As an individual or family, list all the things you need in order to live today. Include things we often take for granted such as air and water. But also include things which you need to live a happy and holy life such as love, prayer, and companionship. Something I take for granted… my legs, and the ability to get around and leave whenever I want… Now, scan the front pages of the newspaper or listen to the lead stories on your local television news. Identify a single basic need which someone is being denied, and decide on one thing you can do to help that person get what he or she needs to live a life of dignity and hope.
My response… to give mobile transportation and independence to two individuals….. I met both Maria Matza Guoz and Roberto Guit Coz in 2009 while on a Mission and Awareness trip to San Lucas Toliman Mission in Sololá, Guatemala and was determined to help them! Preparing another group to go to San Lucas Mission this October, our tri-parish community fundraised money for many projects on our trip and partnered with two agencies, Hope Haven and P.E.T. International (Personal Energy Transportation) to provide a hand-cycled wheelchair for Maria and Roberto, both whom are homebound.
Maria is 56 years old and lives with her sister and her family… She has never had a wheelchair or had anything to get around and has been confined to her sisters very humble home all of her adult life. She weaves incredible placemats and table runners for the San Lucas Toliman Mission and Chona (lead cook at the mission) sells them on her behalf. While visiting and delivering the P.E.T. vehicle we heard that Maria had been sick for over a month and her niece had to stay home to take care of her… she is 14 years old. They did not have enough income and went often times without eating. She cried when we delivered the P.E.T. vehicle and said “Now I can go out to market and sell my own wares.” Wow! The nieces and nephews loved getting rides on it as well! What a gift from God!
Roberto is 45 years old and is a main supporter for his mom, dad, sister with mental illness and other brother, sister in law and nieces and nephews that live in the home. Roberto also weaves gorgeous table runners and table cloths. Last year he was given an antique wheelchair that everyone had to push him around but it wasn’t very useful due the cumbersome size and weight. His father, an indigenous Mayan praised God and thanked us for remembering his family! Roberto was very grateful for the P.E.T. vehicle/cart.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Thanks solely to my own encounter – or renewed encounter with two individuals- with God’s love, which blossomed into an enriching friendship, we were able to help two individuals’ live more independent lives.
Thank you to P.E.T. International as well as Hope Haven in Guatemala and the Friends of San Lucas Mission for helping us give dignity to Maria and Roberto!