Tomas, a Romani youth from Vazec, asked if I would like to come to his graduation from school. I was honored by the invitation and immediately said yes. Even though we had a team in town on that day, I knew it should not take more than a couple of hours. Turns out, Tomas’s invitation was not to his graduation. He wanted me to accompany him when he took his entrance exam for vocational school. I was glad I went.
When I was in high school preparing for college, I really didn’t know what to expect. No one else in the family who were close had attended college. My pastor, John Hagan, offered to take me to visit his alma mater to see if it would be a good fit for me. I remember how nervous I was as I went from office to office meeting admissions and financial aid counsellors, taking a walk around a beautiful campus, having lunch in the cafeteria and wondering how in the world I was ever going to attend such a place.
I suspect Tomas had the same experience as we pulled up to the vocational school. We rang the door to be let in and waited for the door to open. We stepped in and were greeted by a pleasant but abrupt secretary. She looked at Tomas’s paper and told him to come in. She told me I could wait outside. Tomas smiled widely as I nodded at him and walked out. While waiting, I chatted with a long-time friend who was also at the school to help a young person his ministry works with. He had much more experience with this than I did. I learned a lot while I waited about what to expect.
The door opened and a short, broad young man walked out. It was obvious that his time working out broadened out his upper body such that he almost was as wide as he was tall. But wider still was his grin. His mother left her seat and quickly went up to him, “Well?” she asked. “They accepted me.” he boasted. Hugs. Smiles. Hope.
When Tomas finally exited the building, he looked no different than he always does. He is quiet, always smiling. A gentle, calm young man. His brother and friend who were with us asked what we were all wondering, “Did you get accepted?” “Well . . . what do you expect?” He smiled. He was accepted and will begin in the fall.
When my pastor John took me back home, I remember him telling me about his experience at college. He played tennis. Which dorm he lived in. The names of some of his professors. It was a different world than I had ever known. I was, and am, thankful for someone who could journey with me through that experience.
I was, and am, thankful that I was there for Tomas as he experienced the opening of doors to a different future. Pray for Tomas as he begins school. He will study to be a health assistant. He’ll be a good one.