This morning (Sunday), after getting home just last night, I was a bummed that I didn't have any fresh milk for my breakfast. I mixed up some powered milk but was, in my head, lamenting the fact that it wouldn't be as cold as I would like it and it wouldn't taste near as good as the "real" stuff. But then I thought about it a little more. I had milk. First, it wasn't the double pasteurized not terribly good stuff that we drank all last week in Mexico. But, mostly, I had milk. And I could put it in the refrigerator that I own, in the house that I (mortgage notwithstanding) own. And, later in the day I would worship God with a huge family I'm not related to who love me and care for me and talk to my parents who also love me and care for me and have always loved me and cared for me and have never hit me or cursed at me or gotten drunk or high and said and done unimaginable things to me. I have never worried about from where or even if my next meal would come. I have always had a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. I have never, really, feared that I would be attacked or assaulted, beaten or killed.
I spent the last week with a bunch of kids who can not say such things. All of them have left home for one reason or another, most at a very young age. How bad does life have to get for a 7 or 8 or 10 year old to just run away? My nephews are that age. I can't imagine what it would take for them to just up and leave. But that's what happened to these 13 kids. And this morning, as I was ticked off that I had to drink powdered milk with my cereal, some of these kids went back to unimaginable circumstances. Two of the boys, the two who live at the street child center in Acapulco remained at camp for another week. They're the ones with the best situation. Two others are in a government run orphanage. From what it sounds like, it meets their basic needs; food, clothing, shelter and some sort of education and that's about it. Three of the boys are in a government run juvenile detention/rehab center. I heard one of the boys talk a little about the place. He hates it there. There is little to do. The staff regularly yell at curse at the boys. He wept openly at the thought of returning. It sounds like it's better than the streets but only barely. The rest of the kids, as far as I know, returned to the streets. I pray that some will want to come and stay at the Sobre el Puente (the street child center). But I know many will not. It breaks my heart to know that these kids, these amazing kids who are so loving and polite and talented in so many ways have not only been through so much but are so stuck in such a situation that they want to be out, living on the streets. And I wonder how many other kids there are like them, like the kids I met in India a few years ago. I see their faces in my mind and I smile but I also cry. And I remember the words of Dustin Salter, "My Master is not pleased with this...This is not the way it's supposed to be. And this is not the way that it's going to be." I want to hug these kids again. I want to figure out a way to help them. But, tonight, I can only pray for them. And that is what I will do.