Our Incredible Staff – Yanira and Mandy

We’ve told you about several of our caregivers in the last few weeks, and now we would like to introduce you to some of our leadership team. First up are Yanira and Mandy (who also happen to be best buddies).


Yanira has worked at Love & Hope Children’s Home for a little over a year as our Director of Administration. We were blessed to find Yanira through her husband, a friend and former employee of the home. Yanira is affectionately referred as “tia” by the kids, just like our other staff members. Yanira essentially keeps Love & Hope running from a logistical standpoint. Her responsibilities are numerous and varied. As the person in charge of our cook, guards and drivers, Yanira coordinates the menu and shopping at the produce market and arranges the driving schedule – a daunting job when you consider the fact that we have 20 children in three different schools, numerous activities, sporadic medical appointments, church activities, and only three vehicles to get everyone where they need to be. She also takes care of the accounting that allows for pay-roll, grocery shopping, school tuition payments, visiting team work projects, water and bread deliveries, stops at the gas station, vehicle tune-ups, and house maintenance. Yanira keeps track of how every ministry dollar is spent and makes sure that donated money is always allotted to the correct account. Yanira is a jem! Her ability to keep Love & Hope running so efficiently, and even do more than asked, never ceases to amaze us.


Besides her organizational talents, we have taken joy in discovering Yanira’s beautiful personality. She prefers to leave the office door open, allowing the children to wander in and out. Even though her job here wouldn’t be considered “childcare,” Yanira takes the time to build into the lives of our children, be patient with them, and show them that they are special. Yanira says that her favorite thing to do with the children is to help them in what she can and answer their questions about her job here as they filter in and out of the office. She sure is good at it!

Yanira says that Proverbs 11:25 encourages her to serve here: “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Mandy first visited Love & Hope Children’s Home in 2009 and then spent a year here in 2010-2011. In July 2012, Mandy decided to move to El Salvador, committing to Love & Hope for an indefinite amount of time. When she first became involved with our ministry, Mandy remembers thinking, “How will I remember everyone’s names?” Now she can easily rattle off the ages, likes, dislikes, favorite foods, nicknames and shoe sizes of every single child!

Mandy is a jack of all trades here at the home. As Yanira’s assistant, she handles some of the accounting responsibilities. Mandy also coordinates all monetary and material donations from the United States. She is the first point of contact for people that want to visit Love & Hope, for teams and for people who just want more information about the ministry. While visitors are in El Salvador, Mandy is in charge of making sure they feel comfortable and know how and where to help.

It is obvious though, that Mandy takes the greatest joy in being with the kids. She says spending time with the kids one-on-one is her favorite thing to do. Being the creative person she is, Mandy is always willing to lend a helping hand when the kids bring home special school projects or posters for homework. We are blessed that Mandy actually managed a salon before moving to El Salvador and accordingly, cuts almost every person’s hair in the entire house, including the adults! She jumps at the opportunity to spend time with the girls by flat-ironing their hair and painting their nails. Mandy is also in charge of our bodega, or storage room, keeping it clean and organized, using the clothes and shoes inside to keep our children looking presentable and stylish.

Mandy specializes in fun at this house, organizing activities and outings, planning birthday parties, hosting a weekly BINGO game, and celebrating any and every holiday possible. You can be sure that any party or celebration featured on this blog was the handiwork of Mandy. She has a knack for keeping the kids entertained! Despite this long list of tasks, Mandy says that the hardest part of her job is not having enough hours in the day to balance work time and kid time. She is a servant through and through!

Mandy’s positive nature and patience has earned the respect and trust of our children, especially the older girls. She shares a special bond with them, being a support and role-model for them that is so important during adolescence. We are so glad that Mandy found her calling here in El Salvador, and Mandy says that she has never been happier:

Since serving at Love & Hope, I have learned the true meaning of love. I have learned how to love on a different level. I have learned to love these children like they are my own.  I have learned to love a country that is not my own. I have learned to love people in a new way. Being here has taught me to appreciate life and things, and to realize what is really important. It has taught me to find excitement in even the smallest things and to appreciate and be thankful for everyday that we have.

When asked what scripture inspires her to keep serving here at Love & Hope, Mandy explained that Ruth 1:16 encourages her to keep running toward God’s plan: “For where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”


Yanira and Mandy are a great office team for Love & Hope and we are so blessed to have them!

Our Incredible Staff – Julio and Yessenia

A couple posts ago, we introduced two of our employees with the most longevity, Ana and Larixa. Today we would like to tell you about our caregivers Yessenia and Julio. Yessenia has been a fixture at Love & Hope for many years. Julio joined us in the last two years to work specifically with the older boys.

Yessenia came to us thanks to her cousin who was working at Love & Hope a number of years ago. She still remembers getting to know our children (very small at the time) on her first day of work. Yessenia says the biggest blessing in working at Love & Hope has been learning to work with the individual and beautiful personalities and qualities that each child holds. Yessenia says that she sees her work at Love & Hope as more than work. This was her first job and she believes that God brought her here!

Tia Yessenia currently works with the little boys: four little guys who are between the ages of five and eight. Of all the groups of children at Love & Hope, this might be the bunch that requires the most patience. Yessenia approaches her time with Antonio, Salvador, Herberth and Eliseo with gentleness and grace. The little boys look up to her as a motherly figure, someone who will nurture and discipline them. We couldn’t think of anyone better to be taking care of our little rascals!


Julio has been working at Love & Hope for almost two years. Bringing male caregivers into the work rotation was a big decision here, but also a great one. We have seen positive change in the behavior of our older boys thanks to the presence of male role models like Julio. Julio remembers being nervous on his first day of work at Love & Hope. He says that he wondered things like, “Will they like me?” “Will I have a connection with them?” and “Am I the person that God wants for them?” Julio also says he was unsure of how to parent at first, but God has given the wisdom to help guide “his boys”, as he calls them.

When asked if he had a special connection with any of the children, this was Julio’s response (translated):

A very hard question…All of them are very special to me, they are in my heart and every one of them has a special connection with me. Every time that they have a question, problem, etc., I will always be there for what they want. I think that in those moments only God gives me the wisdom to respond well. Jacobo, Esau, Jefferson, Ezequiel, Moises: each one is different and I have tried to be there or share their different levels and challenges. I think I will always be there until God moves me from this place (Love and Hope).

We’re hoping that’s no time soon, Tio Julio! Having Godly male role models around for our children is not just a blessing, it is indispensable. The kids flock to Julio and our other male staff to play, talk and spend time together. We are glad to have father figures around that reflect the love of our Heavenly Father.



Yessenia and Julio are so important in this place! We are able to continue paying the salaries of these amazing individuals thanks to our sponsors and donors. Love & Hope is grateful for those that currently support our ministry and we invite those who would like to get involved to learn more about sponsorship and donations by clicking here.


Feliz Cumpleaños, America!

Here at Love & Hope, we take advantage of any opportunity to celebrate a holiday. Even though the Fourth of July is not celebrated here in El Salvador, we were not stopped from having a little fun. El Salvador and the United States have a very strong relationship; rightly so when you consider that more than one-fourth of Salvadorans actually live in “los Estados” (the states). El Salvador even uses the American dollar as currency. Celebrating the Fourth of July may have been a little obscure here, but with almost everyone we know having a relative in los Estados (not to mention our American volunteers), it seemed appropriate. We had a great Independence Day at Love and Hope! It was filled with red, white, and blue food, decorations, and activities.

On the night before, we gave the kids and caregivers a blank flag to color and told them that whoever can most accurately depict the flag will win a prize. Everyone knew the flag consisted of the colors red, white, and blue, but we ended up with a variety of versions. Two of our older girls recreated the flag with 100% accuracy and even added extras to their flags to make them better. Raquel went outside and found a stick to use as a flag pole, and Michell cut out 50 individual stars to put on her flag.





During the day, we enjoyed many Independence Day themed snacks including red and blue star shaped sandwiches, an American flag made out of fruit and marshmallows, and Jello flags.


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The older kids were also given a trivia quiz about the United States to complete. This task also tested the knowledge of the Americans in the house when the kids came running up asking for help. The kids ended up doing really well on the quiz, with some even proving they knew more about the United States than the Americans. The winner was Brenda, who not only answered all of the questions correctly, but included additional information with many of the questions. One question asked, “How many presidents have died on July 4th?” The only thing she needed to do was circle the correct answer, but instead she included the names and years that they died (Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in 1826, and James Monroe in 1831). Another question was, “What country first used fireworks to fend off evil spirits?” Ezequiel quickly yelled out “California!”

Feliz Cumpleanos, America! We hope all of you enjoyed celebrating the with family and friends as much as we did.

Our Incredible Staff – Ana and Larixa

Love & Hope Children’s Home has been blessed with a great staff made up of Salvadorans and Americans. We would like to introduce you to a couple of them.

The children at Love & Hope are divided into four groups by age and gender (little girls, little boys, older girls, older boys). Each group has their respective caregivers who switch on and off every 48 hours. The girls are lucky to have two of our staff members with the most longevity: Ana and Larixa. They have both worked with almost all of the kids and have watched many of our children grow from the time they were very young.

When Ana first started working at Love & Hope, she was with the boys. Eventually she changed groups and rooms to work with the girls. Ana says that the best part of the job is loving the children unconditionally; and that she does. Ana is able to balance being fun, strict and trustworthy all in one shot. It is easy to see that Ana considers being a caregiver as more than a job; she says the caregivers put feeling and effort into their work.


Larixa remembers her first day at Love & Hope: all of the babies asked for a bottle at the same time! She thought she was just filling in as a caregiver for 15 days. Little did Larixa know that more than five years later she would still be serving here. Larixa views working here as more than a job. She says that the children are part of her life and Love & Hope is her second home. To Larixa, the greatest blessing she has experienced here is learning from the children and them from her. She loves being able to share part of herself with the Love & Hope kids! Larixa shared a huge part of herself with Kevincito in the couple years before he was adopted. As one of his primary caregivers, it was at the same time difficult and joyous to see him go!


As with all of our caregivers, the children refer to Ana and Larixa as tia, or aunt. Sometimes they use tia only, sometimes with their name attached (¡TIA LARIXA!), and sometimes with some other term of endearment or nickname (Ana is often called “Tia Canu” by the kids). However they are called, the kids trust and respect Ana and Larixa immensely. Ana is somehow able to balance being one of the most fun tias and also a great disciplinarian. The Love & Hope kids know that they need to listen to Ana the first time. She keeps a certain order in this house! Larixa on the other hand is quiet and steady, a wonderful nurturer. She shares a special relationship with the little boys, as she worked with them from infancy. Larixa and Eliseo are adorable to watch together. She says that remembers Eliseo’s first steps and words very well; he is like a son to her.


As the tia of the little girls, Larixa has her hands full. There are four chiquitas, or little girls, all 9 and 10 years old. They are beautiful, smart young ladies with caring hearts, fun personalities and unique talents. But, put them all in the same room, and the sass and silliness is palpable. They love to play dolls, dance, sing, play house and pretend they are famous. Larixa takes it all in stride while also managing to motivate the girls to do homework, hand wash their clothes and complete chores.

Ana just recently moved from the little girls room to the older girls room. She is the perfect match for the five older girls, who are between the ages of 12 and 17. The older girls are growing to wonderful young women who love God and have big dreams. Ana has always been a great role model and mentor for them, and now as their tia (once again), she will be able to walk alongside them and continue to help them grow. While the girls don’t always appreciate Ana’s high standards and adherence to the rules, they certainly trust her. They’ve all been through a lot together.


Superwoman takes on a new meaning when you consider these two women. Love & Hope is so grateful to have people like Ana and Larixa on our staff. It means even more that they have dedicated so much of their lives to Love & Hope Children’s Home. We are confident that Ana and Larixa truly love the children and see this as more than a job.

In our next “Our Incredible Staff” post, we will introduce you two more of our awesome caregivers.

Golden Acres Baptist Church

It’s team season here in El Salvador, and Love & Hope Children’s Home recently welcomed Golden Acres Baptist Church for a day. Golden Acres became involved via Operation Blessing and has visited us for several years now, completing projects such as a water collection system, a rooftop garden and a chicken coop. They also, of course, have taken time to play with and get to know our children! Several of the team members have begun sponsoring or donated to Love & Hope as a result of their visit. We look forward to seeing the Golden Acres team every year and always feel so blessed by their work!


This year, the Golden Acres team purchased and assembled new bunk beds for some of the kids’ rooms (we’ve completely grown out of the small-size bunk beds!). They also bought Love & Hope $400 worth of groceries. They topped off their visit with an ice cream party! Everyone had a great time interacting, playing and getting to know one another.



As always, thank you for your hard work and generosity, Golden Acres. We appreciate it so much!