He makes and sells bracelets to support his family. He sells necklaces too. And purses, and shawls, and placemats.
The only problem is that Roberto has just turned 14.
You see, Roberto is a Mayan boy who lives in a tiny corn-stalk house in Guatemala with his mother and sister on one of the most beautiful lakes God ever placed on the face of the earth. But Roberto's family is painfully poor, and Roberto's mother - like most Guatemalan mothers - planned on withdrawing him from school so that he could work to support the family.
Until a chance encounter changed Roberto's life.
For one day, in a town far from his home, Roberto sold a bracelet to a man. This man happened to be the founder of not-for-profit organization that builds one-room cement homes for poor Guatemalans. Something clicked. The man spoke to Roberto's mother and she agreed to let her son stay in school if the man would help her sell the family's textile goods. Against all odds, the man somehow arranged for Roberto to get a visa to come to the U.S.
I can only imagine that Roberto must feel as though he's won the lottery. . . being allowed to attend Junior High. . . traveling on an airplane. . .discovering the joys of riding an escalator in a shopping mall. . .
Yes, the lottery.
And just yesterday I chanced to encounter a long-time-family friend who - after raising four strong boys - had both the good sense and heart to adopt a tiny young girl from Guatemala. And this friend brought his children today to meet Roberto.
And I quickly realized how - in this game we call Life - this particular orphaned little girl had somehow won the Mega Millions.
I don't know how many of you remember that Veggie went to Guatemala last Christmas to volunteer to build houses with From Houses to Homes, Guatemala. And I don't know if you recall how she returned there again for her Spring Break later that year - her senior year in college. And I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned that Veggie - at this very minute - is in . . . oh, I don't know. . . someplace like Prague. . .or Dresdin . . .or Berlin. . . with the very volunteers she met while in Guatemala. . . and that she has been living with them in the U.K. since her graduation last summer. . .
But I'm quite sure that I have never stated how proud I am of Veggie for her volunteer efforts in Guatemala. And how thankful I am to this wonderful family in the U.K. who have embraced her and allowed her to experience an awesome overseas living adventure.
Veggie is due to return home in two short weeks.
And, yes, I feel as if I - too - have won the lottery.
That couldn't be a tear I'm choking back. . . now could it?