said "yes, please let me come back"! yesterday he stood in front of his team and apologized, and they all accepted him back.
while we dont know what tomorrow holds, we are celebrating these stories of grace, love and forgiveness today.
if anything else, we are reminded how difficult these boys lives are. most of them get ZERO support from their parents. in fact many of their parents tell them they are wasting their time, that they should be working in a field for a couple bucks a day. there is so much pressure on them. we know that the enemy is real - and he does not want them in the academy, learning about Jesus every day.
please pray with us for these boys. thank you for fighting the battles with us. ephesians says that the battle is unseen - not against flesh and blood but against the authorities and powers of evil in the spiritual realm. we feel it all around these boys for sure. your prayers are powerful in engaging the battle.
and thanks for praying for and supporting us - we will keep you posted on the pains and the victories!