“So, what do you think?” asked David Salazar, our Project Coordinator in Santa Cruz. He had just finished explaining to me that one of our residents — Jose Maria — wanted to travel to Trinidad over 18 hours north, to try to find his family after 17 years of no contact.
Honestly, I wasn’t at all sure.
Between the potential for disappointment and rejection, the heavy demand on staff time in having a team member accompany him on the trip, and the $120 cost of travel during a time when the community’s funds were very tight… I couldn’t help but think thisjourney might be a little too costly, all the while leaving Jose Maria wide-open to a relapse.
INTRODUCING JOSE MARIA Jose Maria left home at the age of 13 after a row with his parents. Hurting and angry he travelled south to Santa Cruz, first living in a children’s home and later moving to the streets.
He quickly fell into an addiction which after 17 years later, brought him to our doors.
Nine months later, Jose Maria is a man transformed by God’s grace expressed through the love and care of the Novõ team in Santa Cruz.
THE MUGGY STREETS OF TRINIDAD
Jose Maria and Novõ team member Marco Antonio stepped onto the muggy streets of Trinidad exhausted from an 18-hour overnight journey but eager to begin their search. First stop, Jose Maria’s childhood barrio [neighbourhood]. As the hours passed and their enquiries got them nowhere, Jose Maria was soon ready to give up.
“Let’s keep walking”, encouraged Marco Antonio, “we will not be defeated”.
And they weren’t. The very next stop was a shop whose owner knew of Jose Maria’s family. He sent a messenger off and within a few minutes the reunion began.
Jose Maria’s cousin appeared first, shortly followed by his mother [shown embracing Jose Maria in the photo]. They were then joined by his brother and the rest of Jose Maria’s estranged family.
Having not heard from Jose Maria for so long, they’d assumed he was dead, lost to the darkness of addiction in the drainage canals of Santa Cruz.
Yet, thanks to Jose Maria’s release from the chains of his addiction, and the encouragement to not give up from faithful brother Marco Antonio, his search was a success.
TRANSFORMATION IN EVERY SENSE
Jose Maria returned to Santa Cruz with a heavy weight lifted from his shoulders. During his time in Trinidad, he had asked for and gratefully received forgiveness from his family who gladly embraced him back into their lives.
After talking to his family, he also discovered that he was in fact one year younger than he had realised and that his birth name is actually Jose Carlos, not Jose Maria!
A couple of months on from that first talk with David, and there is no doubt in my mind that the “go for it!” with which the conversation ended was absolutely the right response.
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Novõ is dedicated to creating transformational communities in developing nations where hurting and broken people — like Jose Maria — can find healing from addiction, wholeness and hope. But we can’t do it without your prayer and financial support…
Novō is a charity which is dedicated to pursuing a singular vision – the vision of creating transformational communities in developing nations where hurting and broken people can find healing, wholeness and hope.