It's The Growing Season (Original post June 2018)


Hello from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico!  We have just popped my daughter, Lizzie, on a plane back to Tanzania for her next year of service in the Peace Corp.  Now it’s time to turn our attention to updating you on all the cool things happening with Gift of Dignity at Casa Hogar Elim orphanage!

The garden is growing.  The growing season in Nuevo Laredo is quite long – from March all the way through to November or December depending on the year.  If you can provide shade, from the scorching sun and water, it’s quite amazing how even amateurs like Thad and I can expect to put food on the table for 80+ children at Casa Hogar Elim orphanage.  We already have bell peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers basil,cilantro, oregano, and sage growing. The fig, pear and lime trees were here long before us and they are full to overflowing! I even made my first salad with fresh herbs today – figured I should take one for the team in case we did something horribly wrong 😊. It was delicious, it’s been three hours, and I’m still alive so I think we are safe to serve it!

The chickens are growing. The egg production has gotten more consistent and, with the help of amazing people, we have been able to add nesting boxes and fix the pens so that scavenger birds and critters can’t get in and steal the food!  Still working on convincing the kids that the brown eggs are not dirty and taste yummy!  Got a blind taste test schedule for that challenge!  Also jumped from 28 to 68 birds in one day when Mama Lupita brought in 40 chicks.

The Learning Center is growing.  It is complete chaos at times and because so many kids are delayed in their reading levels we are spending more time teaching ABC’s than diving into books. But every day is a different gift just waiting to be unwrapped.  Will it be b magnetic building blocks and 3D puzzles, watching movies, doing junior engineering projects, or math games or teaching ABC’s?  Some days it is all of this and more! What a joy it is see the pure joy of just letting kids create and build and learn!  And we are so happy to say that on Saturdays four teachers are coming in and using the Learning Center to tutor the kids.

The children are growing. Some, like Anya, are growing up and out. After spending the majority of her life at Casa Hogar, she met a Mario,they were married and now have their first child.  Some have been reunited with their family and are living at home.  The 80+ kids who still call Casa Hogar home, continue to learn that sometimes family is not about the blood running through their veins but rather the love that covers them when they are sad or hurt, the laughter that lifts them when they need to just be a kid.  They learn that they all have a Father who cares for each one of them.  And He, with His gift of salvation, has given them a forever family no matter what else happen.

The ministry is growing.  As I write that word ‘growing’ I think more appropriate words might be morphing, adjusting, flexing. While we had to have a plan to start, we held that plan loosely, expecting there would be changes as we got our feet on the ground and learned more about the needs and about our ability to meet them.  The basic intention has not changed – we intend to help break the cycle of poverty for these children by caring for them, heart, mind and soul. The learning center is open.  The chickens are producing, The garden is growing.  Our relationships with the children are going deeper as we spend more and more time with them.  Some things are happening faster than expected and some slower than expected. Mostly faster. 😊  There’s been a big learning curve for both Thad and I and lots of amazing opportunities to spend time with God in prayer as we recognize more and more how deep our dependence is on Him and how great His Love is for us.  

Thad and I are growing. Stretching.  In a crazy cartoon Gumby like way.  It is uncomfortable.  It is frustrating.   It pushes us together and, when we let it ,it pulls us apart. And we do let it, which sucks.  Challenges can shine a spot light on those good, ole character defects. It’s embarrassing how petty we can be with each other!  And there are days when we put our heads in our hands and just say, “God, we don’t know what we are doing.” He gently reminds us, that’s just the way He likes it because it isn’t about what we can do under our own power but what He can do through us.  And that gives us so much peace!  And just a side note, the house is still a work in process.  Really hoping we can get the work finished soon so we can open the kitchen and start having kids over fellowship.

We pray that the garden, the chickens, the children, the ministry, and our lives are always in a season of growth.  It’s where we are most open to becoming the people God created us to be.  It is hard. There’s a lot of letting go.  There’s a lot of new things to take on.  And it’s all worth it.  Every single minute of it.

If you are already engaged with us, thank you so much for taking this journey with us.  Your prayers sustain us and your financial support fuels our efforts as we care for these beautiful children,heart, mind and soul.  

If you would like to be part of the team, we ask for your prayers, for your financial support, and, if you dare 😊, for your physical presence down at the orphanage to share your talents and love!! And please, bless us by sharing your prayer needs.  We would love to lift you up!

We hope you have an absolutely amazing day,

Anita and Thad Maddox

Couldn’t resist!  More pictures!

The Chickens



Vegetable Garden



Home sweet home