La Familia Baez: Juan Carlos

November 2, 2011

Some background on the Baez Family here.

This kid is cuuute (never mind the picture, he looks freaking scary there), and for the most part, he is a sweetheart. He can be pretty rascally sometimes, but he always comes over to shake my hand and greet me by name on Sundays at church. He has kind, green eyes, and amidst a sea of sisters and desolate poverty, has grown up with a painfully dismal childhood (see previous entry). Word on the street is that his father is dead, which Juan Carlos himself offers as a fact like it ain’t no thing. And his mother, well, I have a slew of harsh blog entries reserved for her.

In any case, the following is a testimony Celia shared at prayer meeting tonight. Celia is a grandmotherly leader figure at Mi Esperanza who tells me every week how radiant I look (even though it’s probably just the sheen of sweat and face oil) and who also takes Juan Carlos under her wing from time to time.

“Sometimes I offer to take Ño Ño [Juan Carlos’ nickname] to my house for lunch, so last Sunday, he came back with me after service. As we were walking, he said to me, ‘Celia, I am so happy today. Yesterday, my mom showed up and bought me a new pair of shoes for my first communion [side commentary: first time I’ve heard that she’s thrown any sort of money at these kids, ugh].’ I noticed that the shoes were in pretty bad shape, though they looked more like cardboard slabs than footwear in the first place.

‘It rained yesterday and they got ruined when I had to walk home.’

I promised him we could try to glue them back together when we got home.

‘My aunt also gave me 45,000 Guaranis. [This is equivalent to about 10 USD, and to further put into perspective how much money it is for this family, his sister Joana works nine hours a day and makes just 26,000 Guaranis for a day of manual labor.] But I put it all in the offering today.’ he said.

‘Why did you do that? You should have bought a pair of good tennis shoes with that money. Your aunt is going to be upset when she finds out you just put it all in the offering.’

‘Celia,’ he replied patiently, ‘God says that if we give freely to him, He will return it to us fourfold.’

I couldn’t believe this nine-year-old was giving me a lesson on faith. When we finally arrived at my house, I got a call from my daughter inviting me to her house for lunch. I brought Juan Carlos with me, who asked if it would be okay for him to go barefoot. He was happy as a clam when I said of course.

Months ago when I got the idea to take Juan Carlos home with me for lunch once in awhile, people in our church advised me against it. They told me he was maleducado, violent, rude, dangerous. The poor child has grown up without parents!

And you know what, he behaved like a perfect gentleman. He played so well with my grandson, who is about his age, and when it was time to eat, he went around serving everyone and making sure everyone had gotten food before he put anything on his own plate. He also asked me where the mandioca [yucca/manioc] was, went to the kitchen, cut it up without being asked, and then served it to everyone like he had been raised to do so his entire life.

After lunch, my daughter, without being told anything about shoes, brought a pair of basketball sneakers to me and said, ‘We got these for [Celia’s grandson] but he won’t wear them because he doesn’t like the color. Do you think Juan Carlos would like them?’

They cost about 200,000 Guaranis, a little over four times the 45,000 Guaranis Ño Ño put in the offering bag. My daughter gave him the shoes along with a t-shirt and short set when it was time to go.

As I drove him home, he said, ‘See, Celia? I told you God provides.'”

4 Responses to “La Familia Baez: Juan Carlos”

  1. Grace Says:

    Awesome testimony. :)

  2. tim Says:

    Faith like a child. Lessons we all need to continually learn and wrestle with how we can apply that to our lives. God help my unbelief! Thanks for sharing!

  3. bryawnt Says:

    Fan-freaking-tastic. :) love love LOVE IT!

  4. Vivien Gok Says:

    It brought tears to my eyes when I read that. He has such a simple faith that I need to learn.

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