A Boy Named Lucci

Sitting in my chair I’m pondering a trip I took a few years back to this quaint Romanian village nestled into the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. A gorgeous little place. I was apart of a team that held camps for orphans all summer. Many things happened that summer but I will simply tell you about one boy named Lucci (Lucci is the Romanian equivalent of Luke).

Lucci was fifteen years old and he looked normal at first glance but after a while you couldn't help but notice his hard exterior. Lucci was the tough guy of sorts. The loner. Desperado if you will. It's an understatment, but he wasn’t too fond of joining the rest of us for activity time. To his credit he was a stubborn and determined fifteen year old boy named Lucci .

But I think he had an excuse. I mean Lucci grew up in an orphanage fending for himself from day one. This is all he knows. Why would he be any different? An orphanage will rip innocence right out of a child’s chest. It will make a kid fight for everything he has. I think this constant struggle has calloused Lucci and many others making them deeply afraid of vulnerability, of love. His short life has taught him not to trust anyone, for everyone in his life has wounded him by leaving, abusing, manipulating etc... And I imagine the concepts of grace and love are as foreign to him as he and his culture are to me. The possibilities of conceptualizing grace and love are fading with each passing year . . . each passing day. I’m guessing that in an orphanage Nietzsche’s “Will to Power” quickly becomes the norm. People, that is Lucci, become dispensable objects in the way of another persons pursuits.

By the end of the week it appeared as if we had failed Lucci. Just chalk it up as yet another failure in a long line of failures in his life.

Like I said, it was the end of the week and the bus that was to take the kids “home” was arriving early in the morning. Our ritual was the same with each group, we saw the them off in the morning. We took pictures, exchanged numbers, addresses, smiles, hugs and goodbyes . . . basically all of the silly things we humans do when we say goodbye to each other.

And this morning was no different. All was going as planned. But I was especially looking for Lucci. I wanted to at least say goodbye to him showing that we cared. Maybe to help him understand that we were a little different from all the rest of the people in his life. As usual, I couldn’t find him (I should have known). As most of the kids were on the bus I was waving and blowing kisses. I scoped the bus one last time looking for Lucci. And there he was. I had found him. I hadn’t noticed, but apparently Lucci had been on the bus the whole time. He was sitting with his face buried in his hands and it was obvious that he had been crying. As the bus pulled away he caught my eye and waved.

I am just speculating but I imagine that in just one week he had seen something in us that was far different from anything else in his life. And I think that it had slipped behind the hard veneer and when he finally realized that it wasn’t going to be there forever it broke him to tears. All week he had been afraid of being vulnerable . . . but now I think he was more afraid of not being loved or cared about. He was going back to the orphanage . . . the place he should have never been.

I have more questions than answers regarding Lucci. Did we mess him up even more . . . by entering his life and leaving so quickly? Kinda like playing a sadistic trick on him. Do you think we confused him more than he already was about life? I pray that he saw something in us worthy of holding onto.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again . . . I hope I will.

Lucci is nineteen now. He is out of the orphanage and on his own. I wonder where he is these days and I wonder what he is doing with his freedom? I imagine Lucci will have children of his own someday . . . I just wonder what kind of father he will turn out to be?

1 comment:

  1. You pose a great question, and one that I've considered for a while. Who really gets helped on short-term mission trips? (You may have been there for five years, but Lucci was only there for a week, so it was short to him.)

    At the end of our week, or month, or summer, we come back to our homes with great stories to tell, wonderful pictures, and a prideful heart. What happened to the lives that we supposedly changed?

    I've gone on, and led, many short-term mission trips so please don't think I'm pointing a finger.

    I think there is a reason that Jesus used discipleship as his method of teaching, and equipping people. Discipleship takes time, effort, caring, investment, and long-term commitment. Something I cannot offer in a week in Mexico.

    Did you guys change Lucci's life by allowing him a glimpse of something different than the pain he's known? Did this give him the strength to endure, and make a new way for himself? Or, did this cause the cracks around his soul to deepen, knowing that he would be going back to the bleak horrors he has known his whole life? Why was HE not worthy of the life he experienced during that week with you guys?

    It's a tough one for me. And it seems to be a difficult question for you as well. I think that God can do whatever he wants with the time we have given him. It doesn't take but a moment for God's hand to move in someone's life and forever change their eternal perspective. And I'm sure many people have reached salvation through these means.

    I personally feel that we can do much more for a place we are visiting by focusing on the social justice aspects. Like building wells, schools, churches, cleaning, feeding, and simply caring. Also, our efforts should be to help the long-term missionaries who ARE there all the time, and can commit to true discipleship.

    If I go somewhere for a week with a felt-board, and a dramatization of "Everything" by Lifehouse, I'll make a fun memory, but if I leave someone with a sustainable resource that will serve them over and over, and ultimately change their quality of life, THAT can be an impact with eternal implications.

    What do you think?