Monday, May 16, 2016

Family Spotlight | San Raymundo, Guatemala

Macaria is a single mother with four children. Their lives before and after receiving a home are radically different. They used to live with her parents, all seven of them together in one room. It was a tiny structure with tin walls, a tin roof, and a dirt floor. Since they only owned one bed, the majority of them slept on the dirt floor. When it rained, the roof would leak and water would run under the tin walls, turning the dirt floor into mud. Macaria wanted a better life for her children, but with little income, it was difficult to provide. Like many people in Guatemala, Macaria made fireworks for a living. She worked roughly 40 hours/week to earn Q70, which is the equivalent of roughly $9, or $.23/hr.

Physically, it's easy to see why it was tough to make ends meet. And spiritually, it was not any better. Macaria was not a Christian. She never prayed. She never went to church. And her four children were following in her same footsteps. One of our pastors, Tomas Uyu, heard of her story and visited Macaria. He told her that she could apply to receive a home from Casas por Cristo. His hope was that Macaria and her kids would witness the love of Christ during the week while physically being blessed with the gift of a home. Macaria's father gifted her a piece of land to build on, and she said she felt a change in her heart after turning in the application. Although it was difficult to believe at first that a group of strangers were actually going to come build her family a home, she began praying and attending church with the pastor. Throughout the process, she continued to attend church and prayed everyday that a group would indeed come build her family a home. That was the first time she turned to Jesus and put her hope in Christ. 

University Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas then came and built Macaria and her family a home in Spring 2014. To this day, Macaria still struggles to put into words the impact the home has made on her and her children's lives. It was a new beginning. Physically, she now has a safe, secure place of her own to raise her four children. With a concrete floor and a roof that does not leak when it rains, they are able to sleep comfortably at night while their things stay dry. Spiritually, Macaria has accepted Christ and has been attending church ever since. She is now also a leader in her church and helps organize songs for worship. When you visit with Macaria, she will tell you that before she lived with her parents and had nothing, but now she has everything she has ever wanted. She has a home of her own, a roof over their heads, beds to sleep on, food to eat, a happy family, a sense of community, and most of all, hope. Because of their renewed hope, Macaria began selling fruit at the school her children attended. Through saving her profits of Q15-20/day, or $2-3/day, over the course of the past couple years, she was able to begin renting a place in San Raymundo and opened up her own store. She successfully sells tortillas, fruits, and vegetables and hopes to soon begin making and serving meals for people to dine-in and enjoy. Sometimes, all some people need is a jump-start. Through a group of believers stepping beyond the walls of their church and providing the free gift of a home, Macaria and her family witnessed love, received hope, and put their faith in Christ. Macaria now shines as a beacon of light and a testament of God's provision in the community while owning and operating her own business to provide a better life for her four children.
When asked about what she would like to share with potential or future groups, Macaria said the people of Guatemala need help. She feels deeply for families who are struggling, particularly single mothers with children, because she has walked in their shoes. She continuously reminds them to keep hoping and put their faith in Christ because God will provide for their needs like He did for hers. Macaria said, "Continue on, keep going, and God will provide you strength to keep serving. Thank you very much for helping the poor people, and if it were not for the group, my family and I would not be where we are now. I would instead be worrying about how to provide a safe, secure home for my children. I pray that you will continue to help the Guatemalan people and other families like mine."
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