At the mission where Dave and I are missionaries, we have been involved there for 10 years. We have only been missionaries for 5 of those years, but our total years there is 10.
So we have watched many children come and go, we have watched them grow up, some moved on, some have gone on to the next life. Sadly, many do die very young. But we also have the privilege of watching many of them grow up and make something of their lives. On Thursday evening I was blessed to watch one of my favorites graduate from high school.
His name is Eric and he is the son of my sister missionary Charlene. Charlene never graduated from high school. Charlene is one of about ten or eleven siblings. Her mom had one baby after another and the kids looked after each other. There was no one to help with homework. Heck, no one cared if you even did homework. Or went to school, and the tradition in part of Charlene's family has continued. She has many neices and nephews who never graduated. Some never even made it to high school because like their mom before them, they look after younger siblings while mom does her "thing".
But Charlene, who also raised a down syndrome daughter and a younger son, kept after Eric. His sister now lives in a group home and Charlene spends her time getting after Eric and his younger brother's "beeehind" as Charlene likes to say. Charlene never stopped believing that Eric could do it, talked with his teachers, woke him up from bed, and made him get a job at a local Tim Hortons. She gave him something to do, gave him a purpose. And he did it!!
I pray for Eric all the time. Eric wants to be a nurse. Eric is going to make an awesome nurse. He is big and friendly, with an awesome smile. He wants to work in Children's Hospital, probably because they helped his family so much with his sister. He wants to give back. If he succeeds, he will be the first one in his huge family to graduate from college. That is a huge weight for one guy. So I now will pray him through college. And so will his mom, who years ago gave him to the Blessed Mother, and prays to our Lady all the time about both of her sons. He has a whole community behind him, and I hope he knows it. I know he knows he is loved. As for me, he is my very favorite child at the mission. I just happen to think that there is something special about Eric, and I do believe he will become a nurse someday.
At his graduation another young man read a poem he had written when he was a sophmore, and in it he spoke of the struggles of being the first child in your family to complete high school, the stress of being the family's only "hope". Most of us would probably find it hard to believe that in this day and age there are still kids in families whose parents never graduated from high school.
But there are whole societies where this is true. On the east side of Buffalo there are generations of families who haven't even completed elementary school, much less high school. We need to pray for all families, especially in these difficult times where there are college graduates who can't find a decent job, let alone someone who hasn't even graduated from high school.
I am praying for Eric everyday now. He was thinking about taking a year off, but we all know that is not a good idea. If you take a year off, you are less likely to go back. So please pray with me that he starts in the fall and makes it through. I was at Eric's eighth grade graduation, high school graduation, and I want to be standing there, bawling my eyes out at his college graduation. Not because of me, not because of what I want, but for the hope it will bring to his family, his younger brother, his mother who raised three children by herself. For the other young people in his community who stand on street corners in the middle of the day, because they have no hope for their future. The devil tempts them with drugs, alcohol and sex. And then they are lost.
But we are people of hope. We are children of God. Let's pray for each other. God bless Eric's family, God bless all families!
God bless your family too.