Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas!!!

Hello friends and family! We are excited to share with you some of the experiences we have had this year in relation to the local orphanage here in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. In particular, we wanted to report on the activities and material help/support we were able to provide this month thanks to the generous donations we received from many of you back home, as well as many friends and family members we have here in Guate. We would like to, first, introduce you to the group home and the work that it carries out for its residents. We would also like to briefly explain how our relationship with the orphanage has developed since moving down here in March of 2015.

Fundacion Salvacion is a Christian children’s home founded in 1999. The home provides temporary care for children and adolescents that are considered at-risk, orphaned, or abandoned. There are currently around 80 children residing at the home. The home provides for the basic needs of each child, and they strive to do this using a house-parent model, which allows each child to be placed in a smaller family structure within the larger context of the home. The home is run by a very small staff, as well as a group of dedicated volunteers who have committed to help on a long-term basis. These individuals are made up of local Guatemalans as well as a few people from the United States who have made this country their home. Story International, a charitable organization dedicated to serving vulnerable youth in Guatemala, began supporting the home in 2012. They founded a school just down the road from the home intended to provide a quality, bilingual education for the residents of Fundacion Salvacion (the kids’ ability to understand and speak English is quite impressive). They have several other programs and businesses that are meant to benefit the home directly. While this group home, in my opinion, is a great place where kids have their basic needs met, as well as receive genuine love from the people who work and volunteer there, this situation is not ideal. The home has recently begun working more closely with the local community, not only to solicit monetary and material donations, but to raise awareness of the responsibility that community members have of caring for these children. They are striving to educate people on the foster care and adoption programs that exist here in Guatemala. This is quite the challenge, seeing as there seems to be a cultural disinclination towards caring for children who are not yours biologically (you should hear some of the questions we get from people about Xavion and Layla).

Since moving to Guatemala in 2015, as a family we have always been interested in volunteering at Fundacion Salvacion and doing what we can to help the children there. Every now and then we would drop off bags of clothes that the kids have grown out of, and we would even volunteer at the home when we had the chance, spending time with the kids there or applying a fresh coat of paint to rooms throughout the home. Around the end of the year in 2015, we had the desire to do something special for the home for Christmas. With the help of local friends and family, we collected some donations. We dropped these items off at the home and carried out a small activity with the kids there. Family members and our church youth group helped us with this activity. In 2016, we thought to ask for help from people back home, and we were grateful that many people decided to help financially with the small project that was becoming a family tradition for us. With this help, we were able to buy many things that covered some of the needs of the home, including food supplies and new shoes for the majority of the residents. Including all of the material donations that we received that year from local families and individuals, we delivered a truck-load of supplies to the home. We also carried out a small activity for all of the kids at the home. Since we received so much help from people with our project, we were able to provide a special treat for the kids: pizza! 

This year was a very special year for us in regards to our relationship with Fundacion Salvacion. At the beginning of the year we continued to drop off donations and volunteer every now and then at the home. In May, I began my field practice at the home as part of the MSW program that I am completing. I was able to complete two semesters of field at Fundacion Salvacion, which just ended this month. Since I began working there, Brenda and the kids began going to the home more as well to simply spend time with the kids. Eventually, Brenda was asked by the agency director if she would be willing to volunteer of her time on a more formal basis as a group leader for the young women of the group home. She had noticed the positive relationships that the girls had formed with Brenda (as well as Maya!) and felt like she needed to make Brenda an official member of the team within Fundacion Salvacion. Brenda was happy to accept the challenge. Our relationship with the home has definitely evolved and deepened throughout 2017. Through this relationship, we have been able to really get to know the kids there. We have learned of their stories. We have realized that, despite their difficult situation, they are normal kids who want to have fun and enjoy life. They want to love and be loved. We have met many of the amazing people who are involved in the care of these kids and who keep the home up and running. We have learned the true needs of the home, and have realized how difficult it is to keep an institution like that going. Our children have made friends with many of the kids at the home, and we have become part of the family there. Our involvement with the home has provided us with many opportunities to provide service this year. Apart from the responsibilities we had (me as a social work intern, Brenda as a volunteer group leader), we have been able spend meaningful time with the kids, getting to know them, providing motivation and support, and helping them progress and overcome their personal challenges. We participated in the anniversary activities of the home, which included a 5k run in the rain (Xavion ran the whole thing!) We carried out several activities with the youth of our church for the benefit of the group home and the kids, including service activities and fun recreational activities for the children. We have also had the valuable opportunity to be advocates for the home, creating awareness of its needs and involving friends and family in donating and providing service to help the kids. It has been a blessing for us to be able to do this work. We have made many new friends, created many valuable memories, gained a deeper sense of gratitude for what we have, learned to love and serve, and received countless hugs from adorable children, among many other blessings.


This year we wanted to make our Christmas activity extra special for the kids, while also covering some of the overall needs that existed. We wanted to give a more individualized service to as many of the kids as possible, focusing on doing things that would truly allow them to have fun. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible. Again, we received a lot of help from family and friends back home, as well as from families and individuals here in Huehue.

During this time of year, there are a few groups and organizations that carry out activities for the kids at Fundacion Salvacion, but these activities are usually directed towards small children. The youth residing at the home are oftentimes overlooked or feel left out. We invited all of the young women (ages 12+) to our home for a small Christmas party. We hiked up into the hill behind our house. After returning to the house, we watched movies while we helped the girls make homemade pizzas for dinner. We then played the candy bar game (a family favorite) with them, which was a big hit! Brenda also had a small gift for each of these girls, seeing as she is their group leader. This activity was a lot of fun, and the girls were happy to get out of the group home for a while.

For the young men (ages 12+) we arrived at the home with the things that matter most to adolescent boys: video games and food! We had an awesome Mario Kart Wii tournament and ate Domino’s pizza. They really enjoyed themselves.


Apart from these two activities which were directed towards the youth, we were able to take all of the residents to the local movie theater. We contacted the theater beforehand and had them do a special showing of Coco (awesome movie!) just for Fundacion Salvacion. Popcorn and soda were included for everyone. This was an incredible activity, and part of the fun was helping to transport all 80 kids and staff members to and from the theater.

We received material donations from many people here locally, and with the financial help we received, we were able to buy many backpacks and formal shoes that kids needed for the coming school year. This will relieve the home of a significant monetary expenditure this coming new year. My brother, Matt, and I also donated spinners from our business to each of the children at the home. 

THANK YOU once again to all those who made these activities possible. Believe me when I say that you helped to meet real needs and, most importantly, made many children very happy. These kids are real and, despite their hardships and challenges, are full of love and enthusiasm. We love these kids and hope that they can be successful as they grow up and go into the world. They are still in need of much help. If you are able and willing, please visit Story International’s website ( where you can learn of ways that you can help Fundacion Salvacion and the kids that reside there. You can even choose to sponsor a specific child for a minimal monthly amount. Christmas is about celebrating the birth and life and of our Savior Jesus Christ. He has dedicated His entire existence to blessing all of us in immeasurable ways. I have learned that the best way to honor and love Him is to serve others, whether it be our closest family members, or people we have never met. This service oftentimes is very simple, but it can make a big difference. Thank you for doing that this Christmas season, and let’s continue to do it throughout the year ahead!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

September 2017

Has it really been almost a year since my lost post? Well, there should be a lot to tell then! Unfortunately, I have forgotten everything haha.

We are all doing good enjoying Guatemala. We might only have 1 more year here so we need to take advantage of that. So here is a little bit of what is going on with us  :D

Maya: Oh my sweet little girl. Every day we look at each other with Mike and express how grateful we are that she is ours. She is such a sweet little girl. She loves to cuddle, give kisses, say hi and bye, she loves to eat and my goodness is she always smiling. On our trip to New York a bunch of people stopped to say hi to her and she loved the attention. We heard "she is so cute" a thousand times haha. At one point in the plane and on the train she just sat there and said hi to every single person that passed by us. On my hard days all I gotta do is look at her and my day automatically becomes better. We are so grateful for her. She can crawl so fast and is really trying to stand up by herself, she will be walking soon i think. She loves to pull my hair and sticks it in her mouth. The only bad thing is she puts everything in her mouth. Colton never did this. The other day i saw her picking something up and put it in her mouth. I ran to her and took it out of her mouth.... it was a SLUG!!! Gross, I still get grossed out every time I think about it. 

Colton: He is still a mamma's boy even though he is getting better at not being with me all the time. He is so fun though and says some pretty funny stuff. He has my parents laughing all the time with the things he comes up with. He loves to play cars, soccer and superheros. He is still having a hard time staying in his primary class. He goes to half class and then he gets out. He has really gotten into eating fruit now, it's nice to have our trees of berries because he just takes a cup and goes on his own to pick them out. He loves to play with water, he gets sick very often but when i see how much fun he is having i just cant tell him to stop haha.

Layla: Just yesterday we had the elders come over for dinner and they told us a funny story. They love Layla and the things she comes up with. Just a couple of weeks ago i guess she went up to one of the elders from the other ward and gave him a stapler. She told him she had gone to the Mesilla (town where the border is) and had gotten it for him. She told him to put it in his packet and no matter what to not let me see it haha. They said we knew what she had done was not right but her face was priceless and we had fun with that. She decided that she didn't like gymnastics any more and she only wanted to do skating. Both of them with Xavion can use the skates pretty good so we think this next year we will enroll them in something else until they decide what is it that they really like and stick with it.

Xavion: Well, he is turning 8 this month. I talked to the bishop today and he agreed into doing his baptism on the 30th. It's so nice to know he will be getting baptized, at the beginning of the year he was already inviting everybody to his baptism so he is pretty excited. We have been practicing a song that the 3 of them will be singing that day. It will be nice if my family can come and be with him on that day. He is having a hard time separating English from Spanish when it comes to writing and reading. We are still thinking if we will enroll them in school next year or just stick with homeschooling. Public school here is kind of a mess. Right now they haven't been going to school for over a week because the teachers are protesting and the way they do it is by closing all of the schools. Xavion started going down in his grades and he was even sent to the principal's office 2 times but after a talk with him things got a little bit better. So its kind of hard to decide to keep them at home because they enjoy school and enjoy their friends and we know they need their friend time. So we will see what we decide to do once that times gets closer.

Mike and I are surviving. Mike keeps doing his practice at the local orphanage and he loves it. He has gotten pretty close to some of these kids. Other than that we are just surviving with 4 little kids who keep us pretty busy. Now that we went to New York I didn't want to come back to Guatemala. I love my country but going back to the states and walking around TARGET was nice haha. My friends made sure we had a nice time and since we had such a short time to be there everything was just in a hurry. We did get to go to Kohl's, Ross, Target, Old navy, Red Robin, Wendy's!!! just walking into a organized store was nice haha. I think Mike is tired of hearing me saying "I just want to go back again" haha. I thought Colton was going to have a hard time while I was gone so i didn't want to go for too long but he was happy and didn't cry at all. When i came back my mom said how obedient and nice Colton was. She said she was amazed at how much he understands and how well he listens. Then she said "leave me your 2 boys any time but next time take Layla" haha. We loved New Jersey and Delaware. Everything was green and there were lots of trees and mountains everywhere. It was like being in Guatemala but in the US. After seeing so much beauty we don't know if we want to go back to Arizona where everything is dry haha. Well I hope it won't take me another year before I come back again. Till next time!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Maya's birth story

Well we are sooooooo happy that Maya Belen is finally here with us!! This 9 months went by way too slow, the last few weeks were horrible and I couldn’t wait anymore for her to get here and now she is! So for those of you who would like to know her birth story, here it is…
She was born on October 15th. A week before that I saw the Dr. and he said that her birth was so close, he said “get your hospital bag ready because it’s going to happened very soon” We came home all excited to hear what he had said. I put my diaper bag together with the car seat so when the time came Mike could just grab the stuff and we would be on our way. Well the days went by and still NOTHING. I had another appointment on Friday the 14th and when the dr. saw me he said he was surprised I was still pregnant. After he checked me he said I was dilating at 3 and asked if I wanted him to break some membranes to get labor going. My answer YES PLEEEEEASE!!! After he broke the membranes he said I should start feeling bigger contractions in a couple of hours, “see you later” he said. We came home all exited that the day had come. Hours went by and still nothing, we went out for a couple of walks, we had been walking a lot the last few days, and we even went up the hill. I felt a few contractions but nothing I would go to the hospital for. The dr. had said that if the contractions didn’t start even after he had broken the membranes to just go to the hospital anyways and I could be induced. I really wanted everything to happen on its own so I told Mike we were not going to go unless I was already having big contractions. I didn’t sleep one bit, I was praying that I was going to feel big contractions during the night and would still get to go to the hospital that night. Saturday at 6am I was lying in bed crying that my back hurt so much, I hadn’t slept for a few nights and I was just feeling miserable so I decided to head over to the hospital and induce labor.

I started giving the kids showers so that they could be ready for the day. I woke up Mike and let him know what I had decided. We left the house by 8am and got to the hospital around 8.30. The nurse said she had been expecting me to get there during the night and everything was ready for me. She started the process by giving me an enema and then contacted the dr. to see what kind of medication and how much she could give me. She started the IV right away at 10 drops per minute. The Dr. got there around 10am and went to check on me. I was then dilating at 4 but my contractions were still very small. The Dr. broke membranes again and raised the medication to 15 drops per minute and said he would be back in about an hour. I started walking around the hospital hoping it would help. My contractions started to be every 4-5 minutes but still not strong. Dr. came back to check on me around 11am and this time he said he would break all of the membranes so he did. By the time all of this was over it was already 11.15 am. As soon as the dr. did that my contractions started to get so strong and every 2 minutes, then 1 minute. I felt my water break so I told Mike to let the nurse know. The nurse came in and checked me then she ran to get the dr. baby was coming out!!! Dr got there within minutes and checked me again he said I was at 8 but I needed to get to the delivery room because baby was coming out. Now this is the only bad part of this experience. I had to get off my bed and get into a wheelchair to get to the delivery room. Once in the delivery room I had to step into a stool to get into the bed. I finally did and once I got on the bed the bed had no bars or nothing to hold on from, I put my hands under the bed and held on from underneath the bed. I kept reaching out to see if Mike could hold my hand but he wasn’t there yet because he had to go and put special clothes on. The dr. started to tell me to not push yet, he wasn’t ready, Mike wasn’t ready, and nobody was ready except Maya who wanted to greet the world already. The dr. was trying to put his clothes on and get me ready to deliver, I wasn’t pushing but man that girl did not want to wait anymore and by the way how in the world can you stop yourself from pushing?? Impossible… Mike finally got there and held my hand, the dr. sat down ready to get the work done and boom Maya’s head was out, another push he said and boom she was completely out… I just wanted to get up and go out running haha, I was soooooo happy all of it was over. One great thing here is that a pediatrician was there and as soon as Maya came out my dr. gave her to him and he started checking on her, he is the one who cleaned her off, weighed her, and measured her and everything that had to do with her. Mike says that after she was all ready the dr. asked him if it was ok to say a prayer thanking that Maya was healthy. This would probably not happen in the states Mike said, but we appreciated it. I could hear Maya crying so bad for like 5 minutes then the dr. came to place her on my chest so I could see her before they took her to nursery, as soon as she got close to me she stopped crying, it was the sweetest thing ever. They had to take her and keep her in a incubator for about an hour.

The kids looove her. Xavion doesn’t show much but we know he is excited to have a new sister. Layla is crazy about having a sister, she is a little too excited though that I’m afraid to live her alone with Maya. Colton just wants to be kissing her all the time, he gets so excited when her eyes are open. It’s pretty cute to see him loving her so much.
I still cant believe she is here and that we now have 4 children... I feel old haha. We are loving having a new baby in the house. The have the sweetest spirit and makes us all feel so happy.
We haven't take many pictures and the one we have we have already posted on facebook so here is just a couple and more will come later :D.

Do you see that smile??? how not to be crazy about her :D

This is our whole day with Colton now. He kisses her a thousand times a day and I better be there quick when she starts to cry or he will not be happy haha.

This is when they came to see me at the hospital. He just needed to snuggle with me for  a little bit after not being with him all day. I love this little boy, he is the sweetest. I haven't taken many pictures, once I get moving faster ill take more with Xavion and Layla. Till next time!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

It's been a little while...

Our days seem to be so full all the time. Mike has been pretty busy doing homework every day and giving English classes. He is back in school now and this makes me feel stressed. I have to run every morning to take kids to school and just that makes me very tired. When I see Mike sitting in front of the computer sometimes I get mad thinking, “He isn’t doing anything” haha but he is and he is doing a lot but when I’m mad… I can’t help it haha. 

Xavion is speaking Spanish super good... so good that he has been forgetting how to speak English. We now have the rule of only speaking English with mom and dad. He has really shown interest in cooking now. He says he wants to be a chef when he grows up.  He has expressed his interest in what he would like to learn. This includes cooking, skating, baseball, playing drums and guitar, and to learn how to do magic! Since we are trying to homeschool so they don’t stay too behind with English stuff, Mike takes the time to teach him baseball or skating once a week. We are really pushing on math and reading though. Xavion has shown to be pretty good at math.He is now working on multiplication with 3 digits and division. He is not very interested in reading though. He does a pretty good job when he really tries but the thing that keeps him from doing better is that he forgets what things are called so he makes up his own word and when we ask him what it means he has no idea... but he will get better!. 

Layla is doing better at school, she has not being getting out of class anymore which is very good. The teacher says she is paying more attention in class and focusing a little more as well. She was elected to be the vice president to represent her class in the school meetings. She likes to have the power! Everybody seems to know her, little kids to older kids and adults. Sometimes I have gone to places with her and people I don’t know just walk up to her and say “Hola Layla”. My first question is “how do you know my daughter” it’s inredible and sometimes annoying of how many people know her haha. She is still having trouble connecting with the kids here with the family though. These kids can be so mean and it’s very frustratinged sometimes to see their attitudes towards Layla and the things they do to her. Just a couple of weeks ago when we went to the orphanage (we are volunteers there once a month now) my nieces took all of her toys out of her playhouse and threw them away. Her little kitchen and house were full of dirt. I was so mad at them and I went to talk to their moms and the first thing they say was “they didn’t do it, it had to be somebody else” this answer made me even more mad. It’s sad how they automatically take the responsibility off their kids, they wouldn’t even take the time to ask their kids and find out if they had something to do with it.  When I went to pick my nieces up from school I talked to them, one of them said she had nothing to do with it. The other just put her head down and laughed. I just started crying and told them I knew they didn’t love my daughter and didn’t want to play with her but I was not going to allow them to do the things they were doing to her. They had no right to touch her stuff and I wanted them to clean her kitchen and go find all of Layla’s toys as soon as they got home. When we got home in front of their moms they started acting offended by me talking to them but I asked them then if they had something to do with it. That’s when they said who had told them to do it and who else was involved. Their moms said nothing when they heard them confess. It’s very annoying to see how parents treat their kids here. They think they feel that if they get after their kids for doing something bad its not showing them love. So, their kids always get away with anything because parents don’t care. We have also been judged by how we always get after our kids, how we always send them in time out, how we don’t give them a snack if they don’t eat their food, how we make sure they apologize and correct their mistakes. They say we are very strict with them, and some have even said that we don’t love them…. It’s all very stressful and sometimes I wish to not be so close to my family but we are here so we are just working and not paying much attention to all said because it just takes our good spirit away. For now, we have been working with Layla in not caring much for what other kids do to her and I have taught her that when she wants to say something mean about someone else to just sing “Let it go” it’s her favorite song after all :D. Layla wants to learn gymnastics, dancing, karate, Portuguese, tennis, singing and guitar. We wish we could find classes of these available here in Huehue so she can go to some but nothing. We found a lady who was going to give her dancing but then the lady changed her mind of pricing so we decided not to do it anymore and the only other option I would have to take her in every day and that just seems too much to deal with right now. She is still very enthusiastic and never runs out of energy NEVER!

Colton’s new favorite word is “NO”, he uses is all the time but especially when I say “it’s time to take a shower”… I’m pretty sure he knows what the word “No" means when it comes to taking a bath haha. Well he should be staying in nursery now at church but it’s a big challenge trying to leave him with someone who is not his mom.  He only sees the classroom door and starts to scream his head off but he is super happy sitting in primary!. He is such a TEASER!!!! He is really really Mike’s son haha. Sometimes he pretends he is going to give me something and right when I’m about to close my mouth he pulls it out and sticks it in his mouth and says hehe mama. The other day he drank my soda, when I noticed he had already put the can in the trash can when I asked him where my soda was he looked at me and said hehe mama and pointed at the trash can haha. He has really started to care for others, he is always making sure he is sharing and loves to help out in sweeping (he has his own broom now because he really loves to do so), he loves to help me soak all the dirty clothes, helps mike in working in the yard. He is very independent, he now wants to undress and dress himself and takes his own shower. We both shower at the same time and he always wants to wash me off too lol. The other day we went into the bathroom, after going potty both of us I stood up from the toilet and when I noticed he was wiping my butt lol. He loves his daddy, is funny how he always takes away everything I have and when mike is eating something he is ok with just a bite, but when Colton has something all he wants to do is share with Mike and will ask anybody for extra stuff so he can give some to Mike. He is very interested in magic now, he is hilarious at trying to hide something. His new trick is he passes the object from hand to hand then throws it on the floor and asks you to guess which hand the object is, of course is not in his hands and this is so funny to him because then he makes it appear! Lol. He is also crazy about spider man and Lighting Mcqueen. All he wants to wear is his spider man shirts, as soon as they are clean they go back on him he will not let me put something else on when he sees that his spider man shirt is clean. 

I’m doing okay, getting through the final weeks of pregnancy is always tough. Just last week I had an appointment with the Dr. and he says everything looks good with Maya. I have been doing my shots and other medications and now I got a hernia I have to take care of too so extra medication yay!... My energy is not very good and now I have more work to do than I did in AZ. Washing the clothes by hand is probably one of the bigger ones that I have to do and requires lots of energy so on the days that i wash I'm pretty much done for the day. I have been trying to wash every day so i don't spend too much time doing all the laundry on one day. Layla is really helping by washing all the socks and little clothes so she has been a great helper. 

Here is Colton pleading to take pictures with his siblings haha

Something this crazy kid loves is to take pics, he says "mama photo" and he starts posing for it. Its so funny to see what poses he comes up with.  Here is our latest photo session :D


Can you tell how much he likes water??

Lately all he wants to eat is beans, if there are no beans there will be a huge fit about it. so..... my mom always has beans in her kitchen :D

 Colton can take the kids down anytime, anywhere haha

He also loves this baby girl, I think he will be great with Maya

so this is where we find Layla everytime we cant find her, sometimes we forget and we go looking for her everywhere until she finally laughs and let us find her ... 

We have a bunch of pictures of Colton because he is always doing silly things like this one haha.

He also loves to help, he always wants to do what his dad does, I really hope he wont change because he is such a great helper in everything, he always helps me sweep, mop, soak the clothes, he sees something on the floor that does not belongs there he picks it up and put it away without me asking!
I looooooove that!!

 This is a pic I took of my grandpa the day he passed away. This was a Sunday morning, Saturday he had had a really bad day so Sunday morning I asked Mike to please take Xavion and Layla to church and let me stay home so I could spend time with grandpa and see if i could do anything for him. He woke up much better, I fed him breakfast then i took him for a walk on his wheelchair. We talked the whole time and he kept telling everybody along the way that he hadn't think he was going to wake up anymore after the bad day he had yesterday but that he was feeling so much better. We were all so happy to see him like that! When we came back from our walked I helped my aunt shower him, shaved him and we called my cousin to come cut his hair. I saw him so much better that i started taking picture of him with my grandma and Colton.  He then decided he wanted to take a nap. That was the last time we talked to him, he went into comma around noon, everybody thought he was just sleeping and even my cousin's husband who is a nurse came to check on him and told everybody he was doing great that he was just tired... but i knew it was the end. I didn't tell anybody what i was thinking though. Around 5 pm all the family got together and that's when everything started to get real, he almost choked with his blood and then threw it up.  Around 6:45pm my uncle asked Mike to help him give him a blessing, it was a beautiful blessing, with all of our heart we prayed that he wouldn't suffer anymore. My grandpa died at 7 PM. We missed him very much, every morning Colton would go say hi to him and he stills asks for Nano all the time. We still can't believe how fast his death happened but we are happy he wasn't in pain for too long. 

See you all next time :D