Saturday, April 23, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Julie and Karlie

My heart is full. Full of joy given by these precious little ones. Hogar de Amor has within it's walls treasures that amaze! Caregivers that are angels, tirelessly giving of themselves and the children that are the fruits of their labor. These children captured our hearts forever and we left Colima better people then when we arrived. When I close my eyes, I can see their smiles, hear their voices and feel their hugs. Their footprint in my life brings a cherished emotion. I am grateful. Grateful for a God who brings protection and the love of our Christ to the children of Colima.

The sign outside of Hogar de Amor reads "Proteccion al Nino" and it could not be more accurate. These wonderful children are protected from hunger, danger and loneliness. These are not easy tasks. The day to day challenge to raise a child is a difficult one, but a more important one does NOT exist. The hands of Christ is clearly seen in those that are invested in the children each and every day.

I watched as loving adults helped kids with homework in small groups. I watched amazing women prepared nutritious, fresh meals (no mac and cheese for these kiddos!). I saw a courageous bus driver take and bring home precious cargo from school. (Drivers are LOCO in Mexico!) I saw children that had braces on their teeth, slicked braided hair and clean school uniforms. I held back tears (most of the time I failed..) when hearing sweet Spanish prayers lifted to the God I love.

"Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world..." A song I sang as a child. "they are precious in His sight" Amen.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Dan

Have you ever had an elephant stand on your chest? When we arrived at the orphanage and the kids saw us, they came running with open arms. They hugged us each as if we were long lost family members that they hadn't seen in years.

As they hugged us, there was a huge rush of emotion that whaled up inside of me, it was so intense that it was hard to breathe. It felt like an elephant was standing on my chest! There was a never ending flood of love that poured out of each child. They were honestly glad to see us and excited for what the week held. Some remembered us from years past, but most were just full of so much love that they couldn't help but to let it come out.

For me, emotion is one of those things that can get in the way of proper business, financial or even family decisions. If I made all my decisions based on emotion, I would flip-flop on everything. I would do whatever felt good at the moment. So I've trained myself to take emotion out of decisions. I've taught myself to view each situation as black or white, there is a right way and a wrong way for everything.

Well things aren't so simple at the orphanage. Sometimes things aren't "right" or "wrong", they just are what they are in this fallen world and the only thing that shines through is love.

What if every time I entered a room I ran to the closest person and hugged them so tight that they felt loved?

I am reminded today, that I am loved by God, that he is the creator of love, that after all else is gone, love still stands. So my question to myself is "how can I be more like one of these children and let love come through?", regardless of my hurts and hang ups.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Jamie

I admit it, I was nervous about this year's trip to Colima.

This is my fourth year leading the CenterPoint team to serve at Hogar de Amor, but this is the first time that we've traveled completely solo without our sister team from North Carolina. As excited as I was to see the caregivers and kids I have grown so attached to, I was anxious about going it alone. Would we get lost or have trouble driving in Mexico? Would the team grow tired of me nagging?Would the strain of organizing without my co-leaders suck the joy out of the trip?

And did I miss our sister team? Did it get stressful navigating Colima? Did I have moments of exhaustion? You betcha. 

But you know what? The differences I was dreading ended up just being nice changes - not necessarily better than previous trips, but sweetly different.

I got to rely on the team and my co-leader from Utah more, and they amazed me every day with their willingness to do whatever it took to serve each other and the kids and caregivers of Hogar de Amor. We got to explore Colima in a new way, finding our way around the city and visiting the places that we wanted to go. We got to know Pastor Pablo from Grupo Amor and work more closely with the amazing caregivers as we worked directly with them on the projects that would make the biggest difference in their everyday lives.

Change is scary. Especially change that involves taking fourteen people to another country for a week. 

And the 2016 Mexico Mission Trip was beautiful. It was beautiful to see the transformation in the team that came from hard work borne of love. It was beautiful to see smiles light up the kids faces when they saw us return for another year - coming back year after year speaks volumes to these kids about their worth and our (and Jesus') love for them. It was beautiful to see the caregivers open up so readily to our presence, inviting us to meals and welcoming us into their lives and work with open arms.

I love how God took my nervous worry and used it to teach me a new lesson in trust and transformation. For me, our 2016 Mexico Mission Trip was one big experience of Ephesians 3:20
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Marcia

I enjoy going to Hogar de Amor orphanages each year. They are the best, they greet us with smiles and hugs each day. The food is out of this world. This is authentic Mexican, no tourist nachos here.

I also love serving with my family. This year, daughter Jamie and grandson Sam joined Kelsey and me as the sewing team. There were dueling sewing machines, yards and yards of material being cut on the floor and a sense of satisfaction when the house mothers joyfully received the bed sheets.

Grandson Ben dropped by in between painting jobs to be the delivery boy and unpin the elastic.

Two years ago a met a sweet teen named Angela. Each return trip we reconnect and share a few moments together. I write her and I pray for her. When we meet, I get to see how our Heavenly Father has answered those prayers. She now lives in a home about a mile away from the main compound, which gives her a sense of family and stability.

Our prayer was that others would see Christ in all we do. I see Christ in the love and dedication of the house parents (they raise their own family in the home with the rest of the kids), in the smiles and love of the kids and in the beauty of the country. Jesus was glorified again this year

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Sam

Hogar de Amor is the best place in the world. Its amazing to watch the kids play so happily, despite the turmoil they left at home to come to the orphanage. What I mean is that the situation has to be really bad at home for the kids to come to Hogar de Amor. In Mexico, family is everything. The kids only go to the hogar if nobody else in the extended family is able take them.

Adoption is also very difficult in Mexico as well, bordering on impossible. So that leaves the kids in the orphanage until adulthood. And yet, despite it all, these kids are happier than a lot of people in America, where people have a lot more going for them than these kids.

I truly find this beautiful and inspiring, and gives me something happy to think about when I'm feeling down. I am so glad that we found Hogar de Amor, and that I get to serve the kids and caregivers, and help this wonderful place do its wonderful work. I hope Hogar de Amor can do this for years and years to come.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Reflections on Serving - Shane

Why do we do this?

Why do we do this thing?

We take time off from school and work, travel all day by plane, bus, and taxi to come to a place, that for the new people in the group, we know nothing about. Most of us don't understand the language or recognize our surroundings. We work hard in the shadow of one of the world's most active volcanoes. And, for those like me, wonder if the next burrito is going to put me down for 3 days. We step so far out of our comfort zone that we forget what that even means for a while.

Why do we do it?

John 3:16 Tells us:
For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son

Our only job in Mexico is to share the love of Jesus with the children and caregivers of the orphanage. We do this by spending time playing, working, eating and living with them.

When we are doing this, we are wholly in the presence of God. And he is in the form of the children that live there.

The most difficult time comes when it is time for us to leave. It seems to get harder every year. And I have to confess, this past week has been hard on me as I miss those kids.

Why do we do this?

It's just like James 2:18 says:
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you faith, by my deeds.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Our Week in Review

We had an amazing week in Colima.  It was a week that touched the hearts of every member of the team, produced countless smiles on little faces, and contributed about 400 hours of labor to jobs around the orphanage!

In addition, the CenterPoint team was grateful to bring down 17 suitcases full of donations to Hogar de Amor, including:
  • Over $2,000 in project supplies and cash donations
  • 85 towels, hand towels, and washcloths
  • 125 toothbrushes
  • Over a hundred birthday presents
  • 213 toothbrushes
  • A suitcase full of school supplies
  • 104 pairs of boys' socks
  • 116 pairs of girls' socks
  • 126 pairs of underwear
  • 25 crib and single sheet sets
  • And a box of crayons and coloring book for every kid!


Thanks again to everybody who was a part of this trip - those who supported the trip financially, who prayed faithfully for the trip, who stayed in the U.S. and kept homes running while the team was away, and who donated supplies for the kids of Hogar de Amor. Your support means so much to us and to them.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Faces of Hogar de Amor

Over the past week we have fallen in love with the children and caregivers of Hogar de Amor. The work that God is accomplishing through each life here is simply astounding.

Boy was it hard to leave after our goodbyes today! And not just because the kids barred our way :)

Please join us in prayer for this amazing place and people:

  • Pray for the caregivers. These men and women work so hard, all for the love of Jesus and these kids! Pray for their energy, fortitude, and patience - that they would be continually filled with the Spirit that they so readily pour into every child here.
  • Pray for the kids. Pray that their healing would be complete from all of the hurts they've received in their young lives. Pray that they would know God as their perfect Father and that he would prosper their education, relationships, and future, all for his glory.
  • Pray for the Hogar. Pray that the facilities would last long and would provide a safe, comfortable environment for each kid. Pray that the finances of Grupo Amor would overflow. Pray that Adonai would continue to be able to provide each kid with an education that prepares them for a bright future.
  • Pray for the leadership and members of Grupo Amor. Pray for Pastors Nahun and Pablo, that they would be healthy in body and spirit. Pray that this healthy, vital church continues to grow and mature. Pray for each member of Grupo Amor, that they would grow in wisdom and grace and that each church member would feel the importance of their work with the kids of Hogar de Amor.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Finished Friday

We are so proud and grateful to have finished a bunch of projects this week here at Hogar de Amor. It's been a heck of a week!

Check out all the ways we've been able to make these homes even more functional and beautiful for the kids and caregivers:

Casa Leonel used to be brown and a team earlier this year painted it a cheerful new green. But the casita (the little home for the houseparents) was still brown and it looked so dingy next to the rest of Casa Leonel. So it was time to spruce it up to match!

Marco and Adriana were so happy with the finished product!
We also finished up the back of Casa Leonel
And we finished a second coat on the seƱoritas' balcony 
Tah dah - the whole house is now a beautiful new green!

In Esparanza, the shed had a dirt floor and during rainy season it got all muddy and icky inside, so we gave it a brand new concrete floor! And as an added bonus we now know how to mix concrete :)
The old floor
New concrete!

The plastic mattress covers at Casa Cuna had definitely seen better days, so we purchased new material and made 18 new covers for the toddler beds.

The new covers look great!
Here are the boy beds
And we also made curtains for the Matriz corner where the kids do their homework to shade them from the afternoon sun

The upstairs patio at Casa Galondrinas is a nice place for the kids to sit outside and do homework, but it's way too hot in the afternoons. So the team welded, assembled, and installed an awning to shade the patio.

The finished awning

The Matriz Infirmaria (sick room) desperately needed some sprucing up. It's a little room, and it looks so much nicer now in a bright white.

Bright and clean now!

Casa Matriz has an upstairs volunteer room that was a rather ghastly green. After seeing the repainted room, the house dad, Joel, said, "this room has never been a nice place and now it's beautiful!"

The finished room
We couldn't raise the ceiling, but at least we made it look good!
The fence in Esperanza wasn't secured at the bottom and armadillos - yes, armadillos! - kept pushing through the fence and getting into the yard. After several rounds of plans and ideas, the team finally landed on lowering the fence and securing it to the concrete base so that the armadillos can't push through.

We secured it with bolts and washers after lowering the fence
We never saw any armadillos, so here's Shane acting the part of a newly-frustrated armadillo

In addition to the work we were able to do in the houses, we were also able to bring a ton of donations down to Mexico with us. Thanks so much to everybody who so generously donated supplies, money, and household items to Hogar de Amor!

Here's a rundown of what we were able to give the homes:
  • 85 towels, hand towels, and washclothes
  • 125 toothbrushes
  • over a hundred birthday presents
  • 213 toothbrushes
  • suitcase full of school supplies
  • 104 pairs of boys' socks
  • 116 pairs of girls' socks
  • 126 pairs of underwear
  • 25 fitted and single sheets
  • box of crayons and coloring book for every kid!
Here's a pic of the Casa Matriz caregivers divvying up the donations to give to all the houses
You can see that the new crib sheets are super popular!

We've had such an amazing trip. Thanks so much to everybody who made this trip possible!

Tomorrow we head to the airport and with heavy but full hearts head back to Utah. Please join us in prayers for easy, smooth travels and joyful homecomings for every team member.