Exploding landmines have claimed the lives or maimed more than one million men, women and children.
Francisco Montoya stopped reading and rubbed his weary eyes. The 36 year old was disturbed, yet still hauntingly motivated by the girl who visited the night before. What he just learned from the internet caused him to reflect on Anzhela.
She had sat on his sofa. She was no more than 17 years old. Her hazel eyes were tender, gentle. Her pale complexion contrasted with dark brown hair. She wore a simple white cotton dress.
“I can‘t find my shoes.” She spoke softly with a foreign accent.
Francisco did not respond. He had been lying prostrate on the floor in prayer. He propped himself up on his elbows, his bushy eyebrows furled.
The teen rolled her eyes.
“How silly of me. No wonder you’re not answering. My name’s Anzhela.” She tried to smile, mouth trembling.
A response formed on Francisco’s lips but evaporated silent.
Anzhela scrunched up her face in thought and reached for the hem of her dress.
“That’s so weird,” she said, shaking her head back and forth as she looked down to the floor.
“My foot still itches, and it’s not there.”
Francisco shifted his shocked gaze to the floor and back up to the sofa cushions where the hem of her dress lay.
Anzhela lifted her dress up some to expose red stained bandages wrapped around both knees. The lower portions of her legs were missing.
Francisco gasped, still no words to speak. He ran his fingers through his thick black hair.
She looks and sounds real.
Anzhela gazed around Francisco’s living room. She fixed her eyes on a portrait of Jesus.
“So you’re a believer?” the teen asked, her voice relaxing.
“Yes, yes I am,” Francisco stammered, finally speaking.
“Is your accent Spanish?”
“I’m a Mexican-American,” Francisco responded, deciding to go with whatever was happening.
There was an awkward silence as the two stared at each other. Francisco pinched himself. He wasn’t dreaming.
“Were you sleeping on the floor?” the visitor asked.
“No, I was praying.”
Francisco reached out for Anzhela‘s hand. They touched. She felt warm, alive, human.
“What were you praying about?” Anzhela asked, pulling her hand back.
“My church and family.”
The teen’s eyes lit up.
“My family needs prayer too. Our church members are so on edge with each other. Especially since the accident.”
“Are you a Christian? Francisco meekly asked.
Anzhela almost laughed. “Oh yes, I attend the only Christian Church in Ternopil.”
Francisco looked confused.
“It’s in the Ukraine.”
Francisco nodded his head. “The accident, what happened?”
Anzhela spoke slowly.
“It was about a boy, a Muslim boy and a Christian girl. Both in love, but separated by parents’ and church leaders’ conflicting beliefs. The church was tense with much arguing over the issue. A powder keg. In the process the boy and girl were pushed aside as the adults debated. One night, the boy and girl decided to run away. While walking through a darkened field…”
Anzhela paused to wipe her eye.
“…the girl stepped on a landmine.”
“So you were that girl?”
The teen began crying. Francisco rose to get a tissue from another room. When he returned she was gone. All that remained was a bloody pair of tattered and torn white shoes on his sofa where she had been sitting.
Francisco read from his computer screen again.
There are currently still 26 million landmines hidden throughout the world.
Francisco’s cell phone rang, startling him from his thoughts.
It was a text message from his brother. More of his family would be arriving from Mexico. Francisco was both glad and troubled. He wanted his family with him, in a new land, with opportunity and freedom, but he also knew it would mean more strife in his church. There was already grumbling about all of the “illegal aliens” attending services.
Too bad the rest of the church couldn’t have met Anzhela. There are so many issues, spiritual landmines, that threaten a church’s fellowship. They have to be dealt with properly, but how?
He looked back at the shoes on his sofa. Curious, he decided to research the girl’s name.
Anzhela - Ukrainian for angel.
Tears formed in Francisco‘s eyes. He rose and walked toward the stained shoes.
Angels don’t bleed. Whose blood is that then? Whose blood was on Anzhela’s bandages?
The revelation forced Francisco back onto the floor. He began praying again.
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