Antonio and Kelly

A couple of years ago, we mentioned in a blog about our friend Kelly’s desire to adopt Antonio, the most recent addition to the Love & Hope family. Today, we are happy to announce that Antonio’s adoption has been made official! Antonio and Kelly are now a family! Over the next few posts, we want to share Antonio and Kelly’s story with you.

Kelly first met Antonio about three years ago while she was volunteering as a long term missionary at Love & Hope and Antonio was just six-years-old. After receiving a call from a local government children’s home about a child with special needs, Rachel and Kelly went to meet Antonio and subsequently bring him to Love & Hope. Kelly and Antonio still both remember the day they met: she tickled and played with him in the office of the home as they spoke to a staff member there. As they were leaving the government home, Antonio was handed a telephone to say goodbye to another caregiver. He joyfully announced into the phone, “I’m going to the crystal house now!” despite having no idea what his new home would look like. He continued to call our house in Los Planes de Renderos – which was made out of concrete, not crystal – “la casa cristal” until the day we moved. Just another sign of Antonio’s bright and positive spin on the world around him.


Kelly and Antonio clicked immediately. Kelly offered to take Antonio to his weekly pool therapy sessions and began noticing shortly after that Antonio sought her out constantly – lunch time, homework hour, playtime, bedtime, etc. Kelly began to take a special interest in Antonio’s care, getting more involved in his therapeutic and medical needs.


Eventually, Kelly started thinking about Antonio’s future, and realized that she wanted to pursue adoption. She began the process as a missionary living in El Salvador, but finished the process in Ohio. During the years that the adoption was in process, Kelly visited Antonio whenever she could, but was unable to tell him that one day she would be his mother. When she wasn’t in El Salvador, Kelly and Antonio talked via Skype, sometimes for hours at a time.



Without knowing what was happening behind the scenes, Antonio would always say, “One day I’m going to Ohio to visit Kelly.” “Kelly lives in Cleveland.” At times he referred to Kelly as, “Mamita Kellita.” We even taught him to sing “Hang-On Sloopy” and chant “O-H-I-O.” His favorite shirts to wear sported the Cleveland Cavaliers and The Ohio State University logos. At home, we worked on Antonio’s English skills to prepare him for what was to come. As he learned to read in Spanish, he also learned the English alphabet and phonics and practiced his speaking skills with visitors.


Kelly arrived this June to spend another summer with Antonio, thinking there was only a small possibility that she would be able to take Antonio home with her in August. But three days after she arrived, Kelly received some great news: a court date that would make the adoption official was set for July! At last, she could reveal to Antonio that she had been pursing his adoption this whole time, and that very soon he would be able to go home with her to Ohio. He was so excited: Kelly would become his mom, he would move into a new house, he’d have new cousins, new grandparents, he’d get to ride on a plane, he’d have a pet cat, and a go to a brand new school!


We are so excited for Antonio and Kelly! As they get ready to leave in August, we also reflect on the great memories we have of Antonio here at Love & Hope. His always (always) joyful demeanor will be missed, but we are so excited that he now has his forever family!

La Copa Mundial – The World Cup

The last month at Love & Hope Children’s Home was filled with soccer. Soccer at the park, soccer in the yard, and of course, soccer on television. We had a blast watching the 2014 World Cup in Brazil together.

For those of you reading in the United States, think about how excited Americans are for the Olympics, Superbowl or the World Series. Then, multiply that excitement by about 100 and make it last for over a month. That is El Salvador during the World Cup. And to think, El Salvador didn’t even have a team represented in Brazil!



Love & Hope Children’s Home was no exception to the countrywide (more like worldwide) enthusiasm for futbol. On the day of the first match, the Love & Hope kids arrived home from school buzzing. They couldn’t wait to watch Brazil play Croatia. Their excitement was only matched by that of the caregivers, some who stayed after their shifts so that they wouldn’t lose time traveling home and miss the start of the match. We decorated the dining room with flags and the teams in each group and our neighbor restaurant, La Herradura, donated pizza for lunch. We also put up a world map to locate the country of each team. We asked the kids on one poster, “Who will be the world champion?” Someone wrote in “Jesus” first, and then everyone else filled in their predictions.

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We continued to watch one match per day. The Love & Hope kids mainly cheered for Brazil and Argentina throughout the entire World Cup. Central America’s own Honduras and Costa Rica were our other favorites. The Americans at Love & Hope, of course, were very excited for every USA match, but the kids seemed to find some fun in ganging up against the “gringos” and cheering in favor of whichever team the United States was playing. Still, we were grateful that our friend, Kris, donated pizza for the first USA match.

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The World Cup was everywhere. Jerseys and towels were sold on every street corner. Every item in the grocery store had some kind of World Cup advertisement ploy. Everywhere we went, people were sporting the jersey of their favorite team. Big screens, World Cup soccer ball displays and fuse-ball tables at the mall. Soccer competitions at school. Advertisements for FIFA all over the television. Shakira’s World Cup song, “La La La” blasting everywhere.

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Last Sunday, we enjoyed watching the final match together: Argentina versus Germany. Almost everyone was in favor of Argentina; our kids love Lionel Messi. At the most crucial part of the game, our cable went out! Before we could get it the game back up, the restaurant across the street erupted in cheering. Many of the kids ran outside, craning their necks to see over our wall and get a look at the televisions across the street. They came back reporting that Germany had scored. We got the cable back on to see the rest of the game, but most of us were disappointed in the outcome. Next time, Argentina!

Experiencing the World Cup through the eyes of the Love & Hope kids was so fun. They loved every minute of it! Did your family watch the World Cup? Who did you cheer for?


If you have read our blog before, you have probably heard us mention pupusas once or twice (or a lot more). The pupusa is El Salvador’s national dish and for a good reason; they are delicious!

Pupusas are essentially a corn or rice tortilla stuffed with any combination of beans, cheese, or pork. Sounds simple enough until you’ve seen them made (see video below). Start with a ball of corn or rice masa, stuff it with beans, cheese or pork, then pat and slap until flat. After a few minutes on the grill, the pupusa is hot and crispy.

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Pupusas are not eaten alone. Curtido is cabbage and vegetables pickled in apple cider vinegar or fruit vinegar that is meant to be eaten along with the pupusas. Add some tomato sauce on top of it all to make it complete. 

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Pupusas, curtido and salsa are all about preference. Every person in El Salvador has a very strong opinion as to where and who has the best pupusas. Every person has their favorite kind of pupusas: just cheese, cheese and garlic, revueltas (beans, cheese and pork), made with corn masa, made with rice masa, extra crispy, etc. Some pupuserias (a pupusa restaurant) even get a little crazy and start adding things like jalapenos, carrots, avocado, chicken or octopus.  

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The Love & Hope kids love pupusas. When our cook, Veronica, makes pupusas at home for dinner, it is a happy day for all. Veronica’s curtido is amazing too. Days before pupusa day, she cuts up a pineapple, makes homemade vinegar with it and then pickles cabbage, carrots, onions, cauliflower with lots of oregano.

One more interesting fact about pupusas: no forks allowed. Pupusas are eaten with your hands! The Love & Hope kids always get a giggle out of foreign visitors who try to dig in with a fork and knife. Pupusas are messy, but that’s what makes them wonderful!

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Pupusas are unique to El Salvador. They can be found in other Central American countries but El Salvador takes special pride in this dish. There are pupuserias on every corner, sometimes five or more of them in a row! We love pupusas at Love & Hope Children’s Home. Have you had them? What is your favorite kind?

Photo credit: Anna Zimmerman

Our Incredible Staff: Yency and Marisol

Love & Hope Children’s Home is fortunate to employ a great, united staff. Over the last year, we have introduced you to many of those people, who all hold a special and valuable place in the lives of our children. Today we would like to introduce you to Yency and Marisol.

Yency began working with the little boys about one year ago. Yency says that working at Love & Hope was, “a dream made reality because I always wanted to work in a children’s home.” She views her job at Love & Hope as more than just work, saying, “I feel like it is my house and it is an opportunity to help and share with each child.” Yency does a great job at this, taking time to play, ask the kids their opinions about things (and really listen) and be silly. She makes a point of building up relationships with all of the kids, not just the little boys.  Yency says she feels closest to Antonio because, “he is a super intelligent boy, but limited in some things. Despite it all, he is motivated to overcome his limitations. That encourages me to be a good example for him.”

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Yency currently works as a substitute caregiver because she is also studying full time to be a special education teacher; she was inspired to choose this career path because of her experience at Love & Hope! Yency’s life is a great example for our older children. She tirelessly works to serve our kids, while also studying at the university. What’s more, Yency has studied the Bible formally and lives out her faith. It is evident in the way she interacts with the kids and her co-workers everyday! Thanks for being so great, Yency!

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Marisol has been working at Love & Hope for seven months with the little girls. Her patient demeanor and always-smiling face make her a wonderful presence here in the home. It is common to see her just hanging out with the little girls in their room, talking with them, playing with dolls, or straightening their hair with the flat-iron.

When asked if she has a special connection with any of the children, Marisol says, “With each one of them I have a good relationship. The twins remind me a lot of my little brother. Michell is a very loving girl and she reminds me of my little sister. I see every one of them as my little brothers and sisters that I have to care for and protect. And the little girls, they are like my daughters. They have changed my life.”

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Marisol says that her best memory at Love & Hope was Christmas last year: “December 24th was my first Christmas outside of my home and without my family. Very early we started doing activities, games, making brownies, pretzels and the family dinner with the kids. It was something that changed my way of seeing things, that day especially. Their smiles, seeing Santa and opening presents. Shooting off fireworks. That was one of the best moments.”


Love & Hope Children’s Home is blessed to employ a staff that sees their work as more than a job. They recognize that they are doing Kingdom work in serving these children, and we are grateful for your financial and prayerful support in that work. Please continue to pray for our staff as they work for the well-being of the Love & Hope kids!