I want to introduce you to a precious family that I was privileged to meet in Belize. This is the Can family. The Can family may not be anything atypical for a Belizean family, but their family and their situation pierced my heart. It has taken me awhile to be able to just try and put their story into words…but I want to. I need to. I don’t want to forget. I want their precious faces to stay with me always.
Most of the children that come through the Hearts of Christ sponsorship actually come to the Hearts of Christ building to register for their school supplies and uniforms. However, for the exceptional Can family, Hearts of Christ went to them.
The drive out to the Can home was a long one. After turning off the paved road you might think you are almost there, but not in Belize. The roads are so very bumpy, full of holes and in bad shape…just when you think you can’t handle one more bump, God gives you the grace to continue on. The Cans live so far out, that there is no way they could travel as a family – or even the older children – to get to the Hearts of Christ buildings.
They live literally in the middle of the jungle, so much growth, so much green.
So little “stuff” but so much hope.
Here is a picture of more of their home. The bigger “room” in the middle is where all the girls sleep together. You can see them running out the door here to see who has come to visit them!
This picture is pretty dark, but this is where the girls sleep. You can see there are some type of bunkbeds here and the tiny room is only as wide as those beds.
On one of the bottom bunks is a pile of clothing: their dresser.
And this is the father, Mr. Can. This is where the story gets extraordinary, in my opinion. Mr. Can is in his mid-eighties! He is the father not only of these 9 school-age children that you see in my pictures, but of 29 children all together. Mr. Can had 2 wives in his lifetime, each of them dying during or after childbirth having had at least 10 children each for him.
Mr. Can may not have what we consider a lot, but Mr. Can still has his dignity. We asked if we could take pictures and he first had to get his nice, white button down shirt before we could take any. He made his children go put on their best before meeting with us. Mr. Can cares about his children.
When little Eduardo took me in to this room to show me around, I had to choke back tears. I imagined my own children living in a situation like this and I couldn’t bear it. I had to walk out of the room, heart broken, and behind the van to just cry. But I didn’t want them to see me crying. I didn’t want them to know how their home and family was breaking my heart in two.
Because they didn’t seem to notice the lack. They didn’t seem to notice that anything was amiss. They didn’t live as though they were heartbroken or in need.
The Can children are happy children.
The Can family is proud. They happily showed me around their rooms…with big smiles the whole time. They are grateful.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink: or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:25-27
I’m praying…I’m asking God to search my heart and show me what it is that the Can family has that I don’t have. By all of our worldly standards, I am wealthy compared to them. But, I left their home wondering what I was missing. I left their home wondering why they were happy. I left their home and wondered how I could come back to my country where we have so much, but still aren’t happy. I wonder how? why?
There are those in Belize who are begging and crying out for more, certainly.
But overwhelmingly, in a land of so very little, I saw so very many smiles. And once again, I am reminded that it is not my wealth, my stuff, my home or a job that brings contentment in life.
The love of my Savior is the only true joy and true peace that there is in this life.