Jesus saves the day, Marvin and Bruno take the cake

Mar 5, 2021 | 1 comment

By Jeff Salz

Marvin and Bruno are brothers who started living on the football field next to our home about a month ago. After a week of watching their antics in amazement — enjoying their almost magical prowess with  a soccer ball, their relentless hard training while living out in the open 24/7 — no matter the weather – we wondered one thing: Who are these guys?

Jeff Salz on the pitch, flanked by Marvin and Bruno.

Over frequent visits we became inspired with their story and impressed with them personally. Having slipped quietly away from their home in Duran, they traveled to Cuenca without a dime in their pockets. Their plan was to live by the grace of god, steadfastly practicing, praying and studying their Bibles until they attained their dream: being signed by professional soccer team. Clearly, Martin and Bruno were on the adventure of their lives.

It was my birthday. Overcome by a tsunami of love and kindness from friends and family, we felt the need to share the wealth. Jaffe had an idea:  “We’ve got almost an entire fudge birthday cake left over in the fridge. Let’s give it to the boys!”

We packed up cake, plates, forks, napkins and trotted over to the field. I presented the bag to Marvin. “It’s a birthday cake for you”.

“How did you know that today was my birthday?” asked Marvin, his eyes wide in amazement.

“What?” I was unbelieving, too. “Today is MY birthday!”

“March first? March first!! ”, we intoned together. Hugging and laughing, we shared the moment of instant kinship that companies the discovery of matching birthdates.

“It’s a miracle. Thank you God. So far away from home, on Marvin’s birthday,” says Bruno. “God brings us new family. And delicious chocolate birthday cake in the wilderness!”

As Jaffe and I head home we are laughing, shaking our heads, feeling gifted beyond words. “Can you image how those two feel knowing that not only does Jesus have their backs,” says Jaffe  “But when things looks most grim… He delivers.”

“Yes,” I agree, “This is enough to make a true believer out of even the likes of me.”

“Really,” she asks. “What do you believe in?”

“Truthfully, I have no freaking idea. But whatever it is. At this moment, surely and truly… I do believe!”


Author’s note: The inspirational brothers Bruno and Marvin are currently in residence on the football field next to the Colegio de la Ciudad de Cuenca — on the bleachers near Calle las Higuerillas. I know they would be glad to see you. Don’t forget to wish Marvin “feliz cumpleaños”!

Jeff Salz is an anthropologist, adventurer and lecturer who recently moved to Cuenca with his wife Lisa Jaffe. He says he plans to continue his “expeditions of discovery” in his adopted country. He can reached through his website,


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