Monday, August 20, 2007

A Life Changing Experience



At the beginning of this month I went with our youth group and several adults to Casa de la Esperanza. Just to give you an idea where we were I have included a description from their website.

Casa de la Esperanza is a Christian orphanage with a beautiful story. It was founded in 1988. Its purpose was to care for orphaned, abandoned, and abused children as well as children whose parents can not care for them. The home is located in Anahuac, Chihuahua, Mexico. Casa is situated on eighty acres in the beautiful Sierra Madre Mountains.

Casa de la Esperanza literally translated means "house of hope" and that is exactly what it is for many children in Northern Mexico. Casa has developed into and become a safe haven for many of God's beautiful children. The first day a child arrives at Casa, they are generally hungry, tired, and scared. The scene is a sad and yet hopeful one. After those first few days, the child can be seen playing, smiling, and learning about many things. An undernourished and abused child without hope, in time becomes a healthy, active and loving part of our family. They become accustomed to daily routines such as meals and brushing their teeth. They encounter a caring staff including several American missionaries. The child finds a clean and safe environment where they begin to feel comfortable.

I have put off writing this blog mainly because words cannot express my life changing experience there. I have been on most of the high school mission trips that we have every summer, but none have touched me the way this trip did. Even now, tears come to my eyes as I think about the precious children at the orphanage and the experiences I had with them there.

Our group spent the mornings there working on projects around the orphanage compound such as painting, building a fence, doing some demolition work, and electrical work. I helped one of our elders, who is a dentist, provide dental care for each orphan. We screened each child (there are about 65 children there). We were able to pull 7 teeth, fill 14 cavities, and do about 4 thorough cleanings. When I say "we" Don Skelton, the dentist, did most of the work. Two other people and I assisted by handing him tools, taking notes on what we found, cleaning the tools, and we provided comfort for the scared children. We attempted to do all this while we faced a huge language barrier. Slowly my two years of high school Spanish came back to me. We knew some important words like "pain", "open your mouth", and "very good". It was priceless to see the children crowded around us watching what we were doing with each "patient" as well as comforting their friends.

In the afternoons we got to spend time with the orphans. We played basketball, soccer, jump rope, and I taught them a hand game I learned in high school. It was so much fun just watching our teens interact with the children. I will never forget looking over and seeing some of our girls digging in the sand with some of the younger ones or looking around during church and seeing our guys with little boys asleep in their laps.

Every evening we had a devotional with the orphans, which is something they do every day. We sang both English and Spanish songs while holding the sweet little children in our lap. The older girls at the orphanage loved to play with our hair, so they often sat behind us and fixed our hair during the devo. (Girls are so good at multi-tasking!)

Listening to several stories about why certain orphans were brought there just broke my heart. God has truly blessed my family. He has given us more than we need, and I can't help but remember Luke 12:48 "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." It really hit me during our Sunday worship service there. A little 6 year old girl, Amanda, had crawled in my lap and soon fell fast asleep. As I held her I felt like God was really tugging on my heart. I turned to Wes during the service with tears in my eyes and whispered, "I want to adopt her". Then I couldn't stop the tears. For about 4 days following the trip I cried every day. I am not sure exactly why, to be honest. I just couldn't seem to get those children's faces and personal stories out of my mind. I don't know if God is calling us to adopt or what. Wes and I are definitely open to this, and have been in prayer about it. Coming back home to the girls helped me remember that I do still have my hands quite full raising a 4 and 2 year old, but I am definitely going to leave my heart open to adopting in the future, and if certain doors were to open now, I would even consider adopting now.

Here is a song that Wes and our intern, Matt Porter, wrote about Casa de la Esperanza. It is actually on one of Matt's CD's.

Alone and unwanted, she's never known love
A young girl arrives with less than enough
Not enough "sweet dreams" or tuck ins late at night
Not enough "I love yous" as they turn out the lights

She's taken from abuse, she's taken from the streets
Taken from a world that never met her needs
She walks thru the door with tears in her eyes
Could this be the place to rebuild her broken life?

(She's helpless... She's hopeless)
But in this House of Hope she's beautiful
And in this Place of Peace she's loved
She'll find One Hope, she'll find One God
She'll find painted nails and fairy tales and more than those "sweet dreams" could every bring.

And here stands a father with a working man's life.
He once was a Christian but he ran out of time.
Time for his children and time for his wife.
Time for "I love yous" while turning out the lights.
He's missing out on family he's missing so much more.
The fellowship the ministry the things he loved before.
He walks thru those doors for the first time in years.
Returns to his old pew, his eyes filled with tears

(He's helpless... He's hopeless)
But in this House of Hope He's whole again
And in this Place of Peace He's loved
He'll find One Hope, He'll find One God
He'll find a healing heart a brand new start and more than those late hours could every bring.
This whole world is fallen (Each of us is lost)
We deserved the crown of thorns (But Jesus paid the cost)
So if we all embrace him (And call upon his name)
We can know the hope he gives and in our hearts he'll reign!

And in his House of Hope we're beautiful
And in his Place of Peace we're loved
We'll find One Hope, we'll find One God
We'll find streets of gold, the young and old and more than this lost world could ever bring.

Like I wrote earlier, I can't put into words how this trip impacted me or how I am feeling, but I did want to share something.

Sweet Amanda who won our hearts!

Wes and Amarani posing for a silly picture during a carnival we held.

These beautiful girls got their teeth pulled.
You will notice Irene, who is beside me, is not too happy with us.
She forgave us later and was back to her happy self.

Dr. Don Skelton hard at work with the help of Karen.

The cute toddlers eating their dinner.

Show us your guns, boys!

Wes teasing some girls! He really remembered
his Spanish and could talk pretty well with the kids.
I was very impressed!

Our whole group in front of the bus we chartered from El Paso to Casa de la Esperanza.


Susan said...

Naomi- this is such a beautiful story. Amanda is such a beautiful girl! It looks like you & Wes are doing an amazing job with your church!
Tell Wes that I loved his song. I miss you guys!

Miranda said...

It sounds like such an amazing trip! I'm so happy that you wrote to tell everyone about it. It's too easy to take our blessings for granted.

Holly O'Quinn said...

What precious memories and experiences you had. As you talked about crying I started welling up as well. I know how that feels and the emotions that God lays on our hearts for others especially when it feels as though were are leaving them behind. I have no doubt that you guys would make amazing parents to these sweet orphans. I will join you in your prayers, and thanks for sharing such a tender moment.

McCulleys said...

I loved reading about your mission trip. It sounded amazing! Isn't it overwhelming to know that there are so many little ones out there who don't have love given to them everyday. As you know, they hold special places in our hearts. (By the way, we leaving for ours on September 9th!)

We loved getting to spend time with you and your family at Cornerstone. Caleb had such a great time playing with your girls!


kristin briscoe said...

Oh my goodness, Amanda is so precious! When I went last year she was the one that I absolutely fell in love with. It was so sad to have to say bye. I wanted to take her with me. She is such a sweetheart! It sounds like yall had an amazing time.

Anonymous said...

Hello there, my name is Laura and I live in Arizona, around 15 years ago I was part of the kids at Casa de la Esperanza, I really liked your story and I was happy to see that the Casa is much much better now than what it was few years ago. Thank you very much for the time you gave to the kids. Believe me, they will remember you the rest of their lives, just like I remember many of the Americanos that I met there. If you go again and take some pictures please post them again, or write to me at

God Bless you and your beautiful family..