A New Beginning
Mario had just arrived to the Hope Program a month prior to our trip. We were unsure if it was a smart thing to allow him to go on the trip when he needed to focus on school, but we ultimately decided to allow him to go. He did not have the time to work his hours to pay for the trip, so we asked him to do as much as he could before and then finish the task after the trip. You see, we had been trying for three years to get Mario into the Hope Program, but it was not happening. Then he started playing soccer with our Hope Program soccer team, Los Dos, and he started bonding very quickly with our team and the players. We believe that Los Dos was one of the catalysts to drive Mario to the Hope Program and we are so thankful that we have him in the program now. He is a kind kid, loves soccer, and has a big heart. Our son Joah loves playing soccer with him because Mario is gentle and kind with him.
Mario had a special trip to Mazatlan. This was his first time outside of the state of Nuevo Leon and thus his first time to the beach.
We arrived and Mario was a natural with the children, but what I did not see happening was the interaction between a boy named Ricky and him at the children’s Home Rancho de los Niños.
Ricky is blind, can barely speak if at all, and has cerebral palsy. Ricky’s favorite thing is movement. He loves walking through grass and in general just walking around. Being around Ricky is a special thing. Although he cannot share the Gospel through words, pray for people, or interact, God uses Ricky more than most I have ever known.
I asked each boy to take Ricky for a walk and when it was Mario’s turn, Mario walked around with Ricky and Ricky stopped every once and while and sat down. He typically will place your fingers on his temples to rub as he has a lot of pain behind his eyes. He will also place your hands on his feet to rub. His feet are not the most clean and I could see some of the other guys hesitate. But, I looked at Mario and saw him jump right into rubbing Ricky’s feet.
I was standing in the field cutting grass speaking with Gabo, the MZT Director, and we looked over at Mario and Ricky. We both were surprised to see Ricky touching Mario’s face. Ricky was so close to Mario’s face and you could see Mario smiling and laughing a little. This definitely was not expected. As I looked at Gabo he said, ” huh that is cool, Ricky is trying to get to know Mario.” It struck me that Ricky is blind and a very common occurrence for blind people is that when they want to know someone deeper, they touch their face so they can picture the other person’s face in their mind’s eye. Of all the boys Ricky walked with today he only had done this with Mario. Gabo started laughing and said, “I am gonna go tell Mario.” I watched Gabo walk over to tell Mario and watched Mario’s face change as he realized.
Later that night during debriefing, we were talking about our favorite moments of the day and Mario brought up this moment with Ricky. He said God touched his heart so deeply. He is not normally around kids with special needs and seeing how God moves through Ricky was a powerful thing for him.
When we returned, a few days later, Mario’s house parent Luis came up to me and said, “Mario really had an amazing trip.” I said, “I am glad to hear.” Luis went on to say, ” That time he spent with Ricky was powerful for him, he is still talking about it, and God is touching his life with that time.” Mario is growing and doing Bible Study with Leo right now. But, as Becca said, the moments you have on this trip no one can take them from you. Remember them and let God move through them inside of you.
Thank you Jesus that God is doing great things through these young men.