There have been moments over the past 7 years which have touched our hearts, both with joy and with sadness. The joyous ones are forever etched in our memories and the sad ones can bring tears because it mattered so much.
Here are just a few, out of the hundreds, which have impacted us.
Monty and Jose Luis
The story of Monty and Jose Luis began 7 years ago. Monty and his wife Tena where among our very first sponsors after the program began. Monty and Tena selected Jose from a photo, not having ever met him person.
Jose, quiet and shy, is a constant presence whenever Monty arrives each July with Moving Mountains Mission Team. Jose waits patiently, among the chaos of unloading the bus full of volunteers and donations, for Monty. When he isn't working or going to school, Jose accompanies Monty team to projects. The relationship between them is genuine. A year or two ago, I visited Jose's house. Above his bed, Jose had all the pictures of him and Monty on his wall, a testament to their enduring bond.
Jose lost his mother to illness just this year. Angela, also quiet, was an integral part of our Guatemalan team. Her gentle nature and shy smile will be greatly missed.
Angela, Jose Luis and Monty in 2011.
Monty and Jose Luis 2015.
Angela and Jose Luis hold a picture of Monty's family.
Waiting for Monty, 2016
Maria Teresita after receiving her diploma.
Maria Teresita and her sponsor Maxine.
Many of the ladies in Santa Maria are my friends. Over the years we have developed a great friendship and often tease each other in a good-natured way. One of our ongoing jokes is that I only have three daughters in the United States, but I have nearly 370 children in Guatemala, the children in the sponsorship program. The women also tell me I am their mother, and I ask if I can be a big sister instead.
As a mother to my Guatemalan children, my heart beams with pride when they are able to fulfill their dream of getting an education. I know the obstacles they faced along their journey, the hardships they endured and the sacrifices families made. The choice to go to school can conflict with working to help provide food on the table for parents, siblings and grandparents.
It was a privilege to attend the graduation ceremonies for some of our young men and women. It was beyond words for their sponsors to travel to Guatemala to make a special day even more special.
Maria'Teresita's mom Juana, Maxine and Maria.