Meeting a child and family known only on paper

Marsha and Jim Benshoof with their sponsored family.

Marsha and Jim Benshoof with Gustavo, their sponsored student, and his family.

by Marsha Benshoof, sponsor and Vision Team volunteer

What an amazing experience, meeting a child and his family that you have known only on paper. Jim and I have been sponsors of Gustavo since April 2010, shortly after a Vision Team from our church, Robbinsdale United Church of Christ, returned from Guatemala and shared their stories with us. We decided last spring to join a Vision Team and we have recently returned from our wonderful week in Guatemala with Common Hope.

Gustavo lives in San Rafael with his family—his parents, two younger sisters and one younger brother. When our team traveled to San Rafael, we had the chance to meet Gustavo and his family. Gustavo met us at the entrance of their shared yard with a quick grin and led us to the family’s home. Imagine our surprise when the first thing we saw were framed pictures of Jim and me, which we had sent to the family, hanging on the outside wall of their home!

Gustavo with new books

Gustavo with the new books from his sponsors.

We felt welcomed, and since Jim and I are able to speak some Spanish, we had a discussion with the family about their farming and their life in San Rafael. We distributed the gifts we had brought—food for the family and books for all of the children. We were delighted to see Gustavo clearly eager to look at the books. By this time, Gustavo was a little less shy and we were able to engage him in some conversation. When our time with the family was finished, Gustavo walked with us to the school. Our Vision Team spent a couple of more hours observing and playing games at the school, and it was fun to see that Gustavo was engaged and seemed to be happy and learning a lot.

We are happy to be sponsors and thrilled that Gustavo and his family seem to truly value the fact that he is in school and a good student. We feel connected to this family and we will travel to visit them again in the future. Of course, this experience was only one of many during our week in Guatemala—helping to build a house for a deserving family, being present for the graduation ceremony and celebration of 1,000 high school graduates, visiting a second student (Franki) and family that our church sponsors, and working with an great team of volunteers. Thanks to Common Hope for the opportunity!

To sponsor a child like Gustavo or join a Vision Team like the Benshoofs, click here.

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