Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I wonder what's happening.  This morning as I was returning home from dropping the boys off at school there was a new addition to the road - 2 armed military posted about every 100 meters.  Hmmmm.  Makes me kind of wonder.

But what I want to do in this post is introduce you to a family that is very special to me.  When we first arrived here last year Becca (Micah missionary) told me that one of the Micah Mom's was looking for work as a housekeeper and wanted to know if we would hire her.  While most people back in the states don't have a housekeeper, it is the opposite here.  Anyone middle class and above has one and with good reason.  It just takes so much longer to do anything here - washing clothes for instance, as they are dried on the line; cleaning the floors - a daily or twice daily job because of the amount of dust and dirt in the air; hand washing dishes; burning trash because there is no garbage service; mopping is done with a string mop and bucket; it all requires more time.

So we hired Deisy.  She is 43 years old and like many women here, a single mother of 6.  Daniel and Charlie are two of her oldest, both have been with Micah for several years now.  Another son, 23 year old Fernando, does our yardwork once a week.  Carlos and Samuel, the 2 youngest boys at 10 & 11 have become good friends with Brian James and Michael.  And 16 year old Nohelia, the only girl, is the daughter I never had.

Deisy receiving a certificate for her participation in "Grupo Mama Jo".
If you go to the page links for Daniel and Charlie you will read that they "grew up in an orphanage".  They actually lived in El Hogar, a boarding school that was originally started for orphans but also accepts children from severely impoverished homes.  Wanting her children to get a good education and have an opportunity to break out of poverty, Deisy applied for and was awarded scholarships for Daniel, Charlie, and Carlos to live and study at El Hogar.  I talked with Daniel awhile last night about what it was like to live there and he said it was hard.  Even though they understood the reasons behind it, that their mom was doing this so they could have a better future, it was difficult to be away from their home and family.  They were sad and homesick often, and knowing the reasons sometimes just didn't seem to make it matter. 

Carlos recently graduated from 6th grade at El Hogar.  Many times over the last year when he would come home for weekends, or be home for school holidays, I would see him and find him to be extremely sullen or angry.  One day I talked with him about what was going on and he said the same thing that Daniel told me last night, he just missed home.  Yes he understood why he was there but there was a part of him that just felt like it was because his mom didn't want him.  We adults have a hard time weighing out circumstances and coming to terms with things, how much harder is it for a little boy that just wants to be with his mom?  Carlos is now back home and planning to attend the same school Nohelia went to last year.

Samuel is the happy go lucky kid, always smiling and playing.  He has a head full of curly dark hair, a devilish smile, and eyes that twinkle when he talks. He loves to come over and play video games or jump on the trampoline.  And he loves sandwiches.  "Samuel, what do you want for breakfast?  A sandwich.  Samuel, what do you want for lunch?  A sandwich.  Samuel, do you want a snack before bed (when they sleep over)?  Yes, a sandwich"  I always try to have bread and ham on hand for Samuel. 

Brian James, Michael, Carlos, and Samuel on the trampoline.
Nohelia is a princess.  She is beautiful, but if you were ask her she would say "muy fea" - very ugly, and she incredibly smart making almost straight A's in school.  Last week we went to the mall - her first time - and she was scared because of how crowded it was and wanted to know why there were so many fat people in the food court.  That was priceless!  She always helps with the cooking and cleaning when she's here, she watches after her brothers when Deisy is at work, and she dreams of becoming a doctor.

Nohelia, center, with 2 classmates.

Deisy is my angel.  God truly blessed me by bringing her into my life.  Yes, she cleans my house and makes it possible for me to have time for ministry, but she is so much more than my housekeeper.  Because of Deisy I can carry on a somewhat decent conversation in Spanish.  Over the last year she has patiently spoken very slowly to me, or used sign language, or written it on the white board, or found some way to explain something to me.  She has laughed at me when I say things incorrectly, but then taken the time to teach me how to say it right.  Just today as I was struggling to find the right tense for "poner", she patiently listened and then told me what the right one was.  Three days a week I have someone in my home that I can practice Spanish with, without worrying about making a fool out of myself.  Sometimes I do, but we just laugh about it and I know she loves me anyway.

She helps me navigate life here - like when she taught me about gringo pricing.  No, I shouldn't be paying 2 lempiras for a banana or 1 lempira for a tortilla.  That's double the normal price.  Now I know the places to go that will charge me the Honduran price and save me a lot of money.  Every Monday and Friday she helps me do the cooking for the Discipleship and Nightstrike ministries.  Two women learn a lot about each other in the kitchen.  She is, more than anything, my friend.

Her life has not been easy.  Like many women here, she is now single raising many kids from several fathers.  For those living in poverty, men in Honduras don't stay around for long.  Unlike in the states, there isn't a lot of help here for single mothers and the poor.  That's why you see little kids at all the intersections trying to sell candy, or cell phone cases, or wanting to wash the window of your car for a lempira.  Mothers can't find work and they know that the little kids can pull on heart strings far more than they ever could.  If the family wants to eat, they do what they have to do.

A few years back Deisy and her family lived in a shack on the river in central Tegucigalpa.  She sold tortillas, or worked wherever she could find work.  At 8 years old Nohelia began taking care of her younger brothers while Deisy tried to get enough money to survive another day.  Sending her older boys to El Hogar was hard, but in addition to giving them a chance for a future, it was a matter of survival in that she had less mouths to feed. 

A teenage girl named Catherine from the St. Louis youth group met Deisy and her family a few years back and wanted to do something to help them.  Back in St. Louis they organized car washes and raised enough money ($5,000) to buy them a house in El Sitio.  No longer living in a wooden shack falling down around them, they now have a cinder block home.  It's small, about 500 square feet, one room with a curtain dividing the living area from the sleeping area.  Their bathroom is an outhouse, and they bathe with water from the pila.  Their life is incredibly hard from my perspective, but so much better than it was before.  Now they have a home.  The tech school built a steel security door and installed it in May.  She has a steady income, saying the $40 a week she makes working for us is the most anyone has ever paid her.

Samuel in front, and left to right Nohelia, Deisy, Catherine Klotz.
Standing at the door to their new house.

Deisy is thankful for all the help she and her family have received.  She cooks 3 of the 4 weekends each month at Micah, and has volunteered hundreds of hours at El Hogar, her way of giving back.  The entire family finds ways to show how appreciative they are, like making cards for us, or bringing me fresh tortillas from the tortilleria on their way here, little things they can do to say thank you.

Why am I writing all of this?  Because I love this family so very much.  One of the reasons I survived the first year here was Deisy, mi salva vida, mi angel.  My hope is to end the generational poverty for this family with Deisy's kids.  The only way to even have a chance at that is if they all can get a good education, a career.  Daniel has 1 year left at Zamorano University, and Charlie is studying orthodontics at a local university.  They are both on the road.  But that leaves 4 more**.

Through the contacts of Simon Kafie, we have submitted Nohelia as a candidate for the United World College program.  If she is accepted she will have the opportunity to move to Costa Rica in August to complete her 11th and 12th grades.  While she is there the UWC will find a scholarship for her to continue on at a University, somewhere in the world.  Her dream of becoming a doctor could very well begin to come true here.  She has been enrolled at Penzotti for 10th grade, as the school she was in last year doesn't go any further than 9th.  Monthly tuition costs will be $175.  We will continue to work with the National Committe of Honduras to have Nohelia nominated for the program. 

Carlos has returned to live at home and is planning on starting 7th grade at the same school that Samuel attends.  My hearts desire is that they would both also be able to attend Penzotti and get a good secondary education while preparing to go on to college.  Tuition for Carlos would be $170 per month, and for Samuel it would be $140 per month. 

So here's my Christmas wish - that the Holy Spirit will speak to some of you out there reading this, to make a financial committment so that Nohelia, Carlos, and Samuel can attend Penzotti.  Full year tuition would be $1750, $1700, and $1400 consecutively, or donations can be made monthly.  Please pray for the Lord's leading and if you want to help you can sign up at the Micah Just Give link here.  In the Designate My Donation field, please type the name of which child you would like to support.

Thanks for letting me be so long winded.  We greatly appreciate all of you that pray for and support us financially.  May God richly bless you and give you His peace this holiday season.


**Fernando recently completed high school and is looking for full time employment.  At this time he does not have the grades to continue on to college.  A technical trade school would be an alternative but he is not interested in Micah Tech because of the dangers in Barrio Buenos Aires.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...I just love what you all at Micah are doing...not just talking about....but DOING!!

In Him,


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