It's hard to decide which stories get shared with our friends and family back home and which stay with us here in Chile. It's not that we want to scare people, but sometimes we think it's important for them to know the reality. It's easy to tell people that we work in an area where drugs are a problem, but gets harder when that reality hits home and we tell them our neighbor was shot by drug traffickers. I think it's important for us to hear these personal stories though in order to really understand what others are going through. It's important for us to feel empathy, to share in others' suffering and help with some of that burden when possible, even through simple prayer. The nature of our work and where we live lends itself to tragedy, but that doesn't make it easier to handle when it hits. We're praying for a happy ending to this one and appreciating life a little more than we did this morning.
January 18, 2009
It's almost 2 in the morning and I should be in bed. We leave for Santiago tomorrow morning and have spent the last two days preparing for Joshua's first trip in a plane and our first vacation as a family. Our preparations were interrupted with some pretty sad news though. Our neighbors across the street own a "Salchipapa," which is northern Chile's version of McDonalds. They sell hot dogs, fries and other varieties of greasy yet delicious foods that we shouldn't be eating. Needless to say, we spend a lot of time over there. We learned that their youngest son, 19 years old and just a year out of high school, was shot two days ago and is now in critical condition in the ICU. It was a big shock, especially because this particular son was such a great kid. We got to know him at a retreat that we gave for the youth in the parish early in the year. Even though he didn't participate in the youth group and didn't really know any one there, he quickly became known as an outgoing, enthusiastic believer. He loved God and had a way that attracted the other kids to him and made them feel at ease. He also knew lots of fun "dinámicas" (silly songs and games for groups), which are imperative in any Chilean youth work. I went over to their house tonight, hoping that the information I had heard was wrong, and that it wasn't really their son who had been shot. But, when I passed through the door and saw his mother's face, I knew that it was unfortunately true. We sat and talked for awhile as she explained to me how he was and what exactly had happened. He was at a friend's birthday party and on the way home, was mistaken for a drug addict who owed some dealers money. A car drove by and opened fire on the group he was walking with. Three boys were shot, but he was the most critical and also the youngest. The doctors tell his mother that he's lucky to be alive but it's what they're not telling her that has her most worried - namely, whether he'll make it or not. I've learned that the most important thing we can do at times when things aren't in our control is to pray. So, we prayed together, asking God to heal her son and to bring the family strength and hope.