How We’ve Grown: Best Buddies

Last Wednesday, Love & Hope Children’s Home marked its 10 year anniversary. Continuing to celebrate our “birthday week,” we’d like to share a bit about two of our little boys (and best buddies), Salvador and Antonio.


Salvador (Chamba) arrived at Love & Hope Children’s home when he was just four months old. Today, as a nine-year-old, he is one of our most recognizable and memorable children. Every visitor who comes through our door seems to meet Chamba first, and this meeting usually coincides with a massive bear hug and a wet kiss. Chamba is a helper. Just say the word, and he is at the side of his amigo Antonio, to help him get from one place to another or bring his food to the table. Of all of the sibling groups that live at Love & Hope, Chamba and his sister Linda are probably the closest pair. Linda constantly comes to her little brother’s aid and defense; they take care of each other. Chamba loves school and we are excited to provide him with the opportunity to attend a new school next year where he will learn life skills and eventually, a trade. Chamba wears his emotions on his sleeve, which usually makes for some fun and sweet interactions. Chamba gets so excited to do new things; he gives the best compliments and the best hugs.


Antonio is Love & Hope Children’s Home newest child, arriving three years ago at the age of six. Upon leaving the children’s home where he was living before Love & Hope, Antonio declared that he was going to the “crystal house.” That nickname for our house in Los Planes de Renderos lasted until we moved: “Tonio, where do you live?” “In the crystal house!” Antonio is now nine-years-old and one of the most joyful children we have ever met. Antonio is thriving at Love & Hope. His mobility and strength has increased substantially, he is more independent and has made huge strides academically. Antonio is very close with Salvador, but also says that his best friend is Kevincito.

Love & Hope Children’s Home has been holistically caring for children for 10 years. For as long as Salvador and Antonio need support, Love & Hope Children’s Home plans to be there. We love living life alongside these children, and can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring. Our ability to serve these children is only possible because of the thousands of people who have donated to Love & Hope Children’s Home over the years. If you would like to be a part of making our vision a reality, join our 10 Years, 10 Friends, 10 Dollars campaign.

How We’ve Grown: Our Youngest and Oldest

Many kids have called Love & Hope home over the past 10 years, and we currently have 18 children living with us. Today, we thought it would be fun to take a quick look at our youngest and our oldest.


Eliseo was just a few weeks old when he arrived at Love & Hope with is curly hair, and has been our little sweetheart ever since. Now five years old, Eliseo is as affectionate as ever. His trademark “move” is to say, “I want to tell you something.” Then, when you lean in to hear what he has to say, he surprises you with a kiss on the cheek. Eliseo exemplifies childlike faith. For example, when talking about the new house, Eliseo was adamant in pointing out to the other little boys that God had made it. Once, when examining the heart-shaped locket of one of our volunteers, Eliseo explained to her that, “God is in there.” Eliseo is about to complete his first year of preschool and is doing well. His quick little mind easily grasps new concepts and he is receiving wonderful marks. Eliseo loves to play soccer, play with the other kids, or just sit down to hear someone read him a story. He also has a special talent for making silly facial expressions that, if it’s possible, make him even cuter.


When talking about Jocelyn, Rachel has said that she “wouldn’t have picked anyone else to be the oldest child.” How true. Jocelyn arrived at Love & Hope Children’s Home when she was 7 years old. She is now 17 and has grown into a wonderful example for our younger children. Jocelyn has a quiet, steady, and calm personality, yet is able to make us laugh with her quick and understated sense of humor. Jocelyn loves to read; it isn’t uncommon to find her in bed early or bypassing TV time just so she can finish reading another chapter in her novel. When she graduates from high school next year, Jocelyn hopes to study international relations and dreams of one day visiting England. IMG_3395

Love & Hope’s mission is to holistically support Eliseo, Jocelyn and the rest of our children into young adulthood and beyond. We’re in this for the long-run! The physical, emotional and spiritual support that we provide wouldn’t be possible without the help of thousands of generous donors who have financially supported our home over the last 10 years. If you would like to be a part of making our vision a reality, join our 10 Years, 10 Friends, 10 Dollars campaign. Check back later this week to learn more about our amazing children (not that we’re biased or anything).

Happy Birthday Love & Hope

We’re no stranger to celebrations and cakes at Love & Hope – we’ve celebrated over 250 birthdays! – but yesterday was something different: Love & Hope turned 10. It’s been quite a journey these past 10 years. Some of you have been around since the beginning, and many of you have joined us along the way. You have all blessed us in one way or another through giving your time, talents, resources, and prayers. We wish you all could have been here to join with us in celebrating 10 great years.


Even though it was a school night, we decided to have a good time. After school, all the kids worked quickly to finish their homework and their chores so we could join our friends at Focus Services for a party. They brought in a fancy cake, collected lots of toiletries for us, and rented a soccer field near their office so we could have a friendly game of free-for-all fútbol. The teams were a constantly changing mix of young and old, tios and tias, gringos, and our friends at Focus.






Once we had burned off all the energy from the cake, we headed home for a Love & Hope trivia competition. The kids split into four groups with each group having a tio or tia, an older girl, an older boy, and a mix of younger kids. Everyone enjoyed thinking back to some of Love & Hope’s earliest years and testing their memories. Who was the youngest when they arrived? Who was the oldest? Who broke the first bone? Who was our first Tia? How many pets have we had? (See the full list of trivia questions below and test your own memory!) Before the night was over everyone was laughing and screaming answers at each other. We even had to change a few answers after the kids remembered a few things we had forgotten!



To cap off the night, we ordered pizza and sat down to watch a slideshow of old photos. The kids ooh’d, awe’d, and laughed at old pictures of themselves and each other.

We’ve made a lot of great memories over the last 10 years. 10 years from now, we’ll be looking back at last night as another one of the those great memories.

See the answers below.

  1. What date was Love & Hope started?
  2. Where did Love and Hope start?
  3. Who was the first Tio and the first Tia at Love & Hope?
  4. How old was Mami when Love & Hope started?
  5. Who was the first child to break a bone at Love & Hope?
  6. Who was the oldest child to come to Love & Hope?
  7. Who was the youngest child to come to Love & Hope?
  8. Which couples spent time together at Love & Hope and are now married?
  9. Which states and countries have we had visitors from?
  10. How many vehicles have we had at Love & Hope?
  11. How many homes has Love & Hope had?
  12. How many kids have lived at Love & Hope?
  13. What was the name of the first school that kids from Love & Hope attended?
  14. How many kids have the “Love & Hope Scar” on their forehead?
  15. Who was the most recent child to come to Love & Hope?
  16. How many pets have we had?
  17. Who was the youngest Tia to work at Love & Hope?
  18. Which staff member has the most siblings?
  1. October 23rd, 2003
  2. Nejapa
  3. Hermano Gilberto and his daughter Yanira
  4. 20
  5. Leodina
  6. Julio
  7. Jeremiah was 25 hours old. Milagro was 10 days. Raul was 20 days old.
  8. Doug and Allison, Manuel and Alyssa, Joe and Linda, Tia Eunice and Daniel, Tati and Tony, Will and Tia Marisol, Gloria and Samuel, Oso and Evelyn
  9. Ohio, Illinois, New York, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, California, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Washington, Hawaii, Georgia, Michigan, Puerto Rico, Canada, England, Germany, Sweden, Uganda, Vietnam, Australia, Holland
  10. 11 – 2 pickups, 3 Coasters, 1 Van, 2 Microbuses, 1 SUV, 1 Car, 1 Paratransit Bus
  11. 3
  12. 37
  13. Francisco Morazon
  14. 7
  15. Antonio
  16. 38 (including our chickens!)
  17. Tia Larixa
  18. Tia Yessenia

Celebrating 10 Years of Love & Hope



Ten years ago today, on October 23, 2003, Love & Hope Children’s home opened its doors to our first four children. We started with very little: a bunk bed, a crib, a stove, a pick-up truck, and a guard. We didn’t have much, but we had a vision: To offer holistic care to Salvadoran children who had been abandoned, neglected or abused, and to show them their worth in the eyes of their Creator. By the end of that first year – in just two short months – we had welcomed 17 more children.

The last ten years have brought a total of 37 children through the doors of Love & Hope. We’ve been able to provide private education, medical care, psychological support, and spiritual guidance. Four children have received physical, speech, art, occupation and water therapy. Five children have been adopted into loving families. Other children have discovered long-lost family members or been reunited with their biological families. It’s been an incredible ride – full of ups and downs, laughter and tears.

We’ve done it all through the support of thousands of donors, sponsors, volunteers, teams and board members – American and Salvadoran alike – that have generously supported our ministry in El Salvador. We can’t begin to describe how blessed we feel professionally as an organization, and personally as friends, to have all of you supporting us. The last 10 years wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of our board members, staff, volunteers, and donors all around the world that believe in us. You share in the change we’ve made in the lives of the children, their families, and the country of El Salvador.

We’re looking forward to the next 10 years: high school, college, and first jobs. In order to continue to physically, spiritually, educationally and emotionally care for our children through young adulthood, we’ll need your continued support.

Today, we’re launching our 10 Years, 10 Friends, 10 Dollars fundraiser. The idea is simple: We’re asking you to share the Love & Hope story with ten of your friends, family members, or co-workers and ask them to help you raise $100 for Love & Hope by contributing just $10. But it doesn’t stop there. If each of them asks 10 friends, the impact will be enormous.

It’s easy to get started. Just visit our website and sign up to start inviting friends.

And stay tuned to our blog. We’ll be sharing stories and posting pictures from the past 10 years at Love & Hope all throughout the week!

Our New Wheels

Over the last few months, Love & Hope Children’s Home has sold two vehicles in order to be able to purchase a bigger and more fuel-efficient microbus. After selling our small SUV and our bus in preparation for a newer micro, we were left with just two vehicles to transport our 20-plus children. Some days, figuring out a driving schedule to get everyone to and from school, karate class and soccer practice took a significant amount of planning. Add in sporadic doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, meetings or special events, and the fact that we were able to function with just two vehicles was nothing short of amazing.

Back in August, a visitor, Beth Weber from the Church Without Walls in Ohio, asked us what one of our greatest needs was. When we told her that more efficient, yet spacious vehicle was really necessary, Beth agreed, on-the-spot, to talk to her church about it.

The same week that we moved into the new house, we found a microbus! Thanks to the generous donation made by the Church Without Walls and the funds from selling the two other vehicles, we were able to purchase a used Nissan Urvan that fits all of the Love & Hope kids comfortably. The Urvan is longer and boasts an extra row of seats, as compared to our older micro.


The kids are probably the most excited about the sound system; they happily listen to music all the way to and from school, volume on high! Love & Hope is grateful to once again have the benefit of being able to function with three vehicles. Thank you to the Church Without Walls for blessing us with the extra funds we needed to purchase a new microbus!

Despedidas – Farewells

Our recent move brought many changes to Love & Hope Children’s Home. Most of these changes were welcomed. We have a beautiful new living space. We are within walking distance to a lot of things to do, and a short-bus ride away from the schools that our kids attend. We have a flower garden and thick grass in our yard. A wonderful, spacious park is literally steps away from Love & Hope’s front door. Our new neighborhood is one of the safest in San Salvador. There are so many things to be excited about.

The move also brought one big relational change that was difficult. Because our new house is located inside of a gated street, Love & Hope no longer has to employ guards. The layout and locations of our houses in Nejapa and in Los Planes de Renderos made having 24-hour guards a necessity as they recorded every person and vehicle coming and going from the houses, amongst other responsibilities. More importantly, these three men were “tios” to our children, positive male role models that were there to protect them, play with them and instruct them. To say “goodbye” to and celebrate Love & Hope’s three beloved guards, we had cake and made each of them a scrapbook containing a picture of each child with a personal note.


Anyone who has visited Love & Hope Children’s Home since it was founded (10 years ago this month) will recognize Hermano Gilberto’s (“brother” Gilberto’s) kind face. Gilberto actually became an employee of Love & Hope before Rachel moved to El Salvador permanently! Gilberto was so much more than a guard; during the 10 years that he worked at Love & Hope, he also served as a caregiver and pastor.

Gilberto is gifted with wisdom. It was rare to walk over to the guard’s desk during his shift and not see an open Bible. If anyone in the house had a spiritual question to ask, Gilberto had a sure-fire answer. The children often went to him for help with homework because of his history expertise. “Tio Gil” seemed to know a little about everything and he was always willing to impart his knowledge to a listening ear.

Hermano Paulino worked at Love & Hope Children’s Home for almost four years. We could always count on him for a friendly greeting and smile upon returning home. Paulino is a worker: never idle, always moving, always helping, always fixing, always doing. It wasn’t uncommon to see Paulino helping the kids with their chores, cutting up vegetables for the cook and generally going above and beyond his duties as a guard to bless others.


Paulino clearly enjoyed being with the Love & Hope kids. He constantly played with them, teased them and enjoyed movies in the kitchen with them. Paulino is also a good friend to so many of the caregivers and volunteers at Love & Hope. His rare sense of humor kept everyone laughing.

Hermano Daniel, who worked at Love & Hope Children’s Home for three years, was better known as just “hermanito.” Hermanito is an affectionate way of calling someone “brother” in Spanish. Daniel earned this nickname because it was his greeting for just about every person that lived or worked at the house in Los Planes de Renderos. Daniel is gentle and willing. He was a quiet but consistent, humble and comforting presence in the house, very appreciated and valued by our Love & Hope family.

The Love & Hope kids also said goodbye to a very special volunteer, Sara. Sara had been volunteering with us since January. While she mainly helped with the little boys, Sara also filled in as a caregiver for the little girls. During her nine months here though, Sara was able to form a meaningful relationship with just about every child. The older girls were especially fond of her, seeking her out for late night dance parties, movies and sleepovers on the roof. The older girls even planned, baked for and payed for their own farewell party in Sara’s honor.

On the evening before she left, Sara presented all of the children with character awards. As she read a characteristic for each child, we all had fun trying to guess who she was talking about. By the end of her ceremony, everyone felt special and unique; this is one of Sara’s talents. During her time at Love & Hope she took special care to love everyone, kids and adults alike, exactly the way that would encourage and comfort them most. Sara’s selflessness, friendliness, and uninhibited nature were qualities that we all adored and learned from, and her sense of humor kept us very entertained!


Love & Hope Children’s Home has been so incredibly blessed by Gilberto, Paulino, Daniel and Sara. It would be impossible to fully describe in words how very special you all are to us. Thank you for faithfully answering God’s call to serve “the least of these.” Visit us soon!

La Mundanza – The Move

Those of you who have been following along on our blog or Facebook page know that one week ago, Love & Hope Children’s Home accomplished a sizable feat: we moved.

After school, on September 18th, we took the kids to visit the new house for the first time. The staff had already posted the children’s names in the various bedrooms, so the kids had fun running around trying to find their new room. After the kids had finished exploring what would soon be their new home, we all went to the park around the corner for a picnic lunch.


After church the next Sunday, several members of our local board met with Love & Hope volunteers and other friends to pray at the new house. After praying together, we split into pairs to pray in each bedroom for the children who would soon live there.


Tuesday, September 24th, turned out to be an extremely important pre-moving day. While the children were at school, the staff took most of the morning to pack, sort and throw away anything we wouldn’t need. Nothing makes you reevaluate your possessions like the thought of having to pack them up and move them! When the kids came home they started to prepare their personal belongings for the move. Meanwhile, in the new house, our part-time driver and handyman, Nelson, was working with a contractor to complete a few small construction projects.

IMG_9369Wednesday morning was when the real work began. A moving truck arrived early at our house in Los Planes and our staff kicked into high gear, trudging up and down the steps with bags, boxes and furniture. Part way through the morning, a big group from the United States Navy arrived to help. It is amazing what a bunch of fit, able, and willing young people can accomplish in a short time! After the truck was packed full, we drove down to the new house to drop off the first big load.

IMG_9478 IMG_9479 IMG_9497 IMG_9504


On Thursday, the heavy lifting continued and we were able to move two more big loads to the new house with the help our friends from Focus, a call center in San Salvador. By the time the second load was packed into the truck, mot much was left in the house in Los Planes. We worked into the evening at the new house organizing the kitchen, tutoring room, garage, bodegas, office, and common areas. It was starting to look like home.

IMG_9553 IMG_9557 IMG_9592

Friday morning greeted the staff and volunteers with sore muscles. While the kids were at school, we continued to work in the new house to get everything ready. By the time we left that afternoon, most everything had a place. The caregivers had unpacked a few things in the kids’ rooms, but they wanted to give most of that responsibility to the children and allow them to make their rooms feel like their own. Friday night was the last night we would all spend together in Los Planes de Renderos. We made it special with pizza, soda, popcorn and a sleep-over on the kitchen floor. The Love & Hope kids ate to their hearts’ content and watched movies late into the night.


photo 1

The next morning, the kids woke up a little later than usual and packed up the remainder of their things. Somehow, everything and everyone fit into our vehicles. Before leaving Los Planes, we prayed and made one last stop at our favorite pupuseria, Lucy’s, for breakfast. IMG_9693


Then, it was time to make the final trek to the new house. Once we arrived and the kids had a chance to explore a little more, everyone dug into the boxes and bags waiting in their rooms. Veronica, our cook, was happy to utilize her “new” kitchen to make lunch.  IMG_9743

IMG_9762 IMG_9772By lunchtime, most of the kids had finished putting their belongings away just in time for a visit from the United States Navy. They spent the better part of Saturday afternoon playing soccer at the park. By dinner time, everyone seemed comfortable, exhausted and relieved to finally be settled in.

IMG_0026 IMG_9907


The kids are liking their new home. The layout of this new house is very different from our house in Los Planes. It’s helping to create the atmosphere of family and togetherness that we’re striving for at Love & Hope. And even though this new house is smaller, it doesn’t feel crowded. But most importantly, it feels like home.

Please pray for Love & Hope Children’s Home as the children and staff continue to adjust to life in our new house. Thank you to our staff who worked tirelessly to make this move happen; it only confirmed how blessed Love & Hope is to have you all. Thank you to the members of the United States Navy and Focus Services, as well as those who supported us financially, for helping us make this move a reality! We can’t wait for you to come visit and see it for yourself.


In our previous post, we shared the first half of a reflection about our new friend Molly’s time at Love & Hope Children’s Home. During her stay, Molly shared a good deal about the importance of our pasts, our stories, and our voices being heard. She personally made a point of talking to many of the children, staff and volunteers to learn about what helped shaped them into the people they are today. Molly also collaborated with our friend, psychiatrist Alex Harrison, to teach our staff how to tell their personal stories and encourage stories from our children:

In my final week at Love and Hope, I co-taught a workshop with Harvard psychiatrist Alex Harrison, who consults frequently at the home.  Through this experience, I connected to the community and myself in a new way.  Alex and I had worked for a few weeks to develop a workshop that we hoped would strengthen the vibrant relationship networks central to healthy communities.  We focused on storytelling, which has powerful relationship-building and healing capacities.  When people tell stories, they connect with others, express their feelings, and, in fact, reinforce the networks in the brain that organize reality into coherent narratives.  Traumatized children like those at Love and Hope often struggle with those very things, for they have learned from inconsistent families that it’s dangerous to rely on others; they hold tremendous pain within them; and, finally, their hardships have affected their brains’ narrative-making pathways.  Trauma often affects the neurobiological processes that create memories and construct accounts consistent with reality.  The children in the home, therefore, often have trouble remembering and telling stories, but it’s very important that they do so. Even sharing made-up tales links them to caregivers and peers and helps reorganize their brains in healthy ways.

After explaining all this, we practiced storytelling by sharing anecdotes from our childhoods in small groups and talking in a large circle about our own primary caregivers growing up.  The neurobiological benefits of story-sharing take place over time with repeated behavior, but we saw the activity’s connective forces take effect immediately.  During the workshop, staff members laughed and cried as they recognized common experiences.  Recalling what they were like as young kids, many said they finally understood why it seemed so hard for some of the home’s children to do their schoolwork or go to bed on time.

As I heard the stories of those with whom I’d been working for nearly a month, I felt close to them in a new way.  We had touched on the living heart of the community: the varied, human identities that form it.  I realized how much I love interacting in this way; and furthermore, I saw that positive change could come from this simple practice.  After the workshop, we saw kids and caregivers sitting in circles, sharing memories and laughing, asking questions and gesturing animatedly.  I think there was a renewed sense of mutual investment and care.

I am thankful for the welcome I received from Love and Hope and its greater community, and I feel blessed to have had the special experience that I did.


Love & Hope feels blessed to have met you, Molly. Thank you for all of your help and insight! We can’t wait to have you visit us again.