Gift of Dignity and Casa Hogar Elim Orphanage
On Mission with God – Never a Dull Moment!
Three things Thad and I are certain of – our salvation through our Savior, Christ Jesus, our love for you 😊, and the fact that this year is weirder than we could ever have imagined! We have all been stretched like Gumby. We pray that your stretching has increased your strength and flexibility. Our prayer muscle has certainly grown!
Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty for the underprivileged and orphaned child so that they can experience restoration to a life of purpose and fulfill their God-given potential. Making this kind of change in a child’s life often means walking with them from childhood into adulthood and that has always been our intention. We are incredibly grateful that you, too, have felt the call to be a part of the lives of these children. God has work for us to do and we cannot do it alone. We thank you for continuing in this adventure with Him and we hope that these updates bring you joy and give you reason to praise His Name!
COVID, Casa Hogar Elim and Our Mission
This has been a challenging time for Casa Hogar Elim and it has also been an opportunity to see God at work.
Food The lack of visiting teams coupled with a large meat source drying up, has stretched the food budget significantly. Just when it seems the cupboards are bare, a truck or family shows up and drops off food. 😊 Sometimes a pickup filled with fruit and vegetables; sometimes a single person bringing a batch of homemade tacos, and sometimes pizza. There are still a few churches that give generously every month and your giving has allowed us to continue providing $500 for groceries, weekly snacks packed with nutrition and calories, as well as the monthly birthday cake and pizza party. While I know the staff worries about food at times, Mama Lupita always reminds them that God has ALWAYS provided for His children. And His provision continues still!
Border While the border is considered closed to ‘non-essential’ travel it has loosened up considerably. Thad and I cross multiple times a week with no issue. We just had two small teams visit from the states and they had no problem crossing. We will look at bringing in small groups again, but it will be a bit different for a while as large vans filled with people would not make it across. More information coming on this in the next few weeks.
Garden, Fish and Fowl Somethings have been normal. The garden produced record cucumbers and tomatoes and chilies for the kids to enjoy for their afternoon snack. We had our first really successful tilapia harvest and are set to have a second round in March/April time frame. This will be the first time, they have two harvests in a year!
School Other things, like school, have been quite different! The learning center is open from 9:30-4pm Monday through Saturday and we have been able to fully support the homeschooling of 36 primary school kids, 9 junior high and 6 high schoolchildren. Nidia, Mama Lupita’s daughter, communicates with all the teachers and works with 6th grade. Lluridia (junior high) is helping with Kinder. Vale (high school) is helping 2ndgrade. Michelle (high school) is helping3rd and 5th grade. Adrian (high school) is helping 4thgrade. I am working with first grade and nonreaders, collecting homework for Nidia to return to teachers, and supporting junior high and high school in the computer lab. There is a good possibility the children will not return to onsite classes this school year and we will continue to support them through the learning center. Please pray for us all!
To say it has been a challenge would be an understatement. I have to admit some days I feel defeated and have to lean into God extra hard. And yet, what a blessing this time has been. Working this closely with the children has allowed us to see special interests (Pedro will DEFINITELY be an inventor, Estefani an organizer, Carlos an actor) as well as identify those who need extra help. While some of these kids have compensated for their lack of reading by developing contextual skills and copying from others, it is clear they are failing or will fail when independent reading is necessary which is critical from 3rd grade forward.
It has been frustrating as there is so little time to focus on reading. There are no extra hands. Yet again, God is blessing our efforts, even if its only 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there. Thankfully, a reading program called Estrellita donated ALL of the materials needed to teach reading. I am super happy to say that Gabriel is reading well enough to do most of his work independently. Alexis was kicked out of school last year due to his inability to read. I am super proud of him as he has finished the second level of the Estrellita program and has graduated to reading books. Angel and Mike are also out of school due to lack of reading so they are next on the list, along with Carlos, Estefani, Julio, Jackie, Elvis, Sofia, and Paulina. And more will come. Makes me cry tears of joy just to think about this. I love sharing this with you - it is your prayer and financial support that is allowing us to truly make a difference in the lives of these kids.
OH! But There is More!!
As you know, Nuevo Laredo is not a safe place. While there are periods of peace, the cartel and military continue to have confrontations and we never know where or when. While there are parks nearby Casa Hogar, they are not always safe. Also, if you have visited the orphanage, you know that the small playground onsite is not the safest. It sits on top of cement and we have had numerous hospital visits to deal with head and chin lacerations.
A long-awaited opportunity is knocking and we need your help to open the door.
Mama Lupita has had her eye on the property adjacent to Casa Hogar for many years. Five years ago the owners were asking an exorbitant amount, $50,000 US, so she waited. They went down to $25,000 last year. And she waited. Now they have reduced the price to $15,000which is actually a reasonable price.
This property would have two purposes 1) a small parking area for large vehicles and 2) a brand new, safe playground. To make this a reality, we need to raise$30,000. This will 1) purchase the property, 2) build a brick wall around the entire property, 3) pour a cement parking lot and 4) purchase and install the playground.
We are excited to see what God will is and we pray you and others will partner with us through prayer and financial support to help make this dream come true!
Other Stuff and Such
We are building a new chicken house in the garden area. It has been difficult to get good production out of the chickens when there is so much construction noise going on around them. We will have all new chicks so that will be a fun time for the kids. We are in the design stage as we speak!
The six remaining boys at the Volu have moved to the larger room right next to the chickens. We are helping create a living, dining and small kitchen area and we will be painting and hanging curtains this month! They have a lot more room and it is a more secure area for them. We can tell that they really like being together and having a more ‘home like’ living space.
Challenging Times Make Your Support All the Sweeter
We pray all of this brings you joy and give you another opportunity to pause and praise God for His goodness. We want these updates to be an oasis of joy and peace where you can rest and relax, especially in this crazy year. Your faithfulness to His children is changing lives forever.
We pray for each of you and look forward to the time we can meet face to face and exchange hugs! And the children pray for you too! They miss their American friends and the most common question? ¿Cuándo los americanos? 😊
We always welcome question and ideas along with your prayers and financial support. We will go much further in God’s work as a team and we are grateful to be on this team with you!
May the Lord bless you and keep you,
Anita and Thad