Perhaps forlorn is the word that best describes the looks of Adada yesterday and Alvaro today. I’m not sure each communicated the exact same thing, but they seemed very similar, yet I may not be a good judge of looks, especially quick looks.

These were fleeting communications; they may have been furtive, though if so, unintentionally. They caught me by surprise in their hastily cast webs of sadness. No words were spoken, yet much was said. They were sad. I became sad.

Saying goodbye, eyes whispering just moments before in friendly conversation, suddenly cried out in quiet shrieks of hopelessness of the escaping prisoner caught seconds before reaching freedom; actions halted, plans of months and months, perhaps years, halted, as well.

There was no malice in their eyes, only deep, deep wells with surfaces no longer reflecting peace and joy. They had become oil wells pumping forth an oozing, thick, dark reality clogging any pores of hope and suffocating dreams.

Adada is a beautiful, bubbly young woman of 19, unafraid to use the English she, unlike her peers, worked so hard to improve. She’s completed one year of studies in business administration and spoke of her goals and ambitions. Yet as I prepared to leave the inspiring, mountain camp she and her friends were attending, and turned to say goodbye, the open windows into her soul pitifully permitted a quick glimpse of abandonment, the look a young woman wanting so much more than her culture could provide.

Alvaro, a well-built, fun-loving, compassionate, head-shaved guy of 20, took on the same look as I stretched out my hand to shake his, thanking him for his help that day, and saying goodbye. We’d spent a hot, humid day traveling together through barrios on the outskirts of Managua. He’d lived in the U. S. for two years, staying with relatives in San Diego, Chicago, and Houston. When his grandfather asked him to return he did so, and then responded to a Young Life leader’s call to live among and reach out to Managua’s gang members.

As I shared stories and photos from my website he was fascinated, even emotional, listening to and seeing photos of ministry stories from around the world. Alvaro had crossed one border and had experienced two very different cultures, yet it was obvious he wanted to see so much more. As I left, his eyes led me on a brief tour deep down into chambers of dreams, suddenly re-shuttered by the unlikeliness of being fulfilled.

What a joy to meet Adada and Alvaro. How painful to leave them so forlorn.