Our Bilingual House

As our children have gotten older, Love & Hope Children’s Home has developed into quite the bilingual household. We function in “spanglish”, if you will.  Obviously, we mainly communicate in Spanish and English can also be heard all the time. But more often than not, we mix the two languages together! Even our Salvadoran staff surprise us sometimes, replying back in Spanish to a question that was asked in English or chuckling at words that were exchanged between two English speakers.


While clearly fascinated by language, the kids have a funny way of showing it sometimes. They like to experiment and play around with it. For example, Jacobo and Esau enjoy patronizing the Americans by speaking in Spanish with an American accent, leaving verbs in the infinitive, and speaking unnecessarily slow. Antonio thinks it is funny to sit in on a conversation between two of the Americans and repeat back everything they say, laughing hysterically to himself the whole time.


Little do the kids know that we Americans are secretly compiling a list of funny instances where they have spoken in Spanglish or broken English. It sure is adorable!

Eliseo: “Rapido, no! Fast, no!”

Irene: “Come-a here.”

Antonio: “Okie dokie!”

Michell: “Tell the boys to stop throwing earth at me!” (Meaning to say, “dirt.”)

Jeremiah: “I go to bathroom.”

Brenda: “I’m boring.” (Meaning to say, “I’m bored.”)

Jefferson: “Whaty?” 

Antonio: “Come on!”

Eliseo: “Solo one.” (Spanglish for “only one.”)

There are also a few phrases that we hear over and over. The kids translate literally from Spanish and it sounds a little funny:

“Did you paint your hair?”

“I have hunger!”

“I need to make pee.”

As you can also imagine in a house where the fluent speakers of two different languages are living, there is a lot of correcting that happens. Some are more helpful than others. Ezequiel, for example, is wonderful at gently correcting mistakes that the English speakers make in Spanish. He helps one through a conversation rather than chuckling at the wrong words or pronunciations. The English speakers are always teaching too. The Love and Hope kids sometimes approach us directly: “What does this word mean?” “What is the past tense of this word?”


Our house is also full of text in Spanish, English and Spanglish. A lot of times, it happens unintentionally as we are thinking in one language but writing in another. Interesting outcomes are bound to happen. For example, for a while there was a sign in the kitchen that read, “Feliz Birthday!” Here is some of the bilingual signage around the house:



It is so interesting to watch our children learn more English and function in two languages. Everyday we hear them using new words and gaining confidence. We can’t wait to see where their language skills take them!

Kevincito’s Birthday and Turtle Day

May 23rd is a special day in our house because it is Kevincito’s birthday! Even though Kevin was adopted in February, we made sure to celebrate his 10th birthday here in El Salvador. The kitchen was decorated like it is for every cumpleañero and we got to talk to Kevin via Skype! Since Kevincito couldn’t be here to blow out his candles or take pictures, Mandy put Kevin’s head on a stick and we held it while singing the Birthday Song and eating cake.




Since his arrival in Ohio, Kevincito has gained eight pounds and is finally getting the medical attention he needs. He looks like a different child! We have loved talking to him over the computer and seeing him gradually get healthier via pictures his family shares on Facebook. Feliz Cumpleaños, Kevincito!

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May 23rd is also special for us because it is World Turtle Day! A few posts ago, we told you about the enthusiasm that many in this household have for turtles. More than just a love for turtles, celebrating Turtle Day has become a tradition for us thanks to Mandy. We marked the occasion by taking turtle shaped cookies to school for a snack, having a turtle costume contest, turtle coloring contest, and eating turtle shaped sandwiches for dinner. Kevincito’s birthday cake even looked like a turtle!


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The most exciting activity may have been the turtle scavenger hunt; hundreds of paper turtles were hidden throughout the house with varying point values written on the back. The Love & Hope kids raced around the house collecting as many as they possibly could to win a prize!


Here’s hoping your Turtle Day was as exciting as ours! And a big “Happy Birthday” to Kevincito!

Agape Christian Academy Team

Russ and Sue Gifford of Agape Christian Academy in Troy, Ohio visited Love & Hope Children’s Home on a “vision trip” in 2012. While here and upon returning home, they began exploring the idea of sending their 11th and 12th grade students on a mission trip to Love & Hope. This past April, Mrs. Gifford, along with two teachers, returned to El Salvador with a group of seven high school students.


Leading up to the trip, students from Agape and the Love & Hope kids exchanged pen pal lettersseveral times. This was a great way to build relationships and introduce our children to some of the students that would come in April. We have had pen pals in the past, but knowing that their new friends would actually be visiting El Salvador made it all more exciting. “When you come, we will go to the park!” “I can’t wait to meet you!” “Do you like to play video games?” “Do you like soccer?”

Upon arriving in El Salvador on April 4th, the Agape students did a great job of jumping in and getting to know our kids right away. We (the staff) were so impressed by the willingness and enthusiasm of the Agape students! Unknowingly, they became great, positive role models for the Love & Hope kids. It isn’t often that we get visitors so close in age to our own children, so it was awesome to see our kids respond to and interact with their brothers and sisters in Christ from Ohio.


The Agape students and faculty took the time to write a few words about their time here. Here is some of what they had to say:

“Being with the children in El Salvador has left me with a desire to become a missionary.”

“God really worked on the hearts of the team that went and helped me to see the calling He has in my life.”

“To see the thankfulness on people’s faces when receiving a simple gift of dry rice reminded me of how much God has blessed us with that we often take for granted.”

“Rachel Sanson, who founded the home and runs it, shared with me that it was great for the Love & Hope children to see ‘cool, young people who love the Lord.’”

“While I was gone God also showed me how blessed I am. Now I can tell others about everything I experienced and about what God has done for me.”

“So often we go on mission trips thinking we will be a blessing to those we minister to; instead we find ourselves on the receiving end of blessing beyond measure.”


The Agape team blessed us with vacation Bible school (one of their skits is pictured above), completed cleaning projects, handed out food in a poor community and spent a lot of time loving our children. On their last night, we all went out for pizza together. It was hard to see them go, but we are hopeful and excited at the thought of an ongoing relationship with Agape Christian Academy. Thank you for everything, Agape! We can’t wait for next year!

Felicidades Mamás!

May 10th is Mother’s Day here in El Salvador. Salvadorans take this special day so seriously (rightly so) that the Love & Hope kids had the day off from school! Celebrating Mother’s Day at Love & Hope Children’s Home is important for our kids. The children view Rachel as “mami,” and they have many more motherly figures present in our house or involved in our ministry. We often joke about the fact that our children don’t have to answer to one mom, they have to answer to about 10!

The day before Mother’s Day, our two littlest boys put on a show at school for all the moms. They even had to dance! We also had a little party at home where Rachel was honored with lots of hugs and handicrafts that the children made at school. Some of the kids dressed up like moms, we sang songs for the moms, played “Mother Says,” and all of the “moms” received a present!



On May 10th, we took it easy and went out for pupusas for lunch. Afterwards some of the children visited the Puerta del Diablo with some visitors. It was nice for Rachel and our other “moms” to relax and spend time with the kids.

The word “mother” means a lot of things in this house. It means Rachel’s tireless mothering of 20-plus children. It means biological moms that come for visits. It means caregivers that come to work every week ready to give their all to these children.


Proverbs 31 says, “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” We have found this to be so true. The acts of love, service and patience that we observe in Rachel and the other Love & Hope moms are certainly noble beyond measure. No one ever said that being a mom was easy.

Moms are awesome! Felicidades, Mamás!

Welcome Back, Eric!

We are excited to welcome back our good friend, Eric Elkins, from Ohio. Eric first visited Love & Hope Children’s Home in 2009 on a short-term trip and has returned to visit and help out several times since then. Eric plans on staying with us for at least six months.

During his stay at Love & Hope, Eric will be a substitute driver and caregiver for the boys. He is also very musically talented and hopes to give music lessons to our children. One of his greatest qualities, however, is being able to make just about every person in this house laugh. The Love & Hope kids flock to Eric for this reason, knowing that he will make everything (even doing homework) a little more fun!

Eric and Tio

Welcome back, Eric!


Tia Mila

Anyone who has ever entered Love & Hope Children’s Home has probably heard one of our 20-plus children calling, “Tia Mila!” Mila has been a Love & Hope fixture for many years, and just last week Mila retired after nine years of service at Love & Hope to care for herself and her family.

Tia Milita
Mila has been an integral part of many of our children’s lives having helped raise many of them from infancy. She shares a special relationship with almost every one of the children. Her sweet, gentle, and patient nature has served as a refuge for many of the children who would often go running to her to share good news, seek comfort or just to cuddle.

Mila and Kevin

Over her nine years as a caregiver, Mila has cared for every child and worked in every room at one time or another. Rachel remembers her saying years ago that she would stay at Love and Hope until she saw Chamba walk – and Chamba started walking in 2006! Later, Mila promised to stay until Kevincito got healthy – And Kevin went home with his new family in Ohio this past April. These past few years, Mila has cared for little Kevincito. She has fed him, comforted him, helped him with therapy, and nursed him back to health many times after sickness. She never wavered in her affection or concern, knowing all the while that he would not be able to stay with her forever. It was a bittersweet moment for Mila when she finally had to let her little muchachito go home to his new family in the States. She would miss him dearly, but took comfort in the knowledge that he was going to a home where he would be deeply loved and have access to the care and medical attention that he needed.
Mila and Kevin 3


Mila clearly saw working at Love & Hope Children’s Home as more than a job. She was constantly moving, playing, cleaning, teaching, interacting, and helping. Her work never seemed to end and yet Mila was always cheerful, overflowing, and bubbling with joy. She is an example to the children and adults at Love & Hope of a person who picks up her cross everyday and seeks to serve God with all of her might.

Mila Homework
We formally said goodbye to Mila on April 30th with a special dinner, slideshow and a few games. Everyone got dressed-up, we decorated the kitchen and set the table. There was a time designated for “speeches,” where many of the adults and even some of the older children expressed their love for this dear woman: “When I needed someone to talk to, you always listened.” “I’ve learned patience from you.” “Thank you for your service here.” It was an emotional evening for many of the kids. They recognize and appreciate the motherly figure that Mila has been to them. It was touching and heartbreaking to see the tears shed on her behalf.

Good Bye Mila

Tia Mila has promised to visit and we are going to hold her to it. We love her too much to let her go that easily (and she loves us too!).
 Mila and Staff 2
For the last nine years, Mila has been planting seeds at Love & Hope. She has taught our children the love of God in word and deed. We are confident that one day our Creator will take her in his arms and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21) We love you and thank you, Tia Milita. There are no words, gift or act that could adequately thank you for the work you have done at Love & Hope. Come visit us soon!


Children are fascinated with animals and our kids are no exception. Love & Hope Children’s Home has a few mascotas, or pets. Awhile back, we told you a little about our chickens and how we took care of an overpopulation of roosters in our backyard. Our chickens are still alive, well, and noisy. The Love & Hope kids are mainly responsible for caring for them, feeding them and tidying the coop. The chickens give us a good number of eggs, which helps stock the kitchen and provides us with breakfast every now and then.
One of the coolest things about keeping chickens has been the baby chicks! We have unintentionally had two eggs that have been incubated by our hens and hatched. Last time it happened, our social worker discovered the tiny chick while the Love & Hope kids were at school. They were very excited and surprised to find a new member of the flock when they came home. Those cute little “peep-peeps” are so much nicer than the obnoxious “cock-a-doodle-doos” of our two roosters!
The other resident of our backyard is Sammy the bunny. Sammy is about a year-and-a-half old, and claims the entire backyard as his home. He hops up and down the several stories of stairs looking for grass, leaves and fruit to nibble on. Our guard faithfully brings Sammy scraps from the kitchen too. Sammy is very friendly, enjoys being held and cuddled, and has been known to hop into the house on occasion! For Easter we even got him all spiffied up.
Sammy Easter
For whatever reason, there also seems to be a slight obsession with turtles in this house. Exhibit #1 is “La Puerta de Torgugas.” Every so often, the kids engage in a turtle-coloring spree and all of the pictures are taped onto the same door.
Puerta de Tortugas
Exhibit #2 is Indigo, Mandy’s turtle. We haven’t had Indigo long, but the kids love visiting, feeding, and holding the tiny tortuga.
Turtle 1
Turtle in Hands
It has been a long process, but our children are slowly learning to respect and value animals as part of God’s creation. They love visiting the pet store and pointing out the pets they would like to have one day. Our mascotas have been a great way to teach our kids responsibility and provide entertainment!