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!
Dear Hope For Tomorrow friends,
We have some exciting news to share with you and want to ask you to be in prayer for us. As many of you know, for some time our ministry has had the vision of purchasing property for the permanent location of our children’s home. The house we currently occupy is rented and, while we do our best to make the most of the space, we are limited by the size of the house and what we can do with the property.
We have always known that the Lord has brought us specifically to this part of Guatemala City. Not only are we located in a nice and relatively safe part of the city, but we are also less than a block away from a private Christian school, a school for children with special needs (there are only a few in the city), the local university’s physical therapy department, a low cost medical center, a dorm for volunteers, among other important services. This location has everything we could need EXCEPT available property. Close to where we are there are few properties for sale, and those that are, don’t meet our needs. It seemed like we were stuck.
However there is one property in this area that we have had our eye on for the past few years. As we have been praying, we feel that the Lord has been holding this land just for us. The property has a house that is almost twice as big as our current home. There is also a basement area that would quadruple our usable space. But what excites us even more is rest of the property. There is more than 10,000 square feet of additional land that we could use in the future! Amazingly this property is only 1 block away from our current home meaning we would continue to be close to all the services mentioned before.
So over the past few months we have begun the initial process of investigating all the legalities of the land. We have talked with lawyers, engineers, and city architects, to get as much information as possible on the property. Thankfully, everything is in order and the only thing left for us to do is to decide to move forward or not.
This is why we need your prayers. We want to have as many of our friends and supporters praying with us as we seek God’s will for our ministry in this decision. We would like you to be praying specifically for wisdom. Pray that God will show us if we should move forward or not. Everything seems to be coming together. However, with a decision of this magnitude we want to have an army of people praying with us and for us.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your continued prayers for our ministry. How wonderful it is to be able to count on people like you in the middle of big decisions like this one!
Please feel free to share this news with other people. The more people praying for us the better!
If you have any questions, comments, insight, or words of wisdom, please feel free to share them with us
Hope for Tomorrow lost one of its founding members this past week. Larry Ledbetter passed away on December 14, 2012. Larry was Brenda’s husband, and Brett, Lee, and Clarita’s dad. At his funeral, the ministersaid that he suspected that, as a teenager, Larry never dreamed that one day God would lead him to Guatemala to become a father or to help start a Children’s Home. Beginning in 2004 the Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home Steering Committee met regularly in Larry and Brenda’s dining room. Larry never had a great deal to say, except to tell us how much – or how little – money we had in the Children’s Home account! However, when Larry talked, everyone listened. He was never afraid for us to take chances if it meant that the children of Hope for Tomorrow would have a better life. Our thoughts and prayers are with Brenda and family during this very sad time. We share their loss of this very special man.
For the Lord will not reject forever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
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!
Yesterday afternoon we had the privilege of opening the doors of our Children’s Home to Katy and Eddie. Katy, who is 7 years old, and her younger brother Eddie, who is 4, were removed from their home by protective service workers yesterday morning and we received the phone call roughly around 2:30 pm. They were at the home by 4:00 pm.
When they arrived they were covered in dirt, but behind the layers of filth you could see two beautiful children, scared and confused. After a quick hot shower (Katy said she had never had a hot shower before), and some new clothes, they began to let their guard down a bit and interact more with the other children.
Later in the evening, Diana, Ruth, and I spoke with Katy a bit to get to know her, and right off the back it was evident that she is a bright girl. When we asked her what she liked to do, she replied “Read, write, and spell words”. She didn’t even mention playing! She is also very talkative and opened up to us very quickly. Eddie is a bit more shy, but that might be due to everything that has happened in the last 24 hours. He might open up a bit more once he gets familiar with the children and his new home. We are looking forward to getting to know them more in the coming weeks.
As I was writing the news on Facebook, I realized the bittersweetness of the situation. We are so happy and excited to have Katy and Eddie with us in our Home and we know that we will be able to provide them with love and opportunities that they might not have received otherwise. However, it’s saddening to think about what a traumatic event this must be for them. The reality is that their coming to our home means that they have had to go through difficult experiences in the past.
Please pray for Katy and Eddie as they transition to a new life and a new home. Pray that the Lord will grant them His peace that surpasses all understanding and that they will quickly realize how much we are going to love them and care for them. At the same time, please pray for us. Katy and Eddie are the oldest children we have taken into to our home since we since we began operating the children’s home, and both of them are at an age where sooner or later (if not already) they will realize they aren’t going back home. Pray that we will have patience and wisdom to deal with any negative attitudes they may have. Most importantly pray that Katy and Eddie will see Christ through us and understand how much we love them already.
This past month has not been my month for driving. It started a few weeks ago when I carelessly rear-ended a truck with my personal car. It was totally my fault since I looked down at my shirt for a brief second. Diana and my niece were with me a the time but thankfully we were all OK. Unfortunately, the car was not. Since I rear-ended a big truck, our car took all the damage, making it worse than it would have been, had it been with another car. To make matters worse, the truck had a towing hitch on the back and I ran directly into that, with the hitch making contact with the frame of the engine compartment. It basically destroyed everything in the first 12 inches of the engine area (headlights, grill, radiators, fans, tubing, etc.).
Despite the accident, we felt very blessed at the time for a number of reasons. First, the airbags in the car didn’t go off. It might have been due to the impact being higher than the bumper where the airbag sensors are, but we are just glad they didn’t go off. Second, there was no damage caused to the truck. Repairing my car is one thing, but having to repair another is something different. And since we don’t have car insurance, that expense would have been on us as well. Third, the car was still running even despite the damage caused. We didn’t have to call a tow truck or anything. It didn’t run for very long, but it ran long enough for us to get it to the repair shop! The accident was bad, but could have been a lot worse and we’re thankfully for the Lord’s protection through it all.
However, the “fun” doesn’t stop there because today, I had another accident! This time it was with the ministry van and as I was stopped at a red light, I got rear ended by a car. Thankfully, once again, I was fine…even though I have a bit of a neck ache. Unfortunately, the van received a bit of damage and now the back door no longer opens. The good news is that the lady driving the car has car insurance so its just a matter of me taking the van into the shop to get it repaired and it should be good as new. And the best part is that it won’t cost us a penny.
The woman driving the car was very nice and apologetic and I was able to completely understand her position since I was in a similar experience just a few weeks ago. I even showed her pictures of my car. I think she was grateful for my understanding and kindness and it was great to be able to extend mercy, grace, and a forgiving attitude to her in her time of need.
So this month has not been my month for driving, but the Lord has prevailed through it all, and thankfully, in both cases, no one was hurt.
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.