May was a challenging month, to be sure, with all of the restrictions for the corona virus. Thankfully, we found a way to get benefits to all of our families. We have one family that lives in Chiquimula and with no public transportation, there is no way that they can attend any meetings. But we have actually met them in Chiquimula to get their food into their hands. We have one special need child that lives in Zacapa, which is in the neighboring “county” and there is no travel allowed in this time of quarantine. But we are getting a way set up to actually deposit into a bank account the funds for the amount that we spend on food, to give this family their assistance. We have another family from the town of Olopa, which is also outside our normal target area. That mom walked 6 ½ hours to get here for her meeting and still had to walk home! It shows just how important this food is to these families. Everyone understands now when we say “everyone stand on a piece of tape” what we are referring to; to respect social distancing. Only the parents come to receive the benefits as children are not allowed to even leave their houses for the time being.
I am happy to share about two “extras” that everyone received this month. For the third year, we are doing our “Gardens in a Bag”. This provides vegetables seeds for the family to plant near their home, to provide an extra source of some good healthy food for their family and possibly even have extra to sell a bit too. They received seeds for cucumbers, cilantro, a green, eggplant, radishes, onions, a small squash, and rosa de Jamaica (flower petals that are made into a tea, that is very good for cleansing the liver and other health benefits…and tastes delicious). They also had some fertilizer to use as the seeds begin to grown.
Every family also received some trees; funds from the special donation that we received at the end of last year. They received anona (tropical fruit), lemon, mango, avocado, plantain and bamboo plants. Our project manager was there to explain about the planting and care of both the vegetable seeds and the trees. This will not bring an immediate source of extra food for the families; but with careful oversight, it will certainly provide a lot for the future. The vegetable gardens will begin to give the families something within a couple of months.
These extra projects have been so timely. No one knew that people would be losing their jobs and restricted from going out to work. The Lord made provision for an extra assistance, even before we knew that we would have need of it for the Embrace families! No one really knows but I suspect that we may have to continue to have our monthly meetings for at least a couple of more months like this. The families know that they need to listen to one of two radio stations where we are airing weekly announcements. We ask for your prayers for our Embrace families. Up to now, we have had no cases of the corona virus in our immediate area; although we still have very strict rules that restrict mobility, working for many, the wearing of masks, many businesses closed, social distancing in practice, no public transportation, shut in houses for the weekends and 12 hours curfews to be respected during the weekdays.
We are still putting together the final tallies on how we stand for our participation with our “Middle of the Year Blessing” shoe project. Special thanks to all of our sponsors who sent in funds for the children that they sponsor and especially for the extra that was sent in so that we can hopefully provide new shoes for every Embrace child. We will keep you informed.
In the midst of it all, we let our Embrace families know that we are praying for them and that we all need to learn that “life is fragile” with no guarantees. I have used the opportunity to replant in them the fact that there is only one place that brings true security in life; and that is in having a personal relationship with God and entrusting our lives into His hands! Thank you, sponsors, for your faithful support!
We want to give you a better look at just what the Embrace program can do to change the life of a child. We found Sergio in December 2018; he was brought to our registration to find new children to sign up for the Embrace program. Sergio has 6 other siblings in his family; he is also a special need child. Sergio’s biggest issue was that he was emaciated; he was six years old and he weighed 15.6 lbs! That is the weight of a child less than a year old, even here in Guatemala! He was truly nothing more than skin and bones. The mom allowed us to take some pictures, away from the view of others, without his shirt; to see his true condition. As much as the Embrace program provides; we knew that this was a special case where MORE was required! Thanks to a sponsor who took Sergio on and was willing to send extra; we were able to put Sergio on Pediasure milk and also on a product, called Plumpy Nut; that we make from peanut butter, oil, powdered sugar and powdered milk. Sergio had never walked in his 6 years; strictly due to the fact that he had no strength or muscle development to allow him to do so. After only 19 days of being on the “extra assistance” that we gave him; Sergio took his first “assisted steps”, with his mother holding his hands. In just six months, Sergio has more than doubled his body weight! On the nutritional chart that we use to evaluate the children; he went from extreme dark red (which is critical malnourishment) to coming into green (which is a healthy level of nutrition for a child in proportion to their height and weight)! Sergio is building his confidence to begin to walk on his own and strengthen the muscles that are finally developing for him; due to the proper nutrition and assistance that he has received! It has been a pure joy to see the transformation of this child and to realize the difference that can be made; as we give that child their needed nutrition. It is a testimony to the Embrace program and to 100s of sponsors that we have that make that change available to the children that they are helping. We praise God for the change that we have seen in Sergio and hope that it has impacted you as well. Help us to find more sponsors to begin to make that difference in the life of other children! The children are “out there”; we just need people who want to reach out to them and see that transformation happen!