Many of you who have been following our work in Guatemala for a while might remember how a few years ago we were helping a couple from the streets (Maria Jose & Cesar) to get off the streets and into a recovery program for their addictions. You also might remember who in mid 2013 we had the honor of helping them bring home their first son, Duncan David (yes, he was named after David as well as a great friend of ours named Duncan), as the hospital did not want for them to have their child. Since that day that we were finally able to bring him home with Maria Jose & Cesar, we have been on quite the journey with this family. Baby Duncan quickly found a way to capture hearts as well as many others whom we have brought by the meet him. He is such a cutie and a really bright light of hope for his parents. On the other hand, the relationship between Maria Jose & Cesar has been quite rocky over the last year and a half, mostly because neither one of them has been able, nor willing, to leave their life of drugs and alcohol behind.
Towards the middle of last year, we started to lose communication with both Maria Jose & Cesar as the both seemed determined to work everything out on their own. Quickly Maria Jose found herself deep into her solvent addiction (as well as a number of other poor choices) and Cesar was constantly drunk on the streets. What made things worse was that Maria Jose was pregnant with a baby girl they would later name Lupita. Lupita was fortunately born very healthy in mid November and since we had worked previously with them to get IDs, it was much easier for them to leave the hospital with her.
Fast forward now to about a month ago, when we happened to stumble across the path of Cesar, someone we had not seen since before Lupita was born. It was quite the joyful moment to see him again and quickly he took us over to their new home to play with baby Duncan and finally meet his sister. We were very impressed with how they had apparently progressed in their relationship and living situation and we could not help but walk away giving praise to God that we could once again be able to help them. For us, there was no doubt that this was a divine appointment. What we did not realize is that the reason we were brought back into their lives was because they were about to enter into a dark, dark place in their relationship.
2 weeks after our encounter with Cesar, we went to visit (as we had been doing every few days) and were stunned to discover that no one was home. The neighbor told us that Maria had given up the children and was back on the streets. We completely stunned and could not believe it. So we went to place where they frequently got drugged up and discovered that this claim might actually be true. What was worse was that they were saying that the kids had been given to the manager of a nearby bar that is more like a brothel than a bar. For days we searched for Maria Jose and Cesar until finally our friend Duncan found Cesar. Cesar asked for help in reporting what had happened in child protective services so we gladly went along to help him. After a few days of working with the government on the case, a rescue order was made and off we went with the government to oversee the rescue. We stood from a distance observing the situation and were quite impressed with how the government agents went in and took care of business. Though the kids were not there, the lady was willing to cooperate and gave them the address where the kids were staying. At that, we were told that we would be best to go to child services and wait.
After a few hours of waiting with Cesar, we were pleased to see the government truck pull up and out came the children. We were so relieved to see those 2 precious children safe in the arms of people we know wanted to help. One thing though we did not expect was the family that had the children showed up as well. It was quite tense for a while with Cesar and the other family, however, once Cesar went to sit down with the judge, David took the time to chat with them to hear more of the story. Turns out that Maria had run away to the streets to get away from the abuse she faced when Cesar was drunk and did not want the children sleeping on the streets. So the manager of the bar, who was a good friend of Maria, offered to help. It also turned out that Maria was also back into prostitution as well as heavily sniffing solvent again as a way to numb her pain. The bar owner apparently pleaded with her to come with her, but Maria declined and decided to return to the streets.
In the end, the judge ordered the children to temporarily live in a nearby children's home until another hearing can take place on the 24th. This was actually somewhat expected as Cesar is handicap and would not be able to care for the children on his own (not to mention that he still struggles with alcohol). Our friend Duncan also finally found Maria Jose the next day and she has now decided to get cleaned up, live with the family where her children were at, and fight for them.
For us, this has been a very difficult situation to be in the midst of as we love both Cesar & Maria Jose deeply and hate seeing this happen with them. We also want the very best for little Duncan and Lupita, which makes it all the more difficult for us. We have absolutely no doubt that God brought us back into their lives to be a light in the midst of this dark season. We want to ask for prayer this next week, in particular on Tuesday, for His light to invade the darkness, for His love to heal the wounds, and for the brokenness of the situation to once again be made whole.