I am a hungry child actor who plays a beggar at a small Honduran airport. And last night, I asked God to give me a disability.
My name is Humberto and I am nine years old. My drunken father is Luis and my mother with the fat belly is Maria. She prays her Christmas surprise will be a sister for my handicapped brother Ernesto and me.
I am small for my age but very smart for my years, according to the nuns. After I take my weekly bath and dress in my church clothes, I appear very strong and handsome. Not like a beggar.
Ernesto is my hero. My brother was born with a deformed leg but he now has a plastic one after American doctors cut off the bad part and attached the fake leg at his knee. He canít run fast like me but he no longer has to hop around just on his good leg.
The American missionaries discovered me at the airport a couple years ago, crying and begging for dimes. Sister Sally was moved to tears by my dirty face, my tattered clothes, and my hungry plea.
I truly was hungry that hot afternoon. To make my pitiful pleas realistic, my father only let me eat crackers and sugar from packets that my mother slipped into her pockets as she cleaned tables at the hotel restaurant.
Sister Sally heard my cries and gave me a dollar bill, the first I ever earned as a beggar. She told me Jesus loved the little children of the world. Then she and the priest spotted Ernesto with his bad leg and outstretched hand.
To make a long story short, Sister Sally and Father Ron were American missionaries who had come to Honduras to locate children with medical needs. They convinced my mother that Ernesto would receive top medical care in America and would walk much better. My father consented after the priest slipped him an American $100 bill.
After Ernesto left, my father took me out of school and increased my begging duties. Not only did I have to plea for money at the airport during the day, my father forced me to beg outside the hotel at nights when there was a fancy event, and worst of all, I had to wear real smelly clothes and sit begging for pennies outside the cathedral on Sunday mornings.
I couldnít understand why I was born to poor parents in a poor country while God allowed other kids to be born in wealthy America. It just didnít seem fair.
Ernesto wrote beautiful letters telling us he didnít have to beg anymore. He was afraid to get his bad leg cut off but everything was okay. He had all the food he wanted to eat, new clothes to wear, and he slept in a bed with fluffy pillows instead of on the floor.
The home where he lived was warm when it was cold outside and when it was hot outdoors, it was cool inside. There were soccer games to go to and many places to visit. The coolest of all was Disney World.
Disney World! I had seen pictures of the cartoon characters and the rides in the old Hollywood magazines that my mother brought home from the hotel lobby. Oh, to be a child in America!
My name is Humberto and that is why last night I prayed to God to give me a disability so the missionaries would take me to America. I could become a child actor there but not as a beggar.
God does answer prayers, doesnít he?
Itís been 34 years and I am now a pediatrician in Honduras. I actively seek out children with disabilities who need special care and I run a free clinic for the poor.
After my father was killed in a drunken brawl, my mother allowed me to return to school. Father Ron, at Ernestoís pleading, helped me gain a scholarship to medical school in America.
I returned to Honduras after my residency. So did Ernesto who is a successful businessman and our baby sister Karla is a nurse at the free clinic. Our mother lives in a comfortable apartment and babysits all her grandchildren.
My name is Humberto and I am no longer a child actor but a physician in Honduras.
God answers prayers in strange ways, doesnít he?
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