Cantót Paxot II, Guatemala: Sponsor a Child

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The road to GU-479 in Cantón Paxot II, Guatemala.

After a 3-hour drive north from Antigua through lush mountains with beautiful valley views, we were greeted by firecrackers upon arrival at Compassion project GU-479.

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Children lined up to greet us when we arrived.

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Playground at GU-479. New classrooms are being built at the right.

Compassion International has been partnered with Metodista Paxot II, a church in the community of Cantón Paxot II, Guatemala, since 2012. The area is home to about 1,500 residents, and the most commonly spoken language is the Mayan language Kiche.

Children lined up outside of our buses to shake hands and greet us before leading us down a rural road to their project, where they performed many traditional dances for us, including a dance to honor St. Thomas, the dance of the monkeys, the stealing of the bride dance, and the dance of the bull. It was an honor to be among the first group of sponsors to visit this project.

The staff and parents were warm and welcoming in this remote community, where we learned the most common health issues are intestinal diseases and respiratory illness. The community has water and telephone service, but needs employment opportunities, public transportation and vocational training. Most adults are unemployed, but some work as day laborers, earning the equivalent of $75/month.

Please consider sponsoring one of these beautiful children from this project:

Jaymerson

Jaymerson, born Sept. 9, 2007.

Jaymerson, 8, lives with his parents and six siblings. He is responsible for gathering firewood and running errands, and his father works as a farmer.

He enjoys soccer, basketball and playing with cars, and he attends church activities and Bible class regularly.

Jennifer

Jennifer, born March 24, 2005.

Jennifer, 10, lives with her parents and one sibling. She helps care for animals and makes beds at home, and her father works as a farmer.

She enjoys playing house and playing with dolls, and her performance is average in school. She attends church activities and Vacation Bible School.

Fernando

Fernando, born May 29, 2008.

Fernando, 7, lives with his parents and two siblings. His duties at home are carrying water, gathering firewood and making beds, and his father is a farmer.

He enjoys playing soccer, swimming and playing with cars, and he attends Bible class regularly.

William

William, born July 9, 2004.

William, 11, lives with his parents. His father works sometimes as a farmer, and there are two children in the family.

He enjoys playing soccer, ball games and bicycling, and his school performance is average. William also attends Bible class regularly.

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A view of the area with the church in the background.

If you are interested in sponsoring one of these children, please contact me.

Sponsorship costs $38/month, and the benefits to both the child and the sponsor are priceless.

Compassion has worked in Guatemala since 1976, and there are more than 130 child development centers in the country, serving more than 32,400 children.

Compassion works in 27 countries world wide. If you would like to sponsor a child in another country, please click here to see children available for sponsorship.

Los Guapos

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Los guapos, my friends in Cantón Paxot II, Guatemala.

These are my friends at Compassion project GU-479 in Cantón Paxot II, Guatemala. They wanted me to take their photo while leaning against a motorcycle outside, and when I showed the photo to them, I said, “muy guapo” (very handsome). They thought this was so funny that they spent the next several minutes giggling and punching each other. I actually checked with a Spanish speaker to be sure I hadn’t said the wrong words, and I hadn’t. The boys just thought it was funny that I called them handsome.

Unforgettable Jonathan

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Jonathan with his mother.

My eyes had been open all week, taking in the poverty, the difficulties and challenges, and the sometimes seemingly hopeless situations of the families we visited.

My heart was full of the details of their lives, of their struggles and their hopes. I saw the pain in their eyes as they shared their stories, the raw, human pain, and it hurt to see it. There were broken families, alcoholism and even death, all to be dealt with in addition to unimaginable poverty.

And on the last day of home visits, we met another family living in poverty, this time in a dangerous “red zone” in Guatemala City. This family also was struggling with challenges, but my heart was too full, there was no more room to squeeze in this family’s story. Or there was room, but this family’s reality hurt too much to let it in.

It was like the last drop of water before the bucket overflowed, and frankly, I was tired, and didn’t want the bucket to overflow.

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Jonathan receiving gifts as his sister, holding her baby, looks on.

Somehow unable to take in even one more detail, I can’t remember the name of the woman and her child, whom we were there to meet. And I can’t remember the name of the woman’s mother, who lived next door. But I can’t forget the woman’s little brother, Jonathan.

The beautiful boy, 9 years old, with jet black hair and bright green eyes, striking eyes if you were fortunate enough to get a glimpse of them.

He stumbled out of the door with his mother following close behind, as we met his sister and baby nephew. He was clean, well-cared for, dressed in a nice button-up shirt with a collar, but it was clear in his manner and in his walk that something wasn’t right.

He kept his head down, shuffling around in random paths, like a toddler, and his mother followed him, keeping him safe, as if he really were a toddler. The uneven ground he navigated, cluttered with rocks, buckets, bricks, posing danger every few steps.

Jonathan’s mother told us her boy had a seizure when he was three years old. He was a healthy boy at the time, walking and talking as he should at that age. But after the seizure, Jonathan had to learn to walk again. He hasn’t learned to talk again.

Taking in the horror of that life-changing event, imagining this mother seeing her healthy son completely transformed was difficult to comprehend. But trying to imagine Jonathan’s future now, in this place, was even more difficult.

He is already almost his mother’s height, growing stronger and taller each day. How will she follow him and keep him safe in a few more years, when he outweighs her, when he grows into a man? How will she protect him in this harsh environment, where his disabilities make him especially vulnerable?

And why? Why would God give this family this particularly difficult challenge?

It’s been five weeks since we met Jonathan, and still I have no answers to these questions. My heart breaks for him.

So I recall these verses:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” – Matthew 6:26

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20

God has plans for Jonathan. He cares for him, and is with him always.

I will pray for Jonathan often, and ask you to do the same.

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Jonathan’s home.

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Laundry at Jonathan’s home.

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A Young Artist’s First Sale

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Willy, 9, with his painting.

We met Willy after worshipping at his Compassion center’s church in Comalapa, Guatemala (GU-490).

When the service ended, sponsors were directed to the fourth floor of the building. There we found a room full of child painters sitting next to their masterpieces, which were displayed on easels creating a maze of artwork throughout the room. Even more paintings adorned the walls.

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Kim translates as art teacher Filiberto addresses our group.

The project director explained that in a community known for its artistry, a painting class was a good fit at this Compassion center.

Willy’s teacher, Filiberto, told our group that he was teaching the children about lines, shapes, perspective, warm and cool colors and complimenting colors.

Judging by the quality of the paintings displayed, Filiberto is a highly skilled teacher, instructing equally skilled students.

As we walked through the room, squeezing between easels, the talent on display was unbelievable. Most of the children in the class were between 8 and 10 years old.

Then we saw Willy. His oil painting of a volcano at the edge of a beautiful lake with a flower-filled shore was beautiful. The perspective, the colors and the shadowing and depth proved this student was learning well. He told us this painting took him two months to complete.

“¿Cuántos años tienes?,” I asked Willy. (How old are you?)

He answered “nine” in English, with a shy smile.

We asked his name, and posed for photos with Willy, and when a translator told him we wanted to purchase his painting, Willy’s smile grew.

He grabbed the painting, and we made our way through the crowded room of artists, following Willy downstairs to record the purchase and pay for the painting.

His joy and excitement over his first sale was evident as he smiled and bounced continuously, and Willy’s painting is now a treasured piece of artwork in our home.

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Willy and Logan

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Kerri and Willy

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Willy’s framed painting hanging in our home.