With the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Syria to the east, and Israel to the south, the narrow country of Lebanon is the fifth smallest…
From Elsy’s home, it takes about thirty minutes to walk to school. The walk is not too far, and the children in her neighborhood have no problem doing it. Unfortunately, the teachers don’t live in this community.
For the teachers, it takes more than just time to get to the school. From the city of Usulutan in southern El Salvador, it takes about thirty minutes to drive to Elsy’s school and at least three hours on foot. The narrow dirt road is full of dips and bumps and walled in by thick foliage most of the way there. It is not an easy drive to make, for either the car or the people in it. To make the drive—both ways—every day of the week would be a lot to ask, and very few teachers are able to find someone to take them.
Pastor Henry lives in Usulutan. When he learned of the teachers’ difficulty in getting to this remote village to teach, he offered to drive them. Pastor Henry took these opportunities to not only share the gospel with the teachers as they drove, but to learn more about the people living in the community. As the teachers began to trust him more, they began sharing with him about the families in greatest need. This is how Henry learned about Elsy.
In the community where Elsy lives, most of the homes were provided by the government for the families who work the milpa fields. Workers will walk for hours to get to the fields, earning about seven dollars for their work before walking back home.
Elsy is six years old and the youngest of six children to Ruben and Hilda Galdamez. Elsy’s three oldest brothers work in the fields and no longer live with the rest of the family.
Next to the Galdamez home is a dry riverbed that runs down the center of the community. The riverbed ranges from ten to fifteen feet from one bank to the other and easy to cross when dry. During the rainy season, however, the river regularly overflows with fast-moving water. Without a bridge to safely cross the river, the only way to get to the other side is to swim. Ruben would use cables stretched from one side to the other to help him across so that he could get to the road and go to work. He would then have to swim back on his way home at the end of the day.
Tragedy struck the Galdamez family five months ago when Ruben died from kidney failure. In addition to being the sole provider for the family, he was the only one able to cross the river when it overflowed. During the rainy season, Hilda and her children are now stranded in their home with no one to cross the river to get food, sometimes for weeks at a time.
After Ruben’s death, one of the teachers for the community shared with Pastor Henry about the family’s struggles. He immediately reached out to them with food to help them meet their immediate needs. Elsy, who was very close to her father, was traumatized by the loss. Her older sister and brother have also struggled to move forward. Recently, Hilda shared with Henry that she sold the last thing her husband had left her before he died—a goat—for just $30. When the money from that sale was gone, she had nothing left.
The visits from Pastor Henry have meant a lot to the Galdamez family. The food he brings with him has provided for their physical needs, while his friendship, prayer, and spiritual guidance has brought them comfort in their grief.
In his home in Usulutan, Pastor Henry runs a workshop to teach the local youth a variety of skills, such as construction, mechanics, welding, raising chickens, and more. From Henry’s first introduction to the Galdamez family, he began talking to Hilda’s son Abel about learning a skill. All he had to do was pick something he wanted to learn, and Henry would bring him back to his workshop and teach him what he needed to know. While in the depths of his grief over losing his father, Abel struggled to give Henry an answer. Recently, Abel made the decision to learn welding. In addition to teaching him the skills, Henry assured Abel that he would also get him the necessary tools to do the work.
While Hilda and her children have yet to make a declaration of faith, Pastor Henry continues to faithfully visit their home with food and the hope that can only be found in the gospel.
At Children’s Hunger Fund, we continue to stand in awe of how God continues to work in the lives of His people. It was God who brought Henry to this remote community—there was no way Henry would have found it on his own. It was God’s plan that Henry would learn about the Galdamez family through the local teachers who know the needs in the community. It is God who continues to provide Henry with the ability to train and equip the local youth with the skills to earn a livable wage.
We give thanks for pastors like Henry—for pastors who not only see a need but respond generously.