Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
The name Juan means, ‘God is gracious.’ These words perfectly describe my 94-year-old friend who lives at the nursing home in Guatemala. Despite his frail frame, his arthritic hands, and deteriorating hearing, Juan is full of love, laughter, joy, kindness and youthfulness. Ever since I first met Juan in 2013, I knew he loved to talk. And I am guilty that I tried to make my greetings and goodbyes to him brief so I would not get stuck talking with him. I was too afraid not be able to understand or converse with him because I did not know enough Spanish at the time.
During our second day of ministry this summer, we visited our dear friends at the nursing home. I saw Juan out of the corner of my eye and I knew God was telling me to go talk to him and to listen to him. So I did. And what a blessing it was! I sat with Juan for the entire time we were at the nursing home that day, then the next week, and the week after that, until it was time for me to return to the United States. By the grace of God and because I studied more Spanish, Juan and I were able to understand and communicate with each other this year. From telling me about his family, to him eating monkey meat at some point during his life, we laughed and enjoyed these simple conversations with each other. Oh how meaningful these conversations were to both him and to me!
I learned that Juan is a devoted believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Each week I would attempt to read the Bible to him in Spanish because he could not read it without his glasses. We would share our favorite verses with each other, and he would explain how important God’s Word is. Every week I would ask him what passage he would like me to read to him, and every time he would say the book of Psalms. Juan’s eyes always lit up when he talked about the Bible.
I was trying to be God’s messenger and missionary to Juan, but in reality, Juan was a missionary to me. He encouraged me to stay close to God, to be diligent in spreading the Gospel, and to look forward to the day of Christ’s return. Juan motivated me to grow even deeper in my faith and to completely trust God. Although his body and health are deteriorating, God has been gracious to Juan. He is 94 years old and vibrantly loves the Lord with a passionate and committed heart. One day Juan will be with his glorious Lord and Savior, free of pain and blessed with a new body.
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
According to the Global Education Fund, 35% of children in Guatemala are not enrolled in secondary education, only 59% complete lower secondary education (9th grade), and 18% are enrolled in higher education.
"With more than half the population living below the poverty line, many children – especially rural and indigenous children – are forced to drop out of school to help support their families or because they are unable to afford the cost of uniforms, books, supplies and transportation.
We saw this happening all too often in Piedra Parada, the community near the city dump. Teens would either never continue onto school after sixth grade, or they would start middle school and then drop out because their families could not afford the school expenses.
We knew, however, that with a little bit of help, these teens could complete their schooling, gain better jobs, help their family, and end this cycle of generational poverty.
In 2015, we formed Project VALOR, a sponsorship program that gives the children and teens living in the communities surrounding the city garbage dump an opportunity to continue their education into middle and high school.
Our first group of students in 2016 consisted of five middle schoolers. This year, 18 students are now attending middle and high school through Project VALOR. Next year, we have 20 more students who want to be a part of our program! We are so excited that they want to continue their education and that their parents see the value in education, but they cannot do it without help.
We truly believe that education combined with the hope and joy of Christ will transform these children’s lives and futures.
Not only is Project Valor giving the students the opportunity to continue their schooling, it also provides them with the necessary tools they need to succeed. Each week, the students have to attend our tutoring program twice a week. There, they have access to school supplies, printers, computers, and teachers to help them. In addition, we have a devotional time each day where our missionaries teach the teens about God’s Word, and how God desires us to act and love others. One student wrote in a letter to her sponsor, “I have learned a lot, that we should help others and also that we should love our neighbors” and another student wrote, “I thank you with all of my heart, and I am thankful for the teachers (Pure Joy staff) that we have here that have taught us many things. Some of these things are that we should help others, just like you have helped us, so we should help others too. Thank you for the example you have given us to follow.”
Our staff who work at tutoring program have become more like family for these teens. One of our students lost her mother and was extremely shy at the beginning of this year. As the year continued, she began to feel more comfortable with our staff. Now, she has opened up so much to our missionary Yeni. It has been amazing to see the friendships and trust that our missionaries have been able to build with these teens. Every day, Yeni tells the teens, “Bye, my children!” and the teens respond with “Bye, Momma Yeni!”
Our missionaries have the great privilege of not only helping the teens with their homework, but they also have the opportunity each week to encourage the teens and remind them that they are smart, important, valued, loved, and capable— something that several of these teens do not hear at home.
We try to incorporate the parents as much as we can, because we know that with their help, these teens can and will go far in their studies. This past July, we had an inspirational speaker night for the parents and teens with two successful women from Puerto Barrios who shared how they overcame many physical and financial trials in their lives. It was amazing to see the parents come out and show support for their children.
When we asked one of our students if he liked the tutoring program, he responded with yes! A few seconds later, he looked up with a smile and said, “I like the food!” The meals the sponsorships provide are also a great help to these teens.
There are so many teens who would like to be a part of Project VALOR next year. As a result, we are in need of 20 more people who would be willing to sponsor a child at $45/month. Time and time again we have seen God's provision for this program and for His children, and we trust that He will provide the 20 people we need!
For $45/month (or $540/year), you can give these teens an opportunity that they desire and need. The sponsorship includes daily bus fees, school fees, school uniforms, shoes, school supplies, and the lunches at the tutoring program. If you are unable to give the full $45/month, a donation of any amount will go towards helping this program continue. All donations are tax-deductible. Our goal is to have committed sponsors for each student by the end of September, so the students can meet the enrollment deadlines at their schools. Monthly support will begin in October of 2017.
If you are interested in sponsoring a child or would like to receive more information, please fill out the boxes below and click sumbit! If you would like to donate to this program, please click on the donate button below. Thank you!!
God is working in the hearts and minds of these children. I believe He has big plans for them and their community. The amazing part is that He allows us to be a part of it! If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (570) 360-9216 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Meaning Behind