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Saturday, August 30, 2014

rain

Yesterday was a very emotional day. I went with Lilly, the director, to a court hearing and there's a possibility that 2 girls might be going home soon. The thing is the oldest girl who is 12 years old was raped by her step-dad's brother who is about 15 years old. The kid was never prosecuted and the judge said that if the kid does not live too close then they will be able to go back home possibly at the next hearing in October. I keep telling myself that it's a ministry and children will eventually go back home, but the court system here is a little different and I truly wonder if they are genuinely looking after the best interest of the children. 
Then we get home and 2 of the teens were crying because they got in trouble and Lilly was disciplining them because of their disrespect. They were sent to bead early. One of the girl's, her name is Rosmeri was sobbing. I later went in her room and she was sitting on her bed in the dark crying and praying. I knealed next to the bed, grabbed her hand and once she was done with her prayer, I started to pray for her. She thanked me and laid down. I wanted to cry with her. I was sad for her. Within a few minutes she came out to apologize to Lilly for her misbehavior. Prior to all of that one of the new teens, Cindy, who is just 13 years old and 5 months pregnant wanted to talk to me. She too was crying saying how much she missed her dad. Her mom abandoned them, the 5 year old sister was placed at a different orphanage and then she was taken away because she was pregnant. I felt so helpless not being able to help her. My heart felt so sad that she felt so sad and alone. We had a devotional that night on my favorite psalm then we prayed and listened to worship music. 6 girls attended. Two of them ask almost every night if we are going to have it. It's so encouraging that they initiate. The one who can heal their wounds is God. All I can ask is that He put the words in my mouth the He needs them to hear.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

special guest: Baeley Hathaway


Angel Mateo and Baeley
My name is Baeley Elaine Hathaway. I am 17 years old and I go to North Idaho College. I am studying psychology and Spanish and plan to get my doctorate of psychology and practice bilingual therapy. Right now I coach gymnastics and nanny. On August 31 my sister married a man who has been a family friend for years. His mother adopted twin girls from Guatemala about 7 years ago and upon returning home, has started a non profit organization to help fund orphanages in Guatemala. She is currently sponsoring Esperanza y Futuro.

I have been to Guatemala twice now and I think I decided to go for a month this summer because of how wonderful my first trip was. Guatemala has always been on my heart since I was a little girl and when I met my brother in law's mother and found out she has an orphanage in Guatemala I knew it was God's work. I chose a month because that is how long my break was for school, but if I had it my way, I'd never leave!


During my month in Guatemala so many beautiful and memorable things took place. It would be impossible to chose a favorite or a most valuable. But one story I feel is worth sharing is about a little boy I met outside of the orphanage. I was asked to babysit the children of the woman of Santo Tomas while they listened to a guest speaker talk about personal hygiene. I arrived and was given a box of things to do to entertain them. Most of the children colored pictures and waited for me to make them a bracelet made of beads the colors of Jesus' life and death. But one boy sat in front of me and stared. He was probably 2 years old. I asked him if he wanted to color and he said nothing. I asked if he wanted to help me make a bracelet and he said nothing. He just studied my features and I wondered if it was his first time seeing someone with light hair and skin. After quite a while he finally agreed that I could tie a bracelet around his wrist. I told him the colors meant that God loves him very much. He held out his little hand and he watched me tie a knot. Right as I pulled it tight, I said "que guapo!" Or "how handsome!" And his little chin raised up and he grinned the biggest grin at me and jumped into my arms. He hugged me tight for minutes and with no words, I felt his innocence and his willingness to love. His little head against my chest, he was healing me from the outside in.


Kimberly and Baeley
I learned so many things about myself while in Guatemala because allowing yourself to experience a different culture also allows you to discover what makes you, you. I came to Guatemala with hurts and wounds I had no idea how to heal on my own. I came feeling insecure, worthless, and drowning in an attempt to stay afloat. I barely had faith in God and had no faith in myself. By being accepted as a friend by these girls and getting to share laughter and tears with them, I learned that i will have worth no matter what people say, no matter the mistakes I make, because I was made by something worth everything. I learned that I cannot love other people if I don't love myself because if I am going to claim that everyone has beauty, I cannot discount myself. I learned that boys and girls, children and adults, rich and poor, are all alike. We are alike in that we all feel alone sometimes. We all need to discover ourselves and the only thing that's different is how we do that. Because I tried so hard to show the children at the orphanage how beautiful they are, and to believe that they are treasured and loved beyond measure, I must believe that also about myself. The peace I feel in my heart when I am in Guatemala taught me that I am not here by mistake. The last thing I learned is that my worth doesn't only exist in a different country. I am not only called to serve Guatemala; Guatemala just reminded me that everyone I come across from every walk of life can be loved, and that I have enough to love them.

This is the most precious thing I am taking back with me: the knowledge that sometimes I need help, and just alike, sometimes I need to give help. I am taking back all the precious kisses I received from the children and I will use them to remind me to keep fighting when I feel defeated. I am taking back my gratitude for the mere fact that I am alive and breathing, for my family and friends, for all of the blessings I have. I am not alone, I am not forgotten, I have a family in two countries and I am taking back all of the love I felt from them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

first bible talk



Week 2:
8-25-14
Fear is one thing that can disable us from accomplishing our dreams, goals, visions, etc. I remember when I was making the decision to move out here my friend Glenda told me that what determines a successful person and one that is not, it all depends on the gut check. When it’s time to jump some do not take that risk because fear creeps in. 

Left to right: Alejandra, Lidia, Berny, Yuri,  me, Raquel, Kairy, Cindy


Today a 13 year old pregnant girls arrived at the hogar. She looked a little scared not knowing what to expect, not knowing the people in this home and not having anything with her other than the clothes on her back.  Cindy is her name and she joined us tonight on our very first bible talk (Bible study and prayer) with the older girls. What a great way to welcome her to the home and share with her a scripture. The one scripture that was shared tonight was in Joshua that talks about fear.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I shared with them that I had many fears in coming to Guatemala; leaving my family, my job of 10 years, my belongings, etc., but that I knew that God had a plan and that He would be with me.

Earlier tonight as I helped with two of the little girls, Laurita and Alejandrita, to bed I had a small moment of awe and fear. Seeing them there not wanting to lay in their new toddler beds and somehow convincing them to lay down in order to have a good night story be told, I realized something that I have thought of before, but this time it had a different meaning. These children are so vulnerable and just what the minister said this past Sunday, teaching them to love and trust in God starts as soon as they are born by praying with them.  What a big responsibility God has entrusted me with by having me here. There’s so much to do and so much that needs to be given, but I keep asking God to use me as His tool to minister and love the children here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

first week in the hogar



Day 1:
It’s 9pm, all of the younger children are asleep, one of the teens is doing her homework, goodnight stories were told in the room where all of the boys sleep and my heart is filled.
The view from the hogar. The volcano is covered by the clouds

This morning as I walked into the hogar I was greeted by two of the girls; Ana Sofia and Kimberly. They did not go to school because they had a court hearing and were waiting for their ride. It felt so wonderful being able to hold them in my arms. I have been waiting for that moment for the past 6 months. The rest of the children were at school and a handful of the teen girls were upstairs (those teens are being homeschooled because either they had never been to school or had very little schooling). At 2pm the rest of the children got home from school and the older children recognized me right away. When the boys walked in they looked at me with a puzzled look on their faces, as if they knew me, but were unsure. Then from behind David and Christopher, Lester looked at me and with excitement in his voice he said, “Tia Ana” and ran towards me to give me a big hug. Then all of the boys hugged me as well. David right away asked if I was going to tell them good night stories. I don’t have words to describe how wonderful that felt. I love how every time I come back he remembers that I tell them stories at night.
Before dinner we all went outside to play and a few of the kids wanted to get on the trampoline. We laughed as we jumped and there was this one beautiful moment where were all laying down looking at the sky as it was getting dark. I had Berney, Rosmeri, Lester and Laurita. I could hear the crickets in the background and the neighborhood dogs barking. I told them how we were all made with a purpose, even the animals. I told them how important bees are in order to spread the pollen to make flowers grow. How the spiders make spider webs in order to catch the insects for lunch. They seemed quite intrigued, Lester even repeated what I said as if trying to convince himself that it was true.

As I sit here listening to worship music, I feel super content. I know that what awaits me in the next couple of months will not be easy, but I know that just how a busy bee has a purpose, I too, have a purpose that I must live out. Right now, the purpose is here in this home that is filled with love and in need of love. I pray that God can use me as His instrument to bring what is needed. I will not be able to fill the void that they are longing, but I know that God can.

Day 2:
Today was a busy and cold day. Since it rained most of the day, the children spent most of it inside and watched Frozen. It was pretty funny hearing them sing along to the English words.

When I was little I remember being asked what I wanted to be when I grow up. I remember that I wanted to either be a professional ice skater or a singer. In 6th grade was when I decided to be a teacher because my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. McIndoo, said that I would be a good one. I didn’t become a teacher, but I did ended up working with children.

I would like to introduce to you to Rosmeri. I was able to spend some time with her outside when it stopped raining. I asked her who she was living with before she arrived to the hogar and she said that she lived with her mom, dad and a sibling. She mentioned that her dad did not take care of her and her mom would leave her home alone because she had to work. She also said that at her last court hearing the judge said that she was too young to go back home. I asked her what she wanted to be when she grows up and she said that she would like to take care of her mom. I then asked if she wanted to work and she said yes, but didn’t give any explanation. I asked her again, but this time I asked what kind of job she wanted to have. Her little eyes moved around as if looking for an answer, she replied by saying that she would like to work at Pollo Campero which is equivalent to KFC.

Rosmeri is known here as the hogar’s sticky fingers. She takes things from the other children and keeps it for herself or gives them away as gifts. During the meals one child prays for the food and he or she also prays for specific children to behave better and when Rosmari’s name is mentioned he/she adds for her to stop stealing. I wonder what kind of life she lived. I’m sure she was always in some sort of desperation considering that she has this desire to take things that do not belong to her. I also think she does that because she wants to feel special when she gives it away. When you finish reading this please join me and the children in prayer for Rosmari.

Day 3:

Community center in Santo Tomas Milpas Altas. 50+ women showed up
There’s a professor at a nearby school who does a lot in the community. His mission in life is helping and serving others. His name is Erik and he invited us to go to one of his workshops that he holds once a month. A few days ago he told us that we were going to be the main speakers that day. There are two other volunteers at the hogar, Baeley and Annie. Baeley leaves tonight and Annie has another week here. Let’s just say that I was the main speaker because of their limited Spanish. The topic was hygiene. About 50 women showed up to the gathering at a hall and we introduced ourselves. Baeley went to keep the kids occupied, Annie held a poster board of a girls that I drew up and I talked about the importance of hygiene, how to take preventative measures when it came to sickness and proper hand washing. After our topic a woman from a local clinic talked about HIV and were offering free HIV tests with instant results. The women who showed up are living in poverty and some are single moms. One thing that Erik shared with me was that he prays a lot for God to open doors to be able to provide a better living for these families. Erik mentioned that 40 women were tested that day. I am looking forward to serving with Erik once again in one of his many volunteer opportunities.
  



  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

When 2 worlds collide

Today is the last day of the brigade and let me just say that it has been a great experience once again. It has been really neat to be able to see all of the hard work that has been done behind the scenes.


I would like to share a story of what happened on Friday and how special it is to witness two worlds collide. 
2 of the teens from the home where I will be moving to as well as 2 children came to see the doctor on Friday. It was so nice to be able to see and hug my sweet friend Lilly, the director. She brought one of the teens with her who is pregnant and is only 15 years old. A weeks ago she found out that she is having a baby boy and the home threw her a baby shower. 

(Left to right) Cynthia, Meagan and Emma
A few months ago a young girl from Champagne, Illinois was gathering baby clothes and diapers to bring to the brigade not even knowing for sure if she was coming. Emma, is probably getting close to being a teenager herself. 

On Friday Cynthia, Emma's mom, told me about what Emma had been doing so when the opportunity came I was able to introduce Emma and the teen. Emma shared how she had clothes for her baby. It was a special moment. I don't know exactly what was going on in their minds as they exchanged a mini conversation, but I could see something special happening. This is something that can change a life. For the teen it could be an opportunity to give back knowing that so much has been given to her. For Emma it's an experience that she would be able to remember of how special it is to give, even to a complete stranger. 

I remember being little staying with my family in Mexico on vacation and seeing how people in the community would bring things from the states to give to others. My aunt grabbed 2 colorful shirts and I kept them until high school. Seeing it at  such a young age how special it was to get something as little as a couple of shirts, has turned into something much more meaningful in my life. 

Not only are people receiving medical attention, they are being shown compassion and who knows what it will produce in them. 
Emma givimg me the donationn
Me and the two teens, Brenny and Lidia
Medical Brigade



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Guatemala Day 1

I spent all of Sunday with my family and it was so encouraging to see them all for the last time. My parents, brother and sister took me to the airport. I can't even express how special it was to have them all there. I'm going to miss them so much!




Niece and nephews (left to right)
Jacob, Layla and Luke
(left to right) Cindy, me, dad, mom and Juan



I have been in Guatemala for 24 hours and let me just say that it has been great so far. The experience at the ticket counter in LAX was a little challenging. When the clerk saw my one way ticket he asked where was my return ticket. I told him that I would be leaving the country of Guatemala and buying my ticket once I was there. Well he said he could not check me in until I had proof that I would not stay in Guatemala since I was not a Guatemalan. I was forced to buy a one-way ticket to El Salvador and let me just say that it cost me as much as the one-way ticket to Guatemala from Los Angeles. I was trying not to stress so much especially since I was able to get the ticket for it to be refundable.

I hugged my family really tight, said goodbye and walked up the stairs for the inspection area. Man, that was tougher than I thought.


I was a little nervous once I got in the plane and kept thinking of one of the scriptures that I read a few weeks prior that talks about how we were predestined in according to His will for His glory (Ephesians 1:11-12). All of the sacrifices that I had made and will continue to do is all for His glory.

Estuardo <3
As soon as I arrived to Guatemala and walked out of the airport I saw two friends holding signs then I saw my boyfriend dressed very nice with flowers in his hands and a huge card that read, "Mi Amor" which means "My love" I felt so much excitement and joy to see him.
Me and Karla

Stiven and Jessie


Our second selfie as a couple
Later that evening I met up with him and we had 2 hours to ourselves of catching up. It was really pleasant. Afterwards we walked about half a block and there were some friends from church waiting for us at a restaurant. That evening there were about 20 people who showed up to share a meal with us. Though I felt exhausted from the trip, it was a great time that was spent.



This week the medical brigade starts and I'm really excited to start serving. then, next week I get to take all of my bags to my permanent home; Esperanza y Futuro. I can't wait!