|Larry in the middle with his brother and cousin.|
He didn’t talk much about his life but I found out eventually that his mom was in jail so he and his brother had been placed in care. He didn’t know his dad and all of his other siblings were older and lived out of country.
I didn’t see Larry much after I left the home until about a year and a half ago. His mom was out of jail and he’d moved into the city to live with her. After we reconnected he started coming over to the house every week or so to see us. It wasn’t going great with his mom so I was happy to see him spending time with us and hanging out with the guys.
Then suddenly he was gone and we weren’t sure what had happened. Turned out that his mom was back in jail and Larry had joined the military to do his obligatory year service because he wasn’t sure what else to do. I talked with him a few times on Facebook but that was it.
Last spring he showed up in Santa Cruz again. We didn’t see him as much as before, but I tried to connect with him every few weeks to see how he was doing. I was worried because he didn’t really seem like himself. He was much more reserved and quite whenever we had lunch.Then in September I got a call from a friend of his. She told us that Larry had been in a serious motorcycle accident and gave us directions to the hospital. Larry had asked her to contact his friend on Facebook and so she contacted me.
It was a bit of a God moment because turns out I wasn’t the friend he wanted her to contact. He was embarrassed about everything that was happening in his life and hadn’t planned to tell me. So…you can imagine his surprise when I walked through the door of his hospital room. =)As we talked and I started asking questions (which is what I do) I started to get a sense that things weren’t exactly right. The other fellow in the accident was in the same room as Larry so there was a limit to what we could talk about. But I could tell there were some problems.
Eventually I found out that Larry was working for what amounted to a group of loan sharks here in the city. These guys were Columbians who were (are) here in the country illegally. They’re using drug money from Columbia to finance (very) high interest loans to people who could never get loans from an actual bank. Larry and his friend were going around collecting interest on the loans…which is what they were doing when they ran their motorcycle into the side of a city bus.Larry doesn’t remember anything from the accident itself. He was in a coma for two days and then when he woke up he couldn’t see anything for another day. His doctor told me over and over that he couldn’t believe that Larry was still alive. He said he’s seen lots of these types of accidents and the people nearly always die.
Another God moment was that Larry NEVER used a helmet. He told me he thought they were too hot. That day, for whatever reason, he put one on and so he was wearing it when his head connected with the side of the bus.
When we spoke with his doctor we also found out that Larry’s medical bills were over $3500 US. That’s almost two years wages for most people here. Larry couldn’t leave until that bill was paid (and he had no money)…but he was also racking up more expenses every day he was in the hospital. So…a bit of a no win situation.
By now we knew that Larry was working for these guys, even though we didn’t know all the details at that point. My fear was that they would pay for his hospital and he would end up very indebted to them.So I asked on FB if anyone could help us. I couldn’t really say at that point everything that was happening or the time constraint we were under…just that we needed some help. And….people were amazing and very generous. We had the $3500 in just over a day. When we went to pay his bill and get him out of the hospital, I told Larry that I thought it would be better for him to recuperate with us rather than by himself. He didn’t argue. We’d just saved his butt.
As soon as we got him out of there, I sat him down and had a pretty serious conversation about how dangerous the situation was and that he needed to leave. I talked to him about the option of moving in with us and to start studying. He thought about it (but not for too long!) and agreed. I think he was pretty clear on the fact that God had just given him a second chance.Since then it’s been amazing to watch the changes in him. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone blossom the way he has. He truly is a different kid.
He’s never really had a dad, so I think he’s enjoying hanging out with me. We sit in the office in the house and chat about all kinds of things. He loves laughing and joking and trying to prove (unsuccessfully I might add) that he’s stronger than me. He’s got toothpicks for arms so…It’s still rough for him some days though. The spiritual battle hasn’t abated in his life. He’s made some good (and difficult) choices since moving in with us trying to move his life in a different direction, but that old life still calls. He and I have started a weekly one on one Bible study at my house and he’s spent some time talking with a couple of the guys in the house as well, about life and the struggles he’s having.
As well, the Columbians haven’t stopped looking for him. They called him continuously after the accident, until he finally changed his number. They’re still angry that he left. Fortunately they don’t know where we live, but they do work in neighborhoods not that far from us.I actually didn’t know all of this (that they were angry about his leaving) until just the other day when it came up in a conversation Larry and I were having. He was quite nonchalant about it all. I, on the other hand, was doing my best to remain calm as I pictured a bunch of angry Columbian drug dealers/loan sharks descending on the house. Too many crazy movies with the guys I think. It’s what they make us watch.
If you could continue to pray for Larry and for all of us, that’d be great. Please pray for protection for all of us and for wisdom and strength for Larry. For those of you who gave so generously to help Larry with his medical costs, I want you to know that it was money well spent. You literally saved this kid’s life and sent it in a completely different direction. God is at work in him in an amazing way.So thank you all! I’m going to work at keeping the blog a little more current again, so come back soon! Our first kid is graduating on Saturday (Roberto the lawyer) so I’ll be sure to post pictures of that!