A Transformed Life

A Transformed Life

By: Brandy Campbell   |   Posted: February 12, 2007

Mark Estrada is studying medicine at the San Carlos National University in Guatemala City. He hopes to one day provide medical care to the poorest communities of Guatemala and India, where he hopes to also serve as a missionary.
MIXCO, Guatemala  Mark Estrada is in his fourth year of medical school at the San Carlos National University in Guatemala City. When he's not busy studying for an anatomy test or interning at the local hospital, he leads the children's Bible school at his church and helps with the youth group. In his "free time," he helps with the college's evangelism group and organizes medical community service activities. Occasionally he sleeps.

New Opportunities

Mark's "busyness" is not because he's an overachiever. Instead, he is an eager young man who has been given much and is ready to give back. When Mark was 7 years old, he began attending the Tommas Cranmer Student Center (GU-804) in Mixco, Guatemala. Mark's Christian parents say that there never seemed to be enough money to support Mark and his siblings. His parents knew that without the help of Compassion, their little boy would join the 80 percent of children in their community who never finish school.

Beyond education, Mark learned self-confidence and vocational skills at the center. Most importantly, he learned Bible stories that showed him he could accomplish anything with God's help.

"Compassion showed me opportunities I had not seen before," says Mark. "It showed me many Bible characters who always survived with God's help. I also discovered that I was able to impact other children's lives, and it gave me the opportunity to learn what it was I liked to do and was good at."

Dreams of Becoming a Doctor

Mark quickly excelled to the head of his class and was accepted into Compassion's Leadership Development Program, which made it possible for him to attend college where he is now studying to be a doctor.

"I would like to go on missions to India in order to help as a doctor," says Mark, who hopes to visit other Compassion centers to provide medical care to children. "I also want to go back to my town and work closely with the communities there in Guatemala."

A Spirit of Gratitude

Once a shy, quiet boy, Mark attributes much of his confidence to Compassion and more specifically to his sponsors. He still remembers the letters he received from his first sponsor, Edward, who sponsored Mark before he entered college.

"He always motivated me to continue studying, and the fact that he was praying for me made me really pray for him too," remembers Mark. "My family even prayed for him. I hope we can meet one day so I can thank him personally."

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