5ive.14 and Love & Hope Build a House

Last November, with the help of a team from 5ive.14, Love & Hope undertook one of our most ambitious projects to date: we built a house!


We have always viewed Love & Hope as a family, and over the years the shape of that family has continued to change. Even when one of our children is sent “home” to their biological family, they remain part of ours. One of those children, Kevin, now lives about 2.5 hours away from our house in San Salvador in a little town called Alegria with his older sister, her husband, and their two young daughters. When Kevin moved in with them, they were living in a tiny two room adobe house with a tin roof. It was a small space for 5 people, and when it rained (which is does half the year in El Salvador) they would get wet. We wanted to help Kevin and his family know the safety, security, and stability of a proper home, so we began looking into the costs associated with building a house and searching for a team who would be willing to help. When our friend Brett heard about what we wanted to do, he jumped in with both feet to assemble a team, raise the money, and organize a trip. And before we knew it, we had already started.

During their trip, Brett and his team kept a daily journal, so I’ll let them tell you the story in their own words. After a long drive across El Salvador and bumpy ride out to the worksite, everyone was ready to start building:

Upon getting to the work site, we met up with our contractor for the build – Nelson – and his two helpers – Christian & Juan Alberto.  We didn’t take long to drop our belongings, and dive right into working.  They had already built a retaining wall, and started the first few rows of cinder block.  We started with digging holes, mixing concrete/mortar, and helping to move materials around.  As can be expected, the work itself tended to take a back seat to connecting and building relationships.  Aside from connecting with Nelson, Christian, and Juan Alberto, we had opportunity to meet the neighbors who live immediately adjacent to the home we’re building… and then, we finally got to meet the actual people for whom this project was created– Kevin and his sister, Lilly.  They looked to be beside themselves.  Kevin’s smile out shined the sun.


Even without proper footwear, you can get a lot of work done:

Today, although a little more physically demanding due to less cloud cover (= HOT), was another very successful day.  We were able to stick with the system we developed and continue to make very good progress towards completing the walls of Kevin’s new home.   On a personal note, I call any day that you unintentionally wear flip flops (don’t ask) to a construction site and return home with both feet intact and undamaged a success…


Finally, it was time for everyone to head back to El Salvador as the work carried on:

We spent the better part of today putting the finishing touches on our portion of the surrounding structure of the home. Cinder-Block walls stacked on top of each other rising to the sky allowed us to complete each layer by being able to really see the whole project for what it is- a home for a family that will be a light for their community and every person they welcome into it moving forward. The work will be completed in the next few weeks and we are each excited to see the finished project, but will never forget this chance to come to an unfamiliar place and leave it knowing that we are now united with our God family here in Christ Jesus.


After the team left, Kevin, his family, and the contractor continued to work on the house. They added the final few layers of block, put on the roof, and poured the concrete floor. The transformation from start to finish is remarkable.








On our last visit out to Kevin’s house, all that was left to do was install the doors and windows. Love & Hope’s vision has always been for our children to someday bless their own families. We never guessed Kevin would have the opportunity to do it so soon. We’re so happy that with the help of the 5ive.14 team, Kevin has helped give his family a home – a family that only a few years ago he didn’t even know existed!


Read the whole story from the 5ive.14 team in their journal. It’s filled with stories of faith, gratitude, love and hope. It also talks about how we all got stuck in an elevator on the first day, features a harrowing story from our day at the beach, and a very generous gift for Love & Hope.

A Christmas Full of Love and Hope

Love & Hope Children’s Home was a full house on Christmas Eve: 23 kids! We planned plenty to keep us busy though. We wanted to share our fun day with you!

On Christmas Eve in El Salvador, “Noche Buena” in Spanish, many families stay up until midnight. Salvadorans eat a late dinner, and at 12:00 am Christmas morning, the country lights up – with fireworks! What the rest of the world might refer to as a “Silent Night,” is anything but silent in Central America. Our children are no exception. They want to do it all: stay up and celebrate the birth of Christ with a bang. In order to keep the adults awake that late, we keep busy with games and activities beginning early in the afternoon!


The fun begins at 11:00 am with a coloring contest. We have three categories: little kids, big kids and adults. This year, the winners were: Vanessa, Raquel, and Tio Henry.


After eating a normal lunch at noon, the kids are supposed to enjoy a nap while the adults start cooking dinner. This year, no one really wanted to sleep. Our average age is increasing, and naps aren’t as necessity anymore. Some of the kids opted to go to the park and play instead. Later, we wrapped presents for the community (we’ll talk more about that later).

Next, it was time for gingerbread houses. Each room of kids was a team. There isn’t much gingerbread in El Salvador, so we use the term loosely. Maybe we should call them sugar houses; they are made of cookies, candy, gummies, frosting, chocolate and the like. The groups hurried to finish their house in the most creative way possible. The older girls won the best house this year! They even made a little pond for a gummy penguin. DSC_0954 DSC_0953 DSC_0947 DSC_0962



Everyone finished their gingerbread houses just in time for church at 7:00 pm. By the time we arrived home, the kids were hungry. Rachel read them the Christmas story, we prayed, and then it was time to feast. We cooked American fare: two huge turkeys, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, corn and bread. There was plenty of food and everyone was stuffed afterward.

After eating, the kids cleared the dining room out for a sleepover. They pulled their mattresses out, snuggled up together and watched Miracle on 34th Street.

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Before midnight, our neighbors started with the fireworks. We went outside soon after to do our own!

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Afterward, the kids settled down again, enjoyed some dessert and another movie, and eventually fell asleep.

On Christmas morning, we slept in. After waking up, the kids immediately went outside to check under our Christmas tree. In the words of Michell: “I don’t understand how she does it. When I went to bed, Mami was already asleep. Maybe I’ll understand when I’m 18.” Santa and his elves must have helped Mami out, Michell!


Before opening their own presents, we had to carry out Love & Hope’s most favorite Christmas tradition. Everyone loaded into the vans with the gifts they had wrapped on Christmas Eve, and we headed to a nearby community. The kids took turns handing out their gifts to children who approached us. It is a joy to give and we are grateful to be able to give our kids the opportunity to give every Christmas.

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Finally, it was time to see what was under the tree. Rachel hands the gifts out one-by-one, and the kids take turns opening them. Everyone is very patient and loves sharing in the joy of opening each present. This year, each child received something fun (a toy, lotion set, headphones, etc.), a new outfit, a Love & Hope t-shirt, and their two pairs of school shoes for the coming year.

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Stockings were last. Santa even left stockings for the adults! For breakfast, we ate candy and Poptarts. The rest of the day was a do-nothing day. The kids played with their new toys and watched Christmas movies all day long. It was a wonderful, relaxed day spent with our big family.

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Party Time!

Just like your family, our favorite time of year at Love & Hope Children’s Home is Christmas. We start Christmas early in December, thanks to the generosity of many people and groups that want to celebrate with us. We can’t talk about every event inidividually, but we wanted to share some of the fun that we had and thank those who blessed us this season!

We enjoyed meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones. There are so many people who feel compelled to meet, share with, and bless our children, and it is such a pleasure to spend time with them!

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We danced, sang and laughed at clowns. Chamba was the most enthusiastic, of course.

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No Salvadoran party is complete without a pinata! The Love & Hope kids never get tired of that rush for candy.

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It’s fun when party throwers get creative and bring crafts to do with us. We made bracelets, did spirograph drawings and made sequinced versions of Santa Clause and Rudolph.

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Don’t forget cake. We ate a lot of that too!

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We don’t expect any snow for Christmas here in El Salvador, so we were also able to enjoy some sun and fun at the beach. What a great way to bring in the season!

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The Love & Hope kids were also blessed to recieve gifts. We were blessed this year like never before. The kids received several new toys and gadgets to keep them busy all month.

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Before we went to church on Christmas Eve, Rachel sat the kids down to talk. She wanted to remind them about that the true reason for Christmas was a baby born 2000 years ago in a manger. That baby, God incarnate, Jesus Christ, is the reason that Love & Hope Children’s Home was so blessed in 2014. He worked through so many people, near and far, to provide for our children in every way. We want to say thank you to the following people for taking time to spend with us at Love & Hope Children’s Home, for spreading that spirit and love in our little home, for making our children feel special: Academia Britanica Cuscatleca, Sanofi Aventis, The Reyes Family, The Mendoza Family, and Ronasa.