The past 2 weeks I have talked a lot about financial sponsorship, mainly for children. Part of this is because now is the time for kids to enroll in school. Once January comes along, it is more difficult and expensive for kids to get into school and do well. We don’t want anyone to think, however, that all we do is run around looking for poor kids that need school sponsorship. Serving at-risk Families is a holistic ministry that helps families in a sustainable way to break the cycle of poverty and prevent the family unit from falling apart.
Maria Olivia and Maria Margarita are two sweet sisters that run a tienda (the Guatemalan word for a corner store) just down the street from us. You wouldn’t really know by looking at them, but Maria Olivia is in her 90s and Maria Margarita is in her 70s! They live alone and run their little stand selling snacks, firecrackers, cold soda, and anything else you can think of!
The Marias are always a joy to spend time with yet, as we continue to build a relationship with them, our hearts break because we hear their story. They often tell us, “We have nobody: no siblings, children, parents, or other relatives.” Family is a big deal in Guatemala and having no family as a Guatemalan is a depressing thought. When we have teams, we try to take them over to the tienda to see the Marias and spend a little time, buy a couple snacks, and say a prayer with them. They absolutely LOVE company. We try to visit them at least once a month and try to buy something that we use for our ministry.
You should have seen their eyes of amazement when we asked to buy 40 small bags of snacks for the bible school we help out with on Saturdays. “Are you sure? That’s 40 Quetzales! (about $5)” For them it was such a blessing because it is their only source of income. “We needed to buy these for the kids and wanted to buy them from you ladies to bless your business,” Missy explained. “Oh, you sure did! Now I can go buy more at the market tomorrow so we can sell more!” Maria Olivia exclaimed.
These two sweet women call us family. Whenever we come and take pictures with them or take pictures with teams, they ask us to bring them copies to hang on their walls so when people come to the tienda they can say, “look, here is our family.”
Maria Olivia has developed severe swelling in her legs. The doctors prescribed medicine for her that she was taking but it didn’t seem to be working, so she stopped taking it since it was a waste of money, something they don’t have to waste. Maria Margarita has been having severe migraines and many times lately when we have come to see them, she has been laying down trying to get some rest. Because Maria Olivia cannot walk very well, her sister is usually the one taking care of the errands that need to be run. They aren’t even really able to go to church just a few doors down anymore because of how difficult it is for them. But, they wouldn’t bother us with asking for a ride or help!
Recently, the Marias learned that the man who owns the land where they live and make a living will be selling it and they along with their neighbors will be required to move at an undetermined date. We were quite upset that this was happening to these quiet, loving women and began to pray for a solution and not too long afterwards we learned of a generous man who was willing to help. An engineer who owns some land across the street heard of their situation and decided to build a house and new tienda for them to move into and use! All of the materials and labor are being donated for them. We learned that the engineer will only be able to supply and build the main structures of the buildings, so when it is finished, we will investigate to see how our teams can help with painting, installing doors, or whatever else they may need.
What these sweet women need most is time, love, prayer, and companionship. Being stuck in a tiny house making just a dollar or two a day with no blood family to spend time with them or take care of them is not a way to live. We petition for your prayers for these two women. We’d also like to ask you all to add them to your Christmas Card list this year. It doesn’t take long and with everyone else you send cards to, this won’t be difficult but will mean the world to them. It can be a cheap one from the dollar store (costing about 25-50 cents) or even just a nice note written on a post-it. Help these ladies feel loved this Christmas season. If you want, you can even add a picture of you and your family to send for them to hang on their new tienda wall. Let’s fill up a whole wall that says, “You are loved. You are not forgotten.”
The cards and notes can me mailed to us at our ministry headquarters in PA. You can address them to us and they will come down in the beginning of January with our next team. Make a note somewhere that they are “for the Marias” and we will translate and deliver them promptly.
Dylan & Missy Brobst
268 W. Beaver St.
Hellam, PA 17406
P.S. – this is the photo we put together to print and give to them the next time we visit!