The 30th of March this year our little Yanessa was diagnosed with Leukemia. She and her twin Larissa are 5-years-old, and part of the 7 sisters in our care.
In the beginning God gave us a verse for Yanessa, to help strengthen our faith. In John 11:4 Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." God is faithful and little Yanessa is a walking miracle.
Yanessa was hospitalized for 2 1/2 months in San Pedro Sula. It took a couple of weeks to get the official results, but Yanessa was diagnosed with an easier form of Leukemia and the doctors said that we caught it early enough, so that it would be treatable. Then starting in May we've made two trips a month, driving the 5 hours each way and staying over for her treatments at the Fundación Hondureña para el Niño con Cáncer. We are very grateful for the care they have given Yanessa. Yanessa still isn't fully recovered, but she has responded very well to every treatment and we consistently get good reports for her. She's moved from sad and listless, to sparkly and joyful, even in the midst of all the medical procedures and separation from her sisters.
We want to especially thank Areli (Ruby's 3rd sister) and Gladys from our team for caring for Yanessa. Both ladies have spent several weeks away from family, doing 24-hour-shifts in the hospital to care for her. They have been a huge blessing and have shown Yanessa a mother's love through all of this.
I also want to thank our faithful donors for helping us to cover the cost of Yanessa's treatment. While many of her medical bills are covered by the foundation mentioned above, GiveHope2Kids has spent several thousand dollars for her care during these months. This was possible thanks to your faithful support.
Here are a few pictures of Yanessa through the course of her treatment. Please pray for her continued recovery. Also, if anyone is interested in becoming more a part of Yanessa's life, she is still in need of sponsors.
As we begin work on a new campus, we wanted to communicate exactly what is our vision for this new ministry site. The short answer is that we'll copy most everything from our Urraco Campus and have more homes for kids, more educational opportunities, and more self-sustainability projects. We're basically doubling Give Hope 2 Kids.
And if you're sticking around for the long story....
This journey started with first recognizing a need we have: We need a place for our young adults to live while they study beyond high school. While our Urraco Campus is a wonderful place to raise kids, it is a very impractical place for university students to live. (It only takes 5 hours for a round-trip to the city on public transportation.)
In the fall of 2016, God used several different circumstances to start us walking towards expansion. Near the end of the year, we felt that it was time to act, time to pursue a location nearer to La Ceiba. We started asking around and quickly felt God directing us to pursue a property in Roma, which is 20 minutes east of La Ceiba. Through God's faithfulness and our incredible donors, we've now purchased this land. The 2nd campus is 20+ acres, next to the main road, and just a 3 minute walk from a bus stop.
Our young adults will now be able to access La Ceiba's universities and larger trade schools as they work toward independence. For all intents and purposes the transition home for these young adults will be the only significant difference between the 2 ministry campuses.
Nearly everything else will be a duplicate of the Urraco Campus. We will still live out all our essential values, like the most important: Our homes for children will be led by strong, Christian families. It is our intention to carry on the wonderful family culture we so enjoy.
We firmly believe that we will have an impact in the community of Roma, just as we've had in Urraco. We've already started building relationships with the teachers and students in the public school, while doing service projects there. As we develop relationships in the community we later hope to invite the young people to be a part of a youth group.
We will also initiate several agricultural projects to help support the ministry and make it as self-sustaining as possible. By focusing on the strengths of each location, we hope to gain even more ground in sustainability. For example, our Urraco Campus has the altitude for growing good coffee and we have more acreage there for meat production. The Roma Campus has a little drier of a climate, so we will be able to produce greater quantities of mangoes, papaya, and avocados there.
Well, thanks for hanging with us to hear the long version. What God is doing in and through the ministry of GH2K is so exciting and we welcome you along for the journey!
Daysi and her 3 siblings have been with us now for 4 years. We've seen Daysi excel at her studies and become a fantastic young lady with an incredible future ahead of her. Right now she can't decide between being a veterinarian or joining the navy, but whatever she does, we believe that she will be hugely successful.
It was awesome to watch during the ceremony as Henry, her house-dad, danced the traditional waltz with her and gave a speech about how proud he is of her.
Daysi's life is a testament to the fact that hurting kids placed in a loving, Christian family can thrive. She is a great example to the other young ladies here and we are so proud of her!!!
With Ruby as Daysi's house-mom, much of Ruby's family joined us for Daysi's celebration. It was a personal highlight of ours to get a picture of Ruby and her 5 sisters all together.
In the past six months, we’ve added 13 kids to our family-style homes! Thus far, that is our biggest influx of kids in that amount of time. With more kids come more heartrending stories.
All of our kids come with scars. They all come with emotional scarring, and some also bear the scars and burns of physical abuse. All of our kids have suffered from neglect, whether from parents not caring for them or abandoning them, or previous foster parents who barely took care of them. They’ve all known what it means to be either uncared for or unwanted.
We have one little one that was dropped off at a neighbor’s house while the mom went to run errands. Mom never came back.
We have a family of kids that wandered the streets with their mom. Their two older siblings vanished and no one knows where they are.
At least two of our kids’ biological mothers live as prostitutes. These kids tell the most horrible stories – kids being taught to steal as preschoolers, kids being left alone for days with no food, kids being abused by the mother’s customers, and kids watching their older sisters be sold, knowing their turn would come.
When we drive these kids home to live with us, they are normally traumatized and malnourished and full of intestinal parasites and lice. They do a lot of sitting and staring the first few weeks, but slowly, slowly, they start to blossom. As they get healthier physically and realize that they are in a safe and loving place, they start to come alive and be children again.
As horrible as their stories are, and as much as they’re still imprinted in our kids, those stories don’t define our kids anymore. Visitors come and ask us, “So, which ones are the orphans?” Why can’t they tell? Because our kids aren’t orphans anymore. They are part of a loving family now, with lots of brothers and sisters and cousins, some biological, some not.
The secret to helping kids get healthy again is by putting them in real families, who love them and treat them like their own. They need to attach to their caregivers and know that those same people will be there for them day in and day out. I cannot even express my joy at seeing one of our house-moms get all “mama-bear” about defending one of her kids, or one of our house-dads showing tender affection to one of his kids. Our kids are not orphaned or abandoned anymore. We are changing their stories.
We keep seeing a new movement that says, “Send all the kids home to their families! Children's homes are bad!” Our response: Don’t put everyone in the same basket. Each country, each children’s home, and each family and individual child has their own story.
Listen to our stories.
It's been such a fun season here at Give Hope 2 Kids!
We started out before Christmas with a big gift for all the kids to share: a big trampoline! We set it up at night and the kids were surprised to find it outside their homes in the morning. This trampoline is busy nearly all the time.
Then we crammed all 47 of us into our bus and went on a 15-hour Christmas excursion day! We started at our favorite thrift store and each kid got to pick out several things for themselves. Since our kids normally don't get to choose many of their own clothes or shoes, this was a BIG DEAL.
Next we took a picnic lunch of Honduras' favorite food -- fried chicken -- and went to a little zoo and park. The kids loved playing and seeing all our local animals there.
Then we visited La Ceiba's big pier to take in the sites and enjoy another playground, dinner, and icecream. We all got a little soaked in an unexpected downpour, climbed back into our bus, and drove the 1 1/2 bumpy hours home into the mountains. It was an exhausting day, but oh so much fun!
For Christmas the ladies of our property made nearly 300 tamales and the kids baked Christmas cookies. We then enjoyed a HUGE dinner with the tamales, bbq pork chops, fried rice and more. (It's amazing how much food some of our kids can put away!) Then the kids got a present of socks and underwear and a couple small fun things. It was such a joy watching our new kids open their gifts -- it definitely seemed like a first for them and their eyes lit up with each little item.
For New Year's Eve we brought pizzas from town, roasted marshmallows over a bonfire, and enjoyed some fireworks.
We've packed so much fun into the last few weeks! But even after all the holiday fun fades into memories, these kids still have a wonderful gift that goes on: they were abandoned or abused, and now they have a stable and loving family . We will be a family for these kids for as long as they need us.
Thanks to Joel Haler and Brian Hughes and their friends and family for helping to make this a wonderful Christmas for our kids! We've enjoyed sharing these special weeks with you.
Imagine with me for a minute: You're an 11-year-old girl, your parents are suddenly gone, and you're left to care for your younger siblings with zero resources. Your younger sisters are ages 9, 7, twins 4, 3, and a baby. Are you feeling panicked yet? These are the shoes that big-sister Katherin was filling for over a month, alone.
They are not alone now. These 7 girls arrived here at GiveHope2Kids one week ago. They came with only the clothes on their backs. All were malnourished and two had bronchitis. They were listless and obviously insecure.
It's just one week later, but already you can see a change in these girls. They're more alert, more active, and they smile. It's amazing how one week of good care can make such a difference.
But one week of care isn't our goal. We're in this for the long-haul. If we can reunite a child with family, that is obviously our ideal, but for most of our kids that's just not possible. For as long as a child is here, we are raising them in the best family-environment that we can. We will educate them and prepare them to support themselves as independent adults, and not let them go until they're ready to fly. We want to be their forever-family.
Seven sisters are now living with Grandma Gladys. We will be their home and family for as long as they need it.
Will you help us do this? We were already needing sponsors and adding in 7 more kids makes our need for sponsors that much more urgent! Be a blessing to these kids. Help us a make a difference in their lives!
This year has been a year of adding finishing touches to our myriad of building projects from the past 8 years. Too often when we urgently need to get to the next project, we've rushed past the finishing touches our spaces need. So this year we've painted walls that have never seen a coat of paint before, trimmed windows, and added on a much needed storage shed. We've finished off our community areas better too, which makes things run smoother for our Friday Night Youth Group. Currently we're finishing a road for better access to our agricultural projects and we're expanding and improving housing for our pigs.
An exciting addition here is that we recently traded out vehicles to purchase two 2001 Landcruisers. We're ecstatic after eyeing these for nearly a decade! These are the ultimate vehicles for us. They should last us 15+ years of daily use up and down our horrible road, which really says something. They can comfortably seat 10 people out of the daily rain showers, and with kids on laps, we've squeezed 14 people in just fine. These trucks have been such a blessing already! (So thanks to everyone who has donated towards vehicles in the last several years!)
Another big win for GiveHope2Kids recently, is that we were able to purchase another smaller property in our village. We are using this land for cattle grazing and other agricultural projects. And it's only a 10 min walk from home, which makes it quite convenient. Our cattle herd is really starting to multiply, and we're up to 30 head, so this purchasing opportunity was perfect timing for us.
Our top new investment though is in people: We recently welcomed in a new house-parent to our team, Grandma Gladys. We're also caring for three new siblings, Kathia, Dilmer, and Briana. Giving a stable home to these kids is why we push through all the other projects. This is the heart of GiveHope2Kids.
As I share photos from this month's fun parties, let me tell you part of our story:
A decade ago, when we (Jason & Sarah Furrow) moved to Honduras, we spent time visiting Children’s Homes and learning from their leaders. Everybody told us to start slow and to create our culture. Once we had a good culture going, they said, new kids would shape themselves into our mold, instead of causing chaos. From our vantage point then, this seemed like such an undefined, daunting task. We prayed that God would give us wisdom and guidance.
Fast forward to now: When we get the whole group of kids together, the atmosphere is incredible. Every single time I end up reflecting on how much these kids have grown and changed through the years.
They came through our gates as orphans: insecure, unloved, unhealthy, and either too quiet or too noisy. Now they know they are part of a family – and it shows. Most of our kids have been with us for 4½ years!
This is home. This is family. This is our culture.
In May we hosted our first summer group, combining students from North Central University and the Nossers (family of our volunteer Josiah). We had a blast with this team and accomplished a lot! They worked on various painting projects, filled in dirt around our well, updated our chicken coop, and did special projects and classes with all the kids. For some, the trip highlight was a massive water balloon fight with the kids!
Next up in June, our second group of the year came from Destiny Church in Alabama. One of their main projects while here was helping with a house addition for a growing missionary family down the road. Since this group tends to excel at painting, we saved them various painting projects: the Furrow’s front porch, a volunteer apartment, and a (beautiful) mural in the Library. They also added wooden trim around the windows in many of our homes, among other projects. We really enjoyed this team! We were blessed by their work and meaningful friendships.
For July we hosted a group from Cloverhill Church in Virginia. This was their leader Rachel’s 7th annual trip here! They helped dig the foundation for a new car port, extended our fence along the road, organized our office and school supplies, and visited local schools with donations of medical and school supplies and food staples for school lunches. One highlight from this week was taking all the kids to the river near Rio Viejo, where they swam, collected special rocks, and found several freshwater prawns. This group was very productive and fun to host!
Thank you for everyone who came or helped to make these trips possible! We always get such a boost in our construction projects through groups and we really enjoy the friendships we’ve built with these special people throughout the years.
A Day in the Sun
After our crazy storm, we decided it was the perfect time to take our kids on a fun outing. For this trip we went to El Porvenir, a beautiful beach town just outside La Ceiba.
We were excited and ready to go early in the morning! Even our guys were excited!
The day was spent with laughs, races, and fun discoveries! And what would any GH2K fun-day be without a game of soccer?
Saturday also happened to be Grisel's birthday, so we celebrated with cake! It was delicious-- just ask Grisel! (It's tradition in Honduras to try and get cake on the birthday girl or boy's face.)
We had such a wonderful day!