Chichi prayed! The other night Chichi prayed before dinner! And you are probably wondering who is Chichi and why is this a big deal? Allow me to fill in a few details... Chichi is an amazing young man. Although he is only twenty years old his life has been full of more adversity and hardship than most of us can imagine. He lives with his grandmother in Juan Pablo, which is one of the poorest communities here in Alajuelita. He is not sure who his father is, but his mother thinks he may be one of two men. One of the men died last year in a shooting and the other is a drug addict that lives in a box just outside the neighborhood.
As you can imagine this is a very difficult situation for Chichi. His mother lives with his grandmother and stays at home to take care of his five younger brothers and sister. He also has two older brothers, but both have followed in their father's footsteps and only come home to sober up and then leave again. One of his younger brothers was severely burned and disfigured when their house burnt down about 10 years ago. This leaves Chichi to be the primary bread winner for the family. He doesn't have a steady job and can't get one because he hasn't finished the sixth grade. Therefore, he picks coffee, paints, and does other various jobs to earn what money he can. When I met Chichi a year ago we bonded immediately. He was starting to lose hope and had began to slip into a life of drugs and alcohol to escape reality. I started spending time with Chichi almost everyday, and even though we couldn't understand each other, our friendship grew.
Soon he started coming over to the house from time to time and now it's everyday. I started inviting Chichi to help me in my everyday tasks. Together we would prepare for mission teams, deliver food to poor families, pray with sick people, eat with homeless guys in the park, assist with different church events, shop for the feeding centers, and all the other things that fill up my days. Slowly, he has grown to understand more and more about why we are here and why we are doing what we do. Over the past 8 months the gospel of Jesus Christ has transformed Chichi. It has given him grace and hope to escape his life and sin. He truly is transformed and watching this has been very motivating to me. Lately, he has been going to church regularly, asking spiritual questions, and growing in his faith.
Last week we set-up the projector to show a movie at the church. Chichi watched intently and I could tell his mind was racing as he left for home. The next day he shared with me that he dreamed that he was a pastor of a church. He said it was a nice dream that he hope could come true someday. Well, later that evening he sat with us to eat dinner. Rita, Emily and Angela were over as usual, and I jokingly told Chichi if he wanted to be a pastor he should pray before dinner. I was joking, he was serious and started to pray! For the first time in his life he was praying out loud in front of other people. It was a simple and short prayer, but somehow I think all of heaven was listening.