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El Rosario and La Cocina

Twelve days ago I met Adelina.  Her name was given to me as the contact person when I visited the village of El Rosario.  Five ladies who were friends of Adelina had walked 2 ½ hours to talk to missionaries in the neighboring village of Cerro Alto.  “Is there a missionary who can help us?”  Adelina had not actually made the trip but when the ladies were asked for a phone number of someone to call when and if a missionary could visit, Adelina was the only person they could think of, who had a phone.  And so, the day had come and I was that missionary.  I spent the day with Adelina who had a baby slung over her back and two young children following closely.

First, we visted “la esquela”.  An esquela is a public school which generally does not provide a great education. The public schools here have helped me realize how amazing our schools are in the United States.  I know, I know, they’e not perfect.  Not nearly.  But trust me, it’s not so bad.

I met Senior Rosales, the principal.  He had a table full of files about the kids and their families and described their incredible hardships.  I could tell this man cared deeply for his school.  He really cares about the children of El Rosario.  I visited classrooms of 25-35 students, pre-school through 6th grade.  The kids were packed into classrooms, all reciting their lessons in unison.  School at El Rosario is from 8am – 12:30pm.  Too many kids.  Not enough teachers.  Not enough time at school to give these kids much of a chance. 

Senior Rosales gave me a tour of the school grounds and showed us “La cocina”, the school kitchen.  It is four, 5 ft. walls of scrap tin with a fire pit in the corner.  That’s it.  He said he has been collecting the blocks and tin for a new kitchen and they are being stored in the (already too small) classrooms until they save enough money to actually build it.  He proudly showed me the needed material.  I don’t know how long it has taken him to collect it all, but it’s my guess that he has purchased it a little at a time.  Adding to his collection like a boy collecting baseball cards.  It’s probably taken years.

So, what would it cost to build a new cocina?  An actual structure of concrete block and a tin roof?   A friend of mine from Guatemala guessed $2,000 U.S. dollars.  That would include a new sink and a new wood stove.  $2,000 is equal to 15,500 Quetzals, the currency here.  Honestly, it might as well be a 100,000 Quetzals.  That’s a HUGE number.  But Senior Rosales smiles as he proudly says “It will happen.”  One of the things I LOVE about El Rosario is that the village is made up of hard working people who aren’t looking for ‘free’ but rather ‘a little help’.

I left the school almost 2 weeks ago and I can’t seem to get El Rosario off my mind.  I can’t erase the vision of concrete blocks taking up precious space in the classrooms.  I can’t stop thinking about the smiles on the kid’s faces and the proud smile of the principal as he gave me a tour.  Please pray for this school and the students.  Please pray they accept me as a friend and a neighbor who loves them in the name of Jesus.  A new kitchen means the ability to cook in a healthy environment that will feed 175 kids every day.  Pray for God’s provision.
I’ll be visiting again next week.  I can’t wait to get to know the people of this village.  I look forward to forging a friendship with the Senior Rosales and the teachers at the school.  I can’t wait to play soccer with the kids at recess.  I’ll keep you updated.

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