Rich Boone doesn’t speak much Spanish, but he didn’t need to know the language to understand how significant it was when Lusvin, one of his sponsored children in Guatemala, handed him a homemade gift for Father’s Day.
“My husband is a 6-foot-2, 200+ pound retired SWAT cop … and he cried,” Rich’s wife, Donna, said. “How can you explain that?”
The Boones had been to Guatemala before, and their sponsored children always had small gifts for them, but this one was special. Through the help of a translator, Lusvin explained that he had made several Father’s Day crafts at school, and he wanted to give this one to Rich because he was like a second father to him.
It wasn’t anything elaborate — just a small mirror decorated with craft foam and construction paper with a disposable razor attached — but Rich still treasures it to this day. “I kept it. I didn’t use the razor,” Rich said. “It was really touching, a very special time.”
Rich and Donna began sponsoring Lusvin when he was just 4 years old. Today, he is 11. They have watched him grow and love him like their own child.
But Lusvin isn’t the only child they sponsor.
Rich explained how their sponsorship journey began. “If you want to know the truth,” he said laughing, “my wife had been going to Guatemala with our church for several years. The first year she went, she ended up sponsoring a little girl.”
That little girl was Lusvin’s younger sister, Yuliana.
“The second time my wife went,” Rich continued, “she came back, and we started sponsoring the brother. I started wondering, ‘What’s going on in this Guatemala place?’ And I thought, ‘I’ve got to go because every time she goes, she wants to sponsor another kid, so I’ve got to see it for myself.’ So that’s how I ended up going, and I fell in love with the people.”
The next time they added a sponsored child, it was Rich’s idea. He suggested they start sponsoring Yuliana and Lusvin’s older sister, Kenia, who was 8 at the time.
Over the years, the Boones have become close with the entire family, including the parents and the oldest daughter, 20-year-old Vanessa, who has special needs.
They have had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala seven times to help with a Village Transformation in the community of El Jurgallon, where their sponsored children live. This July they’ll be returning with their church to look at several other villages in need and start another Village Transformation.
Of course, the part of the trip they are most looking forward to is seeing the kids again.
“They are our extended family,” Donna said. “We’ve been in their home, given hugs, exchanged handwritten letters and pictures, and we’ve all shed tears as we’ve left. We dream about them and about returning every year. My children and grandchildren talk about them in our everyday conversations. One day I pray we can take our kids and grandkids to meet them.”
Rich said this Father’s Day he encourages everyone to make a child in need part of their extended family through child sponsorship:
“I would say to other men out there, ‘You just don’t realize the impact,’” Rich said. “I’ve been able to see what our sponsorship has done for the family and for the kids as far as providing the different things that they need. Someone might think, ‘My $35 a month doesn’t really do much.’ But it really does make a big difference.
“I was of the same mindset before I went on my first trip, but after being there and seeing it in person, it really opened up my eyes. Every little bit helps, and every person can do something.”
Even if you’re not a father (or a mother), you can still make a lasting difference in a child’s life. For $35 a month — just over $1 a day — you will provide one boy or girl with essentials like healthy food, medical care, clothing, and educational opportunities.
You will make sure your sponsored child feels loved, and you will be a role model that he or she can look up to … just like Lusvin looks up to Rich.
It will be a decision you will never regret.
“I would say the joy you get back is tenfold over what you give,” Rich said. “You get back way more.”