Sylvia’s Hope

We made the 15-minute walk through the busy, dusty streets of Joyabaj, Guatemala, to visit Sylvia and her family in their home.


The walk to Sylvia’s home.

The sidewalks were narrow, and the bumpy, brick-paved streets were noisy with traffic, the smell of car exhaust in the air. We often had to pause our conversation during the walk as the noise drowned out our words. It was the same walk that Sylvia makes each week when she attends her Compassion project, GU-892.

When we arrived, Sylvia and her younger sister and brothers were waiting for us. Giggling, they led us through a narrow passageway between gray brick walls, turning right down another narrow path before coming to their home at the end.

Sylvia’s stepmother welcomed us into their one-room, dirt-floor home, where we found seats on the two beds, where this family with five children lives.


The narrow walkway to Sylvia’s home.

There in the dark room, we learned some of Sylvia’s story, while the shy 10-year-old stood in the doorway, listening, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, one piece constantly falling forward and needing to be tucked behind her ear, in the same manner as my own 10-year-old daughter.

We learned that Sylvia enjoys attending her Compassion project, that her favorite activity there is making crafts, and that although she is 10 years old, she is behind in school, only attending first grade.

We also learned that Sylvia’s mother is an alcoholic, who neglected Sylvia and her younger sister, Julessa, 7, often letting them roam the streets, dirty and hungry. Her father and stepmother gained custody of the children earlier this year, and her stepmother recounted how difficult it had been to tame the wild girl.

She said at first, Sylvia only wanted to run in the streets, but over time, she learned to stay closer to her new home, where she was being taught how to care for herself, to do chores, to be a little girl who is part of a family who loves her.

This love was evident in the eyes of Sylvia’s stepmother, who told us she used to see the girls on the streets when they still lived with their mother, and she would clean them up and feed them. We commended her for her obvious love for the girls, and she explained that she herself had been an orphan; that she loved children, and had always been drawn to the children in her village, who loved to hear her stories.

In front of us stood a woman, prepared by God through her own difficult childhood, for this time in Sylvia’s life. Who better to care for and love this motherless girl than this woman, who also had been motherless?

Sylvia’s stepmother’s name is Esperanza: hope.


Sylvia with her stepmother, Esperanza, her sister and two brothers.


Sylvia’s stepmother, Esperanza, shows us her kitchen, where she cooks to feed her own family with five children, as well as her husband’s mother.


Syliva and her family say goodbye to us, along with her grandmother, who lives nearby.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child in Guatemala like Sylvia through Compassion, or in any of the 27 countries around the world in which Compassion works, please click here.

Guatemala Prep



In just 10 days, my son Logan and I will leave for a 7-day Compassion tour in Guatemala! Today, we spent some time packing the gifts we are bringing, and vacuum-sealed some backpacks, clothing and cloth bags to make more room in our suitcases.

I bought these bags last year in preparation for a Compassion tour to Nicaragua. I was able to find them at Costco in a package of six bags, two each of three different sizes. The bag in the photo is the largest size.

They work well for freeing up some extra room to pack even more goodies!


Logan with vacuum-sealed bag

Guatemala: Change a Life

I am looking for sponsors for five precious children from Guatemala.

If you choose to sponsor one of these children, I will deliver a gift from you in five weeks when I visit Guatemala, where my son and I will be meeting our own sponsored children.

These children are attending Compassion centers in Guatemala where they receive care based on Compassion’s commitment to Christ, children and the church. This care includes spiritual training, medical and dental checkups, tutoring, education in hygiene, and nourishment through snacks and meals.

Compassion also gives children a unique opportunity to connect with you, their sponsor, through letters and even visits. The relationship between children and sponsors has been proven through outside studies to make an important impact on the lives of these children.

A 2008 study by Dr. Bruce Wydick, professor or economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco, concluded the Compassion’s child sponsorship program works. Among other things, it showed the Compassion supported children:

-stay in school up to 1 1/2 years longer than unsponsored peers

-are 35 percent more likely to find white-collar employment as adults

-are 50-80 percent more likely to graduate college

-are 40-70 percent more likely to grow into church leaders.

To read more about Wydick’s study, click here.

Please consider sponsoring one of the following children:

Alan is 3 1/2 years old, and he lives with his parents on the plains of Villa Nueva. His father is employed, and there are three children in the family. He enjoys soccer and playing with cars, and also attends Bible class regularly.

Homes in Alan’s community are constructed of cement floors, wood walls and tin roofs. The regional diet includes maize, beans, chicken, bread, beef and potatoes. Most adults here work as day laborers, earning the equivalent of $312 each month. Common health problems are intestinal diseases and respiratory illnesses.


Alan, 3 1/2 years old.

Darlin is 5 1/2 years old, and lives with her mother in the mountainous community of Barrio La Libertad, where houses are made of dirt floors, brick walls and tin roofs. There are two children in the family. She enjoys playing group games and art.

The primary ethnic group in Darlin’s community is Mayan, and the diet consists of maize, bananas, chicken, plantains and rice. Most adults work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $188 monthly.


Darlin, 5 1/2 years old.

Jarol is 9 1/2 years old, and he lives in Momostenango with his father, who is employed as a laborer. There are four children in the family. His favorite activity is soccer.

In Jarol’s community, typical houses are constructed of cement floors, brick walls and tin roofs, and the primary ethnic group is Mayan. The diet consists of maize, beans, bread, chicken, beef, rice and potatoes, and most adults work as street vendors, earning the equivalent of $350 each month.


Jarol, 9 1/2 years old.

Sofia is four years old, and she lives with her grandparents. Her grandfather works, and her grandmother maintains the home. Sofia likes playing jacks, playing house and art.

In Sofia’s community of Villa Nueva, typical houses are constructed of cement floors, wood walls and tin roofs, and the regional diet includes maize, beans, chicken, bread, beef and potatoes. Most adults work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $313 each month, and common health problems include intestinal diseases and respiratory illnesses.


Sofia, 4 years old.

Abigail is 5 1/2 years old, and she lives with her mother on the plains of Villa Nueva. Her mother is employed as a teacher, and there are two children in the family. Abigail likes art, jumping rope and playing with dolls.

In Abigail’s community, most homes are made of cement floors, wood walls and tin roofs, and the diet includes maize, beans, chicken, bread, beef and potatoes. Most adults work as day laborers and earn $313 monthly. The community has water and electricity, but needs scholastic materials and security.


Abigail, 5 1/2 years old.

If you are interested in sponsoring one of these children, or if you just would like more information about child sponsorship through Compassion, please contact me.

Guest Post: Faraway Friends

Find out who my son Logan will be meeting this summer by checking out my guest post on Laura’s blog at! And while you’re there, take some time to read some of the other great posts on Laura’s site.

You can read my post by clicking here.

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