Monday, August 27, 2012

Maggie and Josue

Below is a blog post from great Friend, Maggie Ellis, in which she shares about her trip to Mexico and visiting her godchild. 

The Starbursts, Jolly Ranchers, and digital camera bounced around in my drawstring backpack as my friends Kathleen, Peggy, and I walked out of our dorm area. Night was beginning to fall, but there was no chance for us sleeping anytime soon. It was our second trip down to Casa San Salvador, so everything felt like home. In the mornings we would go to breakfast, which usually consisted of leftovers from last night’s dinner. Then, we led Vacation Bible School for the chicos and chicas, where we would sing songs, perform skits about bible stories, and create endless crafts. After, we would head to lunch and then participate in activities with the pequeños like basketball, futbol, and swimming. 

Now, the sky was a dark indigo with a burst of bright light coming from the cage walls around a slab of concrete the size of a soccer field. Yes, this was the best time of the day. Crickets chirped and pequeños scurried around us in their thin pajamas waiting for the games to start. We continued down the path where I recognized a small boy leaping through an open area of grass. My sandals slapped the lumpy cobblestone as I ran up to him. “Josue!” I cried out as I lifted him into the air. Although it was dark, his little teeth shined brightly as a smile spread across his face. 

Josue was a member of my Vacation Bible School group and the cutest thing to walk the planet. When I asked him why he had been running around the grass, his face immediately lit up and responded with one word: “Luciérnagas!” (Fireflies). Seeing how happy it made him, I knew what I had to do. For the next few hours, I abandoned my fear of bugs and ran around with him catching “luciérnagas.” He was so excited every time a new bug was placed in the container that he would shake and clap his hands. When it was time for him to go to bed, he gave me a quick hug and ran off into the dark Mexican night. 

As the week went on, Josue and I became inseparable. I would look for him at VBS, and he would wait for me on the edge of the pool. I knew that I could get his attention by singing a Christina Aguilera song, and he knew that with one sad look I’d give him candy from my backpack. The boy had me wrapped around his little 6 year-old finger and certainly wasn’t going to let go. When it was time to say our goodbyes at the end of the week, I gave Josue a picture of us that my mom had printed out the day before. He looked at it, smiled, and handed it back to me. “No, this is for you,” he said. “So you can remember me.” After much convincing and reassuring that I had my own copy at home, Josue finally took the picture and placed it near his pillow. 

The next day on our flight home to Minnesota I thought to myself, “How was I supposed to leave this little boy who had brought me so much joy? How would he be reassured that I would remember him?” I knew there was only one thing I could do. The day after I came back from Mexico, I decided to use some of the money I’d earned over the past summer and become Josue’s madrina. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’d tell you I’m pretty stingy when it comes to my own money, so it was a pretty big step for me. 360 dollars later, however, I can already tell you that it’s going to be worth it. Although Josue can’t read or write yet, I’ll still receive a picture he’s colored in place of a letter (which I will proudly hang in my college dorm room this year!). I can’t wait to watch this little boy grow up and certainly can’t wait for another trip to Casa San Salvador.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"Godparents, I give thanks to God for your life and unconditional support during all these years, for watching me grow and being close to me despite the distance."

Below is a letter from Guadalupe at NPH Mexico to her godfather.

Dear godparent, 

You will remember that 15 years ago I began my experience of life at NPH. I was only 11 years old at the time. The first time I arrived at NPH I felt happy, and I thought it was a place full of opportunities for me to find out who I was and have a professional career. 

I lived through many adventures in the NPH house. Before I came to NPH, I want you to know that one of the saddest moments of my life was the death of the person I had called mother. I was separated from my father when my mother grew ill. If I hadn’t had the opportunity to go to NPH, I don’t think I would have finished my professional career. 

In the end, the most important thing was that I became part of this family. I will never forget some of the most fun experiences of my life, which included being at NPH and breaking the piñatas during the Christmas holidays, going through the haunted house that the directors and caretakers made, and looking for hidden eggs over Easter. When I was at the house I remember that I always dreamed of studying and of being a good nurse. I imagined being a nurse in the NPH home in Haiti. 

Today, I have met my best friends at NPH. Now I have completed my studies at NPH and have graduated with a degree in nursing. I want to tell you that I am so excited, and I think it was well worth all the effort. In this new chapter of my life, my plan is to put my career into action. I want to do the best I can and do it with dedication, and each day I will be a better person. 

I am now working as a nurse’s assistant in a hospital and also volunteering in the NPH house in Miacatlan. I would like to live in Haiti for a few years. Later, perhaps I would like to further my education, have a good job, and perhaps have my own family. But right now the most important thing in my life is to finish my year of service and keep gaining more experience in my profession. 

I want you to know that you have meant so much to me. Godparents, I give thanks to God for your life and unconditional support during all these years, for watching me grow and being close to me despite the distance. Your presence in my life has made everything better. 

Now I will say goodbye but, as always, you will remain in my heart. 

With much love, 

Monday, August 13, 2012

We are rewarded and receive far more from the children than we can possibly give to them.

Scott Lane, great Friend and Sponsor, shares his thoughts about his latest trip visiting the pequeños of  NPH Nicaragua! The children are truly amazing, and you can get the chance to meet them when they visit the states on their upcoming tour to the Midwest. Learn more here!

Reflecting on our third trip to the NPH home in Nicaragua, I am once again reminded of the faithful, loving community that is for us indeed our extended family there. We are surely ‘one and holy’ as a Church at NPH Nicaragua. 

The preparations for Semana Santa were in full gear the week we were at the home. We participated in Stations of the Cross and Sunday Mass. These were of course as familiar to us as if we were at home in Chicago. We were further blessed to participate in the pilgrimage to the National Sanctuary of Jesus Del Rescate in Popoyuapa. 

We were amazed by all the changes from the previous year. The home now has a full time, resident priest from Spain. We renewed and deepened existing relationships with Angela, the nurse from Switzerland; and made new ones with Tina, the art therapist from Holland, and Lilly and Verena, the occupational therapists from Austria. In the past year, the home has completed the school building, computer lab, a large and modern clinic, two additional houses, and a fabulous guest house. 

This amazing amount of work and progress are only possible through the generous support of dear Friends of the Orphans from around the world. So many people are making a significant difference, and we are privileged to witness such faithful, loving support transforming lives child by child exactly as Father Wasson envisioned. 

And, yes, that brings me to the centerpiece of all the effort, support, and love - the pequeños. Everyone’s efforts are laser focused on the love, care, and development of the children at the home. While it’s hard work, it is such a joyful and fulfilling mission to be a part of. It is a highlight of our year to once again meet with our two goddaughters and their friends. We are rewarded and receive far more from the children than we can possibly give to them. 

Our friends ask us if we are on a ‘Mission Trip’ by which they mean building homes and other such worthy causes. We build relationships, provide support, play games, lend a hand, teach English, help with homework, and live our faith by trying to do many small things with great love. Love does conquer all and that love, every day, starts with the tias and tios that care for the children. They are at the front lines of everything that happens in the NPH family. The transformation of our children’s lives begins with them. They truly amaze and inspire us. 

Lastly, we are so excited that our family is coming to Chicago this fall. To welcome those, who have been so loving to us, to our community and home will be an incredible experience. Please come out to see, support, and meet the pequeños of NPH Nicaragua! “¡Somos una gran familia!” (“We’re a big family”). And, my big Nicaraguan family is coming to town! Your life might just be the one that is transformed. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Introducing the NPH International Leadership Institute Class of 2013

Rodolfo (NPH Honduras): Rodolfo is currently completing his final year of service in My Good Shop at Rancho Santa Fe. He explains that, “NPH is everything to me, it is my first family, a place where I am happy and proud to live. My NPH family has taught me to fight for my dreams and that I am an important member of our family and our society.” During his time in Seattle, Rodolfo hopes to learn about leadership and improve his English abilities. He wants to be a good representative of his NPH family and learn more about the work of Friends of the Orphans and others who help NPH. Following his time in Seattle, he plans to study Economics or Accounting at the university level. With this degree, he hopes to work for NPH in the future either in one of the homes or helping to raise money. He comments that, “in the future there will be many more little brothers and sisters, and I want them to have everything that I had when I was their age so that they can achieve their dreams. It is because of NPH that I am who I am today and I am thankful to God, Father Wasson and everyone who supports our NPH family.”

Dora (NPH El Salvador): Dora is in her third year of university in Santa Ana, El Salvador where she is a studying Psychology. She explains that, “the NPH family is a blessing in my life, and I am so grateful to Father Wasson and all our supporters who make it possible for us to continue growing and have the chance to have everything we need. Thank you so much.” During her time in Seattle, Dora hopes to learn more about leadership skills and improve her English. She is also interested in meeting more of the people who support our family from a distance! Upon graduating from the Leadership Institute next June, she will return to El Salvador to complete the final two years of her degree in Psychology. Afterwards, she hopes to serve NPH as a psychologist because she feels that will be a good support for the children. She has never felt obligated to work for NPH, but rather does it out of love and gratitude. She says, “I will always be willing to help meet the needs of our home.”

Celson (NPH Nicaragua): Celson is currently completing his year of service in agriculture and transportation. Prior to that he completed high school and a professional accounting course. As he looks ahead to the year in Seattle, he hopes to learn more about leadership and improve his English, as well as identifying and learning how to overcome difficulties he may face. He even aspires to have the chance to try his abilities at ice-­skating! Celson says, “NPH is unconditional love. To me, this has meant a place where we are secure, protected, where we can trust in people who want the best for us and are willing to come alongside us as we learn to overcome the difficult moments of our past.” Upon returning to Nicaragua next July, Celson plans to enter university to study Mechanical Engineering. After completing his studies, he can see himself working for NPH directly or perhaps becoming a godparent to one of his little brothers. He explains, “as Pequeños, we can never forget that we are part of this large family even when we leave the home. We identify NPH as our family and this makes us proud and grateful to everyone who has helped us.”

Jacinto (NPH Guatemala): Jacinto is a high school graduate and currently completing his second year of service the NPH home. He has been working as caregiver and is currently in charge of the youth leadership group at NPH Guatemala. Jacinto is eager to join the Leadership Institute in order to improve his leadership abilities. He hopes to learn how to overcome the obstacles that come with any leadership position. On his application for this program, Jacinto wrote, “I think the most important leadership qualities in NPH are to be patient, loving, understanding, flexible, keep the feeling of family.” Upon returning to Guatemala, Jacinto hopes to study Systems Engineering. After completing his studies, he would like to gain experience in the workforce and then return to NPH to work for the well-­being of our children.