Remembering the adversities and circumstances I had gone through due to taking care of the boy in the pad, I no longer see the boy who begs and sleeps in the sidewalk.
But the Lord, along my path, put another boy, a 13-year-old who had run away from home.
From South Davao province, he at age nine was convinced to go with a couple of adult carolers who brought him to Davao City and from Davao City to Ozamis City where he was "adopted" by a Chinese businessman. Frequent scoldings, however, made him decide to escape by bike to return to Davao City.
He showed tenderness towards me; but I knew in my heart this was only because of having missed his home and family.
My physical self wanted him to stay that way -- but I felt the Lord in my heart was wanting to grant the boy the desires of his own heart: to go home once and for all.
And I heard myself muttering the Prayer of Sufferings.
The friendship started when I gave him organic leaf tablets for cough which I noticed was hard and continuous in him.
The coughing stopped in about five days.
"You certainly missed your family. You want to go home?" I asked him in the vernacular.
"I wish to spend this Christmas with my family," said he after we did laundry and waiting for the clothes to dry up.
"OK, we will go home," I replied.
He had many plans of where to bring me and show me once there. He even told me to stay there for long. We arrived in their place after super typhoon Yolanda wrecked several places and lives -- November 9, Saturday, after a Catholic Fellowship that we attended.
It was like I was watching Wish Ko Lang, a wish-granting TV program on GMA-7 when we got to their place.
His mom embraced him tightly. So, too, his older brothers. Amid tears suppressed.
His younger brother took my right hand and put it on his forehead in a way that I felt in my spirit this was his way of saying "thank you" for bringing his older brother back home.
As neighbors and relatives kept coming to visit and see him in the dead of night, I was in the room they provided for me to sleep the night out. I could hardly sleep though -- so happy for them all on his return after four years. But I felt in my heart he was going to change the next day.
That night, when it was time for him to sleep, he slept beside me.
When he was already asleep, I kissed him goodbye on the forehead because the Lord let me know he was going to change the next day.
The following morning, instead of showing me the best of his place can offer, he wanted to go somewhere without me. At that instance, I expressed to his mother my desire to leave. The mother insisted that I stay for another day to attend her older son's engagement to a would-be wife. This meant feast, their only way to thank me. Out of respect, I nodded. But the boy made a story so his mother agreed for me to leave that very morning.
I left that very morning. And in those days of pain before I recovered, the Prayer of Sufferings was the most distinct prayer that my lips were heard of uttering: "I accept this cross in the Name of Jesus Christ in reparation for all my sins, for the sins of the world, especially the sins of the Archdiocese of Davao."