Posts Tagged ‘children’s homes’

Confidence Booster, by Caroline Burns, Back2Back Monterrey, Mexico Staff

May 11, 2012
Within the past month, all four of the 4th graders that I work with at Casa Hogar Douglas (Douglas Children’s Home) have finished the first chapter book of their entire lives.  We’re so excited to promote literacy among the children we serve through tutoring and development of libraries on-site at the children’s homes. This is truly a key to them having the tools they need to break free from the cycle of poverty.  My excitement I think pales in comparison to how much this feat is boosting these boys’ confidence in their own academic abilities. I don’t think they had any idea that they were capable of reading such long books.
Boy #1 just learned to read this past September. He hadn’t been enrolled in school for the past 2 years. Not only can he now read, he can read (really slowly, while skateboarding) chapter books on a 3rd and 4th grade reading level. He genuinely likes to read. What started with Dr. Seuss, has now progressed into chapter books about pirates in space.
Boy #2 now gets more excited when I bring news of new books arriving from the states for him to read than when I buy new movies. He’s the strongest reader out of the 4 boys in his grade that live in his dorm. He’s come a long way from where he was last year in reading.
Boy #3 can barely read. I mean, he can read but it’s painful at times how slow he reads. In 15 minutes, he might read 3 pages. He still tries to cheat his way out of reading for the allotted time by just counting out loud to try and trick me that he’s really reading. But he has now read two of the Stink books and is unbelievably proud of himself.
Fourth grader #4 is a special, special child. He has some rather intense behavioral outbursts at times. He doesn’t usually do well in school and he has severe speech problems. On the days that I’m responsible for him, I’m lucky if I can get him to do half of his homework without throwing a fit. He’s multiple years behind in school but this blessed country keeps passing him to the next grade. This pass month though, I believe I’ve witnessed a miracle. He loves to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books! When his required 15 minutes of reading is up, he keeps reading. He laughs hysterically as he reads and then runs to read the same joke on the page to another kid. We had a party just this past week when he finished the first book in the series by watching the movie that’s been made after the book. He was so excited to watch the movie that he even invited his older brothers to watch with us. He is currently reading the 2nd book in the series and when he finishes, I’ve promised to buy the 2nd movie.
I’m so proud of them and so thrilled for their futures. For whatever reason, each one of the stories being written in history for these boys involves the part where they grew up in an orphanage. The statistics are not pretty for how the stories of people who got their start in an orphanage usually end. I usually find myself praying against what seems like ridiculous odds when I remember them individually in my prayers. But what I’m physically seeing right now is an obvious answer to my prayers from over a year ago.

-The cost of the 30 or so books it took to start the boys reading: around $200 usd

-Video games to motivate them: free because I took my little brother’s stuff
-Months of constantly throwing books at the boys: 14 months
-Self-confidence gained after finishing the first chapter book of your life: PRICELESS
Seeing and hearing them read and laugh and love what they are reading is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed but it doesn’t compare to seeing and hearing them worship with all they’ve got. They yell it out whether it’s to a CD, a worship DVD or at church. And they’ve got some awesome air guitar moves.  Three years ago, I don’t think any of them knew a worship song. Better things are yet to come at Douglas my friends. Join me in praying that Angel, Guillermo, Cesareo and Gustavo grow up to be some mighty men one day.
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Introducing Back2Back’s Newest Site: Mazatlan, Mexico, by J.J. Lail, Director of Back2Back Mazatlan

November 18, 2011

Mazatlan, Mexico - Back2Back's Newest Site

The ever-growing statistic of 163 million orphans in the world tells us that there is plenty of work to be done to serve “the least of these.” Back2Back desires to not only be a
voice for orphan children but to also go where God leads to serve them directly. In the last year, God has been leading Back2Back to launch a new site in Mazatlan, Mexico,“The Pearl of the Pacific.”

The opportunity to serve in Mazatlan has come through our ministry partnership with Riverview Church in Lansing, Michigan, who has been supporting and taking trips to children’s homes in Mazatlan for a number of years.  As Back2Back has expanded its ministry sites, we have created a process for new site development, which is a strategic approach to thoroughly researching the site and prayerfully considering our calling there. Back2Back has taken two exploratory trips to the area and we feel like God has orchestrated and ordained our visits there. We know of six children’s homes in the Mazatlan area and have visited and begun relationships with the directors and caretakers in five of the six homes. The directors and caretakers all share a deep love of God and a deep desire for the children in their care to experience a brighter future. We have also made a connection with a social worker from the DIF, Mexico’s Department of Children’s Services.

Executive Director, Todd Guckenberger, JJ Lail and a friend of the ministry with directors of one of the children's homes that Back2Back Mazatlan will serve

On our most recent visit, we spent time with three pastors of local churches in Mazatlan. We are confident that we will be able to partner with these churches to help meet
the needs of orphans in Mazatlan. This fall, two boys from one of the children’s homes there, Rancho de los Niños, will be coming to Monterrey to be a part of the Hope Education Program. This fall, Back2Back is making decisions about staffing for the new site, contacting possible partners to champion the ministry in Mazatlan, taking another trip to Mazatlan to look for staff and mission team housing, and continuing the relationships with the children’s homes. The goal is to have staff on the ground at Back2Back Mazatlan the beginning of 2012 and hosting mission teams of up to twenty-five individuals.

If you have questions or would like to know more about how you can partner with Back2Back Mazatlan, please contact J.J. Lail at jlail@back2backministries.org or 513-250-8296.

Play with Purpose, by Mindy Webster, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 1, 2011

This summer, the Back2Back Child Development Team rolled out a new program for groups from the US to participate in at our Monterrey, Mexico site.  We spent the year studying child development in institutions like children’s homes, looking at what the Bible says our response to the poor and orphan should be, and how we can make a deeper and lasting impact in the lives of the kids we serve.  We did a lot of staff training and read a lot of books.  Now, we are finally ready for some action steps!

The first thing we’re doing is to request that groups no longer bring candy and dollar store presents (like silly bands or little trinkets) to hand out to the kids.  Most people do this because they want to connect with a kid and make a difference in their lives but don’t always know how or don’t know Spanish.  So, instead of candy and gifts we’re doing Play With Purpose!  These are planned out activities and games that bring the group members and children together and develop a variety of skills.  Some are just physical because our kids need regular exercise.  Some are to work on social skills, some are educational, and some are Bible lessons.  After four weeks we’ve seen  great success!  Yesterday, a group took nail polish and all the goodies to do a big spa day for the girls in a children’s home.  They got the royal treatment soaking their feet in warm soapy water, foot and hand massages, and pretty nail polish.  Those girls felt like princesses, which is exactly who God says they are: beautiful and valuable princesses of His kingdom.

Group members read with children at a children's home library, thanks to the generosity of ministry supporters.

Working on puzzles teaches spacial awareness and problem solving skills.

Alonna plays jump rope with children at Manantial de Amor. Physical exercise is a huge piece of child development that kids in children's homes are often missing.

A Changed Heart, by Daniel Shores, India Mission Trip Participant

April 12, 2011

This email came from an India Mission Trip participant, Dan. He and Jessica have given their permission to share it:

Hello to all the Back2Back Family,

I participated in the India mission this summer. I wanted to write and extend my many thanks and good wishes to you and all of the amazing work you are doing in the world.

As with most mission trips, I know that myself and many of the participants left with almost a guilty feeling of how much we take away and how much the children give us vs. what we do while we are there. But I wanted to share my personal thanks for the experience and the way it has changed my life, my home life and most importantly the way it has helped my wife to connect to a true calling from God.

This trip was Jessica’s first mission trip. She went with a very tentative attitude about the experience she would have, as she is by nature a very reserved person.  I wanted to share that since her return that God has truly touched her in very special ways and opened her heart to mission in a way that neither she or I would have ever expected. Since returning from the trip Jessica has become a member of the mission committee at our church, and with the associate pastor and others on the committee at our church organized a family mission trip for late July where we will be putting on a VBS as well as doing a number of work projects. I watch as God truly moves through her giving her drive and ambition to do his work in the world, as well as a voice to speak about it. Jessica is generally a very quiet person.  However, since being back she has spoken in front of the congregation, her women’s circle, and at our recent mission meetings. Having been married to her for twelve years and knowing that she has never been someone who enjoys speaking in public, I can only say that it is truly the Holy Spirit working through her, and I thank you for the integral role that your ministry played in connecting her to that.

I wish you all of the blessings and joy possible in this world!

Your Brother in Christ,

Daniel Shores
Braddock Street UMC
India Mission team 2010

Jessica, serving with Back2Back in India