We’ve been in Guatemala for two days now.
I’ve said this word before, but I’m not sure it’s ever held any meaning until now:
If yesterday was an overwhelming experience in terms of difficult travel (24 hours total, spent in transit), today was an overwhelming one in terms of love.
In terms of hospitality.
In terms of seeing the call to service God has put on Food for the Hungry’s staff members’ hearts (and thosesponsoring children through FH) and the countless, immeasurable blessings this has brought to all the communities FH helps in Guatemala.
Today we spent all day in the community known as Seoguis.
I could tell you about the Savings Meeting we attended, where women are taught to save money, invest in their own entrepreneurial ventures (think fabric embroidery and raising chickens for sale).
Or I could tell you about the Agriculture Meeting we attended, where we saw the gardens where women are being taught to grow broccoli, carrots, chard and many other vegetables (trust me, we swapped recipes).
Or I could tell you about the three hours Chris and I spent in a family’s home, the mother spending two and a half hours preparing a celebratory feast for us (truly from “farm to table”) ,while we played futbol and exchanged “te quieros” (“I love yous”) with the children in the yard.
But instead, for this moment, I want to instead tell you about someone. Actually, two “someones,” Tomasa and her daughter Maritza.
FH first visited the two in March. At the time, Maritiza weighed around 7 pounds. She was 13 months old. (To put that in context for you, that’s less than Lulu weighed when she was born.)
Guatemala is the 3rd highest in the world in terms of chronic childhood malnutrition and 54% of children in Guatemala are suffering and over 70% in the community of Seoguis. The long term effects are poor brain development, long term illness and stunted growth. It is crucial for these children that they get fed often, and fed well.
Through help and encouragement from FH, and through Maritza’s weekly weigh-ins that Tomasa is careful never to miss, things have vastly improved. Maritza has gained a great deal of weight, is in better health and now a good weight range for her age of 18 months. It is a crucial service at a crucial time in these families lives.
All of these actions, from the home visits to the Growth Promotion and Monitoring meetings (as well as the Savings and Agriculture meetings I mentioned before) were all made possible through child sponsorship through FH.
Tomasa’s voice breaks and her eyes well, as she explains through her translator, “If FH hadn’t come, my daughter may not have lived.”
Tomasa now feeds Maritza five times a day: rice for breakfast, an oatmeal drink (much like overnight oats) for a morning snack, soup for lunch, fruit (bananas and apples are Maritza’s favorite) for an afternoon snack, and beans for dinner. In addition, Tomasa adds around a tablespoon of oil to Maritza’s meals three times a day, which has aided significantly in Martiza’s weight gain and in the nutrition she absorbs from her meals.
But a healthy life for her child is not all Tomasa dreams of, a bright, beautiful and motivated mother at the age of 22.
When I ask her how I can pray for her and her family, she again wells up with tears and her voice quivers.
She graciously asks for prayers for her husband, who spends a month at a time away from his young family as he labors in another village.
She asks that we pray for her parents’ health, and as she does so, a shy elderly man pokes his head from around a piece of fabric curtain, smiling and waving. The cloth is hung between the room we are sitting in the smaller room behind it, a room that contains a small bed made of crates and blankets for this mother and daughter and the open fire pit on which she prepares meals.
She dreams of having a Bible, printed in her native dialect of Q’eqchi’.
And she dreams of a home where her bedroom and fire pit are in separate rooms, preventing her and Martiza from inhaling the smoke constantly.
These are such small requests, but for Tomasa, they are lifelong dreams. And yet, she is full of thanks for what she presently has.
With us, in prayer she thanks Him for her church that she attends each week where she leads worship with her sweet singing voice. She thanks Him for Maritza, who loves to dance with her, and with the help of FH, the fact that she is now healthy enough to do so.
And though it seems as if we’ve done so little, Tomasa thanks the Lord for our visit and for each of us.
I’ve said this word before, but I’m not sure it’s ever held any meaning until now.
All photos taken by Jessica Taylor.
To sponsor a child with Food for the Hungry, please visit here. A small monthly contribution can make a huge difference in aiding the impoverished and the hungry. Your sponsorship is changing and effecting lives in Guatemala.