Look up, not around.

A couple of weeks ago, Love & Hope Children’s Home welcomed the first team of 2014, a group of five women from Ohio who helped us prepare for the new school year. The team was an instant hit with the kids. One of the team members, Sarah, stayed an extra week, helped with our most recent quinceañera (check back soon for a blog about it), and was able to reconnect with her sponsored child, Daniela, who she first met almost nine years ago on another short-term mission trip. By permission of Sarah, below are excerpts from her blog, her thoughts from before leaving Ohio until returning home about two weeks later.


“By the grace of God, someone within the airline gave each person on our team an extra bag free of charge. Very cool way to see God’s hand at work! We are able to take down an additional 300 pounds of school supplies, clothes, shoes, toiletries, crafts, games, hair supplies, decorations, nail polishes, birthday gifts, kitchen supplies, etc.”

“I am personally just getting so excited in anticipation for the different amazing experiences that are about to forever change lives of others and my own.”


“The weather here is perfect and the scenery everywhere is incredible. Breath-taking. The scents and the sights – just taking it all in.”

“We did a game night with the kids that was so much fun I can’t even explain the roaring laughs and shouts that filled the backyard of Love and Hope! I sat and thought about all of the hurt and damage these children have been through and yet the simple ways that God reveals joy in these children’s lives, which in return is a continuing of healing. It’s really incredible to experience it first hand.”


“You know, I just really want to share with you all that God is not only using me to do work for others, but he is doing a work in me as well. I feel such an urge to really start answering God’s calling of who I am to be in Him. To be set apart. ‘Look up. Not around.’”

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“My feelings (about leaving) seem to be more bitter than sweet. I feel like a part of my heart was captured by each and every one of those precious children and as much as I got to be the helping hand. The children seemed to help my heart in seeing hope in healing.

“It is so refreshing to see the body of Christ at work: from photographers coming down to capture the day (the quinceañera), to people volunteering time and energy to make this day special. It is pretty cool to see that first hand, being a part of serving wherever God takes you, and the overflow of joy that comes from this!”

Psalm 119:35-37
“Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find my delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”


Thanks Sarah, Lisa, Jennifer, Mama Kathy and Kathy for being such a blessing to Love & Hope Children’s Home. Your presence was a wonderful treat and your hard work in preparing for school was indispensable!


In El Salvador, January means back-to-school. Getting the 20-plus children of Love & Hope Children’s Home prepared for school is a big job, but thankfully we had a team of volunteers to help us get everything done!

Starting in November, and working into December, we began preparing for the 2014 school year. There was a lot to be done: finding new schools for some of the children, paying registration fees, collecting school supply lists, measuring for uniforms, creating academic plans, figuring out driving schedules, and countless other little tasks. We also launched a fundraiser to help pay all of the fees associated with sending our children to private schools.

Once January arrived, it was time to kick into high gear, and a team of women from Ohio arrived just in time to help us. The biggest and most time-consuming back-to-school task is covering books and notebooks. We estimate that each child has at least 15 items that need to be covered with a specific color paper and plastic. Altogether, that comes to over 300 books and notebooks! These great women knocked out this task in a few days, and had a good time doing it. Thanks, ladies!


Our 23 kids require a mountain of school supplies. We’re always looking for pencils, rulers, erasers, markers, crayons, notebooks, and everything else the kids use each and every day at school. Thanks to the great initiative of Agape Christian Academy in Troy, Ohio, we already had most of the supplies we needed for the Love & Hope kids. Agape did a supply drive back in September, providing us with a great selection of notebooks, pens, colored pencils, and other must-haves. What a blessing!


Uniforms and shoes are the final piece of the puzzle. All the kids received new shoes for Christmas thanks to generous donations from members of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Chesterland, Ohio. This past Tuesday, the kids excitedly received their new, crisp, clean uniforms. They’ll look like a million bucks on the first day of school.


Thank you to the following groups and individuals who helped Love & Hope Children’s Home prepare for the 2014 school year: Kathy Fallon, Sarah Begg, Jennifer Heilman, Lisa Groff, Mama Kathy, Meike Wagner, Susanna Gomez, Shayna Naran, Agape Christian Academy, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Members of the United States Navy.

Love & Hope Children’s Home is still in the process of raising funds for the 2014 school year. Supporting a child’s education is a great way to make a lasting impact on their future. To donate toward an individual child, or our education fund as a whole, visit our website!

Christmastime at Love & Hope

Christmastime is one of Love & Hope Children’s Home’s busiest and most exciting seasons, thanks in part to many generous organizations and individuals. The children loved receiving personalized gifts, eating cake and cotton candy, swimming, singing karaoke and playing games.
The staff at Love & Hope were also remembered and recognized with a Christmas lunch where their “secret Santa’s” were revealed. Love & Hope Children’s Home’s local board donated gifts for all of the caregivers.
One of our most special events leading up to Christmas is a party we give for the families of our children. Thanks to a generous donation, the Love & Hope kids had the opportunity to shop for their family members at the dollar store. The gifts they picked out included toilet paper and other toiletries, cleaning supplies, dishes and cookies. We celebrated with the children and their families at the beach where everyone enjoyed playing and eating together as well as exchanging the presents the Love & Hope kids had so thoughtfully picked out and wrapped.
Christmas Eve was full of activities! During the day the kids played games, made red and green pretzels and had a coloring contest. In preparation for a late night, they took naps after lunch. In the evening, everyone went to church where several of the children participated in a nativity play as shepherds, wise men, Mary and Joseph!
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Upon arriving home, we read the Christmas story, lit the last candle on our advent wreath, and had a delicious turkey dinner.
After dinner we made “ginger bread” houses, and just before midnight, Santa arrived! Every year he seems to look and speak just a little different (last year he had a British accent, this year he spoke perfect Spanish), but he always brings something really special. This year Santa brought all of the kids a movie ticket!
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El Salvador comes alive at midnight on December 25th. It seems the entire country heads outside to blow off fireworks in celebration of Christ’s birth! We went outside to watch the Salvadoran sky light up and to do our own sparklers.
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On Christmas Day at 8:00am it was time to wake up. One of our favorite Christmas traditions is passing out gifts in a nearby community. On Christmas Eve, the kids prepared and wrapped a gift, taking from their own things and extra goodies that we had stored in the closet . On Christmas morning, before opening presents, before eating breakfast, before even changing out of our pajamas, everyone loaded into the car with a present to give. At the community, the kids sought out another child their own age, and gave them the gift. It was heartwarming to watch the Love & Hope kids so excitedly bless others.
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When we got home, the kids opened their own presents one-by-one and then enjoyed a late breakfast of waffles. Later, we utilized the movie tickets that Santa had brought and went to see Frozen in 3D.
There are so many people who helped make Christmas special for the Love & Hope kids this year. Love & Hope Children’s Home is blessed to have a lot of great friends and supporters who enjoy spending time with our children, showing them a good time and providing us the opportunity to bless them with great opportunities and fun “kid” stuff! Thank you to the following groups and individuals who helped Love & Hope Children’s Home this Christmas and throughout 2013:
Thrift Nation
Members of the United States Navy
Focus Services El Salvador
Convoy of Hope
Please Pass the Bread
Operation Blessing
Alyssa Cresci and Family
Michael Hansen
Alma and Romeo Reyes
Cuyahoga Valley Church
McLean Bible Church
St. Mark Lutheran Church
Volunteers: Brittany, Meike and Lea
Our Tios, Tias and Staff
Local Board in El Salvador
AME International
El Diario de Hoy
Sponsors and Donors in El Salvador and the United States