“I almost lost my life. Late one night I was working at my computer, and next thing I knew I woke up face down on my keyboard. The stress of my life was literally killing me.” Shocked and completely drawn in by his story, I sat and intently listened to Mauricio Berrios, our Finance and Administration Director, tell the story of what his life looked like before working at Amigos.
Mauricio is a quiet presence, but nonetheless a powerhouse in our organization. We first met him over ten years ago, when we contracted his highly respected firm to audit our Nicaraguan operations. His expertise and attention to detail was unparalleled. After we contracted his business to do our annual audit for a few years, John Bland presented him with an offer straight out of left field: “Come work for us.”
Mauricio smiles but still seems surprised as he recalls the moment. “I couldn’t believe it, and before I could stop the words from coming out of my mouth, I said ‘ok’. I got into my car to make the 40-minute drive back to Leon and I was in a state of shock the whole way. Now, I look back on that and I know it was God working in my life.”
He goes on to explain the unhealthy lifestyle he lived as a successful business owner, hardly sleeping, and being absolutely consumed by growing his business. He recalls the regret he felt, not being present with his wife and children. “I didn’t know how to stop working, how to slow down, how to change. That conversation with John was an opportunity that God put before me.”
The invitation to join the Amigos team was unexpected, but now that he can look back it was everything that both Mauricio needed… and that Amigos needed. I love hearing Mauricio speak of how he has changed. He has probably told me ten times over the years that he never had to wash his own plate before working at Amigos. The upper class of Nicaragua typically employs “help” to take care of cooking, cleaning, and other tasks. He tells the story of having lunch in our comedor his first week of work, and realizing the expectation that each employee would take their own plate to wash at the outdoor sink area. It was a humbling moment for him, but I love the pride in his voice as he so freely shares how it changed his heart.
Amigos is better because of Mauricio. The systems and processes of our operations, our high commitment to transparency, our positive relationship with other local institutions – it is because of him. The best part, though, is the story of transformation that continues to play out inside of the man leading it all. “I love to serve now, and that is because of Amigos.”
I love Mauricio’s story because it reminds me that we are all on a journey of transformation. He and the rest of our team show up to work each day to pave the way for others to experience change in their lives, but the beauty of our reality is that we are all being changed in the process.