Sunday, July 14, 2013

Visiting Our Sponsored CFCA Child At Her Family’s Home

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to top last year’s New Year’s Eve. As part of my Guatemala CFCA awareness trip, I was able to visit our sponsored child, Angelica, at her home. Typically on CFCA trips a home visit isn’t part of the itinerary so this was an extra special event. For me, it meant I could see where Angelica calls home, meet her whole extended family and see how they live.

When we started sponsoring Angelica in 1998, her home was described as having two rooms with a metal sheet roof and mud floors. Having spent a lot of my awareness trip visiting with families whose homes fit that description and were near earthquake fault lines or on mountains prone to mudslides, I was anxious to see if Angelica lived in a safe home. I knew her family was a loving family but I was worried her living conditions might align with the many I had experienced. I really don’t think if I could have gone back to the US without seeing Angelica’s village and family home. I needed to make sure her family wasn’t living in harm’s way. My next blog post will share a story of a Guatemalan family that lost three children to harm’s way.

  Back to New Year's Eve and our adventure to Angelica's village. We traveled or about 2 hours up mountains, down valleys and up mountains. It was gorgeous scenery. Think Napa Valley Mixed in with a bit of Hawaii. On our trip to the village, our translator, Elena, shared that Angelica’s family lived in an area that was not plagued by mudslides nor was near a fault line. News that was even more calming to me than the scenery. So this gave me the courage to ask about their home. Elena assured me that the family had been building on to their home and it was safe and comfortable. Another sigh of relief for me. She also informed us that we needed to be prepared for a very large celebration!

And boy, did the family throw out the red carpet! We were greeted by what seemed like half the village and a large band that was made up of Angelica’s two brothers, uncles and cousins. There were lots of introductions and hugs. I felt like I was being thrown a coming home party and that that Angelica’s family had adopted me. It was very heartwarming and overwhelming especially getting to meet both sets of Angelica’s grandparents.

Angelica’s family pridefully showed me around their home as the music and festivities continued. It was beautiful! I would say the stucco-cement blended walls were at least a foot thick. Her father, Luis, assured me they would withstand typical earthquakes – though no earthquakes had hit their area. The floors were not mud but were gorgeous ceramic tiles. The roof was made of tiles with straw and mud insulation so the home was cool.   

Angelica walked me to her room that she and her sister, Yessica, share. She showed me a little Weist family area she had created with photos from us and
little gifts we had sent. This was a tear jerker for me for so many reasons. Her favorite gift was the saints book we had sent several years back. It was my favorite religious book growing up and I was so happy to hear it is her favorite as well.

Angelica’s mom, sister and aunts were busy making a Mayan feast for us. The highlight of my visit was sitting around their living room eating tostadas with Angelica’s whole family. Laughing and sharing stories. What a treasured moment!

Meeting a few of the children that Angelica’s family has taken in over the years was extra special as well. These kiddos, 10 in all, needed a safe place to live and be raised while their parents dealt with alcoholism. I couldn’t believe how committed Luis and Edilberta were about this. “It’s just the right thing to do. Our family has been blessed and we want other children to have a happy and safe childhood,” said Edilberta.

We danced in their courtyard for longer than we should have but no one wanted us to leave and we would have stayed but we had one more family to see that day and day light was escaping us. Saying goodbye was so incredibly hard but my heart felt light knowing Angelica’s family lived in a strong, safe home with a large supporting family. I also talked with Angelica and her parents about school and following her dreams to help her family continue to thrive. This home visit was the best way for me to see how our family had given Angelica’s family a hand up not a hand out.

Playing a little part in helping Angelica’s family achieve their dreams – that is what our sponsorship is all about. There were so many amazing moments to this day. The ones that are most precious to me are
seeing Angelica in her environment so happy and at ease - showing me around and so happy to have me with her family. Her personality really came alive and I saw a side to Angelica that I never could through letters. I also got to see for myself how the family lived, what they needed, and how their life plays out day in and day out. There’s a lot of love in Angelica’s home. Such a comfort.

If you are considering a home visit with your sponsored child, I would definitely say: do it.

A very big thank you to all the local CFCA trip that spent their holiday driving, hosting and interpreting for me and the CFCA headquarter’s lead, Judy-Anne. A very special thank you to Pedro, Angelica’s social worker, and of course our translator, Elena. I know that Elena was very late to her family’s New Year’s Eve fiesta and I very much appreciate her giving heart and helpful spirit!

Interested in learning more about CFCA and why I chose to sponsor a child? Here's my story.

I’ll be posting more recap blogs here. I'll update with video from CFCA when post-production work is finished. Many in-the-moment updates have already been posted on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest - just look under #cfcatrip.

DISCLOSURECFCA covered my flight and lodging for my Guatemala mission awareness trip in return for me documenting my trip via blog posts and sharing my CFCA awareness trip experience via my social channels. 

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