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
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 piñatas. 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
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
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
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.