Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Smile of Hope

Photo: All smiles for Christian as he is being fitted for a prosthetic limb.
Current Location: Santa Rosa, Honduras

His name is Christian David Flores--and to me, he's my angel.

Every now and then my camera takes me to places that take my breath away, digs deep into the depths of my soul and leaves me speechless. There are times when I thought I'd never see anything more beautiful, that the bounty before me is served on a silver platter, that God has given me more than I'd ever asked for. Through my lens, I've seen the Pyramids of Egypt, the jungles of Borneo and even the sprawling walls of China's greats--and at those very moments, I'd indulge in sacred beauty. Then, on the brink of salvation, when it becomes all too prevalent, he has a notion of reminding me how beauty is derived, how ultimately, it is not the destination that defines beauty, nor do mountains, rivers and water falls--but through light, he guides me, and somehow, I meet people who confirms his acclamation.

Christian is five years old. When asked what he wanted to become when he gets older, he looked up at me, gave the biggest smile I had ever seen, and in a sweet little voice, he said in Spanish: "I want to become a coffee drinker." We laughed, he jumped in joy with hands in the air, and within seconds, I saw in him something different--something I haven't seen in a long, long time. I saw hope.

Born with one leg, Christian is a symbol of beauty, of love, of humanity and the human spirit. With the help of a prosthesis, he runs when other his age can barely walk up-hill in his village. He jumps and climbs--and like all children, his laughter fills your heart with warmth. Asked what his favorite sport is, he replied, "soccer."

Challenging me to a game of one-on-one, in Spanish, he'd speak words I couldn't understand. All I did was nod and smile--which in return, he nodded and laughed. And so we'd play, kicking the ball back and forth--and when he pointed to his forehead, it meant he wanted to head-butt the ball. For a while, all my worries were gone--my aches and pains from constant travel had vanished, and like a child again, I laughed for no real reason--except at the fact that someone special was laughing with me.

Walking into his bedroom, a small Honduran soccer jersey hung over his bed. With walls made of mud, it was probably the most prized possession in his home. Looking down, I noticed a little teddy bear sitting by his pillow. "You still sleep with a teddy?" I jokingly asked. He nodded and smiled. Grabbing my hand, he showed me the prosthetic limb that he designed for his teddy bear. And just like his, he could put it on and take it off. "Mi amigo," he said. At that very moment, I merely cried.

That night, I went to bed in my hotel room realizing how lucky I am to have met him. I am forever thankful that there are people like little Christian David Flores in this world.


Adoption of Jane said...

Awww what a sweet boy... laughing so hard at "Coffee Drinker"!! Smart kid!

Lorna said...

You know, there is NOTHING like children to bring out the innocence and wonder we were all born with and often lose along the way. They help us remember again....and connect us back to the simple things--can we say coffee drinker? Doesn't get much better :)

Katherine said...

I have never traveled outside of my country Australia but it is my dream to do so someday! I would love to visit foreign shores & feast my eyes on all the beauty the world has to offer. Not just in it's scenery either but in the faces of it's people.
I have however had the pleasure of meeting many special people in my life. I have worked with the aged & infirmed for many years in the past. More recently I am working closely with people whom have various disabilities. What I have found is that they have become the best teachers in my life. They face sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges without complaint & they continue smile! I find it very humbling to be in their presence. They are truly Gods Angels!!

Dan said...

Fantastic shot, Ron, Equally fantastic post. Well done, my friend.

Zoe said...

What an absolutely beautiful and happy little boy. This story bought tears to my eyes. Your ability to capture the beauty in these moments always amazes me! Thank you for sharing :)