I have one constant prayer that I start my day with, “Lord, please put the people in my path that you want me to see today. Open my eyes. Make it clear. Please don’t let them pass by.”
We’ve had a lot of growth in the last 4 years. With growth come challenges.
2020 will be our busiest year on campus. Beginning on January 30th, we’ll have almost 80 boys from the elementary school throughout the week. We’ll have 17 middle school boys from 8:30am-3:30pm, every day. And we’ll have 12 girls on scholarship who come for tutoring 4 days a week. BUSY.
For the last 3 years we’ve offered scholarships to kids who want to keep studying but don’t qualify for our school; mostly girls and older students who want to go back to middle school, some as old as 21.
We decided to pause that program for one year so we could focus on the interview process and figure out how to give opportunity to those who would take it seriously. We had 7 students fail out of the program last year. It was frustrating. Pausing for a year will also give me time to analyze and get better at everything else we do.
I’ve been transferring some of the administrative work to Adalis who’s been with me for more than SEVEN years. She’s my right hand, my left and sometimes my brain.
Adalis texted me recently, “There’s a girl from another village who’s here to see if we can help her with school, if we could offer her a scholarship.”
I have to admit, I was a little frustrated. “Adalis, we’re not giving scholarships this year. Ask them to come back next year to apply.”
“I told them, but they said they want to talk to you. Just for a minute.”
I don’t know what I was in the middle of but I was “busy”. And that makes me sad. Not my best missionary moment. “Tell them I’ll be out in 5 minutes.”
Esmeralda and her mother were sitting on a bench, waiting in the sun, both smiling.
I walked over and asked how I could help.
I learned that Esmeralda is 13 years old and lives in the small, nearby town, of Durazno. Her mother explained that her husband is a farmer and they can’t afford to send Esmeralda to middle school. “She’s smart. She just needs a chance. We heard you help girls go to school.”
With my guard mostly down, I explained “We’re not giving scholarships this year, but if you come back next year, I’ll put you at the top of the list. When you come back, just bring a copy of her report cards.”
Esmeralda finally spoke up, “I have my grades if you want to see them.” She immediately started digging through her bag.
When she stood up to hand them to me, there was an obvious hunch in her back.
I looked over her grades. She had report cards from kindergarten through 6th grade. Esmeralda is wicked smart. Her grades were proof.
Her obviously proud momma explained that Esmeralda didn’t just have the best grades in her class but for the last two years she’s had the best grades in the entire school. I was impressed.
As I looked over her report cards I asked, “Tell me about your back.”
Her mom told me about how Esmeralda was born with severe scoliosis and that she struggles to breathe. I later learned that Scoliosis decreases the chest wall and affects the lungs indirectly, which makes it hard to breathe. Esmeralda will require a back fusion or her left lung may collapse.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a more motivated, ambitious 13-year-old. She’s a fighter.
“Esmeralda, we’re going to give you the one and only scholarship to study this year. You won’t have to pay for anything. We’ll pay for tuition, books, school supplies, transportation, everything.”
We’ve awarded a few hundred scholarships over the years but most kids hide their excitement. They’re gracious. They smile. They thank us. But they hide their excitement. Esmeralda looked at her mom, and COULD NOT CONTAIN IT! They just hugged each other.
We’re working quickly to find a doctor who will provide an operation for Esmeralda. Today we registered her with Hermano Pedro, a hospital in nearby Antigua, where doctors from all over the world come to perform much needed surgeries, pro bono. It can be a long wait, as in years, so we’re also looking into the possibility of flying her to the United States on a medical visa.
Do you pray? This little miracle could use your prayers.
“Thank you for putting Esmeralda in my path today Lord. Thank you for opening my eyes and my heart. Thank you for not letting her pass by.” ❤️❤️❤️
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