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Posts Tagged ‘short term missions’

Your name Forever Changed Could Not Be More Appropriate

Friday, January 17th, 2014

I just returned home from a weeks mission trip with Forever Changed at Dories Promise.  I felt compelled to send you a quick note to express my gratutide for what you do for those precious children and to praise Pablo, Abel and Jessica for the amazing job they do for your organization.  I have never experienced a trip of that magnitude and cannot put into words how much I have gained from the trip and the love I felt while I was there.  Pablo, Abel and Jessica are three of the most loving, caring, giving and Godly people I have ever met.  They were so organized, patient, personable and inspirational that I will never forget them.  The love that those three have for the children and the people of Guatemala just radiates through them.  God knew what he was doing when he placed them in your organization! They feel like family and I cannot believe I may never see them again.  Thank you for following God’s plan and caring for the orphans.  Your name Forever Changed could not be more appropriate for I am forever changed!

God Bless,


Fenton, Michigan

Jesus has been my everything!

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Pablo Villagran Missions Director for Dorie's Promise

By Pablo Villagran-

Pablo leading a team at the dump in Guatemala City.I was raised in a Christian family without knowing Christ in a genuine way. I had the head knowledge of His Word and His ways. Instead of living in a relationship with Him, I was merely living “religion.” When I was 14, God touched my heart in a very real way. I was alone in my room praying when His presence touched me. That was the day my life changed, and I began to walk in relationship with Him.

Jesus has been my everything! Without Him I’m nobody. His grace, mercy, and love are the most amazing things anyone can ever experience.

I came to Dorie’s Promise because Heather Radu used to be my neighbor and I am good friends with her son Ryan. She told me that she needed someone who could help her with part of the communication work at the orphanage.

I believe this was God’s plan. He has been good to me! I feel so blessed to be involved with the ministry at Dorie’s Promise.

Recently, I’ve stepped up into the position of Mission Director. So far my experience has been awesome and unique. I have been learning many things from God in this position. He is what motivates me time after time to give my best.

Pablo and our drive Able together in the Van used to transport Missions TeamsThe missions program is all about the Kingdom. We do not do good things — instead, we do God’s things, and those things have a purpose in His kingdom. When we talk about His kingdom, it boils down to one thing: people. In our program, we love all the people of Guatemala and those serving with us, but most of all we love forgotten children. We believe, as the book of Matthew 6:33 says: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” His Kingdom is what motivates us every day.

The children at Dorie’s Promise are the essence of the organization.

The experience of spending my time and energy with these kids is amazing. Sometimes I ask God, Why am I in this great place?

Is it because of my skill or abilities? No. I know it is because of the willingness in my heart to serve in His kingdom and nothing more.

It is amazing to get to know and serve with followers of Christ from around the U.S. Even more than that, it’s a privilege. Many of them have touched me and my team. They are always willing to serve and love our children. From the beginning of our time together, we understand that the mission trip is all about Jesus — His love, grace, mercy, and righteousness.

This experience has marked my life and has taught me that a real relationship with Christ is enough for my life. So for me it is journey, and an adventure, with many challenges and great blessing.

Get to know Pablo and the children at our home by coming on a mission trip to Dorie’s Promise. Our trips are great for families, youth groups, small groups or individuals. Check out our handy mission guide for more info.

“I never could have imagined the impact…”

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Katies and Her Husband with Mario

Guest Post: By Katie May

My first visit to Dorie’s Promise was last October on a mission trip with a group from my church. I never could have imagined the impact visiting Guatemala would have on my entire life and of that of my family.

During our trip we built a playscape in the backyard of Dorie’s. While there, we also went on a few day-trips, to the ghetto and to the dump. I remember being shocked during our first trip to the ghetto. I couldn’t believe people lived like that. Yet when hearing their stories, I was amazed at their faith. The things they prayed for weren’t “things.” They prayed for good health, that their children would finish school, that their faith would be stronger — some asked for prayer to help overcome addictions. No one complained about their circumstances or even asked for prayer to change them. It was a level of faith and trust in the Lord that I had not seen before coming to Guatemala.

At the dump I got to spend time with the children living and working there with their parents. It was one of the best days of my life. These were the happiest children I had ever met! Our team heard the prayer request of a little boy who wanted to taste chicken. He said all he had ever tasted were the bones. We went to Polo Campero and showed up with boxes and boxes of chicken for the children — it was special to see how happy it made them.

A note from Katie to MarioMy experience at Dorie’s Promise was completely life-changing. I fell in love — one boy in particular, Mario, stole my heart. Once I met him, I don’t think I put him down. I would go out on the trips and then go right back to his crib to scoop him up.

At the same time, I can’t say enough about the special mothers. I was so impressed at how attentive they were to the babies. They took their time with each one — to snuggle with them and to be loved on. The children are just so well taken care of. One little girl, Dulce, was having medical issues, and her special mother was so emotional about it, saying how much she prayed for her. You can tell these women truly love the children, and the children love their special moms!

Leaving there was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I cried the whole plane ride and was just thinking of when I could get back!

Once I returned home, I struggled with the knowledge of the circumstances in Guatemala. It bothered me so much to know of all these orphans who needed homes. It angered me that adoptions were closed*. I shared with my husband all about Mario, and he assured me we could make an impact in his life not only through sponsorship but also in prayer.

I truly thought it would be a while before I could manage another trip to Guatemala, but after hearing all that I shared with him, my husband wanted to experience Dorie’s Promise for himself. We were back six months later to celebrate Mario’s first birthday!! I was so happy to see all the children again. My husband too fell in love with the children, Dorie’s Promise, and Guatemala.

On that second trip, we had the privilege of being there for Mother’s Day. They had a ceremony out back, and each of the children had the opportunity to get up in front of everyone to share about why they loved their special mothers. The kids had so many nice things to say, and there was so much love being shared. One little girl said she was going through a hard time and was thankful that her special mom was there for her.

One morning my husband and I got to Mario’s house early right at the shift change. While we were upstairs, we could hear the special mothers who were about to start the shift gathering in the hallway downstairs. They all began to pray together and sing songs of prayer. It was lovely. I can tell that being a special mother at Dorie’s means way more to those women than just a job.

Katie's husband play with the kids at Dorie's PromiseMy own children (Hailee, 11, and T.J., 7) now hear so much about Dorie’s Promise and want to visit as well. They refer to Mario as their brother in Guatemala. We’ve made some great relationships, and I know that Guatemala will always be a part of our lives.

After our two trips to Guatemala, we were moved to adopt. Knowing that we couldn’t adopt from Guatemala was so difficult to accept*. We would have loved nothing more than to bring home our sweet Mario or any other child from this country we loved so much. However, we moved forward with adoption here in the U.S. and have been blessed with an amazing little boy named Christopher. I’m thankful for the confirmation God gave us through our time in Guatemala that adopting was right for our family.

My experiences at Dorie’s Promise have changed my outlook on life. It’s opened my eyes to see how big the kingdom of God really is. In some way I always knew the Kingdom was larger than just our lives in America, but it’s easy to get caught up in your own bubble. When you have experiences like the ones in Guatemala, you can’t help but be changed.

I know we will be seeing you all again soon!

*International adoptions closed in 2008


Come to Guatemala to Make Christmas Special for Orphans

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Jonathan Celebrates Christmas at Dorie's Promise

Do you remember the first Christmas you ever had? The wonder you felt in that moment? It’s hard to remember back to when you celebrated that first Christmas.

The gifts, the food, your family — everything that makes that moment special.

Jonathan Celebrates Christmas at Dorie's PromiseThat wasn’t the case with Jonathan. Jonathan came to Dorie’s Promise in mid-2010 at age 8. While he was with his family, he never understood what Christmas was about. All the fireworks (a tradition in Guatemala), all the gifts … he never had any of that. Christmas was just another day.

He could sense that something was going on — but was never a part of it.

Then came that first Christmas Jonathan spent at Dorie’s Promise. He couldn’t believe all the excitement. He got a remote control car. He spent the day playing with the other kids. You could see the wonder in his eyes and on his face. He was joyous.

During that day, our special moms cooked tamales and made ponche (a traditional fruit-based hot beverage), filling the air around the house with good festive smells.

There was a mission team with us during that time getting ready for a night of special surprises for the kids. When the sun went down, the mission team cracked open the fireworks. All the children were really excited, but no one was as excited as Jonathan. It was his first time being part of the festivities, being part of a family celebrating Christmas, having a big feast on the table.

 Celebrating Christmas at Dorie's PromiseIt is hard to describe the moment. How do you explain the feelings of joy and excitement from an eight-year-old kid experiencing it for the first time? It was a wonder to behold how fascinated he was with everything — the food, the gifts, the fireworks. Most of all, it was really special to see how he was a part of everything going on around him.

A lot of our kids haven’t yet experienced a Christmas celebration. For some this year will be their first, and we want them to have the same opportunity to experience it fully like Jonathan did. All the fun, all the love, and all the joy that come from being with family during Christmas.

Wouldn’t you like to be part of that special moment?

We want you to know the joy of making Christmas real for an orphan in need, to experience a new type of Christmas. At the same time, you will also be helping make a life forever changed.

We have mission trips all throughout the year, including the holidays. You are invited to join us for a very special Christmas celebration at Dorie’s Promise. Bring the kids and show them the heart behind the true Christmas story. As that cherished Christmas song says…

“Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.”

Fill out an application today.

The Challenge : Poverty in Guatemala

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Can you imagine living on a budget of one dollar a day per person in your family?

What would you eat?

What happens when you need a doctor?

In one of the Ghettos of Guatemala City

By Arwen McGilvra-

A home in the ghettoIn Guatemala, nearly 8 million people live in rural areas, and of those, 57% live in poverty, which means they have a budget of about one dollar a day. When you talk to people here in Guatemala about it, they’ll say that it’s hard, but that you can survive. And it’s true, you can survive with one dollar a day.

But there is a catch: the truth is, survive is all you can do; these families don’t have the luxury of sending their children to school — they have to stay home to work with the family. Yet many families are able to bond and grow despite these conditions.

“I still can’t wrap my brain around it,” says Beth Godwin, describing the poverty she saw during a recent trip to Guatemala with Dorie’s Promise. “As much as I tried, nothing prepared me for what I witnessed. People, hundreds of them, including children, scrounging and tearing through GARBAGE in order to find anything to sell for food. How can this be possible just a short 3-hour plane ride from our comfortable homes and well-stocked pantries?”

How do these children living in the ghettos and working in the dumps grow up? Most of them just want to make it from one day to the next. Their greatest achievement is the next meal, or maybe a pair of shoes that fit.

Many people in Guatemala live on less than a dollar a dayRhonda Reinke also shared her experience with us: “The smell of the dump was nauseating even from high on the cliff. It was surreal. Yet it is the reality that some live with daily.

Even in the midst of this, there is hope.

Many agencies have projects in place in an attempt to create change, including the government, international aid, and nonprofit organizations from around the world. What’s unique at Forever Changed International and Dorie’s Promise is that we work in multifaceted ways to relieve the poverty.

We want to challenge you to join us in our efforts….

  • Poverty and unemployment lead some people to drugs, gangs, prostitution, theft … ultimately resulting in families living on the street. Children growing up in these situations experience more than just hunger — they face abuse, neglect, and hopelessness. These are the children we want to reach — these are the children who live in our home. Many of them come from these sorts of situations and would be living on the street without Dorie’s Promise.

We currently only have room for 40 children. If we are able to reach our goal of 100% sponsorship, we will be able to use additional gifts to expand our ministry to serve even more children!

  • Giving a water filter to a family in needSecondly, our water for life ministry provides water filters and pilas (a kind of sink) to needy families in the ghettos. Without water to clean your hands or your dishes, or for preparing food, sickness becomes a major problem. Not to mention the fact that clean water just isn’t available or affordable to those living in poverty. The water that many people drink is full of contaminants, and women and girls often spend much of their day collecting water and carrying it back to their homes. According to Gary White, co-founder of Water.org, the lost productivity of people collecting water is greater than the combined number of hours worked in a week by employees at WalMart, United Parcel Service, McDonald’s, IBM, Target, and Kroger.*

Water Filters The cost to provide a water filter for one family is just $40. The filter will provide clean drinking and usable water for a family of four for three months. In the past year we have provided 130 water filters to families. It’s good start, but we’d like to double or triple that number next year.

Pilas A pila is the main tool for washing and cleaning and holding clean water in the slums and ghettos of Guatemala City, where clean running water simply doesn’t exist. Now you can provide a pila for a family for just $50.

  • Lastly, we have our mission teams, groups visiting Dorie’s Promise Guatemala that have the opportunity to connect with our kids and be the hands and feet of the Gospel. Visiting teams help us install pilas and concrete floors and distribute the water filters. They experience the poverty firsthand and return to their homes to be ambassadors, raising awareness and funds, becoming prayer warriors and sponsors.

We invite you to join us. Check out our online handbook and then fill out an application online.

“I will never forget the time I spent in Guatemala with the Dorie’s Promise team. It was thought-provoking, heartbreaking, soul-stirring, and gut-wrenching all at once.” —Beth Godwin


The Importance of Mission Teams

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013


For the past five years, we have been working with mission teams that come to our home and help us, not only with the children, but with outreach projects in our community as well. We believe that this program has the potential to change the lives of the children who live with us while building a better community, a better country, to eradicate — for good — the very life that puts those kids on the streets in the first place.

Many teams have worked with us this summer, and we thank them all for their help!

So that we can continue to make a deep impact, we have to continue with this mission. We are currently working on rebuilding homes in vulnerable areas. We have projects planned to provide those in the ghettos with simple things like cement floors, ceilings, pilas (a kind of sink), toilets, and beds. By meeting their practical needs, it opens doors to meet spiritual needs. The goal of these projects is to be the hands and feet of the Gospel — sharing the Good News and hope in Jesus Christ, praying with people, and restoring broken lives.

This is the heart of missions.

And we need people who have the same heart to help us with these projects. We promise you that you won’t go back empty-handed. The lives you touch actually touch you in return — it is incredible to see it happen. By helping people in need, you are Forever Changed.

Talk with your friends, talk to your parents, talk to your pastors — be part of an unforgettable trip where you can help a child in our home, a person in the ghetto, a kid from another orphanage … and witness how God works through you and through them.

Get started today! Fill out an application online.

An Afternoon Outing

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

By Maria Jose Ramirez-

During a mission team’s week with us in Guatemala, each group takes an afternoon off to take our kids to an activity outside the home. Sometimes it’s to the zoo, other times they go to a movie, and sometimes they have an activity in a park near our home.

As important as it is to take the kids out once in a while, the most meaningful part of these activities is the love and care they feel when they hold a mission tripper’s hand. For the children to know that someone cares enough to look out for them for at least one afternoon is a blessing — they feel secure, safe. That is not to say that they don’t feel cared for in our home, but they need the reassurance all the same. Like Ingrid said:

“It is fun to go out with the mission teams; I like to spend time with them because they make me feel special and they take care of us. I enjoy going to the zoo or to the park because we play a lot.”

The beautiful thing about being able to take them out for an activity is that our team’s members feel touched as well. They don’t return to their homes the same. For that one afternoon, they experience what it’s like to make an impact on a child’s life; for one afternoon, they have given their hearts to a little one who needed the reassurance that someone cares — that THEY care.

It’s incredible to see the faces of the kids that afternoon. They glow — feeling happy and secure. And the beautiful thing is: the faces of the team members reflect it too.

“These children make it so easy,” said one mission tripper recently, “to reach out and impact their lives. I have built special bonds with multiple children I hope to see again someday.”

Another one also commented, “The activities were great. I loved play time with the children, as well as taking them to the play zone and to church. I became very close with the children through these times.”

That is what Forever Changed International is about — changing not only the lives of our kids, but, through caring for them, also changing the lives of all the people who visit us. So join one of our mission trips and see how God uses you to change a life and, in the process, how He changes you!

Can’t Get Enough

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

By Arwen McGilvra-

Wayne Hanson from Creston, Iowa, can’t get enough of Dorie’s Promise. He has visited us four times, bringing his family along on his most recent visit. They also support us throughout the year in prayer and giving. Recently we had a chance to interview Wayne on his special connection with our home.

How did you find out about Dorie’s Promise? About three years ago, I started praying to find a place to visit on a mission trip that would allow us to bring our teenage children. I found Dorie’s Promise online and contacted Heather. It seemed a good fit for where God was leading me. We prayed about it and felt the urging from God to go.

Who joined you on your latest trip? We had a group of 18 people traveling together, including my wife Michelle and I and four of our children, Elizabeth, Melissa, John, and Emily.

Aside from our orphanage, where have you ministered while visiting Guatemala? We love to go to Juanita’s ghetto, the city dump ghetto, and this year we went to City of Children orphanage — it was a great fit for us to minister there.

What is it that keeps you coming back to Guatemala? The connections we have made with the children of Dorie’s, especially the Najera children. We have also found all of the people in Guatemala that we have met to be kind and appreciative of the help we can give. Many of them, even though they have nothing, want to give back to us.

We know you have a special connection with the Najera siblings; why are they so special to you? We aren’t sure if we could pinpoint the exact reason God has knit our hearts together with Mirna, Ingrid, Anna, Maria, and Abraham. It happened on our first visit to Dorie’s Promise.

Before arriving there that first time, we picked children to partner with as our Forever Friends during our stay. We didn’t know much about either of them at the time, but it ended up that my wife chose Mirna. Once at Dorie’s Promise, through the time we spent with them, God opened our hearts and Mirna became very special to us.

We were blessed to be a part of helping with Mirna’s Quinceañera. This is an important part of her heritage, and we wanted to experience this beautiful tradition with her. It was a beautiful and tender moment when we were allowed to take her shopping for her dress. Something she had never been able to experience before! Just the kind of thing we take for granted in America.

As a blended family with nine children, ranging in age from 31 to 15 years old, we have watched God do incredible things in the lives of our own children. He has brought healing over the issues of being in a mixed family. We know God is able to do the same for Mirna, Ingrid, Anna, Maria, and Abraham.

It is incredible how God works! We feel like these five siblings are another part of our family, as our children have also adopted them into their hearts.

We can’t explain why, all we can say is that we love them and there is a reason God has made a place for them in our hearts. What is that reason? Only time will bring God’s plan about. We are just being obedient and are loving them and praying for them as long as God gives us the opportunity. It is one of the hardest things we’ve had to do; love them and say good-bye when our hearts want to bring them home with us! However, we will continue to make these trips as long as God provides.

What impact have these trips had on the members of your family?

Melissa (19): This was my second trip to Guatemala and Dorie’s Promise. Each trip has brought a new experience. When I left last year, I knew God was calling me to ministry, but I wasn’t sure where. This year I felt God’s call to serve in Guatemala. I am going to college and working toward a double major in Spanish and teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). I knew my heart was in Guatemala after last year because of the children and staff at Dorie’s Promise and the places we visited. This year I have come to call it home and know that God has a plan and a ministry for my life with the Guatemalan people.

Elizabeth (21): This year was my first trip to Guatemala and to Dorie’s Promise. Many of my family members had been there multiple times. I was blessed to join with five of them this year. I am a college student majoring in Sociology with minors in Criminology and Women/Gender Studies. Since declaring my major and minors, I would feel anxious whenever I was asked about plans for a future career, because I had no idea where I was headed. Throughout the week at Dorie’s Promise, God opened my eyes and my heart to the people of Guatemala.

God used all the different aspects of our trip to speak to me: the projects we took part in, the children at Dorie’s Promise and at the City of Children, our devotions, and our leaders and guides. I see now that God has a mission for me and that it involves children. My heart breaks for the children of Guatemala. My hope is to return to Dorie’s Promise and Guatemala next summer.

Seeing Poverty

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Poverty. It’s ugly. So ugly, in fact, that we shield ourselves from it. In the U.S., a person making less than $11,344 a year falls into the poverty category. Yet in Guatemala, the average income is around $2,800*. Poverty is rampant in Guatemala; it’s one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Approximately 75% of the population lives in poverty.

At Dorie’s Promise, our vision is to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children in the world. We work to provide a place for these orphans to find a loving home. Through our missions program, we are also working to help those living in poverty in the neighborhoods surrounding the orphanage. We believe that these programs can be life-changing, and not just for the families in the ghetto and the dump.

If you have been on a mission trip to Guatemala through Forever Changed International, you’ve likely experienced that change yourself. We’re working on a special blog for World Poverty Day, and we want to know your experiences. Email us if you’d be willing to be featured in the article.

*Stats from the National Poverty Center, UNdata, and the World Bank.

Hands of Hope Orphan Ministry

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

By Arwen McGilvra-

A new ministry (Hands of Hope Orphan Ministry) at Northwest Christian Community Church, a congregation of about 75 in Mundelein, IL, is helping their members see a wider world through sponsorship and missions. Hands of Hope ministry director Gerianne Cygan chose Forever Changed International to partner with because of her experiences with Dorie’s Promise when she and her husband adopted* their son Matthew.

For the first year of this new ministry, the church chose to sponsor Angel. Next March, a group from the church will make the trip to visit us in Guatemala. They hope to make a personal connection with Angel, to bring donations of items for the home, and to open the eyes of members who have never experienced a short-term mission trip.

“We want them to see the blessings that they will ‘be’ and ‘receive’ through the experience,” says Gerianne.

For now, they made this video to welcome him into their family.

They picked Angel for two reasons: 1. they wanted a younger child whom they could grow with; and 2. “He had the perfect name.”

The Cygans, who adopted Matthew in 2006, made two trips to Guatemala during the adoption process. At that time, Dorie’s Promise was running a trial program where they housed mothers and helped give them basic education and simple career training. Ultimately, the program had to be closed for lack of funding. But while it was running, the Cygans were able to meet the birth mother of their son. They felt very fortunate to meet her and to know their son’s story. His mother had another son who was five and she couldn’t financially support another child. “She made a very loving, giving decision.”

“Guatemala City is so beautiful, and it’s so sad to see how many families and children are living in the sort of poverty you see at the ghettos and dumps,” says Gerianne.

“When we were in Guatemala we were thrilled to see how the special mothers cared for these kids and just loved on them.” It helped create her passion for service and orphans.

“It really opens your eyes when you do these sorts of things to how God is working even in places of poverty. My goal as director for Hands of Hope is to help our congregation fall in love with Dorie’s Promise, the kids, the special mothers, and the home.”

Most sponsorship programs give you the opportunity to sponsor a child living a subsistent lifestyle, living in a poorly run private or government orphanage, or living in a community. Sponsoring a child at Dorie’s Promise is a very different kind of sponsorship. Our sponsors are investing in the whole life of a child. This comes through more than just a check every month. It’s through praying for the child, keeping up with their lives, and personally getting involved.

If you’re a sponsor and you’re ready to take the next step and visit Dorie’s Promise to meet your forever friend, contact us now. We have different trips throughout the year, and you don’t have to bring a large group with you. Individuals, families, and groups of many sizes have all been to our home to serve with us.

Come and visit. There is no better way to bond with your sponsored child!

*International adoptions for Guatemala closed in 2008