I am Francisco Reyes, a boy who likes to study and is a crazy lover of Jesus. This is my journey from El Salvador to Brooklyn, New York, where I live now. My journey started when I was fourteen years old, and I am now twenty. The last three years have been marked by tragedy and hope.
This year will be forever unforgettable in my mind and heart. It is a year that will always be in the Reyes family memory.
Last August, the immigration court judge gave me a court date in 2016. The months have gone by quickly, and I didn’t hear anything from my lawyer. I got so dispirited. I will soon find out if I have fled El Salvador in vain. I will discover if my desperate, dangerous trip will place me back into the hands of predatory gangs. I will learn the fate of my mom and sisters.
I am okay because I know that my true judge is God and for him nothing is impossible. As the prophet Habakkuk said, “I will stand on my watchtower and see what God will say to me.”
The story, which started five years ago, is recounted in my diary:
Friday, March 25, 2011
I spent the day reflecting on my life.
I live in EL SALVADOR, the smallest country in Central America, but we Spanish people call it “El Pulgarcito De America,” the Little Thumb of America. My home is in its capitol San Salvador, a beautiful but very noisy place.
In our close-knit family, my mom Lizandra teaches me to respect, love, help and be patient with people. She emphasizes respect for women.
My mom does not have a high school or college diploma. She started working as a housekeeper in the city when she was 15 years old. Now, she has a pequena tienda (small store) in our house.
I am in the 9th grade. My high school is a simple and poor school but has the best teachers.
My sister is Isamari. She is in the 6th grade and is very smart. So, she received an English scholarship. I have to admit that she is the best person that God has given me.
Finally, my dad is Jose Alberto Reyes Romero. He is my hero and my teacher in life. He teaches me that in order to be successful in life, first I have to suffer. And in order to be part of paradise, the heaven after death as Jesus promised it, first my faith must be proved with the circumstances during my life.
My father tells me, “Don’t worry, my love, if you believe that God is bigger than your circumstances, you don’t have to fear.” A son of God should never give up.
My dad worked as a manager for the Coca-Cola Company for eight 8 years, until he got sick. When he went to the doctors, they did not tell him what was happening with him. Then, ten years later, the doctors found liver cancer in him. The cancer was so advanced that he had to stop working.
Before going bed that night, my dad called my mom, sister and I to him, and he started to pray for us, asking the Holy Spirit to come to us and give us the gifts that we deserve. I love my family, and I thank God for all of them.
My father is a man of God whose strength in the face of his challenges is inexplicable. As he laid in the bed for four years, he discovered even more the presence and love of God.
I remember that his friends would come to visit him and ask, “How are you? How do you feel?”
His answer was always, “I am fine, thank God. I am healed; God has showed his power and love towards me.” He always was smiling and making others smile with his good humor.
To be honest, my father was really sick. I had the opportunity to see him in that bed and witnessed his suffering. Sometimes, I use to complain to God, but my father didn’t say anything.
While he was in the bed, he always used to read the Bible, religious books, and the lives of the saints—he always was busy reading something about God, to feed his soul. The wisdom and intelligence grew strong even though his body was growing weaker. When the priests came to visit, they would leave astonished by how my father interpreted the Bible and talked about God.
For the last several months , my father has not been able to stay seated or even lay in bed because the pain was so horrible. I heard him crying out, saying, “This suffering is nothing compared for what Jesus suffered when he was crucified. If this is God’s will, then his will be done on earth and heaven!”
Then, he decided to have surgery to remove the cancer. When the doctors were in surgery, they found that the cancer in the liver was too hard to cut out. They sent my father to intensive care, and there he was breathing with artificial air. Father has been in this place for eight long days. My mom didn’t want me to see my father like that.
But I didn’t listen to my mom. I put on the special hospital clothes go into his room, and I saw my father there in the bed with…
Sorry, but it is so hard to describe.
When you see your father like that, you think that life has no sense and you want to die, too.