Although all of the children here have stolen my heart, 9 year old Santiago has probably inspired me the most since my arrival. Santiago is a member of our church in Puyupungo. He has been attending the church for about four months now. For the first three months he walked the thirty minutes from his house to the church all alone each service day, as none of his family or friends would come with him. Yet he never got discouraged, he just kept coming. Four weeks ago, however, his sister started attending with him. Three weeks ago, two of his cousins also joined him. This past week, he had yet two more people with him. So now Santiago has a total of five more people from his community joining him at church!
Each week when the new visitors join him, he brings them to the bulletin board and shows them all the pictures we have posted. He proudly explains to them what all the pictures represent, the baptism, the people worshiping God, etc.
After service, Santiago and his friends wait the two and a half hours with us for the Ranchera to arrive, then we all ride out together. With the Ranchera being the only transportation in and out of Puyupungo, it is always packed way beyond capacity. When all the seats are filled, others stand, others hang off the side and back and others ride on the roof.
A couple of weeks ago about mid way through our ride out, we heard all of the kids on the back of the Ranchera saying, “Génesis, Éxodo, Levítico, Numeros…” (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers). Santiago was helping them to learn the books of the Bible. What a very proud moment for Susan and Charles.
This past week, as soon as we all boarded the Ranchera, the kids decided they wanted to sing some of the songs they had learned at church. So we all joined in and sang, “La Sangre De Cristo”, “Hay Una Lucecita”, “He Decidido Seguir A Cristo” (The Blood of Christ, This Little Light and I Have Decided to Follow Jesus). After we had finished singing and with no one in particular listening, Santiago began to sing by himself. The words he sang, “…aunque nadie viene conmigo, no vuelvo atras…” (…though none go with me, still I will follow…), brought me to tears. What a very humbling moment for me. Because although I have only known Santiago for about a month, I knew that he was singing from the depths of his heart. All those months when he walked down that dirt road all by himself, it didn’t matter to him, he just walked on. And if one day he has to walk by himself again, still he will walk on.
Sometimes you just know when someone is called of God. There is no doubt that Santiago is. I am so excited to be here to be able to share in all the great things that God has in store for him.
By Ann Templet