Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Domingo and I

2012 Southwest Pequeño Tour 
"Domingo and I" by T.J. Decker 

Hello. Good morning Bishop Nevares, clergy, family, friends, and guests. I am T.J. Decker, a senior at Brophy College Prep, and I am honored to speak in front of such wonderful people this morning. I have been a part of Friends of the Orphans and Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos since Kindergarten here at OLPH. Every year, our class sponsored a pequeña named Karen from Mexico, and we donated monthly to help support her. This was a great experience at such a young age, and we even got to exchange letters back and forth, which helped us to learn our Spanish. When I started as a Freshman at Brophy, I signed up for NPH club at the club fair because it was familiar to me. That year, I talked to fellow Brophy brothers who had gone on the mission trip previously, and they highly recommended the trek to NPH Guatemala in Central America. The next year I wanted to go on an immersion trip so I planned it out with a few friends that we would go to Guatemala and visit the awesome kids at Casa San Andres. The experiences on this trip opened my eyes and heart to what NPH is all about – love. 

Last year, I got selected again to attend the trip and this time was truly special because I spent an entire week with the pequeño I sponsor, Domingo. My experiences in Guatemala have been a blessing to me. My first trip was a wonderful surprise. I showed up at Casa San Andres and quickly whipped up my soccer skills and tried to keep up with what seemed to be the Guatemalan National soccer team. As a group, we visited the old capital of Guatemala, Antigua, and explored this ancient city with the pequeños. We also had an opportunity to take a boat on Lake Atitlan, which is a huge lake with three volcanoes jetting out of it. I had never seen anything like that in my life. The week-long trip went by so fast, and at the end I was wondering about the service component of the trip. We did spend time painting murals on the walls in the Casa de los Especiales (the special needs dorm), working on the farm and in the kitchen. However, I began to realize that the pequeños gave more to us through their smiles and cheerfulness than we gave to them. You could make errors while speaking in Spanish and they would just grin at you, help you and proceed giving you a hug. You could give them a piece of candy and they would be grateful and would do back flips. They just loved us. 

On my second trip, friends kept asking me why I had 10 pound weights in my luggage. Once we got to the orphanage, they figured it out. In one of Domingo's letters to me, he wrote that the doctor told him he needed to stop doing pull-ups because his shoulders were too big so I brought him dumbbells. Domingo had never used weights before, so I taught him how to do a simple curl. I believe that I learned more about Spanish and myself in small conversations like this. Whenever I tried to buy Domingo shoes or a new soccer jersey, Domingo always said no and told me to save my money. Smart kid! He always insisted on buying food or candy for us to share. It was hard to leave Guatemala because Domingo and all of the other pequeños became my family. I still email Domingo frequently, and he always apologizes if he cannot reply back to me in less than a day! I keep telling him no problem, but I guess he misses me that much. I know I miss him. 

I encourage each and every one of you to get involved with Friends of the Orphans and Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos. My experience of sponsoring Domingo has been life-changing nonetheless. These children have never had the opportunities that we receive daily, but they continue to have a great outlook on life. They all have a dream – to become a doctor, teacher, soccer player or musician. So please consider sponsoring the dreams of these children and watch them thrive. It is incredible how much of a difference any one of us can make for a child by sponsoring a pequeño at $30.00 per month and sending them loving and supportive emails. I hope that very soon, you too can all have a picture of your own pequeño on your refrigerator as a constant reminder that you are changing their life.

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