|jhoni and his friends at his dad's funeral|
then came sunday, when jhoni's dad killed himself.
it was a day that was supposed to represent celebration for our village. it was the conclusion of the weekend's fair festivities, full of little parades and marching bands. it was also the day of the men's championship game for the local soccer league.
that's where jhoni was, watching the game, when he noticed his brother screaming and crying. he ran home to find his dad hanging from a rafter in their home with a rope around his neck.
i can't imagine the level of despair that would lead someone to do this. but the reality is, its all around us. physical poverty, spiritual poverty, emptiness, and hopelessness - which ultimately lead to premature death, addiction, abuse, and suicide.
jhoni and his family are suffering. we are suffering with them. i cant describe the pain i felt personally, while holding a sobbing boy in my arms - a kid that i love as my own - just moments after he saw what he saw. i can't fathom the pain that he, his brother's, sister, and mom are feeling.
i hadn't experienced death much at all before moving to guatemala. but man... here in the village it literally seems like every month or so. this one hurt more than most. jhoni is unique. everyone who has ever visited us here knows that. he is joy. silly, free, funny, and full of personality.
he hasn't done anything to deserve the pain that he has already experienced in his life.
but he's going to break the cycle. God is changing his heart. he's going to be a wonderful husband and father. he will be a man of God - a man of integrity.
there is hope. good things are happening! and when good things are happening, there is always an enemy who comes to steal and destroy. he doesn't like what happened friday night, when the boys shared the gospel publicly with their entire village. and he doesn't like that jhoni is changing.
i think satan would leave us alone if we weren't doing anything to bother him. but we are. so let him come. we are here. and "greater is he that is in us than he who is in the world." (1 john 4:4)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
a picture that will forever be engraved in my mind happened the next day, when i arrived at jhoni's house to take his dad's casket to the cemetery. jhoni was in his house crying. all of the rhinos had caught a ride with me, so they jumped out of the pickup to be with jhoni.
after i turned the truck around, i saw all of the rhinos walking alongside jhoni from his house to the church. 2 rhinos had their arms around him from each side. i watched them walk - filling the street from one side to the other.
|jhoni (holding my daughter andrea) with a few of the rhinos|
that's when i noticed the back of jhoni's shirt.
it was the one that says on the front: "alone we are nothing"... and on the back: "together we are rhinos." there has never been a better situation for that shirt to make sense.
jhoni was not alone. he will never be alone.
true friends - rhinos - are always there for each other. during the best of times, like friday, and the worst of times, like sunday.