The summer here at Hope for Tomorrow is revving up to be a big one. God has blessed us with an abundance of people who care about our kids and desire to serve with us. From individual volunteers to large groups, our summer line-up is full of amazing people. Following is a brief preview of what the next three months look like for our ministry:
We cannot thank each of these groups enough for the work they will be doing with us this summer. We are incredibly blessed to have such great people supporting our ministry. As we prepare for an eventful summer, please pray for everyone involved.
We are so excited for the work God will do this summer through each group and volunteer here at Hope for Tomorrow!
At the beginning of this month, the preschool kids took a trip to the Children’s Museum, an interactive science museum for children. At the museum, they started off playing with big bubbles and even got to stand and be surrounded in a gigantic bubble. They were so excited about that, it was hard to get them to leave! They ran around excitedly to each new room, filled with new adventures and things to explore. They got to play a life-size game of Operation, then drive and perform “surgery” on an ambulance. Then they moved on to fighting “germ” punching bags. They learned about nutrition and shopped in a market, where they tried to fit the entire store in their tiny carts. When they were done getting their groceries, they played in the ball room, where they worked to load up all the plastic balls to the bins in the ceiling. When the bins were full, an alarm would sound and all the kids would run, screaming, to the center of the room where the bins would open and shower them with balls. Then they took a break for lunch at Pollo Campero, one of their favorite restaurants. After lunch, they headed back for more adventures. They learned about the constellations in the sky, and Sarai even got to be launched into “space” in a bungee swing. When Astronaut Sarai returned, they learned how to make paper and learned about static electricity. Once they had exhausted the adventures inside, they moved to the outdoor playground. When they had were done exploring outside, they said their goodbyes to each and every station, loaded up in the car, and quickly fell asleep. It was such a special day for the kids to be able to go out and have fun learning and exploring and we are so blessed that we were able to share that with them.
Pictures of the kids’ exciting day at the museum are below.
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If there is one child that exemplifies all that we desire for our children, it is Carlos. He is a living testimony of how the Lord can transform lives if we would just believe in them and give them a chance to shine. In such a short time we have seen Carlos achieve goals that people thought were unobtainable, such as walking. However, as Carlos gets older, our next concern for him is his continued education. He is now at the age where he should be starting first grade. Unfortunately, in Guatemala the school system isn’t set up to include children like Carlos. Rather than include children with disabilities, they segregate them into other schools that only focus on children with special needs. There is a movement to change this and in fact a law has already been established to encourage schools to include children with special needs, but progress is slow. As we look at Carlos and the incredible intellectual potential he has, this situation broke our heart. Would this be the end of Carlos’ education?
We discussed this very issue during the most recent visit of co-founder Jennifer. After a few days of thinking and praying, the Lord placed on our heart the idea of walking down to the Christian school that the older children attend and asking them if they would be open to the possibility of allowing Carlos to study there next year. Of course, we knew exactly how crazy of an idea this was. Not only were we asking this school to step into new territory, but we were also asking them to take responsibility of Carlos, to manage and deal with the questions and concerns other parents were sure to bring up, to make drastic changes to their curriculum and program, and to possibly hire on another teacher…and all of this just to accommodate one child! But “what is impossible with man, is possible for God”, and in faith we ran down to the school.
Without a moment to spare, Jennifer and I walked into the school offices as they were about to close down for the week. The elementary principal was about ready to leave and actually wanted to meet with us the following week, but Jennifer was leaving on Sunday and I was heading to the States on Tuesday. It was now or never! Thankfully, the principal agreed to meet with us and we opened up our hearts and began to share about Carlos, his situation, and just how incredible he was. We spoke of his determination and how he had overcome such big obstacles like walking. We shared about his intelligence and how bright he is. Anything and everything we could think of we shared trying to persuade this elementary school principal to be open to the possibility of Carlos studying there.
As we finished up, the principal, tears in her eyes, leaned forward and said, “this is God’s timing.” She explained that for the past 3 months they had been praying and considering opening their school to children with disabilities. In fact, they already had a teacher on staff that is trained in teaching children with special needs! The only problem was that the school had a potential child but at the last minute they backed out and were currently without a child that could come. But now, in God’s timing, we came talking about Carlos! Talk about an exciting moment! To see two organizations with the same vision and same goal to be brought together in God’s timing. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
Unfortunately, it was far from a done deal. The principal and teacher were completely for it, but, as in any school, they have to answer to a board of directors that ultimately has to decide one way or another. We left that meeting cautiously optimistic. The following week, I went to the States to share with churches and small groups about our ministry and I was sure to share about this incredible story. But most importantly, I wanted people to be praying for the school and the board of directors. This would be a huge decision for them, one that financially and socially might not make any logical sense, but with an army of people praying we were confident that the Lord would prove his faithfulness again.
Three weeks later, I was back and we were at the children’s home sharing pictures from my trip with the children when a phone call came in from the school…Carlos had been accepted! Next year, Carlos will be officially enrolled in a first grade class! We were all extremely excited and overjoyed with the incredible opportunity Carlos is going to have this coming January. But this isn’t just good news for Carlos, this is great news for all children with special needs. God is opening doors in Guatemala and is going to use children like Carlos to transform education. Carlos will be at the forefront of this incredible change and it will benefit hundreds if not thousands of lives in the coming years.
Over and over again, we have seen the Lord do amazing things in the lives of our children. These children are so much more than just “orphans” in the hands of God and are capable of achieving the impossible. This is just the beginning!
In May, Delmy our preschool teacher, organized a field trip to the zoo for the little ones. We hadn’t been to the zoo in a while so it’s always great to go back and let the kids see the animals. We grabbed some pictures while we were there and wanted to share them.
Remember, once you click on an image and it enlarges, you can navigate to the next image by clicking on the right side of the image (a “NEXT” button appears) or return to the previous picture by clicking the left side of the image (a “PREV” button appears). When you are done, click the “CLOSE” button or click outside of the picture. Finally don’t forget to view the next page of photos by clicking the “NEXT PAGE” link below the pictures.
It’s done! It’s finished! We’re approved! After almost two years of trying to open up our own accredited preschool program within our children’s home I’m happy to announce that yesterday we finally got approved! Hope Preschool is officially open for business!
From the beginning we knew that one of the foundations of our children’s home was going to be a quality education. As we think of the long term growth and development of our children we know their education will be fundamental for their future. Thankfully, God is good and he provided a wonderful Christian school (elementary through high school) just down the street from our home for our older children. But as we began to look for a preschool for the younger ones, we weren’t extremely impressed with what we saw. Couple that with the fact that Jennifer (co founder of Hope For Tomorrow) has her doctorate in Early Childhood Development and is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky, and it was obvious that we should just start our own preschool. Little did we know the amount of time and the seemingly endless complications that would be involved.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but our application process included writing an 80 page overview of our preschool, having a room (yes one room!) of our home rezoned to be an public space, a God-inspired car accident with our sectors education supervisor, countless meetings with various city officials, a complete rewriting of the application, and of course lots and lots of waiting. That said, even though it took a great deal more time than we expected, the Lord was in it all. Looking back, many of the key pieces of our application and approval process came together because of what I can only call divine intervention. The right people being involved at the right time. God is good!
Now that we are approved not only does it allow us to officially “graduate” our children from preschool and makes our Children’s Home even more respected, but it means that we also have the ability to take in students from outside the children’s home. Our vision is that in the near future, Hope Preschool will not only be a blessing to our children but also to the community. And eventually we believe that this preschool could even become a means of income for our children’s home, helping to relieve the financial pressure we have month to month. We’re not quite there yet, but our accreditation is the first step in reaching this goal. Please continue to pray for this vision and for the future of Hope Preschool.
There are certain milestones in the life of a child that will always be remembered. A baby’s first step. His first birthday. Her first spoken (and understandable) word. Lidia reached one of these milestones this past January as she started first grade! In the weeks prior to her first day of school, Lidia was really excited about beginning first grade. At first I thought that her excitement might be because she was anxious to experience a new environment or because she was looking forward to meeting new people, but I quickly realized that it was due to something much more heartfelt: Lidia was looking forward to being close to her brother and sister, Miguel and Amelia. For the past year, she had watched them leave for school every morning as she stayed behind in preschool, a disconnect that hadn’t ever happened before. But now, finally, she was going to be reunited with them every day! Lidia’s sense of family and relationships is so strong and the bond she has with Miguel and Amelia is truly one of family.
I remember back in October when Delmy, our preschool teacher, celebrated Lidia’s graduation. It was an emotional morning and Lidia spent most of the morning crying, not because she was sad but because this accomplishment was so important for her. Towards the end of the event, the children shared words of encouragement with Lidia and I’ll never forgot what Miguel shared. He told her, “Lidia, next year you will be going to school with us, and I don’t want you to worry, because I am going to take care of you and protect you.” Words that only a big brother could speak to a younger sister.
Fast forward a few months and it’s Lidia’s first day of school. She doesn’t have her school uniform yet, but she pick the best outfit she has. She packs her pencils, crayons, and other school supplies into her fuchsia colored backpack, grabs her Disney princess lunch box and she’s ready to go. Going to school for the first time may seem to be an intimidating ordeal, but she’s confident; Miguel and Amelia are on either side. As they walk out the door to school, she looks over her shoulder and tells Juan Jose and Carlos goodbye…she’s a big girl now.
The school year is over for our children and we have put together an educational update for you. Enjoy!
Our 4 youngest children have experienced a wonderful school year with our teacher Delmy. Delmy created an active/hands-on curriculum, and attended to the individual needs of all of the children. She is an outstanding teacher who is eager to try any strategies we suggest. Below is an update of how the children are doing in preschool.
Moses (age 1) is developing right on target. He started walking at 13 months. Moses is inquisitive and enjoys playing with his brothers and sisters He babbles some, but we continue to remind the staff to talk to him and read stories to him. Moses is a very content baby and charms everyone who meets him.
Juan Jose (age 4) has made tremendous progress this school year. He is saying many more words and can even say his vowel sounds. He know his colors and can count in Spanish and English to 5. He is learning to trace numbers and letters. His favorite activities are listening to music, playing with blocks, and running!
Carlos (age 6) continues to exceed all of our expectations. Earlier this year he learned to go the bathroom all by himself. He is using a picture communication system independently and our goal is to get him an augmentative communication system. He can still walk independently, however, he is having greater difficulty due to his spasticity. We are hopeful that the physical therapy he has finally started physical therapy. His favorite activities are listening to music, working puzzles, and playing any kind of ball.
Lidia (age 6) will start first grade in January. According to her teacher she is socially and academically ready to begin. She knows most all of the vowel and consonant sounds and is beginning to read sight words. She knows all basic concepts (colors, numbers, shapes). Lidia’s social skills are improving and she is learning to engage appropriately in games and other group activities. Her favorite activities include singing and dancing, coloring and making crafts, and playing with her dolls.
Miguel (age 12) has had the toughest year in school of any of the children. You may remember that he had never been in school before. He attended La Patria and was placed in the 4th grade. Initially he was going to audit the class because he had yet to receive his diplomas for grades 1 through 3. Throughout the year, he did, in fact, receive diplomas for grades 1 through 3. Because of that, he WILL pass 4th grade upon successful completion of his examinations this week.
We are very proud of how hard Miguel has worked and how school has helped him mature socially and academically.
Amelia (age 7) was a star in her first grade class. She received the highest mark in her class in English. Her literacy skills in both English and Spanish are proficient for her age. Her favorite subject is math. In a conversation with the school principal in the spring, we were told that Amelia was one of their best students and that she was very intelligent. Amelia has made many new friends and recently “wowed” us bey telling us the telephone number of her best friends. All of believe Amelia might be the first female President of Guatemala.
Edwin (age 9). Edwin attends Santa Sofia School for Children with Special Needs. The school uses a developmental approach to teaching children with disabilities. As well, all children participate in a type of therapy called Neuro Net. It appears to be a form of sensory integration therapy, which is helpful to Edwin. Edwin is in a class of about 10 children. We were concerned about his ability to participate in a structured education program all day, but he has done wonderfully. The principal says that his behavior is excellent, something for which we are all grateful. On Wednesday’s Edwin’s school takes the children swimming which is one of his favorite activities.