If all of us can only understand what compassion and grace truly mean,
this world might be a better place.
~Pastor Dan Montenegro
There is a person I have dreamed of seeing again. I imagine our Tope, ten years older, as a young man, going back to where he was raised the first five years of his life. The walls of his orphanage would take shape and memories would form for Tope, memories that he would both share and keep to himself. We would share our memories too. Memories of when the gate opened and we first saw his face. Memories of the children that surrounded us, watching as he met his Mom & Dad for the first time. Memories of the caretakers that had spent so much time and love on our little boy. And then we would not just see the building, the new children living here, the memories of past and present, but we would see Pastor Dan standing there, standing proud and grinning as he would hold out his arms to embrace our son.
He is kind, gentle, humble.
He is a servant of God.
He is a protector of the weak and of the orphan.
He is everything I prayed for when praying for my son, thousands of miles away.
The first man to truly shape my son's life.
Pastor Dan, as the manager of the orphanage, loved every single child in there with all his heart and mind. Every child was his own. He loved them, cared for them, and then made sure each went home to the family they deserved. Pastor Dan was instrumental in picking every family, and he did so with the utmost care, as he only ever wanted what was best for his precious kids. Not only was he so giving to the kids he oversaw at the orphanage, but he and his wife also started a ministry that would weekly feed children that came from the streets. He put food in their hands and gave them hope.
He lived and breathed the message of being God's hands and feet.
And he loved my son with a fierceness that shaped my son into the beautiful soul that he is. Pastor Dan - oh how I wish I could thank you tenfold for that love.
You left us much too soon Pastor Dan. Why illness took you away from us so soon, I will never understand. We were so excited to see you again someday, but know deep in our hearts, that our time will come to see you again, someday, in the midst of Our Maker. You were such a humble man, I don't even know if you understood the magnitude of the imprint you made on everyone around you. Tope talks of you often, and I don't think that will end any time soon. You are the one he remembers. Of all the stories we hear, you are a part of them all. He loves you and misses you. We love you, and wish we could have thanked you even more for all that you gave our little boy.
Thank you Pastor Dan.
Rest in peace.
The Schack Family