An amazing young man who agreed to chauffeur and translate for us all week while we conducted interviews is as talented as any person I’ve ever met. When his church had no musician to play for services, this accomplished gentlemen named Christian volunteered. Never mind that he had no experience whatsoever playing piano; he taught himself to play. Currently he has been commissioned in a project to choose and transpose 600 hymns and a liturgy to become the official Lutheran worship book for Central and South America.
While he was young growing up during the civil war in the confines of the Mesa Grande refugee camp in Honduras, which he compares to “living in a concentration camp,” he taught himself to draw. His mother would give away his creative pieces to people who visited them. This self-developed artwork now provides him his main livelihood. An order of his 70,000 handmade and hand-painted crosses is at this moment on its way to Finland, where he once lived and worked.
Yet his artistry is only part of Christian’s life. He also attends the local university and takes theology courses.
Unlike many laid-back south-of-the-border people, Christian is all about punctuality and grows upset with those who are not. “It’s supposed to begin at 10 A.M.,” he grumbles, “but sometimes it’s 10:30 or 10:45 or even 11:00 ’til things begin!” he tells us of a local event. He is so busy that every moment is precious to him. So when I inquire if he has any artwork available for purchase, he checks the time, “We have 20 minutes ’til our next interview, and I live five minutes away. Do you want to come to my house and see what I have?” he asks.
Off we go and begin rooting through the several cardboard boxes he pulls out from this room and that room forcing buying decisions that now need to be made in 15 minutes. I have already spied an unusual large cross which speaks to me hanging directly over his workbench. It is in a color scheme different from his typical pieces. “Christian, do you have any other crosses like that one?” I ask. “No, but if you want it, I can make myself another one,” he responds.
And I buy the one-of-a-kind cross off the wall of the artist who, though frazzled and determined to remain on schedule, takes time to sign the back of it for me.