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