O.K. We all know the horror stories about athletes gone wild. But ESPN has a spectacular story about an extraordinary family. Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer went to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. It seems they might have taught him something there:
The man at the dump seemed to know a little bit about baseball and seemed to understand what it meant to be a champion baseball player, but Jamie and Karen Moyer aren’t certain all that was clear to him. What was clear to them this past Christmas Eve was that the man, who lives on the edge of Guatemala City, was thankful for what he had.
He had two sons, and they lived together at the dump in a tin hut with two mattresses. “This is what the Lord has given us,” the man said, “and we make the most of it.”
The Phillies pitcher and his wife took their seven children with them for Christmas break and made the most of it. Their youngest child, 26-month-old Yennifer, was orphaned in Guatemala before coming to the Moyers 16 months ago in need of special care.
Earlier last year, the Moyers had been undecided about where to spend Christmas, and it occurred to Karen that they could travel to Guatemala for a weeklong mission.
“We talked to the kids, and they were very unselfish about it,” Karen Moyer recalled.
The Moyers wanted to take Christmas to the orphanage, partly so that Yennifer’s American siblings could see where she came from, and partly to help. Before leaving for Guatemala on Dec. 19, Karen had e-mailed friends and family a list of items the Moyers hoped to take with them. They delivered 32 boxes.
They spent a lot of time at the orphanage where Yennifer had once lived, a place run byHannah’s Hope, an orphan care ministry dedicated to rescuing and caring for children around the world.
For Jamie Moyer, the journey to the dump “was life-changing.” The family drove there with an escort, bearing bread and candy canes filled with M&Ms, and they spoke with the families that were foraging on the edge of the dump. That’s where they met the man who lives there with his sons.
“The smell was just so repulsive,” Jamie Moyer said. “I had a hard time keeping it together emotionally.”
But the man was cheerful, and the eyes that greeted the Moyers were bright and hopeful. He showed a spirit they saw constantly during their trip.
“They were so happy and full of faith,” Karen Moyer said. “For our kids, it was a great reminder of all the blessings that they have.”
The children at the orphanage called Karen and Jamie Moyer “Momma” and “Poppa,” and they gave piggyback rides and spent hours playing outside. During the past couple of years, the Moyers had befriended an 11-year-old girl named Nayeli. They took her to a local store to pick out a pair of shoes — which she had never done before — and were touched by her wonder.
On Christmas Eve, there were marshmallows and hot chocolate, and at midnight, Guatemala City lit up with fireworks. After the Moyers slept in Christmas morning, they went to the orphanage and decorated cookies. Karen Moyer — who kept a journal — asked her children what they would remember most about the week.
“Their consensus was that they loved seeing the kids’ faces when they decorated cookies or opened presents,” she said. “It was a really neat way to spend Christmas. … We’ll keep these kids in our hearts.”