The past 2 days, I have been touring around El Salvador to see some of the great projects we have in this country. We are making our base in San Salvador, the capital and making day-long trips around the country. I think this is the best name a country could ever have…translated from the Spanish it means, “The one and only Savior.” I wish all countries could have a name like that. The story of how this wonderful country got its name comes from Christopher Columbus. Legend has it that when he left Honduras, he ran into a major storm and didn’t think he or any of his ships would survive. When they finally made it to land, he thanked “El Salvador” for delivering him safely, and the name stuck.

We have some amazing workers in Central America. They travel a difficult road each day. Literally and figuratively, the work is hard, thankless, and it seems that there are more needy people than resources. I thought the roads in Kenya were bad. The roads in Central America are not only full of ruts, bumps, and potholes, but they are steep and narrow, too. Just like in Kenya, a Toyota Hilux or Landcruiser is probably the best vehicle one could own. Unfortunately, none of our workers can afford a high end brand like Toyota. If they even own a car or truck it will be older and well-used…let me tell you about Miguel and Alma Arguera.

Miguel and Alma have been coordinators for the San Salvador projects for 22 years. They oversee 8 programs spread all around El Salvador. Miguel has it down to a science. Every six weeks, he loads his Mitsubishi pick up with food that he and Alma deliver to the needy children in the program. They take 14-16 days to deliver everything to everyone. He has over 400 kids that receive 50 lbs of food each every six months. That means his little truck is loaded with 2500 lbs and then driven a total of 1800 miles round trip…and they do this 8 times a year. Miguel was proud that his truck had 375,000 kilometers on it, and it still ran good. It looks a lot older than the 6 years it actually is. In this rotation, he and Alma deliver to the two programs in San Salvador…that can be done in a day each, but to get to some of the other towns means a drive of sometimes 200 kilometers each way! One program has 105 kids, so they have to rent a bigger truck to fit all the food. Miguel took me to one of the furthest out places, Guaymango. It was a 3 hour drive, half on paved highways, and half on what can only be called a washed out track. In fact, when were there, a Spanish BMX motorcycle team raced down the road. They use the roads in Guaymango for training, that is how bad they are! Before I got in his truck, I noticed how bald the tires are. Once I had that thought in my mind, I kept expecting us to pop a tire with every rock we had to crawl over. Miguel just drives on, and checks the tires at every stop. Here is the amazing part…We don’t reimburse them for their travel expenses. They have accepted that the money sent by the donors is for the children only, and they do what they can to keep it that way. They never ask for assistance, and they never complain; they just keep with their delivery of food to hungry children and their families.

Miguel and Alma aren’t that young anymore. Their children are all grown and gone. Their health isn’t that great, and Alma is a brain cancer survivor. At one point she was told she only had 6 months to live. She refused to tell Miguel, because she knew he would worry. The social worker and doctor quietly told him to make her comfortable and to never make her upset in her last days. That was 31 years ago! He promised the doctor that he would do just that, and he has kept that promise. He thinks their selfless love made the difference. Miguel is the one who told me the story about how El Salvador was named. He told that to me as we drove to Guaymango to visit with the kids who love to see his truck coming down the road because it symbolizes something good is coming.

This trip, I have ridden in old trucks on bouncy, bumpy roads, traveled by public bus for hours on end. So much bouncing that my rear end is sore at the end of every day and I can’t get comfortable in any position. Our workers sacrifice a lot to do their difficult and physically demanding work. I want them to be safe, because so many poor children count on them.

I want to ask you to help. CRF tries to send every penny we can to help the children. We are proud that we are one of the non-profits with the highest percentage of our money actually going where we say it will go. We owe that to our sponsors. We don’t have the budget to pay for maintenance, upkeep, repairs, or even, tires…unless specifically designated by a donor. So, if you want to help, send us a donation. I have a couple of suggestions: 1) Upkeep and new tires for Miguel Arguera, 2) a new minibus for the Catacamas Children’s Home. Theirs is so run down it isn’t safe to put on the road, especially with our orphan kids. Earmark your donation, and we will be sure to send it their way.  You can donate here and designate your gift in the comments.

I think the difference between Christopher Columbus and Alma and Miguel Arguera is when they thanked the one and only Savior. Columbus did it after he landed safely on the beach after the storm…the Argueras do it before they leave home each morning. We ask our workers to put themselves in harm’s way daily. Can you help make their travels a little safer? Or at least help to get Miguel’s AC fixed for the next time I am with him.

I have met some amazing people in Central America…they are the hands and feet of Jesus, serving the poor and needy in such a loving way. I am truly not worthy.