Circumstances don’t define Higor Gomes. He learned early on that situations can be changed. As a youngster, he lived in Brazil with his mom and younger sisters. They had it tough.

“Our home didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing,” Higor said. “The government delivered river water to us weekly and pumped it into a large barrel for us to drink.”

Pictured here at age 12 or so, he watches his sister, Evelen, prepare food in their open “kitchen” with a brazier for cooking. He keeps the photo on his phone to remind him of home and how much they’ve overcome.

“My mom was poor. She didn’t have the money to give us to buy shoes.”

Early on, he decided to take action. His first job, around age eight, was as a salesman. His mom would cook the Brazilian street food, salgados, and he would sell the salty fried meat pastries. Together, they profited and saved their money in a large jar.

When coins filled the container almost to the top, he said his stepfather took the money and spent it on alcohol. Others might have given in to despair, but not Higor.

He worked at an auto shop doing whatever needed to be done. “That was the worst job! One time the mechanic told me to carry a Volkswagen engine to another garage. That motor was so heavy in my little arms. I stopped five times to put it on the ground and rest.”

Determined, the youngster kept his eyes open for better opportunities. Soon he had another job offer from a man with a car washing business. “That guy more than doubled my pay and gave me $50 weekly,” Higor said. “I thought now I’m rich!”

With each achievement, his dreams grew. He started a bakery, then added a food market. He’d leave home at 3 a.m. to open the bakery and prepare breads, then go to the supermarket later in the day to stock shelves. He often wouldn’t return home until after 10 p.m.

He wanted to pursue opportunities in the United States, so he sold his car and took business proceeds to meet visa requirements and enroll as a student. At age 25, he traveled to Miami with a few thousand dollars. “When I arrived, I only had the address of an Airbnb,” Higor said. “I didn’t speak any English, and I didn’t know anyone.”

But he worked hard and made friends along the way. “Even now, two years later, conversation is a challenge,” he said. “Finding the words I want in English can be hard. Some people think, ‘Oh this guy doesn’t know a thing.’”

In reality, Higor is fluent in Portuguese, rapidly mastering English, and learning Spanish from a co-worker in a janitorial company. “Things in my life have been tough,” he said, “but this is what makes me strong.”

He shares an apartment with his sister and brother-in-law as he continues his studies. Faith in God enables Higor to keep going. “I have lots of talks with God,” he said. “He tells me, ‘I see you and you don’t need to worry.’”

Today’s Bible Verse:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 1:11 KJV).