Moises Jimon Garcia

Last November, Moises made Casa de Esperanza his forever home.  His journey to us was years in the making.

I met Moises on my first trip to Hermano Pedro Hospital almost nine years ago.  He immediately captured my heart with his radiant smile, strong determination and spit-fire energy level.  He was just a little boy then, and enjoyed the attention.  Even then, however, you could see that he longed to really belong somewhere. 

Moises playing soccer in a Mulholland walker. 
Oh, how I wish I could find one like this for an adult!
While well cared for at Hermano Pedro, it is an institution.  There is no one person who is always there for a little boy, and there is virtually no opportunities for self-determination.  Don't get me wrong.  They do good work at Hermano Pedro.  And while it far exceeds what we were doing to care for the disabled in the US when state institutions were the norm in the '60's and '70's, it is far from an ideal place for a young man with so much potential.

Life became more difficult for Moi as he grew into adolescence.  The normal strivings of a young man his age were seen as disobedience and rebellion.  With punishment, Moi became more rebellious, controlling the only things over which he had power. . .his eating and his learning.

Moi had been attending a private school in Antigua, thanks to another ministry which works through the hospital.  This only added to his resentment, however.  On a daily basis he could see what life was like "on the outside" all the while not being able to be a full participant.  His discouragement grew.  He more and more fought studying, and often refused to eat.

Moises and Sonia at graduation with
Nineth, their teacher from Hermano Pedro
Hermano Pedro was not designed or equipped to deal with a young man like Moises.  More punishment led to more rebellion and the cycle continued.  About this time we opened Casa de Esperanza.  I talked with Moi frequently about the possibility of him living with us, but I don't think he believe it would ever really happen. (I have learned that many promises have been made to these young men by people with the best intentions, who leave Guatemala and become busy with their own lives, and never return.  Your "word" means very little to them.)

Last July, Moises turned eighteen, and because he is mentally competent, became an adult in the eyes of the government, and able to decide for himself where he would live.  Moises does have a family, but they live in a very remote area where Moi would have no opportunities for education or employment. On top of that Moises' dad, like many of the men we encounter, is a practicing alcoholic, who, while caring about his son, had no desire to take him home.

The day after his birthday, we received a call from the social work department at the hospital.  Moi wanted to come and live with us.  In so many ways this has felt like bringing home my own child.  While all my guys are special to me, Moises and I have the longest history, and my emotional attachment to him is the strongest.

Moi leaving Hermano Pedro
to move to Casa de Esperanza
Moises has bonded well with his three "brothers" in the house.  I expected that he would be much closer to Fidel, who he had known for years, but he seems to divide his affections pretty equally among the guys.  Gradually he is opening up about his thoughts and hopes and dreams. 

I would love to say that it has been all sunshine and roses living with Moi.  Honestly, there have been struggles.  The life outside the institution Moi had experienced with me and other volunteers had been mostly fun and eating out.  Living 24/7 with someone is far different. (I'm afraid I'm not nearly as nice or as much fun as Moises expected!)  He is learning, as the other guys have had to, that with the freedom of living in a family, there are responsibilities, too.  These are not nearly as much fun, but are essential to adult living.

Moi watching the semi's that park outside our gate, and visiting with the drivers.
Eating is no longer a conflict area for Moises.  He can eat as much  of what we are serving as he wants.  He is free to ask for things to be put on the menu, just because he likes them.  It is a standing joke in our house that we need to double our budget to feed him.  Often when seconds are offered at a meal, and no one else wants more, we hear a strong, "Mas para mi," (More for me) from Moi. 

Studying is something Moises, I fear, will never enjoy school.  While he is bright enough, his interests are much more physical.  Soccer is still his passion and he manages to play pretty well while propelling his wheelchair with his feet. 

Osmi and Moises ready for their first day of school
He and Osmi are both in the first year of Basico, or junior high, and they are attending a private school in San Pedro which was an extension of the school Moises went to in Antigua.  The site director was Moises' fourth grade teacher, so he knows him well.  Thankfully, we are on the same page when it comes to letting Moises experience the logical consequences of his decisions.  I am hoping he does not need to repeat seventh grade, but this will be up to him.

I smile when I look at Moi, because in my mind's eye, I still see the little guy I first met, who was so longing for love and acceptance.  I see the same desires in the young man, and pray that we can help meet them, and draw him to the One who loves and accepts him completely.