Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hope part 2

Contrary to the Bible, and in addition to presenting my prayers and petitions to God, I have been anxious for everything, at least to know the results for these three students.

Additionally, shortly after their round of interviews, I learned that one of the staff was also applying for this scholarship. Lila is a Bilingual receptionist at Potter’s House. Her parents are both full time in the ministry and their only source of income in addition to Lila’s is tithes from their home church.

Guatemala is one of the few remaining places in Central America where the Indegineous culture remains separate from the Spanish influence to a significant degree. In addition to Spanish some 22 languages are still spoken today by people living in the rural parts of Guatemala. Most are descendants of the Mayans. Yet remaining separate comes at a price. The indigeneous people are often descriminated against and for the most part remain very poor. Unable to receive education in their native tongue. Lila is currently learening Quetzekel in hopes of one day becoming an effective educator to those speaking a language from antiquity.

One of the women who work at Potter’s House also happens to be a past recipient of the Walton Scholarship and additionally serves on the first round interview selection committee. So I at least had some idea of how the students did after round one.

Everyone was impressed by Farley, his confidence and gunuinely heartfelt answers had brought something out in the judges and he had received a perfect 60 out of 60. Eulolia did quite well, however, most of the students applying for the scholarship had received significantly higher grades in highschool and she received a 2 out of 10 in this category making it questionable whether she would pass to the next round. Alfredo and Lila both were very nervous in the first round, Alfredo giving mostly yes or no answers, and failing to prove both his English and to adequately describe who he was to the judges.

Saturday took an eternity to arrive, 28 of the original 68 would pass to the second round and 10 of those would receive the scholarship. Saturday morning I called Gabi to learn the results. Unbelievably, all 4 had passed, Lila receiving the 28th spot and Farley the first. I was thrilled. However, first round interview scores were taken into account in the second round.

The next round interviews fell on Thursday and Friday of the following week, however the kids were gone at an English school which had been provided with free tuition for 2 weeks. They had to leave early, and arrived home Tuesday night. We practiced 8 hours on Wednesday, allowing them to practice answers for most of the likely questions. Eulolia went first of all applicants Thursday morning, Farley and Alfredo wanted to continue practicing so they came with me on a work assignment and we practiced interview questions in the car. At around 10 we received a call from the Walton committee saying they wanted to come visit Potter’s House and specifically the houses of the three applicants. I was blown away!..until I talked with Gabi and found out that the first round committee generally visits the houses of those who don’t make it to give them some assistence buying books or something to attend classes in Guatemala. Still good, but I really wanted and continued praying for them to make it all the way. We had also learned some other dissettling news. Of the 10 original scholarships 5 had already been taken from Guatemala and given to other countries because the applicant pool was so strong in those countries. After the first round Gabi was out of the decision making process and we were free to talk, hope and pray to our hearts content. At this point we realized that rationally only 1 or 2 could possibly make it.

Friday arrived, and we learned that it had been the directors who called, not people from the first round, this had to be a good sign right? However, Eulolia and Farley had both scored in the 60’s on a grammer exam taken immediately after their interviews, 80 was the minimum allowable in order to receive the scholarship.

When Gabi spoke with the directors, she learned that there were many good applicants and the decision was a hard one. Probably not going to be made until February of 2006, until after they had seen the applicants from all the countries to decide who would actually make it. I felt like I was going to die, I hadn’t been able to sleep in anticipation.

Just try to think for a minute what this would mean. Your whole life lived within a single zone in a single city. A few hundred meeters from one of the worst places on earth. Your streets are lined with trash, drugs, and signs of death. Amazingly you’ve just finished high school, but it’s time to start contributing to the family. This opportunity is beyond ones wildest dreams, I’ve had conversations with people who dream of escaping to the states in the tire wells of airplanes, and even should they get there they don’t have money or much of a chance. To live in a different country, to get a first rate education, to have the opportunity to tell your family, “That’s it, you don’t have to live here anymore.” To be able to actually start living and saving beyond the next meal.

These were the thoughts running through my head as Gabi and I went to pick up the directors. I sat waiting for the interviews to end on a beautiful leather couch in an extremely nice hotel. I couldn’t get over the contrast.

We finally got the chance to meet the three directors who held the future of our kids in their hands. They told us the decision they had arrived at and I was finally able to breathe again. We got in the car to drive to Potter’s House where all 3 of the kids whose houses would be visited had been waiting since 2 (and Alfredo when he returned from his Interview). When they got to Potter’s House after a brief presentation by the staff. The directors told the kids the results. Contigent on receiving an 80 on the English exams which they will take in April. All 3 will have the chance to begin classes in the fall. Farley at Harding University, Eulolia at John Brown and Alfredo at Ozarks University. Additionally, should they do well in their studies, this will open the doors for Potter’s House and future students of Potter’s House will have the opportunity to study in the states.

God is good, beyond our wildest expectations. 3 of our 4 applicants were able to receive a chance to do something they could never dream of or provide for themselves. They were told immediately, the only three in Guatemala to know before February. Plus, should they do well, the way will be opened for future students.

Pray for

  • PRAISE for the opportunity these 3 kids have and Diligence in studying for Alfredo, Eulolia and Farley
  • That they would receive at least an 80 on their English exam in April
  • A woman in zone three is a single mother and she must pay off her house by the end of this month. She had the money saved, but then she hurt her leg and now she doesn’t have a penny of it left. She is a widow and after the fire in February her kids are no longer allowed to help her scavenge and she is unable to walk to the dump. Should she be unable to pay she will be evicted. She needs just Q5000 to pay for her house. (between 600-700 dollars)
  • Many children are unable to go to school because they have to work all day. This week I leanred about a 5 year old who sits in a room cleaning out plastic bottles all day long. She works in the dark because her parents don’t want to use the money for electricity and she is not allowed outside to play unaccompanied because they fear for her safety.
  • My grandpa’s salvation and continued health

Thank you so much for your prayers and emails

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Dear friends and family,

In the midst of it all, sometimes I wonder whether what we do is really making a difference. Crime is at an all time high, just the other week the guard who watches the dump overlook was shot. Broken families are still the norm, and there’s no shortage of passed out or drug abusing men adorning the streets. Yet just the other day I had the chance to see hope in the form of three teenagers, and what a blessing it was.

Sometimes worse than the poverty itself is the monotony. You work unbelievably long days simply to provide food to survive, and you survive it seems simply to work. When you can’t save and you don’t have extra, there’s not all that much to look forward to. When an entire lifetime is contained within 8 or 10 city blocks, even hope becomes just a dream. However this Saturday was an event that oozed purpose in a world of such seemingly meaningless wandering. While for a majority of us in the states, finishing a year of school signifies nothing more than summer break, and graduation from high school is almost a given, for many of those in the dump it’s nothing short of a miracle.

If hope is to be found anywhere here, it’s in the kids. Maybe that’s one of the reasons people have so many. Saturday was a chance to reap that hope in tangible form. Saturday was graduation. Regardless of grade completed, all students are a part of the event, and almost double that amount of supporting family members. For a brief hour or two everyone forgets the myriad of problems that exist and we just enjoy the celebration at hand, admiring the achievement for what it is.

For three very special students, this is the last graduation at Potter’s House they will ever celebrate. Farley, Eulolia and Alfredo have completed high school. They are each the first in their family to have EVER gotten this far. But they aren’t finished yet. While attending school, in their spare time, with the help of volunteers, donations, and a scholarship to a language school, they have each learned English. On Friday I had the chance to coach them on interviewing and on Saturday they interviewed in the second round applying for a full scholarship to one of 3 colleges in the US. Having the chance to hear their stories has been one of if not my favorite moment that I’ve been here.

Farley is the oldest of 7, tough and confident while still reserving a smile for everyone, he’s a natural leader and while his English is the worst of the three, his answers are the best. Eulolia is both smart and beautiful, she’s extremely shy one on one but is an excellent speaker in front of crowds. She gives a wonderful speech at graduation and has already finished specialization as a bilingual secretary. Her father still works in the dump, searching for tires that still have a bit of life left in them. Alfredo is outgoing and always looking to be helpful. Recently, his father has been able to find work outside of the dump and now makes and sells piƱatas. Surprisingly, and quite revealing, is the fact that all three of them live in two parent homes. And none of their fathers drink. All three of them share a common goal. To go to college in the states in order to bring back their skills and help their families and communities escape life in the dump. Eulolia puts it best when she says, “I want them to see that life is more than garbage.”

As we practice interview, it’s evident that these kids are smart. Apart from the actual content of their answers, they could be kids from any US private school. Their posture is good, and although they speak a bit slow, they are understandable and well-spoken. Additionally, they constantly give thanks to God for making all these opportunities possible. Their faith is astounding.

They find out if they advance to the next round in 2 weeks. I can’t think of a time I’ve wanted anything more badly than for them to be able to have this opportunity. Should they receive the scholarship, and should they keep their grades above a 2.5GPA. They will receive four years tuition, room and board, books, 2 round trip tickets per year (Christmas and summer), health insurance, and a $125 stipend monthly. Expanding their known world from a few miles to a few thousand. Thankfully, the applicant pool is small this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Of 68 applicants only 10 will receive the scholarship. Hope is there, but it has retained its slender figure.

Prayer Updates and Requests:

Hurricane Stan: Thank you so much for the support and prayer in response to my email. While here in Guatemala City we were relatively unaffected, Guatemala itself was hit worse by this Hurricane than any other country, suffering over 600 deaths and many more missing. One village was officially declared a mass graveyard by the government after days of searching only revealed bodies. While the initial damage has been done, the suffering in Guatemala continues, as houses need rebuilding, and much of the crops have been destroyed. In a country where many people live at a subsistence level, any disruption of the inflow is a matter of life and death. Please continue to pray.

As far as the dump, while the City experienced unusual amounts of rain, the dump was not closed, allowing work to continue as normal. Thanks for your prayers

Stan Hill (my grandpa): I was absolutely overwhelmed by how many people are praying. Thank you so much I continue to covet your prayers. My grandpa is doing a little better physically. So Praise God for that. He has had the opportunity presented to him to accept Christ, and now the choice is between Him and God. But please continue to pray!

Farley, Eulolia, Alfredo: Pray for wisdom for the judges, that if it be the Lord’s Will all three would be able to study in the states. Also pray for continued diligence for the three regardless of the outcome, and that if they don’t receive the scholarships that they would still have a way to attend college in Guatemala.

Potter’s House: Potter’s House is about to celebrate its 19th year of service. It is an amazing organization that has accomplished an unbelievable amount thanks to God and the help of volunteers. Yet we all need the continued help of our Lord. As the organization continues to grow larger and larger, pray for the leadership as they learn to delegate responsibility. Pray for wisdom in how to delegate and that they would grant the authority to carry out responsibilities given. Also pray for me, that He would give me patience in times of frustration. That I would be understanding of differences in culture. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, but we can all use prayer.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

God Bless,

-Enoch Hill

The Other Stan

Today seems to just be one of those days. After writing the email about Hurricane Stan this morning I spoke with my brother and learned some more bad news.

My grandfather, Stan Hill, was diagnosed with terminal congestive heart failure. According to the diagnosis, he has between a few days and a few years to live. My grandfather is one of greatest men I know. His entire life has been devoted to other people, to youth, to education, to those less fortunate, to his friends, to his family, and to his wife. He has had a long and full life. He is a wonderful grandfather and I both love and respect him very much.

Once again I am asking for your prayer,

Pray for relief from pain,

for health,

For comfort and encouragement for Doris (my grandmother), and for his kids,

Also, while I realize that some of you do not agree with me in my beliefs of God and Jesus as the son of God, I include the following requests out of my love for my grandpa. If I truly believe in heaven and hell, and I also believe that the only way to heaven is through the son of God, Jesus Christ, that eternity literally does lie in the balance. Then respect for your beliefs must take a second place to my love for my grandfather and hope for his future. Therefore I ask ALL of you to pray for his salvation. If anyone could save themselves by works alone, it would be my grandpa. But the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9 that: 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. So Pray: that he would realize that while he is one of the closest to perfect people I have ever met, he still has sinned and needs a savior. That he would accept Jesus’ perfect life and sacrifice on the cross as payment for his sins. And Jesus’ resurrection as well as the apostles writings as proof of his forgiveness.

Thank you all once again for your time, support, and prayers

God Bless,

-Enoch Hill