After we finished in La Azomada in El Tablon, we traveled a little further down the mountain to Guanas, the second church. I don’t have any sponsored children at this church, but a couple of the other sponsors did. While they went on their home visits, the rest of us watched the kids rehearse for their service that we would be attending that evening. It was fun to see the happy and smiling kids singing and dancing, and I recognized many of them from photos over time that have been posted by Manna and shared by their sponsors.
Next, we traveled down to the last stop, the main church of El Tablon. This was the first church that children were registered from, and it is closest to the main road. I have 3 children here, and the first two are my set of siblings, Yeyson and Greysi. I sponsored these two together a little under a year ago, and it’s been great getting to support and know the whole family. They came walking up with Cristian, my other sponsored child from the main church, and I only found out at that moment that they were cousins and the boys were very close! I have sponsored Cristian longer, and I had no idea when I sponsored the other two that they were related, but it turned out to be awesome! They live nearby each other and not far away, so we walked.
The boys were a little shyer at first, as Maria had been. It’s a little intimidating meeting for the first time, which is why I love that with this trip, we get two days together. It’s funny that going into this day, I had assumed Greysi would be shy. But as I got to know this little delight, she turned out to be anything but! She came right up to hug me, and once we arrived at their house, she first timidly peeked in the bag of gifts I gave her, but then eagerly started playing with the toys.
It’s cultural to not want to open gifts in front of the giver there, so many children saved the bag of gifts for later or opened them in another room during the visit if they couldn’t wait 🙂 I did get to see a few children open and go through their gifts though, and it was so much fun. With backpacks, you use their photos and letters as clues, hoping they liked it, trying to discern what their favorite things were and what to send again. I thought about how just a couple days before, those gifts had all been sprawled out in my bedroom as I worked to sort through and then pack them all, and now they were coming to life through the vivid imagination of an adorable 3 year old. I got to see the toys and gifts through her eyes.
She adored the Barbie doll, which was obviously her favorite. She also loved the two ponies with their long mane. I watched as she carefully undressed and redressed the doll, combed her and the ponies’ hair, put the doll on the stuffed deer to ride, used the reversible sequin bracelet as a small blanket for them, and more, and I wanted to preserve that moment in time forever.
Yeyson, who had put his bag away when I gave it to him, pulled it out after a little while of his sister playing with hers. He was so cautious with everything. He tried out the harmonica, briefly in front of us, but then later I heard him just outside the house playing it again 🙂 He took out the kite to try, although there was no wind that day, and carefully put it back away when he was done. He put on the bracelet right away, and played a lot with the fidget spinner, knowing just what to do with it. I remember last year when I brought one to Evelin’s brother in Guatemala and her mother had told me he had been wanting one. They’re definitely popular in Central America, too! Sitting there in the cool of their home, a strong contrast to the unrelenting heat that day, sipping on juice that their mother brought us, watching the kids play, I couldn’t imagine being any happier, and I could have sat there for hours more.
Their mother was also so kind and grateful. Their father is not in the picture, I don’t know why, but she has remarried now. She told me that when Greysi was born, they both almost didn’t make it. It’s such a blessing seeing how healthy they all are now!
Both kids were wearing things I had sent them in their backpacks, which made me so happy to see. Their mother said it was a way to show their appreciation. Aren’t they a sweet family?
As much as I didn’t want to leave, I was also excited to get to visit Cristian. He came over, and he and Yeyson walked me a little way down to his house.