Monday, February 28, 2011

Follow Up with Valesca and Katarin

Several weeks ago Pastor Jeony, Rey and I had the opportunity to visit our former students Katarin and Walesca Mondragon in their new home in Catacamas (a small city four hours from Tegucigalpa). Last June AFE helped these two second graders escape forced labor in the garbage dump and move in with an aunt who would care for them in another city (see: “Valesca and Katarin Find New Home”).

Our aim was to check on them, to see how they liked their new living situation, and review their progress at their new school.

When we arrived at their small, well-kept home in the suburb, I had high hopes. The large living room was cared for lovingly, painted in warm colors, and decorated with framed family pictures and pretty tiles. This family was certainly in a better economic situation than the aunt with whom they had lived formally.

When we met Katain and Valesca’s new caregiver (another aunt), she seemed a responsible, middle-class woman. But something was not right.

The aunt called Katarin and Valesca to come out and my suspicions were confirmed.
Three inhibited girls slowly emerged from the door, heads downcast but shy eyes glancing up. I was shocked that a third Katarin and Valesca existed; Angelica was their younger sister, although we had never heard about her when Katain and Valesca attended AFE. Yet, what shocked me the most was the change in the demeanor of my two favorite girls.

I remembered when they used to visit me during recess and huddle around my computer as I worked. They twirled as they chattered, would sass Rey as needed, and their eyes danced too. But something was different now. They seemed bound by invisible chains and reminded me off an abused dog who cowered under his master’s hand.

Their aunt explained to us how difficult it was to care for them (while the girls listened on), but that they would never go back to the garbage dump; it is just not right for a child to be there. She told us how she fed them well and took good care of them (they did seem to be well-nourished). But then we asked Katarin and Valesca what they did on an average day.

“Wake up, clean our room, eat breakfast, tidy the house, sweep and mop the floor, dust the curtains and furniture, tidy the patio, make lunch, do the dishes…” The list of housekeeping went on and on.

Why were they not in school?!

The aunt explained that there just wasn’t enough money to put them in school. Their father sent 100 Lempiras ($5) a month back from the States to support them, which did not even cover their food. It was good that their aunt was providing for them from her own means, but was she also providing love and care? The children knew they were a burden, it was obvious on their faces, and they were working as servants in the home to lessen their load.

Our hearts wept for these girls. But we knew that their heavenly father’s heart hurt even more. We went to work, searching for God’s plan to rectify this situation.

Pastor Jeony thought quickly. It happened that one of his mentors pastored a church in the suburb. And this church also hosted a dynamic Christian school, except only upper-middle class children could afford tuition.

Pastor Jeony met with the pastor of the Catacamas church and shared Valesca, Katarin (and now Angelica)’s story. His heart immediately went out to them. Although enrollment in this private Christian school was competitive, the pastor pledged to find a place for the three girls.
This situation is better than we could have hoped. There is currently no way for us to place the three girls in another home because the aunt has full guardianship and let us know in no uncertain terms that she did not intend to give them up. But what if we could enlist these children in a local AFE, where they would find loving care-givers who would speak God’s truth into their lives? Would their eyes begin to dance once again?

For each girl to attend the school it costs $50 a month. Will you consider sponsoring them?

If you would like to help sponsor Valesca, Katarin, or Angelica to attend a Christian school in Catacams, please contact

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Teacher and a Nurse

Two years ago we met them…an idealistic young couple with the glint of a dream in their eyes. Like many before them, they told us they wanted to come to Honduras and help AFE. Expecting their passion to fade with time, we gave the perfunctorily response: “Sure, sure, that would be great!” But the next time they came down with a medical brigade they were even more determined.

Today AFE is happy to call Adam and Hollie Macenczak part of our family. God couldn’t have chosen a better couple or a better time. Adam’s background is in Christian education – at the junior high level. Hollie has experience in the ER as a nurse. With more and more grades at AFE moving up, there is a great demand for teachers qualified to teach higher-level courses. With the Miller family’s departure to the United States, a hole has been left in AFE’s health programming. Adam and Hollie couldn’t have come at a better time.

Adam and Hollie first discovered AFE when they came on a short-term mission trip with their friend, Jacobo Solimon. Jacobo Solimon lives in Atlanta and attends Christian Church Buckhead, but he is originally from Honduras. His family, the Solimons, are founding members of AFE’s church, Amor y Vida, and have been faithful supporters of AFE. Adam and Hollie are supported by their church, Christian Church at Buckhead, and by Snellville Christian Church in Snellville, Georgia. They have come to AFE and Honduras through the missionary organization Soar Ministries in Georgia.

Before joining AFE as full-time missionaries this January, they studied Spanish in an immersion school in Antigua, Guatemala and La Ceiba, Honduras. They plan to serve at AFE for the next five years and we couldn’t be happier. Pray that God would bless the Macenczak’s for their sacrifice leaving family and friends to invest five years of their lives in service to garbage dump workers. You can follow along with Adam and Hollie’s adventures on their blog, “Poco a Poco.”