Posts Tagged ‘Kathy Couch’

Preventative Medical Care, by Kathy Couch, Back2Back Monterrey Staff

April 18, 2011

Childhood is often intertwined with doctor visits.  If all of those doctor visits can sometimes feel overwhelming to a family, just think how they impact a children’s home with dozens of children.  Sniffles turn to colds which can then lead to ear infections.   When left untreated, ear infections can lead to hearing loss, sometimes permanently.

A Back2Back volunteer provides medical care to a Mexican child

Recently, a short-term mission group, comprised of doctors and nurses, provided medical care to the children we serve in Monterrey, Mexico. The team brought an audiometer machine with them for hearing screenings.  We focused on a children’s home in which five of the children have delayed speech or other speech problems.

A Recent Back2Back Volunteer Medical Team

Families benefiting from the services of a Back2Back Volunteer Medical Team

One of the young boys we tested proved to be a surprise to all of us.  We explained how to do the test and demonstrated the procedure for him. He looked at us blankly.  We explained the procedure again, pushed the buttons and again he didn’t respond to our prompts.  At this point, we assumed the machine was broken so the doctor tested the equipment and confirmed that it was indeed working properly. We discovered that the boy couldn’t hear any of the tones through the machine, which explained why this young man had been having discipline problems.  He was easily distracted and had trouble following directions.  We didn’t know it was due to his hearing impairment! After the team left, we took him to a hearing specialist in Monterrey, who uncovered a long-term middle ear infection.  Now, we are treating the infection.  What a discovery!  If left untreated, he would have surely lost all hearing.

The children receive medical care when needed; however, sometimes they have their ears checked without receiving a full audiological exam.  Since children’s homes have limited budgets, preventative medical care is often delayed in order to provide food or other more immediate needs.  The short-time medical groups that serve the children help to meet that need by supplementing their medical care.  We are grateful for this team’s initiative in bringing the machine to test the hearing.  In a few months, when his infection clears up, we will have a very different boy on our hands!

If interested in serving with us on a medical mission trip, please contact Chelsie Puterbaugh at chelsie@back2backministries.org or 513-754-0300, ext 1701. 

A Back2Back volunteer provides dental care to a Mexican child at the Back2Back medical clinic


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Building into the Future of a Student, by Kathy Couch

March 15, 2011

Boys are rough, tough and have endless energy.  How do you deal with that in a 17 year-old young man?  Tae-kwon-do.  One young man in our Hope Program, Antonio, has found a great outlet through tae-kwon-do.  He is now in his second year of lessons and just passed his red belt, level one examination.  One component of Back2Back’s Hope Education Program is that we encourage our students to participate in an extracurricular activity.  Many of these students have never had an opportunity to pursue a hobby before.

Antonio was introduced to tae-kwon-do through his college’s team.  After a short time, he grew eager to learn faster so we enrolled him in a tae-kwon-do school.   Apex Church from Ohio offered to partner with Back2Back by funding lessons for Antonio and also soccer lessons for another Hope student, Daniel.  This is a great way to build independence and confidence in a teenage.  After growing up in a children’s home where everything is shared, extracurricular activities teach the student’s independence and how to engage socially.   As we have watched Antonio grow in his craft, travel with his teammates to out of town competitions, and discover the satisfaction of succeeding at something, there is no way you can put a dollar amount on that.  It is indeed priceless.  This will follow him into his adult world where problem solving skills, teamwork, and interpersonal relationships will be crucial.   We are grateful for Apex’s vision to build into a student’s life through Back2Back’s Hope Education Program.

Antonio proudly displays his awards

Through the Hope Education Program, Back2Back offers students from children’s homes a way to continue their education when free public school ends at ninth grade. The students stay on the Back­2Back campus in homes with staff families (house parents), experiencing a healthy family life. Students are mentored, provided with an education, and encouraged to pursue their dreams so that they can become self-sustaining individuals. To learn more about contributing to Back2Back’s Hope Program, please contact our US office at 513-754-0300, ext 1707.

Playdates with Wendy, by Kathy Couch, Back2Back Mexico Staff

February 11, 2011

One day, I was at one of the children’s homes we serve.  Standing by herself was a little girl.  She appeared to be the saddest thing I had seen in a long time.  I started asking around and found out that her and her sister had been dropped off about a week before.  That was in September.  As I went home that day, that little one’s face haunted me.  I don’t think I had ever seen a truly sad two-year old before, at least not that I could recall.  God kept bringing her to my mind.  I returned to that same home to talk to the little girl’s care giver.  During this conversation I found out that during the morning this little one was the only one in her dorm.  So being the multi-tasker I am, I figured if I picked Wendy up once a week that would give the care giver a break and little Wendy some one-on-one time.  Two-for-one bonus!

The first week I picked her up, she was not sure what was happening.  Tim and I took her to the grocery store, which we are now sure she had never been before.  This alone was pretty overwhelming for her.

Grocery shopping with Wendy

Then, we brought her home.  Wendy did well most of the morning, until I went to feed her lunch.  I moved her from the bar stools to the table.  All of the sudden an all out, total loss of control, screaming with tears fit followed.

One of our boys came in the door and yelled, “What is that?”

I just pointed to the floor.  He looked at me like I was crazy.  I went to pick her up to show him why she was on the floor and she did the ‘limp kid’ thing and slid back down to the floor.  He then went over and just started to rub her and talk softly to her.  She did not stop, but he did not either.  As I stood closer, I could hear him praying.  I just smiled.

Since then, she has started to come around.  She is smiling; I had never seen that on her face before!  She is talking, all be it mostly ‘no’ but still it is talking.  She is now interacting with more people.  I am so glad that I listened to that little prick in my conscience about this sad, little girl sitting at a children’s home.  I hope that our relationship somehow gives her hope and makes her feel special.

Kathy with Wendy

 

Yo Soy Libre, by Kathy Couch, Back2Back Mexico Staff

June 29, 2010

Before summer started here at Back2Back Mexico, we hosted a youth retreat for the teens that live on our campus through the Back2Back Hope Education Program.

Students during the youth retreat

The theme was “Inner Healing.”  Several of our youth started praying and fasting for this event about two months before.  The testimonies that flowed from the retreat were incredible.  Testimonies of feeling like baggage from the past had dropped off of their shoulders, they felt free, forgiven, and worth something.  This retreat culminated in a church service at a local church where our youth gave testimonies in front of a large congregation of people.  One young man in particular, got up and yelled into the mike, “YO SOY LIBRE!”  (I am free).  He then went on to explain how he had made several bad choices in his life, but God had forgiven him and he truly felt free for the first time in his life. That phrase ‘Yo soy libre’ has rattled around in my head these past few weeks.

Lately I have been praying that God would renew my passion for the orphan child.  Little did I know how badly it would hurt.  At one of our children’s homes we are short a care giver.  One of our single staff women has stepped in to be surrogate aunt until we can find a replacement.  Others of us, including me, are helping share the load of fourteen little guys between the ages of two and eight.

I have helped bathe them and put them to bed.  Bedtime has to be the loneliest time in a children’s home.  All those little bodies wanting someone to rub their back and treat them like the children they are. You always have someone crying, throwing things, one with a meltdown, one who has pooped his pants, and the never ending climbers! The first few days I helped out, I would come back to our campus and just cry.  I really could not stand the pain that these kids were going through.  One morning I was reading my Bible, flipping through the Psalms and I hit upon Psalm 61:1-3:

O God, listen to my cry!  Hear my prayer!  From the ends of the earth I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.  Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings.

Then the phrase ‘Yo soy libre’ started rattling around in my brain again.  God has done just that through the Hope Education Program.  He has heard the cries of the orphan child.  He is taking back the ground that the enemy meant to use to destroy them.  Through healthy interactions God is restoring them, giving them meaning, purpose, and love.  I feel totally humbled to be part of this process.  I know that there will always be orphans. There will always be wounds that are seemingly too deep to heal, but our God is a miracle worker.  He never sleeps. He never slumbers.  He never tires of hearing our prayers.  Pray for this large group of kids.  The last count I heard was 148 million but that was before the tragedy in Haiti.  Pray that God protects and provides for these children.  Pray for passion for the orphan child.

Fabulous Fatima, by Kathy Couch, Back2Back Mexico Staff

May 28, 2010

There is this lively little five year old girl at one home we serve.  Her name is Fatima.

Fatima, with my husband, Tim, while spending time at our house

She is a bundle of energy and orneriness oozes out of her pores! During Semana Santa (the week before Easter), several of the kids went  home to stay with relatives for the holiday.  Not Fatima.  She stayed at the children’s home because there was nowhere else for her to go.  That in itself made me very sad, so I thought of what I could do to cheer her up.  In my world cookies always help so I brought her and seven other kids, that did not have anywhere to go, to my house, to make cookies.

They had a blast. They all helped measure out ingredients and felt like pastry chefs as we baked and ate the cookies.  She and her little friend Angel cleaned the dishes.  They were allowed to play in the sink with suds and water as long as they wanted.  I even had a little stool that they could stand on!  Pretty close to heaven for a five year old.

I could not help but think of how this “normal” thing in my life never happens in these kids’ lives.  They are not allowed to play in the kitchen while someone cooks.  They don’t get to lick the beaters or eat raw cookie dough (I know you are not supposed to do that!).  They cannot eat delicious warm cookies right out of the oven.  For a disheartened moment, I was incredibly sad for little Fatima and for all the things that she was missing in childhood.  But then I looked around and realized that God had brought many people into little Fatima’s life to make it better and I just happened to be one of them!  Praise the Lord for loving the orphan.

2 Corinthians 4:7 “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay pots containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God and not ourselves”.

Crossing Cultures, by Ruby Moyer & Kathy Couch, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 31, 2010

During the Christmas holidays this year, we had the opportunity to take a few of the Hope Program teens to the United States.  We thought it would give them great insight on what it’s like to live in a foreign country with a foreign language surrounding you at all times. It put a face to the Hope Program for some of our supporters.  What a great way to merge two cultures.

Ruby loaded up Jazmin and Evelyn for a long day of travel.  We took two buses, two flights, and a car ride to finally arrive in Indiana.  We were greeted with snow to the girls delight.

Our two weeks were filled with the girls meeting people, eating in restaurants, shopping, being cold, and visiting Chicago – all of which were new experiences.  It gave us a chance to deepen our relationship and for them to see what life is like in the United States.  They got to spend time with their previous house parents, Bill and Heather Merrill, who they still have a relationship with, and one of the highlights was a day in Chicago that the Merrills blessed us with.  We stayed in a 5–star hotel and felt like queens for the day.

Tim and Kathy sent Antonio to visit a supporter in Austin, Texas.  He experienced his first border crossing and a bus ride in the US, alone, and lived to tell about it.  A few days later, we loaded up Cheko and headed to Austin to pick up Antonio and then on to Oklahoma.  The young men who had never seen snow before were able to experience a blizzard on Christmas Eve.  During the week, they encountered lots of opportunities to push people out of the snow and to shovel driveways.  They even built a snowman and their comment was, “It’s a lot harder than it looks!”

When you grow up in a childrens’ home all your life, you are constantly surrounded by people.  One thing we noticed on this trip was that being in a completely different environment, their personalities were able to shine through and we saw a side of them we had never seen before.  You could see on their faces that they felt loved, valued, and important.

The Washing, by Kathy Couch, Back2Back Mexico Staff

January 7, 2010

When I need moments of peace and quiet without the constant yelling of “Kathy” that goes on in my house, I head to a park here in Monterrey.  This particular park has a creek that runs through it.  The creek is never really full so it is easy to park my sling chair in part of the creek bed and just listen to the water running by.  One day I was sitting there just listening and watching the water.  There was this big rock that was half way in the water and half way out.  The top was very dark and dirty and the part under the water (the water was clear) was a completely different color.  The under water part was many shades lighter and much cleaner.  I could feel God wanting to teach me something with this observation and I heard that quiet voice in my mind say, “Look at that rock.  That is how the washing of the Word works on your heart.  It is slow and constant.  It is not necessarily painful but consistent.  It will, over time, change you.  But you have to allow the Word to work and you have to spend time reading it to get the benefit.”  So as I sat and looked at that rock I let this settle in my heart.  I want my life to look different.  I want to be bright and clean in my spirit.  So it is up to me to spend time in the Word and to allow God to wash me clean.  I am so grateful that God is willing to do this.

Border Issues, by Kathy Couch

September 16, 2009

Living in a foreign country can have its drawbacks.  Especially one – the difficulty of crossing the border!  This experience is enough to make a grown man beg…. for papers… for entry…. for mercy.  Because, at that moment, the border immigration officers have ALL the power.  It seems there are rules, but no one really knows the rules.  This just makes it more fun.  My last experience with the border was fairly painless.  I thank the Lord for that.  But, it did make me think about border issues in my life.

After being in the states awhile and gazing into the television for way too many hours (because it “talked to me” in English), I thought of the border issues of my mind.  What am I allowing in without a fight?  What are my rules?  What do I give limited access too so that I can keep the pure mind that God called me to maintain?

It also reminded me of border issues in my mind.  If I am trying to die to myself daily, then I can’t be having conversations in my mind about my rights.  Rights to my own time, space, or wants.  I need to look outward instead of inward.  When people need my time or attention, my first thought should not be ‘me’!  It kind of spoiled me going home and having everyone think I was so great.  It filtered in through my brain and made me think I truly was something and some how deserved certain things.  So, there is another border issue.  To die or not to die.  To have the courage to die to myself, I have to stay plugged into the Word.  So that in dying to self, I am living in my spirit with Christ.

So with all the frustration of the border, I do have to thank them for making me think about the borders in my life.  I want to maintain the borders that keep me different from the world so that I can live my life as a witness to Jesus.  I had an interesting conversation with one of my boys who lives in our home through the Hope Program.  He shared with me that he thinks his teacher is a Christian.  His only proof is the man’s attitudes and actions.  What a testimony for an eighteen-year-old kid to notice there is a difference in your life! I want people to see that difference in me.  I want to talk about Jesus, but I also want to walk in a way that people see the difference and wonder why it is there!