My Photo
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Friday, August 04, 2006

Andrew and Bad Pizza

¨Hey man, you speak English?" I guess Erin doesn´t call me ¨Ol' Gringo" for nothing. My look must have given my origins away as I walked through the tourist district to pick up a pizza for our supper.

His name was Andrew. His hair was long and matted. He had the distinct look and smell of a street person--one with a fondness for alcohol. He immediately went into detail as to how he was hurting and needed help. He confessed to a number of failings, spoke the name of Jesus repeatedly and indicated he would be appreciative of anything I could do.

I told him I would be happy to buy him a piece of pizza and as we continued walking down the street together he went on with his story. His father was Ecuadorian and his mother was from California. His dad is the owner of one of the largest ranches and noted spots for tourists to get close to nature in the shadow of Cotopaxi, the largest snow-capped, active volcano in the world.

Seems his dad had thrown him out because of Andrew's drinking and language. He asked me to consider going to the ranch for a day or two to horseback ride, view the wildlife, and look for an opportunity to witness to his father, ¨who is a hard man and doesn't believe in God."

As the pizza was cooking (and I'm leaving out several interesting details along the way) we went across the street to an internet cafe and sure enough he pulled up the site of a beautiful dude ranch that caters to tourists. "There´s my dad!" and Andrew pointed at several pictures. It certainly appeared to be one awsome place.

Quickly Andrew pulled up another site, this one a Christian ministry. He had been involved with this group earlier in his life and they were trying to encourge him to pull his life back together even now.

Several times in our conversation Andrew had choked up a little as he looked at his father on the screen and as he talked about his faith. Now he looked at me and asked if I knew how to say "Holy Ghost" in Spanish.

"Espiritu Santo," I replied.

"No, not Spirit--Ghost..."

Before I had time to think much he revealed the answer. "Phan-tas-ma..." The sylabbles seemed to drip off his lips. And a gleam filled his eyes. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a feather. "The feather of a dove," he said and handed it to me.

We got our pizza and he nibbled on a piece as we walked back toward my hostal. Again he asked me to reach his father with the gospel. I had already promised him any leftover money from the pizza. I reached in my pocket and pulled out two dollars and handed it to him.

With a smile and a hug he thanked me and was off down the street. We both knew what he was planning on doing with the money. But before he left I encouraged him to let the Jesus he believed in help him escape from the alcohol and other problems that torment him right now.

Back at the hostal Laura and I enjoyed the pizza and the conversation in English and Spanish with our hosts. But later that night, after praying for Andrew before I went to sleep, Laura and I both woke up sick. Bad pizza?