Cristina Yanes is a mother raising her two children in rural Guatemala — and this year, her Christmas wish is that her son and daughter will be safe. Like many families in their area, Cristina and her children live in a small shelter with stick walls, a thatched roof and a dirt floor. They do not even have a solid front door, so there is no way to lock up the home and protect their things. Sometimes this makes Cristina feel afraid.
“I’m hanging on, working hard to be able to keep fighting — to see if we can do something for our life because it’s hard right now. May God help me to keep going and to fight for my children,” Cristina said.
Cristina and her daughter, Mariela, stand outside their home in the Diocese of Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu, Guatemala.
In our first reading from the First Sunday of Advent, the prophet Isaiah says, “The Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills.” We look forward to the day that Jesus returns and establishes his kingdom here on Earth. Until then, we can partner with him by sharing his hope with families like Cristina’s. Working together as the Church, we can “build” Christ’s kingdom through simple acts of mercy.
Isaiah 2:1-5 (NRSVCE)
The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
You can make a difference in the lives of families like Cristina’s! Cross Catholic Outreach will provide you with collection boxes, free upon request, to collect money that will build new homes for families in Guatemala. You can also make your own collection box by decorating a small cardboard box or empty container with wrapping paper.
During Advent, add spare change by completing the activities in this guide or brainstorm your own creative ideas to raise funds. You can also donate weekly with the donation option below.
Almost 60% of Guatemala’s population lives in poverty, which means most of the people cannot afford or reach many of their basic needs. In fact, many Guatemalans earn less than $3.20 a day.
In the U.S., that’s less than the average cost for a gallon of milk.
Many parents — including Cristina — work on local farms, helping plant and harvest crops such as coffee and sugarcane. Their work is very hard! Laborers spend hours doing difficult chores in the hot sun, and they only get a few dollars in return. Families like Cristina’s don’t have enough money to build or buy nice homes, so they instead build small shelters out of sticks, plastic tarps, rusty metal and any scrap materials they can find.
*Fact Source: CIA World Factbook, World Bank
1. List some things that cost about $3 or $4.
2. List some things you need or use every day.
3. If you only had $3 or $4 to spend each day, what would you need to spend it on first?
Dear Jesus, thank you for the hope we have because of your birth, and thank you for the hope that we can look forward to when you come again. Thank you for the many blessings you have given us. We pray that you would bless families like Cristina’s, and we ask you to work through us to share your hope with them this Advent. Amen.
Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2023, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.