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How good or fresh do you have to feel for you to say, “I feel as fresh as lettuce”? What rampant and overwhelming happiness do I feel inside for me to scream to the whole world, “I’m as fresh as lettuce?!” Well, I will be the first to say that lettuce is pretty good when it’s nice and fresh tucked in between the most scrumptious of God’s edible creations; but I don’t ever recall thinking that I might feel just as good as that head of lettuce that sleeps so succulently on my two all beef patties, no sauce, cheese, pickles, onions–sometimes–on a sesame seed bun. I’m a rosy ripe tomato or a bag of gummy bears on my best day…but I digress. So, when I meet Danny a.k.a. Azuka (a.k.a. Sugar) I was bit taken aback by his crispity, crunchity self. Danny was a hardcore ex-gang member that found a way out of self loathing, violence and murder, to find a life that was meant to be shared with others.
Danny is Mr. personality as he walks the streets with his signature cry “AZUKA!” and the people lucky to hear his call reply back with an enthusiastic “AZUKA!”. As I followed behind him capturing this moment I seriously felt that at any minute we were going to break into song–no one is that happy; I would have reminded myself of that If I had not been so convinced otherwise.
Here is a man who’s lived a harder life than I, yet I can’t seem to even fake a smile while in the drive thru at McDonald’s. Here’s a guy who truly loves God with all his heart, and I can’t find the time to talk to Him. Why is it when we have so much, we have so little? Should I have treated life so recklessly in order to receive all the more joy?
I am thankful for the opportunity to be here and experience the truly magical things that God can do in the life of one man who just said, “sure Lord, come on in”.
So, I might not yet be as “fresh as lettuce” but I know that my experience serves a purpose much greater that I can imagine.
Bengy del Villar
“Sugar” is in the red shirt.

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