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What Nayeli Teaches Us about Success

August 29th, 2017 by

Nayeli (or Nalleli) and Dorie's Promise director Alej.

By Kelly Shank –

Nayeli’s made the transition to the US, found a great group of friends, and is doing well.Last year we reached a milestone at Dorie’s Promise. Our oldest child, Nayeli, completed her schooling in Guatemala and transferred to a private school in the United States.

Watching her over the last year has been exciting. She’s made the transition to the US, found a great group of friends, and is doing well.

After only one semester at her new school she was able to transfer to a local community college to begin her college career full-time. Nayeli’s college success comes as no surprise to those who know her well. She is one of the brightest, most determined young women we have ever met. While living in our home she was a natural leader to the younger children, a diligent student, someone the staff could rely on, and a valuable resource for visiting teams.

What we hadn’t realized until recently is that the success of Dorie’s Promise will really be measured by our ability to raise children who can live what we would consider regular lives and become fully themselves.

Nayeli taught us, without even knowing it, what lies in the heart of our children—the desire for us to see them as individuals, not focusing only on their story. Like each of us, our children carry a personal story that has shaped them and we work diligently to help them heal from their past hurts. Nayeli has transcended her story and become a confident young woman who owns her future. Our ultimate goal is to allow our children to become the best version of themselves.

We’ve succeeded in raising a young woman who feels confident in her abilities and is taking this opportunity to become herself.Nayeli’s story is successful because she is pursuing her college degree in a field that interests her. She is creating a life filled with family and friends, just like each of us. She persevered through her first semester, adapted to life in the US, and became more comfortable with speaking English full-time. Listening to her tell about how much she enjoys the variety of classes she’s taking is refreshing. Even her uncertainty when asked about what she wants to do after college is encouraging.

We’ve succeeded in raising a young woman who feels confident in her abilities and is taking this opportunity to become herself.

The future of Dorie’s Promise is already impacted by Nayeli’s success as she anticipates returning to Guatemala to mentor our older children as they prepare to graduate and move into the next phase of their lives. Her experience gives them an example of the opportunities available when they face their fears and chase after their goals.

We’re grateful that Nayeli has been so influential to everything we do at Dorie’s Promise and can’t wait to see what her future holds!

Maintaining Your Post Trip Impact

August 22nd, 2017 by

ost of our trip participants leave with a desire to share their experience with everyone they meet. But how can you put into words a life changing experience?

By Kelly Shank –

Mission Trips to Dorie's Promise are life changing!Thousands of people have visited Dorie’s Promise as part of our missions teams and many thousands more have been impacted by their stories after they returned home.

Visiting our home and experiencing Guatemala firsthand is certainly one of the most impactful ways to learn about Forever Changed International but don’t underestimate the impact you can have when you return home. People will see the impact of your trip and you don’t want to miss out on opportunities to educate others about how you were changed and the important work we’re doing in Guatemala.

The sights and experiences of Guatemala are eye-opening and energizing. Most of our trip participants leave with a desire to share their experience with everyone they meet. But how can you put into words a life changing experience? Before you begin overloading all those around you it’s important that you take time to do two important things: 1) Debrief and Process and 2) Refine your story.

Debrief and Process

Much like our nightly debriefs at Dorie’s Promise, processing your experience and return home will be essential as you begin to incorporate your Guatemala experiences into your normal life. The new memories, emotions, experiences, and perspective can be overwhelming because what you saw in Guatemala changes how you think about the life you return to. Find a friend or family member who is willing to listen to your stories, help you process what you experienced, and sort out how it impacts your life going forward. Don’t rush this very important process.

Refine Your Story

The children of Dorie's Promise can't wait to meet you.Your story is personal and although all of the intricate details are important parts of your experience, what you share will be determined by your audience. After you return home you will inevitably encounter people with a wide range of interest levels about your trip, ranging from polite acknowledgment to wholehearted interest. Your job as our ambassador is to tailor your story to best meet their needs. Combine your most impactful moments with their areas of interest to find authentic connection.

The secret of Dorie’s Promise is finding our people, those who truly understand what we do and are committed to helping us impact Guatemala. You are key to helping us identify and expand our tribe.

As you return to your normal routines we hope that you will incorporate us into your daily life. Here’s some easy ways to be an everyday ambassador for Forever Changed International and Dorie’s Promise:

  1. Share our stories on your social media. When one of these stories touches you—share it. Add your personal thoughts to help people connect even more. (Find us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!)
  2. Incorporate us into your daily life—pray for our children, the staff, and our ministry; wear your FCI shirt proudly as you go about your busy day; display pictures from your trip to remind yourself of your experience and prompt others to inquire.
  3. Join with family and friends to sponsor one of our children. Then share together each time you get a sponsor update.
  4. Be consistent. Keep sharing about our ministry.
  5. Be prepared. Be ready to answer questions and tell your story in a relatable way.

Ready to visit Dorie’s Promise? Why not consider taking advantage of our discounted travel weeks this fall?

Want to do even more on behalf of Forever Changed International? Consider becoming a Partner of Hope.

Homeschooling Success Stories

August 14th, 2017 by

The backpacks of children from Dorie's Promise and neatly lined up and ready to go.

By Kelly Shank –

Dorie's Promise teacher Lucky gets some papers ready.For many of us August signals the end of summer vacation and beginning of a new school year. We’re busy scoping out back-to-school sales, shuttling kids to sports practices, and attending back-to-school nights as we ease back into our routines. We don’t question whether our children will attend school, just maybe which school is the best fit for them.

Education is a great equalizer but when children are born into generational poverty they lack access to this gift.

Often children entering Dorie’s Promise, and those in communities where we serve, lack opportunities for quality education. Education can be a luxury because survival is the priority.

Did your family ever move when you were a child? Do you remember walking into your new school on the first day, unsure about where to go and not yet having met your new group of friends?

Now imagine this same situation but you’re 7 years old and you’re entering school for the first time ever. No preschool, no kindergarten, no formal schooling. Earlier this year we welcomed Cristina into our home after the horrific fire at the Virgen de Ascunsion orphanage. Based on her age, she should be well into elementary school by our standards, but this bright young girl has never attended school before. The mix of an unstable home and eventual transfer to a large government orphanage caused her to miss out on her education. She wasn’t just behind in school, she had never been exposed to school before.

Earlier this year we welcomed Cristina into our home after the horrific fire at the Virgen de Ascunsion orphanage.

Christina

We are starting at the beginning to help her catch up on her studies and she is excited to experience school for the first time.

Cristina isn’t our first child who has needed special help with school. For some of the poorest in Guatemala, their childhood revolves around picking vegetables or selling trinkets on the streets of Guatemala City to help support their families. Many years ago we opened our home to a beautiful young woman who had been working to help care for her four younger siblings. We knew that she was full of potential and wanted to learn but school would not be easy for her. Instead of Spanish, her native language was one of the local dialects which made learning in a traditional school and communicating within our home difficult. Overcoming this obstacle was key to her future school success.

Both of these girls are bright and filled with promise, our job is to help them be successful. Thanks to our teacher at Dorie’s Promise and the efforts of the Special Mothers in our home, both of these young ladies have made huge strides. The young woman who came to us many years ago made tremendous gains during the years she lived with us.

At Dorie's Promise children get education to match their needs.After being homeschooled she was able to attend a local vocational school that offered her the chance for a good job. The girl who struggled to speak Spanish eventually went on to surprise us by learning conversational English. We are thankful for our dedicated teacher and Special Mothers who spent countless hours helping these girls so that they could make up for many lost school years.

These are just two examples of the difficulties our children face. Identifying the struggles and strengths of each child in our home is key to helping them succeed! We give our children opportunities to be adults who can break the cycle of generational poverty and become the next generation of leaders.

Orphan Care through Missions

August 7th, 2017 by

A child get her lunch from Pastor Mercedez lunch program.

By Kelly Shank –

God has called us to passionately serve the world’s forgotten children through life-changing ministries.

Yire was brought to Dorie's Promise at only 2 months old. Heather Radu came to Guatemala seventeen years ago to serve children who were vulnerable and forgotten, helping hundreds of orphans be placed in loving families through Dorie’s Promise. In the years since international adoptions closed, we have become even more determined to remain in Guatemala and make a difference. We stayed because our commitment is to the children entrusted to our care and the country they will one day lead. God called us into missions as a way to support orphan care and we feel privileged to serve.

Children find their way into our home through a myriad of traumatic experiences and many will be with us for years.

Yire was brought to us at only 2 months old. Shortly thereafter his mother died, leaving him in our care indefinitely. Seven years later, Yire is thriving at Dorie’s Promise. The snuggly toddler with dark curly hair has grown into a bright little boy who enjoys playing with friends and going to school, just like your kids.

You might wonder how the missions program helps kids like Yire.Yire is now a bright eyed energetic seven year old.

Without trip participants we wouldn’t be able to sustain our home and offer the kind of care that changes lives. Trip participants help support our home financially, they provide much needed donations for our children, and they offer experiences we might not be able to afford otherwise. Even more importantly, those who meet our children often become long-term sponsors and are directly connected to the financial health of our home.

But what about all of the children who don’t live at Dorie’s Promise?

Missions helps us care for those children and their families as well. Throughout Guatemala other private organizations and government facilities care for children who make their way into the court system but the majority of the vulnerable children in Guatemala never make it onto any official records. Instead they represent those who are born into the cycle of poverty and whose families struggle to survive daily. Hunger, sickness, and lack of education are constant in their lives and they have few opportunities to change their life.

Imagine being born outside the Guatemala City landfill. From an early age you care for yourself because your parents work sorting recyclables day in and day out. If you’re lucky, your wood and tin home has a concrete floor and running water but that’s not guaranteed. On weekdays, you line up with other neighborhood kids to get a hot lunch from Pastor Mercedez at the feeding center. Hopefully you are in school instead of working. You don’t realize that life can be different.

The crowd getting a hot lunch from Pastor Mercedez at the feeding center.This is where missions helps our commitment to all of Guatemala, both in our home and in our communities. Our dedicated staff and teams allow us support local leaders and organizations that are working directly in these communities. We’re helping Pastor Mercedez feed more than 400 children each day so that their parents can work without worrying if they’re hungry. We bring much needed supplies to groups who tutor local children so that they have a better chance of finishing school.

Our goal is to improve the lives of the families so that they are able to keep their children in their homes. What we have learned is that these families love their children and most work hard to provide the best they can but the cycle of poverty is hard to overcome.

Slowly and deliberately we are learning how best to work with local leaders to provide opportunities for community change. We’re focusing on holistic healthcare, quality nutrition, and educational programs that aim to lift entire communities and begin changing the standard in Guatemala.

Fall Mission Trips

July 13th, 2017 by

It's time to think about a fall missions trip to Guatemala

By Naomi Beazely –

Missions Opportunities in GuatemalaEven though summer is barely under way, it’s time for mission teams, families and church groups to start thinking about the possibilities of a fall mission trip.

From mid-October through early December, groups can take advantage of a discounted price, with the per-person cost lowered from $1,100 to $900.

The first discount opportunity will be from Oct. 21-28; the final week will be from Nov. 25-Dec. 2. We make this offer to encourage volunteers to come during a slower season. From June through August, we are booked every week, which slows down to one or two teams a month in the fall.

In the past few years fall mission teams have been able to provide valuable help to the community. And, teams typically smaller than groups coming during the summer. That facilitates more group cohesiveness, intimacy and one-on-one time with staff members and children. Plus, south of the border, autumn is generally more comfortable than summer.

The projects fall teams will be tackling has yet to be determined. It partially depends on how we far we get with the new school we will start building this summer in Palencia, about 45 minutes northeast of Guatemala City.

We have a new community outreach director, Bertha, who will be using the summer to assess the needs in the community.

The children of Dorie’s Promise get so excited to meet new team members each week. Our hope is that the children you meet with will become your forever friends! She will be going to homes and getting to know people. Our projects there will be based on the needs of each family, be that for floors, stoves, roofs, water filters, bunk beds, or prayer. Our goal will be to find a place to eventually build a community center.

As many of you know, Pablo Villagran departed this spring as our Missions Director, so teams will be seeing new faces when they arrive in Guatemala City.

In Pablo’s place, we have hired four Mission Team Leaders: Pablo, Adriana, Larry and Melissa. To take the pressure off the leaders, we will have two rotate every other week.

The transition to new leadership has been going really well. We’ve received important help from Abel, our long-time driver who also assists mission leaders with large teams. A jack of all trades, Abel has been a blessing by training community leaders how to do community projects with FCI’s mission teams.

If your church or mission group is interested in coming this fall, I can plan trips quickly—a month or two, depending on the person. However, flights tend to get more expensive the closer you get to your travel dates, so the sooner a mission team plans its trip the better.

For more information, send me an e-mail.

Independence Day

July 4th, 2017 by

Independence Day

By Alejandra Diaz –

Guatemala’s Independence Day observance doesn’t arrive until Sept. 15. However, many of our mission teams and financial supporters live in the United States. So at Dorie’s Promise, we feel a special kinship with Americans celebrating their independence this week.

Some of the Dorie's Promise Children dancing.We always enjoy the opportunity to wish our many partners in the United States a happy Fourth of July.

In Guatemala, we understand what a special day Tuesday, July 4, is for U.S. citizens. This year, they will celebrate the 241st anniversary of their Declaration of Independence from England.

The parallels between the States gaining their freedom and Guatemala breaking away from Spanish colonial rule are unmistakable. For nearly 300 years (1523-1821), Guatemalans faced the same kind of outside rule as the colonies that became the United States.

Like Americans, we too love to set off fireworks, wave our blue-and-white flags, and celebrate with singing, marching bands and belting out our national anthem.

It isn’t just Guatemala that commemorates Central America’s liberation from Spain. Our neighbors in Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua join with us in lively celebrations.

That includes a “running of the torch” relay that begins in Guatemala City and ends in Costa Rica’s former colonial capital, Cartago. This tradition attracts large crowds every year.

A child at Dorie's Promise does a dance.Ironically, your Fourth of July also comes just days after our Army Day (June 30), which we have celebrated for the last 136 years.

The day, which includes a parade in Guatemala City, is observed in remembrance of those who have served or lost their lives fighting with the Guatemalan armed forces.

While we don’t have any official celebrations at Dorie’s Promise this week, we love to mention the holiday to visiting missionaries in early July. We join our liberated hearts with yours as we say, “Happy birthday, America!”

Generous Donation – “We Wanted to Help.”

June 27th, 2017 by

Photo Provided By Bryan and Rachel Kreitz

By Heather Radu –

Photo Provided By Bryan and Rachel KreitzBryan and Rachel Kreitz were among 18 members of a mission team that came to Guatemala on spring break in March. Although it was the Houston couple’s first trip to Dorie’s Promise, it won’t be their last.

That’s because the children at our home captured their hearts. In addition to planning a return trip next June, they recently made a generous donation of 1 percent of their sales during May.

It was the first business-related donation made by the couple, who purchased Trinity Legal Discovery in Houston nearly two years ago.

“It was my wife’s idea,” Bryan says. “She wanted to start giving back to community groups and charities. I asked, ‘What do you want to do for the first month?’ and she said, ‘Dorie’s.’

“We fell in love with those kids. It’s a tough road for them and we wanted to help. We took downloadable pictures off the web site and put stickers on our boxes. So during May, every box of client documents we sent out had pictures from Dorie’s Promise on them.”

The Kreitzes learned about us through some friends who made their first mission trip to Guatemala last year. Bryan and Rachel were eager to come after hearing about Dorie’s Promise; ultimately, they helped assemble a team from various places. It included six children age 12 or younger.

The trip touched the couple in a dramatic way. As the owners of a small (14 employees) business that includes constant cash-flow pressures, they saw that what they face isn’t that tough compared to the poor in Guatemala.

“We were dealing with people who live in an eight-by-eight-foot home and four people sleeping in one bed and they weren’t complaining,” Bryan says. “There’s a week’s worth of food in our refrigerator, and they may not eat more than once a day.”

Photo Provided By Bryan and Rachel KreitzThe team completed a number of community projects in the town of Palencia, where we are building a school. Among their efforts: delivering two weeks of food to a soup kitchen, 50 water filters and two sets of bunk beds to residents, and completing two house extensions.

The trip also impacted their nine-year-old and 12-year-old daughter. Back home, the couple still discuss their visit as they remind their children of how much more they have than kids in Central America.

“It was great to see them get outside themselves,” Bryan says. “It was eye opening for all the kids. One of them talked about wanting this and that, but the second day he said, ‘Mom, I don’t want anything. I want to help these kids.’ She started bawling.”

In addition to helping in the community, the spring break team spent a lot of time with our kids—playing soccer, throwing a football around, going to a trampoline park, and attending church together.

The team was especially impressed with the care and attention offered by our Special Mothers.

“The kids wanted to be loved on and you can tell they are,” Bryan says. “These kids need our help and a dollar there goes so much further. I look at it as being able to help one kid at a time.”

Needless to say, supporters like the Kreitzes make our work a little easier.

English Tutor Helps Children Improve Their Language Skills

June 22nd, 2017 by

Learning English at Dorie's Promise

By Alejandra Diaz –

Several of our older students who are receiving tutoring in English from Paul Stickland.Early last year we included a blog on our website about our older students who are receiving tutoring in English from Paul Stickland, an Englishman who has been living in Guatemala for eight years.

I am happy to report that Paul is still coming twice a week, and the classes are proving quite beneficial to our children.

We have around a dozen students taking the class; some days it is more and some days less, depending on their school schedules and other activities.

To show the progress they are making, students in the class are getting good grades at school. They ask their teachers more questions, and feel more confident about speaking English with visiting mission team members. This confidence stems from an increased vocabulary, helping them with conversation.

Paul lives close to Dorie’s Promise and saw our children walking in the park many times. Finally, he decided to come here to offer his help teaching English.

Before retiring, he worked as a banker, and his office supported three charities for children. Each time Paul visited them, he met bright and happy children, and saw how important it is for children to have a loving home and good education.

“I would always come away full of admiration for the people who helped them,” he recalls. “The experience here has been incredibly rewarding. The children are always keen to learn, and their progress has been truly remarkable.”

We deeply appreciate Paul’s volunteering to help us with these classes.Not only does he try to make the classes fun by asking silly questions to help students practice their English, Paul has warmed up to them. Last December, he organized a nice Christmas party for the children, and sometimes has brought donations for them.

Sometimes Paul will help them with a special presentation they need to make at school and give them a chance to practice it before the class. Learning to speak English has helped considerably, and when they have a question, they will bring their school books and ask Mr. Stickland about it.

Besides their improved ability to carry on conversations with visiting missionaries, the kids are learning not to be shy. They realize if they want to learn English they need to practice and take the risk of making mistakes.

We deeply appreciate Paul’s volunteering to help us with these classes. They are a great help because they offer our children a great education without having to invest our limited resources.

The English classes are a symbol of the help each and every volunteer missionary makes to FCI’s ministry. Your efforts are appreciated and stretch our resources much further than they would go without your help.

Gymnastics Boosts Girls’ Confidence

June 8th, 2017 by

The girls from Doire's Promise who participated in the gymnastic classes last fall.

By Alejandra Diaz –

Three of our students get ready for their final performance.Even though Guatemala just passed the halfway point of the 2017 school year, our girls are already looking forward to their Gymnastics Vacation Course this fall.

A dozen of our girls participated in last fall’s course. About 100 students overall were involved in the classes, which start after the school year—which begins in January—ends in October.

Our children participated for the first time two years ago, but were eager to enroll again last year because some of the girls are very talented. (To see some photos from the classes, click here.)

Although they only have the chance to take formal lessons in October and November, every time they have the chance to practice at home, they do it! Sometimes we have to caution them to watch out for other people when they do their tumbles, flips and other moves.

These gymnastics classes have made a huge impact on our girls, improving their school work and self-confidence. We have seen big changes in their outlook and attitudes.

They have shown themselves they are able to do great things. The girls felt so good when they made their presentations at the final show and everyone congratulated them.

After all, taking part in the gymnastics classes requires a lot of effort and self-discipline. These sessions demanded a lot of practice and meant they had to demonstrate a daily commitment to improve.

Not only do these classes show the kind of achievements that are possible with hard work and dedication, they emphasize the value of child sponsorship.

Several of the girls from Dorie's Promise performing iat the end of their gymnastic class.It is only because of the support of so many generous donors that we can take the girls to these vacation courses. Indeed, we would really love to find a way to give them the opportunity to participate in gymnastics year-round to allow them to further develop and use their talents.

Since the costs of shelter, food, clothing and other necessities require so much of our resources, it is only when children receive full sponsorship that monies are available to sign them up for additional opportunities.

Our goal is to meet all our ongoing monthly expenses through child sponsorship, which will enable us to be much more flexible in our operations.

If you would like to help our children take part in things like the gymnastics course and other character-building and educational exercises, consider becoming a child sponsor today.

Ten-Year Employees Recognized

May 30th, 2017 by

The employees who have been with Dorie’s Promise for 10 years or longer. We couldn’t have done it without them.

By Heather Radu –

Founder, Heather Radu recognizes the long term employees.One of the most joyous occasions of this spring was honoring—and saying thanks to—all the employees who have been with Dorie’s Promise for 10 years or longer.

We couldn’t have done it without them. They have stayed with us through the years and even in the most difficult of times, have been there with a smile.

Their names are Lucia, Diana, Marleni, Ingrid, Mina, Mimi, Juanita, Noemi, Lucky, Ismelda, Oscar, Abel, Doc and Ale.

Showing what kind of caring spirit they have, on their night of recognition they also thanked me for the opportunity to be part of the organization. They gave a special thanks to God too because, here at Forever Changed International, they found their real calling for life.

It is difficult to over-estimate the value of our long-term employees to the stability of the ministry, the smooth operations at Dorie’s Promise, and the security our children sense from seeing many of the same faces day after day, year after year.

It was a big moment for me, too, as the occasion reminded me of how I hired some of them in 2000, when the home just opened.

Later, when we were living in Guatemala, some of them were part of our family. Literally, since they pitched in and helped us raise our own children. Though now grown, our kids retain many fond memories of their time at Dorie’s Promise.

After these many years, it is not just the hard work or a salary that keeps those people with FCI. It is because we have become a family and, by seeing them working every day, I can tell they are passionate about what they do. Our children are lucky to have people who really care about them and love them.

It is worth noting that their efforts often lack the “glamor” of a mission trip or the excitement that many people associate with “ministry.”At the ceremony to recognize employees.

Every parent can understand the long hours, constant effort, training and worry that is part of raising a child. The same can be said of raising orphans, many whom come from backgrounds of poverty and abuse.

It requires diligence, patience of the highest order, and a willingness to devote your life outside of the spotlight, wondering whether you will ever see breakthroughs with children who struggle against enormous odds.

Why do they do it? In one word: love. Love of God and love for the children treated by many as outcasts.

Their rewards come in the form of caring smiles, words spoken for the first time, and children who achieve the kind of things once thought impossible. We can’t thank them enough for their devotion.