Yesterday, at the end of bible class, Yoshua, a 5th grader asked if he could talk to me in private. Yoshua’s a really great kid. I know I say that a lot but he really is one of my favorites. He’s tall with hair that wants to be curly, he’s serious about his studies but you almost never see him without a smile.
Yoshua’s family is poor poor. Living in a tiny home made of tin type of poor. He and his brothers must have great parents because all four boys are respectful, get good grades and are happy.
Yoshua and his 3 brothers sleep on two mattresses on a dirt floor. Rainy season is here and they need a place to that’s dry. Dad has been building a house next door but it still needs a roof, floor, doors and windows. If you want to help them out, message me. We’re looking for 4 people who would like to donate $500 each to finish the house. For $2,000 we can finish the house and buy two new bunkbeds.
Yoshua had on his serious face. “My dad hasn’t had a job in a while and well, he just got a job.”
“The thing is, he needs some documents in order to start working and I was wondering if you could loan him the money and he can start paying you with his first paycheck.” He said it all in one breath. Very serious but also nervous.
He explained that he needs a health report and a police report. “How much do the documents cost?”
“150 Quetzales.” (That’s 3 days of work…or $20.)
“If your dad hasn’t been working, how are you eating? How can you buy food?” I’ve learned to be direct and get to the point.
“My mom goes to the market at the end of the day and asks people if they have extra food. Food they might not be able to sell.”
People ask us for loans regularly. Weekly. And it’s rare that we loan money. “Yoshua, I don’t have any money with me but tell your dad I’ll stop by tomorrow.”
He looked me straight in the eyes, stuck out his hand and said, “Thank you.” I could see his relief.
The next day I stopped by the market and bought 100lbs of corn, 10lbs of beans, vegetables, pasta, rice, soap to wash clothes…the basics. A months worth of food for about $75. I drove to Yoshua’s and talked with his dad.
“Yoshua told me you got a job. That’s great! Where will you be working?”
“I’ll be working at a hotel in Guatemala City as a waiter. I’ve worked in hotels for 20 years. The last hotel I worked at closed down. I haven’t had a job for 3 months.”
“The thing is, we don’t usually loan money. There are too many people,” I explained.
“I understand. Yoshua told me he wanted to help and asked me if he could talk to you.”
I told him, “Even though I can’t give you a loan I’d like to help you out with your paperwork. It’s not a loan. You don’t have to pay it back.”
And just like his son, he looked me straight in the eyes and stuck out his hand, “Gracias.”
“If it’s ok, I’d also like to help you get through the next month until you get your first paycheck. Can I give you some food to help you out a little?”
“Yes, you can.”
It felt like he didn’t really know what he was agreeing to. As we were walking to my truck, one of his sons, Jorge, was just getting home.
I wish I could explain it. There was this genuine love and kindness that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. Jorge reached up and his dad bent down so his son could kiss his cheek. Jorge followed us to the truck and helped carry the bags and boxes home. It took two trips.
Did you see yourself in that story? You were there. YOU helped build the academy where Yoshua and his brothers study. YOU helped pay for his father to get the needed documents to work and get back to supporting his family. YOU helped buy a month’s worth of food.
Here’s the thing. I don’t have a job that has an income. Vonda and I have exactly zero dollars to our name. That makes it easy to count but hard to take people to the doctor. It makes it hard to teach and feed 80 boys at the academy and it makes it hard to help people like Yoshua’s family in a tough situation.
So you and I have to work together…we’re in this together.
Every dollar you spend in our catalog will be doubled. IS IT JUST ME OR IS THAT A MIRACLE?! Every dollar you spend gets us that much closer to finishing this construction project. I could tell you story after story of the lives you’re saving, and no, I’m not being dramatic. I could tell you about single moms who have been living with their backs up against the wall for too long and because of you, they can finally breathe a little. I can tell you about grieving parents whose child died too young and all they need is someone who will listen and someone to cry with.
They need you. We need you.
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May you be covered in His dust,
Love, George and Vonda