Costa Rica Testimony - The Life of Julio and his Familia
I met Julio(7) on the first day at Tirrases when he tapped me behind my back and ran away. Ever since that moment, he would grab my hand and tell me to sit next to him during worship and crafts time. Everyday when Julio enters the classroom, he would come up to me and greet me with a big hug and smile. On the outside, he seems like a normal kid, but this is what his family is going through:
Julio's mom is named Sara. Sara has four young kids (Wendy, Sandra, Julio, and Tatiana) who attend the bible school. Julio's dad is not in the picture. He is an alcoholic that abused Julio for years, and is now in and out of jail for drug trafficking. Three years ago, Esther (wife of Horacio, the founder of the school) met Sara on the streets and they have been good friends since then.
Julio and his family currently live in a beat down shack made of wood and rusty metal bars. Their shack is full of mud and debris from the rain, and they do not have clean running water. Their neighborhood is full of trash (since it use to be a dump). They do not even have a bathroom inside the house and must go outside to a communal bathroom. Electricity was not provided, so the family had to climb onto the power lines and tie wires that would connect to their house (this is very very very dangerous). This shack costs $150 a month, but when you look at their living situation, you know that it is not worth that much. The heartless landlord just hikes up the prices of rent each year.
Last September, Sara was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. She received chemo and radiation treatment for her cancer and it went away for a while. Just recently, the cancer came back. She just took three biopsies and is now in the hospital again. Because of this, another mom from the bible school has volunteered to house her children while she undergoes treatment at the hospital. Sara use to sell fried plantains to make money and pay for rent. However, she had to stop because the heat was bad for her cancer. Thus, she has no money to pay for rent.
Sara has constant bleeding and is always in pain. She does not want her children to see her in pain so she hides it every time they are near. Her only hope is that all her kids will stay in the bible school and not get caught up in the drug business (people in Costa Rica sell drugs because they need the money to support their family).
Julio grew up in an abusive household and has never had affection. But through the providence of God, he is slowly learning to be more gentle and calm. He is learning that physical contact does not always mean violence, that it could be meant to show love. Giving him a simple hug and embracing him is the first step I know in helping him conquer his past.
I got really teary when he wrote "Lisa y Julio Amigo" on his breastplate of righteousness. He gave it to me as a gift to bring back to San Diego. It will have very special place on my wall.
Sara's story reminded me of a devotion that I read on Joshua 14:6-12. Because of Caleb's faith, God gave him 45 more years to live so that he could survive the wilderness and enter the promised land. Caleb's quote in verse 11 summarizes to this: " Just as my strength was then, so is my strength now." In every season, God is with us, even when we are growing old and our health fails! It says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." We are significant to God in every season, and he can use us at every stage and every age.
Please please please pray for Sara and her family.
- Pray for healing for Sara - I know miracles can happen when aligned with God's plan. Pray that Sara will have faith in God's plan for her life and her family.
- Pray that Sara's kids will continue to do well in their academics and attend Horacio's bible school, despite outside influences.
- Pray that Julio and his siblings will put on the armor of God every day and that they will never let go of God's words.
In his Love,
P.S. Julio and I will be friends forever. "Amigos Para Siempre!"