I was sitting in front of my house in Iquitos when a motorcar flew past me. It screeched to a halt in front of a neighbor’s house. I was about to turn my attention back to the street in front of me when a scream pierced the air.
I looked to my right to where the noise came from. Climbing out of a motorcar was seventeen year old Priscilla Ramiriz. A brand new baby cradled in her arms.
(I’ve known Priscilla since she was just twelve years old. A petite child with a pageboy haircut and a shy smile, she’d always been an obedient girl who was in the top ten percent of her classes. The day after her sixteenth birthday, though, she met a twenty year old guy who convinced her to run off with him to Lima.)
The scream didn’t come from the young mother.
It came from Priscilla’s mother streaking from her house toward her. Her stubby arms open wide in greeting. A look of sheer pleasure plastered on her brown face.
Senora Luci, the middle-aged woman who operates my house for abandoned children here in Iquitos, stuck her head out of the doorway. “What’s the commotion about, Senor Leo?”
I pointed up the street to where Senora Ramiriz was hugging her youngest daughter and the grandbaby. “Looks like Senora Ramiriz’s runaway daughter has come back home.”
Senora Luci came out and hurried up the sidewalk. She stood by, along with about a dozen or so other neighborhood women, all smiling as they took in the celebration of the return of the Prodigal Daughter.
As I observed this joyous event, my thoughts flew back to the day when my older brother, Bob, left home when I was about twelve years ago.
I don’t recall exactly why Bob had left home.
Or where he had gone.
Bob was an adventurous guy back then. Always wanted to experience what was on the other side of the horizon. So his motive for leaving could have been anything. Anyway, when he returned home after a three day journey, our whole family rejoiced.
Senor Luci heading toward me interrupted my reverie. A wide smile on her face, she said, “Great news, Senor Leo. Don’t you think so?”
I returned the smile. “Absolutely.”
You know, dear reader, God feels the same way about His children when we stray from His teachings. And I’m glad He does.