Friday, September 3, 2010

Domingo Dabela

I was 18 years old; naive, a bit of a whippersnapper and a-lotta-bit of an idealistic. But I had an experience with Domingo de Jesus Dabela that I will undoubtedly remember until the day I see him again. It was nearing the end of my high school experience when a friend of mine invited me to go to Nicaragua in the upcoming summer. Well, why not? I thought. Sounds like a good idea to me.

I remember we were out in a particular dirty section of some random town of which I will never remember the name. The trees seem to sag a little lower, the dust seem to lie a little thicker. The simple houses, many with dirt floors, were spaced together along the rough streets in that Latin-American fashion. The air was thick and humid and the sun glazed our foreheads with perspiration. For a time, I was alone enjoying a cold soda and I looked across the way to see an old man walk out from a side street. He walked slowly, spotted a large rock on the side of the road and sat down.

I've always had a fascination and respect for old people. Maybe because of the stories. I love stories. When I see a head full of gray hair or old hands I think of how many stories they must have in those callouses, how many stories are wrapped in the years they've seen. Their faces seem a little wiser and their eyes a little deeper. Like maybe the more things they see the deeper their eyes become, filling with time and memories and the space of things lost and things won, stretching all the way back through the recesses of their mind. I saw this man and I just really wanted to meet him, talk with him.

I went and sat down beside the man. His darkened skin from the years of sun was set around dark eyes, his hair gray, his shoulders were sure and extended into weathered hands. He spoke slowly and he had a kind disposition. This was my first trip to Latin-America but I've always had a knack for languages and somehow I had picked up a decent amount of Spanish in my little time there that I was actually able to have a fairly cogent conversation. The depth of conversation that proceded however was nothing short of a miracle. With my English to Spanish book in hand, the conversation took its turn and I began telling him about the Lord and asking him questions, (most of which were simple yes or no questions). Slowly, the conversation began to build and gather momentum and I could see light and hope were filling his dark eyes.

The next thing I knew the man was bowing his head and asking the Lord to take over his life. Later the man found a translator so that he could speak to me more in depth. Through the bilingual woman, he told me how he used to have a wife and family and threw it all away to alcoholism. His brokenness was obvious but his countenance was soft and open. Then, with tears in his eyes he told me he would never forget my name because I led him to salvation and that one day he would see me again in heaven. My eyes filled with tears and I became weak and almost fell over in the street. We parted ways and of course I've never seen or heard from him again. It was all a bit surreal... the kind of salvation experience you read about in the scriptures. I haven't raised the dead, I haven't seen blind eyes opened or limbs grown back -- not yet (and I'm sure I will), but I did watch a man step from death to life as sure as anything I'd ever seen before. And I know, beyond a doubt, that I will one day see Domingo de Jesus Dabela again. In heaven. Just like he said. And he will remember me and I will remember him.


  1. chills. some people live their whole lives without this kind of experience. sad because it's what we're here for. thanks for sharing, glench.

  2. As I said... this is a fantastic piece of writing. Enjoyed it immensely.