Doña Elvarita


elvarita 1The first time I met Doña Elvarita in January, she said to us missionaries, “I don’t have anything to give you except my joy, so I give all of my joy to you.” This beautiful woman has become one of my regular home visits here in General Cepeda. Every Monday morning I visit her at her home, and I believe she brings me more joy and Jesus than I could ever bring her.

Elvarita is 90 years old. Her husband died thirteen years ago, and they were never able to have children of their own. She deeply loves and cares for all of her many, many nieces and nephews, and in fact has two of them living with her. She has very little and works hard to take care of her home and nephews.

In my visits with her we talk, sing, and read the Bible, which she is no longer able to read on her own because of her eyesight. She is incredibly faithful, and in fact used to assist Frank and Genie, our founders, when they lived in Mexico. At the end of our visits whenever I offer to pray with her, she is the one leading the prayer and asking God to protect and take care of me, her Perlita. (She has the hardest time saying my name, so she calls me her “Little Pearl” because I told her my name means pearl.)

elvarita 2

Last week we had a mission trip here, and it was definitely the most awesome group I’ve ever been a part of. Monday morning I took three girls with me to visit Elvarita, and what a blessing it was! She was so excited to see us that we ended up in a huge group hug and began dancing together in a circle. We talked and sang and I shared her story for the girls, and Carla read a psalm from the Bible. Despite being hungry and concerned for her sick nephews, Elvarita shared with us such joy that we left laughing and smiling.

elvarita 4This woman has become in many ways my Mexican grandmother. Her love for Jesus and trust in Him, even in her deepest need, always reminds me to praise God in my trials. Her joy at seeing me makes me want to always give such joy to the people I meet. Her faith in God is incredible, and no matter how deep her sadness, I always see her lift her eyes to Jesus and thank him for loving her. Thank you Lord for your beautiful daughter!




lupita1I’d like you to meet Lupita, a very special girl from Mogote, one of the ranchos we visit frequently. I first met Lupita back in November, and she was extremely shy and never spoke to anyone, except to her mother, and then only in a whisper. But this beautiful girl has a heart of gold, and she has changed my heart as well.

Lupita has Downs Syndrome. Downs Syndrome is very familiar to me, since my youngest uncle is also a Downs. However, as I child I was afraid of my uncle. He was big, strong, very loud, and got angry easily. His moods frightened me, and I rarely saw any of the mild sweetness that most Downs people are known for. As a result, for most of my life I’ve been illogically wary of anybody with Downs Syndrome.

Then I met Lupita. She is 15 years old, and this month she will finally receive her First Communion. She has a beautiful, simple faith in God, and she loves the missionaries. But for months, she wouldn’t talk to any of us. She pointed, she smiled, she whispered to her mom, she held the babies, she was sweetness itself, but she never talked.

In March we had a high-school mission trip visit us for a week. One day the girls and I went to Mogote to help with a work project. After working for a few minutes, I noticed Lupita hanging out on the edge of the work area, shyly clinging to a fence and watching us. Genuinely happy to see her, I walked over, gave her a hug, and introduced her to the girls from the trip. We were digging a trench (really tough work) and yet when I asked Lupita if she wanted to help, she smiled, took a pick-axe, and set to work. It was easy to see she’d never held a pick-axe before, but she never complained and did everything with a smile.

lupita2That was the first day she really talked. We sat in the shade for a break, and she asked all kinds of questions about the girls who were visiting. She helped shovel the broken rock and dirt from the trench, and laughed with us over Cokes. Her eagerness to be “one of the girls” and her joy at being invited to work with us touched my heart. She assumed nothing, not even that the extra Coke was for her, and yet gave everything.

Ever since that day, Lupita has surprised all of us by how much she talks with us, commenting on everything and talking about the kids, the rancho, the weather, her family, and her upcoming First Communion. Whenever I see her, she literally runs to hug me, no matter if we’re in church or the grocery store.

lupita3God gave Lupita a new dignity and confidence when he inspired me to invite her to work with us that day in Mogote. In his goodness, he has also healed me of an irrational fear of people with Downs Syndrome. Now I only see sweet, loving children of God every time I meet a Downs person. Jesus has also given me a very sweet, very loving friend in Lupita, and she gives the best hugs a missionary could ask for.