by Bob and Robyn Hastings
Editor's note: The following is an account written by AMG missionaries Bob and Robyn Hastings. Three young ladies—Leah, Becky and Carolyn—who were on a short-term mission trip accompanied the Hastings on a visit to the Las Vistas child-care center in Guatemala. Prior to their trip, two of these young ladies had begun to sponsor a child. This is an account of their first meeting.
As we left Guatemala City and drove toward Las Vistas, we could see the three young ladies taking in all that this country offers to first-timers. Thirty minutes into our ride we began to see glimpses of the hillside village in the distance. The Las Vistas project began as a disaster relief program and has grown to include a school and childcare center with a current enrollment of about 250 students, the Luz y Verdad (Light & Life) Baptist Church, and homes for over one hundred Guatemalan families.
Our visit began with the steep climb up into the village—a climb that is often unnerving to newcomers. When we arrived, Eduardo, the project director, greeted us. He took us into the school where we had our first opportunity to interact with the children. The sight of "Americanos" stirred their curiosities, and the children began grinning and reaching their hands out the classroom windows to give us "high fives."
As we entered the kindergarten class, the teacher greeted us warmly. We quickly came to understand her heart for the children. During our time in her classroom she had the students sing for us and recite rhymes. Everything the children presented to us had a spiritual theme. We heard them sing about God's power, His strength, and giving Him all glory. Even the alphabet song talked about the Lord's love for us.
As we walked around the class someone said to Carolyn, "This is Sofia!" Our interpreter, Emma, knelt down with Sofia and explained that Carolyn was her sponsor and had come to see her. The look on Sofia's face was indescribable. She ran from her seat around the tiny table, wrapped her arms around Carolyn and kissed her face, showing all the love she possibly could. Her embrace was firm and lasting, obviously expressing her gratitude to Carolyn. It was apparent that Carolyn had been overwhelmed by this moment. Her eyes filled with tears as she savored this special time with Sofia.
Eduardo informed us that Leah's sponsored child, Fredy, was ill that day and was not in school. We could sense Leah's disappointment. The director remembered that Fredy's cousin also attended school there and he would be able to show us Fredy's house. When we arrived his mother warmly invited all of us into her home.
Fredy's mother pulled back a curtain that covered the bedroom door, and Leah and Emma went in to meet Fredy. Fredy, who recently turned five years old, was somewhat shy but slowly warmed to the situation and was excited to meet his "padrina" (sponsor). They talked and Leah gave Fredy some gifts she had brought for him and his family. Near the end of the visit someone made a comment about the possibility of Fredy seeing Leah again in the future. Without thinking for even a moment Leah jumped in with "Oh, he will!" Fredy's mother thanked us profusely for coming and thanked Leah for her gifts and we began our trip back to the city.
As we later discussed the happenings of the day, Becky, a teacher at the school where Carolyn and Leah attend, made a very astute observation—that even at ages four or five, these children have a clear understanding of and appreciation for their sponsors. It is very evident that they are taught on a regular basis about how God provides for them through the sponsorship program.
Like many others, these young ladies have come to realize that an investment of $22 a month will bear genuine appreciation from the sponsored children who know that without it the meals, clothing, care, and education they receive would otherwise be beyond their reach or dreams.
For information on all AMG ministries worldwide, visit www.amginternational.org, or call 1-800-251-7206.