by Deacon David Hope-Tringali
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a parable about a woman who complains to an apathetic judge about an injustice that has been done to her. At first, the judge ignores her, but the widow continues to come back repeatedly until the judge finally gives in to her demands, just to make her stop bothering him! Jesus’ point to this whole story is that, if this lazy judge eventually gives in to the cries of a suffering widow whom he does not care for, shouldn’t God—who loves us deeply—respond to our needs and worries with much more haste?
I feel like this parable has summed up 2022 for me so far. You see, in addition to chairing the AMMPARO task force for the synod, my wife and I spend most of the year in Guatemala working through our nonprofit Tree 4 Hope to resolve some of the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States such as hunger, poverty, women’s rights, and educational inequality. Among our many projects, our focus the past few years has been on Hope Academy, the first and only bilingual STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Mathematics) school focused on providing a top-quality education for girls from some of the poorest parts of Guatemala.
While life in the United States has appeared to return to some degree of normalcy at this point in the pandemic, Guatemala still suffers from aggressive rules and safety measures to attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Though many facets of life are business as usual – restaurants are at full capacity, church festivals are once again happening, and tourism has returned – schools still remain closed for in-person learning. Over the past three pandemic-driven school years, we have done a pretty impressive job of developing virtual learning modules for our kids, many of whom live in houses with dirt floors, limited electricity, and no running water. While we have been relatively successful keeping our kids engaged and learning, the same cannot be said for the rest of the country. Public schools across Guatemala have simply remained closed. They have offered whatever virtual education they can to whichever of their students have resources to connect online and the government of Guatemala has dictated that, due to circumstances of the pandemic, regardless of their grades, every child will pass to the next year of school. For three years, this has been the case; it is creating a whole generation of school-age children who will either never return to school once isolation ends or flunk out of school when they are finally sent back in person three grades ahead of where they should be.
Our kids, and kids all over Guatemala, are struggling. They are isolated in their homes, they are getting burned out of distance education (if it is even an option for them), and they are longing for real human interaction. We, like the persistent widow, have been both praying to God for a return to in-person classes and fighting ceaselessly with our local government officials in Guatemala to provide our kids with the opportunity to go to school.
This week, please join us in prayer that schools reopen in Guatemala so that the kids we serve there do not become the kids we have to serve here through AMMPARO. Like the persistent widow, we have faith that God will grant justice to Guatemala’s children in need.
Deacon David Hope-Tringali serves as a Global Mission Associate for the Lower Susquehanna Synod based in Guatemala. He is passionate about building bridges, connecting people and helping others form authentic, meaningful relationships with their Central American neighbors. Along with his wife, Pastor Jennifer Hope-Tringali, Deacon David helps to manage Tree 4 Hope, a non-profit focused on providing education and opportunity to at-risk communities in Guatemala. More information about his work can be found at www.tree4hope.org