Posts Tagged ‘Del Norte’

A Balanced Meal, by Mindy Webster, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 15, 2011

Enjoying fresh grapes with lunch

Many of the children’s homes that we serve lack the funds to purchase fruits and vegetables. A normal lunch or dinner in a children’s home consists of rice, a tortilla, and eggs, beans, or ground beef.  These foods are inexpensive and easy to make in the large quantities three times a day.  As a result, the children’s diets lack essential vitamins and nutrients that are found in produce. However, the Shelter Child Sponsorship Program is enabling the children’s homes to begin to provide more balanced meals, supporting the growth, health, and development of the children.  The children’s homes are now purchasing fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.

At Casa Hogar Del Norte, the children had grapes, watermelon, and a salad to go with their lunch.  The children were especially excited to have fruit with their meal.   They view it as being a special treat, since until recently, they rarely had it. The caretakers didn’t have to ask the children to eat their fruit. In fact, after finishing their portion, they were all asking for more!

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Becoming President, by Gabo Velasco, Back2Back Mexico Staff

July 7, 2011

When ten-year old Adrian was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded with “the president of Mexico.”  Martha, the director of Del Norte Children’s Home who posed the question, was impressed but knew what this would require of Adrian: the ability to read.  Martha made it clear to Adrian, that if he was really interested in being the president, he would have to read a lot.  From that moment on, you could count on finding Adrian tucked away in a nook somewhere in the Del Norte library reading one of the many books the library has to offer him. In fact, even a year after this conversation,Adriancan still be found in the library preparing for his presidency.

Adrian, enjoys a book at the library

With each visitor that arrives at Del Norte, we are certain to give them a tour of the library, emphasizing the importance of reading, encouraging each guest to spend an hour or so of their visit reading with a child.  Through this initiative we have seen the children’s reading skills improve, even finding their interest in reading growing as they now enjoy reading on their own.  Other local groups, individuals from churches and universities in the city who visit Del Norte are joining in these efforts, coming alongside the children as they develop their reading skills.  As we strive to improve the reading skills of the children, we are hopeful this will plant a seed, assisting in developing them to become successful youth and eventually successful adults.

The Joy of Reading, by Kim Wittkugel, Back2Back Mission Trip Guest

January 6, 2011

Our family has been involved with Back2Back for many years.  In 2000, our oldest child went on a school mission trip with Back2Back.  We were all able to go as a family in 2008.  As I served at the various children’s homes, I noticed that the children had little or no access to books. Trained as a reading specialist and elementary teacher, I realize the importance of reading to kids and access to books in a child’s literacy development.  As a mom, I witnessed the joy of reading to my kids and the excitement in their eyes as we explored the world through books.  And as an avid reader myself, I cherish the time I can spend with a good book.

I was saddened that the children living in the homes could not have these same experiences.  In the months that followed after I returned from my trip, I kept remembering all the children who I had met in Mexico that did not have access to books.  God was continuing to nudge my heart to do something.  Not knowing how exactly to help, I devoted some time to prayer.

In the months that followed, God sparked a solution that began with my kids.  Ben, who was in eighth grade, gathered 600 used books to donate to Back2Back.  My daughter, Erica, who was a senior in high school, organized a “literacy packet” drive with the Spanish classes at her school.  She collected 110 personalized packets consisting of a children’s book, writing materials, and a personal letter to each child.  My Bible study also sent packets down.  The next summer, Erica was able to deliver the packets when she served again on a school trip.

As I shared the literacy issue with my parents, they felt compelled to get involved.  My father is a long time member and leader in his local Rotary International group, the Rotary Club of West Seneca, New York.   Each year, they adopt an international project to support with a donation of $2,000.  I was able to visit the group and give a presentation on the literacy needs of the children that Back2Back serves.  Not only did Rotary International agree to donate the full $2,000, but they also offered a matching district grant and a private donation, bringing the total to $6,000.

At the same time, Martha, the director of Del Norte Children’s Home, an orphanage that Back2Back serves, was building a library for the children there, but she needed money for books.  We had a match!  The money donated by West Seneca Rotary was enough to provide books for the library, allowing Martha to fulfill her dream of a library for the children at Del Norte.

This past March, Erica and I traveled to Mexico to paint a mural on the library wall.  It was exciting to see the room where the library was going to be.  Erica felt honored to contribute to the project by creating a mural.  Now, with the library open, I am so thankful that the children have a beautiful place to escape with a good book!

The Del Norte Library

Kim, spending time reading in the new library

Just this past week, I learned that the Rotary Club of West Seneca, NY has approved an additional $2,000 donation towards a library at another children’s home where Back2Back serves, Douglas Children’s Home.  Once again, a private donation was given with the possibility of a matching Rotary district grant.  The project continues!  More books allowing more children to discover the joy of reading!

While I was in Mexico, I saw the lack of literacy opportunities for the children, but I felt that there was not much that I could do.  The need seemed too great.  After I returned home, God continued to put the children on my mind and heart, and I knew that I had to listen.  Back2Back staff member, Beth Guckenberger, gave me some great advice, which I clung to: take one step at a time and wait for God to show you the next step.  And that is exactly what I did. I began by taking the first step with getting my children involved and then God has ordered the steps that led us to a Rotary partnership.  This partnership has provided the resources needed to begin to give the children in the homes an opportunity to improve their literacy and escape into a good book.

Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas from all of us at Back2Back!  May the peace and joy of the holiday season be yours today and always!

Click on the video below to enjoy a special Christmas greeting, Deck the Halls, performed by some of the children at Del Norte, a children’s home that Back2Back serves.

Del Norte Library, by Caroline Burns, Back2Back Mexico Staff

April 8, 2010

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to help Erica and Kim paint a mural at the new Casa Hogar Del Norte Children’s Home library addition. They did a fantastic job! Here are a few pictures to show the day by day progress of that week:

If you have ever served with us in Monterrey and visited this children’s home, you’d remember it no doubt. It is the one that looks sort like it’s out of some imaginary world – one where the kids have trampolines, a HUGE auditorium, outdoor kitchen, homework rooms, a bakery, music rooms, a computer lab and now a huge second story library with outdoor patio. And to top it off, the woman who is the director of this home started the orphanage in her RETIREMENT. This home screams from every direction that God is actively blessing those children, He will hear them, come to them, lift them up, make them a home, give them food and clothing, execute true justice for them and all the other promises that God has made in scripture to the orphan child. And to top it off – those scriptures are actually physically written on the walls in case you missed the obvious.

Why a library? Martha, the director of the home, was in the states visiting a church in Texas last year and saw their children’s ministry area complete with a children’s library. You know what they usually look like – bean bags, colorful carpets, fun art on the walls, tons of books, a few computers, etc. She asked the Americans she was with if the kids liked this kind of library. Martha was a bit amazed at the idea that reading could be fun. You see, in Mexico, the average school aged child reads one book a year. In the states – the average is not much better but at least it’s at twelve books a year. The kids here very much so associate reading with punishment.

But Martha, a woman of VISION, got another vision for her children’s home and thus, the library addition began. We sat down with her and asked her on camera why she wanted a library for her children – she said something that I was not in the least expecting.  She said, “So the children will know who is God.”

Her reason for everything she does for the children was so that the kids would look around at the orphanage they live in and think, “This place is different. Why is this place so different?” And the answer would involve the reality of how much God passionately loves them and is caring for them. Pretty much NO ONE, no orphanage, no local civic center, nowhere has a children’s library and if they do – it won’t begin to compare to what Martha is building. And the reason is so that the kids might know who God is.

Listening to her testimony of the children on the streets that Martha would see everyday many years ago and how she made a decision to care for them which ultimately led to the children’s home Back2Back serves today, it was all I could do to not just cry. Martha is incredibly humble. I’ve never met anyone like her. But what really gave me the chills that day was that she is BELIEVING on faith that the new directors of that home, whoever they will be, and she needs new leadership because she is really old, WILL BE ABLE TO BETTER CARE FOR THE KIDS THAN SHE CAN. After hearing WHY she was building a library, I was shocked. But hearing that Martha honestly believes that God will provide new leadership to follow in her footsteps that will do far greater things than she has been able to – will forever be imprinted on my mind. If you’ve ever met Martha, maybe you can understand a bit of my surprise at hearing this. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone as AWESOME, strong, determined, full of faith, dedicated, gentle, sweet natured, kind, generous and passionate as Martha.

I want to believe the best is yet to come like Martha does. Don’t you?

I Will Not Leave You as Orphans, by Benjamin Riggs, Back2Back Mission Trip Guest

August 3, 2009

The last night that I was in Monterrey, before communion Matt Massey shared some awesome insight to Jesus’ words at the Lord’s supper.  He spoke about how a bridegroom builds a house in order to have His bride to be in marriage.

“He is finishing a house to come get His bride,” Matt said.

Since then I’ve thought a lot about that and the scripture that was the backbone for discussion and theme for the week, the idea of Shelter, based on Psalm 91:1.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow the Almighty.”

What I took as a “typical” psalm at first has slowly been turning into part of the definition of my walk with the Lord. During the week, I was captivated by the fact that dwelling in the shelter of the Most High was a reality for the psalmist, as opposed to an idea. Secretly, while I gave my answers at our small group, I longed to understand that more.

Before arriving in Monterrey, I had been neck deep in college books and a society that sells me the lie that everything is about me. I hadn’t really seen how I had let it work its way into my walk with the Lord until then. In Monterrey, Jesus began a serious revival of heart from checking out Psalm 91:1 and being in the company of the staff, interns, volunteers, and children we served.

Part of the change in my heart was from seeing how He continues to sanctify and Father His children, just as He has promised. As much as He continues to change my heart to look more like His, I was made aware of the fact that this change involves more than just me. Since the experience of serving and loving in Monterrey, I have been more aware of how passionate Jesus is about the Body of Christ; He has given us the Spirit and He is indeed building a house (Ephesians 2:22). The more I saw what Jesus was doing in Monterrey, the more I saw the involvement of the Holy Spirit and it’s presence in the Body of Christ to serve and love those that He has and promises to continue to love.

During a ropes course exercise, we came face to face with the task of trying to put our entire group on a platform that was just big enough for me. One plan that we tried was putting the smaller people in the middle, while others linked arms around them.

Ben and his team during a ropes course exercise

Ben and his team during a ropes course exercise

With all this discussion of shelter, the image of the Body came to my heart. In the past when I’ve thought about the Body, the phrase being His hands and feet always came to mind. I’ve seen this past week that along with His hands and feet, Jesus is also changing us to have His heart (1 Corinthians 12:24-25) for the poor, sick, orphaned, imprisoned, and lost.

While on earth Jesus’ body was obviously the embodiment of the Most High that we seek shelter in.  Now we are being pieced together part-by-part into His body, to continue His presence, as He is the cornerstone of this structure (Ephesians 2:20) and the Head of this Body (Ephesians 4:15, Colossians 2:19). We are to provide shelter for others to dwell in as we dwell in Him. I experienced that reality being welcomed and loved by the staff, interns and others that I served alongside and now love. The last day I was there I fell in love with a little boy from Del Norte: Jose Daniel. There wasn’t a part of me that wanted to leave him, but I know that God has a plan for that little guy. As I was leaving him, I was reminded of Jesus’ promise in the book of John.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”(John14:18).

Since returning home from Monterrey, I know that I can continue to be an extension of His Body by reminding others that He has not left any of us as orphans. He is coming back for His children. He is coming back for His bride.

Benjamin and Jose

Benjamin and Jose