As many of you know I have taken in a young man from Cameroon Africa, he has live with me for the past 3 1/2 years or so. And recently I have added to my family a second young man from Africa. He has been with us for a few months. Now it’s not that I go looking for people to live with me, they seem to find me, and the current two are not unique, I have had several people who have found their way to my home. I have had a family consisting of a mother her son and two daughters live here for one year, a young man from the youth group I was minister to lived with me for 5 years and a few nephews and others…
It seems my home is a magnet for people in need, mostly young men who need a chance to grow up. And I am more than happy to offer them a place to just that. But by no means am I superman or a saint or any other greatness one may want to bestow on me. I ask for nothing, no government money, no praise nor any help from others. I just do what I feel I am suppose to do, I do what I feel all of humanity is created to do, I offer what little help I can.
The first young man to truly live with me, Jonathan, was 15 when he moved in, prior to that, he visited a lot, and one day he just never went home. It seems to be the way it works around here, they visit and never leave… But Jonathan was a good young man, smart as can be, but troubles. Drugs and sex was his life, and school or any other activity took a back seat to them. But I saw in him what others did not, I saw a creation of God, a good young man that just needed a little love and a little push. I provided both, and in return I gained a lot of love back.
But with that little push from me came shoves from others towards me. The meanness and hatred and basic jealousy of others shown through from places I did not expect. The Church, his family and my friends. The charges of serving only my self, looking for praise and using him for my own needs were hurdled at me on almost a daily basis. The accusations surprised and shocked me, because I never once asked for nor expected anyone to thing any different of me, I was just doing what I thought was the right thing to do, what God would want me to do. But to them I must have had a motive, a need that only he, Jonathan could fill.
How silly and down-right wrong…
I treated Jonathan like my own, required respect from him and returned to him the respected he deserved. I allowed him to make mistakes and to learn and grow from them and I allowed him to be what he was, a child who needed love and understanding, not condemnation and demands.
After five years of caring for him, we, sadly, had a falling out, and are now not in much contact. But I do love him and wish him only the best in life. He is still mine and I hope I am still his. Who knows, maybe one day we can fix what is broken.
From Jonathan we move on to a few others who lived here of f and on, over the summer during school breaks or in transitional states with in there lives. But each and everyone of them holds a special place with in my heart and home.
From the transitional few to my Africans…
Luciano also came to me from the Church, and he also was in the youth group. And like Jonathan he visited me until one day he never returned home. But that is were the similarities stop. Luciano had no drug issues and as far as I know he is not having sex with anything that walks. HIs issues are from his father (using the term loosely). His father was what I would describe as a “slave owner” and Luciano was his slave, and I represented his freedom. And once again the ugliness’ of jealousy showed up. And once again from the same places as before, the Church (a different parish than before) his father and my friends.
Is it human nature to think the worst of our fellow man? Is it part of our make up not to trust the actions and deeds of others? Once again I was just doing what I feel we, as Catholic/Christians are called to do, to help our fellow man out in times of need. For no other reason do I open my home to others, and I ask for nothing in return. Yet it seems that society does.
I have a friend who lives in Mexico city, he is a co-worker of mine, we both work for the same division with in the company. So periodically he has to travel to the states, and when ever he does I make it a point to invite him in to my home, be it for dinner of just to watch a DVD. So he has had the opportunity to get to know me, and I him, along with Luciano. He is a quiet and introspective young man who is on a quest to define his life in the eyes of God. His heart is big and his concern for others is just as big. Yet he insists on telling me how great I am, what a special person I am for doing what I do. Yet he too offers himself to the youth of Mexico City, mentoring and befriending them. Offering hope and friendship to them. Yet he canonizes me.
I tell him, when ever he offers his praise, “Many thanks, but you too offer yourself, no more nor no less than I do." Are we not just living out the Gospel, are we not just trying to be as God has created us to be? I see no greatness in what I do, I only see opportunities to love.
I am no Superman, I am only me. Flawed and sinful, cut from the same pattern as you, I do nothing extraordinary and expect nothing in return.
Jonathan, the young man who lived with me who was on drugs is now drug free. He once thanked me for what I had done for him, but I had to remind him that I did nothing but stand behind him, he did all the work on his own. And I was proud to say that, I was proud to see the young man he turned into, and I am thankful that he allowed me to be a small part of his life, hi growth and his change. The same for Luciano and I hope and pray that it will be the same for my new child as well.