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A Hope-filled Goodbye

DSCN3260I enjoyed the days that I had the opportunity to spend with the wonderful family that is Hope For Tomorrow. I had the privilege of experiencing a plethora of beautiful moments throughout my stay here, including: sharing a birthday celebration with Carlos; attempting to teach Juan Jose and Diego how to Salsa dance; playing peek-a-boo with Leticia; coloring pictures to bring to the preschoolers at the YMCA in Southern Indiana; a movie night with Amelia and Lidia; singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” a likely record-breaking amount of times; shopping with Edwin and Miguel; cooking with Bethany; playing soccer with Rosa, Saraí, and Carlos; worshiping at church with the children; and visiting Antigua.

I am so thankful for everyone here at Hope for Tomorrow, from the caregivers, to Kenneth and Diana, to the other volunteer, Bethany; they all came together to ensure a successful and fulfilling experience throughout my stay in Guatemala. Although I was only a part of the children’s lives for a few days, I am blessed to report that they have made an outstanding impact on my life. I will continue to recount these memories as I head home and will forever keep the Hope for Tomorrow family in my prayers.

-Katherine

Children’s Kitchen

IMG_6981Although neither of us would call ourselves master chefs, we decided to put our cooking skills to the test in the challenge of a lifetime: feeding the Hope for Tomorrow family. Blanca does it flawlessly every day; however, we found a path with a few more bumps in the road still turns out okay as well.

IMG_6962It started on Friday with a rainy trip to the super market with Edwin and Miguel. We ran around Wal-Mart, translating the recipe, comparing prices, and simply trying to find the items we needed. The trip was full of laughs, as we were all happy to spend time together working to accomplish step one of our cooking escapade.

IMG_6965Sunday our skills were truly put the test. After church and a walk with the kids, we decided to assist Blanca in making lunch to practice for the big dinner. She shared a few tricks that helped dramatically when we began our preparations for dinner later that afternoon. We started by letting each of the kids pour out the bags of noodles we would use for our Pasta Bake. Then, Lidia and Amelia joined us to cook the meat, boil the noodles, and assemble our casseroles. We lost a few noodles along the way to hungry, curious kids but most of them made it safely into the dish.IMG_6977

Once the casseroles were prepared, the girls loaded them carefully into the oven. Then Bethany and the girls made a mad dash to the super market for bread while Katherine and Edwin stayed behind to set the table and wash dishes. Excitement arose as the aroma of cheesy pasta filled the house. The casseroles were done just in the knick of time and served to a hungry, eager family. The smiles, “yums”, and begging for seconds proved our dinner was a success! We showered Blanca with gratitude for the challenge she faces every day of not just one meal but three fantastic meals. We truly are blessed!

-Katherine and BethanyIMG_6978

Picture Pals

DSCN3255 My name is Katherine Clark and I am a short term volunteer here at Hope For Tomorrow. I wanted to share a memorable experience from my trip in hopes of inspiring potential ideas for future volunteers!

I have been a member of the Clark County YMCA of Southern Indiana for more than eight years. I have worked throughout this particular branch for nearly five years, spending the majority of my time in the Kids’ Adventure Room. In the KAR, my job consists of playing with and caring for the children while their parents exercise.

YMCA Preschool drawing pictures for Hope for Tomorrow

YMCA Preschool drawing pictures for Hope for Tomorrow

Needless to say, the YMCA holds a special place in my heart. When Y members and staff heard of my plans to volunteer with Hope For Tomorrow, they were eager to help and support my efforts in any way they could. Numerous members and staff alike participated in the Mark’s Feed Store Fundraiser I initiated for Hope For Tomorrow. My YMCA family also offered countless prayers, positive thoughts, and good vibes directed to my new family at Hope For Tomorrow.

At the YMCA, I also spend a lot of time working in their preschool program. I was so excited when they invited me to talk about Hope For Tomorrow and to teach the kids a short Spanish lesson. The Y preschoolers colored beautiful pictures for me to bring to the children of Hope For Tomorrow. Each of them wrote the phrase: “Que Dios le te bendiga” which translates to “God bless you” on the top of their cards.

The children drawing back to the YMCA Preschool

The children drawing back to the YMCA Preschool

When I presented the children from Hope For Tomorrow with the pictures drawn by the YMCA preschoolers, they were bursting with joy and excitement. Rosa was especially pleased, as she brought every picture to her school the next day in order to show her teachers and friends the beautiful drawings she had received.

The children from Hope For Tomorrow immediately wished to return the favor by coloring pictures for the Y preschoolers. The kids and I had a blast drawing pictures and decorating their cards with stickers galore! I cannot wait to present the YMCA preschoolers with the cards that the children at Hope For Tomorrow have made for them in return.

This easy activity proved to serve as a bridge to combine two very important parts of my life. I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve here as I continue to grow and develop spiritually.

Cooking with Caroline

Lidia and Katy making cake ballsOn Sunday Miguel, Amelia, Lidia, Katy and I spent the afternoon in the kitchen.  I have always loved to bake, and I am thoroughly convinced that there is no better bonding experience than enjoying delicious food together.  Therefore the decision to make cake balls with these kids was an easy one to make.  Cake balls have become a fairly popular phenomenon in the United States, but no one here had ever heard of them before.  The best translation I could find for these tasty little treats was “pelotitas de pastel.”  I showed the kids a picture of the finished project to convince them that it was a good idea.  Luckily it did not take too much convincing.

Mixing together the oil, eggs, water and cake mix went smoothly.  Except for having to translate the directions on the back of the box to English, I might as well have been in my own kitchen at home.  However, our baking skills were truly put to the test when we had to cook the cakes in an oven that only has one temperature – hot.  Amazingly enough we managed to pull the cakes out before the smell of burnt cake filled the whole house, and we only had to pick off a few black edges.  It was a miracle!

Once the cakes were done I told the kids to break apart the cake into a bowl.  I truly wish I had a picture of their faces at this moment.  Every one of them (as well as Blanca the cook) was looking at me like I was crazy.  They could not understand why we would break apart a perfectly good-looking cake.  In my broken Spanish, I tried to assure them that the finished product would be worth it.

We had a great time breaking, mixing, rolling and dipping the pelotitas de pastel.  The hardest part for the kids was all of the waiting that was required as we let the mixture firm up in the freezer.  Thankfully, though, we had enough leftover icing and chocolate chips to get us through that long break.  There were plenty of cake balls to go around, so we shared with everyone at dinner on Sunday night.  We had a lot of fun and, as always, I loved getting to spend a bit of quality time with the older kids!

Cake Balls in the freezer

Cake Balls in the freezer

Amelia and Miguel rolling the cake balls

Amelia and Miguel rolling the cake balls

Lidia and Katy making cake balls

Lidia and Katy making cake balls

Katy having fun

Katy having fun

Chef Miguel

Chef Miguel

Lidia

Lidia

Amelia breaking the cake apart

Amelia breaking the cake apart

 

Welcome Caroline

Caroline with Nola

Hi, my name is Caroline, and I am a new volunteer here at Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home.  I have the awesome opportunity to spend the next month here, and I am so excited to see what the Lord has in store.  I am about to begin my junior year at Baylor University in the fall.  Although my major is International Studies, my heart is in education.  Shortly after graduating from high school, I got the chance to come to Guatemala with a mission team from my home church in Nashville, Tennessee.  I loved this country, and I had a strong feeling that I would return someday.  Well, here I am!  About a year ago, I began searching for opportunities to spend part of my summer in Guatemala.  After a few months, God led me to the Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home website.  I knew right away that this was the place God had for me.

When I arrived here on Wednesday, Kenneth asked me what my expectations were.  It was not until he asked me this question that I came to the realization that I only had one expectation: to see my God at work in the hearts and lives of the people here.  I hope that I might be able to impact these precious children’s lives in some way; however, I know that God is the only one who can make a real difference in their hearts.  While I was still in Nashville praying for them, God was here already working in each of their lives.  I am humbled and so thankful that such a big God would allow me to be a part of His great plan.

God has already opened my eyes to the reality of His presence at Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home.  It did not take long for me to recognize that each child is unique.  I have only been here a few days, but I can already see the different qualities that make each child special.  Every child has come from a different background.  Most of them have already experienced more hardship than I can even imagine.  That thought makes my heart break, but I know that the God who created each of them individually has good plans for their lives.  My prayer is that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they might come to understand the depth of His love and believe that He has a purpose for them.  I cannot wait to spend more time with these precious children and see the work of our perfect Creator in them.  I am confident that the Lord has great things in store for this month!

-Caroline

 

This is Not the End

IMG_4371Sitting down to write my last blog post while here in Guatemala, I am filled with a plethora of emotions. I think what I’m feeling right now is the definition of bittersweet. My heart is so overjoyed to be back with my family and friends, but so grieved to be leaving behind the people here. God is again instilling in my heart that we only have these people on Earth for a small amount of time, but He is eternal.

One verse that really struck a chord with me during my time here is something Jesus says to His disciples after His encounter with the rich young ruler. In Luke 18:29 He says, “Truly I tell you…no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” This verse is such an encouragement to me, that, though I left my home and my family, my desires, and my plans, I am receiving so much more in the comforts of God’s spirit and in having a relationship and communion with Him in this short time on Earth, as well as for eternity! Not only that, but I have had the chance to bless others and be blessed by them in my time here. The kids, the moms, Kenneth, Diana, and everyone I’ve met in my time here have had such a huge impact on who I’ve become in the past 6 months. I have been so blessed to be a part of such a great ministry and can’t wait to see what God does with this connection in the future (I do plan on staying involved and coming back…a lot!!)

While I am continuing to trade my plans and desires for the desire’s of God’s heart, I am so blessed to be returning to my family and home. My longing for my parents and my family during this season has opened my eyes to only a portion of what these precious children feel. That pain I feel when I just want my mom to hold me, when I just want to know that my dad is there to protect me, grieves my heart so much and these children feel that, and more, on a deeper level than I can even imagine. However, I know they have a heavenly father who loves them and cherishes them deeply. Psalm 27:10 says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Though the situations are reversed, both that verse and the verse from Luke end with the hope of God.  I leave these kids and this ministry with a heavy heart, but knowing fully that God has great plans for all of us and that this is not the end; I plan on returning to Hope for Tomorrow in the near future and can’t wait to see how the kids grow and flourish in the love of Christ while I am away.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33

-Bethany

Emily

185116_3916405587494_15996204_nHello! My name is Emily and I am from Louisville, Kentucky. I am finishing my final year at the University of Kentucky as an Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education major. In July 2012, I was able to travel to Guatemala City with Dr. Jennifer Grisham-Brown and a group of students from UK to work with the children at Hope for Tomorrow. This opportunity strengthened my passion for working with children and encouraged me to take the experiences and knowledge gained from this opportunity and apply them to future practices with children in the States. Although this trip was short, it took no time to fall in love with Hope for Tomorrow and Guatemala as a whole. In a nutshell, I knew I wasn’t finished here and couldn’t wait to find a way to return to this beautiful country.

Relaxing with the newest member of the family, Sebastian, and Miguel!

Relaxing with the newest member of the family, Sebastian, and Miguel!

When the stress and craziness of my practicum semester began in the Fall of 2012, I knew student teaching was quickly approaching. As my fellow classmates and I made plans for our final stretch of our college careers, I prayed that the thoughts of returning to Guatemala and working with the children at Hope for Tomorrow again would become a reality. With the help of my parents, Jennifer, Kenneth, Diana, and Delmy, it did.

Once the plans were officially set for me to arrive in Guatemala in March, the real work began. With patience and guidance from my parents, Jennifer, Kenneth, Diana, and Delmy I was able to think ahead and plan for everything I may need to help provide a successful and engaging learning environment for the preschool kiddos (Sarai, Mary, Rosa, Eddyson, Vilma, and Angel). Before I knew it, off to Guatemala I was. Ready or not here I come!

As I arrived in Guatemala City on Saturday, March 2, a million thoughts were running through my mind “”Will I be able to provide what I need to accomplish all that needs to be done?” or “Uh oh…I hardly speak any Spanish!!!!!” I prayed I could provide a positive and nurturing learning environment for these children without being a burden on the mothers, as I am a very limited Spanish speaker! When I finally arrived at the home on Sunday, the children and mothers were so welcoming with warm smiles and tender hugs. This melted my worries away.

Having fun in the sun with Mary at the pool.

Having fun in the sun with Mary at the pool.

On Monday, my first day in the classroom began. I was excited and eager to learn as well as expand my horizons based on Delmy’s practices. She has such a kind heart and it was apparent that, after just my first few moment with her, she puts the needs of others before herself. My first few weeks in the preschool room were some of the most intense experiences within a classroom I have had. Learning how different the education systems and expectations of the two countries are was over-whelming, but Delmy was so patient and willing to collaborate to make it the best learning environment possible. She does anything she can to help each child feel special and loved while attending to each child’s individual needs- at the end of the day, this is the most important thing. This is the kind of teacher I want to be.

Although the majority of my time is spent in the preschool classroom with the younger children in the mornings, I typically stay at the home through lunch and dinner to spend time with the older kiddos when they get back from school. These are some of my favorite parts of the day because we all get to sit together and just talk about pretty much anything- even though I have a limited understanding of the majority of the conversations-it typically leads to a good laugh (even if it is at my own expense!) These are such special moments to me because it really feels like my home away from home. Sitting with everyone in such a warm and loving environment reminds me how beautiful life is and what a blessing each person is to everyone here.

As my time here as gone quickly, Hope for Tomorrow and each person here has helped make memories that will last forever. The children, mothers, Kenneth, and Diana have helped make this opportunity one of the most life changing things that has ever happened to me.

-Emily

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Hope For Tomorrow Children's Home
135 Lackawanna Rd.
Lexington, KY 40503
T: 859-276-6249
F: 859-276-5570