SATURDAY EVENING - That afternoon, all the kids that P31 gals sponsor through Compassion were bussed in to the project where we were so we could meet them. I was SO excited about this aspect of the trip. I couldn't wait to meet the 6 year old boy our family had chosen! One by one they brought children off the bus and introduced them to their sponsors. It touched me to watch each of my teammates meeting their sponsor child for the first time. My anticipation built and built ... until I could tell there was only one child left, and she was not a boy. Turns out, due to a family emergency, Mauricio's parents weren't able to get him to the bus in time. I tried to be "a big girl" in response to this news, but my heart sank. The dedicated Compassion team quickly assured me they were trying to arrange a visit for later at the hotel.
Emotionally exhausted, we got back to the hotel around 4:00 pm and I was told to rest in my room until they called me. Mauricio was suppose to arrive at 5:00. Five o'clock came and went, as did 5:10, 5:15, 5:20 ... I finally just put the whole thing in God's hands through prayer. At 5:30 the phone rang and down I went to meet him. OM MY GOODNESS this little boy is something else! He's got a great personality, very outgoing, and quite smart too. His parents are young but understand the importance of his education. They have a vision for his life and are doing all they can to help him get farther along than they have. His dad told me, "My father tried to tell me to work hard in school and I didn't listen... now I understand why he always told me that. I'm teaching Mauricio to focus on school."
I think I fell in love with his mother, father and grandfather as much as I did Mauricio!
I'd brought Mauricio some gifts - some clothes, an I SPY book, a soccer ball and some bubbles among other things. He loved the bubbles. I'd blow them and he'd try to pop them or eat them. Bubbles are fun in any language - a universal toy. But we were sloshing bubble juice all over this 5-star hotel lobby so we headed to the indoor pool area. Mauricio was able to change into some shorts I'd brought him and swim in the pool. This was huge for him, he'd only swam in a pool one other time in his life and it was not indoors. But he knew just what to do and set about imitating the motions of free-style swimming. I kept waiting for him to give up on the trying to swim thing and just splash and play in the shallow end. Not Mauricio, he was determined to swim! Later, with a little encouragement from me, he jumped off the side into the pool at the shallow end - his father gasped and grabbed his heart. Smiles. The father was also amazed by the indoor plants and waterfall, I don't think he'd ever seen a fancy hotel like this. Mauricio was too busy trying to swim like a pro to notice.
His grandfather is from the rain forest interior of the country. He'd had a farm there but had to sell all the animals to come to the city to have an abdominal operation. He told me he wants to find work in the city because he knows "the value of work." Mauricio's father (26 yrs old) meanwhile, has found some work cleaning office buildings in the city so he can afford the $100-a-month two-room apartment the family lives in. His mother (a beautiful 22 yr old) sometimes finds work as a maid while Mauricio is in school.
After his swim, Mauricio's mother got him back into dry clothes and we all rode the glass elevator, which overlooks the city, to the top floor. He had not been in a glass elevator before (I don't think any of them had) and he held onto the handrail with white knuckles while grinning from ear to ear. This was like an amusement park to him. When we arrived back at the lobby it was time for tearful goodbyes. His parents wanted to know when would I be back in Ecuador. I figured odds were low that I'd be able to return, but I didn't have the heart to say that. They were wanting to see me again. So I simply said, "I don't know when, but I hope it's soon."
I want to see them again too. I could save up enough money to make a return trip, but I could also take that saved money and donate it to him through Compassion and he'd be better off than if I just flew down there and blew bubbles with him.
After waving them goodbye, I walked back into the lobby full of roses with a heart full of thanksgiving and joy. What a day - thank you, Compassion Int. and thank you, God.
Then again, I've come to realize in Ecuador,
relationships mean a lot more to people than money.
Please pray for "my" Mauricio and his family.