RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, HE WALKS WITH US
In times like these, it would be easy to fall prey to worry and fear of what the future holds. Yet we are not given spirits of fear but rather spirits of power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 The knee jerk reaction is to hunker down and focus inward. Yet we are challenged todo the opposite! We are called to look outside of ourselves to others in need so that He can work through us. And that’s exactly what you are doing with us at Casa Hogar Elim!
GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME!
In March, the Mexican government began putting precautions in place, much like the states. The border crossings are a bit stricter now as well. Only two people in a vehicle, no children, no elderly. Temperature check of all entering. Thad and I have had no problem making our weekly crossings for mail and supplies. No jokes, please, about us being elderly 😉! It’s a complete guess, but we think the September time frame may be the first opportunity for teams to come down.
We are at about 50 people, including staff, at Casa Hogar with another 9 at the Volu. We have expanded our snacks to 6 days a week and are making them a bit more calorie rich while still healthy – like strawberry, mango, banana smoothies! We are also able to bring over huge bowls of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden and they are gobbled up in the blink of an eye!
The kids are all doing well. They finished school and are ready for activities to begin! They really miss their Americano friends a LOT!! Be ready for some serious besos y brazos when you visit in the future!! You will not believe how big they have gotten!
Tere and Zack have been in Arkansas for the last few months – Tere has had significant pulmonary issues in the past and she would be vulnerable to the virus. They are hoping to come back in the August time frame. In the meantime, Vale, Reyna, Lluridia and Chippies have been running the dorm with the little boys and doing an amazing job! Thankfully, the number of kids is way down. I talk with them regularly to see if it is getting too much and so far they are good.
Isaac and Cristi have moved to Casa Hogar and are helping with the kitchen, watching out for the kids and helping Mama with the church. Leo has returned with his girlfriend and has been helping Mama out, mostly related to her church activities. They will be moving into the2nd story apartment that the boys have been working on this year –across the street and next to the house Zack and Tere used to live in.
One serious topic is Mama Lupitas’ health. She became quite ill with fever and significant difficulty breathing. Thankfully, after a rough week, she has been feeling better each day and has made it over to Casa Hogar and walked around at the volu. She still has some health issues unrelated to Covid so please keep her in your prayers along with the kids and staff.
LEARNING CENTER – FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
How awesome is it that we were easily able to transition the center into a space that could support the needs of children of Casa Hogar through Covid-19! The junior high was 100% online classes and we were ready. The kids needed all the regular school supplies and more and we were ready. The kids needed teachers and we were ready. It has been a real team effort and last Friday it all came to a close – thank you GOD!!! The kids had amazing attitudes, especially 4thand 6th grade who had a TON of work to do. Gabi (17) and Michele (16) did an awesome job stepping into the role of teacher for those two grades. Mama’s daughter Magali took on 1stand 2nd. I worked with 3rdgrade, English homework for all grades, one on one work, and tech support needs. Mama’s daughter Nidia did an amazing job coordinating with the 16 teachers to ensure all the kids had their assignments each week. Now we wait to hear that they passed!
We would like to share just a few of the stories that reflect exactly why we are here –to break the cycle of poverty for the underprivileged and orphaned child, inlarge part, through access to education .
· Migel was getting into trouble at school, even getting suspended. He asked for help one day with homework and I realized he couldn’t read. I challenged him to work with me and he made great progress and then stopped coming in. I have learned you can’t force it so I just left the door open for a later opportunity. Fast forward to homeschooling when I ask someone to read the instructions …. And he does so flawlessly!!!! My eyes were as big as saucers! He looked at me and laughed saying “¿Por qué estás tan sorprendido? ¡Me enseñaste a leer!” Why are you so surprised? You taught me how to read!
· Gabo has always had difficulty in school. A smart, creative young boy, he consumes information more slowly than others causing him to fall behind and become frustrated☹. After an especially difficult homeschool class, he left the center crying. About 20 minutes later, he returned, went to his seat and said he was ready to work. We spent the next two hours working on reading and math and he walked away with a much higher confidence level. AND he blew me away a few days later when he said he had practiced reading and read an entire page to me. It’s still a challenge for him to stay engaged when he gets frustrated, but he has seen the fruits of his labor! I also got to share the success with his father and he was very proud! And big shout to his sister, Jazmin, who is a teacher at heart!
· Alexis is 14 and is not in school because he cannot read. After a discussion about life, things changed. He wants to be a chef with a restaurant and serve food to the poor. I told him that I would do everything in my power to help him but he had to do a couple of things too. First – he had to improve his hygiene. He was not showering, brushing his teeth, cleaning his nails. I told him that for a chef to enter the kitchen and have respect from his team he has to set an example for cleanliness and organization. Second, a chef must read and write. Lo and behold, he is bringing it!! Showering and brushing teeth and nails daily(or pretty much 😊). He has selected, and written out, the first recipe he wants to tryout. He is slowly learning to read – he spends time in the learning center, quietly in a corner reading. He may only get 3 or 4 sentences in an hour but he is working hard. He has some reading challenges but he is committed and so are we!!
· Monse has always struggled in school, due to difficulty reading. A sweet, creative, timid girl, we were concerned her spirit would be hurt by teasing and falling behind. And the beginning of the year was tough! She came home many days in tears. BUT this story has a happy ending. She is now reading on her own. Slow and steady, but on her own.
I am so proud of these kiddos and I know you are as well. If you ever visited the kids and spent time with them reading or working on math and wondering if it does any good – I promise you, it does! These are just a few of the many amazing stories that we get to experience because your support allows us to be here, doing life with these kids, every day. We are so grateful God has blessed us with this mission and with you to do it with!
FARM, FOWL AND FISH
We are super excited about this year’s garden! It is happening! So far, we have harvested about 30 pounds of vegetables and lots more is coming! So many lessons learned over the last two years and more that will be applied next season. The kids love tomatoes and cucumbers so much they rarely even make it to the kitchen! We just sit down and chow down!
We chatted with Mama about moving the chicken pens into the garden area – a more natural, quieter setting. Once we have that ready, we will bring in all new chicks. The ones we have now are getting past egg laying age. We also have had a couple of respiratory viruses come through that took the flock down by half. We are looking forward to a fresh start later this year.
This year we have a LOT of baby tilapia – like maybe a qabillion! We are also going to have a more orderly harvest this year, so we are hoping for a good fish fry and lots of frozen fish for later in the year. The monthly supply of meat and chicken that was coming from San Antonio has ended so anywhere we can get protein we need to!
As always, we cherish your prayers for our marriage. We had been planning some time away for just the two of us and thought it might not happen due to the virus but we have rented a house right on the Frio river to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and will beheading out next week for three nights.
Please pray for Thad’s shoulder and arm. He tweaked something awhile back and it has been slow in healing making some work difficult for him.
Please pray for my continued recovery. I had what was most likely Covid last week and am getting my energy back. Won’t see the kids for another 10 days or so just to be sure I’m good to go. Fairly certain quite a few kids had it and I was a sitting duck in the learning center😊. Grateful for the quick recovery!
Please pray for Mama Lupita’s health and for her patience with her own recovery.
Please pray for endurance and patience for the staff at Casa Hogar.
Please pray for Cinthia and Edgar as they would love to have a baby this year! By the way, Jessica just had her second baby, Elenita!
We pray that these updates fill you with joy and help you to see how you are impacting these children’s lives with your support and prayers. We could not do it without you – we are grateful beyond words for your trust in us and your love for the children.
May God bless you and give you many opportunities to show His Love and Mercy and Grace to those around you today!
NOW, LETTHE PICTURES BEGIN! 😊