At sixteen years old, Jacobo* is one of the funniest and happiest people I have ever met.

Between his distinctive voice, his buoyant personality and zany sense of humor, and his genuine love of life, there is no other joven (young person) who better personifies the joy that permeates Amigos de Jesus.

Jacobo is tall and lanky. He can often be found loping across the soccer field towards Agro (Amigos’ farm) or sprinting as the case may be. But what makes Jacobo really stand out is his voice.

It isn’t a particularly deep, resonant, or loud voice, but it carries across the open spaces at Amigos. No matter where you are in the hogar, rest assured that you will almost always know where Jacobo is—just follow the sound of his voice, which is usually raised in jest.

Jacobo loves to joke around with people. If you ask him a question—any question, really—he is likely to answer, “In Texas,” “From Texas,” or “To Texas.” I don’t know where his obsession with Texas comes from, but there you have it. 

He revels in sing-song greetings or noisy hellos from afar. When we were unloading the container from Philadelphia in November, Jacobo happened to find a pair of felt elf ears in a box of Christmas decorations and proceeded to wear them for the rest of the afternoon, even though it was warm and we were moving innumerable heavy boxes.

My favorite memory of Jacobo is watching him play soccer in the tournament. It was raining steadily that day, and the players were getting soaked. Despite the rain and the resulting mud, Juan played with tremendous effort, landing on the ground a number of times in order to gain or keep possession of the ball. In the midst of these conditions, at one point Juan cheerfully called out, “Estoy ahogando!”, which means “I’m drowning!” This joyful approach to life is especially apparent when observing Jacobo doing something he really seems to enjoy—riding horses.

Jacobo and Kenji, a long-time staff member at Amigos, can sometimes be found on a Saturday or Sunday riding two of the horses at a trot down the road that runs alongside the Amigos property, Jacobo looking very comfortable and capable in the saddle.

Jacobo never seems happier than when he is spending time with his two older brothers, Alvaro* and Alexi.* They can often be found laughing, talking, and play fighting with each other. Jacobo demonstrates a deep affection and loyalty both to his brothers and to the other young men at Amigos.

Without a doubt, Jacobo's humor, energy, and disposition help make Amigos de Jesus a place of palpable joy.

~ Genevieve Volpe, 2015-16 volunteer