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The Story of Julio & Dave

A photo of Julio with his parents and many of the children who are either living in, or formerly lived, in the González home“Children come to ICC after suffering unimaginable neglect and abuse. Most of them have stopped believing in the goodness of humanity.”

It was nearly noon and the temperature hovered near the 100-degree mark. Dave, one of the volunteers with the Vancouver/CAA mission group was excavating a trench in search of a broken water pipe. Next to him worked Julio, a tall young man wearing a hat and a long-sleeve shirt as protection from the scorching sun.

The trench was about two feet wide by four feet deep and water was seeping in, turning the confined working space into a hot, steamy, and sticky clay pit. Dave though had another problem, he was wearing tennis shoes.

Julio saw Dave’s challenge. In his limited English he told Dave he needed to leave for a few minutes promising to return quickly. “Not a very good time to leave me;” thought Dave. “I am stuck in this hole, I cannot even move, and now you leave me.” True to his promise Julio returned a few minutes later and in his hands he carried a pair of rubber work boots for his besieged friend.

This act of kindness started a very special friendship between Dave and Julio, and even though their verbal interchange was very limited, they conversed and worked together like old friends.

Dave found Julio to be very responsible and dedicated to the task. His knowledge of the campus proved to be a great asset for Dave and many of the other volunteers. You only had to find Julio to learn where things were. If you needed a special tool you asked Julio and he found it for you.

Julio became part of the ICC children’s village in El Salvador when his parents accepted an invitation to serve as house parents at the ICC project. He was only a small child, so small in fact that he does not remember much of his life anywhere else.

The family had two little boys when they made the decision to dedicate their lives to the Lord by serving needy children. At first Julio and his brother resented having to share their parents with many other children. Worst yet, their parents refused to treat them any differently than the others.

With time Julio and his brother David learned to accept and love their new brothers and sisters as if they were truly their biological siblings. Several years later a third boy, Kevin joined the family. Kevin has never experienced life any other way, and could not imagine living without a large number of siblings surrounding him.

Julio is only a small example of life at an ICC’s children’s village in which the children share the love and care of their parents equally, regardless of whether or not they are their biological children.

The González family, (Julio’s parents), have been a source of stability and refuge for so many abandoned children through the years. Generations of children have learned about Jesus at the feet of the González.

The González would tell you that it has not been an easy task. They have had many long nights nursing sick children, counseling and comforting broken hearts and healing wounded spirits.

While speaking recently with one of the young ladies from the González home who is currently attending college, she told me how she prays to the Lord that when the time comes, He will make her family like the González.

“I know I was not always a good child,” she said to me, “but I don’t remember pappy or mommy ever yelling at me. Oh don’t get me wrong; it was not like they would just let me get away with it, but at the end of the day, they had a kind look in their faces. It was such that I felt so guilty for what I had done”.

Children come to ICC after suffering unimaginable neglect and abuse. Most of them have stopped believing in the goodness of humanity. Due to the abuse inflicted on them, many, especially the girls, have an extremely horrific and distorted view of males, particularly fathers.

Thanks to the González many have learned something different. The González don’t go about talking about their love, they just live it, and the children are smart enough to recognize it.

Talk to any kid who grew up in the same house with Julio and they will tell you; “it is obvious, the González love each other,” and not surprisingly, they want to have a home like theirs when they grow up. So I was not the least surprised when Dave told me about Julio’s kindness towards him at the muddy pit.

At the end of the day I find Dave thoroughly cleaning the tools he used to complete the plumbing repairs. “I am usually not this meticulous with my own tools,” he confesses to me while scraping clay out of an old shovel with a sharp piece of rock, “but after seeing how Julio cleaned them yesterday, I am too embarrassed not to leave them as clean. He is such a responsible young man,” Dave said as he turned the water off and then carefully checked the tools one more time as if getting them ready for an inspection.

I smile, and inside I revel in the realization that good things are happening in this place. You could say that Julio is not an ICC kid (he would be very hurt if he ever heard you say that) and that his ethics and high standards came from somewhere else, but I know better.

Julio’s high standards are the result of a father’s investment in his children, and Julio exemplifies the quality of young men and women that parents like the González are producing at the ICC’s children’s village in El Salvador. You will find Julio’s sense of ethics and high standards replicated in the great majority of the young men and women who call the Hogar Escuela Adventista campus their home.

We praise the Lord for dedicated parents like the González who go about every day loving children and exemplifying the love of He who said: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.

I know the González don’t start their day thinking about all the good deeds they will do. They simply share from the abundance of their hearts.

Oh, what a way to preach the gospel!

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