The auditorium at John Marshall High School was packed. The organizers had also set up television monitors in the hallway in case of a standing-room only crowd. I was surprised to see so many older faces in the audience; I was expecting a younger, stereotypical peace-activist-type crowd, but I should know better than that. I think almost everyone in this world wants peace, especially grandmothers and grandfathers for their grandchildren.
The program opened with a musical presentation by a traveling, performing choir whose primary purpose is to help raise funds for good causes like Mr. Mortensen's organization, the Central Asia Institute. Mr. Mortensen was greeted with heavy applause and a standing ovation as he took the stage.
I think of my own limited but awe-inspiring travel experiences to other parts of the world, and my time spent in classrooms right here in Minnesota with students in need. What would I have done if a young child had asked me that question? Would you please build us a school? Would I have said, yes, of course?! No. My heart is full of love and compassion, but I would have thought, I don't know anything about building schools. I would have said, I'll pray for you. And then I would have gone home and prayed for those children. I thought about Romario, the little boy we met in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, who opened our cab doors for us at Wal-Mart, at ten o'clock at night, when he should have been home, tucked in bed and ready for school the next day. I thought of the little girl who sold us trinkets at the restaurant in Bucerias when she should have been in school. Their eyes and their smiles are imprinted in my heart, and I still pray for them. I thought of the children in Tijuana, just Mitchell and Max's age, who wanted to sell us chicle. What if someone had made a promise to help them, and kept it?