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About Alej Diaz

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A Connection with Merary

Monday, May 8th, 2017

By Alejandra Diaz –

Merary at Dorie's Promise GuatemalaWhile numerous donors have visited Dorie’s Promise, a couple of our most avid supporters have yet to come to Guatemala. However, Christina and Patrick Wallis are saving for the mission trip they plan to take with their five children.

The couple started following FCI after sensing a strong attraction to missions and short-term possibilities where they could serve as a family.

After discovering Dorie’s Promise in online research, they signed up for email updates and started a mission trip savings account.

Then, a few years ago, Patrick found himself repeating “Merary” at work. Later, the couple discovered several references to this name in the Bible and recognized the Holy Spirit was speaking.

“One day we got an email about a new girl at Dorie’s, whose name was Merary,” Christina says. “We both immediately knew that was the Merary we had been praying about. Immediately, we began to give and help support her.” (Learn how you can sponsor Merary too.)

Christina, Patrick and their children—Carissa, 17; Grace, 14; Elyse, 13; Hannah, 11; and Levi, 6—pray for Merary regularly. After learning her name means “bitter” or “sad,” their prayers included the request that she would know joy and happiness.

Recently, the Wallises learned they can correspond with the girl and plan to start writing her letters. As adoptive parents, the Wallises would love to take Merary into their family. Since Guatemala has closed internal adoptions they realize that isn’t possible, but they want Merary to know that she is loved.

Merary loves to color.Through the Special Mothers, Patrick has sent her pictures of the family and money to buy special gifts. In turn, we have sent them photographs of Merary enjoying the gifts.

Christina says they have read her profile online and watched videos of her, as well as keeping Merary’s picture on the refrigerator and their phones. “I know she likes most food, but not onions,” Christina says. “She loves jokes and to make people laugh—very much like our family does.”

The spiritual connection that originated with the Holy Spirit leading Patrick to repeat Merary’s name has dramatically affected the Wallises faith, which continues to grow.

“I think of how specifically, how personally, and with great detail the Lord worked to make sure Merary knows she is loved,” Christina says. “There is a God that loves her and He took great effort to communicate with a family across the world about her very existence.

“She can also know there is a mom, a dad, and siblings out there who know her name, who care what is happening to her, and love her because she is precious.”

Needless to say, these kinds of stories are an incredible blessing to us!

Changing Lives Every Day!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Sisters Ana Lucía, 13, and Fabiola, 6

By Alej Diaz-

Meet Fabiola, age 6.Some weeks ago I attended a hearing for two of our new children, Ana Lucía and Fabiola. During that hearing I realized one more time why we are here … why we serve at Dorie’s Promise … why it is so important to open our hands and our hearts to those children who have nowhere to go.

Ana Lucía 13, and Fabiola, 6, entered Dorie´s Promise in July. When I met Ana Lucía, I could see her joy for life, her enthusiasm to help others, and how protective she was of her sister. I had no idea of her past or what life was like for them before they came to live with us.

As it turns out, they were living with their mother in a very poor community close to Guatemala City, but at the end of last year their mother got sick and was diagnosed with cancer. Just six months later she passed away. Ana Lucía and Fabiola were able to stay with their oldest brother, who was 17 at the time. After two months, their brother went to jail, and the girls had nobody to take care of them. They went to live with a neighbor and stayed with her for some time.

Ana Lucía had to work in the mornings in order to earn money for her and her sister — she would to sell candies in the street or outside a big mall close to where they lived. She and Fabiola would attend school in the afternoons.

Meet Ana Lucía, age 13.In June of this year, these neighbors they were staying with decided they couldn’t take care of the girls anymore — she simply didn’t have enough money or resources for the girls and her own family. As a result, they were taken to Minor’s Court — and it’s how we in turn received a phone call asking if we had space for two girls aged 13 and 6. We said yes. And from my perspective, this is when the girls’ lives started changing.

We are so blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference for them. They are gaining weight, eating well, sleeping in nice beds, and will go to school next year. Most importantly, they are learning about God and are experiencing His love every day through the Special Moms and the entire staff at Dorie’s Promise.

Once again, we believe this is the reason for the children’s home of Dorie’s Promise: to passionately serve the world’s forgotten children in Guatemala City. To accomplish this mission, we need your continued prayers and support — we even have a special sponsorship opportunity to help us provide open beds so we can take in more children like Ana Lucía and Fabiola.

We praise God for these changed lives! And we pray we can continue changing lives every day!!

Meet Our Staff – MJ Uses Many Talents to Serve Others

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

MJ has worked at Dorie's Promise for the last 8 years.

By Alejandra Diaz, Director –

MJ is a valuable part of our staff.When I think about the good times and difficult times we have had at Dorie’s Promise, I can clearly see MJ close to me in all those times. One thing I have always admired about MJ is that she’s willing to help whenever necessary, even when doing things that are not her favorite. Not only is she willing to help, she always puts in her best effort.

I have known MJ since she came to Dorie’s Promise — I have seen her grow as a partner in ministry, as a person, as a woman, and, most importantly, as a Christian. Working at Dorie’s Promise changes your life, and that’s what’s happened to her. She has been here for eight years, and during those years many changes have happened in her life, both good and bad. But one thing has kept her strong: her faith. This faith has not only impacted her personal life, but also the lives of many people around her, her family, her friends, and the children at Dorie’s Promise.

MJ started working for us as an assistant, but through the years she has become more than that … she is now the finances and legal assistant and supports many other parts of our program. She is also good at decorating and organizing, so whenever there is such a need, we know who to ask.

For me there is no question that we are part of a big body, as the Bible says in Romans 12:4-6: “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…”

In this body each one of us has a special function. I can see how God has used MJ’s talents in many different ways to build up His body.

During the past 8 years MJ has work at Dorie's Promise and we've seen her grow and flourish.Lesly, our receptionist, says, “MJ is a very responsible person who can be counted on for her support if you need it. Her passion and commitment to her work makes a difference in our organization. She is always willing to go the extra mile on her tasks in the legal, financial, and marketing department, and she always takes time to talk with the children. She not only takes care of her own kids, but also takes care of the Dorie’s Promise children as her own. The love she feels for children who are at our home is undeniable!”

The other staff agrees. “MJ is a hardworking, responsible, careful, attentive, and organized person,” says Special Mother supervisor Marleny. “Always worried about the children’s care, if they have what they need, no matter if it’s legal, spiritual, or material. As a co-worker, MJ is a supportive colleague, educated, a good listener, cooperative, and friendly.”

Of her work with us MJ says, “I know God has a purpose for my life and for the lives of our children. I love to see the process of their lives being transformed through God using this ministry. My job is to serve God in the work He is already doing, and while I’m here I feel that I am helping change the lives of children as well. It fills my heart with joy.

As a ministry, we are blessed to have staff like MJ who are so dedicated to our home. The work is not always easy, and I know MJ and the other staff would appreciate knowing that you are praying for them. Leave us a comment, or send us a quick note to encourage our staff.

Cozy & Comfortable

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

 

By Alejandra Diaz-

Future visitors to Dorie’s Promise who notice children wearing decorative flip flops will be seeing tangible evidence of a recent outreach by Girl Scout Troop #633 from Hough Street School in Barrington, Illinois.

As part of the troop’s 2012 international outreach, the fifth-grade students also fashioned colorful plastic plates for our kids. The project concluded with a late March visit by troop leader Beth Bach, her family, and 12 other team members.

Beth’s daughter, Peyton, 11, represented the troop. In addition to Guatemala, another member and her family went to Rwanda over spring break.

“The highlight for me was witnessing how happy the kids at Dorie’s Promise are,” Beth says. “It’s a phenomenal home and the children are entirely blessed. My daughter most enjoyed playing with the kids and doing crafts with them.”

Beth learned about Forever Changed International last November while investigating short-term mission trips. FCI proved to be the best option. That led to her troop choosing Dorie’s Promise, as well as Africa, as places to bless and visit.

At their February meeting, members collected donations of basic necessities for African children. For Dorie’s Promise, each girl chose a particular child to create a plate and flip flops for; they also sent blank plates and undecorated flip flops for older children to work on in March.

During their visit the team had the older children design flip flops for the Special Mothers, which gave them an opportunity to thank these incredible women with a special gift.

“They were just thrilled with them and eager to choose a pair,” Beth says. “What a special touch it was to have the kids present them.”

In addition, the team helped children create fun bottles. They filled them with rice and small items that would get buried in the rice, but surface as kids moved the bottles. They also made juggling balls by filling balloons with rice.

However, Beth says the kids ultimately had more fun playing in a shallow box of rice. Their other special activity: a Splash Day of playing in water, which Peyton enjoyed too.

The mission included a huge boost for Dorie’s Promise. The team delivered 40 blankets (valued at more than $3,500) for our nursery. They were donated by Barefoot Dreams of Southern California.

Founder Heather Radu had requested the blankets to replace worn-out bedding. Since Beth couldn’t afford them, she wrote to Barefoot Dreams CEO Annette Cook to request a donation.

“I had no idea that blankets, which inspire the whole nursery décor, were so expensive,” she says. “God truly touched (Annette’s) heart. They were impressed with FCI and more than eager to help. They were even more touched when I sent them the follow-up photos.”

If you would like to make a similar impact on the world, contact us for information about a mission trip.

Setting a Record

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

By Alejandra Diaz-
 
As a sign of the growing interest in mission trips to Dorie’s Promise, in early March we hosted the largest team to ever visit. Grace Christian School of Bennington, Vermont sent 24 people to Dorie’s Promise—8 adults and 16 high school juniors and seniors.
 
The group renovated a house for a poor family in the ghetto, as well as distributing donations in the ghetto, the city dump and a state-run orphanage.
 
“We were really excited to receive such a large group,” says Missions Assistant Pablo Villagran. “We wanted to make them feel at home. It was a challenge because we did not have enough space, but we thank God for providing a solution.”
 
The family they helped included two children. Their father hadn’t worked for a month because he had been caring for his seriously-ill wife.
 
Pablo calls it a “blessing” to have such a large number of hands to work on various projects, noting that many team members pitched in without even being asked for help.
 
“Another advantage of having a large team was to see how God changed so many lives on just one trip,” Pablo says.
 
The younger children were excited to see so many visitors. Often, there aren’t enough missionaries for one-on-one time with the kids, but on a trip to the zoo one team member accompanied each child.
 
Still, there were obstacles. Renovating a small dwelling made it difficult for helpers to move from one side of the house to the other, Pablo says. Arranging transportation and getting everyone to the site on time presented logistical problems, too.
 
“Debriefing was also a challenge,” he recalls. “Sometimes it was quite long due to the number of people who had questions and comments.”
 
The volunteers gave high marks to their visit. Leader Jennifer Morse had served as a coordinator for two previous missions to other places. She ranked this one as the most organized, enjoyable, life-changing trips she has ever taken.
 
“I would advise other teams planning to come to bring plenty of items to donate to needy people,” Morse said. “I would also let them know that they need to be prepared to be changed forever— because this trip will change those who are willing to be open to God.”
 
Volunteer Emily Steadman says the greatest thing she experienced was love. Although she says the children come from bad situations and their lives aren’t picture perfect, Emily still saw numerous happy, beautiful faces.
 
“It didn’t matter that I was different, my friends and the children took me in like one of their own,” she says. “That’s something you don’t feel in the United States—complete acceptance and love. The people of Guatemala are filled with love, joy and contentment for what they have.”
 
If such comments are tugging at your heartstrings right now, contact us for more information on arranging a trip to Dorie’s Promise.
 

Special Mother Nohemi

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

By Alejandra Diaz-
 
While each woman who cares for the children at Dorie’s Promise deserves the name of “Special Mother,” occasionally we spotlight a particular one to provide a close-up of those who play a key role in our work.
 
The mother of five daughters and a son who has passed on, Mirna Nohemi Pena has been on staff for seven years.
 
“It is a privilege and opportunity to bless the children and myself,” says Nohemi, one of our supervisors. “I feel like a part of each of them. I am committed to give them special service, which I offer with happiness and responsibility.”
 
Nohemi says working with the children is a source of health and happiness. Not only do they make her smile, but seeing them grow into healthy young people stirs feelings of joy—and tears.
 
Not surprisingly, she likes everything about her job, particularly when she sees the blessings children get from visiting missionaries and the smiles that cross their faces whenever a team arrives.
 
This Special Mother’s favorite experience involved a young boy named Miguel, who later was adopted.
 
When he arrived, his tough background made him difficult to control. However, thanks to Mama Nohemi teaching him about Jesus Christ and good moral values, when he left he had a better basis for life.
 
This is happening with another boy at the home she is guiding, a task that gives her purpose. Brayan was also difficult to control when he came to Dorie’s Promise, but now recognizes rules and instructions. This progress and the positive role she played in Miguel’s life represent special memories.
 
“I felt a strong connection with Miguel,” Nohemi says. “He is one of the kids that I remember with love. One of my wishes is to see him and be able to talk to him. When he was adopted, I was sad he was leaving, but at the same time I felt happiness. I met his adoptive family and they were a great family.”
 
As a partial fulfillment of her wish, she recently got to watch a video of Miguel singing and playing music, which brought her happiness.
 
Nohemi’s dream is to continue serving at the orphanage, since she works here for more than a paycheck. She wants to leave an indelible mark on children and comply with God’s purposes for her life.
 
“Another dream is to see my kids growing and having a better future,” she says. “I want to see them grow and know that they are doing great things with their lives.”
 
Please pray for Nohemi’s family and that she will enjoy a long life. She hopes to have the opportunity to see her grandchildren grow up and be able to continue supporting her father.
 
Pray for Dorie’s Promise as well as we carry out this vital work among Guatemala’s needy children.

Clean the World

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

By Alejandra Diaz-

For the first time Mar. 12-14, we hosted a team from Orlando-based Clean the World. This non-profit organization collects bars of soap discarded daily by hotels before sterilizing and processing them into high-quality new bars.

This recycled soap is distributed to shelters and poor areas of the world where people need it. The Clean the World Foundation estimates it prevents one million deaths a year that otherwise would have occurred from hygiene-related illnesses.

While staying here, the six-member team distributed 12,900 bars of soap in Guatemala City and surrounding areas over a two-day period.

Among the facilities the group visited: a state-sponsored orphanage with 800 children. There they went to various classrooms to teach children about the importance of hand washing.

One member played a super hero while another acted out the role of a germ, with this drama presentation implemented at other sites. Children also sang a song about hand washing to the tune of “La Bamba.”

Our visitors came away impressed with Dorie’s Promise. So did soap drive coordinator Rosa Kingston in Orlando. “The organization is amazing,” she says. “The staff is so welcoming, warm and helpful.”

Volunteer Nick Kellock of Charlotte, North Carolina, agrees. He complimented our orphanage’s work as “outstanding.”

“It is incredible for me to see how they have been able to look out for these children, giving them a better life than they clearly had before,” Kellock says. “I am looking for the opportunity to spread the word about the great work that is being done here.”

Canadian resident Lois Helfling says she had the most amazing experience, going from the lifestyle she has known to one that children in Guatemala experience. She says knowing that the kids are going to be more conscious of hygiene and the difference a small kit of soap can make to them leaves her feeling good.

“It is an amazing effort,” Lois says. “The smiles on the children’s fades and the warm way we were received when we got here, which continued throughout our visit, was fantastic.”

We were thrilled to host Clean the World, which will send another team here in April. While they weren’t the first non-profit to distribute hygiene supplies here, we were pleased to connect with another group. They found us on the Internet while researching for a partnering organization.

One of the most exciting things is seeing awareness of Dorie’s Promise spreading. We had set a goal of hosting 300 mission volunteers during 2012. However, after reaching that number in our schedule during February, we increased that goal to 400.

If you are new to the Dorie’s Promise site and searching for a meaningful way to make a significant contribution in the lives of children, contact us today about taking a mission trip to Guatemala.

Parenting with Love and Logic

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

By Alejandra Diaz-

Our program of caring for and guiding children at Dorie’s Promise includes continuing education for staff members who work with them.

Currently we are using material that helps our Special Mothers better understand their responsibilities and how to instill discipline and respect in youngsters.

Designed by a trio of teachers and parents with a combined total of 75 years of experience, the Parenting with Love and Logic curriculum teaches parents to hold children accountable for their actions. This includes establishing consequences for their actions and following through.

Says the Love and Logic Institute: “Many parents want their children to be well prepared for life, and they know this means kids will make mistakes and must be held accountable for those mistakes.

“But these parents often fail to hold the kids accountable for poor decisions because they are afraid the kids will see (them) as being mean. The result is they often excuse bad behavior, finding it easier to hold others—including themselves—accountable for their children’s irresponsibility.”

As an example, when a child leaves his or her bike unlocked, meaning it gets stolen, a parent can express sympathy.

However, holding the child accountable includes letting him know that he can only have another one after saving up the money to pay for it.

This year we are training our Special Mothers by reviewing this material at monthly meetings. Each will read a chapter the week before the meeting. At the session, they will have time share and express different ideas or questions about each lesson.

We believe this is one way we can help our Special Mothers be on the “same page” when it comes to expressing love for the children while also—when necessary—disciplining them in the right way.

Because so many of our children come from abusive homes or other dysfunctional circumstances, it is easy to take pity and never enforce rules with them.

However, this would be going to the other extreme. No matter how badly they have been treated in the past, children still need loving guidance. As Proverbs 22:6 puts it, “Train up a child in the way he should go…”

The Love and Logic philosophy is a way of raising and teaching children so they can grow through their mistakes, take responsibility for their actions, and live with the consequences of their choices.

We like the way it emphasizes respect and dignity for children while allowing those who raise them to grasp simple approaches instead of trying to learn difficult counseling procedures. As any parent knows, raising children is a tough, often thankless task that takes years of effort.

With God’s help, while we are acting as these children’s substitute parents we will do our best to raise them to be happy, responsible, respectful adults.

Waiting on Adoption

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

By Alejandra Diaz-

We hope that the newest resident of Dorie’s Promise is only here for a short time. That’s because Fredy Jose Cuc Caal is in the middle of an international adoption process. His arrival boosted our number of children to 36.

We think Fredy is about four years old. Although he had been living with a foster family, we aren’t certain why he came to stay with us.

Smart and talkative, Fredy appears to be quite happy here, even though he has had some adjustments to make. While living with a family, he was used to having his own room and receiving more special attention. So his first days at our orphanage weren’t too easy.

Also, going out to school was a part of daily life, so remaining on the grounds for preschool classes is new to him.

Other things have changed. Instead of his own room, Fredy has to share one with five other boys. Most of the time, he stays around the grounds, although he sometimes goes out for short walks or to the park.

Despite the challenges, Fredy has taken to life here fairly well. The big smile he wears is a unique part of his personality.

Fredy also loves to give hugs. Our Special Mothers have taken extra care with him, since they know it is not easy for a toddler to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings. Teacher Claudia Roncal has also been affirming and affectionate.

The Special Mother who watches him most closely describes an active child who loves to eat and play with other kids his age.

Our staff is praying for Fredy, particularly about his future. We do not have much information about his legal situation or the adoption process. However, we pray for him and his adoptive family—that God will comfort them through this trying time.

We also pray for other adoptive families caught in this situation, that they can find the strength and patience they need.

We ask all our supporters to pray for Fredy and other children in similar situations. It has been difficult watching these kids getting older as each year goes by, but there is little we can do to make the wheels of government turn more quickly.

Along with us, please pray also for the authorities in Guatemala who have the power to change this situation and help move these adoption processes along.

No matter what the outcome, we remain grateful that we were able to open our doors to Fredy. We ask God to keep giving us the opportunity to wrap our arms around him and other children who need love and care.

New Teacher at Dorie’s Promise

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

By Alejandra Diaz-

Two months into Guatemala’s new school year, the children at Dorie’s Promise are excited to be learning under the direction of their new teacher, Claudia Roncal, age 27.

Claudia’s educational background includes certification as a bilingual teacher for elementary grades and studies in psychology, with training in language therapy.

While school didn’t officially start until January, Claudia started working with the children in December.

Although this is her first time teaching in an orphanage, she believes that different work, academic and personal settings prepared her for this position. That included serving as a speech therapist at one of Guatemala’s most prestigious schools and five years working in a social project with children from marginal areas.

“I believe that education is one of the more significant and personal tasks that human can develop,” Claudia says. “It’s the opportunity to accompany children in their process to discover and grow. I think that to create a real educational process, there should be a positive bond as a basis of the teacher-student relationship.”

In the morning, Claudia teaches seven pre-schoolers. In the afternoon she home schools 14-year-old Mirna, as well as supervising homework for older children.

This is the first time for formal instruction for our three and four-year-olds, who learn to adapt to the classroom and how to accomplish different activities.

Among topics they study are colors, numbers and shapes. Claudia has a program set out for the year, divided into different subjects she will emphasize each month.

“Every day I work different areas of the children’s development, especially the skills that are expected for their age,” she says. “The children who live here need the experience to perform in healthy models that show them how to communicate, play, and interact with others.”

I can see how much the youngsters love their classes. Doing different things daily takes them out of their routine. They are learning new rules, how to pay attention to complete various tasks, songs and games.

Claudia’s work represents a huge boost for the staff. We are sure that the children are receiving the quality of learning they need according to their age and personal development.

And, she is the best person to provide older students necessary supervision and help with their homework.

Claudia says the opportunity to work with each child at Dorie’s Promise has shown her how the Lord allows her to imprint memories of love on their lives and become a resource in their development.

“I give infinite thanks to God for this opportunity,” she says. “I have seen that Christ’s words that ‘whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me’ (Matthew 18:5) are real. As He allows me to bless the lives of these children, He blesses me abundantly.”