God Cares for Antonio
by Laura Smucker

Antonio was a little boy from El Salvador. He was the last of eight living children. His mother died soon after he was born. His father was very poor, and with all the mouths to feed, there was not enough money to get Antonio any milk. He did not want to give up his son, but he knew that if he tried to care for him, he would die. So Antonio's father took him to the children's home.

"My son is very sick," he said with tears in his eyes, "I can't give Antonio what he needs. Would you care for him and find him a Christian family in the United States that would give him a loving home?"

"We will do all we can for Antonio," said the worker.

"Good bye, my son," said Antonio's father as he kissed him, "God bless you." Then his father placed Antonio into the arms of the worker.

Antonio was six months old when he arrived at the children's home. He could not hold his head up and he was very thin from not getting enough food to eat. He was so weak he could hardly cry. Slowly, with milk, food and loving care, Antonio started gaining weight. He soon was crawling and eventually he started to walk. He was a happy, friendly little boy.

"Antonio," his "mama" told him one day, "your father loved you so much. It would make him very happy to see you now. You look so well and healthy." Antonio looked up and smiled in his winning way.

Antonio did not know much English, because all the children there spoke in Spanish. He never remembered any home but the children's home, so he was quite happy there.

When Antonio was two years old, a family came from the United States. They wanted to adopt a little boy, and had come to take Antonio home with them. Antonio was shy and hid behind the door. He did not want to leave his "mama."

"Come, Antonio, look what we have for you," said his new mother, as she took him out to the guest house where they would spend the night. Antonio was curious and soon he was looking at the book they had brought for him. He did not know that his crayons were to color with. He took them and chased the bugs all over the cement floor.

"Agua (water)," said Antonio pointing to a cup on the counter. It was hard for him to talk to his new family since they did not know Spanish.

"Do you want a drink?" his mother asked him, handing him the cup.

"Sí, sí (yes)," said Antonio smiling.

The next day, he said "Adios (good-bye)" to his "mama" and all his friends at the children's home. His new family took him to the airport.

"Look, Antonio, do you see that big airplane we are going to fly on?"

Antonio's eyes grew very big. He had never seen anything so big. "Avión (airplane)," he said.

On the airplane, Antonio was kept busy. The stewardess gave him a pair of wings to pin to his shirt. He liked the peanuts and soda that they served, too. But he soon grew sleepy. He lay down on his new mother's lap and went to sleep.

When he woke up, he was thirsty. "Agua (water)," he said. Soon the plane landed and he got off the airplane with his new family. His new grandparents were there to meet him. He could not understand everything they said, but he liked them.

His mother helped him put on his coat. "It will help keep you warm," said his mother. Antonio thought it felt funny. He never wore a coat in El Salvador. It was too hot there.

Antonio liked his new home. He liked his new parents. He liked his brother and two sisters. He knew that they loved him, too.

Antonio had never seen so many toys to play with. His favorite was a rocking horse. "Caballo, caballo (horse)," he chanted as he rocked back and forth. "Caigo (I fall)," he shouted as he leaped off the horse.

In El Salvador, Antonio was used to eating a lot of rice and beans, so the food in the United States was strange to him. He liked ice cream, but it hurt his teeth. The food that he loved the most was chicken. "Pollo (chicken)" he smiled, "Mmmm!"

Antonio started to go to school when he was six. By now he had forgotten most of his Spanish. He was learning English instead. Learning was hard for him. One day, when Antonio was about eight years old, a letter came from his father. Of course, he could not read it because it was in Spanish. He found a man at church that read it to him.

Dear Son,
        I am sorry I had to give you up.
        I love you. I am so glad that you can grow up in an American home where you can be happy and will not be hungry again.
        God Bless You!
Your Papa Hernandez

How happy Antonio was that his father cared enough for him to give him up. How glad he was that his father had not selfishly let him starve. And how thankful he was for a family that was willing to love and care for him.

Special thanks to John and Laura Smucker for providing this article!

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