23: Angelica

23: Angelica

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Touched by an Angel

Angelica

All God’s angels come to us disguised.

~James Russell Lowell

When my wife Anne and I were dating and working in Boston’s financial district, my older sister Elizabeth, a medical relief worker, invited us to join her and a man named Andy Ortega on a short-term service trip. The trip was hosted by the Mexican Medical Ministries — an organization that Andy served at the time. We were part of a volunteer team from the United States, made up of people from California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. Our role was to entertain the children of a remote village on Mexico’s Baja peninsula while a house was built for the village doctor.

At first, we were overwhelmed by the poor sanitary conditions and the impoverished lives in this migrant-farmer village. Some families lived with as many as ten children in one-room mud-brick huts. Yet as the days passed, we were touched by how rich they were in what we felt mattered most — faith, family, fun, and a sense of community — despite how poor they were in what perhaps mattered too much to us.

Having been so distressed and distracted by the conditions, Anne silently asked God to help her see these children how He sees them — beautiful and pure regardless of how filthy and disheveled they looked. Otherwise, she didn’t know how she would get through the week.

Just minutes after Anne’s silent prayer, a girl who was about four years old came running up to us, introducing herself in broken Spanish as “Angelica.” She grabbed Anne’s hand and begged her to sing to her and play with her. Anne, who is tone deaf, claims to this day that she can’t sing. Yet, how could she say no to this sweet little girl whose innocent love brought Anne immediate joy? So Anne sang, and played, and sang!

The two of them spent lots of time together that week. At the close of each day, when Anne would ask to walk Angelica home, Angelica would insist that she could walk herself home, following her brother. Anne would watch her follow that little boy into their house until the door shut behind them each night.

Sooner than we wished, the time came for us to say goodbye to our new friends. We could not wait to finally meet and thank Angelica’s parents and siblings for allowing her to spend so much time with us. We wanted them to know how special Angelica had become to us.

Yet that Friday, as we prepared to go back to the United States, Angelica was nowhere to be found. We called out her name repeatedly as we walked through the small village. Finally, we spotted the little boy who was Angelica’s brother. But when we asked him where his sister was, he simply responded in Spanish, “I do not have a sister, only brothers.” We then went to his house. The parents told us they not only did not have a daughter, but also knew of no girls in the entire village named Angelica. We checked with the village doctor. Sure enough, nobody by that name lived in the village.

Who was Angelica? We’ll never know, but that little community sure seemed to be blessed, so we have our suspicions!

~Jim Solomon

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