Posts Tagged ‘Manantial de Amor’

A Difficult Day, by Cathy Huffer

September 19, 2011

These are the kids with whom Jesus is now staying.

Some of the children at Manantial de Amor with the directors of the home

All names have been changed in the story.

So many emotions went through my head yesterday. You see, I thought I was just going to help out a friend from the Rio and a couple hours later I’d return home. Good deed done and nothing different. Boy was I wrong.

Diana is a girl who must be 26 or 27 years old. She lives with her six year-old daughter and her boyfriend. Truth be told in my three years working at the Rio 1 community (a poor neighborhood of wood, tin and scrape houses that people have built along a riverbed), I maybe have seen him a time or two. And the one time I saw him, he was drunk. Diana is my friend. She is quiet and hardly speaks unless spoken to. In fact, I learned more about her and heard her speak more words yesterday than in the three years combined since I met her.

Meme, a Christian leader in Rio 1, had told me that Diana had a brother who wanted to go to a children’s home and asked if I could help them get to Manantial de Amor. This children’s home is about twenty minutes from their house and is one of the closest to them. I said sure, not really thinking through what I’d experience that day.

When I went to pick them up, I saw a smiley twelve year-old boy who spoke few words. It must run in the family, I thought. Diana was glad to see me and asked Sarah, her daughter, to hurry along as she went with us. As we drove there, I tried to start the conversation with simple questions asking them if they had the paperwork they needed, asking Jesus if he was nervous.

To my surprise, he quickly answered, “no.”

But Diana volunteered, “I am.”

When we arrived at Manantial de Amor, Mama Cony, the director, asked “So are all three of you wanting to enter in the children’s home?”

Twenty-six year old Diana is not even five feet tall so I knew she had asked the question innocently. We explained that Diana was there with her daughter, Sarah, to see if her brother, Jesus, could enter the children’s home. It was then that the hard questions came.

“Do you have custody of your brother?,” said the children’s home worker.

“No, not really, but I’m the one responsible,” answered Diana

“Where’s your Mom?”

“She died 9 years ago?”

“And your Dad?”

“He abandoned us before Mom died,” she explains.

“Where is your Dad now?”

“He does drugs and is an alcoholic. Hard to say for sure.”

“So Jose has been living with you?”

“He’s been living with me sometimes and my other sister sometimes. She’s younger than I am. We can’t afford to continue to raise him and he really wants to go to school.”

The questioning reveals that Diana is not married, and her boyfriend hardly gives her enough to raise her daughter. As we sit there, I realize that he has brought nothing with him except his papers (birth certificate and school papers).

The worker says something that puts a lump in my throat.

“So let me see, his birthday is….tomorrow,” he states, but it almost comes out as a question.

What a 13th birthday memory he will have, I think to myself.

As they finish the interview, he is brought two pairs of pants, two sets of underwear and three shirts. He is shown his bunk bed that will be his new home. The worker does a great job of explaining the responsibilities that the home has to him, including visiting rights that she will have. He explains that they want to maintain a strong relationship with him and his family. The lump comes back in my throat. He also explains that the responsibilities Diana has include signing up Jose for free public health insurance and not taking him off the property for fifteen days, etc.

When he finished, she looks to me and says, “Now what?”

Her voice cracked.

I was grateful that the worker answered quickly, “You can stay as long as you’d like but you’ll need to say goodbye sometime.”

When it came time to say goodbye, Jesus seemed strong. Not seeming sad at all. I remembered another child that we work with once tell me that he never gets homesick. The sad feeling that I felt when I heard that swept back over me as I wondered if he no longer gets homesick. Then I looked at Diana, I’ve never seen a lot of emotion on her face before either. But I could see it now.  She didn’t want to show her hurt to her brother. You could see the effort she was putting into being strong for me. As for me, I was crying for them both. I knew Jesus needed this home. I knew Diana was grateful for the opportunity her brother would have to go to school and eat well. Still I also knew that if they could they would trade it all to be together. Today was Jesus’ birthday. I found myself thinking and praying for him all day long.

“Do not be discouraged. Do not be afraid for I the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I pray this promise over Jesus and all the kids that we serve. I have a new appreciation for the workers who don’t just provide clothes and food, but so often are there to wipe away tears, listen, pray with and over children, to teach them that Jesus Christ is the only one that can change lives. Sometimes we experience difficult times with others. I used to try and avoid it, now I see the blessing in being a part of the intimate moments of people lives. Yesterday I thought I was going to run errands for a few hours. But what God had for me changed my life. Lord, help me see what you have for me tomorrow.

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God’s Provision for Manantial de Amor, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

April 7, 2011

Manantial de Amor (MDA) has three different locations. With three light bills, water bills, and three of everything else, they have often found themselves in need. This children’s home has been based on trusting the Lord on a day-to-day basis and as a result of their trust in God and not man we don’t always know of their need.

Last week, the directors, Edgar and Cony, knew that two of the three locations were in need of food, so they led the children in prayer. On the day where it seemed that they would have nothing to eat, Cony went to get a bag of carrots to try and make a soup out of them. Upon her return, she came home to a kitchen full of food (you can see the photos above). Because of a prompting from the Lord, a Back2Back donor contributed money specifically requesting that it be used to feed children in our children’s homes. My husband, Greg, had gone to the store and stocked MDA’s shelves and refrigerator with food. Back2Back along with Manantial de Amor were able to give God the glory as we did not know the need only God did. And He orchestrated the timing perfectly to fill the need of the kids.

I love that God could do this by Himself – He is big enough. But He put it on the hearts of someone in the US to donate money.  And He chose to use Back2Back to be the hands to give, so that in the very time of a great need He could come in to provide for these kids. God cares for these kids. He can prove for you too. Are you struggling to trust Him to provide for you? I pray this encourages you.

Children of the Kingdom, by Greg Huffer, Back2Back Mexico Staff

September 3, 2010

In this time of year, things move a little slower in Mexico.  The hustle and bustle of over 700 guests in Monterrey for Back2Back summer mission trips is over and the pace of life once again becomes more manageable.

I am the captain for Manantial de Amor, one of the children’s homes that Back2Back serves in Monterrey.  I love visiting these children during these slower times.  I find that without having to manage groups and projects, I am able to give the children more of my time and focus when I am there.

Recently, I’ve found myself just sitting and watching these kids, these precious children.  I get caught up in pondering their ‘miracle-ness,’ if I may create a word.  Each one of these little children is just absolutely adorable, beautiful and precious to our heavenly Father.

I think that God is having me consider what it is about them that he finds so valuable.  Let me explain.

Each day our children do devotions where they study the Bible and pray a bit.  At dinner time, I ask the boys to share what they studied.  One of my boys shared how he had read Matthew 19:14.  This is where Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children from getting to Jesus in hopes that they might be healed if they were to touch him.  Jesus told the disciples, “Leave the children alone and let them come to me for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Then I recently read a blog entry from Jim Betscher, a fellow Back2Back staff member.  He too referred to the same verse in Matthew and it just happens that it was the exact verse that I planned to hone in on for this blog post.

Lord, what are you trying to say to me?  What is it about children that makes the kingdom of heaven theirs?

Now that I am an adult, now that I am ‘mature’ and ‘have it figured it out’, now that I am wise and learned and have many experiences to guide me in this world, what is it that I have lost from my childhood?  How can I regain the precious state of childlikeness that you so value?

Lord, thank you for these precious children, these 400 or so children of God that we serve here in Mexico.  I know that they are but a drop in the bucket of all the orphans in this world and yet but a drop in the drop in the ocean of all the kids on earth, but they are oh so precious.  Thank you for using them to show me what they have that I do not.

A Fresh Start: New Students Enter the Hope Education Program, by Kelly Velasco, Back2Back Mexico Staff

August 24, 2010

Yesterday, we welcomed ten new teens into the Hope Education Program.

Top Row (L to R): Jaime, Adan, Mario, Camilo, Jovani; Bottom Row (L to R): Yadira, Selene, Yaquelin, Shirley, Shannon

Through the Hope Education Program, we offer 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.

Selene, Shirly and Shannen are the three new girls living in the Hope House, the home where my husband and I live as house parents.

(Left to right) Selene, Shirley & Shannon

They are from Villa de Juarez and Manantial de Amor. Selene is fifteen years old and the other two girls are sixteen. They started high school yesterday. They are easing into their new transition and as they say, their new life is “super chido” which means “way cool”.

The John House welcomed Jesus Mario “Chuy” from Douglas, Adan and Camilo from Imperio de Amor, and Jaime (a.k.a. “Jimmy”) from the government orphanage DIF Capullos.

Mario (Chuy)

Adan

Camilo

Jaime

Jovani, who is from Galeana, will be living in the Joseph House with Juan and Rosa Porta.

Jovani

The boys walked into their new homes and didn’t skip a beat. They are the new kids on campus along with three other students in the Esther and Joseph Houses. Already, they are being faced with the challenge of learning how to navigate the public transportation system to and from their new schools. They are attending schools with some of Monterrey’s wealthiest families and are being challenged to compete academically and blend in socially with this new crowd. Additionally, they are learning to manage new jobs on and off campus to help pay for their transportation. As house parents, we are excited to say that the seasoned veteran students in the Hope Program have extended a warm welcome to the new kids on campus and are showing them the ropes. As house parents, we are full of anticipation, eager to see how the Lord will use us and the teens who we have already invested in to shape and mold the new students. We are hopeful that with the start of an education, the love of a family environment, and the encouragement of other believers, that these seeds have landed on fertile soil ready to grow.

Selene, Karely, and Shirley’s Quincenera, by Cathy Huffer, Back2Back Mexico

December 14, 2009

As the three girls celebrating their quinceneras walked into the room, the words of Connie (a director at their children’s home, Manatial de Amor) rang in my ears.

“These three girls have been with us for a long time.  They grew up in this children’s home.  As I was praying today God reminded me that we all are daughter’s of the KING.  He wants us to know that.  In a very special way, God is showing that to these three girls tonight,” Cony shared.

Cony’s words are true for all of us.  And in a very tangible way God was showing these girls what they mean to Him.  This December we had another opportunity to provide a quincenera for three girls Back2Back serves at a local children’s home, girls who don’t have families to make this special event happen.

Shirley, Karely and Selene all have little to no family involvement.  Usually, we (Back2Back) are able to provide a dress, a few humble gifts, a few flowers and a meal for their children’s home and any family that can attend.  But, with the help of a group of women that came to serve with Back2Back, we provided a nice meal, cake and symbolic presents that are traditional for this special birthday signifying the maturing of a girl in Mexican culture.

Thanks to the women’s group, the quincenera was held in a warm reception room.  They all wore the gown of their dreams.  The girls received free hair styling and makeup by a relative of a Back2Back staff member and donations from folks through a Facebook and email petition allowed the girls to receive royal treatment.

Selene, Karely, and Shirley

Thursday night was in the low 50’s/high 40’s and rainy.   So, the room inside a Mexican buffet restaurant was a huge blessing.  Edgar, another Manatial de Amor director, gave the message and the woman’s group that was serving with us that week shared in the ceremony giving the symbolic gifts a girl receives (like a watch, bible, ring and pillow).  Dancing and dinner followed the ceremony to round out a perfect evening.

Edgar sharing a message during the quincenera

Edgar sharing a message during the quincenera

On behalf of these girls and the Back2Back staff, thank you to all those who gave to give them the night of their lives.

Heaven Breaks Through, by Greg Huffer, Back2Back Mexico

December 11, 2009

One of the most powerful and exciting things to behold is the testimony of a changed life in the hands of Jesus Christ.  As Christians, we talk a great deal about how Jesus is in the business of changing people, but we all know it is one thing to say that we are changed and quite another to demonstrate change with the actions of our lives.

In all of the homes we serve, we trust that God is changing the lives of the children we work with, even when it is not easily visible.  But every once in a while, we are blessed with a glimpse of the divine work that is taking place and we see a clear manifestation of Jesus-induced change!  At the Manantial de Amor (MDA) girl’s home, I saw one of these changes that Jesus is making in the lives of one of the girls that live there.  (In the following story I’ve changed the names of the girls to protect their identity.)

Not too long ago, a girl named Laura came from a government-run children’s home to live at the MDA girl’s home.  She found herself sharing a bedroom with eight other teenage girls who already had developed sister-like bonds with one another- intimidating for sure!  Laura, as many troubled teens do when they are uncomfortable, lashed out and much of her aggression was directed to one girl in particular, a girl named Susie.  For several weeks, the two lived in tension with one another, with conflicts and arguments every day.  Then, one day it all came to a head on Susie’s birthday!

Susie had received some money from supporters in the United States for her birthday with which she had purchased some gifts.  Things had seemed to have improved between Laura and Susie for a couple weeks and the house was a much nicer place for all.

One day while Susie was away, Laura found where Susie had hidden the rest of her birthday money and stole it along with the gifts that Susie had already purchased.  Then she ran away from the children’s home.  She got into some minor trouble with a police officer and when he asked her where she lived so he could return her, she told him that she lived at the government run children’s home in the area, the very home from which she had come to MDA.

The caregivers were surprised to see her back there, but took her in and contacted Edgar, the director of MDA.  As the story unfolded, I can only imagine the fear and hard-heartedness that must have been welling up inside Laura.  The director for the government home sternly told Edgar that he needed to confront and discipline Laura with strong and severe consequences.  This was all that would get through to a child like Laura.

Edgar replied, “No we don’t do that here.  We have another approach.  We are going to love her.”

Edgar brought Laura back to the MDA girl’s home that day.  I wonder how slowly Laura walked from the car to the front door.  What was she thinking?  What was she feeling?  What reaction would Susie show her when their eyes met?  I guarantee that whatever she was expecting, it was nothing like what really happened.

Susie came to Laura and hugged her and told her that she was glad she was back.  Clearly, she could see the fear and confusion in Laura’s eyes, wondering where the expected retribution was.

Susie took Laura aside and told her, “Laura, I don’t care about the gifts.  I don’t care if I get those back or not.  YOU are what is important!  YOU are so much more important than all of those things combined!”

This is what excites me about Back2Back!  I love seeing the change that is taking place before our very eyes in the lives of children like Susie.  Sometimes it can be hard to see, but other times, heaven breaks through in glorious moments like these!  It is through the love of Jesus that Edgar and others have shown Susie over the years at MDA, that she has changed. And hopefully, prayerfully, it is through the love and mercy of girls like Susie, that Laura and others like her will be changed as well!

Edgar & Conny (the directors of Manantial de Amor) with some of the girls from MDA Children's Home

The Lucky Ones, by Matt Cooper

September 22, 2009

A few days ago, I was able to share special moment with two children that live in children’s homes where Back2Back serves. One was with Joel from Manantial de Amor. One was with Gaby from Casa Hogar Betesda. Joel and Gaby are two very privileged kids. They aren’t necessarily privileged because of who they are or what they have. They aren’t privileged because they are receiving the world’s best education, or because they are well traveled. They don’t live in any special neighborhoods, and they wouldn’t likely win any awards for being the best dressed. Sadly enough they don’t even live with their families. However, God has placed them in a children’s home where they are being loved and cared for.

What makes Joel and Gaby special is that they have both been chosen. Back2Back has started a new child sponsorship program, the Shelter Program, and Joel and Gaby are two of the lucky ones. I call them lucky because I know for a fact that that’s how they feel. Today when I met with Joel, I hand-delivered him a backpack that sponsors from Michigan gave me to give him, when we saw them during a recent trip home to the US. The look on his face was priceless, as I explained who the backpack was from, and as he began to unload the candy, pictures, school supplies, and other goodies inside.

“A pencil box!” he exclaimed, “I needed one of these!”

I explained to Joel that God already knew his need, and that He sent the things, through his sponsors, just in the perfect time. Without a doubt I witnessed a child feel loved, not just by his sponsor, but even more importantly by God as well.

Spending time with Joel at Manantial de Amor

Spending time with Joel at Manantial de Amor

Joel was excited to discover that his backpack was filled with school supplies that he needed

Joel was excited to discover that his backpack was filled with school supplies that he needed

Joel showing off his new backpack

Joel showing off his new backpack

After leaving Manantial, I went on to Betesda, another one of the children’s homes that we work with.  I sat down beside a five-year old girl named Gaby and explained to her that a woman back in Ohio had chosen to sponsor her.

She immediately started looking around and asked, “Where is she? I want to see her,” she said.

I quickly explained that she wasn’t here today. I reminded Gaby of a time back in June when her sponsor had visited, and worked on projects in her children’s home, walked down to the park with her, and shared a snack of popsicles.

“Do you remember that Gaby?” I asked.

She nodded her head. “Yes, I remember. Can I have a picture of her so that I can remember her?” she asked.

Together, we scripted a letter to her sponsor, asking about her family, and requesting a photo.

“Can I send her a picture that I’ve colored?,” Gaby asked.

“Of course you can sweetheart,” I responded. “She is going to love it!”

Gaby

Gaby

The Shelter Program is a way for every child we work with to have an individual sponsor. Those sponsors financially support “their child” by giving $100 a month, which goes directly to the children’s home expenses for the care of the children. Why $100? Because that is exactly what it costs to provide for that child for one month. It ensures that the child will be cared for emotionally, physically and spiritually so that they can thrive.  The money covers the cost of health care, an education, food and clothing.  The program also gives each child the opportunity to develop a deep and lasting relationship with someone who is invested in their lives and committed to their success.  We’ve found that many of our sponsors have already come to think of their sponsor children as part of their family.

Some individuals or families choose to sponsor a child they have met during a trip to Monterrey. Others may not have met personally, but we will give them a chance to build and strengthen that relationship through letters, pictures and correspondence throughout the year. Joel and Gaby are two lucky kids, but there are hundreds more children we work with here in Monterrey just waiting for sponsors. They all deserve the privilege of feeling loved, of feeling like someone cares, and feeling like someone remembered them. They all deserve the privilege of feeling special. Please consider partnering with us in this very important project. There is a child waiting for you!

Interested in sponsoring a child? Email Claire Rogers at claire@back2backministries.org

Shelter in Unexpected Forms, by Mandy Lail

July 22, 2009

This week I have been thinking about shelter in unexpected forms.  Take one of my boys, Homero, for example.  When Homero was twelve years old, he came to live at Manantial de Amor, one of the children’s homes in Monterrey.  He had gotten into a lot of trouble at various schools and even with the police.  His mother was at a loss at how to handle him.  A family member lived near Manantial de Amor, so his mother decided to take him there even though she lives two hours south by bus.  After three years at Manantial de Amor, Homero moved in with us to participate in the Hope Program with Back2Back.

Most of us find it difficult to understand how a mother can take her child to a children’s home.  And even more, we find it difficult to understand how God can shelter a child there.  How a life without their family, a life in a group home can be a form of shelter.  The reality is that for many of these kids a children’s home is a safer place than they came from.  It’s not perfect, sometimes not even pretty, but for many much safer. This can be a hard concept for us to understand.

But for me when I look at Homero . . . it is so clear how God has not only sheltered him but continues to pursue him.  Living at Manantial de Amor removed him from a dangerous path he was on.  He was making bad decision after bad decision and thankfully his mother intervened.  If she hadn’t, I think he would likely be in jail. God provided not only physical shelter, not only removed him from a dangerous path but provided Homero spiritual shelter.  Through the spiritual influence of the director Edgar, Homero started a relationship with Jesus while living at Manantial.  And now he lives with us where he has the opportunity to receive a solid education and spiritual influence, while experiencing family life.

Recently we had to tell Homero “no” when he asked to visit his hometown over the weekend.  He had been back several times in the previous months and we were becoming more and more concerned with his trips there.  From what information we could gather after the fact, he was making questionable decisions again, hanging out with his old crowd and spending little time with his mother while there.  At his last request we both felt super uneasy about the prospect and decided to not let him go.  He handled it well and even seemed relieved.  Later he told us that he had thought God didn’t want him to go.

About two weeks later, his mother showed up unexpectedly.   When she asked to speak privately with us, we were concerned she was angry we had not let Homero visit.  Instead, through tears, she asked us to not let him visit his hometown any more.  She too was concerned about his visits and decisions.  She knew it meant she would see him less, but she was willing to sacrifice her time with him to ensure he stayed on his current path.  She knows what opportunities he has here at Back2Back and she wants him to compromise them.

To me it’s so clear.  God has sheltered Homero over and over again; through a children’s home, through Back2Back and especially through his mother.  Many would look at her and judge her inability to parent.  I look at her and see a woman who is fighting for her son the only way she knows how. It’s unexpected, it’s not what I would have picked but it is so clearly God’s shelter for my foster son.  And I am thankful.

Homero with his mom at graduation

Homero with his mom at graduation