Words become a shelter
"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13:34-35 (NLT)
Elza lives in La Fragua, Zacapa, located east from Guatemala City. Known as the dry corridor, the area is constantly battered by drought. The unproductive land has ruined many livelihoods and poverty and unemployment reign. For Elza, her home didn’t escape this. Her father struggled to find work and would often return home drunk and violent. “My siblings and I always had to take care of our father because he would get drunk and do reckless things and he would get violent,” Elza recalls.
Things started to change for Elza when she was registered at a local church-based Compassion project. As she stepped through the gates, the first thing she noticed was no one was shouting or using bad language, “I felt the difference between my home and the Compassion project. My tutors would treat me nicely and they constantly talked about Jesus and how much He loved me,” she recalls.
Elza received further affirmation when she started receiving letters from her sponsor. “I felt cared for by my sponsor. She always told me things like ‘Jesus loves you, Elza, and so do we’ or ‘The Lord will always be with you’. They also encouraged me to stay in God’s path.”
Over the years things haven’t been easy for Elza and she’s faced situations that have caused great pain. The first was the death of her oldest brother, who was killed while operating a truck at work. Two years later, her grandmother passed away from pneumonia, and a year after that, her father was hit by a car whist crossing the road drunk. During those heart-breaking years, Elza constantly wrote and asked her sponsors to pray for her family. Elza recalls, “my sponsors quickly wrote back saying that the Lord was always with me, even if it was a hard time for me, Jesus would never leave me and God would give me the strength I needed to carry on. My sponsors’ words became my shelter. My mother never learnt how to read or write, when we were both feeling down, I would read my sponsors’ letters out loud so she and I could both be comforted by their loving words.”
Today, 16-year-old Elza helps out at the project. “I was really nervous at first, but I wanted to share with those little kids the things I learned from my sponsors. I wanted them to know that no matter what they are going through, God’s love is with them and He will never leave them.”
Heavenly father, we thank you that you love us unconditionally. That you promise to go before us and never let us go. Amen.