There is an old legend of a man from Jerusalem who lived on the route that Jesus took on the way to Golgotha. This man, named Ahaseurus, had seen many criminals pass by on their way to crucifiction, so he took no notice of Jesus as he fell for a third time on his doorstep. He nudged the prostrate Jesus who said, “ Because you have not allowed me to rest, so too you will never rest.” At that moment Ahaseurus became immortal. Jesus appeared to him in a dream and told him that he would wander the world as a witness to the miraculous events of those times. To those faithful people who recognized him, he could give an account of that first Good Friday and reassure them that miracles do happen for those who have eyes to see. Throughout the Middle Ages Christians sought for this man in the faces of strangers, travelers and pilgrims.
I mention this story because we met this man at a kindergarten we visited in the foothills outside of Siguatepeque. I can’t describe the impact that a room full of beaming, beautiful and expectant faces can have on a heart that is open and willing to receive. All that was good, true and loving in us was called to the surface. There was simply no room for mean-spiritedness, selfishness or self-absorption.
Carried away by these emotions, I moved to the back of the classroom and was approached by an older Honduran man who was not introduced to us earlier. He proceeded to tell that he had heard of us and the story of Owen’s death and our response to it. He conveyed that he sometimes prayed for Owen’s soul and that he wanted to meet Sally and I. I can’t tell you how humbled I was by this simple and profound expression of compassion. Just as mysteriously, this man left without ceremony, but I hope to remember him for the rest of my life.
His appearance proved to be prophetic because he prepared us for an afternoon visit to the special needs school in Siguatepeque. Most of these students are deaf and unable to speak. They use facial expressions, body language and gestures to convey what their words cannot. Mostly they convey joy and happiness. Did I mention that they are the world’s best huggers? Such trust and openness! Presley, Hannah, Brian, Thong, Brooke and Kaelin found it hard to tear themselves away.
I’ll end here with some pictures which will mock my attempts to convey in words what can only be experienced directly.