"Nando Is Home"

I am going to deviate from my regular Bible character study today. This is an excerpt from a missionary book that I'm in the process of writing. Fernando Angeles grew up speaking Tenek. He now is working on translating the Bible into his native language. Check out Patterings for more missionary stories.


“Nando is home!”

“Hey, Nando, you are taller than I am now!”

It was so good to be home. Fernando looked around his home. It seemed much smaller than he remembered. Ach, his grandmother, seemed so much thinner and older. Her eyes watered as she gave him a toothless grin and patted the bench next to her for him to sit down. “You were a good boy, yes? Did you learn many things?”

”Yes, Ach. I can read books now.”

“You are a smart boy.”

Pablo wanted to show him the new baby ‘borrego’, or sheep. Mim brought him a glass of water and his sisters smiled happily as they fried the tortillas for supper. Tata’s big frame darkened the doorway. He looked hard at Fernando and placed his big hand on his shoulder. Fernando was happy to be home.

After supper, Tata stood up and stretched his arms. “It is time to have a party!”


Word spread quickly through the village. Fiddles were polished and tuned. Clothes were washed and mended. Girls combed and braided ribbons in their long hair. Boys jostled each other with teasings and dares. A pig was caught and prepared for the feast. Even the bees and butterflies fluttering about seemed to be getting ready for the festivities.

As the sun set, the fiery reds and oranges in the sky were replaced by the bright reds, oranges, yellows, and greens of the swishing skirts and blouses. Drums, guitars, and fiddles filled the air with music. Tables creaked under piles of mangoes, pineapples, and papayas. The fires popped and sizzled as the fat from the roasting pig dripped into the dancing flames.

“Nando? You have finished high school. That is good. You are very smart now. You can read, yes?” Tio Lucio, Fernando’s uncle staggered up to him, a bottle in his hand. “I have a present for you…a book for you to read.”

Fernando looked at the tattered, coverless collection of pages. “What kind of book is it?”

“It is a good book, a book for a Catholic priest.”

“But you haven’t read it, no?”

“No, I can’t read, but you can. You take it. It is a good book.”

Fernando tucked it in his shirt to look at later. His uncle slapped his shoulder and handed him the bottle. Fernando laughed and took a swig. It was a night to celebrate. He was home with his family.

The next morning, Fernando looked at the tattered book his uncle had given him. “Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise…” Fernando read on and on. He read of Jesus healing the sick, walking in the water, raising the dead. These were stories that he had heard from his childhood from the nuns and his teachers, but it was so much better to read the stories with words. Some words were hard, names that did not sound like anyone who lived in Mexico, but he hungered to learn more…hungered with an empty heart.

“Angel, listen to this: ‘“and some will say “Lord, Lord” and He will say, ‘Depart from me I never knew you.”. Does it mean that God will turn some people away from heaven, people that pray and do miracles? Does it mean that doing good things is not enough? There must be some other way to please God.’

“Nando, you are acting like a crazy man. You are talking like a Protestant. My tata will put a curse on you.”

“But Angel, this is a book about God and Jesus and Heaven. It is good!”

“Nando, come. Leave that book alone. It will only bring you trouble.”

But Fernando couldn’t leave it alone. He put it under his mattress and joined Angel fishing, hunting, working in the sugar cane fields… but again and again the words of the book echoed in his mind.

“Depart from me; I never knew you.”

“Angel, I’m afraid of God. Do you feel that your heart is dirty with sin? I want to know more about Jesus. I want to know how to get to heaven.”

Fernando could not think of anything else. His family just shook their heads and hoped he would forget about this crazy thinking. Angel was the only one who would listen to his ranting about wanting God to let him into heaven.

“Nando, I have another book of God for you. It’s really belonged to our friend, Ramon, but he was afraid to read the Protestant book. Here, take it. If my tata knew I touched it, he would beat me and put a curse on me.” Angel glanced about and handed Nando a small blue book with gold writing on the leather cover and an emblem of a clay pot.

“Gi..Gide…Gideon. Who is Gideon?”

“I don’t know. Maybe that is the name of the man who was giving them to everyone in the village of Tanquian.”

Fernando wanted to be alone. It was difficult to think with all the noise of the chickens, and donkeys and children yelling and people talking in the village. He knew just the place to be alone. It had been a long time since he climbed the chiromoya tree. From his perch in the leafy branches, he could see down the mountain onto the thatched roofs of his village. He pulled the book out of his shirt and opened the thin pages.

It was very much like his tattered Catholic Bible, but as he read the words, it seemed that God was talking right to him. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

He read on and on. It was different than anything the nuns ever taught him, different from anything he heard at school. The book told him that he was a sinner. He knew that; he felt the heaviness of all the times he lied and cheated and made his mother cry and his father angry. This book did not say he must chant prayers or go to the priest to have his sin taken away. This book said that there was nothing he could do by himself to get to heaven. Only Jesus could save him.

“Jesus, I know You are the Son of God. I have read your book. I want you to take away my sins. I want you to take me to heaven. I cannot be good enough. Only you can save me.”

He felt satisfied; he felt filled; he felt free! He felt like flying from tree like he did as a boy. He must tell everyone what this book says. What would the priest say? What would Tata and Mim and Auk say?


Anonymous said...

Glad I was able to meet Nando. Great testimony.

Laury said...

Can't wait to read your book!

Patty Wysong said...

I like Nando! Great detail, and a great way to tell his story!

Thanks for helping me celebrate, Vonnie!!


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