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Mission of Love by John Watkins

One of the first visits during our mission immersion in Esquipulas was to a school for children with special needs on the outskirts of the town called La Escuela de los Campiones (School of Champions.) As we entered the school, I felt a little awkward. It’s always humbling to walk into another person’s home or place of work but this was especially awkward because I was a foreigner who didn’t speak the local language very well. How would I be able to communicate to the children? How could I possible DO anything for them?

My guarded state was immediately challenged by a young boy, named Saul. Saul was a joyful, outgoing eight year old boy with down-syndrome. He made himself the official greeter to our group. No one entered the room with- out getting a big hug.

Despite my reserved state, Saul made sure that I met every one of his school friends and teachers, pulling me from one person to the next. Saul’s joy was contagious. Throughout the morning, I could see that Saul made it his business to connect with anyone from our group that was not otherwise engaged with someone else.

Reflecting back on my first encounter with Saul, I could see that he was my first instructor in what it really means to be a missionary. It is not about good programs or profound words. It is about being a person who unreservedly reaches out to oth- ers in love (especially those on the margin) as a beloved child of God. . . Thank you Saul

John Watkins 
Office for Life and Justice 
Diocese of Oakland