In my previous post, you read about how Milton managed to hide his cocaine addiction from his wife for a long time and concealed that he was earning money with crime. It all lasted until he was shot in his leg in a shootout with the federal police, and he ended up in a hospital.
When the wife found out about his secrets, she left him, and his mother, with whom he lived, kicked him out.
He needed a lot of money for the drugs, so he cheated on his colleagues; he kept the stolen money from drug dealing and spent it all on cocaine. During this time his mother died of cancer, which only depressed him more and pushed him down, but he found comfort and salvation in his best friend – drugs.
Milton had a new venture ahead of him. He wanted to repeat the fraud and steal the profit from the sale of drugs from his co-workers.
He succeeded the first time and none of the deceived knew anything about it. He shared his secret with his friend. He decided to invite the friend so he could carry out the project easier and with less risk.
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“We did it. We had the money from the drugs that we sold at the border. It was a lot! Back to Santa Cruz we traveled on the roof of a train, as usual, because the money was safer that way. But as we drove back, the friend showed his true face,” Milton tells us.
“It became clear that he wanted to keep the money as I wanted to keep it for myself the first time I did this. I was in danger. We were standing on the roof of the train, there was a bag with money between us, and the man opposite me had a knife at hand. He was serious!”
Fight on the roof of the train
Like in an action movie, Milton and his partner were fighting on the roof of the train. Milton was not armed, so he was much more vulnerable. In one of the swings, the friend stabbed Milton into his stomach, so strongly that he fell from the train.
The fall was unfortunate, between two railcars, and so clumsy that the train drove over his wrist and cut it off. He showed us his big scar on his stomach, and his wrist was obvious – in the place where his palm and five fingers should be, Milton had two fingers and the rest of the skin stitched up together.
“Only the drugs I consumed before the fall helped me to get off the ground. I got to the first street with difficulty. There a police patrol found me. They took me to a hospital.”
“I was on the verge of death, because I lost a lot of blood. They revived me with electroshocks, but I already sailed away. I watched the doctors from somewhere above, I didn’t feel any pain anymore. Then I saw my late mother. She stood before me and told me:
‘Now it was enough, my son. When will you change?’
Right at that moment, Milton’s heart began to beat again. He was in a coma for an hour. He tells us that the whole time he had a feeling that his mom was holding him by the hand. Her call and determination were so strong, and her words so pervasive that kept him alive.
Back to the street
He stayed in the hospital for a year and a half. He recuperated, but the desire for drugs hasn’t left him. In fact, it was so strong that he couldn’t stay in the hospital any longer. He left early and went to his older sister.
“I wanted to make changes. Mom’s reminder was always in front of me. But I was weak and helpless. I didn’t know who I could turn to for help. I started taking drugs again. I went to the street again and robbed people.”
I asked Milton how he could do this, given the fact that his right arm was completely unusable.
“Ah, I found the way. My hand was very interesting to people,” he smiled. “I would stand in front of a man and raise my right hand. No one could resist looking at this strange mass with two fingers. When they were focused on the raised wrist, I would steal mobile phones and wallets with my other hand. I was trained in this sort of things, I was great and after all, I had been doing such things all my life.”
If you really exist, then help me!
Again, he was completely taken over by drugs. He began taking even stronger drugs, a sort of cocaine derivative. The power of this drug took him back to the street. He lived in a subway channel in the Santa Cruz area, called Bel Monte, with many other drug addicts.
“I remember one Thursday well, when I had enough. I had lots of drugs in my hand. My clothes were ragged, I was dirty, messy and had a different shoe on each leg. I didn’t want to live like that anymore. This time it was for real!”
Milton continues on the groundbreaking moment of his life:
“There was a hill in the vicinity. I went to this ‘mountain’, looked up and shouted to God: If you really exist, then help me!”
At that time, I felt something that I had never felt before. As if some force had taken over me. I was running fast from the hill and cried like never before. One kilometer! I came to the football field where the boys played soccer.
I learned that this was a group that helps drug addicts. Every Thursday they go there, hang out together, play soccer, share food, and talk to drug addicts. Riccardo, who was Spanish, approached me, and some Mr. Miguel Angel. I strongly believe that God had shown me the way to them on that hill. They were my angels.”
Milton found out that they had a drug rehab center nearby, where the addicts lived. He went to the Ebenezer community and stayed there for six months.
“I felt good among them. I progressed and most importantly, it remained clean. But I wanted to pray with a rosary. I asked Riccardo all the time, where I could get it, so long that one day he brought sister Pietra from the from the El Camino community.”
Sister Pietra lived in the house where we live today with Silva, together with other missionary sisters. The sisters exchange a lot and they rarely stay in the same community for more than three years, so we haven’t met her.
True inner renovation
After nine months, Milton successfully completed rehab at the Ebenezer Protestant Center and, after agreement with the missionary sisters, came to the missionary. They suggested him to go to Paraguay, where their Fraternidad del Camino community has their own center for the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
“I left the same day,” Milton tells us. “And right in that center, my real rehabilitation and internal renovation began” In Ebenezer, I missed more responsibility, more work and more PRAYER. At my brothers’ missionary, I got all this, I prayed more, worked in the field, and learned to be responsible.”
Above all, Milton followed the 12-step program for addicts. The step that had the greatest impact was the step when he had to make an inventory of his life and face his past.
He learned to forgive himself and others, learned to read the Bible, to live and strive for something more than just survival, and he renounced the false security created by drugs.
Preparing for life
This rehabilitation lasted nine months and then he went to another house, called Casa del
“We had a psychologist, a catechist and others who taught me how to live in a community, make contacts, and avoid situations that would put me back into addiction again. They helped me to accept my deformed wrist, I even learnt to write with this hand. They encouraged me to find a job. I followed their advice and got a job at a bakery.”
After seven months, he returned to Bolivia and lived for three months in a house with the missionary sisters. He had the support he needed, he got new friends, a group of volunteers found him a new job in the company selling ceramic tiles and stones, where he still works today.
“For me, this was all completely new. I worked honestly for the first time in my life. I earned money without stealing. I finally got back on my feet and turned my attention to creating my own family.”
At that time, a lot of things happened to Milton. The first woman with whom he had three children, the one that left for Spain and left all three children in care of Milton’s brothers, returned to Santa Cruz and took the children to Europe.
Milton didn’t blame her. He believed that children in Europe have better living conditions and more opportunities than they would have here.
‘When I lived in the channel, I had an fling with a girl. She had a settled life, she had a job and lived with her sister. I liked her, but then I didn’t think I could have a family with her. After a year when I was already in the rehabilitation center, she visited me and told me she gave birth to our daughter.”
“I was happy about this news. This also helped me to keep the motivation for treatment. I really wanted to change my life and become responsible enough to go back and create a family with them.”
Worthy, precious and beloved
That’s how it happened. Milton married and now lives with his wife and daughter in a rented apartment in Santa Cruz. They both have jobs, and their daughter is already going to school.
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He is regularly in contact with the missionaries of El Camino. He often comes to our mission, to the chapel, and prays every day before God.
He became a witness. Together with the missionaries and volunteers, he goes to the street and visits a prison where he testifies about his life and gives hope to young people; hope that one can change, that a person is worthy and precious, and loved by God.
Just as God intervened in Milton’s life, and at all times, even when he lived in darkness, gave him strength and desire for something better, so we all have the opportunity to accept His hand and start again.
The brothers and sisters of El Camino, with whom we have been sharing our lives here on a mission in Santa Cruz for a month, are the true bearers of hope and light, especially to people who live on the edge. Their nightly visits to streets, channels and prisons give the lost ones the opportunity to decide and make a new step.
I overcome the temptations with prayer
Milton’s story shows us that this is possible. He concludes his story with the following:
“Every day I have to fight to stay clean. Sometimes I wake up in the morning with a taste of alcohol and drugs in my mouth. Desires to take cocaine are strong, but they are decreasing. What helps me overcome temptations is prayer.
“Today, when I go with the missionary sisters to the streets to visit drug addicts and homeless people, as I once were, I feel more free. These people consolidate and confirm my decision. Every day I thank God for sending missionaries to my life and giving me the strength to take a new step.”
We are always happy to meet Milton at the door of our mission. He left a deep impact on us. He opened up and revealed his dark past to us.
He showed us the Operando in his life and confirmed what we have witnessed since our missionary journey:
Thank you, Milton.