Curly-haired and handsome, Alexander Candelario Calel Valenzuela has a heart as large as they come. The fifth child to arrive at Casa, Alex came to us in 1989 from Peronia, the ‘City of Thieves’, where he had lived in abject poverty, abandoned by his father at birth. Sara Figueroa is as beautiful of heart as she is of flesh. Sara arrived in 1995. The second born of seven girls, five sisters still live at Casa along with their mother, who works in our kitchen. The eldest three girls had been sexually abused by the father, who never actually lived with the family.
As Alex and Sara grew into young adults, so too did their love for each other. One evening, as everyone gathered to eat, Sara asked Papi (Mike Clark, director and founder of Casa) if he was going to build a house for her and Alex to live in. In response to his stunned look, Sara laughed easily and continued, “Not now! But later when we finish college and are married. I want to work with the abused girls and Alex wants to be a teacher here.”
The story of David teaches us that sometimes our plans are not exactly what God has in mind. David, a man of war not construction, believed that he was to build God’s temple. God showed him that it was not to be built by him, but rather by his son. So too, it is the sons and daughters of Casa – Alex and Sara, and all the other children God has brought to our gates – who will be the real builders of God’s temple here.
Within 2 years of that discussion with Papi, Alex and Sara married. They have a small house at Casa and two precious children, Jimmy and Misty. Both work fulltime, Alex as gatekeeper and Sara as proprietor of a small snack shop on the property. Alex is in college where his studies are preparing him to be a doctor, rather than a teacher; Sara attends a Christian prep school on Saturdays that will give her the necessary training to work with our abused girls.
Who better to minister to abused and poverty-ridden children than young adults who have been there? Alex and Sara are on the cutting edge of and the hope for the next generation. They have seen the dark side of life and are dedicated to making the future brighter for those who God places along their path. Christ has entrusted the future of Casa Aleluya and of Guatemala, in the hands of the children, like Alex and Sara, who are sincere in their relationship with God and certain that they can make a difference.