Stories

The Talk that Changed Everything

Nov 25, 2014

Claire Rogers

When Alberto arrived at Salvation Army Children’s Home in Mazatlan, Mexico, he was years behind in his education. He had been home-schooled at a government-run children’s home and had limited interaction with other children his age. To remediate his educational gaps, Alberto rode a Metro bus to study at a tutor’s house each day. Interacting with others on the bus increased his social confidence and tutoring helped him catch up academically. Things were looking up for Alberto—until it was test time.

When Alberto took a test, he would consistently receive failing grades. He knew the information, but he wrestled with severe test anxiety as a result of past trauma.  Alberto began to question if it was worth the effort. He dreamed of going to high school, but the dream seemed impossible.

Salvation Army Directors, Asael and Rocio knew they needed to intervene. One evening, they sat down with Alberto. He grew anxious expecting to be reprimanded for his scholastic shortcomings. Alberto was shocked as Asael began to speak, “Alberto, we love you. We want what’s best for you.” Asael continued, “If you do your best and still fail, it’s OK. We will find something for you. If schooling isn’t for you, we will get you job training, so you can be successful. We just want to help you.”

This one talk changed everything. Alberto’s test anxiety dissipated, as he realized, for the first time in his life, acceptance and love were not conditional on his performance. He was free to fail, which gave him the peace and confidence to succeed. In only a few weeks, Alberto was passing his tests.

At the end of the school year, it was time for the biggest test of all— an entrance exam students in Mexico must take to enroll into high school. When Alberto entered the exam room, his heart was pounding. He had studied long and hard, but he was more nervous about this test than any test before. With Asael’s encouraging words running through his mind, Alberto took a deep breath, said a quick prayer, and started the exam.

After months of waiting, Alberto finally received the results – he had qualified to enroll in public high school in September. After this accomplishment, Alberto dared to dream bigger – attending a prestigious private school, Colegio Latino America. After researching the cost, he realized it was too expensive. It would take a true miracle for him to be able to attend the school. Little did he know, there was a miracle already in motion.

In Mazatlan, the mayor’s wife is the head of social services. This fall, she visited Salvation Army Home and immediately noticed Alberto. After learning about his desire to attend private school, she decided to respond. She enrolled him in Colegio Latino America, agreeing to pay his full tuition. Today, not only is Alberto attending high school, but he is in the top school in the area.

Alberto dreams of becoming a graphic designer, a career path he didn’t think was possible a year ago. He is learning to trust God; he realizes He has not forgotten him. God did not give up on him, even when he wanted to give up on himself. Knowing this gives Alberto the hope and confidence to dream bigger every day.

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