• GO HOME

    image001
  • Great Missions Trips for the Familiy

  • Partners of Hope

  • Other FCI Blogs

  • Archive of Posts

A Mother’s Inspiration

May 9th, 2018 by

From a mother's heart an orphanage took form in Guatemala.

By Kelly Shank –

A photo of Heather from the FCI archives.In 2000, a young mother went to Guatemala with a desire to help children find loving homes. With a decade of experience in orphan care and adoption, she saws the needs and knew there was a better way to help. Children thrive best in a loving home and she was determined to help children find families.

Our founder, Heather Radu, prefers to quietly work behind the scenes, but this week we want to highlight her tireless commitment to our children.

If you’ve ever worked with Heather, you understand her energy, drive, and passion for our work.

She is the heart of everything we do. From the earliest days of Dorie’s Promise, when she and her children lived in Guatemala, until today, her efforts are focused on providing the best possible home for every child in our care. Mediocre is not an option. Her passion is contagious and her drive makes the rest of us work even harder.

After international adoptions closed, Heather could have quietly stepped away from Guatemala. Instead, she chose to stay and transition to the hard work of orphan care. Her love for our children wouldn’t allow her to abandon them. They needed a family and she wanted to help. In the years since, we’ve seen our staff and children become a family, loving each other deeply and supporting our children as they heal.

Heather on the left with one of the teenagers at Dorie's Promise, Brayan.Eighteen years later, Heather’s goal and commitment in Guatemala hasn’t changed. Her primary goal will always be the well-being of our children. Every decision is based on how it improves the lives of our kids—schooling, staffing, even our missions program. Nothing will ever be more important than the opportunity we have to raise healthy, happy children. As our children get older, Heather is even more involved, guiding us through the responsibility to raise successful young men and women who break the cycle of poverty.

This year for Mother’s Day, we celebrate and thank Heather for inspiring us and giving us the opportunity to join her as we champion the children of Dorie’s Promise!

Behind the Scenes: Abel and Oscar

May 4th, 2018 by

Abel and OscarBy Kelly Shank –

Our home runs well because of the dedicated staff who work behind the scenes. We’ve introduced you to our office staff, medical team, teachers, and one of our Special Mothers recently.  Today, we want to highlight Abel and Oscar.

These men help keep our home running in ways you don’t normally notice. They’re drivers, maintenance men, mechanics, and helpers in all we do. More importantly, they’re men who show up every day and love our children, bringing stability and father figures to our home.

For more than a decade, Abel and Oscar have been a consistent presence in our homes. In their early years with us, they were vital for adoptive families. Abel was one of the first people adoptive families met when they visited our home. Both men were instrumental in helping us keep our adoptions on track by making sure everything and everyone arrived on time.

They’re still doing a lot of driving, but now it’s mostly to and from schools. Abel and Oscar take turns driving the school loop each day. Taking all of our kids to 4 different schools means spending about 2 hours each trip: morning, lunch, and afternoon. That’s a lot of time in the van each day.

Oscar especially enjoys his school trips because he gets to spend time with the children, talking with them and staying connected to what’s going on in their lives.

Abel

Abel joined our staff in 2004. Over the years he has done almost every job at Dorie’s Promise. Abel’s first priority is our children. He’s seen all of our children grow up and has a special connection with each of them.

Many past team members will remember him as the energetic trip leader with a knack for mixing concrete. If the words, “volcano, volcano” and “more water, more water” mean anything to you, you’ve definitely mixed concrete with Abel.

Helping with our community projects has also given him the opportunity to create friendships with the many people we serve, as well as trip participants. Once you work with Abel, you’ll never forget him. He shares that he “cannot be more grateful to belong to FCI. With my work and family, I have a full heart.”

Oscar

Oscar is everyone's "grandpa" at Dorie's Promise.In 2006, Oscar joined our staff. He is a quiet, calming presence in our home. Our children often call him Papa Oscar or Abuelo (grandfather), thanks to his gentle spirit. Oscar genuinely cares for all of our children and wants to connect with each one.

Oscar is also the person who knows how everything runs at Dorie’s Promise. If there is a problem with anything, including our cars, Oscar is the person who helps get it fixed.

He’s also the guy who helps us make all our legal appointments and deliver paperwork to be processed. Simply put, Oscar knows where to go and who to see to make sure we are doing the best for our kids.

Our Appreciation

We want to thank Abel and Oscar for their loyalty to our children.

Our Legal Assistant, Jessica, shares that Abel “has been here many years and is loyal to the organization, but more than that he is loyal to the children.” Oscar is a “hard and committed worker. You will never hear him say no to something related to the well-being of our children.”

We appreciate their dedication to Dorie’s Promise, but moreover we appreciate their dedication to our children.

Abraham Emanuel Reconnects with His Family

April 26th, 2018 by

Abraham Emanuel at Dories Promise

By Kelly Shank –

4 year old Abraham Emanuel at Dorie's Promise

4 year old Abraham Emanuel

Our hope is for each of our children to find a loving family. Each time one of our children is able to reconnect with birth family or is matched with an adoptive family, we celebrate. Although we love our children, we know living with a family is best.

This past January, Abraham Emanuel (Abraham) finally went home with his sister and aunt.

Abraham’s Story

In September 2012, Abraham toddled into our home for the first time. Only 4 years old at the time, he was surrounded by new people in a new place and wasn’t sure what to think or do.

When he was only a baby, Abraham’s mother passed away, leaving his future uncertain. For the next several years where he would live was in question. Eventually, the courts referred him to our home where he would find stability. For the next 5 ½ years, Abraham became a member of our family at Dorie’s Promise.

We have watched Abraham grow and mature from a quiet toddler to a confident young man. Our home became his home and he grew to love the other children and staff. One of his favorite hobbies is playing soccer, and there was always other boys ready to play with him in our backyard.

Abraham’s Future

This past January, Abraham finally went home with his sister and aunt.Last year, Abraham’s older sister Karla began the process of seeking custody. At just 19 years old, becoming the primary caregiver for her younger brother would be difficult, but Karla was determined to reunite their family. She fought hard for her brother.

Along with Karla, their aunt also stepped up to help reunite Karla and Abraham. While Karla works, their aunt will be caring for Abraham when he’s not in school. Abraham will be surrounded by family who loves him every day. This is our dream come true.

The day Abraham left Dorie’s Promise was filled with mixed emotions for everyone. He was excited to go home with his sister but sad to leave everyone he had called family for the last 5 years. Most of his memories were made in our home, and leaving means he’s starting over again.

For our staff, watching him leave was both exciting and hard. We celebrate each time one of our children gets the chance to go home, but we will still miss him. Even in our sadness, we understand our part in his life may have been short, but was significant because we helped prepare him for his future.

We wish Abraham, Karla, and their whole family all the best!

Family Trips to Dorie’s Promise: The Johnson’s

April 18th, 2018 by

The Johnson's visiting Dorie's Promise.

By Kelly Shank –

Every year, hundreds of people visit Dorie’s Promise as part of our teams. Although we enjoy everyone who visits, when families serve together, something special happens.

This week we want to highlight the Johnson family (Kevin, Debi, Sarah, and Josh) of Michigan.

Their First Trip to Guatemala

The Johnsons on a trip to GuatemalaMany years ago, a little girl named Amelia opened the eyes of the Johnson family to both Guatemala and Dorie’s Promise. Amelia lived at Dorie’s Promise and was one of the children whose adoption cases remained in limbo after international adoptions were closed*. As the Johnsons followed the story of Amelia’s adoption by their friends, they became connected to Dorie’s Promise and the greater story of orphans in Guatemala.

In 2012, the Johnson family accompanied their friends to Dorie’s Promise on a weeklong missions trip. Watching their friends’ daughter run to her parents when they arrived brought many years of prayers into reality. Not only was Amelia’s story now real to them, so was the stories of our other children. Following that trip, their family would never be the same.

Serving as a Family

Beginning with their very first trip, serving at Dorie’s Promise has been a family experience for the Johnsons. Sarah was 15 and Josh was only 10, on their first trip, but their ages didn’t stop them from serving our children and communities. They continued to visit with Sarah joining an annual teen trip for several years until Kevin and Debi began leading their own team trips.

According to Debi, “seeing God at work in our family, team members, and the children at Dorie’s Promise” is her greatest reward.

Over the years, each member of the Johnson family has found a special way of serving at Dorie’s Promise. Debi organizes their teams and enjoys spending time with our children. Through his photography skills, Kevin shares the stories of our children, staff, and communities with those in Michigan. Sarah’s Spanish fluency gives her a special way to connect with everyone she meets. While Josh enjoys working in the communities and entertaining the kids.

It’s encouraging to see each person grow and develop unique skills.

Lifelong ConnectionsThe Johnson's at Myra’s quinceanera

Coming back each year gives the Johnsons an opportunity to connect with our children and staff. They have watched our children grow up and witnessed special celebrations. Last year, they were able to help celebrate Myra’s quinceanera, a very special 15th birthday party. Their work helped make the day even more special for Myra.

We appreciate the Johnson family’s commitment to our children and home. For the past 7 years, they have loved, encouraged, and prayed for our children, our staff, and the vision of our ministry.

If your family is interested in experiencing a life-changing opportunity, join us this summer.

*International adoptions from Guatemala were closed in 2008.

Siblings Learning to Dream Again

April 11th, 2018 by

Flor and Mateo at Dorie's Promise

By Kelly Shank –

Each of our children longs for a family where they feel loved and included. Our deepest desire is to see their dreams come true by being reunited with their birth families or placed in adoptive homes. For the times when this dream doesn’t come true, our staff dries tears, answers questions, and stands in the gap.

Before coming to Dorie’s Promise, Flor and Mateo were living with a Guatemalan family and in the process of being adopted. We’re not sure what happened, but the adoption proceedings stopped. Afterward, the court referred them to our home. Unfortunately, placements don’t always work.

As you can imagine, Flor and Mateo were disappointed when they came to Dorie’s Promise. Being adopted together is their dream. Having that taken away was too difficult for them to understand. They couldn’t imagine what they could have done differently, to have a family.

Flor at Dorie's PromiseFrom the moment they came to us, we knew how much they loved each other. Their bond helped them endure their disappointment. Not only did they lose their adoptive family, they also moved nearly 4 hours away. Dorie’s Promise wasn’t their first choice. They were abandoned by a family, moved, and wanted to return to the orphanage where they grew up. More than anything, they want to be with people they knew and who loved them.

We understood how much they had lost, and knew we needed to earn their trust. One year later, things are completely different for Flor and Mateo.

Flor

She might seem quiet when you first meet her, but once she opens up to you, you’ll be amazed. Flor is one of the smartest girls in our home. Not only does she speak English well, she also wants to learn more languages. Her teachers are amazed by how well she does at her bilingual school. She’s so bright that we’re constantly trying to find new ways to challenge her.

Even though she still misses her old friends, Flor has really connected with the other children here, especially Jennifer. They attend the same school and both love art. Seeing Flor feel safe enough to build friendships again gives us hope that she is healing.

MateoMateo at Dorie's Promise

Mateo is one of the funniest boys in our house. He keeps the Special Mothers laughing each day as he recounts his school day adventures. Being able to connect with Brayan has given Mateo an older role model in our home, someone to learn from and hang out with. We’ve also seen him take on the role of older brother to the little boys as well, teaching them to build new creations with Legos.

Just like his older sister, Mateo is also very smart. He has overcome the challenges of their move, while also attending a bilingual school. We know he’s going to do great things because Mateo is a triple threat—smart, funny, and caring.

Our director, Alejandra, shares that “we know inside of them there are still many situations to solve and we pray that God is helping us be the family and the support they are needing now, and the one they are going to need in the future.”

Seeing Needs and Serving Families

April 4th, 2018 by

The Gonzalez Aguilar Family of Cuilapa Guatemala

By Kelly Shank –

Each of our short-term missions teams will partner with a specific family.We believe God has called us to serve the forgotten children of Guatemala. Within our home, we care for 40 children who were orphaned or abandoned, but there are many more children who need our help as well.

What if we could prevent children from entering Guatemala’s orphanages?

Although we can’t prevent all vulnerable children from entering orphanages, we can work with families to make a difference. Our short-term missions teams help us meet the immediate needs of families who face extreme poverty.

Poverty causes stress, crisis, and trauma for families. Our goal is to offer immediate assistance and help preserve families who are facing a crisis, allowing them to remain whole and improve their lives.

Working with the children in our home has taught us that many came from loving families who were overcome from a crisis situation. Our goal this year is to make our community projects even more personal and connected to long-term progress. Each of our teams will partner with a specific family. They will know their family’s story, their needs, and be able to pray for them before landing in Guatemala.

This year we identified three new communities in need of our assistance. Great leaders in Santiago Sacatepéquez, Sanarate, and Cuilapa are helping us understand the needs of their communities and connect with families we can help. By working together, we provide help and resources, while the leaders nurture long-term relationships. With our help and the community support systems, these families have opportunities to change their lives.

Understanding Poverty

Poverty causes stress, crisis, and trauma for families.The families we help are “working poor.” In many households, between four and six family members survive on only $100 per month. Limited job opportunities in rural areas create a cycle of poverty. Many work on large vegetable farms six days a week, toiling in the hot sun to earn a meager income. Without money, these families cannot afford schooling, and without schooling, they can’t get better jobs.

Although these families are still intact, they are often struggling. With such limited resources, both financially and otherwise, every other part of their family struggles. They have limited funds for secure homes, sufficient food, and school, let alone any extravagances. For many families, the choice must be made between sending their children to school or having them work to help provide additional income for the family.

These families are faced with tough decisions every day just to survive.

Our Summer Plans

Already in 2018, five teams have worked in these villages. One family received a new house, while others received home repairs, concrete floors, and new stoves. Our Community Director, Bertha, is excited about the summer when even more families will be matched with our teams.

Will you please pray for the families we will help, our teams, our staff, and community partners? Together, we can help these families and prevent their children from entering Guatemala’s orphanages.

Interested in learning more about our short term missions? Click here.

Celebrating Guatemala’s Beauty: Semana Santa

March 26th, 2018 by

Celebrating Guatemala’s Beauty: Semana Santa

By Kelly Shank –

Semana SantaThe natural beauty of Guatemala’s landscape is rivaled only by the beauty of its people and traditions. This week we’re celebrating one of the country’s most significant holidays, Semana Santa (Holy Week). As a country with deep connections to the Catholic Church, Semana Santa represents the faith of many Guatemalans, their heritage, and cultural identity. For more than 500 years, Spanish influence and Catholicism have shaped this beautiful country.

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, the Lenten season prepares Catholics for the events of Easter. Semana Santa, the week preceding Easter Sunday, culminates the Lenten season. Preparation and celebrations fill each day of Semana Santa. As a holiday, many businesses and governments close so families can participate in local events.

Antigua, the original Guatemalan capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site, hosts the most famous celebration annually. Hundreds of thousands of visitors descend on the historic city to experience the excitement of Semana Santa. During the weeklong celebration, the city transforms into a daily celebration of history, faith, and artistry. Visitors experience daily processions, special services at the city’s historic cathedrals, and get a chance to witness long-held traditions.

Semana Santa colorful decorations.As a new visitor, each day’s procession will draw you in and hold your attention for hours.

Festive marching bands and dance troupes lead each day’s procession. Huge wooden floats, andas, depict the Holy Week story and are carried through the town. For those who are chosen to carry the float, it is a distinct honor. Along the path, families decorate their homes and street vendors sell special treats, adding to the excitement. From afternoon until late night, the procession’s music fills the city.

Cheerful music, colorful costumes, and massive floats may catch your attention, but the streets are one of the most spectacular features. The streets of Antigua transform into works of art. Families and businesses whose properties line the procession route spend days planning and hours creating the traditional carpets, alfombras.

Semana Santa decoration on the streets of Guatemala.The artistry of the alfombras is part skill and part soul. For those creating these masterpieces, their designs represent faith, national pride, and creativity. They meticulously layer dyed sawdust using stencils to create intricate designs. Once complete, the alfombras create the path each procession follows. In addition to sawdust, people add flowers, plants, and fruits to create unique designs, commemorating each unique community. Although scattered after the procession, sawdust along the city’s historic cobblestone streets reminds visitors of the city’s ongoing celebration.

Semana Santa represents the best of Guatemalan culture, hospitality, faith, and tradition.

Encouraging our children’s faith and cultural heritage is important. Although they enjoy a 10 day summer break from school to celebrate Semana Santa, we want this holiday to mean more than fun and games. Each day during Semana Santa, our Special Mothers prepare a devotion to help our children understand the Holy Week story. Their stories help connect the celebrations with the meaning of the season in ways our children understand.

As our children mature, we want them to appreciate their Guatemalan heritage and enjoy celebrating traditions together.

Get to Know Our Special Mothers: Mama Noemi

March 19th, 2018 by

Special Mother, Mama Noemi at Dorie's Promise

By Kelly Shank –

Mama Noemi has worked at Dorie's Promise for 12 years.Have you ever wondered why we call the ladies who work in our homes “Special Mothers”?

They are special, and most are mothers, but there is something more to these women. It takes a very special person to care for someone else’s children as if they are your own, and that is what the Special Mothers do for our children.

These very special women work alternating days, caring for our children. They are the ones who celebrate successes, kiss boo-boos, pray with our children, discipline our children, and hold them when painful memories are too much to handle. They stand in the gap between the biological families who aren’t able to care for these children and an uncertain future.

Meet Mama Noemi

Visitors to our home love Mama Noemi immediately. She’s welcoming to visitors, loving to our children, and dedicated to her staff. Her laugh is contagious and she loves life. If music is playing, Mama Noemi is dancing. She is the embodiment of what we stand for—steadfast, dependable, loving, and most of all, fun.

For more than 12 years, Mama Noemi has faithfully worked at Dorie’s Promise, serving currently as the Supervisor of our girls’ house. She oversees all of the daily tasks of that house, the general well-being of our girls, and the other Special Mothers who work with our girls.

Mama Noemi helping one of the Dorie's Promise children get ready for picture day.Joining our staff in 2005, she has experienced our growth as an organization and helped shape our homes. Mama Noemi worked at Dorie’s Promise while international adoptions were open and continued with us during our transition to orphan care. As she looks back, she describes her role during the international adoption period as that of an intermediary, caring for children until they could be united with an adoptive family. After the close of international adoptions, her work changed. Many of our children will live with us for most of their childhood. Mama Noemi enjoys the opportunity to create long-term relationships with our children, built on trust, respect, and love. Being able to watch them grow, learn, and mature is a unique opportunity not available during her early years with us.

Those who work closely with Mama Noemi understand her love for our children and commitment to their well-being. Her dream is for all of our girls to become strong young women who have the opportunity to be successful adults. Just like she loves her own children and grandchildren, she cares deeply for each of our children. Each morning after the children leave for school she leads our Special Mothers in prayer for our children, interceding for their needs and praying for our home.

Every day she comes to work with a positive attitude, ready to give her best to each of our girls.

The way Mama Noemi leads her staff and interacts with our children demonstrates a greater purpose. She recently shared, “for me, working at Dorie’s Promise is a mission, not a job.” We experience her focus and dedication every day.

Thank you, Mama Noemi for blessing our home with your love and dedication!

A Good Start to the New School Year

March 14th, 2018 by

Ready for A New School Year

By Kelly Shank –

Just one month ago, our children started a new school year. Once again the counters in our homes are lined with lunchboxes and book bags. Our kids are up early and headed to their various schools in bright, new uniforms. Unlike in the United States, the Guatemalan school year begins in January and ends in October.

A few months ago we gave you a sneak peek at our plans for the 2018 school year. Some of our children started new schools this year while others are experiencing the joy of seeing all their friends after a long break. Everyone is starting to settle into the new school year.

With 36 children headed to 5 different schools each day, keeping up with everyone’s homework and special activities is a full-time job. Luckily with we have 2 great teachers who help us stay on top of everyone’s school work.

Meet our Teachers:

Lucky

Our teacher, Lucky.Prior to becoming our teacher, Lucky was a Special Mother for 5 years. Working as a Special Mother gave her a unique perspective on our children. She helped them with homework, cared for them each day, and understood their unique emotional and intellectual needs.

When our teaching position opened up, Lucky knew she wanted to focus on helping all of our children through learning. Lucky believes that “teaching is not transferring knowledge, instead it’s creating possibilities for children to produce and build knowledge.” As she works with our children, Lucky focuses on helping them believe in themselves and overcome any obstacles they face in their school work.

Each year, Lucky works to improve her own teaching methods to best meet the needs of our children. She has completed courses in Montessori methods as well as those in human rights. Her goal is not only to help our children excel academically but to also prepare them for adulthood and raise them in a way that promotes their emotional well-being. She aims to reinforce the vision of our team—to raise children who become independent, strong, loved, prepared, and successful adults.

Yoselin

Yoselin is a teaching assistant at Dorie's Promise.Working with the children at Dorie’s Promise comes naturally to Yoselin. Not only does she love working with children, but her mother, Mirna, is also our staff nurse.

In 2017, Yoselin joined our staff to provide extra support for Lucky. During that first school year, she worked with the teachers of Mario and Joshua in their classrooms, providing an invaluable connection between their school and our home. Thanks to joint efforts of Yoselin and the teachers, our boys made good process in school. This year Yoselin is overseeing the school work of half our boys.

In addition to working at Dorie’s Promise, Yoselin attends college as an education major. We appreciate how she incorporates her studies into our home, adapting her classwork to each of children and watching them improve. Yoselin hopes our children become lifelong learners.

The 7 Keys to Learning in Our Home:

  1. Identify each child’s interests and help them explore these subjects to become active learners
  2. Encourage reading for all children
  3. Promote and reinforce healthy values
  4. Allow children to investigate and create through dynamic learning activities
  5. Offer stability and order at home to replicate school
  6. Teach self-disciple and responsibility
  7. Always offer positive reinforcement, unconditional love, and motivation to succeed

We want to thank Lucky and Yoselin for their dedication to our children.

2018: Our Year to Refocus Missions

February 19th, 2018 by

2018 is the year we refocus on the reason we first started hosting teams.

By Kelly Shank –

Mixing the daily needs of 40 children with 300 visitors can be overwhelming to both our staff and kids. The 2018 mission trip season is quickly approaching at Dorie’s Promise and we’re readying our home for more than 300 visitors. Recently, our staff met to discuss our home, our children, and what we want 2018 to look like at Dorie’s Promise.

Mixing the daily needs of 40 children with 300 visitors can be overwhelming to both our staff and kids. Some may wonder why we welcome visitors at all. There is no better way for people to understand the needs in Guatemala than through experience. Plus, we know the people who come to Dorie’s Promise want to serve our children and communities. Our job is to create a program that is healthy for our children, manageable for our staff, and meaningful to those we serve.

As a staff, we asked hard questions and consulted professionals who know our children.

What are the benefits of allowing so many people into our home? How many people should we allow into our home? What changes can create healthy boundaries for our children? What should we really expect from our staff? What kind of projects are we good at?

Over the course of 3 days, we realized just how far we’ve strayed from our original mission.

God has called us to passionately serve the

world’s forgotten children through life-changing ministries.

2018 is the year we refocus on the reason we first started hosting teams. We know when people meet our children and see the need in Guatemala, they join with us to serve the families and children of Guatemala.

By identifying our priorities and gifts, our focus again became clear—the children in our home. They are our greatest priority at all times. Our gifts can also help families throughout the country. We believe in families and are committed to preserving families who may be on the verge of crisis. For those children whose families have experienced crisis and find themselves in a government orphanage, we intend to partner with organizations to care for them until they too can be united with a family.

2018 is our year to refocus missions at Dorie’s Promise. Our calling is clear.

New York Yankee's pitcher Ben Heller at Dorie's Promise.Preserving Families. Caring for Orphans. Transforming Lives.

This is how we fit into the Guatemala missions community. We are both relieved and excited as we prepare for the 2018 trip season at Dorie’s Promise. As a staff, we are united in our vision for the future. We understand how we are called to serve the families and children of Guatemala. We are already identifying families, community partners, and other facilities who share our vision and have needs we can meet this year.

We will serve everyone with dignity and humility, providing solutions and opportunities that promote independence instead of dependency. We will listen well and only offer solutions that are needed, even if it means we change the way we operate.

This is the year we remember why we started.

Will you help us preserve, care, and transform in 2018? We still have openings for both teams and individuals in 2018. Join us as we serve the children and families of Guatemala.