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Friday, March 29, 2013

Graduation on Good Friday for some special kids

At the center where I work, the children leave our program at age 3. We like to make a big deal of this occasion because they are moving on to the next chapter of their young lives. Plus, I think the parents need it as well since they have worked hard coming and participating. The children who are graduating get dressed in a cap and gown. The music therapist puts on the popular graduation song and they walk in with their parent while all of the other children and parents are there "ohing" and "aweing". It's a little sad for us because we have built relationships with the families and have loved these little ones the short time that have been with us. Have I cried before? YES! Imagine knowing a story of triumph, of defeat, of fight, of war, of victory, THEN BAM, they move on! It's a little harsh, but 9 years of working for this company I have learned that I can still keep in touch. My first client is turning 11 years old and I still visit their home and catch up with the family. Not too long ago I visited an old client of mine who is now 5, almost 6. He opened the door and stared at me as if he saw a ghost. I said hello, and if he remembered me. He responded, "Yes...Where are your toys?" I laughed!!!! It's such a blessing to work in early intervention. One of the families who graduated today gave all of the therapists beautiful flowers. I have many perks ;)


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Handmade With Love

A few years ago one of my friends from church suggested that we learn how to make jewelry. It sounded like such a great idea! We talked about it probably once or twice after that, but we didn't sign up for the class. Not long after I bought this beautiful necklace with turquoise bead balls with these really pretty small glass-style "chips". I really like it, but did not like the location of the turquoise. I decided to take it apart and redo it, but I first needed to know what I needed and how to do it. I found a hole-in-the-wall bead store in the city of Orange and I asked them what I needed. The lady was super friendly and after explaining how to do it, she encouraged me to buy my supplies elsewhere since they are a little over priced. During Black Friday in 2010 or 2011, I don't remember the exact year, I got all that I needed and took apart my very first necklace. Before I knew it I was OBSESSED! I was making necklaces, bracelets then I looked at some earrings I had that a friend made and attempted to duplicate it. I will admit, the first earrings I made were not pretty! I was not doing the loop of the metal that holds the beads correctly. With practice, I started to get better and better each time. I started to get compliments on the jewelry and people would tell me that they wanted to buy something similar. Then, my friend who goes with me to Guatemala on the medical missions suggested I sell the jewelry to have funds to buy vitamins for the trip. Another friend hosted my debut party at her house and that day I sold close to $600 worth of jewelry. Let me just say that I have been told that my jewelry is underpriced. Some may disagree, but it may be due to the fact that they probably buy non-glass/crystal jewelry.











The past 2 years I have gotten smarter as to where I buy my supplies, when to buy and the quality. I found these beautiful heart charms that I put on all of my pieces.



"Handmade With Love" this is how I make all of my jewelry because I know where the money goes. It goes to buy diapers, wipes, food and supplies for the orphanage in Guatemala. Also to buy vitamins, OTC medications for the medical brigade. I also buy food and supplies for orphanages and a village in Tecate, Mexico. We go there once a month. I will tell you more about that in a few days for we will be going this weekend. I don't just want to participate in holding babies, I also want to contribute in buying stuff for them. I have a Facebook page as well as an Instagram page for my jewelry. I just also opened an Etsy account, but I don't have that many things on it yet. Come an follow me :)
Facebook: www.facebook.com/handmadewithlovebyana
Instagram: @handmadewithlove81 
Www.etsy.com/shop/analcuevas81







Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Diego.

I would like to share a little story about the love of my life. Well, it's not about a man, it's about a boy who was abandoned. I want you to meet Diego
This is the first picture of when we met. He was only a few months old, 2 or 3, no one was certain. This was taken in Guatemala during the medical brigade that is held every 6 months. Through making and selling jewelry, I was able to fund raise money to bring the children from an orphanage in San Lucas, Guatemala to the medical brigade in Guatemala City to be seen by the doctor, receive medication and vitamins. When I held him in my arms, I felt so much joy. I had been praying for this little guy for a month ever since I found out about his story and how he got to the orphanage. This is the story I know:
Diego was found in a septic tank as a new born, Yes, a new born, the umbilical cord and the placenta were still attached. By a pure miracle, he was crying and a passerby heard him and walked over to see what was happening. Diego was rescued, taken to a nearby hospital to be treated. His knee was injured when he was dropped in the septic tank and the doctor's decided to operate on his knee. My friend, Monica Martinez who works at Millers Children's hospital as a Physical Therapist Assistant, was at the medical brigade and looked at Diego's knee. She was able to give some techniques to Diego's nanny on how to stretch the muscles and help with the scar.
Who would literally throw this beautiful innocent child away? Why? What was so horrible in their life that an angel was too much to bear??? I don't know. I wish I could have the answers to the "why's" One day I was driving and I started to pray for little Diego (this is something that I do every time I think of him) and a thought popped in my mind; Forgiveness. God has forgiven me of so much filth. I am no angel by no means and what I deserve is not the beauty of the most high, yet He continues to bless me to remind me of His love and forgiveness. Then, I started to pray for Diego's mom. I cried and cried as I begged God to bring her to repentance and show her His mercy. I do not know what happened. I do not know if she was the one who threw him away or if she was raped and had fears. I do not know. Every so often I think of her and when I do I say a little prayer. Who am I to cast judgment. We are all capable of the same thing. We may not throw a baby in a septic tank, but we are capable of not doing a single thing when we see a dying child on the side of the road. That child lives in Africa, in Central America, in your hometown. I fall short in so many ways even with family, I continue to pray that I do not just keep on walking.

Diego turned a year old sometime in December (no one knows the exact date). He looks healthy, but he has a lot of complications with  his stomach, possibly intestinal tract. The director of the orphanage told me that they have taken him to see a doctor, but they cannot figure out what is wrong. Diego's diet has been changed and even then it has not been successful (*sigh*). I saw him this past February at the brigade and then after when we visited the orphanage the following Monday. I am a stranger to Diego, so he did not want me to hold him, touch him, not even look at him. I was so sad, but I completely understand. I work with children long enough to understand about stranger anxiety. I have a plan this summer. My plan is to steal his heart ;)
Prayerfully, I will be staying the month of August in Guatemala and live at the orphanage. He will see me everyday and I will play with him and even change his diaper. Ok, if you know me you will know that I gag at the thought of poop, so this is BIG!!! I am willing to work through my gag reflux and even change his DIAPER!!! Well here's a picture of my little guy now

Isn't he cute???? Adoptions in Guatemala are closed. This happened in 2007 because many children were being robbed and sold. It became a business. Even for Guatemalan's it is not easy to adopt. Adoption would bring money to orphanages and since there are no more adoptions many orphanages have closed their doors. Does that mean that there are less children being abandoned? By no means! On the contrary, there are more children on the streets, being raped, stolen and sold through human trafficking. There are many children and adolescents whom are brought to the U.S to be prostituted. I know that I will not be able to stop human trafficking, but I do know that I can make a difference in a handful of children. Now do you understand a little more of why I would like to move to Guatemala? I don't want to hear the child crying in the septic tank and continue walking.   


"On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised. “ ‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” "(Ezekiel 16:4-6 NIV)


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Introduction


For the past 9 years I have been working for a small Early Intervention company who services children with special needs. Most of the children are all under the age of 3. I currently have several positions; run speech therapy in a group setting in the mornings, individual speech therapy in the afternoon and I also do home visits to help children develop new skills in all areas of development. I love my job. It has been such a great learning experience working a long side a great staff and most importantly I have learned so much about life and love through the families I have worked with. God has shown me that love comes in so many different forms. I see it in the eyes of a child who has Down Syndrome and I see his passion to want to learn. I see the eagerness of a girl learning how to communicate to be able to tell me that she wants to move on to the next activity. When society is telling the world that love is this fantasy of flowers, chocolates and sweet nothings whispered in our ear, I am here to tell you that true love is loving those who are the "least." Don't get me wrong, I love all that gugugaga stuff, but there is no greater joy than seeing growth in a child who was destined, per medical diagnosis, not to live or accomplish many things. Later I will share with you stories of triumph. So stay tune.


For the past year and a half I have been attending medical missions in Guatemala. I have built great friendships in the church we attend for the mission and I have been introduced to a wonderful woman whom directs an orphanage in San Lucas, Guatemala. A year ago, through fundraising (I started making jewelry and friend host jewelry parties to have funds to also buy vitamins to take with me), I was able to have the children come to the medical mission to be seen by the doctor and receive free care and medication. I have been praying about doing more for God and His mission. I read a book earlier in the year called "Kisses From Katie" by Katie Davis and I was moved to do more (Click HERE for more info about her ministry). There's this one section of the book that describes all of the dilemmas that she had been facing and at the end of her list she states that one thing she is certain is that she is living in the center of God's will, the life that she was born to live. That part of the book has me praying more, thinking more and dreaming more for God to help me live in the center of His will for my life. The past couple of months have been surreal. I first started with the prayer of being able to spend a full month in Guatemala and live in an orphanage. How was this going to happen? Well I first needed money to pay my bills while I am away. Well, God heard and I received my tax return and it's exactly what I would need to be gone for the month. Prayerfully, I will be in Guatemala for the month of August. Should I stop there? Well, I guess not. I continued to pray for God to guide me to what He is trying to accomplish through the month that I will be living in Guatemala. And guess what? He heard me. Soon after all of this came about, a friend met someone who is in the process of opening an orphanage in Guatemala. Coincidence? I want to believe that God has perfectly planned this journey.








There's so much to do, so many more people to meet, many more prayers to send out to God. I hope that you will follow my journey in planning my month adventure in Guatemala, paying off my school debt and car loan to be free to move and venture out and I pray that you feel inspired by not what I am doing, but what God is doing through my obedience to follow His dream, His purpose, for my life.