Chances are, Wal-Mart shoppers in Brookings, S.D., who are greeted by Lloyd Everson would be surprised to hear why, at age 76, he's working. A member of First Lutheran Church in nearby Volga, S.D., Everson is earning tuition money. Not for himself, mind you. But for Ana Lopez, who served as a translator for Everson when he was in Guatemala two years ago.
A retired dairy farmer, Everson first went to Guatemala in 1993 to serve in the Peace Corps. But he found the language difficult, so he came back to the United States. But Everson kept in touch with friends, and when he learned that Lopez wanted to complete a food and nutrition degree she had started in Oregon, he decided to help her; her husband, Pedro; and their son, Lwin, 2, come to the United States. Ana plans to return to Guatemala to begin a cooperative bakery and perhaps a chicken farm.
The Lopez family lives in Everson's apartment while Ana attends South Dakota State University in Brookings. They also attend worship with Everson. "I believe things happen for a reason," Ana says. "God puts people in the right place and at the right time. Lloyd is a good example of charity, of caring for people no matter where they come from or who they are."
Says Virginia Schlimmer, a member of First: "Apparently the people of Guatemala have captured his heart completely."
But supporting the Lopez family costs more than Everson can afford, so other parishioners pitch in with money and resources. "It is turning into a mission project for our congregation," Schlimmer says.
Everson, who works three hours a week at Kentucky Fried Chicken in addition to his 39 hours at Wal-Mart, says, "My heart is still in Guatemala. ... I had a stroke in '96 so one arm is a little weak. But my legs are all right."
Apparently there's nothing wrong with his heart either.
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers