This month we had the pleasure of welcoming back our co-founder, Brenda, with a group from her church, Good Shepherd, in Lexington, Kentucky. Their group came down and spent a week bonding with our kids as well as fixing up our home. Their group made our home even more beautiful by enhancing every wall with a new coat of paint. After they were done painting in the mornings, they led VBS with the kids in the afternoons. The kids had all kinds of songs, bible stories, crafts, and games to look forward to when they arrived home from school every day. Along with their group came a doctor who blessed our kids with medical check-ups.
The biggest project the group took on was the construction of a study room for the older kids. This room is such a crucial space to have in our home, as it gives our older children a place of their own. Not only is this study room a place where they can study and focus on their school work, away from the chaos of the smaller children, but also it is also a private, quiet place for them to relax and listen to music, play games, practice piano, etc. They finally have a place where they can sit back and be teenagers, away from the running, playing children. The group painted the walls, put together furniture, put up blinds and cork-board, and constructed desk areas for the children in the study room.We are so thankful for all the hard work their group did improving our home and building bonds with our children.
Twins Ellie and Braden Hirko had a “Hope Birthday” party for their 8th birthday. In lieu of gifts, they asked their friends and family to contribute donations to Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home. They raised $350! Jeff and Susan Hirko are the proud parents of Ellie and Braden.
We are so thankful for the blessing of families like the Hirkos who choose to invest in the lives of our children here at Hope for Tomorrow. Check out our “Hope Ideas” page on our website for unique opportunities for you and your family to get involved.
Thanks to a generous supporter, this Christmas was wonderful for our children. Each child got a great present, and for the first time, none of the children complained that someone else got something bigger, or better! =) But most important, this Christmas was special because our family has grown so big. What an incredible experience to see the excitement of 15 children all at once and to have them literally jump on you to show you the present they received. The joy that was in the home on Christmas Eve was special and a great reminder of the purpose of our ministry: bringing joy and hope to the hearts of children through the love of Christ.
Enjoy the pictures of our Christmas celebration!
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Recently, Brookdale Presbyterian Church in St. Joseph, MO put on a Christmas Bazaar to support Hope For Tomorrow Children’s Home. We asked Janeen, one of the leaders of their Hope For Tomorrow partnership team to share about what they did and the impact it will have on orphaned children in Guatemala.
Over Labor Day weekend Kenneth came through St. Joseph, Mo on his whirlwind tour of several churches in various states. He spent a few evenings at dinner with groups of folks from Brookdale Church, in partnership with Hope for Tomorrow through Children’s HopeChest over the past year. A young woman, Erin Lippincott, caught a vision as she listened to Kenneth tell stories of the children there.
A few days later Erin approached the Women’s Ministry Team, sharing with them an idea that caught on and spread like a wild fire through our church community – to hold Brookdale’s first-ever Christmas Bazaar in the Student Ministry Center’s gym early in December as a benefit for the children’s home in Guatemala. The idea was given a huge stamp of approval and Erin went to work organizing a task force and spreading the word through the local newspaper, a talk radio show and “Live at Five,” a daily TV program promoting community events.
Thirty-five vendors, purchased individual spaces for booths, donated items for a raffle during the event and showed up very early Saturday morning, December 1, to set up shop. The Men’s Ministry guys got on board to help unload cars and haul things for vendors. Brookdale women had prepared a very inexpensive, delicious lunch for vendors and shoppers.
Then, at nine that morning, as the doors opened to the community, a steady stream of folks thronged through the aisles, shopping for and finding all kinds of unique items, including several one-of a-kind hand crafted treasures, Holiday food items and gift ideas galore.
Not only did the event raise money for Hope for Tomorrow, it also drew the attention of the community at large to the great needs in countries like Guatemala, where there are so many orphans. Then on Sunday, December 2, the Brookdale congregation applauded Erin and all who worked so hard to make the bazaar such a great success.
Once again this year we had the privilege of having the youth ministry from Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa, OK serve at our children’s home. This is the 4th year they have been here. In previous years they put on a new roof over our patio, did an incredible mural, and repainted the entire home. This year, we had some different projects lined up for them.
First up was a new storage shed that we needed to be build on the second floor to hold our our tools, paint, and other maintenance items. Our good friend Joe Brauer put together a wonderful design and in a few short days, put together the perfect storage shed, complete with a light, outlet, shelving, and hooks for everything you can imagine.
Laundry Room Shelves
We also had to tackle the installation of new shelving in our laundry room. Some of the shelving was a cinch to put up since we were going through metal prefabricated walls. But others were incredibly hard as we had to drill through what seemed to be drill-proof concrete. It took two batteries, three concrete bits, and a lot of sweat and muscle to get those things in there. Thankfully, man prevailed this time and the new shelves look incredible and will be very helpful to our staff.
The third project was the construction of a new bunk bed for the girls room. The idea of the bunk beds have always been to give the kids more space in their rooms and not necessarily being able to take in more children. But with the addition of Pamela and Joshua (who came while the team was here), a bunk bed became necessary.
With a great group of guys and girls, we worked for the entire week on building this bed out of raw lumber. No IKEA stuff here. We found a beautiful design online, modified it to make it stronger, and then the team worked hard to bring it to life. After 4 days of cutting, sanding, painting, sanding, painting, and some more sanding and painting, the bed was done and turned out beautifully. I had always thought this would be a fun “weekend” project to do by myself, but after this week, I see it would have been virtually impossible to do this without their help.
Extreme Room Makeover
The final but most important and involved project we had was the Extreme Home Makeovers we wanted to do in the children’s rooms. Of course we wanted to do themes so a few monts back we had decided upon a girly theme for the girls room, a forest theme for the younger boys, a space theme for the older boys, and a sophisticated sports theme for Miguel’s room. We gave the group complete creative freedom and what they came up with is simply breathtaking.
However these makeovers are about so much more than just a pretty room. We had some very specific goals in mind with the design:
Individuality: In so many orphanages children become lost in the crowd. “Who am I?” They have shared clothing and shared toys and really don’t have the opportunity to discover who they are. But we know that each and every child is an incredibly unique creation, a masterpiece designed by God himself. It’s great to share things, but having objects and spaces that are your own is also important. We wanted to recreate this in the design with personalized spaces, and individual bookshelves and nightstands.
Importance and Belonging: One of the biggest struggles orphans deal with is abandonment and belonging. “If my family, the one group of people in the world that should love me, left me, then where do I belong? Am I disposable?” Of course, our children’s home is structured to combat these feelings by giving our children and family like environment. But we wanted to bring this concept into their rooms as well. Before the team came down they painted wood letters to make up each child’s name and then we placed these names on the walls. Ideally, we wanted to place them by their beds, but because of lack of wall space, that wasn’t always possible. However the idea remains. Every child is important (even Joshua and Pamela, the newest children got their names as well) and they have a place to belong to.
Encouraging: As we thought of the designs, we wanted to encourage the children and give them places to show off their artwork, school work, letters, or whatever. So we placed bulletin boards by each bed so they have an area they can “show off” their individual accomplishments and be reminded of how talented each person is.
Reading: We also wanted to design the space to encourage reading. With shelves and night lights, the children can place their favorite books next to their bed and read them. The more access they have to being able to read, the more likely they will actually do it.
Fun: Finally, we wanted the rooms to be fun. We wanted them to wake up in the morning with a smile of their face. When they look at the ceiling and see the planets floating, or when they open their eyes and see pink puff balls, or when Miguel throws the ball at his miniature basketball hoop from the comfort of his bed, we want it to bring a smile to their faces.
What makes Extreme Home Makeover on TV so watchable and lovable is that the show isn’t really about the house. Sure they make it huge, and beautiful, and it meets the family’s needs, but it is never about just that. It is always about the family, and how the house gives the family hope, peace, joy, happiness. It connects with them on an intimate level. The house is as much personalized to their emotional needs as it is to their physical ones. That is why the show is so popular. The human connection. And this is exactly what Asbury achieved here. They have connected with our children on an emotional level and through tangible items like paint and curtains have brought smiles to all their faces. We are eternally grateful.
Finally, a special thanks to Fufi, Joe, Cindy, Chris, and Todd for making this all possible. God bless you all!
Here are some panoramic shots of each of the rooms to give a better idea of how they turned out. You can move around and zoom in and out of each one. I’ll be posting all the pictures late on.
Note: Having the panoramas embedded here was causing problems with certain people. We’ve replaced them with images that link to the actual panoramas. Click them to see the panoramas on your computer, iPhone, or iPad.
The Young Boy’s Room – Forest Theme
The Older Boy’s Room – Space Theme
Miguel’s Room - Sophisticated Sports Theme
Since 2011 we have had the privilege of partnering with The Shalom Foundation to get medical assistance for our children. In February of last year, they helped coordinate Juan Jose and Carlos’ dental surgeries (read about it here, here, and here), something we had been trying to do for more than 2 years. Since then they have brought teams of physical and occupational therapists to see Carlos, have done medical check ups on our children, and have been helped purchased clothing and even beds for new children when they come. Already, they have been incredibly supportive of our ministry and last week they were there for us again with a team of surgeons that removed Miguel’s tonsils.
We found out about Miguel’s enlarged tonsils back in 2010 when Rebecca’s mother, Ruth Ann, came and did dental work on our children. As she was working on Miguel she noticed that his tonsils were severely swollen, but thankfully not infected. In fact, she said that in all her years of practice, she had never seen someone with tonsils that large! Over the following months we looked into doing the surgery at a private hospital but they were much too expensive. We even tried to contact surgical teams that were coming down to Guatemala but they were working outside the city and didn’t want to risk operating since tonsillectomies can bleed out and there weren’t hospitals nearby. Thankfully, in December of last year, the Shalom Foundation informed us of a team of ENT’s that were coming in January to do surgeries at their recently constructed hospital, the Moore Pediatric Surgical Center. We got Miguel signed up and a few short weeks later it was the day of his surgery.
Ruth took Miguel bright and early to their hospital, but he was the last person to be scheduled since they were going by age. He had not eaten anything as of lunch the day before and by the time he was up, he was hungry and bored! Of course, he was also a bit nervous, but we had been praying with him a lot over the past days and that really helped to comfort him. Once he went into the surgery, it took about an hour and 15 minutes until he was out. Amazingly, even these doctors said he had the biggest tonsils they had ever removed before! Thankfully, they also went ahead and took out his adenoids, something else that was swollen and making it hard for him to breath.
Because the surgery happened so late in the day, the doctors kept Miguel over night. Ruth, Diana and I had been with him throughout the day, so Blanca, the cook, came and stayed the night with him. The next morning we picked him up and brought him home. When we opened the door, all the children were there waiting and had made get well soon cards for him. It was a very touching moment and it’s amazing to see the love the children have for one another.
We want to thank all of you who were praying for Miguel before, during, and after his surgery. His recovery has been without incident and he was back at school the following week. And of course, we also want to thank The Shalom Foundation for their support and help with this entire process. They have been instrumental in providing the medical care our children need and we are eternally grateful.
Recently Jane, a friend of our ministry and adoptive mother, contacted us regarding her daughter who was turning 16 years old. Usually, the family doesn’t do big birthday celebrations but this year was going to be differente because her daughter Jaqueline wanted to have a party and instead of asking for gifts for herself, wanted everyone to bring a donation for our children. Here’s the letter she sent out to friends and family:
Dear Family and Friends,
I hope that you will join us in celebrating my 16th birthday. I am thankful to be celebrating with you here in the United States. I am blessed to have such a great family and friends that have accepted me when I joined the family through adoption.
There really isn’t anything I want or need for my birthday. I am thankful for what I already have. So, in honor of my birthday, I would like to help other children that were not as fortunate as me. There are many children that were left behind in Guatemala without a family to call their own. In addition there are many that are starving, have no shoes, clothes, or shelter.
I will be traveling to Guatemala on January 18th… While I am in Guatemala, I will have the opportunity to help other children in need. I plan to spend time at Hope For Tomorrow orphanage. My plan is to buy things the kids need and take them out for a day of fun. Hopefully we can have a pizza party for them, go bowling, or anything else that we can arrange.
So, instead of a birthday present for me, I hope that you might consider contributing to my cause to that together, we can help those who were left behind.
What an amazing story of self sacrifice and willingness to serve others. In the words of her mother, “I am SO PROUD of her for wanting to do this. She could get a lot of gifts/money at her party but she is willing to forgo that all for other children in Guatemala.”
Fast forward a few weeks and Jaqueline, her sister Karly, and her mother Jane were down in Guatemala celebrating with our children. Through her birthday party she raised more than $1000 and with that money bought our children school supplies, clothes, and some wonderful gifts for Miguel’s 14th birthday (like an iPod nano!!). But by far the best part of it all was taking all the children out with the family. On a Saturday morning we packed the kids in the van and went bowling! This is one activity we had never done before and the children were really excited. After bowling and some pizza, we were all still excited and full of adrenaline so before heading home we took a detour to the park and spent some time there just hanging out and playing. The entire day was incredible and the children had a blast.
We are all so thankful to people like Jaqueline who have put the children of our Home before their own personal wants or desires. Being able to witness these incredible acts of kindess and grace is encouraging, not to mention the wonderful examples they are for our own children. We pray that they will learn from people like Jaqueline what it means to “love your neighbor”. Thank you Jaqueline for your passion, your sacrifice, and the example you are.
Here are some pictures from our bowling adventure.