Erick Perez Lopez SCHOLARSHIP

For: Erick Perez Lopez & Family
Tustin, CA
Organizer: Jolie Hales
$5,050
of $6,000 goal.
Raised by 82 donors
84% Complete
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The Story

***PLEASE DON'T TELL ERICK OR HIS FAMILY ABOUT THIS -- IT'S A SURPRISE***

Erick is a police officer in Guatemala, and a close friend of mine.  I met him when he was a police escort for the humanitarian medical team I traveled with to the jungles of Guatemala last year.

He is a humble, kind-hearted, hilarious, hard-working human being with an amazing wife and two adorable daughters, and even though he works hard and lives a life of serving others, he lives in poverty.

CLICK HERE to read more about this amazing family, my experiences with them, and their situation. (My word count is limited on this site.)

Every night I go to sleep wishing I could help Erick do what he has always wanted to do -- go to college, get his education, and provide a better life for his family.  And with your help, we can.

Right now, Erick works a 12-hour-bus ride away from home, where he sleeps at the police station for about eight days in a row, then goes home for a couple days, and repeats the process.  He earns only $600 per month for a family of four -- very little to live on, even in Guatemala.

For $5,000, Erick can enroll at his local university and complete the four years of school needed for a promotion and a better life.  It would enable him to work close to home and live with his sweet family, instead of being across the country from them 85% of the time. 

$5,000 can change four lives.

And any money we were to raise beyond that would easily further help them with their expenses.

If I could pay for Erick's entire education myself, I would do it in a heartbeat (...I'm still paying for mine, hahaha).

Every dollar counts.  There is nothing more socially uncomfortable for me than asking a friend for financial support, but in this case, the pain of not doing so is greater.

Thank you so much for your kindness  -- it means more to me than you know.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on March 12, 2017

Posted on March 12, 2017

I told them!!!  And It. Was. A. Surprise!

I told Erick earlier this week that I needed to talk to him about something important on Thursday night, so he gave me a call right after work.  I told him I had written him a letter and I wanted to read it to him -- something that undoubtedly confused him, and he asked why I didn't just email him the letter instead, hahaha.  No.

What he didn't know was that I had first written the letter in English, then translated it into Spanish the best I could -- phrase by phrase -- then literally rehearsed it about a dozen times out loud.  I needed to make sure I got the message across correctly.

Erick was still completely in the dark about all of this.  I've been nerdily watching the analytics on both my YouTube video and blog, and no one from Guatemala had appeared to have stumbled upon our little surprise yet.

When he called, it was obvious by the Latino music, voices, and engine noises in the background that he was riding a public bus at the time, which worried me a bit because I didn't know if he would be able to hear me or not, and this was definitely something I didn't want to get lost in translation.  But he assured me he could hear me, so I proceeded.

The letter was a page long, single spaced.  I told him that I loved his family.  I told him that it pains me that I have more opportunities than he does just because of where we were born.  I talked about God and His love for us, and about how getting a college education has greatly blessed my life.  Throughout the letter, I paused to ask if he could hear and understand me, and he said yes and encouraged me to continue.

Then I got to the part about the scholarship, and how many wonderful people from the United States had come together to pay for him to attend a local university and get his degree.  He was stunned.  His tone immediately changed from happy-go-lucky Erick to emotional and grateful.  He let me finish the letter, and there was a long pause.  I asked him how he was doing, and in the kindest voice I've heard, he mustered in English a soft "I'm just so very happy."  

I told him to call his wife and discuss it with her -- that this was for their entire family.  We talked -- well, I talked -- a bit more words of love for them, and then told him we would talk later.

Erick later told me that when he called his wife, she burst into tears of joy.  He followed up with me through WhatsApp messages that they felt the whole thing was nothing short of a miracle, and they were overjoyed, stunned, and overwhelmed with gratitude.  Elisa posted a message of thanks to God on her Facebook wall (tagging me so you can see it on my own Facebook wall, though you'll want to post it into Google translate).  In part, she says:

"Oh Lord... even without deserving it, you surprise me.  I learned to trust you, and you've done everything in our favor.  I am left stunned at your responses to my requests.  I'm so thankful for you, because you have used special people in the lives of me and my family.  I will be eternally grateful to you, oh Lord."

And Erick posted: 

"When God opens doors, he does it in a great way, and surprises us with his infinite mercy."

Did I mention they were religious people?  ;)

At one point during a follow-up conversation, I apologized for making him stay on the phone for so long on a loud bus, to which he responded, "Jolie -- It was the best conversation of my whole life."

So all of you who gave to this wonderful family, thank you, from the depths of my heart.  There's just no possible way this could have happened without your help.  You created a miracle and changed the lives of four wonderful people, and perhaps generations to come.

As of now, Erick and Elisa continue to express gratitude, happiness, and excitement for their new opportunity.  They're making plans to transfer Erick to a police station close to a university, and Erick is determined to express his sincere gratitude by being successful in school.  They made a specific request to me that I thank all of you who donated.  I sent them the messages you wrote to them with your donations, and am happy to send them any others, if anyone else would like to tell them anything.  This story is not over, but this chapter has been nothing short of awesome.

Life is good.  We are blessed.  Thank you.

Posted on March 5, 2017

Posted on March 5, 2017

We are SO GRATEFUL to everyone who helped us reach our goal of $5,000!!!  I'm planning to tell him by phone this week -- I've written out what I'm going to say in Spanish and practiced speaking it, so hopefully I don't say something completely wrong, hahaha -- I'll let you know how it goes!

This week my worlds collided when Erick and Elisa went to visit my friend/former stake president Matthew Goodman and his wife Kay.  A few months ago, President Goodman, who was living in here in Tustin, was asked to be an LDS mission president in the Reu, Guatemala mission, which encompasses the home Erick's family lives in -- just an hour away.  Soon after I met Erick, I gave him President Goodman's information and said they should connect someday.

Then on Tuesday, I was sitting in my office at work at the end of the day, when I got a video call on WhatsApp.  There, on the screen, were Erick and Elisa with a bunch of young 20-year-old LDS missionaries from the United States.  Unbeknownst to me, apparently Erick and Elisa were in the Reu area and decided to track down the LDS mission office there.  Missionaries hold a special place in my heart (my husband, brothers, dad, uncles, aunts, etc. have been missionaries), and it was awesome to meet them and see them with my close friends Erick & Elisa!  Then about an hour later, I got another video call, this time from President Goodman's home!  My heart was so full of love for every human being I saw on those video chats -- a special day for me.

Some people have asked how they can donate now that the goal has been reached, so I'm raising the goal to $6,000 so people know it's still possible.  So YES, people can still give.  And YES, every penny will make a tremendous difference.

I love you all!

Posted on February 23, 2017

Posted on February 23, 2017

I've decided I'm going to tell Erick about this on my birthday: March 8.  Soooo... it'll be a bit of a surprise.

I still talk to Erick and Elisa every day, and my eyes have been opened even more to their situation -- they are in greater need of help than I even realized -- I can't even tell you.  I'm so grateful for all of you and the help we will be able to give them.  My love for this family grows with each passing day, and I'm more and more convinced we're definitely doing the right thing.

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