She stands straight and still, eyes on the dawn awakening where the sky meets the water. Her feet are planted on the very edge of that warm sea, the sea in constant conversation with the land where they meet here on this desert beach. The wind breathes from the deep toward the mountains behind her, blowing her hair back off of her neck and shoulders. She hardly notices any of this, though, as her thoughts and memories are cast far off beyond the distant horizon. Memories of her life before the crossing seem to all be there in proper order, yet changed since meeting Him on the beach the first day after. That was yesterday. She is still Abigail, and she can freely recall the most minute detail of her long life on that troubled planet. But since meeting Him here, everything is seen by a different light. The paradigm shift came with the realization that this was not a hoped-for hazy eventuality. This is not some cartoon heaven with pudgy babies with tiny wings and tiny harps on tiny clouds. This is real. This is now. And, that world on the other side, that life–that was not the symphony, that was just the prelude. The pain and sorrow, the disappointment and dissolution of that life were just “tuning up,” just points of reference to compare with the joy of this life stretching out to the eons. The laughter, the happiness, the loves remembered, are made better too, now knowing that the ending hardly-imagined but hoped-for was true, and better than could be imagined, and really just the beginning.
She replays in her mind the crossing from that distant planet to this one. Brief pain and fear at the beginning, a long time of rest and relative peace in a warm dark, all the while with a sense of movement over vast spaces…then awakening here. The awakening was intense and overwhelming, very much like a diver too long under water reaching the surface to draw a desperate breath. Or, even more like a newborn baby drawing her first breath of air in a new world. This is that new world. The new colors, colors for which she knew no name, were almost blinding. The intensity of the sounds was deafening and the touch of the breeze on her skin at first too much to bear. She was too much alive. She thought she might have lost her grip on her mind if she had not heard His Voice. He was right here on this beach when she first opened her eyes. Crouched over the little fire where that ring of stones still lies. He looked up and called her name, and that brought her back to center. She knew His voice though they had not yet met in person. He offered her grilled fish, and bread, and water. She ate. She must have been ravenous, as she had never tasted anything to compare with that simple meal. He settled her and quietly assured her, just by His presence, that she was welcome. He said they would meet again soon, and then He was gone, and she slept. “Was that yesterday? Are there days here?”
Now standing there looking out to sea, for some reason, a moment from her distant past keeps resurfacing. It must have been nearly 100 years ago, and Abby was 5 years old, Felix was maybe 7, and Miguelito was dying. He had not been able to eat for weeks. She remembered them holding a little prayer service for him under the bejucos on the side of her parents’ house at the Children’s Center in Honduras. She wondered why that, of all memories, came to her now & so clearly.
Then she shakes her head as if to clear it and looks around. The newness of this place, and her place in it and the vitality welling up from deep within tugs at her sleeve and insists upon her attention. She is young again. No, not just young again…better than she has ever been: stronger, more full of life and hope, her senses more alive, the colors, sounds, and smells more poignant and full of joy than she could express. On the periphery of her vision, yet near enough that she could almost reach out and touch it, she realizes there is now a great gull floating seemingly effortlessly. The brilliance of the white of his feathers is frightening. As she turns her head to look, she realizes that he has turned his head, and his midnight black eyes, unmistakably sentient, stare straight into hers.
He is not in the least afraid. Neither is he aggressive. He just floats there, an arm’s length away in the onshore breeze, controlling his position by seemingly effortless subtle shifts of his brilliant primary flight feathers. Then, eyes still locked on Abigail’s, in an unmistakable gesture of intent, he ducks and shifts his head toward the left, crosses in front of her, and then floats slowly along the seashore to Abby’s left, turning his head back to again lock on her eyes. Though the gesture and body language so obviously communicate “follow me,” Abby is so stunned by the interaction that her feet remain planted on the water’s edge. She remains frozen there for a moment until she is startled by the words, “Come! Follow Me!” Whether they formed inside her head or she heard them spoken in the air, she couldn’t say. But either way, her head recoiled for just an instant, then she followed this great shining seabird and began walking along the water’s edge toward the…. well, was there an east or west here, north or south? She didn’t know, so…. toward her left.
This little journey continued on in this direction for some time, Abby at first slowly walking, the water never splashing above her ankles. The bird was almost hovering and sometimes was required to circle back for her to slowly catch up. But as her guide gradually increased the pace, within 100 meters she found she was walking as fast as one could and still call it walking. Then the words formed in her head that she should “See what you can do!” Surprised by the Joy of the prospect, she began to run. It had been so long since she had run, and she ran like she had never run before, like she had never seen anyone run before. Faster and faster, she ran until her feet seemed to barely touch the water, her light dress and her hair blowing straight back behind her, the Joy of her life and strength of her being, an engine made for movement. And, she never tired. With the rocks and plants of the shoreline a blur on her left, the great bird apace on her right, she ran the line of the water’s edge, with snow-capped mountains on her left hand and towering cumulous clouds above the sea on her right hand calling for her to run faster.
She never tired, and she never slowed, and she continued on in the Joy of just running. How far she ran from the ring of stones where He had prepared a welcoming meal, where she had first come ashore in that land, this was never a concern. He had said they would meet again, so she knew she would never be lost. But presently she saw someone approaching from the direction in which she was running. When first she saw him, they must have been miles apart, but they were both running at such a pace that it was less than a moment before they both stopped face to face. Her first guide wheeled and flew off without a word, leaving Abby breathing heavily and laughing from the joy of her exertions. The young man, who had been running even faster toward her, seemed not the least bit winded. They stopped and circled and stared at each other for a moment. Abby caught her breath, while wondering who might this new messenger be. It was not until he opened his mouth and said, “Hello Abby! Welcome!” that some flicker of memory began to blossom.
It could have been the timbre of his voice, or it could have been the familiar funny crooked smile that she recognized from somewhere long ago. But when she said “Miguel? Miguelito??,” that smile filled his face as he nodded. They embraced for a moment like long-lost brother and sister… which they sort of were, until it was all too much for Abby and she had to sit down there on the beach.
Leaning back on her hands she looked up at Miguelito laughing and crying at a memory that came back to her again clear and complete from so many years ago. “You were dying, and Felix and I… I guess I was 5 and Felix maybe 7, and you were 9 but had not been able to eat for weeks. We held a little church service for you under the bejucos under my Mom’s kitchen window. I can hear my little self telling my Mom, ‘He is just skin and bones now, Mommy, but God is going to put meat back on his bones and make him guapisimo,’ I said.” …Then looking back through nearly 100 years of memories, in a far away voice she said … “and Felix chimed in: ‘Y va a poder caminar y correr con Dios!’… and now look at you!” Miguel smiled his crooked smile and said, “Felix told me the same story when he came across some years ago…. Now I’m not sure whether I remember it as his story or your story or our story. … I could hear you talking, you know. I just couldn’t respond.” Abby stared at him and said almost in a whisper, “I always wondered.” After a pause, Miguel said quietly, “you were always very kind to me even without knowing.”
For a few moments both wandered in their own thoughts and memories, the only sound the wind and small waves in conversation with the shore.
Miguel brightened first and said, “They’re all waiting up there, you know. Everyone thought I should be the one to greet you… well, after you first met with the Lord, of course. ….Sooo, let’s go.” “Let’s go where?” she asked. Pointing, Miguel said, “That Mountain in the language here is called Py´li tau Gilead, ‘Gilead’s Portal’ in our old languages. There is a pass there between the tree-line and the snow-line. On the far side of the pass is Eh Koiláda tes Gilead, ‘The Vale of Gilead.’ Many have come from ‘farther-in’ to greet you, but we’re all gathered there now. I thought I was going to have to arm wrestle your Mom and Dad or your brothers and sister….to be the messenger, you know. But they all thought I should be first for some reason, the first to say ‘Welcome.’ Maybe because I never could say it before… But for whatever reason, let’s go see them. We can be there inside of an hour.”
“But that has to be 50 kilometers just to the foot of the mountain!” “Yes,… about that… But you’ll be surprised at the distance you can cover now. Felix was right… Ya podemos correr con Dios!” Then, “as dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,” off they both went, higher up and further in.
In memory of Miguel Ángel Reyes Osorto
(31 October 2011 – 7 May 2022)
and in the hope of the resurrection.
In His Service,
Jefferson McKenney, M.D.
Miguelito came to Loma de Luz at @ 3 years of age with severe cerebral palsy and ongoing seizures. He was treated medically and became part of the family at Casa Santuario. He improved greatly over the first years there, but his seizures continued unabated, and this year his condition became terminal. He was not only loved and cared for by the adults but also the children in his circle of adopted family and friends. Among these were Abby, the youngest daughter of Chrysti and Rigo Andino, and Felix, one of our Casa Santuario family.
News and Needs:
Land Invasion–Honduras sadly has a dark history of land invasions by criminal enterprises. Now emboldened by a recently elected far-left administration, and by the increased price of African Oil Palm oil, this land grab industry has become a nationwide threat to all private property. We have seen half a dozen invasions in our region in the past couple of months. The nearest land invasion to Loma de Luz is of the palm grove immediately adjacent to our Children’s Home. It is private property with all property taxes paid and up to date. But they took it anyway. And the next very likely move of this band of brigands is to cross the road and take over the watershed containing vital water sources for the Hospital, Children’s Center, and School. While our neighbor is trying to fight this in the courts, and we are doing what we can to oppose this invasion, our options are somewhat limited since the property is not APAH property. Please do keep this in prayer, as prayer is the thing that can change this. Those of you on our email alert list have already been praying for this, as well as for other needs. Thank you, and please keep praying. If you’d like to be added to the email prayer alert list, email Sally Mahoney at [email protected].
El Camino School—Please pray for favor with the government towards our bilingual school and all associated approvals and licensure paperwork.
Human Resources–In the last newsletter, we let the need be known that we were looking for just the right Human Resources Manager, and that is just who the Lord sent us, Jody Siegrist. Jody brings considerable skills, years of experience, and a profound faith to this important job.
Assistant Administrator–We are now looking for an Assistant Administrator of the Cornerstone Foundation, USA to be trained by our most faithful and capable Kathleen Jones, as she prepares to step back somewhat.
Additional Missionaries Needed–We also really need
- another Elementary Ed Missionary Teacher,
- a Junior High Missionary Teacher, and
- an Administrative / Business Oriented Missionary.
As the Cornerstone Foundation celebrates its birth and growth, I thought I’d close with some “then and now” pictures. Thank you for all your faithfulness over these years. And we credit our Father with all of the good and all of the miraculous things He has brought to pass. He has indeed been at work here.
–Sally for Cornerstone