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Dear Aura, Nuncia, and Luciola
The two following stories/articles are about three women my team met through our ministry, Pan de Vida. All three of these amazing women are apart of Pan de Vida’s entrepreneurial program, and because of that, they are regularly checked up on through house visits by PdV’s social worker, Juan Carlos. PdV gave us the opportunity to go on two of these visits, and asked we write stories on the women and how God has changed their lives. SO, without further ado, here are some stories I wrote about three God-fearing women from Quito, Ecuador.
Aura Go´mez and Nuncia Rodri´guez
A wise woman once told me that one of the best qualities a person can have is the ability to find humor in any situation, no matter how difficult or painful. Both Aura Go´mez and Nuncia Rodri´guez exemplify that quality beautifully. I had the pleasure of meeting both women during a routine house visit for the entrepreneurship program with Pan de Vida’s resident social worker, Juan Carlos.
Aura and Nuncia’s lives are beautifully intertwined. Before they knew each other as best friends, they were solely each other’s in-laws. They knew each other first, because Aura’s daughter, 41-year-old Lorena, and Nuncia’s son, 40-year-old Jesu´s, were married. Now, they are roomates, living together in their home for six. They share two grandchildren, 18-year-old Fabricio, and 13-year-old A´ngel. Both are older, Venezuelan women, caring for an overfull household. They immigrated from Ecuador in search of better treatment for Jesu´s, who has been paraplegic since a car accident in 2014. Pan de Vida was able to assist them in getting necessities (adult diapers, clothing for the family, a grooming kit, etc.) for their situation, things that weren’t accessible or affordable in Venezuela despite Aura’s 30 years in public service for her country. On top of that, Pan de Vida was able to implement a social intervention plan that helped the entire family get clothing, find a home, and receive food in order to alleviate a family-wide issue of malnutrition. Best of all, both Nuncia and Aura qualified to be beneficiaries in the entrepreneurship program at Pan de Vida, allowing room for Aura to share her gift of baking cupcakes. Once part of the program, she was able to propose her idea for a cupcake business, titled “Delicias Cupakes” that was then funded and approved by Pan de Vida.
Since then, the family’s financial and health situation has improved greatly. Even more beautifully, however, was the atmosphere of the home, and how evident the power of Christ’s love was in their household. Their home was a warm, inviting place, where they served us Jamaica te´ and bantered with Juan Carlos about the state of the Venezuelan government. As Nuncia played with my teammate Shelby’s hair, Aura joked about how both Americans and Venezuelans love to talk a lot (and too quickly), and treated us with affection and familiarity as if we were family.
I was in wonder of the optimism, faith, and benevolence despite the hardships they had faced as immigrants from a corrupt country, or as older women caring for a large household with no husbands to help support. And as my teammates and I sat there with smiles on our faces as the three of them rapidly spoke and joked in Spanish, we were contently unaware of the nature of their conversation. Still, we sat blissful and refreshed because the two women in front of us whose strength and hope was so strongly rooted in the Lord, that nothing was able to knock them down.
Luciola, known to her friends as Lucy, is a tiny, older, Ecuadorian woman who lives in her crowded home for four sitting atop one of the largest hills I’ve ever climbed. Upon greeting the five of us, she joked to Juan Carlos, Pan de Vida’s social worker, about him bringing four “gringas” with him, before quickly enveloping all of us in hugs. Nothing short of hospitable, we were all given cups of delicious, fresh, piña juice by Lucy as we sat in her kitchen, a 8’x8’ room which also worked as her family area, office, and eating area. Lucy is one of the seven women involved with the beneficiary program at Pan de Vida, and because of that, Juan Carlos makes it a habit to regularly check up on her in her home to see how she’s doing, and if her family and her are in need of any tangible things PDV can help with. As he asked her about her family, her health, or even how her product development was coming along, she became progressively more upset and visibly emotional. Not stopping to pause between words, she would reach above my head to grab a roll of toilet paper in order to wipe the tears that raced down her cheeks. As my three teammates and I, who were accompanying him on his visits that day, sat and watched her speak, we managed to understand a great deal despite not understanding much Spanish at all. Lucy was, simply put, sad. She was weary, tired, and to top it off, physically ill.
Before PDV Lucy was extremely malnourished and needed quality medical attention because of a severe deficiency leaving her under the minimum weight for someone of her age. Moreover, her daughter, Daniela, has struggled with hydrocephalus since birth. Due to the severity of her and her daughter’s health, along with the fact that their monthly income of approximately $100 classifies them as extremely impoverished, Pan de Vida has provided them with material, medical, and spiritual attention. Since then, Lucy has joined the beneficiary program, an amazing opportunity that equips her with entrepreneurial skills, materials to create a product, and action plans that help her sell the product in its completion. PDV also provides medical checkups for her when she eventually becomes sick again. Nevertheless, despite all the tangible ways that PDV helped her, Lucy is still an impoverished woman, struggling to provide for her family, afflicted by socioeconomic issues that neither her, nor Pan de Vida, can control.
But despite her circumstances; despite the cardboard roof over the kitchen that surely doesn’t protect them from the rain, despite the giant hill that leaves you flushed and winded ever time she walks home, despite her struggle to sell her products on the streets, despite all the reasonable circumstances for her to sit in her sorrow — she was incredibly generous, greeted us with warm embraces, and by the end of our time with her, still gave all glory to God. She was a picture of true joy, joy that is founded in faith that her provider, comforter, and savior is soon coming back for her. Pan de Vida provided the foundation for many tangible things for Luciola: food, clothing, doctor appointments for when she is sick, and opportunities through what she learns in the micro business program. Nonetheless, the most valuable thing they provided her with was a foundation for a relationship with Jesus and a community of fellow women who she can commune with, share with, and do life with.
So beautifully written. So encouraged by the strength and faith of these women. Praying for them and the ministry.
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