Francis, center, stands with her family. Her two youngest children are both registered at a Compassion-assisted center.
Steam billows from the pot of boiling water that Francis carefully pours over a bowl of soft Nicaraguan cheese. She stirs as the cheese melts, her arms straining against the thick mixture. Francis must move quickly before the cheese hardens. She reaches in with nimble fingers and stretches the cheese into small, smooth circles that she dunks into cold water.
The quesillos form a stack on the table. Francis will soon wrap them in a clean towel and take them to the beach to sell to the tourists lying under umbrellas in the sand.
Francis began selling quesillos about five years ago. She already worked as a secretary, and her husband was a day laborer, but caring for their four children was a daily struggle. Their flimsy house made of metal and plastic was collapsing around them, so Francis thought of the second job to bring in a few extra dollars a month.
With their combined three jobs, Francis and her husband bring home nearly U.S.$4 a day. "We had to do something," Francis says. "Our house was not good. If it rained we would wake up with our beds wet, and our children would get sick. We knew we needed a better house, but it was a hard decision. We don't have very much money for anything other than the necessities."
A Powerful Foe
Like many families in the Hilario Sanchez community, Francis and her husband did the best they could, but poverty was too powerful a foe to keep at bay. More than half of the adults there are unemployed, and competition for work is intense. Lack of resources means that 60 percent of children will never attend school.
So when the Abrigo Para Moises Student Center (NI-128) opened four years ago in their community, Francis recognized the opportunities it offered and registered her two youngest children, Anyelo and Alicia.
Sponsorship support through Compassion meant that Anyelo and Alicia could attend school, something that was never a guarantee for their older siblings, whose education depended on whether their parents made enough to pay school-related fees.
Francis says sponsorship also has taken a huge burden off of her and her husband. They have even saved enough money to start building a sturdy new house.
"Little by little, things are getting better," Francis says. "Our whole family goes to church together, and all of my children know Jesus. My family is a blessing to me."
A Filled Heart
Each morning Francis makes her quesillos
only now she no longer despairs about the future. As she stoops over the steaming mixture, her face coated in sweat, she smiles. Sometimes she hums a hymn she sang at church. Other times she whispers a prayer of thanksgiving.
"My heart is filled with thanks to God," she says, smiling. "He saved my children. He is helping us build a new house. Even though our life is hard sometimes and we don't sell enough things in the market, I always know that God is taking care of us. He has never let us down. He never will."
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