Last November my husband and I began talking with Joel about the sponsorship program through Believe Guatemala to send children from the dump community to a local. Christian school. We planned to raise awareness about the program to our local community in hopes that someone would want to sponsor a child; little did we know, God had a wonderful plan in store. He began working on our hearts and spoke to us that we should sponsor a child.

Meanwhile, Joel was working with the families in the community to get the children who were chosen to be a part of the program in order to get them tested to see their grade level, measured for uniforms, and prepared to begin classes. One mother had a family of nearly a dozen children, four under the age of thirteen. Joel had arranged for three of them to join the sponsorship program and the mother insisted the youngest, aged 8, be able to attend school, too. Joel explained that there wasn’t room in the program, but that he would keep her youngest in mind. When the day came for testing, the mother showed up with all four children, including the youngest, and had them all tested. Joel said he didn’t have a choice but to allow her to test – he knew God must have something planned. Amazingly, the youngest received the highest grade of her family in some of the categories!

As my husband and I prayed for the program, we decided to tell Joel we would like to sponsor a child. He told us the story of the 8 year old girl, Ruth, and how she would be our sponsored child; just a few weeks before the deadline for registering for school, God answered Joel’s prayers and provided a way for Ruth to study.

During a family vacation to Guatemala, Joel took us on a tour of the school and I met Ruth for the first time. She was so shy, looking at me with her big, dark eyes and then staring at her feet. They told her who I was and she looked up briefly to smile, then looked back down as she came over, gave me a hug, and thanked me.

Since this trip, I returned in March with a small team, and among them was my husband. I was able to introduce He and Ruth and, while she was shy at the beginning of the week, she opened up to us throughout the week and quickly became attached. By mid-week she would run to greet us as we entered the community and when it was time for us to return to America, she was truly sad to see us leave. We absolutely fell in love with her from her adorable personality to her beautiful, big eyes. It was amazing to see how the foundation of our relationship, us sponsoring her for school, created such a strong, and unique, bond between us.

In August we again returned to Guatemala with a small team, including my husband, and stayed for about ten days. During this trip we not only visited the community, but also the school that they attend, which allowed us to spend quite a bit of time with the children. The biggest blessing of the week was being a part of Ruth’s 9th birthday celebration, complete with a pizza dinner, cake, pinata, and presents. The evening was filled with such joy and Ruth just kept hugging us and thanking us for everything.

We can truly say it has been such a blessing to be a part of Believe’s Sponsorship program; it has allowed us to not only have a specific child to love on, spend time with, and pray for, but it has opened the door for a relationship that otherwise would be very difficult, if not impossible, to form. Below I put a picture of the birthday card I received from Ruth for my birthday – it is just another one of the many blessings we have received through this program.

If you are at all considering being a part of this program in any way, I want to remind you that there are several different ways of support: your time, your prayers, and your donations. First, if you would like to be a part of a mission trip to visit the students, see their school and be a part of tutoring them in the afternoons – please ask! It is always a blessing for the students to see new faces and, believe me, you will be blessed through them! Second, the students, as well as the teachers and administration could use lots of prayers. If you would like a list of students, teachers, and administration personnel, please ask and we would be happy to provide you with a way to more personally talk to God about these individuals. Last, if you are interested in giving financially, please pray about it and ask any questions you may have. The gift can be as small as a one time donation of $67 to provide the uniform for a student, $78 which allows the student to enroll in school, $120 to provide the student with school supplies, $135 for the students books, or monthly gifts (from January through October, as they are on break November and December) of $35 to cover the students lunches and field trips or $55 to cover the monthly tuition. While I’m aware those are a lot of numbers, it truly shows that a gift of any size can, and will be, used to do amazing things for these students. Again, thank you for reading this testimony; the hope is that it stirred your heart and created a deeper interest in the ministry of Believe Guatemala.

Alyssa Israel