Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tecate trip. 12-21-13

Today we went to Tecate once again to serve those who are in need. It was a great trip!!!! We drove to the elderly hospice first. We only go there about 3-4 times a year because it's a good 40-50 minute drive after crossing the boarder and we have to go off roading for another 10-15 minutes. I just have to say that it was worth it! I love being there with the elderly men and just talk to them. These men have no families and they were abandoned and left to die in the streets. We got there and said our hellos then we sang some Christmas songs. I have to say, that my best part is always seeing Fidel. 

As soon as we get there he wants is to lift his bed to sitting position. He bearly talks due to an aneurysm and he is not mobile. I honestly don't think his teeth have been brushed in a long time and I will be honest, the smell there is horrible. Again, all worth it! 

He always has a smile on his face and his request is always the same; to sing worship songs. He just melts my heart! 

Then we went back on the road to the village on the out squirts of Tecate and I was in shock to see so many people. My friend Glenda counted 82 buckets! 

Everyone got busy, sorting and putting food in the buckets. By the end of the evening we passed out over 100 new toys, and 85 buckets of food ( we made extra just in case). 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hole-e shoes

I will admit that guilt is a big part of who I am...I'm working on it. Ok ok so I'm not a big shoe person. I have like 4 pairs of shoes and to be honest, I usually wear just 2 pairs. I'm all about comfort not style. Well, that and I don't really know how to walk in heels. Almost 2 years ago I had a really bad accident that involved stairs, my toys from work and twisted ankles. It was really bad! When I got up from the floor I walked to my car, I noticed I was not able to hyper extend my ankles(I was walking like a penguin). When I finally got in my car I felt such a relief and as I started to drive I felt like I was going to pass out because I had to extend my ankles to push the pedals. I had to make a stop at a local gas station and I called my family to come and pick me up because I was not able to drive anymore. My older brother is an athletic trainer at Fullerton community college and he was able to assess my injury and encouraged me to go to the emergency to get checked. It turned out I had really bad sprained ankles. It was difficult to put on tennis shoes and my work shoes did not fit so I had to buy new shoes that would fit and support my super swollen feet. The shoes I got were the best fit and I truly love the shoes. However, they were pretty pricey. For the past several months I have been on a very strict budget because I'm trying to move to Guatemala. It turns out that my wonderful shoes now have holes on each side and I decided to invest a little bit of money and buy some shoes for work. I got these cute sketchers and I wore them for 2 days and I returned them. I felt so guilty spending money on shoes knowing that there are so many people without shoes. That was sometime in September. It's December and the holes in my shoes were become more noticeable. I recently invested a little bit of money to get antennas for our television and my dad decided he wanted to get cable instead. I went back to get my money back from the electronic store and decided to get new shoes. I will be honest, they are still in the box. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving in Tecate, Mexico

Saturday we went to Tecate, Mexico to do the usual once a month visit to the orphanages and the village. I will say that it was a special treat because at the girl's orphanage they prepared a special day for us and other volunteers. The girls sang a few songs and then they served us a meal. It was a special trip for me because a friend of mine and her husband joined us. Elaine has been with us before, possibly 10 years ago. She is now married and brought her husband with her. While we were sitting at the table waiting to be served our delicious food, I made a comment how it was a little weird that they are serving us when we are the ones supposed to be serving them. Our minister then shared that it is a blessing to serve others and now they are the onces being blessed for serving. WOW, that was very beautifully said.    

Click HERE to see the video that was made of the trip. 

I might be sounding redundant, but I really miss the girls and the kids in Guatemala. I was sent a he out picture and my heart leaped for joy and I started to remember a lot of the special memories with some of them. The group is getting bigger and they are almost to their full capacity. 

My heart is excited to see them once again and meet the new kids. Soon soon soon!!!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Motherly Love

A child has been born! This week one of the teenagers at the group home in Guatemala have birth to a healthy baby girl. This is the second child of a thirteen year old. Yes, you read correctly, 13 years old! 

Let me share with you something that was on the Latin news this week. A young girl in Guatemala was abused by her step father and got her pregnant. After giving birth, this young girl killed her baby. My heart sank after hearing the news. This young girl took out her rage against her step father on this angel. What desperation, what sadness, what anger, what confusion. Who is the victim? 

Now here we are with a 13 year old girl who has given birth to a child, and guess what? The father is her step father. What's the difference? This teenager is safe, has a home, a new family. I am so grateful for the work that Lilly is doing with these girls at the group home. She is showing them love, compassion, and a new way of thinking. The new born child will have a future because the teen has been given love throughout we pregnancy in a new home. 

How I pray that I can be there already. I want to hold this baby and rock her in my arms. I want to share all that I have learned about development in my career and share the knowledge with them. 

I bought my ticket to Guatemala this week. I will be there for only 10 days in February. How I wish it was a one way ticket, but for now I will be thankful to have the opportunity to serve at the medical mission and stay a short week at the group home and love these kids. Eeeekkkkkkk I can't wait!!!!! 

(Me and Lilly)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Apple Tree has moved.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and there's so much to be thankful for.

We are in the middle of moving where I work (for more info of Apple Tree click here). This is such an answered prayer because we were in desperate need of a space that we can call home. You see, we were sharing space with other people and it was torture trying to move everything at the end of the workweek, then have to set everything up Tuesday mornings. For the past year I have not had to help out since we hired someone to help. We are hoping to be able to open Mondays which means that children will be able to receive additional hours of therapy. I will also be able to treat more children for individual speech therapy. My boss has been working since last week getting the place ready and we started this week moving things into our rooms and organizing. I will say that moving is not the funnest part of my week. However, I was given toys and book as a donation to the village that we will be going to this upcoming Saturday (Click here for more info to the Tecate trips).  My room is coming out very nice. I ended up with the theme of forest/wilderness/backyard. I have giant leaves on each corner of the room and I think my boss has this big tree decal for my wall. We shall see how long that will last.  

The new Apple Tree 

I will be honest, not a lot of money has been made this season for jewelry sales. I was feeling super bummed because I have had to invest money to be part of the events and sometimes I don't even make back what I have invested. I was feeling super sorry for myself that I wanted to cry (I'm a big cry baby), but I can hear His voice, telling me that it's not what I will do, it's what He will do. All of this is for Him. I am thankful for that voice because it brings me back to the things that are truly important (jewelry posts: Here. Here, Here).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Teddy Bear for keeps

A while back I heard that the teddy bear was named after Theodore Roosevelt. I guess he went hunting and when he saw some cubs he made sure they were not killed. 

We all can think back in our childhood and remember having a teddy bear or a stuffed animal that represented comfort or security. 

I want to share a special story of a little guy at the group home in Guatemala. Lester is your typical trouble maker. He's about 6 years old and his teacher was going crazy having him in class. One day he was picking up the pears that had fallen on the floor in the backyard (there were about 3-4 pear trees in the back). I found out that it was his punishment because at school he hit a classmate and took his treat. Everyday you can hear the nannies yelling out Lester's name whether it was because he was doing something wrong or participating in something he shouldn't be. He would do things on purpose to get the attention. It was like he loved having his name being called or even chased after. 

I don't know much about him other than he has 3 other siblings in the group home and his parents could no longer keep them because of the poverty they were living in. 

During dinner one day I asked Lester if he could help me by putting some dishes in the sink. That's when I saw how his eyes lit up as he put away the dishes. He felt special that he was considered. 

The next morning I mentioned it to the nannies and suggested how by changing the tone and letting him know how special he was it would change his attitude. The psychologist also had mentioned about changing their technique on how to talk to him. This kid did a full 180 after a day of giving him a different type of attention that included a discipline with love and affection. 

The rest of the time there I made sure to give him a little extra attention and it was so special to see his change. What a little  love can do to a little kids heart.

In the middle of my stay he came into my room and handed me his teddy bear. He said that it was so I would not sleep alone. Here's this kid whose parents have abandoned him and he was thinking of me. I hugged that teddy bear close to my heart every night. 

My last day at the group home he went upstairs to my room to watch me pack. We talked, laughed, and listened to music as he looked through the pictures I had taken. When I finished packing, I handed him the teddy bear and thanked him for letting me borrow it. The look on his face was priceless!!! He looked so insulted and said that he had given it to me. I got a knot in my throat. The little that he had, he was giving it to me

This teddy bear brings me so much comfort at night when I am missing the kids in Guatemala. 

I pray to God everyday asking to already take me there, to help me in my sales. I keep Him telling me to be patient, that He is in front of me leading the way. He will take me there, I just need to be still and know that He is The almighty God. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Green snot!

+Lorena Ventura is someone whom I've known for a few years through church, but hardly on a personal level. We got better acquainted when she joined me on the journey to Guatemala. I had such a great time getting to know her and it was obvious that many people were drawn by her sweetness. When she was in College at UCLA there was a community service that was started to help children. Her classmates and her started going to an orphanage neat Tijuana, Mexico. After she graduated, she continued her trips and this time she included church members. This past weekend I joined her on a trip and let me just say that I had a BLAST!!!

The day started at 5am...yes, I will wake up that early for the sake of orphans! We got ready and waited for people to arrive at a local COSTCO. Once everyone was there ad all of the cars were packed up with the donations, he headed towards the boarder. We made a quick stop on the last exit before entering Mexico for last minute items and food. Tijuana is not for the first time drivers. It's crazy trying to switch lanes and make turns. People have no considerations for the stops or lights. Let's just say that my sensory system got a little workout! The town is called La Gloria.

When we arrived to the orphanage the children were upstairs with another group from Tijuana. The children were learning about Jesus in a fun way...with puppets. They were super attentive and participating. After they were done we all went outside to play with the kids. I had so much fun! One of the little guys I spent quality time with was little Guero. He is about 2 years old and I played a little bit of soccer with him. He let me hold him and we walked around the building kicking the ball. While I was playing with him little Diego (click here for another story of Diego) came to mind. I got a knot in my throat, but I tried to focus on Guerito.

We did arts and craft and later that visit one of the girls brought out the piƱata. The little kids lined up and took their turns hitting it. Once all the kids got their candy, we said our goodbyes and headed to the other home. This orphanage has 2 homes. One of the homes is for the little kids and older girls and the other home is for the older boys.

As soon as we drove in I could hear them say, "It's Lorena!" The guys played soccer and showed each other their moves they also played Frisbee. That's when I was introduced to Alex.


Alex is 17 years old and he was dropped off about 2 years ago by his aunt who lives not too far from the orphanage. The director indicated that Alex's aunt has not once gone back to visit. Alex has such a sweet soul. He does not talk, has poor sight and possibly poor hearing. When he got up he grabbed me supper tight and wrapped his legs around me. I thought it was super funny because here's this kid who is as tall as me wanting to be held. Once the director helped Alex to get down, I walked him to the couch. He managed to move his body on my lap. All he wanted was to be cradles like a baby. I let him and I slowly rocked him back and forth and sang him a song. It was such a special moment with Alex.

There were a few kid that were a little sick...I didn't hold back with the hugs and kisses so I am now at home, sick. IT WAS WORTH IT!!!!!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hope and a Future

Imagine being so hungry that it leads you to prostitution or having to tolerate being abused by your own father? Terrible, right? How about being 13, pregnant with your second child and the father is your step-father?

It all started with a prayer, "I want to live in the center of your will. I want to live the life I was born to live" This past summer I spent 5 weeks in Guatemala. All you saw were beautiful pictures of children at the orphanage. That's not all I did. I stayed at the orphanage for a week and a half, but I lived most of the 5 weeks at a group home for abused teens and abandoned children. I was able to visit the orphanage almost every day because the homes were a few blocks apart. The scenarios you first read were just a glimps of the lives of the teens from the group home. The very first day that I stepped into the group home, I knew. I knew without a doubt that my prayer was being answered. God had been preparing me all along for this journey. As I talked to the girls, I kept seeing how love is what they needed. Not the emotion of love, but the realness and the action of love. The love that comes alive in scripture "Love as I have loved you" how did He love us? He laid down His life for our salvation. Lilly, the director of the program has told me once before that by having this home it will not solve the problem of abuse or teen pregnancy, but it will change the path of a handful of girls and young children. Wow! Ok so there I was in a room of teen girls needing me to lay down my life, to love them, to hug them, talk to them, pray with them, encourage them, read scriptures with them. 

My favorite part of the day was waking up watching the sunrise from my window. Ok, ok I'm not a morning person at all, but for some reason while in Guatemala I would wake up super early and I would see how the sky would change and light would enter my room. I kept thinking how God was letting His love enter this home. As early as 5am I would hear the girls waking up, taking a shower and starting their daily chores. I would lay in bed hearing their voices, laughter and sometimes even their quarrels. 

My most fondest memory was towards the end of my trip. The experience of the situation is what moved my heart and saw beauty in the full picture though the pieces were tragic. One of the girls had a court date to see if she would be sent back home. The evening before was so nerve wrecking for her. She didn't eat dinner and was obviously nervous and scared. I was able to sit with her and I asked her, "What's the worst thing that the judge would say?" She replied, "That the judge would say that I have to go back home." I felt a lump in my throat. Why wouldn't she want to go home? What's so horrific that being home would be the worst decision? I asked her what she had learned being in this group home and she said that she has learned how to clean, cook and how to take care of her little baby. She started talking about how she would want her daughter to grow up and earn a good living. That's when I saw and realized what the purpose was of that group home. To give them Hope and a Future (that's the name of the group home). I asked many more question to have her see that even with the worst case scenario of going back home, she has learned many valuable skills to be able to apply it at home and earn a good living. Later we went upstairs, I shared a scripture with her and we took turns praying. The next day I went with her to her court hearing and I met her mother. I wanted to cry. I then understood why going back home with her mom would be the worst case scenario. The mom was cold hearted, ruthless and it was evident that this woman has had a really tough life and lacked the love of Christ. I wanted to hug this woman. We waited in the waiting room for almost 2 hours to be called for the hearing and it later turned out that the judge had cancelled the hearing and we all went back to the group home. The teen was so happy and relieved that it was cancelled. Being part of the process was such an eye opening experience for me. 

I miss being there. I miss talking to the girls, playing with the kids and I miss sitting at the table listening to them fight for who was going to pray for the meal. I miss having them run towards me while screaming with excitement, "Tia Ana!!!!!!" After being gone for the weekend. I miss their tight hugs, the late nights talking about their struggles and their days. Weird, but I miss their teen drama. I can't wait to be back there again. 

So you see jewelry all the time in this blog. Why? It's a tool. A tool to share about the mission that God has placed in my heart. A tool that will contribute to getting me to Guatemala. To be able to live in the group home and be a friend, a sister, a mentor, a servant, a light, a teacher, a student and to show the love of Christ. My prayer is always to have people be inspired to do more for others. I share about my journey and my hope is that they will want to do something more to serve the poor in their own community or out of the country...or help support me ;)
This is all for His glory! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

When a door closes, another opens

I would like to say that I am super thankful! There's this huge conference that we are having for church and I figured it would be such a great opportunity to sell jewelry. I typically donate about 10% of what I make from jewelry sales to a cause or an organization. Why not propose a "business" plan and donate the 10% of the proceeds to a school in Guatemala (this idea was from a friend +Nuhit Zuniga). I was told that though they believe in my cause and it would be a great idea, I would not be able to sell. They are only selling books. I completely understand because if they open it up to one person, they  would feel obligated to open it up to more people. I was feeling a little defeated because I know it would have been a great opportunity to share this mission to other church goers. After having a 2 minute pitty party, I prayed. I told God that I know that His plan is so much more than just selling jewelry and jewelry is only a tool to spread the word and it contributes to my move. I kept praising Him for His faithfulness and I felt confident that soon He will provide another way. I continued make jewelry and started to organize my table to make sure I had enough space to display all of the things I had made. THEN, Someone I have known for a few years commented on my picture and asked if I wanted to go and sell my jewelry at a church harvest festival. She mentioned that last year there were A LOT of people who ended up going. There are other vendors and rides. A huge attraction. After talking to her on the phone, I was sold. I knew it was God orchestrating it all. I will be able to share about the mission to a new group of people. There's this awesome scripture that has helped me through all of  this and it says, "In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps." Proverbs 16:9

Well, here we go. Here are a few things that I have been working on after buying some beautiful stones from the Gem Faire :)

Watermelon quartz, orange

African Turquoise 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Exeptional Children

I know that all you see is jewelry and more jewelry on this blog, but that's not all I do. I spend most of my day in a center working with children with autism and other disabilities. I have been at the same company for almost 10 years! On January 5th I will have my anniversary. The company I work for is called Apple Tree Early Intervention Center. What do I do there? Well, I have had the opportunity to do many things for this facility. I started off as an Early Interventionist. I had a few positions which included in-home infant teacher and worked in a play-based group where I focused on cognitive skills. Later, I went back to school and obtained my license as a speech pathologist assistant. I now conduct a play-based speech group therapy as well as individual therapy. In the mornings I see children under age 3 and in the afternoons I see children over age 3. It has been such a blessing being able to work here. I have learned so much about myself as well as the love of God. I could be having a tough day and a simple smile from a little girl with Down Syndrome can turn my day around. I have witnessed parents go through the tough process of finding a diagnosis for their child, their child go through surgery as well as children fight for their life as they are critically ill.  I have learned about persistence, resilience and most importantly, unconditional love without boundaries.

Tonight I went to a small workshop for future marriage and family therapists. The guest speaker was Jeff Lund, a parent of two children with Autism. He is working towards being a psychologist and he did an amazing job presenting his story and mission. One thing that I was impacted by was when he said, "Isolation leads to depression." He was referring to parents who isolate themselves because of fear. Fear of their child having a meltdown at the park, store or restaurant. We live in a world where people prejudge others because of what they see. He stated that many of his "friends" stopped coming around and stopped calling. I will be honest, I started to get a little emotional thinking of the parents I work with. I see this! I kept thinking, "What can I do?" After the workshop my coworkers and I went up to him and talked to him about our program. My coworker invited him to talk to the parents. He seemed interested. I hope that he will. I know that he can really encourage the parents.  Here are some pictures of my classroom and the facility.