It’s a Friday night, raining outside. The door is open and the ratatat of rain blends with the soundtrack of the movie we’re watching — Coach Carter. Samuel L. Jackson as a man who helps run-out-of-luck kids aim for their best life and isn’t afraid to take the road less traveled.
The boys highly anticipated movie night, like every week. Rikzar especially, who pokes us with questions throughout the week. ‘Tonight, movie night?’ he asks, a few words he has internalized, so he doesn’t have to search for them or look to Alex, whose English is better. No Rikzar, not tonight, I mostly say.
Then movie night comes along again and we get the TV out of the way and move the couch to set up the projector. Almost every week five of us sit and wait while one finishes his dinner. Ferdi and Rikzar don’t come home until after football practice, passed 6:30 pm. So, we mostly wait for whichever one of them showers last. Then he joins and before we start the movie, we tease Sovian—maybe this time it’ll be one of those romantic movies he loves so much (it never is). Then we press play.
Ellis and I sit with these four boys — Sovian (20), Alex (17), Rikzar (16) and Ferdi (16). We share, if not so much a house, then at least our daily lives with these kids. They live in the Free and Safe Transition Home and we live in the small annex next to it that used to be for the helpers, which it kind of still is. As we open our curtains in the morning, we see them getting ready for school or for chores or sometimes to join me on a morning run. We eat together; we teach them the few things we know — English, computer, public speaking, Bible — and we hang out, play sports or catch a movie.
As Coach Carter, on-screen, demands his pupils to study harder because he desires them to live their best lives, I feel strangely connected. I watch four boys watching a movie, boys who we’ve only known for a month and a half, and I want them to grow up to become examples of love and kindness and perseverance and strength and I catch myself thinking these things and wonder what on earth is going on.
When Ellis and I went off on our never-ending honeymoon to help charities around the world, we never imagined this. We imagined we would keep going and going instead of seeing so many possibilities in places that we wanted to do more — to stay longer.
It happened in Estonia, it happened in Mozambique, and it happened here, in Bandung, Indonesia.
Due to plans — darn them! — we couldn’t stay in either Estonia or Mozambique, but we could in Indonesia and so we did. Though not in a million years did I imagine boys like this to come along.
I assumed we would work some and carry on, but here we are — it’s Friday night and I’m not in a bar as I have been on most of my Fridays. No, I’m watching a movie, skipping the risky stuff because the boys put hands over their eyes anyway, I’m teasing Alex because he has fallen asleep again, I see how Rikzar looks at me to check if I’m laughing, and we hoot and holler when someone in the movie slam-dunks.
We never thought we would be here, but we’re glad we are.