Pat wrote this one. (Thanks Pat !)
A few weeks ago I went with Dick, Fernando and Brian to visit Tecpan where Bethel ministries sponsors a number of widows who all live together in a small aldea. Fernando and Brian had a school project in which they were to do an activity to benefit others, and Fernando wanted to provide a party for the children in the aldea.
To make it a bit more manageable, Dick suggested that they work with the teacher who tutors the children who have sponsors from Bethel. There are dozens of children in this aldea, and it seems each time we go, we find more and more as they get to know who we are. Handling all of these kids would be too much for one group to manage. So we went up to meet with the teacher.
Almost as soon as we got there, the rain began pouring down. The teacher was on her way, but we had no idea when she would arrive. We decided to take the time to visit some of the families.
Maria is a young widow with four children who brought us to the in about 2007 when her husband was killed when he was hit by a truck while crossing the highway. Bethel wanted to help out this single mother and began providing food for the family and eventually built them a house. Maria has become a good friend over the years, and has done weaving for me and for friends who I have taken to meet her. She is quite skilled.
This is a guipil (a traditional Mayan blouse) which Maria is currently making for me. It takes her about 6 weeks to make, and she sells them for about 800 quetzales (a bit more than $100).While I don't necessarily need another blouse, I realize this is her only income, and am happy to help her.
Our next stop was to visit Samuel and his family. Dick met Samuel a number of years ago when Dick discovered he was not attending school, but working in the fields to help support his family. His mother, too, is a widow. Dick helped him find a sponsor, and he went to school for a few years. Now Samuel, about age 12, is once again out of school and along with his younger sister working in the fields to bring home what little money they make, and making it possible for their younger brothers to go to school.
The kids in this family always seem to need shoes. . .and this is not an exaggeration. Often they have nothing more than rubber boots to wear, and many of these have seen better days.
It seemed incredible how many of us fit into the small overhang outside of Maria's house as we waited for the teacher. This is when Fernando truly began to shine. Kids have always been drawn to him, and as he has gotten older, he continues to use this gift. When they became tired of just visting with him, he spontaneously organized some games with the older kids while Dick entertained many of the younger ones with his slight of hand.
The girls wanted their turns trying to push each other out of the circle.
And Dick managed to find someone evenly matched in strength to go up against.
Finally the teacher arrived, after traveling in a chicken bus and then walking down the long lane from the road to the house in the pouring rain. This is dedication!
Fernando did all the discussion and planning with the teacher for a party to be held the following Saturday. He really impressed both Dick and me with his "professionalism" and competence doing this. He is no longer the little boy I first met when we traveled to Huehuetenango many years ago. He has grown into a young man who cares deeply about his people and has developed the skills to help them.
While this may be expected of a young man who is about to turn 17, it is more remarkable when you know a bit about his living situation. His mother left for the US when he was three years old, leaving him with family members. Last year, Fernando lived with us in Antigua, but found it difficult to adjust to the differences between here and his home in Chimaltenango, and struggled all year to keep up in school, passing Segundo Basico (eighth grade) by the skin of his teeth. He decided to go back to school in Chimal this year, and, while living in his grandmother's house, basically is on his own. His mother no longer sends him money, saying he is old enough to work now. An aunt gives him food, but he receives little else in terms of love, affection or supervision, except from Dick. Both Dick and I had great concerns that he would flunk out this year left on his own.
I have never been so happy to be wrong! He passed all his classes first quarter, and only has one nearly failing grade this quarter, which he is determined to improve. He is getting his work done on time, and is often at Dick's house just to visit. He doesn't get into Antigua much, but when he does it is a joy to visit with him. Nothing makes us prouder than watching him work with the families in Tecpan, or translate in the villages for Dick. He has become a fine young man, who frequently is moved to pray with those he is talking with as they freely share their problems and concerns with him.
Please keep Fernando in your prayers. Rumor has it that his mom is encouraging him to come to the US in a way that is less than legal. He says he's going to finish school first, but, we all know a ninth grade education doesn't get you very far in the US, and I'm sure he would be immediately put to work if he got there. I know we can't control his decisions, but he has so much potential, and would actually have more opportunities here than he would living with a mother he hasn't seen in 14 years. I trust God wants the best for him, and I pray he listens for His voice.
To find out how the rest of our guys (yep, sorry Dick, they're no longer just yours!) are doing, you can click here
to read Dick's journal about their current activities. Yep, he even wrote it himself!
Glad to share them Pat. I thought about sending you half of this months grocery bill but then I remembered how often we drop in at your house for something to eat. Thanks for writing this Journal.
I also want to thank those of you who helped out with getting the family that I talked about in my last journal entry back on to their feet after loosing 2 of their children, having 2 more seriously injured and loosing their home and all but the close that they were wearing. So far we have $1750 to help get them back on their feet. If any of you still wish to help out please contact me at email@example.com
<>< Yours in Christ: Dick ><>