We walked from house to house, asking to enter each little yard, and were welcomed warmly. We listened to stories, we hugged, we cried, we got into a circle, we shared the Gospel of John, we prayed. We ended each visit with an invitation to attend a special Friday evening worship service (our last evening in the community). Women and children joined us along the way, so the prayer circles grew larger and smaller, depending on who had to go to work or school or whatever...
On one of our last home visits, we met Antonio.
Our sister church community is built upon a hill, with the church sitting right in the center, on the hilltop. Down at the bottom, on the far side of the hill, sits the small house of Don Antonio. Our little team stopped at the wire gate, and asked permission to enter. Don Antonio, an older man with a great smile, graciously welcomed us into his tiny front yard. He was seated on a simple wooden bench, wearing a white baseball cap.
We gathered in a circle in the shade. Don Antonio said he was doing pretty well. He spent his days in the yard; it was hard for him to get around. One of his legs was missing. Part of his remaining foot was missing. Some of his fingers were missing. Don Antonio had diabetes. We held hands with Don Antonio, and we prayed. We hugged. His hug was as strong as his faith. I remember the feel of his whiskers up against my cheek. We invited him to the special worship service. He wasn't sure if he could make it.
In the midst of the chaos of wet people squeezing into the small church, a quiet entrance caught our attention. The crowd parted a bit to make way for four young men who were carrying Don Antonio. The youth gently set Antonio down next to his wife. When we went over to say hello, Antonio’s wife whispered, “This is the first time in a very long time that we have been able to go to church together.
We were blessed to be with Antonio several times after this initial visit. Shortly after our first visit, Antonio was able to get a wheelchair, which made it possible for him to accompany his wife and children. Antonio now rests in the arms of the Lord.