Walking to breakfast the next morning, to our surprise, we passed the same homeless gentleman. His eyes and smile showed that he remembered us. I only wished I had encouraged Danilee to draw the picture the night before. Gena later told me she prayed silently, "Oh, Lord, give us one more chance to give him that picture."
At the restaurant, the waitress brought my kids some crayons and paper. Danilee drew two beautiful angels overlooking her and this man walking side by side. And our son, Dakota, drew three crosses. The kids asked whether we could buy him breakfast -- which we did, even though we didn't know whether we would see this sojourner again. When we looked for him, there was no sign of him anywhere. We had only one more chance to meet him in the morning before we had to leave Santa Cruz.
After breakfast the next morning, Gena noticed two men walking at a distance around a corner near a covered bus stop. As we got closer, a familiar face came into view, and we all smiled. We told him that we'd been looking for him for two days. The kids told him about the breakfast that never made it to him the day before and that now we brought him some iced tea. Then they gave him the pictures they drew. He was obviously deeply touched.
What happened last still sends shivers up my spine. Without recognizing who I was, he stuck out his hand and respectfully introduced himself, "My name is Alan." His few words nearly took our breath away because Gena's father's name was also Alan, and he also had a very similar gentle and kind demeanor, but her father had passed away six months earlier and still is missed so dearly. Just before we walked away, Dakota handed him the iced tea we brought. After he sipped it, he exclaimed: "A-a-ah, sweet tea. I love sweet tea!" To which Gena softly replied, "So did my dad." I thought, "I don't think it's a coincidence today that Santa Cruz means 'Holy Cross' in Spanish."
God spoke to us that summer day. Heaven sent a big sign through what might seem like a relatively small encounter. And it can serve as a reminder to us all -- one that's also in the Good Book: "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."