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Kilmer lives in the village of Las Delicias outside of San Marcos de Colon. His community is comprised mostly of subsistence farmers. These hardworking people grow crops like corn, beans and coffee. Kilmer’s family is no different: his father is a farmer and his mother a homemaker who takes care of all of their children and grandchildren. In all 13 family members live under one roof.
When Kilmer finished the sixth grade there weren’t any options nearby for him to continue studying. Then in 2017, Kilmer's parents heard about the Lazarus Academy and they did not hesitate to apply. When Kilmer started seventh grade he needed to choose a vocational track. As you probably guessed, he chose leather working. In 2019, Kilmer completed ninth grade, and that same year, he received a diploma as an artisan in the field of leatherwork. As he continued his studies, he began working in our leather studio and his wages helped cover his study expenses.
The opportunity to study and learn a trade was not without sacrifice. In his own words, Kilmer says: “I used to wake up very early to walk to school at the Lazarus Academy, which took me an hour and thirty minutes both going and coming home. Even with the sacrifice I thank God because otherwise I would not have achieved what I have today, the opportunity to work.”
Kilmer’s words hit us hard. “The opportunity to work” is one that so many of us take for granted. We might even complain about work, or get the Monday morning blues as we return to the office after the weekend. But in Kilmer’s community, work is a privilege - and finding good, honest work is not easy. By working, Kilmer is able to contribute to his household and support his family so there is always enough food on the table.
A few months ago with the assistance of our non-profit partner Mission Lazarus, Kilmer began studying again, this time with the vision of pursuing a degree as a teacher. He says that through his life experiences, he has learned that every sacrifice has its reward. There have been difficult times for his family - ones without enough food or enough work - but these difficulties only make Kilmer more determined to move forward. As he spends his weeks working and his weekends studying, he knows there is even more hope and opportunity on the horizon.
It’s so exciting to watch on the sidelines as Kilmer strives to accomplish his career goals, but do you know what’s even better? Because of Kilmer’s experience in daily devotions and his time in prayer before work, his whole family has come to know the Lord. They are regulars at their local church, giving thanks for the abundant blessings God has given them.