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Posts Tagged ‘short term mission’

Saying Good-Bye to Missions Director Pablo Villagran

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Pablo with children from Dorie's Promise.

By Heather Radu –

Pablo recently joined the United Nations’ public information department in Guatemala City. We received news recently that both excites and disappoints us. We are thrilled over the possibilities opening up for Pablo Villagran, but are sad to see him depart as our Missions Director.

Pablo recently joined the United Nations’ public information department in Guatemala City. Though not an easy decision to make, Pablo is confident that this where God wants him to be.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity to work with Forever Changed International for four years,” says Pablo, who started with us as a ministry assistant. “I truly enjoyed my time here.

I have experienced many highlights, such as getting to be a part of children’s lives, working with so many missions teams, building schools, and supporting programs that will benefit hundreds of children in vulnerable areas.”

Moving forward, we will rely on four different mission trip leaders to coordinate volunteer missionaries’ visits. They will work in rotating teams of two or three, depending on the size of each group.

Missions Coordinator Naomi Beazely spent nearly two weeks in Guatemala to help facilitate the hiring and training of new team leaders. We have hired three motivated and passionate leaders. The fourth is expected soon.

“We have been able to spend time getting to know each of them personally,” Naomi says. “We have started training, and they are all excited to meet the teams this summer. As I go home, I am confident in our staff to continue to train and support them.”

Pablo racing with some of the children from Dorie's Promise.Granted, these new leaders will have big shoes to fill. Pablo built an amazing community program by personally visiting different areas and creating relationships with various community leaders.

Naomi says such relationships built trust and an understanding of the need to better residents’ lives. Because of that, she is confident the foundation established since 2013 will continue to expand.

“We have been able to work with families by building up their spiritual strength, education and living conditions,” Naomi says. “Pablo was very successful because when he listened to the needs of these families, he not only thought of how we could help them immediately, but also how to help better their future.”

Pablo says working with Forever Changed International showed him the overwhelming needs within Guatemala and how much progress remains to be made.

During his time, Pablo documented many harsh realities, but also helped empower Guatemalans and bring solutions to those in need. His experience included working with the orphan crisis and helping children who suffered from abuse and abandonment.

“Dorie’s Promise helped me a lot in preparing for my new position,” Pablo says. “I have a hard time saying good-bye, so I will just say until next time.”

It is hard for us to say good-bye to Pablo too, but we wish him the best.

School Completed in Santa Elena

Monday, May 1st, 2017

At long last, the school that Dorie’s Promise and more than 25 of our volunteer mission teams helped build is nearly complete.

By Heather Radu –

At long last, the school that Dorie’s Promise and more than 25 of our volunteer mission teams helped build is nearly complete.Located in Santa Elena, about an hour from Guatemala City, there are presently 100 children enrolled there. When the 2018 school year starts next January, more than 260 students, ages 5 to 14, are expected to attend.

Located in Santa Elena, about an hour from Guatemala City, there are presently 100 children enrolled there. When the 2018 school year starts next January, more than 260 students, ages 5 to 14, are expected to attend.

FCI coordinated the project through city hall and community leaders. Construction started in April of 2016 and was finished in February.

The final touches will be installation of a retaining wall and drainpipe. Members of Bethany Lutheran Church in Connecticut have donated funds to purchase the materials.

Pablo Villagran, who recently stepped down as DP’s missions director, coordinated most of the project. This school is invaluable to the people of Santa Elena, who have been waiting for a school for more than 30 years.

In the past, residents took their children to another school across the highway. Sadly, several kids lost their lives trying to cross the busy road to attend this crowded, overpopulated school.

Sergio Mejia was the architect in charge of the design and logistics. The project became a reality because of the great financial support of Ronald Hille.

Because of limited storage space, a fluctuating number of masons, and changing weather, we decided to complete the construction in stages. We finished the foundation, walls and flooring for the first module before moving on to the second.

The steps for each module included installation of the roof, bathrooms and septic tank, doors and windows, perimeter, painting, and interior systems—lighting, electricity and plumbing.

Because of limited storage space, a fluctuating number of masons, and changing weather, we decided to complete the construction in stages. We faced challenges along the way. There was an agreement that FCI would be the benefactor, supplying all materials and coordinating the work. Meanwhile, the municipality was to provide much of the manpower. However, on some days only one or two workers came to the site, which slowed construction. We wound up having to hire a couple workers to help for six weeks.

In addition, after work had begun, municipal leaders pressed for changes in the design. We adapted the design to fulfill their requests.

Even though most of the construction is complete, the school will require ongoing maintenance. Among the recommendations are painting the classrooms annually to avoid moisture damage to the walls, cleaning the septic tank every two years, and applying waterproofing to the roof every five years to avoid oxidation.

Needless to say, the mission teams who supplemented the ongoing construction at the school, were invaluable to this effort. This is a great success for FCI as an organization. It is also a great motivator for our ministry to keep working on behalf of people living in vulnerable areas.

Why The Winter Months Are A Good Time To Visit Dorie’s Promise

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

A Mission group at Dorie's Promise

By MJ Zelya –

The children of Dorie's Promise Guatemala can't wait to meet you!When it’s winter in America, it’s the best time to visit Guatemala!

Going to visit the children of Dorie’s Promise — and help the surrounding communities in need while there — is the perfect choice if you are planning to travel and don’t yet know where to go during the colder months.

The weather is perfect because the rainy season has stopped, and the children enjoy playing outside and going on walks around the neighborhood.

Dorie’s Promise boasts plenty of reasons for you to say good-bye to your routine and do something different — something that will make an eternal impact on others.

You are not only sharing with the children, you are creating a bond with them; it will truly be an eye-opening experience, one that will change you from the inside out!

When you arrive in Guatemala, the first thing you will notice is the mixture of people and cultures. Guatemala is well-known for its diversity, but you’ll immediately realize that the people are warm and friendly — you will feel at home.Imagine it … loving children who don’t have parents, helping families that have nothing, bringing water and food to people who need it.

Throughout your time at Dorie’s Promise, you will find children hugging you and wanting to be your friend — taking you by the hand and asking to play with them.

But your impact is not only on the children’s lives, but also on the communities, where many people, in desperate need, are grateful for the help and time friends like you invest.

Alejandra our home director says:

In summer, our children are busy in school, a season when it’s difficult to have enough time to share with them. But it’s different in winter! They are on vacation, out of school, and there is plenty of time to have fun, do different activities, and plan special outings during the week.When you serve at Dorie's Promise you'll be working with some of the most impoverished people on the planet.

Through outreaches in our missions program you can make a real difference. The many children and families we serve throughout Guatemala eagerly wait for Forever Changed International to bring teams of people to share Christ’s love with them as well as provide them with what we would consider basic living essentials. Soap and a pair of shoes can brighten the eyes of a 5-year-old boy more than you can imagine.

We run trips all year long so come anytime.  We would love to have you join us for a week very soon! Apply Today!

New School in 2016 : Missions Project with Dorie’s Promise

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Missions Project with Dorie's Promise | Community Leaders Greet Volunteers from FCI.

By Pablo Villigran –

Boys outside of the school Dorie's Promise Missions Team Built in 2015.Our mission program has accomplished many things since I’ve been a part of Dorie’s Promise Guatemala, and now we are moving to a new level of help and service. While keeping our focus on the mission to help the forgotten children of Guatemala we are taking it a step further to focus on education.

We are building a new school this year. This will be our second school and with this school we want to start a training program for teachers, to help them implement better teaching techniques and teaching resources.

We have just started building the school. A team from Connecticut helped us with the foundation. We can’t thank them enough for their long hours of work.

Plans for the new school

Plans for the new school.

Working on the foundation for the new school.The logistics for a project of this size are not easy. In order to accomplish this big of a project we are working together with the community members and mayor of Palencia, an architect, missions teams and the Forever Changed International staff. We understand that a building doesn’t come together without the work of many hand.

This new school represents a big change for the children of Palencia— a change for the better. Imagine after meeting in makeshift classrooms, under trees or in a garage, having a real classroom. For communities in poverty, education is a powerful tool for change in the lives of children.

There is no doubt that real change comes through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that will always be our first priority. Yet as God opens doors for Forever Changed International to build relationships with communities, it also opens up opportunities for the Gospel.

Our Goal is to keep building the school and finish it by the end of the summer with help from all the teams who will be visiting Dorie’s Promise. If you’d like to be a part of the project we still have openings on the summer schedule.  You can apply online and begin your journey to Guatemala today. And please contact us if you have any questions.

You can also be praying with us for this project. Ask for Gods provision and guidance to be with us. Finally you can donate to the project, just write “Palencia School” in the comment section when you give. It is through partners like you that we can continue to forever change the lives of children!

Cari’s Kids

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Give a Gift to Orphans : Become a Sponsor

By Cari Burck –

Cari with her husband Bradley.I will never forget my first trip to Guatemala, when I made it my mission to get a little guy named Lester to smile. I loved on him, devoted attention to him, and acted silly. Before leaving, I snapped the first-ever picture of him smiling.

On that trip, I left a piece of my heart at Dorie’s Promise. Our support of the home gives my husband, Bradley, and me dozens of children in addition to the two who live in our own home. In a modest way, we are helping to solve the world’s orphan crisis.

As I flew home after a recent visit, I thought of ways others in North America can play a vital role in helping orphans in Guatemala. This is true even though it’s been eight years since the country curtailed international adoptions.

To start with, anyone can sponsor a child. Providing 24/7 care in a safe environment is expensive; it takes $1,000 a month per child to meet Forever Changed International’s standards. FCI asks for a minimum pledge of $35 a month, which means it takes multiple sponsors to meet each child’s needs.

Thanks to e-mail, Skype, and other modern communications, you can maintain regular contact with your child, too. You can find out what’s going on in their lives as you help feed, clothe, and care for kids like Mario, Fabiola, Yojana, Alex, and Dulce.

However, don’t restrict your involvement to instant messages or video chats. Think about coming to Guatemala. Over the years thousands have. All return home with a familiar refrain on their lips: “This changed my life.”

All Smiles from Ingrid and Jennifer.It isn’t just helping the orphans at Dorie’s Promise that makes a difference. Participating in community improvement projects will help you get a better understanding of the conditions in the Guatemala City area. Making a difference in needy people’s lives will make a difference in yours.

Back home, you can take part in awareness activities. Churches have sponsored fun runs that not only raise money for FCI, but spread the message about our work. Others have sponsored garage sales or asked guests coming to their child’s birthday party to donate to Dorie’s Promise as their gift.

You can plan a fundraiser for your sponsored child’s community, too. Bake sales, yard sales, and dance marathons may seem like outdated activities. But when the purpose is helping the poor, old becomes “retro” and young people get as excited as their parents.

If your area gets blanketed by another storm this winter, why not use some of that time to read a book about global poverty or international adoption*? There are many titles that will increase your understanding of the deplorable conditions that have created the global orphan crisis.

When you take a reading break, consider jumping online to join FCI’s prayer team. Each month you will receive specific prayer requests and praise items. Prayer is an essential lifeline for this ministry. Or, if you just want to stay informed about developments, you can sign up for e-mail notifications.

Your help changes lives!Other ways you can help include:

  • Consider giving a special gift. You can check the gift registry for the latest needs, or consider placing one of the children on your Christmas gift list next fall.
  • Host a dinner. Invite good friends to your home, and after dinner make a short presentation on Dorie’s Promise. Tell others what this means to your life. You may attract another sponsor or two for the home.
  • Engage your church. Many need some kind of missions focus. Letting them know about our Reach Out Missions could light a spark among the members.
  • Tell others about sponsorship. Speak to the Rotary Club or other community organization. After all, if you sponsor a child, you’re an expert. You know what good this accomplishes and how it makes you feel.

Go ahead. Join my mission to let everyone know about the incredible things that are happening in Guatemala!

* International Adoption from Guatemala closed in 2008

Why You Should Visit Dorie’s Promise

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

Some visiting mission trippers with children at Dories' Promise.

By MJ Zelya –

Groups small and large are able to visit us at Dorie's Promise.Dorie’s Promise is a beautiful home that gives shelter to orphans and neglected kids in Guatemala City.

It’s located in a colorful, safe, quiet neighborhood that makes you feel like you are home. You will have the opportunity to spend time with our children and also meet many friendly and humble people in the surrounding communities.

I can tell you that it is an eye-opening experience from start to finish. After landing in our country, you will discover and see a completely different landscape than you are used to.

It will give you a chance to help many people in need and also get to know a little more of Guatemala and its culture.

So many of the children we receive at Dorie’s Promise come from some of the most impoverished areas in the country — some you will even get to visit.

Our staff has a special agenda scheduled for you and will be waiting for you at the airport. Over the course of your stay, you will visit the ghetto, garbage dump, and state-run orphanages.

All our visitors stay in our guest house, which has nice rooms and the capacity for 30 people in the event that you come with your church or school group. It is located next to our home, and the delicious food is prepared by our cook; transportation is also provided to and from our home.

One of the service projects that Missions Teams helped with last year was building this school in Palencia.Kathy Demers and Michelle Janssen, mission-trippers who have visited us before, share their experience:

We love the way the children are taken care of! Dorie’s does their utmost to provide a loving, fun, stable environment that is Christ-centered. We have visited Dorie’s Promise maybe eight or nine years; sometimes just for six days, other times for the entire week.

We keep coming back because of the fact that Dorie’s children are being loved and raised as well as our children back in the U.S. It’s not the mentality to “just get by” but rather to give the best to them because that is what we do for our own children, and it’s what God expects for them as well.

Generally speaking, since our first visit in 2008, it’s been awesome to watch how toddlers have grown up into young girls and boys of 10 and older. They have been loved, guided, prayed for, played with, protected, and hugged so many times by the wonderful special moms and other staff members. This is a REAL home for the kids! God bless them all!

Galatians 6:10 says: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

We truly believe that God has helped many abandon and abused children and communities through our ministry, and we would like for you to be part of it. It will give you the opportunity to feel, and know, how blessed you are and what it’s like to be a blessing to others too.

If you are thinking of going on a mission trip, please come and visit us! You will find everything in one place, and you won’t have to worry about a thing. Watch this video to find out more:

Taking The Experience Home: Farrah Carmen’s Story

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Farrah (Center) with children from Dorie's Promise.

By FCI Team –

Farrah ( on right) at the Miss Canada Globe pageantWe recently spoke with Farrah Carmen about how her experience at Dorie’s Promise inspired her as she competed in a recent pageant. Farrah used her mission trip experience in an essay as part of the Miss Canada Globe application process, and then advocated for Forever Changed International (FCI) before a panel of judges explaining why it was her charity of choice. When people like Farrah, and our Partners of Hope, share their passion for our children and home they help raise not only awareness, they also make caring connections for orphans. By speaking for orphans they are giving voice to those who typically have no voice.

We thank Farrah and all those like her who take their experiences on the mission field home with them – who invite others to be sponsors, who excite their friend and family into serving with us, and who help others give meaningfully. Thank You. (For more information about becoming a Partner of Hope click here.)

Interview with Farrah Carmen:

  1. Where did you hear about FCI or Dorie’s Promise?

I was researching different mission trips online, and I came across Forever Changed International during my research. Once I explored the website and the statement of faith I was happy to have finally found a mission trip I was serious about.

  1. What made you want to take a mission trip with us?

I was extremely interested in FCI because I wanted to travel somewhere new where I would have the opportunity to work with children. I was also inspired by Heather Radu’s life story and how she recognized the need for orphan care.

Farrah on her missions trip to Guatemala.Orphan care is close to my heart; myself having been a ward of the government, in my home country of Canada since the age of seven. I felt I would be able to connect with the children. I also appreciated the fact that Dorie’s Promise placed an importance on showing the children God’s love.

  1. What was it like to travel to Guatemala?

Initially I was scared to travel to Guatemala alone, but I was met at the airport by one of the staff who was really kind. Everyone was so friendly that I immediately felt at ease. There were fifteen of us serving together during the week I was at Dorie’s Promise. The next day, when we got to meet the children one of the little girls, Selene, jumped right into my lap. It was then I remembered why I was there.

Our group leader for the week was Pablo. He was funny and though he is young he really helped us connect with God and his love. Every morning we prayed and we were reminded about why we were there. I thought he was a great leader.

The accommodations were very clean and Pablo was so helpful. I felt from the very beginning that I had everything I needed for the week of serving God through Dories Promise.

  1. What was your impression of the Dorie’s Promise?

Farrah with Pablo in GuatemalaI couldn’t believe there was on-site pediatrician, so it was nice to see that the children were getting medical attention if they needed it. I was happy to see the ratio of Special Mothers to children, and that they really cared about the children of Dorie’s Promise. The children were so friendly. They were all so playful; it made me feel like a kid again. Even though there was a language barrier we still had so much fun, playing games together like “duck, duck, goose” and baseball. They are so special each and every one of the children at Dorie’s Promise.

  1. What was your biggest take-away from the trip?

My biggest take away from the trip was realizing the orphanage does not receive any government funding and it is solely supported through sponsorship. This made me recognize how important sponsorship is and how I can make a difference.

  1. Why do you think people should support Dorie Promise or sponsor one of our children?

I think people need information and awareness about what the Forever Changed International organization does. One way to achieve that, I believe, is through word of mouth, and I hoped by supporting Dories Promise as my platform at the pageant that a lot more people can see what how important it is to support the Forever Changed International organization.

Forever Changed International is a great organization that deserves recognition and the children of Dorie’s Promise also deserve the love, care, and medical attention that sponsors help provide.

Learn more about Farrah and the Miss Canada Globe pageant. or Become a Sponsor Today.

A New School in Palencia: Built by Our Missions Teams!

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

The kids in their new school.

By FCI Team –

The kids meeting in a neighbors garage previously.

The kids meeting in a neighbors garage previously.

Dorie’s Promise is making history! Thanks to numerous mission teams that helped us throughout the summer, we are close to completing a new school in Palencia, about an hour from Guatemala City.

Thanks to volunteer labor from our missionaries, we will be able to build the school for just over $11,000. That is less money than the average school construction project.

The building contains three classrooms and three bathrooms, and will accommodate about 80 students in the elementary and middle school grades.

It has been a blessing to be part of this project and amazing to see how many people joined in the cause and helped put the pieces of the puzzle together, says Director Alejandra Diaz.

“At the beginning it was just a project—a dream from the community and us,” she says. “But now it is a reality. The children have a new school and a place to learn. I am sure they are already enjoying that!

Students excited about their new school.“We thank God for the opportunity that He gave us to bless more children. Thanks also to all the people who donate to Forever Changed so that we can change lives.”

“This is truly an historic occasion,” says founder Heather Radu. “At first, I was afraid it might end up as a nice idea that caught sidetracked by all the logistical challenges of building a school so far from Guatemala City. But I should have never doubted God’s ability to provide and work through the hands of His people.”

Eight teams participated in the project, each working a day or two per week during their summer mission trips.

Located in a poor community known as El Trapichito, in the past students had to go to another community to attend school. Prior to that, their classes met under a tree.

The students haven’t been able to move in yet because the bathrooms still have to be installed. However, completion is expected by the time the 2016 school year begins in January.

The schol buildingMissions Director Pablo Villagran says God has helped every step of the way. Many believed in this project, giving not just financially, but with their heart and efforts as well, to make this happen.

“I am so thankful for everyone who allowed God to use them to bless others,” Pablo says. “This is a big event.”

For those who wish to help, teams and donations are still needed to complete the three bathrooms, which each need a toilet. Add “school project” in the notes section when you make a donation. Or contact us to find out how you can help.

Without God’s grace and helped we wouldn’t have gotten this far, Pablo says: “We believed that God would provide for the forgotten children of Guatemala and He did. He gets the glory and the honor for this great accomplishment.”

Pablo Coming to the US

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

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By Pablo Villagran –

Supporters already know about the awesome work going on at Dorie’s Promise. Now I am asking you kind folks to help me travel north so I can describe our ministry and let others know how they can play a role in this vital work.

10991352_10204766414392345_5100438684092583238_nThe next six months are a crucial time of planning for 2016 mission trips. Many churches, mission teams, and volunteer groups are considering where to invest their resources next year.

Since the number of visitor’s decreases during the fall and winter, it allows me the flexibility to devote time to raising financial support and spreading awareness of the orphanage. A trip to North America will help accomplish these goals.

I am interested in speaking at churches and schools and to mission groups who can benefit from learning more about Forever Changed International. In addition to a video presentation, I will share about how God uses the efforts of so many supporters in amazing ways.

The five areas that presently offer us the most support are Michigan, Canada, Illinois Washington and Texas. If you know of others there who would benefit from hearing a first-hand account of the Dorie’s Promise miracle, please let us know. If you can donate to travel costs, please click here. (Please add a note in the comments on the donation page that your donation is for “Pablo’s Trip.”)

Missions Trips for Youth

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Youth groups visit Dorie's Promise.

By FCI Team –

Cinda Rachor and some mebers of her mission team.Cinda Rachor started bringing youth groups to Dorie’s Promise six years ago. Today, instead of just her church, her teams come from dozens of congregations around Flint, Michigan.

“As word of the trips spread, the ripple effect brought many teens to us,” says Cinda, whose family attends Central Nazarene Church. “They are eager to experience a Guatemala mission trip through Forever Changed International.

“Kids come home so changed, so passionate and so much more whole,” she says. “Their friends, siblings and classmates see this and ask, ‘How can I go?’”

All teens are “blown away” by the importance of spending quality time with others and helping people, says Missions Coordinator Naomi Beazley. While their service enhances the quality of life in Guatemala, it particularly makes a life-changing impact on the volunteers.

Missions trip make a life-changing impact on the volunteers“They are all humbled by how little everyone needs to be happy and the quality time playing and doing activities goes so far,” Naomi says. “It is always amazing and life-changing for young kids to be away from their families and depending on themselves and their leaders to get involved every day.”

Missions Director Pablo Villagran says anywhere from 15 to 30 participants is ideal for a youth team—the more participants, the more community projects we can accomplish.

Since he is fairly young, Pablo Villagran loves seeing youth groups visit. He can relate to them and loves watching God show mission trippers what’s next in their lives.

The children of Dorie's Promise love spending time with visiting teams.“To others it is their first time out of the country and it helps them to come out of the bubble they live in,” Pablo says. “The things they see and the experiences they have are unique. It’s a memorable trip.”

Cinda Rachor agrees with that observation. She and her husband, Jim, sometimes come twice a year. Their most recent visit was in late June, when they were the only adults on their 31-member team. All had been through monthly three-hour training sessions that started the previous September.

As leaders, Cinda says they learned that God is always best at overseeing their trips. Thing went best when they started with devotions and dedicated the day, the team, the kids and staff at Dorie’s Promise, and the communities they visited to Him.

“Our team was profoundly impacted by the kids at Dorie’s,” Cinda says. “They have a desire to connect with others and our teens fell in love with them. By the end of the week the kids knew they were loved, special and worthwhile.

“The team also came away with a renewed appreciation for their families, especially their parents. They saw so many kids and teens that are having to navigate life on their own. They realized that having parents and families invest in them is a gift they had taken for granted.”

If you would like your youth group to experience this kind of life-changing opportunity, let us know or watch this video to learn more.