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.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jewelry and more jewelry

I have been quite occupied making jewelry when I have some down time. I make a piece and ask, "Will it sell?" I have been a little stressed with having enough inventory and how in the world will I make this move to Guatemala possible that I have been having nightmares! Goodness! I worry about my family, though I know that God will take care of them. This is BIG for me because I am a home body...well, sort of. I spend a lot of time out of my home, but always near family. I will not allow fear to be in the middle of the dream that God has for my life. Indefinitely don't want to live my life always thinking "what if..."

Ok so these are some of the pieces I have currently made. Some are up on the website, while others were special orders. It's always exciting to show the pieces :) 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Busy Busy Busy!!!!

Almost 6pm, I am still at work, off the clock and I have finally been able to blog. I have been super busy making jewelry for my inventory as well as for the fundraiser we were doing for a friend who just recently died. It has definitely been a non-stop 2 weeks for me. For almost 2 weeks now my right eye has been twitching on and off. It was super annoying especially when I was trying to make jewelry.

There are so many things happening in the next few months and I'm super excited about it. This month we have a costume party/fundraiser with a lot of 80's music. In November I will be one of the vendors at the Zocalo Fiesta   This is a fundraiser that is done every year and I am so excited to be part of it. The entertainers that evening will be La Santa Cecilia. From what I have heard, they are an amazing band that plays a variety of music. I can't wait for that event! A friend of mine from high school, Adrian Molina, who works for the organization informed me of the fiesta and gave me the contact I needed to be able to participate at the Fiesta. I am hoping to be part of more projects like these to be able to spread the word of my journey.

I have busy every chance I get to make jewelry. Sometimes I get home at 10pm and I try to make 2-3 pieces before I go to sleep. I have a few pieces on my Etsy Account. I should add more pieces,  but it has been the last thing on my mind. Soon I will be selling tee shirts. They were made by a super wonderful woman at church and has decided to donate them in order so that I can continue fundraising for my journey. Her name is Ana Lucia and she is super talented. The shirts are based on the scripture in Proverbs 3:3 "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart."
I am looking forward to see what God is going to do with this.