The Prodigal Son Has Returned
Leo has been very close to our family for some time now and I really wanted him to go to Mazatlan with us. Leo is one of the captains of our team and the guys look up to him because he is vulnerable and real about his imperfect past and hope in Jesus. Also, Leo interned in Mazatlan for two summers prior to this trip. I was excited for everyone to see the new Leo. Leo had a tough task of working to provide for himself, to pay for school, and to pay for some of his trip since he is out of the Hope Program now. As the days inched closer, Leo tried to find different ways to pay for the trip and my heart hurt that I could not just pay for him to go. He is like a son to us. But, we knew as a family that Leo needed to find a way and trust God. The day we were leaving Leo came to me and presented me the money for the trip. He worked extra, sold some stuff, and ultimately God provided for him to go.
Leo was so excited to be going back to Mazatlan, a place where he gave so much of himself and decided to truly follow after Christ. When we arrived at every children’s home we visited, nearly every child came running to see Leo. I could see how excited they were to have him back. They missed him and loved on him. One of the days we played a soccer game with the children at Salvation Army Children’s Home and the kids followed him around and went step for step with Leo. You could see that Leo was coming even more alive.
It was great to see Leo leading us in our Bible study every morning. Then, it was especially awesome to see Leo going back to the home he served at most and that was Rancho de los Niños. This is a home for children with severe special needs. Leo sat and talked to the children and joked around with them. He worked hard on our projects and guided little Carlitos as they cut the grass together. He brought such a sweet peace and love to this home.
My favorite part of the whole trip was our last day. We spent half the day at the beach, playing, surfing, and relaxing we then moved onto the all girls children’s home Floreser. Grant, the captain of the home, welcomed us in and asked us to share with the girls. We sat together and I asked Leo to share his testimony. I sat there on the table, watching and taking pictures. My heart swelled with pride and a deep love for Leo. I felt like a father, so proud of his son who has come a long way, fought through trials, and now I get to watch how God is using him to change his legacy and others through his story. You could see all the girls eyes fixed on Leo as he shared his struggles in the children’s homes, his struggles with his pain and how he tried to mask it, and then how amazing Jesus is. Seeing his eyes light up talking about his Daddy God was so special. But, the best part was seeing the girl’s eyes as they saw a man admit to his struggles, own them, but then give them to his Jesus was so powerful. I encouraged them to wait for a man like Leo, to be patient, and to keep their eyes and heart solely for God.
If you were to ask Leo, “Hey, could you have imagined that God would have changed your life like this and to use you like this?”. He probably would laugh and say, “No way man, no way, God is good.”
I thank God for this trip- for making a way for Leo to go back to one of his favorite places and continue to use him in new ways to bring hope.