Posts Tagged ‘Casa Hogar Douglas’

Showing Some Love, by Caroline Burns, Back2Back Mexico Staff

May 23, 2011

Bathtime with more than one child can often get a little crazy. Imagine trying to shower and dress ten boys ages 3 to 8 at one time by yourself. I like to think of it as organized chaos.

It didn’t take me too many weeks of this to figure out that if I don’t have tear-free kids shampoo, about half of the boys would refuse shampoo with violent tears oddly enough. So now I’ve made it a mission to make sure that every week these boys have kids shampoo and kids toothpaste.

After bath time, one of my boys saw me putting one a day’s worth of shampoo for ten boys from the full size bottle into a small bottle that we leave within their reach. If you leave the big bottle down there, inevitably one boy will knock it over on accident or pour the whole thing out for his pleasure.

So this boy said, “Why are you doing that? Why are you pouring just a little into that bottle?”

I told him very directly that to me it’s very important that they have tear-free shampoo everyday and that they bathe everyday just like it’s important to me that they have “non-spicy” toothpaste. But if the whole bottle is down there, someone might waste it and then they won’t have kids shampoo anymore.

He said, “Love is when someone takes care of you. That’s God’s love.”

I was floored.

I stopped my mopping of the soaking wet bathroom and looked at him and said, “Do you know that God is trying to demonstrate his love for you by sending people to take care of you? That’s why I’m here. God sent me here to love you. That’s why your full-time care-giver is here. That’s why Sammy loves you (his favorite Back2Back intern).

I told him again for the 100th time that day that I love him very much.

Then, I asked him Sammy’s favorite question, “But, do you remember who loves you more than all of us?”

And he replied without hesitation, “The Lord.”

We then went on to dialogue as I mopped that God will never leave him alone and that there will always be someone to take care of him. This particular child has severe fear issues. He’s always afraid that one of his brothers will leave him or that his mom will never come back. But this child is learning that God isn’t going to go anywhere.

It was a beautiful end to a chaotic daily event.

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The Joy of Reading, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

May 10, 2011

We recently completed remodeling the library at Casa Hogar Douglas. This children’s home for over seventy kids now has a very nice library made possible by a donation from The Rotary Club International and the tireless efforts of many of our ministry volunteers.

I recently read that 94% of the municipalities of Mexico don’t have a library. The reader index for Mexico is the lowest in Latin America. Back2Back is eager to help each child develop a love for reading and ultimately provide them with opportunities to improve academically. I am so excited that these kids will have an opportunity to benefit from the blessing this library will be!

Shaken to the Core, by James Bush, Mexico Mission Trip Participant

April 1, 2011

My recent trip to Monterrey, Mexico has messed with me in the deepest way possible.

Majestic.  Beautiful.  Powerful. I was overwhelmed.  It was Sunday morning at Casa Hogar Douglas, an orphanage, in Monterrey. The aforementioned orphanage would have appeared empty to the passerby if it weren’t for the noise coming from a little building atop the hill there. Inside that building, sixty-eight orphans together with fifty other adults were worshipping God in multiple languages. I was holding a little baby girl. She was an orphan. What broke my heart about that moment was that she was so into worship. Here was a child rejected by her parents worshipping God with all of her might. I knew in that moment that I have often taken God for granted. This little child was demonstrating what it means to really worship the living, active and loving God.

There came a point in the service where we were singing “How Great is Our God” in both Spanish and English and it struck me. God is sovereign over all things. It gave me chills to consider how the God of the universe who spoke and there was…that same God also knows the hairs on every orphan’s head as well as mine. Tears formed in my eyes as I considered the day when I would stand next to those orphans around the throne of God, on the sea of glass and worship with all creatures on, under and above the earth in one loud voice proclaiming, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and honor and glory and praise forever and ever!!!”

This trip to Mexico has shaken my faith to the foundation in the best way possible. May I always approach God with the same passion, love and fervency as those orphans.

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Christy Ross, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 20, 2011

Starting this month, we will be featuring interviews with various Back2Back staff members, highlighting one to two individuals on the field each month.

Christy Ross, at a recent birthday party for the children of ERJ children's home

How do you serve with Back2Back?

Christy: I am on staff in Monterrey, Mexico. I am the captain of the Casa Hogar Birthday Program here in Monterrey. I am in charge of planning birthday parties every few months at six of the children’s homes that we work with and making sure each child is given a birthday gift. I spend time organizing gifts, buying gifts, picking out a specific gift for each child, ordering/picking up cakes at the local grocery store, coordinating days with the captain to have a party at each home while a group is here, and, if I am able, I go to oversee the birthday party.

I also spend my time by building relationships with the older girls at Casa Hogar Douglas. I visit them at the home to help with English homework, I talk with them, play games and do crafts together, and occasionally bring them over to the Back2Back campus to do something fun and different.

I am also available to help with other miscellaneous projects. I am a mentor for one of the high school girls in the Hope Program and I work with groups occasionally.

Why did you decide to begin serving with Back2Back?

Christy: I have been involved with Back2Back for many years. My first mission trip to Monterrey, Mexico with Back2Back was in 1999. After that first trip, I felt like I left a piece of my heart there and felt God calling me back each year. My relationships with kids grew each time and I continued to see so much need. I knew I wanted to be involved in a bigger way someday. My husband and I both have a heart to work with kids and we strongly believe that God calls each of us to minister to orphans and widows and to be His hand and feet to others. Through our dating period, we prayed a lot about our future and how God would lead us. We were married in August 2005 and a year later a position opened up in Monterrey and we knew that God was calling us there. We moved to Mexico in January 2007 and are thankful to be serving the Lord here by ministering to the abandoned and neglected children in Monterrey. We are also blessed to be working with Back2Back alongside such a great team.

What part of your job are you most passionate about?  Why?

Christy: I am most passionate about loving and caring for the children that Back2Back ministers to. I love to see how God uses everyone in different ways by the talents and abilities that He gives us.  I love seeing felt needs of people being taken care of.

One part of my role that I enjoy most is being at the birthday parties for the kids and getting to see their excitement as they receive a gift that was picked out specifically for them. Kids living in children’s homes share everything and rarely have people to celebrate their birthday with them and that is why we have groups participate in this, by playing with the child and their new toys and giving them special attention.

What is something that God has shown you or taught you over the past year through your experiences with Back2Back?

Christy: Through the past year, God has been teaching me to really trust Him and know that He is in control. No matter what the situation is, I know that I need to remember that He cares about the details of our lives and is in control.

An Interview with Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 3, 2011

Starting this month, we will be featuring interviews with various Back2Back staff members, highlighting one to two individuals on the field each month.

Jim Betscher

How do you serve with Back2Back?

Jim: I serve as captain of both Casa Hogar Douglas and the ministry site of Rio 3. As a Back2Back captain, I am the liaison between Back2Back and the people/children we serve. About 70% of my time is spent “in the field” working alongside the caregivers in the children’s home or Olga in Rio 3, an impoverished community that Back2Back serves. Many times, it is not just working on projects, but it is time spent identifying and assisting in finding solutions to their needs. We try hard to build into the staff that work full-time in the areas we serve, so that they can function better. I can’t do that unless I can identify with what struggles they really experience in doing their job. The other 30% of my time is spent in my office planning projects for upcoming groups, communicating with supporters and doing other paperwork.

Why did you decide to begin serving with Back2Back?

Jim: Like many Christians, I had felt a calling to do more for God, for some time. I turned fifty, as a single dad of two adult children. I realized that I couldn’t spend the next twenty years like I had spent the last twenty, living my life through my kids. I was either going to be a frustrated, middle-aged man, who complained that he never saw his kids enough, or I needed to find something else to do with my life, that I was passionate about.

For many years, my daughter and I had served with Back2Back, on short-term mission trips. I had always felt satisfaction and purpose when we served the children’s homes of Monterrey. So, during this mid-life crisis in my life, I accepted an invitation to join the staff in Monterrey, with a one year STINT commitment. My background was in construction. Back2Back was busy building the new teen homes on their campus. I felt God was calling me to help with the construction and mentor teens that would be a part of the Hope Program. That is what I did through 2007. But, during that year, I met my wife, Betty, got married, picked up five more kids and began to serve as a team, with my new wife.

What part of your job are you most passionate about? Why?

Jim: I am most passionate about the fact that we are making a difference in so many kids’ lives. There are many problems here in Mexico. Over 50% of the population lives in poverty. The kids we serve are byproducts of that poverty. Many have been abandoned in children’s homes, by poor, undeucated parents that have no supportive community to help them care for their kids. When I consider the possibility that these kids can one day graduate college, and have a career in medicine, education, business or social work, I get excited. As I think of the difference these young people can be in their careers, because they know Jesus, I begin to believe we can change the world!

I feel very blessed to be an eyewitness to these changes. I realize that many times the things that I have an opportunity to be a part of are the result of many faithful people. Many people work hard, sacrificially supporting the work of Back2Back and don’t often get a chance to witness the fruit of their labor. I feel a responsibility to share the harvest of that fruit with ALL of those who have labored in the fields.

What is something that God has shown you or taught you over the past year through your experiences with Back2Back?

Jim: The thing that God has reminded me of lately is that He seldom works in nice and tidy ways. Many of the stories or events in the Bible, involved battles, sickness, suffering, violence and blood. Even God’s plan for my eternal salvation required His only son to suffer and die a cruel death on a cross. Why should I expect that the things of my life would be neat, painless and comfortable when there is no evidence of such things in His Word? Maybe it is something that the American Christian church of the 21st century has come to expect. And, maybe it isn’t Christian at all. Maybe it is why airline pilots, surgeons and millionaires have told me the most fulfilling days of their lives were spent pouring concrete here in Monterrey.

I was reminded of this, as I witnessed the work that God was doing in Rio 3 after Hurricane Alex. Over 100 families lost everything in the flood waters that were produced from the 40 inches of rain that fell in two days. As I walked through the emptiness of Rio 3, just hours after the flood waters receded, I felt the horror of complete devastation in these families’ lives. Everything had washed away! But as I have witnessed the work God has been able to do in this area in the weeks that followed, I have realized that God has used this tragedy to expand His Kingdom. Today, we are not heckled by men who believe what we are doing is foolish. Instead, we are warmly greeted by men who have experienced the love of Christ through our actions and not just our preaching. Church attendance has nearly doubled since we first started serving meals, providing shelter and rebuilding lives. God has been working in Rio 3. The work hasn’t always been as we have planned. Sometimes, He has used an event like a hurricane to prepare the way.

Woven into the Tapestry of Our Hearts: Reflections on Child Sponsorship, by Carlene Murray, Back2Back Child Sponsor

December 20, 2010

To remember a journey is to retrace its steps. It’s hard to walk the path to Casa Hogar Douglas Children’s Home and not be joyful and sorrowful at the same time. The rising light of the morning sun glows off the mountain’s cascade. It’s a beautiful reminder that God, The Creator Artist of this majestic beauty sits on His throne. Joy.

Once at the Children’s Home, gaze into dark brown sleepy eyes, or tear swollen eyes, or the vacant eyes of a little child or teen abandoned, neglected or abused, sadness has a power that can take over. Where are you here God? The enemy forces the lie that the orphaned child does not matter, that no one cares, that there is no hope. Sorrow.

Yet, in Christ we have victory and through the love and truth of not just words but faith in action, the people of Back2Back are living hope to orphaned children.

In the midst of what can appear to be hopelessness, there is faithfulness and love in action. How? They show up. They hug, they provide, they teach, they remind, they comfort, they shelter, they feed, they pray, they touch, they scrub, they come alongside, they heal, they love.

They meet the need in the moment and give hope for the future. Through each Back2Back staff member, God pours out His love to His precious children in a tangible way. Hope is born and lives are changed and like the majesty of the mountain, God, the Father sits on the throne of each precious child’s life. Then, in a holy moment, something in the eyes of the children glimmers and changes. Sometimes it’s for just a moment, or a day. Sometimes it’s fleeting with the goal for it to be a constant truth. But it comes and eyes light up, eyes smile and eyes rest knowing care and hope.

Hopelessness can destroy the precious spirit of a child, but through Back2Back and their Shelter Child Sponsorship Program, hope is active, hope is alive and kids are learning that they matter, are remembered, are special, uniquely created and are loved.

For our family, it was a spirit-led journey to Casa Hogar Douglas and meeting 14 year old Roberto. Our 14 year old son, Connor first met Roberto on a school mission trip with Back2Back in February 2009. Although the boys are the same age, Connor looked to Roberto as a friend and little brother because of Roberto’s playfulness and size. Roberto would instigate play with Connor by stealing his cap.  Running away laughing, Connor would chase him. The boys became friends and were happy to be assigned as partners on a Back2Back field trip. They were buddies enjoying the moment of childlike antics and easy friendship.  They were two boys, the same and different in that special time and place.  Together they laughed, ran around, joked and smiled for a week.

 

 

Roberto (left) and Connor

 

On the last day there, Connor’s group departed at dawn for home, while my husband Brendan, walked the dark early morning path to Douglas Children’s Home to serve breakfast to the children.

Upon seeing Brendan, Roberto ran to him and asked right away, “Where’s Connor?”

Brendan gently explained that Connor was on a different flight and had left early to go back home. In an instant, eyes can tell a story. In that moment, Brendan saw the fall of Roberto’s once hopeful eyes, dash downward in disappointment. Brendan smiled, ruffled Roberto’s head and told him Connor said goodbye and that they were friends. He hugged Roberto goodbye later that day and told our family how special Roberto was to Connor and to him.

Of all the stories Brendan and Connor told on their return, Roberto’s sadness of Connor’s departure would stay with me.  As a mother, my heart ached for a boy so special to my husband and son that I had never met. A boy our son shared in a testimony that touched and changed his heart. Roberto was not just a boy at Douglas Childrens’ Home.  He was woven into the tapestry of my son’s and husband’s lives and became a child we would embrace in prayer and share his story and the story of the orphaned child. Once our eyes see and our hearts are changed, are we not compelled to respond?

Just five months later, three spots would open on a Back2Back family mission trip to Monterrey in June 2010. Changed by his own experiences serving alongside Back2Back, Brendan arranged for me to join the group, along with Connor and our daughter, Shannon. Connor would get to see Roberto again so soon and Shannon and I would now get to meet Roberto for the first time!

I laugh now thinking what Roberto must have though the moment I hugged him with tears running down my cheeks. To me, wrapping my arms around him was such a gift. I couldn’t help but think we were sent to let God love Roberto through our family.

After our introductions and hugs, Roberto turned to me and said, “Connor, mi hermano,” (Connor, my brother).

This was a holy moment I will always treasure as tears flowed and I watched our son give Roberto a hug.

 

Shannon, Connor, me and Roberto

 

Roberto is bright, social and handsome. His smile lights up a room and I am know many hearts have been touched by him.  It’s really a special gift to know him and be a small part of his big fan club! I remember asking about Roberto, his story and if he had a sponsor and was told he most likely had a sponsor. So we enjoyed our week hoping to pour out fun and hugs whenever we could with Roberto and all the children. As our week went on, each time we would reunite with Roberto, I would hug him and we’d talk through Connor translating. It was easy and fun and I could not help but see he was a stair-step between my two children and I could imagine him as ours. Maybe not ours in the sense that I would be inclined to think, but maybe “ours” in a way I did not even know.

On our last night on the Back2Back campus, as my daughter, Shannon and I walked past the Shelter Child Sponsorship booth.  I quickly glanced over the table as I walked past it. Suddenly, I stood still, eyes fixed and I quietly gasped out loud. Shannon looked down too and looked up to me with eyes of surprise!  We each went to grab the picture of the child on the table so fast we almost ripped it!  Through my tears,  I was looking at the beautiful face and smiling eyes of Roberto!  I knew instantly then as sponsors, Roberto would be ours! We excitedly found Connor to show him Roberto’s Child packet and then the three of us ran off to call Brendan at home and in a million miles an hour, tell the story of God leading us to sponsor Roberto and asking “Can we?”  Each of us in our family had met Roberto, hugged him and laughed with him. We all had our own treasured memories with him. God took care to provide each of us with a personal connection with Roberto and then asked us, “Will you let me use you for him?” How could we not? Once we have seen are we not responsible to act? Does faith demand a response?

It’s an honor and gift to be a sponsor and to be used to encourage, pray for and send support for Roberto. It is in him I see Jesus. In him I see selflessness, love and care of community and sharing. He lives in the moment of joy and makes others smile. He gives away what he has. Can’t we give away what we have been given? When I think of how Roberto has blessed each member of our family, I am awestruck at God’s special plan for his precious orphan children and how He allows us the gift to be a part of His plan for them and to be blessed. At first, we may think it’s the other way, that we the sponsor will be the blessing. Maybe. But we have experienced God placing His love in our hearts for a child that is not our own but we call “ours” and in that, we are the ones blessed to be a small part of Roberto’s life. We look back and clearly see God walking that path to Douglas Children’s Home with each of us to Roberto and converging that path of our lives and hearts. It’s so humbling to be used as part of God’s unique plan for Roberto’s life and to have the honor, the privilege and the gift to be a part of Roberto’s journey and love him. For us, nothing could better.  And so, we did not decide to become Roberto’s sponsors. God did.

Answered Prayers at Douglas Children’s Home, by Caroline Burns, Back2Back Mexico Staff

December 6, 2010

The children at Casa Hogar Douglas (Douglas Children's Home)

I just wanted to encourage all of you who have been praying for Douglas Children’s Home and especially since we as a staff team started asking for prayer warriors to cover the home in prayer last February. There have been many, many changes at Casa Hogar Douglas in the past ten months.  I believe that it is in direct connection to your prayers and all of you who committed to pray and fast for Douglas last February!

I spend almost every day of my time here in Monterrey at Douglas. Sometimes, it’s too easy to get caught up in my daily responsibilities of child care to reflect adequately on all God has done to drastically change Douglas for the better. God has sent a ton of new staff families – another one moved in last week. God has moved workers around so that there are awesome people in direct care of the children. He’s given us a ton of Shelter sponsors, through Back2Back’s Shelter Child Sponsorship Program.

As a result of the Shelter Program, we’ve been able to move a lot of the kids to new schools. Some of the kids are now able to attend a school for kids with special needs in the afternoons and evenings. Their food is a world better because of the Shelter Program funds. They have hot water for their showers now that it’s cold because of Shelter Program funds. The kids run and yell and practically push me out of my table when I start to distribute the Shelter letters (from their sponsors) because they are so excited that they might have received a letter from their sponsor. The church at Douglas now has a Tuesday night youth group for all older kids. The biological families of the kids (if they have them) are being asked to be more involved with their kids and are visiting more often, staying longer and some are even taking their kids home for the weekends now. The Mexican government is getting more involved with the home and helping to regulate forms and programs to help the kids. Not everything is perfect there but a many things are improving and it’s obvious to see how God has been moving at Douglas in these past ten months.

 

A Birthday Surprise, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

September 27, 2010

Last week, Oziel , a toddler at Douglas Children’s Home, turned four years old.  His sponsor family donated money to purchase him a birthday gift, through the Shelter Sponsorship Gift Catalog.  They specified that the money was to be used to buy him a gift of an action figure and toy car. Little did they know that just a few days prior, when asked what he wanted for his birthday, Oziel had told Back2Back staff members that he was hoping for a Hulk action figure.  Needless to say, when he received the exact gift he had been hoping for from his sponsors in Ohio, he was elated.

Oziel receives a birthday gift from his sponsor

Child sponsorship is helping children like Oziel in a multitude of ways. Prior to the launch of the Shelter Child Sponsorship Program (last June), many of the homes were underfunded, operating on a fraction of the needed operating budget.  Through this program, Back2Back has been able to come alongside the homes and help support them with resources to provide the children with a higher level of care.

For example, the children are now eating more nutritious and balanced meals with meat and produce (versus just rice and beans as was the norm before).  Thanks to sponsorship, Oziel and the twelve other children his age are now attending an excellent pre-school, whereas before they were attending a public pre-school with a ratio of one teacher per every three classes of children.  This would not have been possible without sponsorships. These are just a few of the practical ways in which sponsors help to improve the quality of care at the children’s homes.

Interested in sponsoring a child like Oziel? Contact Claire Rogers at the Back2Back US office at claire@ back2backministries.org.

Mexico Celebrates 200 Years of Independence, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

September 20, 2010

For weeks, the streets of Monterrey have shimmered red, white, and green as vendors have displayed their flags, t-shirts, streamers, and noisemakers on the sides of the roads.  Monterrey has been a bustle of activity with concerts, plays, and movies about the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence from Spain and the centennial celebration of the Mexican revolution.  September 15th, 2010 was quite a day in Mexico!

For Back2Back, our festivities started at Casa Hogar Douglas. Staff, children, caretakers, and two American mission groups gathered in the Douglas courtyard dressed in red, white, and green, ready for the ceremony and celebration! Several of the older children, dressed in uniform, marched the Mexican flag into the center of the courtyard for the anthem to be sung. Then Daniela, from Douglas, led the children in the student promise to the flag. Together as a community we sang the state of Nuevo Leon anthem and waited for the climax of it all, “El Grito”.

Traditionally, the 15th of September is referred to as “El Grito” (the cry).  Two hundred years ago in the village of Dolores (near Mexico City) on September 15th at 11:00pm a priest named Miguel Hidalgo gave the shout to the people to take up arms and fight for Mexico’s independence.  This started the 11 years of war with Spain for what is now the country of Mexico.

In Independence Day celebrations, traditionally the mayor or governor of the town will give the cry to the people just as Hidalgo did many years ago.  At Casa Hogar Douglas, one of our teens and a member of the Hope Education Program, Leo, who were dressed in traditional “charro” costume, gave the historic cry to the children, Back2Back staff, and group members participating with us. All around echoed the response to each phrase Leo spoke, “Viva Mexico, viva Mexico, viva Mexico!”

With excitement high, Casa Hogar Douglas director, Pastor Javiar, stood up and spoke about how as believers we are called “the city of God” and how the greatest independence we have is that of freedom and liberty that is found in Christ. Together as a community, we thanked God for the freedom and grace he has showered on us.

The rest of the evening was celebrated with a Mexican buffet and a carnival for the children! Little red, white, and green bodies were everywhere as they waited for their turn to play games, eat tacos, and win prizes!

Later that night, we put on a special event for our teenagers in the Hope Education Program. We celebrated their country’s heritage with them with a decorated palapa, virgin pina coladas, and the events in downtown Mexico City projected on the big screen.  Together at 11:00pm, we watched President Calderon give the grito shout from the Zocalo and the amazing festivities happening in Mexico City. We also had the fun of shooting off our own fireworks on campus! The teens loved it, as did the staff! We finished with salsa dancing into the night.

It was amazing to experience Mexico’s bicentennial here in the country and even more exciting to celebrate with the children and teens such an important part of their heritage. Viva Mexico!

His Promises, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

September 1, 2010

Douglas Children's Home

Yesterday, a mom brought three sisters, to Casa Hogar Douglas (Douglas Children’s Home), an orphanage that Back2Back serves. She wants to drop them off at the children’s home because she thinks she cannot take care of them. I’m not sure that the girls even realize yet what is about to happen to them.

My wife, Betty, talked to their mom and took down all of their information, as she helps the home handle the intake of new children.  She sent them back home and told them that we would be in contact with them. The truth is that they will likely be the newest residents of this children’s home in a few days. I have witnessed scenes like this one numerous times in the last few years. Betty has been the person who has “interviewed” the moms and “admitted” the unwanted children into Casa Hogar Douglas, for two years now.

These young girls’ story is all too familiar. Mom has lived with their father for several years, but not been married. Now that he has left them, she has no education, job or money. The only relative that is willing to help her is her sister and she doesn’t have room for all of them. So, the children are dropped off at the children’s home, while mom “rebuilds” her life.

It’s times like this that my heart is heavy. So many thoughts and questions fill my mind sometimes. I really never dreamed that this period of my life would be spent in a battlefield. I think I always envisioned a more peaceful way that I would be spending these years. But really, I couldn’t be happier doing anything else! God knows exactly what I need and always provides. And, I know that God will provide for not only these young girls, but for all the other children in all the other parts of the world that Back2Back serves in. He has promised to do so in His Word! (Matt. 19:14)

I really want to take a moment to thank all of you that lift us up in prayer, support us financially or have come to personally serve alongside of us. As difficult as some of these situations are, I believe their is joy in knowing we are the ones God is using to demonstrate His Love for these children! All of you who support us in so many ways are being used by God also. (James 1:27)

Letters from the Heart, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

May 21, 2010

Every quarter, we translate letters written from child sponsors and deliver them to the children at the homes we serve.  Often, sponsors include a family photo or stickers, but what is most impactful to the children is the realization that their sponsor is thinking of them. The children are so touched by the encouraging words of their sponsors and treasure the letters, sweet reminders that they are loved.  Thank you to all the child sponsors who through your correspondence brighten the day of the children we serve!  Sponsors can expect to receive return letters from the children in their mailboxes in June!

Interested in signing up to sponsor a child at one of the children’s homes that Back2Back serves?  Call our US office at 513-754-0300 and ask to speak with Claire.

Twelve year old Eduardo, from El Retiro Juvenil Children's Home, reads a letter from his sponsor, Michael

Seven year old Odalis, from El Retiro Juvenil Children's Home, writes a letter to her sponsor from Apex Community Church

Josue, from Douglas Children's Home, writes a letter to his sponsors, Phil and Cindy

Twelve year old, Beatriz, from Douglas Children's Home, writes a letter to her sponsors

Chapel at Casa Hogar Douglas, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

March 30, 2010

We have a name for the renovated chapel at Casa Hogar Douglas. It is now called The Juniper Tree Chapel. Back2Back has been assisting in the weekly worship services for over 1 year now. Last May we finished remodeling the chapel building with the help of the Juniper Tree Foundation. But at the beginning of 2010, we officially named the building The Juniper Tree Chapel.

The name comes from the verse in 1 Kings 19. The prophet Elijah, was scared and fleeing for his life from Jezebel. The scripture says that he went a days journey into the desert and took refuge under a juniper tree. It says that he actually prayed that he would die there. Can you imagine being so scared and feeling so helpless? But under that juniper tree, in the middle of a desert, an angel of the Lord began to speak to Elijah. First, God provided food and water and rest. Then, He told him where He wanted him to go from there.

Like Elijah, most of the kids that live at Casa Hogar Douglas, are scared and perhaps running from their past. Some may even think death could be better. But just as the great prophet of old did thousands of years ago, we want the children of Casa Hogar Douglas to find refuge under the juniper tree.

Sometimes, we are intimidated, by the impressive lives and experiences of people like Elijah. But, James 5:17 reminds us that “Elijah was a man just like us.” We desire that all that come to worship God at the Juniper Tree Chapel, would find hope that they also can accomplish great things for God. All that is required is that they submit everything to Him.

My Time in Monterrey, by Andy Reider, Back2Back Mission Trip Participant

March 24, 2010

While it’s been a few days since I left Monterrey, there’s still a lot to say about my time there. I stayed at Back2Back, an organization that helps resource and facilitate orphanages in Mexico (and in Nigeria too!). It’s a beautiful area, nestled in a valley of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The people there have amazing hearts for kids, and it was really a joy to be around people that give so much of themselves.

Pulling into the gates of Casa Hogar Douglas was a huge relief. The cold, wet, confusing, and stressful ride into Monterrey left me exhausted, but I was immediately thrust into the middle of some more chaos-except this was the kind of fantastic chaos… A pizza party for sixty orphans. It would be difficult to describe the noise, excitement and general din associated with that many kids in a small room eating Domino’s. (Yes, there’s Domino’s in Mexico. Subways too…kind of disappointing, really…but I digress.)

The next day was spent at Rio III, the nickname for an area on the outskirts of Monterrey. Apparently the land bordering rivers is owned by the government, and the poor have claimed it as their own, setting up shanty towns. Trash literally fills the streets, and at times the smell is overwhelming. You can see where those few that are fortunate enough to have electricity have stolen it via makeshift cables off of the main electrical poles. Homes are built of unpainted cinderblock and whatever else happens to be laying around.

But as ugly and awful a place as it was, the people were incredible. The kids were some of the most sweet, and energetic little people you could ever hope to meet. Even living in a place that to me looked like hell, they wore smiles that were bigger than the tears in their jeans or the stains on their shirts.

We spent the day handing out food, groceries, and clothes. It was really an incredible opportunity to spend time one on one with some amazing kids.

All in all, it was a pretty incredible opportunity to meet people who live in a world that is so completely different from mine in most every way. Even as I was experiencing it, I wasn’t sure it was real. It felt like I was living out someone else’s memory or watching someone else’s home movie. So much so that I asked a friend to take this picture. So I could remember that I was there, and that this experience belonged to me, and no one else.

At the Rio

More photos from the trip can be viewed at here.

Help from LifePoint Vineyard, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

March 1, 2010

A group of eighteen adults from LifePoint Vineyard came to serve with Back2Back in February. On Wednesday of that week, we headed to Casa Hogar Douglas, a children’s home we partner with, to work for the day. I had a list of projects planned for the group to work on ahead of time. But, when we arrived, the workers at the home told me that the septic line was clogged and sewage was backing up. When I was dividing up the job assignments for the day, I asked if a couple of the men could check out the problem and let me know what they thought we needed to do. Within the first hour, they discovered we had a big problem. About 200 feet of an 8″ sewer pipe was clogged and in some places crushed. I really thought this was a problem that might take weeks to fix. But these guys were determined to fix it that day.

They quickly came up with a plan that involved jack hammering concrete, cutting out old damaged PVC piping and replacing it with new. They gave me a list of parts that they would need, and we abandoned some of our initial projects to concentrate on this more important one. I sent Mauricio to purchase the new parts and we got busy jack hammering. As the afternoon went on, we could see that we might end up working into the night. These determined guys were unanimous in wanting to finish this project before they left.

As the sun was setting, and we were working by flashlight, many of the kids were beginning to go to sleep in their dorms. But just outside their window, they could hear eleven men fighting for their cause. These men weren’t angry or even upset. Instead they were laughing and joking about working in the dark.

The part that impressed me the most, was how safe these young kids felt as they went to sleep that night. Most nights, children in a casa hogar go to sleep feeling insecure. Sometimes, they may even have fear about something that is going on in their life. And for many kids in a children’s home, men have let them down the most. But on this night, the young kids at Casa Hogar Douglas, went to sleep knowing that eleven men were working with the joy of the Lord, in very unpleasant conditions, for their benefit. For at least one night, the men of Lifepoint Vineyard brought peace and security to the frightening world these kids live in. And they did it in a very simple way.

Praying for Casa Hogar Douglas, by Mandy Lail, Back2Back Mexico Staff

February 17, 2010

For the month of February, our staff and many ministry partners worldwide have committed to covering this children’s home in prayer. Casa Hogar Douglas is a larger children’s home and Back2Back has partnered with them for a long time. Many of the students in the Back2Back Hope Education Program come from this home. All the homes we serve have struggles: financial needs, finding and keeping good workers, immense needs of children that are sometimes hard to meet and more. This home in particular is struggling and has been for awhile. Our ministry and staff are committed to this home and the kids there and therefore we are committed to fighting for them…on our knees as well. Would you please join us this month in prayer for this home? We have seen God do mighty things in the last year at this home and we know He is just getting started. Join us as we fight for His justice and His reign in this home and over these dear children!

Here is a list of some specific ways in which they need prayer. (For clarification, Wyman is the director of the home, and Jim and Betty are of staff with Back2Back and serve as captains of Douglas.)
1. Caregivers would be full of the love of Christ.
2. Children of all ages would experience God’s Love in this home.
3. Financial needs of the home would be met.
4. Fear and pain would be minimized in the kids’ lives.
5. The Holy Spirit would come and fill every dormitory.
6. God would protect this place with a “band of angels” guarding against all evil.
7. That this home would be a “Shelter” and a “Refuge” for these children.
8. Wyman, the director, would be open and supportive of changes we suggest.
9. We would find tutoring help for kids that need help in school.
10. God would remove anything or anyone that hinders the spread of His Revolution in this place.
11. God would raise up positive role-model leaders within the older boys’ dorm.
12. The younger kids would look up to and follow these positive leaders.
13. Every caregiver and child would know that they are part of the family of God.
14. Light would cause darkness to flee.
15. All care givers and staff would seek truth in their own lives.
16. All care givers and staff would demonstrate compassion in disciplining children.
17. Betty & Jim would be filled with Godly wisdom and courage as they minister.
18. All outside influences (other groups) would be edifying to the Spirit.
19. Godly people would not grow weary of doing what is right.
20. The leadership would be sanctified for God’s service.
21. Tired workers would have time to rest.
22. God would use the church to minister to staff and kids weekly.
23. All staff not filled with the Holy Spirit would leave.
24. Staff and kids would recognize and give testimony to God’s provision in their lives.
25. God would complete His promises in the lives of these children.

Me and JJ with a few of the teens in the Hope Program, as well as our kids

Christmas in Galeana, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 11, 2010

On December 22, the kids of Casa Hogar Douglas had an opportunity to serve kids that had very little materially. One of the caregivers in the children’s home, is from a small mountain town about four hours from here, called Galeana. The people from this town are very poor when it comes to material possessions. When the kids of Casa Hogar Douglas, a children’s home that Back2Back serves, found out about these kids from the hometown of their caregiver, they wanted to share their blessings with them. They got a list of seventy-four kids from a church in Galeana and each one of them chose a toy of their own to wrap and give to the kids of this town.

Not all of the kids were able to make the four-hour trip to Galeana with us on December 22nd.  We took with us about fifteen kids and prepared a meal, worshiped together, had a pinata to open and passed out all of the gifts to the children.

 

Some of the children on a stop during our drive to Galeana

 

 

Enjoying a meal together with the families of Galeana

 

 

Worshiping with the families of Galeana

 

 

The children had fun playing with the pinata

 

 

Passing out gifts to the children

 

 

The children of Galeana were so blessed by the generosity of the kids at Casa Hogar Douglas. For many this gift was their only Christmas present.

 

I witnessed something that day in the faces of the kids from Casa Hogar Douglas. I’ve seen their faces on the receiving end many times, but it was a blessing to watch them as they had an opportunity to serve others in the same way that they have been served by American mission trip groups.

Bringing Books to Casa Hogar Douglas, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

November 11, 2009

Back2Back recently received a donation to purchase new books for Casa Hogar Douglas, a children’s home in Mexico that we serve. I’d like to share with you a little of the story behind the donation.

Emily Taylor is a 14 year-old student at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy. After participating in a mission trip here, earlier this year, she wanted to stay involved in the lives of the children she met in Monterrey. One of the needs that Emily noticed when she read with the kids in the children’s home, was the need they had to read better. As she thought about this, she had the desire to purchase books for their library. Once she knew what she wanted to do to stay involved with the children in Monterrey, she thought about how she could make this possible.

Emily decided that instead of asking for gifts for her birthday, she would ask people to give her money, that she could use to buy books for orphans. She collected $700! We used the money to purchase Christian books for all ages at a local Christian bookstore, here in Monterrey. The store gave us a 25% discount on our purchase so we were able to purchase $1,000 worth of Christian books with the money that Emily collected.

Before we put the books on the shelves, we prayed for them. We gave thanks for the 14 year-old girl who had a God sized dream to stay involved, from over 1,500 miles away. And we prayed that these books would help bring “hope for tomorrow” that these kids did not have before.

Bringing Books to Casa Hogar Douglas

Bringing Books to Casa Hogar Douglas 2

The library at Casa Hogar Douglas

The library at Casa Hogar Douglas

Answered Prayers, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

November 4, 2009

Last week, I was working at Casa Hogar Douglas, along with Mauricio, another Back2Back Mexico staff member. We were working on a list of “honey do” projects for the caregivers there in the children’s home. I always like getting things accomplished on this list because it helps make life a little easier for these ladies who live with and care for these children 24/7. I usually do things like fix lights or plumbing problems or repair doors or  broken furniture. This day, Mauricio was hooking up a clothes washer in the older girls’ dorm for their caregiver, LuLu. The water hookup was not right on the washer. Each time she used it she had to carry water up from the first floor in buckets to fill it. In addition, there was no electric outlet near the washer so she had to use a very long extension cord to make it run. He hooked a direct water line to the washer and installed a new electrical outlet near it for a direct connection.

As we finished up that day, Mauricio told me that LuLu shared with him how she had been praying for some time, that this work would be done. He said to me, “I love knowing that God is using me to answer someone’s prayer!” I had never thought about it that way before, but he was right. When we submit to God’s calling for our lives, many times God uses us as an answer to someone else’s prayer. I know that many of you have been used by God to be an answer to my prayers. As I have prayed for God to provide for our financial support, many of you have been the one that God has used to answer my prayers. That is why it is important to be obedient in the calling that God has for our lives. We may just be God’s answer to someone else’s prayer.

Lulu

Lulu (far right), a caregiver at Douglas Children's Home

The Prayer of Louis, by Jim Betscher, Back2Back Mexico Staff

October 28, 2009

The lives of the kids who live in the children’s homes that we serve are often filled with pain. Many times, their lives are filled with bad memories of their families and a void of real love. In all of the work that we do, we want the kids to experience love and to know that God loves them perfectly. I love it when a child has an opportunity to exercise his faith in God and realize that God always loves them. Recently, Luis, a nine-year old from Casa Hogar Douglas (one of the children’s homes we serve) had this opportunity.

Luis

Javier, the head care giver at this children’s home, has been going to each dormitory at bedtime and praying with the kids. A few weeks ago, he was in the young boys’ dorm, and he asked if they had any prayer requests. Luis, the oldest of four kids in his family that live at this children’s home, said that he wanted to pray that a relative would come and visit them on Sunday.  It had been weeks since anyone had come to visit them on visitation day.

Some of the other kids laughed and said, “No one is coming!”

But then, Javier calmly asked Luis, “Do you believe if we pray that someone will come, that it will happen?”

Luis answered “YES I DO!”

They prayed together that night for his mom to come and visit. That next Sunday, their mom came to visit them.

I remember the day that Luis, his two younger brothers and his sister were dropped off by their mom at the children’s home. It was about a year ago. I remember because I had tears in my eyes as she left them. But, none of the kids were crying. I know that their lives have probably always been full of sadness, heartache and pain. One of the hardest parts of our work, is witnessing the heartache and pain that so many of these kids carry. But I am also lifted up, each time I can witness God’s faithfulness in their lives as well.

Concert for the Children’s Homes, by Beth Guckenberger & Becca Gantz, Back2Back Mexico Staff

October 26, 2009

Thoughts from Beth Guckenberger:

pureNRG, a music group from Word Entertainment was our guest this past month in Monterrey.

pureNRG

They partnered with the James Fund and Payless Shoes in a marketing co-venture that resulted in thousands of donated shoes for orphans around the world.  Hundreds of those were sent to Mexico with b2b and we were able to do a giant footwashing event that placed new shoes on literally hundreds of children in one of our squatters’ villages. The three members of the group served alongside their James fund counterparts and record executives and reached out to two of our childrens homes during work days and then all of the homes one afternoon for a giant concert.  We began the concert with various children’s homes performing for each other and then culminated in a long set of pureNRG songs and their testimonies.  The children loved the concert, singing and dancing and enjoying the time altogether.  What a treat to labor beside our James Fund friends and Word Entertainment who has brought gifted artists like Mark Schultz and pureNRG to speak out with their voices for the children we serve.  It was a fantastic week and we are all new and loyal fans of this great band!

Thoughts from Becca Gantz:

Has anyone heard of the Christian music group pureNRG?

pureNRG’s mission is to entertain, educate and promote Christian values for young people by using wholesome, uplifting lyrics, along with music and dance, in order to provide a positive role model. pureNRG has been a favorite on Radio Disney and has a top selling album out on Fervent Records. They recently toured with MercyMe, BarlowGirl and Skillet.  Their mission is to entertain, educate and promote Christian values for young people by using wholesome, uplifting lyrics, along with music and dance, in order to provide a positive role model.

The members of the band, JORDAN, CAROLYNE, AND CAROLINE, were just here on a mission trip with Back2Back. We had such a blast with them!  They are super fun, energetic, and eager to serve.

One of the nights they were here, they put on a mini concert for ALL the casa hogars (children’s homes) we serve here in Monterrey. Instead of it being just a concert from them, all the homes had something prepared as a little present to them.  The Douglas girls performed a tambourine routine and the rest of the homes sang a couple of songs.

Performing for pureNRG

I am pretty sure it was all of the children’s homes first time to see anything remotely like a concert. There were a lot of kids, LOTS OF SMILING FACES, lots of food for dinner, and most of all LOTS OF FUN.

Dinner before PureNRG concert

Enjoying the concert

PureNRG concert

I also had the privilege of debriefing them one night after serving at the children’s homes.  These three teenagers blew my mind. Their focus is completely devoted to God and there was no doubt in my mind that God has specifically chosen them, to share the Gospel in such a unique and fun way, for a reason.

pureNRG with children from one of the children's homes we serve

Carolyne and Caroline from pureNRG with children from one of the children's homes we serve

With Jordan, Caroline and Carolyne from pureNRG

With Jordan, Caroline and Carolyne from pureNRG

Hear from the members of PureNRG on their experience in Mexico here, here, and here!

Annual Strategic Planning Retreat, by Claire Rogers, Back2Back US Staff

October 19, 2009

Recently, the US and Mexico staff gathered at our Mexico campus in Monterrey for our annual strategic planning retreat.  During the daytime sessions, we brainstormed how we might continue to grow and improve as an organization, while staying true to our mission to provide “care for today, hope for tomorrow” to orphans.  We also visited all our ministry sites, both children’s homes and communities such as the Rios and Cadereyta, and participated in team-building activities.

One evening, we attended a chapel service at one of the children’s homes we partner with, Casa Hogar Douglas.  Some of the girls from the children’s home performed a dance to “Lord I Lift Your Name on High.”  It was captured using the video feature on a camera that someone had on hand.  Check it out, along with some photos from the week, below.

Briefing before team building activities

Briefing before team building activities

Team building activity

Team building activity

The staff split into small groups for a series of team-building activities

The staff split into small groups for a series of team-building activities

Brian Bertke at Rio I

Brian Bertke at Rio I

Kristine Hall before a church service at Rio III

Kristine Hall with children from Rio III

Shooting video at Imperio de Amor

Shooting video at Imperio de Amor

A few staff members during a dinner out at El Pollo Loco

A few staff members during a dinner out at El Pollo Loco

Chris Ramos, spending time with the children at Del Norte Children's Home

Chris Ramos, spending time with the children at Del Norte Children's Home

Shooting video footage of Angel, one of our ministry partners at Cadereyta

Shooting video footage of Angel, one of our ministry partners at Cadereyta

A few members of the US staff at Cadereyta, one of the local communities where Back2Back serves

A few members of the US staff at Cadereyta, one of the communities that Back2Back serves

Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico staff, with Meme, a local ministry partner

Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico staff, with Meme, a local ministry partner

Back2Back US Staff

A few Back2Back staff members before heading back to Cincinnati

Viva Mexico!, by Jim Betscher

September 30, 2009

September 16 is the Mexican Independence Day. The holiday is actually celebrated more on the night before than on the 16th. It reminds me of New Years Eve compared to New Years Day. The tradition here is to have a party on the night of the 15th, and at midnight the president leads the whole country in a cheer. At the end of the cheer, the president says “Viva Mexico” and everyone else joins in with “Viva!”

This year, Back2Back helped plan a party, organized by the church at Casa Hogar Douglas. The eighty kids that live at this children’s home were so proud to open their home up to the public to host this party.

The children at Douglas Children's Home helped decorate for the party

The children at Douglas Children's Home helped decorate for the party

They planned and worked to decorate and then they entertained the guests for the evening. We had about one hundred guests who helped us celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day with the children.  I am so thankful that the kids had an opportunity to enjoy this evening. This is something that they might be doing as a family if they had an opportunity to live in a home with their parents. Living in a children’s home, many times they miss out on events like this. But events like this are so important because they are part of their Mexican heritage.

The children dressed up in costumes to celebrate

The children dressed up in costumes to celebrate

The staff from Back2Back helped with booths, similar to the type that you would see at a carnival.

Back2Back staff enjoyed the celebration

Back2Back staff enjoying the celebration

We catered a delicious Mexican buffet dinner and played games with prizes. The children even performed a short program with the Mexican pledge and national anthem.

The children recited the National Anthem

The children recited the Mexican Pledge and the National Anthem

Some of the youngest kids did a traditional Mexican dance for the crowd and JJ Lail from our staff led everyone in the “grito” or “shout”.

Needless to say, they were all tired at the end of the night but they were very content too. “Viva Mexico!!!”

Words from Home, by Mandy Lail

September 24, 2009

Recently I received a sweet message from home.  My good friend Angel sent me a picture of herself at Casa Hogar Douglas from 1987.  When JJ (my husband) and I decided to come on staff with Back2Back in Monterrey as house parents in the Hope Program, we had been friends with Angel & Shawn for six years. We had served together at Northstar Community Church in Loveland, Ohio and enjoyed their friendship. We were so blessed when they jumped on our support team right away.  Not long after, Angel told me about how she and Shawn had taken several summer mission trips to Monterrey during their high school years.  God had stirred their hearts for this city and they still felt the connection.  Several summers ago, they returned with their son on a mission trip when a group from Northstar traveled to Monterrey to serve with Back2Back.

Last September, when we arrived in Monterrey and began spending time at Casa Hogar Douglas, God broke my heart over that home and the children there.  Three of the boys in my home (Marcos, Mario & Gabriel) are from Casa Hogar Douglas and there are several more boys there that we have formed strong bonds with.  It is a special place for us. As I began to write about it on my blog and post pictures, Angel sent me a message explaining that on their mission trips from high school they would come to Casa Hogar Douglas, climb the hill and pray in the chapel.  They would pray over the children’s home and the whole city. I was so encouraged by the connection God had given us and how He has used Angel to remind me that He is at work in that home…and always has been.

I was feeling particularly discouraged recently but when I received this photo from Angel, God once again used her and her words to encourage me. The needs here feel overwhelming at times and often we can feel too small to make a difference.  But then we are reminded that we are not alone.  God has collected an army of folks here and at home to pray, to advocate and to fight for the orphan.  We are so thankful and so encouraged by all those who choose to invest with us in these casa hogars, these teens, these children.

Read these sweet words of encouragement from Angel to me: “I just re-read the scripture I sent to you in the other email and the last verse says faithfulness through all generations…in 1987 the kids that you minister to were not created yet. Yet the same power, the same love and faithfulness that God had for the kids that I met in 1987 carries through to this generation right now. And so the same power, the same love and faithfulness will carry on to the next generation. This is so much bigger than you or me…I prayed over the Douglas home at lunch and I do feel the war. Please be strong in the power of his might. He hears our prayers…He will answer them.

Thank you Angel for your encouragement.  Thank you to all those Back2Back supporters for all you do for the least of these. We are so thankful for each of you.

Psalm 100:5 For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Angel & Shawn at Casa Hogar Douglas in 1987

Angel & Shawn at Casa Hogar Douglas in 1987

Mandy's husband, JJ, playing soccer at Douglas in the same spot where Angel & Shawn took a photo in 1987

Mandy's husband, JJ, (far left) playing soccer at Douglas in the same spot where Angel & Shawn took a photo in 1987

Power Outage, by Jim Betscher

September 7, 2009

It was Sunday.  I arrived at Casa Hogar Douglas, a children’s home we serve, around 9:30 AM to prepare for church. When I got there, I discovered that the home had been without electric for twenty-four hours. All of the food in their refrigerators was spoiled and because their water well works on an electric pump, they were also without water. We began to determine the exact cause of the problem. Soon, we discovered that the transformer was shorted out and would need to be repaired.

It was the third week of July and the temperature during that time of year is over 100 degrees every afternoon.  Since it was Sunday, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to do anything about the electric until Monday, at the earliest. So, we immediately began hauling drinking water from our property to the children’s home. We also brought the kids to the swimming pool on our property to cool down.  Afterwards, we had a cookout for them.

Getting ready to cool off in the pool

Getting ready to cool off in the pool

Pool party at Back2Back with the kids from Casa Hogar Douglas

Pool games

Alejandro loves playing in the baby pool

Alejandro loves playing in the baby pool

On Monday, we learned it would cost $3,000 to fix the transformer and it would be Tuesday before it would be ready. So we hauled more drinking water, fed them again and invited them to cool down in our pool once more.

It was a rough week. But that is why we are here. Without Back2Back’s help I’m not sure where the children’s home would get help in times like this. Those of you who support this ministry, make it possible for us to help the children’s homes when they have a crisis.  And for that we are extremely grateful. Events such as the power outage enable us to have a platform to share the Gospel. Today, the kids at Casa Hogar Douglas know that God loves them and will provide for their needs.

One of the dorms on the Casa Hogar Douglas property (Douglas Children's Home)

One of the dorms on the Casa Hogar Douglas property (Douglas Children's Home)

VBS at Casa Hogar Douglas, by Jim Betscher

September 2, 2009

The last week of July we had our first Vacation Bible School for the kids that attend the church at Casa Hogar Douglas (Douglas Children’s Home). Each morning, the children had a time of worship, teaching by age group, and crafts.  All of the kids had a great time, as they learned more about God and grew in their spiritual understanding.

In addition to the attendees from the children’s home, eight kids from the local community joined us for the VBS. Can you imagine how the kids from the children’s home felt when the neighborhood kids WANTED to come to their home to visit? Those in the community don’t typically WANT to come to a children’s home.

One of our goals is that the children would feel like the children’s home that they live in is more like a home and less like an institution. I know that this is difficult, but we want them to think as a family. We want them to know what it is like to have siblings, parents, aunts and uncles who really love them as Christ loves them. We tell them often in the church, that we are not perfect, but we are a family.

VBS was not only a time of learning Bible stories and worship songs. For the kids of Casa Hogar Douglas, it was a time to be proud. Please keep praying for this church. I believe God is moving mightily in the lives of these kids right now. Wonderful things are soon to come as we witness the fruit from this work!

Marilin leads the younger children at the children's home to a group Bible lesson

Marilin leads children to their first VBS activity

Children working on an art project during craft time

Children working on an art project during craft time

Sharing a Bible story with the younger children during VBS

Using puppets to share a Bible story with the younger children

Betty Betscher sharing a lesson with the older children during VBS

Betty Betscher teaching a Bible lesson with the older children

Lola, by Brian Hubers, B2B Mission Trip Guest

July 27, 2009

Last week I traveled with a group from Northstar Vineyard to Monterrey, Mexico for a week-long mission trip with Back2Back.  It was my first time there and it was nothing short of incredible.

On Sunday, our first day in Monterrey, we served at Casa Hogar Douglas (CHD), a local orphanage. Some of us started working on leveling uneven terrain to prepare for the concrete that would be poured there starting on Monday.  It was hard physical labor but there is something therapeutic and satisfying about a project that a team can sink its teeth into and see results.  When I stopped for a water break, I noticed a young lady sitting on the cement floor of the palapa, or outdoor shelter area.  She was tired and unable to stay awake.  It was apparent that she had some type of disability.  I filled up my water bottle and headed back to my digging.  We made great progress with our project.  As we wrapped up for the day, I was looking forward to the concrete work on Monday and seeing the area transformed.

Each evening, there is a time of worship and debriefing about the day.  On Sunday night a Back2Back staff member, challenged us to get out of our comfort zone and try something different on Monday.  She said, “If you naturally gravitate toward working on the concrete project, maybe you should paint or spend time with the children.”  That hit me.  I knew that was for me.  I love working with children, but I have to admit I was feeling anxious about the language barrier.  I wanted to see the concrete project completed and I felt like being with the kids all day would be more challenging.  But God had something else in mind.

Monday morning we returned to CHD.  I decided to step-out of my comfort zone and join the team that was playing with the children. As I headed to the palapa, where some of the children were congregating, I noticed the same young lady from Sunday.  I took her hand and together we walked to a picnic bench and sat down.  I learned that her name was Lola.  As we began to interact I couldn’t tell if she could hear me or see me.  I said a few words in Spanish and English but she didn’t react.  Someone gave her a lollipop and she held it a couple of inches from her face to see what it was.  Lola then handed it to me to open.  I glance to my left and notice a line of wheelbarrows at the work site and question if I should really be playing with the children, rather than helping with the concrete.

Just then, the Lord quieted my heart and in that moment, I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be.  Although I didn’t know if Lola could hear or see me I talked to her.  We patted hands a lot and every once in a while she smiled.  She only had a few teeth but nonetheless her smile was beautiful.  It hits me that I should start praying for her.  Once I started praying blessing and protection over her, I just couldn’t stop.  The words kept flowing and before I knew it I had been praying for twenty minutes.  Then, my prayer turned into song and I began singing praises.  Simply put, it was “a God thing”.  I had never done that before; it’s all I can do to stay focused in prayer for five minutes.

One of the other older kids from the home came over to take her somewhere.  Maybe she was trying to rescue me or perhaps she was jealous of all the time and attention someone else was receiving.  But Lola wouldn’t budge.  She held my hand, refusing to stand up.  I tried to communicate to the other girl that it was okay for Lola to stay with me, but I couldn’t tell if she understood.  We continued spending time together, her face beaming as she started to pat my face, first gently and then more aggressively until she was almost smacking my cheeks.  It hurt, but she was enjoying it so I smiled all the more.  By that point, Lola and I had spent over an hour together.  It was a sweet time in His presence.  I had seen her as God saw her and I couldn’t get over her true beauty.

Then, it was time for lunch and that did get her attention.  After she left to eat, I talked with a Back2Back staff member, who explained to me that Lola has severe Down’s Syndrome and is actually 38 years old!  After lunch, Lola and some of the other children took a rest.  I didn’t see her for the remainder of the day.

That night I couldn’t stop thinking about her or talking about my time with her. I shared with the team that although I didn’t think Lola could see or hear me, the hour we spent together was truly wonderful.

On Tuesday morning, a group of men from our team had the privilege of serving breakfast to the kids at CHD.  The kids had no idea we were coming.  Not only do they treasure extra time with the visiting teams, but most of the homes can’t afford to serve the children breakfast, so the meal itself is a special treat.

The kids were still asleep as we prepared breakfast.  When we finished, we rang a bell to wake them.  All twenty of us created a receiving line.  As sleepy little ones with eyes half open headed our way, we cheered to greet them.  Their excitement was visible.  I saw Lola coming toward us.  I was excited, but at the same time I didn’t know what to expect.  She walked straight to me and grabbed my hand.  I escorted her in to breakfast and served her.  And what an honor it was! The guys decided to sing and dance for the children. Lola watched, smiling her near toothless smile.  It was the most beautiful thing I saw the entire trip.

Spending time with Lola

Spending time with Lola

Father’s Day with the Fatherless, by Matt Cooper

June 26, 2009

This past Sunday morning, I accompanied a visiting team from Cincinnati to Casa Hogar Douglas in the morning for church.  This is the seventh Father’s Day that I have lived here in Mexico, but for some reason it really began to dawn on me throughout the morning what a depressing day this must be for the children we serve.  How sad must it be to acknowledge a day separated out to celebrate fathers for a child who doesn’t live with their father, for a child who most likely can’t remember the last time they saw him, or for a child who quite possibly never had the chance to known him at all?

So we arrived at the Casa Hogar and I pointed the group in the direction of the chapel.  As I began walking up the hill towards the chapel I was almost holding my breath.  I could not help but wonder if Father’s Day would even be mentioned, if it would be the proverbial elephant in the room, or if we would just go about our business serving them as if it were any old day of the year?

We filled the seats in and around the children from Douglas and the worship leader began with his normal Sunday greetings.  Shortly after saying “Good morning” he popped the question that I had feared he might.  I literally felt myself hold my breath as he asked, “Who knows what today is?”  Of course they likely knew the answer to the question, but I couldn’t help but wonder what must be going through the minds of the seventy abandoned children that filled the chapel that morning.

Were they feeling sad?  Was some part of them angry? Did they feel like that got ripped off in the Dad Department?  How could they begin to wrap their minds around something that I as an adult barely understand myself?  What exactly is there to celebrate on Father’s Day when you don’t have a dad?

Then the unexpected happened as the worship leader instructed those seventy children to look around them, to locate a dad in the room, and to go and give them a big hug.  I couldn’t believe what I began to witness.  On tip toes and with wide eyes the children began to look around, and then they dispersed themselves throughout the crowd.  All of a sudden it wasn’t about them, or what they were missing out on so to speak, but it was about them wanting to bless someone else in the room.  And let me tell you – I was blessed that morning.  As more than half a dozen kids made their way to the corner where I was standing.  One by one they embraced me, and wished me a Happy Father’s Day – and the same thing was happening to other dads all across the congregation.

What an amazing Father’s Day it was.  I’m not sure why I should be surprised – it is just like God, really.  He used a room full of fatherless children to bless a handful of Fathers in a way that none of us will soon forget.

After the church service, we had a Father's Day cookout for the children.

After the church service, we had a Father's Day cookout for the children.

Two Boys at Casa Hogar Douglas

Two boys at Casa Hogar Douglas

Church at Casa Hogar Douglas, by Mandy Lail

June 4, 2009

Recently, some Back2Back staff members organized Sunday morning church services at Casa Hogar Douglas (CHD), one of our children’s homes in the Monterrey, Mexico area.  God has blessed this new venture with an awesome worship leader; extremely talented, gifted with the children and such an obvious heart for the Lord.  The old chapel is pretty run down and through some generous supporters they have repaired the roof and modified the walls for better air flow.  It’s such a blessing to the CHD workers to have a place to worship where they feel comfortable and the kids too.

The greatest blessing for me is worshiping among the kids from CHD.  There is such power in the concert of voices, such power in the prayer and praises being offered by the B2B staff, the CHD staff, adults from the community and even the kids as well.  The Lord’s presence is obvious.  Every time I am there, each time we praise His Holy Name as we sing, I feel His pleasure so strong it feels as if we have supernaturally carried the children right to His throne room and laid them at His feet.  Now I’ve been to a lot of good churches, even worked at two great ones, but nothing has compared to worshiping among the least of these…

Thanks to Caroline Burns for capturing the service on video.  Click below to view:

Worshiping during a Sunday service at Casa Hogar Douglas