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Posts Tagged ‘serve orphans’

A Mother’s Inspiration

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

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

By Kelly Shank –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

The Johnson's visiting Dorie's Promise.

By Kelly Shank –

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

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

Their First Trip to Guatemala

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

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

Serving as a Family

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

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

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

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

Lifelong ConnectionsThe Johnson's at Myra’s quinceanera

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

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

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

*International adoptions from Guatemala were closed in 2008.

Get to Know Our Special Mothers: Mama Noemi

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Special Mother, Mama Noemi at Dorie's Promise

By Kelly Shank –

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

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

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

Meet Mama Noemi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018: Our Year to Refocus Missions

Monday, February 19th, 2018

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

By Kelly Shank –

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

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

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

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

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

God has called us to passionately serve the

world’s forgotten children through life-changing ministries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the year we remember why we started.

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

Bringing Baseball to Dorie’s Promise

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Yankee's Pitcher Ben Heller at Dorie's Promise Guatemala

By Kelly Shank –

Imagine the excitement for our children when New York Yankee’s pitcher Ben Heller visited in December.It’s not every week we host a professional baseball player at Dorie’s Promise. So imagine the excitement for our children when New York Yankee’s pitcher Ben Heller visited in December.

We caught up with Ben a few weeks ago to follow up on his trip and plans heading into spring training.

Ben’s connection to Dorie’s Promise started long before he and his wife, Martha, visited our home last December. In fact, they’ve been sponsors for more than four years. In 2011, a friend of the Hellers visited Guatemala and returned home on a mission to share about her trip and raise support for our children. Thankfully, Ben and Martha understood our needs and valued our desire to transform the lives of children.

Although he had served on mission trips previously, Ben was surprised by the extremes of Guatemala. The natural beauty of the country and wealth in some Guatemala City neighborhoods is a stark contrast to the poverty in many villages and overwhelming conditions surrounding the Guatemala City landfill. Even our kids surprised him by how quickly they made him feel welcomed.

Baseball is a huge part of Ben’s life at home, but he didn’t want baseball to overshadow the reason he was working in Guatemala.

He preferred to quietly join his wife and friend for a week serving at Dorie’s Promise without fanfare. As their trip grew closer, a Yankees fan from Guatemala reached out via Twitter and asked Ben to consider holding a baseball clinic in Guatemala City. Although soccer is definitely the favorite sport of Guatemalans, little league baseball has a steady fan base, with teams for children of all ages and tournaments throughout Latin America.

As he considered the request, it became obvious that his baseball experience offered a unique opportunity At the baseball clinic Ben Heller held while in Guatemala.for him to serve others during his trip. With the help of Guatemalan fans, Ben hosted a pitching clinic for 100 local players. As little league players honed their pitching skills, ours learned the game’s fundamentals.

Thanks to Ben and local organizers, Dorie’s Promise received a generous donation from the players’ families. We are thankful for the opportunity to connect with local families. Most importantly, Ben shared his testimony with the children after the clinic, bringing together his story of faith, baseball, and service.

Ben’s looking forward to sharing about his Guatemala trip with teammates and fans as spring training begins. Visiting our home has given him a new perspective on our work and the importance of our supporters. Ben stressed the importance of having a long-term commitment to Dorie’s Promise. He encourages others to become monthly sponsors, like he and his wife, and support our children as we transform their lives. After visiting our home, Ben understands the difference we make in the lives of children and sees the value in his sponsorship.

We look forward to many more years partnering with the Hellers!

Behind the Scenes: Doc and Mirna

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Doctor Castro with children from Dorie's Promise Guatemala.

By Kelly Shank –

IMany children who live in our home have endured malnourishment, abandonment, and abuse.f you’re a parent you understand how scary it can be when your child is sick, that helpless feeling when you don’t know what is wrong or what to do. Now imagine multiplying those feelings by 40 children. Describing how important Dr. Castro “Doc” and Mirna, our nurse, are is almost impossible. They play a critical role in the care we give our children and help us maintain the overall health of our home so we can continue to accept new children.

If you have the chance to chat with Doc you will soon understand that his focus is on the total health of our kids, not just the physical. In his mind, the physical health of our children helps unlock the emotional and spiritual health of our kids too.

Many children who live in our home have endured malnourishment, abandonment, and abuse. He believes that physical health and the relief of physical ailments support the other therapies our children receive and help them recover. He helps them become physically strong so they can then focus on their emotional health.

Several very special children have called Dorie’s Promise home because of the daily care given by Doc and Mirna. Those who have been with us for many years will remember Alex. Although confined to a wheelchair and non-verbal he had an infectious smile and loved to be around people. Doc and Mirna made sure that Alex experienced life to the fullest. Josue, Efraim, and Lester are all also thriving in their own unique ways today thanks to Doc.

Thanks to the love and care given by Doc and Mirna we continue to welcome children with difficult medical conditions that other homes are not able to accommodate.

Learn more about Doc and Mirna.

Doc:

Doctor Castro in his office at Dorie's Promise,Doc really has been a lifesaver at Dorie’s Promise. Early in his tenure with us he was able to combat an outbreak that sickened many children by working around the clock to care for our children. In the years since he has established an outstanding medical care program for our children. Having dedicated his career to Pediatrics, he now focuses on caring for the most vulnerable children who do not have access to medical care. In additional to his work at Dorie’s Promise, he also provides medical care in several rural villages and is our coffee guy. If you meet him, he’ll be sure to tell you about his coffee, it’s the second best in the world!

Mirna:

Mirna assists Doctor CastroConsistency and compassion are two traits that help children thrive in our home. With her genuine love of our children, Mirna has embodied these traits over the last twelve years. Being one of nine children, and mother to three daughters herself, family is very important to Mirna. Her love for our children shines through every day as we greets everyone with a smile. Working in our home is more than just a job for her. Children come into our home with many fears and problems but slowly they begin to heal. Mirna is humbled to be doing the work for which God has equipped her and to have part in caring for vulnerable children. Outside of work you will find Mirna using her nursing skills to care for those in her community or spending time with her family.

We are so thankful for Doc and Mirna’s commitment to our children. You can help support our medical services by making a one-time donation towards medical care today (leave Medical Care in the comment field) or joining us as a monthly sponsor.

Maintaining Your Post Trip Impact

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

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.

Orphan Care through Missions

Monday, August 7th, 2017

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

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

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.

Ten-Year Employees Recognized

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

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.