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!
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.
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.
This Christmas our children were blessed to have three different groups of people donate gifts for their Christmas. The first group was led by some friends of our from our church small group. They spoke with friends and family member and raised fund to not only buy Christmas presents but to also have dinner and a piñata. We wrote about it before and you can read about the wonderful evening here.
On Christmas eve, we brought the rest of the presents over and celebrated Christmas with all the children. We started the evening reading about the birth of Christ and explaining that this is the true meaning behind Christmas. The gifts and presents, while exciting and fun, are meant to symbolize the greatest gift of all: the birth of Christ. Diana did a wonderful job reading the story with passion and excitement and afterwards, we prayed with all the children. Then after a brief photo session, we dove into the Christmas gifts.
The second group of gifts also came from our church, but this was organized by our Operation Christmas Child program. If you aren’t familiar with it, church members fill a shoe box full of items for either a boy or a girl of a specific age. Then these christmas boxes are delivered to children who might not have gotten a present. Best of all, they include a personal note in the box, sharing about their families, favorite Bible verses, and what Christ means to them. It truly is a wonderful program that puts smiles on faces of thousands of children around the world. Thankfully, this year the program leaders selected us as one of the groups that would be receiving these gifts. We picked them up from church and brought them over to the children on Christmas Eve and they loved them! It’s amazing how much stuff can fit into a shoe box.
The third set of Christmas presents came from Diana’s sister that was in from Spain. She and her husband graciously donated some gifts for all the children. When we handed out these gifts all of the children were in awe of what they received, but no one more than Willie. He received a plastic yellow truck and when he saw it he couldn’t contain his excitement. He repeatedly went around to all of us showing his bright yellow truck with a smile that stretched ear to ear. Even after handing out the other presents, he always went back to the truck and even when we left a few hours later, he was still running up and down the halls with it.
To us it’s always amazing how such small things can have the biggest impact in the lives of children. While they of course love the gifts, what truly brings a smile to their faces is to know they aren’t forgotten. They realized that there are people beyond the children’s home that love and pray for them. That’s the greatest gift of all: to share hope, peace, love, and comfort to children that sometimes feel abandoned and ignored.
We would like to publicly thank all of the people that were involved in making this such a wonderful Christmas for our children. People sacrificed time and money to bring a smile to our children’s faces and we can’t be more thankful. I would also like to thank Diana publicly for contacting, planning and organizing the three different groups of presents. She was the catalyst for all the gifts the children received.
Thank you all and God bless!
Here are some pictures from our Christmas
We are always looking for unique ways for people to support our ministry and with the help of a few friends (Susie, Christy, and Mary Louise), we have come up with the best yet: our Online Gift Catalog. If you are looking for a unique way to give a gift to a friend or loved one, look no further than our gift catalog. Our gift catalog has multiple gifts at different prices that all benefit the children of Hope For Tomorrow. It’s a perfect way to give a gift that will not only bring a genuine smile to the recipient’s face but also impacts the lives of orphaned children in Guatemala. Not to mention it saves you the time and trouble of searching for something he or she probably already has. It’s a win win!
After choosing your gift, you also have the option of personalizing a card that explains the impact their gift has on our ministry. It’s easy to email or print and is the perfect complement to the gift you have given.
One final idea is to combine a Hope Birthday with our Online Gift Catalog. The next time you have a birthday or anniversary party, instead of requesting gifts, point people to our online gift catalog and have them purchase their gifts for you there. A Hope Birthday and our Online Gift Catalog is a match made in heaven!
In March we were blessed once again medically, this time by a local rehabilitation hospital that graciously donated a pair of form fitted braces for Carlos. The process of turning pieces of plastic into useful tools to help Carlos walk was so fascinating that we created a short video of the making of his orthotics.
Yesterday, December 22 we celebrated Christmas with the children and had a wonderful afternoon. Of course Christmas isn’t for a few days, but since it’s hard to get all the staff together on Christmas day, we celebrate Christmas a few days early. After all, family is so much more important!
This year our children were very blessed thanks to three specific groups of people. First are the families from Hope Community Church which sent down some toys and some clothes for the children. The second group was the Alter Church who packed some bags full of little toys, bracelets, and other great items. And finally, a friend I met playing Words with Friends on the iPhone, mailed down more toys and clothes for the children. These three groups made this Christmas very special for all of us at Hope For Tomorrow and the children are all very appreciative! Thank you for your support this year!
As you celebrate Christmas with your family in a few days, take some time to remember our children here in Guatemala. We do everything we can to provide for our children physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and being able to celebrate Christmas with some wonderful gifts is such a tangible way to let them know they are loved. But the sad reality is that no gift can replace the love and affection of a real mother and father. While the love they receive from us is so important to them, special holidays like these are always hard for our little ones because they are reminded of the one gift the want more than anything: a real family.
So during your Christmas celebrations, remember the children of Hope For Tomorrow. Maybe you can share some of the pictures we have below with your family, or pray for us over Christmas dinner, or sit down with your children and send us a Christmas email. Whatever you do, we and all our children will be eternally grateful.
God bless and Merry Christmas!
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.
Occasionally, our children’s home is blessed to receive very generous gifts, whether they be toys, food, or clothes. But every now and then we receive a gift that is an obvious labor of love and this is the case with a package of quilts we received a few week ago. A few of the ladies that go to Brenda’s church were kind enough to spend their time and energy making quilts for our children and after a long journey, they finally arrived thanks to a team that brought them down. Each quilt is different from the rest but all of them have a beautiful prayer sewed on to the back and is a reflection of our biggest desire for our children: for God to watch over them and protect them and grow them into men and women that chase after Him. So on behalf of all the children, thank you so much for these beautiful quilts. It’s a tangent reminder of the warmth and protection we receive from Christ himself.
Follow the “Read More” link below to see pictures of the children with their new quilts. (more…)