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A Dorie’s Top 10 List

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

"We were blessed through our trip to Dorie's Promise."

I would like to mention some of the specific ways we were blessed through our trip to Dorie’s Promise.

The children showing affection.1. The humble, Christ-like hearts of Pablo, Abel, and Jessica. They were so gracious, helpful, and caring. We especially liked the morning devotions and evening debrief times.

2. The access to our own kitchen stocked with some of our favorite foods when we arrived. Granola bars, peanut butter, coffee, fruit, ramen noodles, mac and cheese.

3. The way the special mom’s welcomed us into their lives and routines.

4. The church service.

5.  The humble and thorough maintenance staff who even folded our laundry for us once!

6. The ability to visit and play with the children during different parts of the day.

7. All of the amazing outings we took – State Orphanage, Paradise, Galilee, the Dump, Antigua…..

8. Safe and comfortable accommodations. I couldn’t believe I had the privilege of going on daily walks without safety concerns.

9. Tasty meals.

10. Just the right balance of service time and free time.

Thanks so much for all you do.

Rachel Clyne

A Great Week of Ministry

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Ministering to the poor in Guatemala City.Last year I had the opportunity to go on a one week missions trip to Guatemala with Dorie’s promise.  I was part of a group of 13 people from our church. It was a great week of ministry and life change for all who went.  Here are some highlights.

1) It was well organized. From the moment we arrived until we left we followed a well planned schedule and always knew what to expect and what was expected of us.

2) It had a balance of information, service and rest. We learned about Dorie’s Promise, the challenges of the poor and orphans in Guatemala and had the opportunity to serve in meaningful ways.

3) It was a spiritually enriching time. We had group devotions every day, many opportunities to pray for and with those in need and time to debrief every evening.

4) It is well staffed. I can’t say enough positive about Pablo, Abel and Jessica. They are true servants of the Lord and were very effective leaders.

There is much to commend about this missions trip. I highly recommend it to any who are interested in going on a missions trip.

In His grace,
Ward Cushman

Love Lived Out

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Love Lived Out~ by Lyn Finnegan
1 Thessalonians 1:3  We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lyn's son with Lester at Dorie's PromiseRecently, I traveled with my son, Ben and his friend to Dori’s Promise in Guatemala.  It was quite the adventure because my son found Dori’s Promise on the internet.  We wanted to go on a mission trip before my son graduated from high school, so we needed a group that would take just us.  This made things a little uneasy, especially for me as a mom, to step out and go with a group we knew nothing about.  On our adventure, what we found was a true treasure.  We found a place like 1 Thessalonians above says, that worked in faith, labored in love and persevered by their belief in Christ. 

After much prayer and multiple conversations with the people at Forever Changed International, we decided to jump in with both feet, live on faith, and trust God to take us where he wanted us to go.  One month later after signing up, we found ourselves in Guatemala where we met Pablo, Jessica, and Abel, our leaders.   They were so jovial and friendly. They showed us Christ’s heart. We loved them.

I am so thankful we took that step of faith.

A Selfie in GuatemalaI believe success is achieved by those leading you.  The leadership team in Guatemala was outstanding.  Abel was full of humor, love and friendship.  Jessica was beautiful, and the light of Christ shone through her. Pablo was on fire for God and demonstrated what it means to follow God fully.  All three were committed to their mission and to us.  They showed us their hearts for the people of Guatemala, for the orphan’s and for the struggles they face day to day- not only those living at Dorie’s Promise, but in Guatemala City. They were incredible examples to each of us for what it means to lay down your life for others and live for Christ.

Not only was I impressed at their vision and how they carried it out in their community but also for the work being done at Dorie’s Promise.  I have adopted from China and wish my daughter had been cared for like they care for their orphans! They teach them about God, character, respect, and responsibility. Furthermore, I saw hardworking, Christian women taking care of the kids with love and devotion.  I know first hand how difficult it is sometimes dealing with the baggage these children unfortunately bring with them.  These women have developed a strong sisterhood through Christ to do what they’ve been called to do.  It comes out in the way they share laughter between both themselves and the children.  These women are on the front line fighting for each of these small souls to know Christ and then to make Him known to others.  They are Princess Warriors!

A family in GuatemalaDorie’s Promise was a place my son, his friend and I found a bit of God’s heart unfurled. I would recommend this trip to anyone.  Abel, Jessica, and Pablo spoke God’s word into each of our hearts just the way we were supposed to hear it.  It’s amazing when that happens. For that, I am truly grateful, especially for the bond my son and I were able to share his senior year, a memory forever.  I would sum it up by saying, if you go to Dorie’s Promise, you will find a mix of Francis Chan’s Crazy Love and David Platt’s Radical being lived out. Just go!

Lyn Finnegan

Words Cannot Explain

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Tacarra: and one of the children from Dorie's Promise I’m so glad I had the courage to listen to my spirit the night of September 11, 2014. For whatever reason,  I could not sleep that night. Exhausted from the constant restlessness, I reached for my smartphone and Googled “causes of insomnia.” I quickly learned how stress and anxiety could be the culprit of my sleepless night. What could I so stressed and anxious about? I wondered. A million and one questions began to flood my mind about my life and its purpose:

  • Am I doing the right type of work?
  • Am I surviving or thriving in life?
  • Will I ever be enough for him or will I be single forever?
  • Am I worthy and do I matter?

Clearly, I had and still have a lot of exploring to do to get to the bottom of my restless spirit. I then had an aha moment and figured out that the best way for me to begin to heal myself was to first become a blessing for someone else in need. It also didn’t hurt that I was itching for a vacation as well so I decided to get the best of both worlds by signing up for my first mission trip!

Tacarra chilling with the children and Special Mother of Dorie's Promise.Little did I know that my life would be forever changed in the most positive ways moving forward.

Words cannot explain the immense feelings of pure love, genuineness, caring and compassion I felt directly from the open hearts of Pablo, Abel, the special mothers and the kids while there! It was almost as if they knew me and we’ve met before. Like we we’re long lost friends reconnecting or something. It was the most beautiful feeling! And for the first time in my adult life, I felt like I mattered. I felt that my presence mattered and that my life was worthwhile. Powerful revelation  and life changing stuff for a 28 year old who was working hard climbing the corporate ladder and trying to find her way in life.

My experience in Guatemala revealed to me just how emotionally and spiritually improvised I was. I was living a life without love and that’s no way for anyone to live. I’m forever grateful for this new found awareness and awakening. It took me 28 years and a mission trip to learn what these kids are blessed to live day in and day out.

Dorie’s Promise is a very good thing and they are doing an incredible job raising the world’s forgotten children. I felt forgotten too, just didn’t realize it- so glad they remembered me. And trust me when I say that these kids are receiving all the love, nurturing, care and attention needed to thrive and overcome ANY obstacles life may  throw their way. After all, love conquers all as they say.Out to the movies with some of the teens from Dorie's Promise.

As for me, nowadays, I look forward to receiving my quarterly updates from Dorie’s on the beautiful child and my personal forever friend I’ve chosen to sponsor, Yire Abraham. That little boy single handedly made my life better. I will always love and appreciate him for what he did for my soul. Most importantly though, I cannot wait to see my little forever friend again! I just request Pablo and Abel to have the cupboard stocked full with plenty of Chiky’s and Nutella for my next visit!!!

Tacarra Christie

Missions Leads to Sponsorship

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Jessica with Alejandra, during her Nov 2104 trip to Dorie's Promise.I came down to Guatemala last November, it was a great trip.

Four months later I decided to sponsor Alejandra. I had been wanting to sponsor a child for a while. Financially, I knew it was going to be important to be at a spot where I could sustain the sponsorship and also truly be a part of the child’s life (letter, gifts, etc). I finally got to a point in my job that was going to work and I already knew sponsorship was going to be a priority.

Ever since I was 7 or 8 years old, God has laid on my heart to want to adopt a child. I am not married yet, but certainly plan to go through with that when I am. However, I didn’t want to wait till then to start being apart of a child’s life from an orphaned situation. When I found out about Dorie’s Promise from one of your board members, I was so excited to get involved. So, I helped get the process going to take a mission there (which we did in November).

While I was there with our team, something about Alejandra caught my attention. She reminded me about what I’ve been told I was like as a little girl. I felt I could relate to her and her personality in that way. She captured my heart and, since adoption wasn’t a possibility at this time (for many reasons), I decided to sponsor her.

I look forward to being a part of her life as she grows up and look forward to doing more as God provides. It’s so cool she has a place like Dorie’s Promise to grow up in!

Jessica Cross

My Mission Trip Experience

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Nine years ago, my husband and I first went to Dorie’s Promise on two occasions – one was to meet our new son whom we would adopt just a few short months later, and the second was to bring him home. His name is now Matthew James. During that time period, I knew that one day I would return to Dorie’s to do mission work and that hopefully, it would even become something my family could do, once everyone was a little older.

My first opportunity came in March of 2014. I’ve been sponsoring a few children at Dorie’s ever since Matthew’s adoption, and keeping in touch with Heather Radu and the organization from time to time. My new position as Orphan Ministry Director led me and a wonderful team right into the hands of Dorie’s Promise so that we could potentially make just the slightest difference in the lives of the children living there, and the amazing people in the community whom we assisted. Well, the biggest difference was not what we could do for all of them, it was what they could do IN all of us!

From the start, we were placed in the hands of an outstanding team – Pablo who is wise beyond his age (Mission Director), Jessica who is so intelligent, sweet, loving and caring (assistant to Pablo); and of course, wonderful “servant’s heart” Abel (who was our driver 9 years ago, and remembered me the moment he saw me this time). We still feel like family to this day with the entire team and miss them greatly. Next, spending time with all of the children who we see in our videos and photos was heart-warming and inspiring. Each of those kids has a purpose from God and what a blessing to us to spend time playing with them, braiding their hair, reading books and watching movies, and seeing the smiles as we presented some gifts. And Lastly, we were not prepared to be as astonished by the love and faith of the locals in the community that we assisted with various projects and shared meals with, as well as the special needs children at the State Orphanage who just loved upon us and showed us that God truly is in each and every one of them! I personally came back with a changed perspective.

One of the special things about this trip was that my dear friend Rosa (who is 70 and very much family to me and my family) was with us. Rosa is from Mexico originally and we spoke about doing this trip ever since Matthew was adopted. Having that desire become a reality still warms my heart. Rosa was the biggest blessing to everyone on the trip since she spoke the language fluently and connected with the people in ways none of us could. She knows we plan to go back together!

I’ve always been impressed with Heather’s work and with Dorie’s Promise and their philosophy of orphan care. But doing “mission” work brought my admiration so much higher than I ever expected. They are so well planned, so thorough in the details, and keep care and safety of the teams to the highest level. I highly recommend you grab your team (large or small) and book a trip to Dorie’s soon!

Gerianne Cygan

Wauconda, IL

Oasis of God visits Antigua

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

We rolled out of bed and ate a delicious breakfast of stove toast prepared by Chef Brian! Kate added cheese for a fantastic breakfast of toasted cheese. Joel again joined us around 9am for a time of brief devotions. We read from Jeremiah 17 and John 16, discussing trusting the Lord. If our roots are in Him, no matter what comes, we will have peace. Though the discussion was short, it was a good reminder to trust in the Lord so that even when trials and tribulations come, we will be strong.

Today as we loaded into the van, we brought with us money and bags to buy and carry our treasures. The drive was similiar to the ones we’ve experienced throughout the week. However, the trip to Antigua was longer and involved travelling up and down some steep roads. But it was highway the whole way, so we had very good roads, even though the motorcycles are scary weaving in and out of traffic. When we reached Antigua, we drove up a mountain and got out of the van to walk to a large cross overlooking a beautiful view of the city. There were volcanos in the background, and the city spread below. Joel told us a little of the history of Guatemala´s 3rd capital, which was mostly destroyed by two earthquakes in 1733 and 1773. It´s hard for Americans to comprehend a country on its 3rd capital city in the 1700s. After this stop, we drove back down the mountain and into the city to a market. There were so many beautiful things for sale! It was a little overwhelming for the Mabrys, but Jennifer discovered a great talent for bargaining. The rest of us were grateful that the section we went to were Joel´s Christian friends, who quoted us good prices and didn´t make us work too hard to get good buys. These things are all handmade locally and display the bright colors typical of Guatemala.

We had lunch at Monoloco, which means Crazy Monkey. We had nachos and quesadillas and ice cream until we thought we would pop. Then we walked off a few calories heading over to one of the cathedrals that was ruined in the 1773 earthquake. While the domes were gone, the huge brick archways remained, and we got to see a float used in a Holy Week parade. While some of the cathedrals were rebuilt, this one is used mostly like a museum, although there were some places used as prayer stations with candles to light. We walked the cobblestone streets back to our van and headed for home.

Back at the orphanage, we played with the children in the backyard for a while, then came in for debrief and prayer. Afterwards, we went back to the middle-aged children who had been bathed and were all sweet-smelling, and played with them, helped with dinner, and watched movies before putting children to bed. Unfortunately, we waited all we to discover the joy of watching tv with a dozen children while they cuddle up with you to sleep. Next time we will definitely take advantage of this joy every night!


Oasis of God Brings Gifts to the Dump Ghetto

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

As every morning, joyful noises of children preparing for school came through our windows and reached our ears around 5am. Luckily, most of us were able to tune it out and sleep for a little bit longer. When it came time for breakfast Brian made us both scrambled eggs and fried eggs to go with our toast. Joel joined us around nine for our time of daily devotions. Today we read from Galatians 6 and discussed sowing and reaping seeds. Joel was encouraging to us remember that while some are called to reap the harvest, some are simply called to sow the seeds. This is important for us to remember because we are here this week sowing seeds and we shouldn’t be discouraged because we aren’t able to see what becomes of the seeds. Another thing he reminded us of is the scripture that tells us to pray on our own, not in big shows on the street. This was important to remember because we need to keep our check our hearts when doing good things to make sure we have the right motives. In all, it was encouraging to have the reminder that we are here to do good deeds for the Lord and because we have pure motives, God will turn these seeds into great things.

After  prayer, we loaded up the remainder of the clothes, all of the shoes, a case of baby wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, toys, and candy to share with the community. The trip to the dump ghetto wasn´t very long. We stopped on the way at a store where Joel spoke with a woman about getting the two Pilas that we would install in the neighborhood. Pilas are a type of concrete sink that the families in the community use to wash all of the items they gather from the dump throughout the day.

It was only a few blocks later when we arrived at a community with walls made of sheet metal. Dogs were running around and some people could be seen going through bags of trash and sorting out plastic, metal, and any other objects that could be sold in the market. The road was narrow, but we only drove about a quarter of a mile before we stopped the car and unloaded the supplies into a small building where we were told to set up the donations. We went outside to help the men unload the pilas, each of which weigh about 500 pounds. Then we went back inside to organize shoes and clothes by size, and lay out the toys. Each mother coming through would receive either shoes or a piece of clothing for their child, a toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, floss, and a toy. While they waited in line, Kate helped clean the children´s hands and faces with wipes, gave extra wipes out, and shared candy with the people (the adults loved it too!). Meanwhile, Brian took pictures of everything. Alyssa, Jennifer, and Michelle were in charge of making sure everybody got something that they needed, but no extra. It was incredibly touching to see people with no shoes or clothes that didn´t fit leave with something they really needed.

They sounded an alarm that sounded much like our tornado sirens or car alarms, which alerted the people that donations were ready to be handed out. Many people came and stood in line in the hot sun, waiting patiently for their turn to receive their gifts. We were impressed with how polite they were, with no pushing or complaining, just gratitude. Joel commented later that God multiplied the gifts, like Jesus did with the bread and fishes. It certainly seemed that way, as many many people came through, but we hardly seemed to make a dent in the toothbrushes and toothpaste. Everything that wasn´t passed out to the current group was left there to be distributed later. One of the women in charge showed us where the pilas had been put, then we left for home.

After lunch we watched a documentary about the recent history of Guatemala, which told how the country went from relative prosperity to areas of overwhelming poverty in the last 60 years. The joy of the story is how Guatemalans are working to improve living conditions, bring work, and help young men get out of gangs. We have seen this same determination, persistence, and faith in all of the groups that we have worked with this week. While life is difficult, people are focused on making things better for the next generation.

Then it was time to go back outside to play with the children. It´s heartwarming how excited they are when we come out. We love pushing them on the swings, kicking the ball with them, carrying them on our shoulders and playing tag. We know them well enough now to see them as individuals with different personalities, and to know what kind of play they like. We know who is going to want to be held, who will go through our pockets looking for treats, which toddler will make a break for the big playset they aren´t allowed to play on, and who will try to steal Kate´s shoes! They pass around Alyssa´s telephone to play with (and navigate the games very well) and we know enough Spanish to ask them to share. The mothers keep a close eye on them and make sure they all behave. We also distributed the gifts to the mothers who were working today and they were all very appreciative. They give so much of themselves to the children, and we  hope that these little gifts for them will make them happy.

We finished the day completely filthy, but full of love and true amazement by how God worked for and through us to do miraculous things! Dios es muy grande! Dios es muy bueno! Alaba a Dios!


Oasis of God visits the Guatemalan Ghetto

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Another day began earlier than expected as the sounds of children preparing for school flooded through our open windows. We shared a breakfast of cereal, though the milk was a bit different from the milk we’re used to. Joel joined us around 9 to begin devotions. We read from 1 Samuel 17 and discussed the story of David and Goliath. Joel pointed out that this story is applicable to our lives because each of us faces Goliath. Though we probably don´t come across actual giants, we face people that are hard to love and challenges that we must overcome. Luckily, we serve a God who doesn´t abandon us. If we follow, He will lead us to the river where we will find the stones to overcome Goliath. Although the rocks seem insignificant to many, God uses them in powerful ways. Again, the devotion was powerful and very inspiring to go into the world and, through God, overcome every difficulty that comes our way.

Afterwards we loaded into the van with a suitcase of clothes, two bags of candy, and several bags full of food that the orphanage provided for us to bring to the ghetto. The drive was about as far as the government orphanage, but in a different direction. We were able to see the city quickly change from rich to poor as we neared the ghetto. Eventually we were in an area where the streets were lined with people setting up stands to sell their goods. We pulled up near a field full of children playing soccer and awaited the Ghetto president. As we waited, we were greeted by a lady from the city who brought us fresh watermelon. It was delicious!

The Ghetto president, Juanita, greeted us and introduced herself. We learned that, as the president, it is her job to oversee the area and go to the government and request assistance as needed. Then when the government agrees to help, it is her job to nag them until they actually follow through. Without her, many of the people in the ghetto would be completely homeless. Though the ghetto wasn’t a place of riches and lavish living, it was certainly a better alternative to being homeless.

We walked through an alley, down some steps, and through a gate where we looked out across a ginormous dropoff leading to a ravine. The hillside was steep and covered in concrete retaining walls, topped with tiny block houses, and covered in clothes lines clad with tiny outfits. We followed Juanita up some stairs and into the house of a woman who was living in the ghetto with 16 year old Carlito. Joel translated as Juanita told the story of the people, how the woman was a widow and must now be the sole provider for the children. We gave candy to the children, food to the family, and gathered around the family to pray over them. We closed by taking a picture together and wishing them well. We followed this same process through nearly half a dozen homes in the ghetto. Each home consisted of a tiny kitchen area for cooking and a tiny bedroom. One house was three bedrooms, but altogether was only slightly larger than the average master bedroom we’re used to. The walls were made of concrete and windows lined the outside wall. There were few decorations and no sign of luxuries. They did have a single light in each room and a small refrigerator for clean water, which is necessary to stay healthy because all of the tap water is too impure to drink. Though the houses were rather empty, each was filled with love and care. All of the guardians were female and many were caring for both children and grandchildren. Some were out of work, while others worked as hard as possible to make a mere $4 a day. But as Juanita and the people continuously told us, praise the Lord for He continues to make ends meet and ensures people are cared for. The faith of Juanita was incredibly large and every word from her mouth was inspiring. Everyone was so thankful for what we had brought…though our gifts were truly so minimal. It was an incredibly humbling experience and was an excellent reminder to be grateful for all of the wonderful things God provides for us daily, that we often don´t appreciate.

After lunch and nap time (which we really needed after walking back up the steep ghetto steps) we went out to play with the children. We took stickers this time, and the children had fun sticking them on us, themselves, and each other. It was fun to have enough Spanish now to say Princesa! for the Disney picture stickers and Pelota! for the ball stickers. One of the special mothers has been very good to help with our Spanish…she is used to working with two year olds, which is about our level… Her daughter works here as well, and it is great to see how the younger special mothers run and play with the children, while the older ones sing songs with them, hold them, and keep the peace.

We had fajitas for dinner again … yum!… then assembled the bags for the special mothers. Thanks to everyone who supported these gifts to women who give so much to these children. We looked at today´s pictures and finished the day´s laundry. Now it is time to relax, reflect, and rest for tomorrow brings a new set of challneges. For those in prayer for us, thank you! Please keep it up! We would ask that you say a special request for our leader, Joel, who has been feeling very poorly, but working as hard as he possibly can. He’s a wonderful man of God and could use the prayers!


Oasis of God Ventures into a Government Orphanage

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Our morning began earlier than expected with the sounds of mothers speaking to their children and songs of joy flowing through our windows. Though our lunch and dinner are provided by the cook, we are provided with groceries and are in charge of making our own breakfast. Brian was the official cook, though everyone pitched in to help. We had bacon, eggs, and toast with  jugo de anaranjado <Orange juice>! Yumm!

Joel joined us around 9.00 to begin our morning devotions. We read from John 15 and Joel explained how in these verses God commands us to love one another. He doesn’t simply suggest or request, he commands us to love another. He also noted that it doesn’t say to love our friends, family, or all nice people – He wants us to love everyone, especially the difficult to love people. Then Joel explained how the verses say God has chosen us. Of all 313 million Americans, God chose the five of us to be here. How special does that make us? It was an incredibly touching moment when he told us we were a blessing to this place and he is anxious to see God work through us to provide miracles.

We piled into the van with homemade baby blankets, baby clothes, and some clothes for the teenagers at the government orphanage. Along with the donations we brought from America, the orphanage here provided cakes and soda for us to bring. The trip to the government orphanage was about 15 /20 minutes and took us through a lot of Guatemala City and through some more rural areas. We learned about chicken buses which are brightly colored school buses that are packed full of people and their products that they are taking to the market to sell. People from rural areas ride these buses with the things they want to sell: clothes, fruit, pigs, goats, or even chicken *hence the name. Evidently, nearly 60 percent of the people in the rural areas are illiterate, so the buses that travel from the city to the rural areas are coordinated with the color that the women wear in the area. That way even illiterate people know how to get home. The trip also provided a brief sighting of the volcano and tons of lovely landscapes. As we neared the orphanage, we saw some areas with greater poverty where the houses are made of scraps of wood or sheet metal or even simple holes dug in the hillside.

The government orphanage was within a compound, so we had to get let in through the gate and then sign a logbook with our names. We gathered the donations and headed to a large classroom filled with a dozen tables and chairs filled with nearly forty children. The first group of kids we worked with had special needs. Their ‘needs’ range from emotional disturbances, delayed learning, or even physical impairments. It was heartbreaking to see so many children who had been abused and\or abandoned simply because they were different. But from the moment we walked into the doors, the children were running at us and giving us hugs, kisses, and offering to help carry the donations we brought. Before serving them snacks, we helped the students work on a project where they distinguished pictures of kids from adults. Some of the children needed help distinguishing, but most knew which category they fell under. Some of the kids spoke fluent spanish, others spoke a little english, and spoke not at all. One girl, Blanca, spoke Spanish very well and was asking all of our ages. After hearing Brian’s age she said, Es muy viejo [You’re very old!] We all got a kick out of that. After the projects were finished, we spent a ton of time taking pictures of the kids. They loved to have their pictures taken! They especially enjoyed the use of cell phones and ipods so that they could use the front camera and see the picture as it was being taken. After dozens of pictures of hugs and kisses, we began to pass out the snack. Everybody had cake and soda – it was a great party! Finally we cleaned up, took some final photos and said Adios! to the children.

Next came in a group of twenty or so teenagers [ages 12-17], all that have a child or are currently pregnant. They all sat in the center of the room in a circle and we sat on the outside. One at a time, they said their name, age, child’s name and age or how far along they were in their pregnancy and Joel translated for  us. As we looked around the room, it was truly heart wrenching to realize these children had, or were about to have, their own children. First a mother of 17 with a 2 year old son, next a 13 year old girl who was due the very next day…the stories continued as most of the mothers were about 15 with children 2 months to 3 years. Most of these ladies were abused in their own homes and left to care for their babies on their own. The orphanage attempts to find relatives to help the girls and their children, but some stay in the orphanage for many years raising their babies. After everyone had introduced themselves, including us, we shared with them cake and soda. After the snack, we set up the donation table with everything we had brought. As the mothers formed a line to pick out things, we attempted to help care for their children. Some mothers were very hesitant to have us around their children [with many of them coming from abusive situations, this wasn’t surprising, unfortunately], but others allowed us to hold their babies. Every mother received a pair of socks for their child and an outfit. Nearly every child received a brand new, homemade blanket, too! The mothers were so grateful for their gifts and they clutched them tightly as they said adios and left. However, a few of the mothers stayed back because they wanted to tell us something, which Joel translated. First, the mother who allowed us to hold her baby that was only a few months old, Ana, said thank you for everything. She said she appreciated our gifts and couldn’t thank us enough for the brief break from motherhood. These were touching words from the mouth of a fourteen year old girl. Next was one of the mothers who was also a part of the special needs group. She began thanking us for our gifts as well as our presence. She explained that even though our gifts may not have been huge, they were incredibly important because they were filled with love. She continued to explain that our love is not like the love most people get to see. She said that our love is much bigger and so much greater because, even though she had a special need, we looked at her as a person and made her feel special. She shared that she never knew her mother and her father was not around and that is why she was at the orphanage. However, she said that we came in and brought love, making everyone there a family and she was so happy to be able to experience the love of a family. She ended by asking God to bless us and wishing nothing bad, only good, upon us in our future. Everyone was teary-eyed and embracing each other. In such an unexpected way, God brought an incredibly powerful message to us.

Finally we piled back into the van and headed back to our orphanage where we shared in a lunch of spaghetti and fresh vegetables [though Kate and Jennifer preferred their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches]. Afterwards Brian and Michelle took a brief nap, Kate and Jennifer hung out, and Alyssa skyped with Jd. Around 2.30 the kids woke from their naps and it was time for us to join them in the backyard to play. We brought with us cars and rings from America, which we learned were called carro or coche, and anillo. Both the boys and girls loved both toys and had a blast playing with and trading them all afternoon. The moms also brought out chalk, so we worked with the kids to make beautiful artwork on the concrete walls and walkways. They especially enjoyed drawing outlines of each other and coloring them in. One of the special mothers brought out a sharp knife, peeled some of the 21 mangoes that the girls pulled out of the tree, and sliced the fruit for the children to dip into rock salt…tart but good! One of the girls started braiding Alyssa’s hair, but decided there was way too much, so she ran to her mama, Mama Deborah, Joel’s wife, and said she needed help. So she came over, brushed through my hair exclaiming, mucho pelo…mucho mucho pelo! [So much hair!] Another girl started braiding kate’s hair using four strands of hair. It was really pretty, but she gave up after four tiny braids.

When it was time to for dinner, we helped with the toddlers a little, feeding some of them and keeping them occupied while the  mothers put the special needs children to bed. We may not have been the best helpers….the children were a little wound up when we left! After we ate a dinner of mini meatloafs and potatoes, Brian worked on the many many pictures we took and the girls went for a walk…barefoot. They came back even sweatier and dirtier when they left, so we were all very grateful for showers!
Again, another day full of excitement, fun, and adventure. Most of all, a day of learning, growing, and giving and receiving copious amounts of love. God has continued to bless us and greatly and for that we are so thankful!