Visiting Orphans and Ministering to Moms
Blog post written by Lori West
CASA BERNABE ORPHANAGE
On Sunday night my kids, Ryan (15) and Wendy (9) and I were able to travel to Casa Bernabe and spend the night and most of the next day there. Wendy lived at Casa Bernabe for over 2 years, from age 15 months till she was adopted by us and brought to Virginia at 3 ½ years old.
This is Wendy’s (and Ryan’s) first missions trip, and her first time back in Guatemala since she left 6 years ago. She has been so excited to return, to “finally” be a missionary, and to be able to bless the people and kids of her home country. She is so proud to be Guatemalan and has commented on how beautiful her country is. It truly is beautiful – the landscape and the people!
We spent Monday hanging out at Casa Bernabe, having a Divinely appointed encounter with the director, Donie Hernandez (who had prayed for over 5 months over Wendy’s placement with us), and seeing one of Wendy’s former caretakers – who remembered her well and said it was such a blessing to see Wendy again and know that she is doing so well. Wendy was also able to meet several of the kids that she had lived with for 2 years in the “baby house” (Casa de los Angelitos) – though, none of them remembered each other, as they were very young at that time.
I was able to show Wendy around Casa Bernabe and share information about where she lived, which room she slept in, what her routine was like, as well as see all the changes that have taken place in the last 6 years (a new greenhouse and fabulous garden, etc).
We spent most of our time in the baby and toddler house – helping to feed babies (Ryan’s 1stexperience feeding a baby), change diapers (Wendy did one on her own!), and just playing, holding and loving on them. Wendy said she didn’t want to leave the baby house – because “I love the babies!” Even when she lived there, at 2 and 3 years old, she would rather help take care of the babies, fold laundry and just love and mother the other kids. We all enjoyed our visit and were so thankful for the opportunity to be there!
On Tuesday morning our team headed to San Rafael to work at a clinic. I stayed behind and, with the help of my fabulous translator, Lisa Camarena, was able to speak to a group of around 25-30 ladies from the community and teach them about parenting, using tools and information from the books Parenting with Love and Logic, and Loving our Kids on Purpose. About half of the ladies were grandmothers, and many of the ladies were blessed with 5-8 kids each! I was a bit nervous at how this information would translate and if it would be accepted in this culture (I didn’t know what to expect), but during and after the 2 hour talk, many of the women expressed their gratefulness at having heard this information and message –and many were filled with hope for the future in raising their kids and grandkids. Several expressed regret at not knowing this information before – but one of the first things I stressed was that there was “no condemnation” . . . and that we can start now to do things differently and better. One mom was on the verge of tears as she shared with me the hope she now had to be able to deal with some difficulties she had been having with one of her teens as well as her other 6 children.
My heart was happy! My spirit was satisfied! My prayers had been to release hope and love to these ladies – to encourage them as moms and as women, to give them hope for the future, tools to use now, and to help encourage and strengthen the bonds between parent and child – using Love as their main tool! I think it worked!
Lisa and I worked very well as a team, even though we had very little time to talk and prepare beforehand– God was truly all over it, and we found our rhythm with speaking and translating, and she even added in some of her own stories that the women could relate to. There was laughter, sighs, looks of understanding and excitement, and tons of gratitude expressed. We finished off the talk with about 5-10 minutes of information about breastfeeding, and answered a few questions the ladies had (I work as a Lactation nurse, and was an L&D, Postpartum, Mother-Baby nurse and Childbirth Educator for years). Most of the women were past breastfeeding age – but they stayed and listened just the same.
I left that morning, and joined up with the rest of my team to deliver beds. It was a beautiful and blessed day! Thank you God for answering prayers and for all you did. Bless these families abundantly!