2016 Women’s Team

Over the years, Love & Hope Children’s Home has received hundreds of visitors and teams. Some come to Love & Hope specifically, others are just passing through. Some stay for a week, others stay for a few months. One group that we always look forward to every year is the “Women’s Team.” While the women who come has changed year-to-year, one thing hasn’t changed: these women bless us in countless ways every time they visit El Salvador together. This year, the team came right in time for two big events at Love & Hope: Linda’s quinceañera and back-to-school.


Our dear Mama Kathy led the team again this year. Kathy, lovingly called Mama Kathy by the kids (and staff!), is Rachel’s mom. She has known our children since they were infants and considers them to be her grandchildren. Along with Mama Kathy came a great team of women: Melissa, Suzanne, Karen, Sandy and Lauren, most of whom had already been to El Salvador. They brought a great variety of experience and skills with them. One thing they all had in common was awesome work ethic!

We started the women out on book and notebook detail. This is a huge back-to-school job for Love & Hope every year. Each notebook and book that the kids will use during the school year must be labeled and covered in plastic. Some of the notebooks even have to be color-coded. It is hard to count up exactly how many books and notebooks they covered all together but we estimate that well over 300 items need to be covered with contact paper or plastic. Needless-to-say, it is time consuming!


The women also helped greatly with preparations for Linda’s quinceañera. They brought and made decorations, cooked food, and helped set-up and tear down. We couldn’t have made Linda’s party so special without them! Suzanne even handmade Linda’s jewelry. It was beautiful!

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Many of our visiting teams opt to take a trip to a near-by community, with which Love & Hope Children’s Home has a growing relationship. The women’s team visited this community, taking a snack, craft and lots of love for the precious children there.

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Probably the best thing these special women did was build relationships with our children. They took us out for pupusas, played games, did karaoke, and engaged the kids in conversation. Sandy, a physical education teacher, taught and left us with an awesome maze game that gets the kids moving. The women even took time to love on our staff a bit, giving every staff member a gift during our Wednesday morning meeting.

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Thank you Mama Kathy, Karen, Suzanne, Sandy, Melissa and Lauren for working so hard and blessing Love & Hope Children’s Home so deeply. We can’t wait to see you again next year!

Linda’s Quinceañera

There was a time at Love & Hope Children’s Home when all of the children were under 10-years-old; over one-third of the kids were in diapers or being toilet trained. One day having a house full of teenagers was a reality that seemed so far away, it wasn’t even worth thinking about. Guess what? It is now a reality! Our youngest child is in first grade, we have two young women in university, and we just celebrated our fifth quinceañera, or 15th birthday party. Linda turned 15 in January, and we celebrated this important milestone with a traditional “fiesta rosa” or “rose party,” which marked Linda’s entrance into adulthood.

Preparation for Linda’s quinceañera started weeks in advance. We reserved the church, planned a menu, bought a dress, made a photo slide show, and the like. There were decorations to be created, music to be chosen and invitations to be printed and handed out.

A few days before Linda’s big day, several visitors arrived! Along with a women’s team, our good friends Mandy and Jodi came to El Salvador. Linda’s long-time sponsor, Josh, came for the party too. Linda had already asked him if he would walk her down the isle.

On the day of the party, Linda went with Rachel to have her hair and make-up done by our friends at Sevens Salon. Alma and her staff have always been so generous with our girls on their 15th birthdays, treating them like princesses. Meanwhile, the women’s team cooked a special dinner, and another group did set-up at the church.

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Guests began arriving right on time. In addition to Linda’s out-of-country visitors, all of the children from Love & Hope, many staff members (current and former), and friends of Love & Hope were in attendance. Linda’s little brother walked in first as the ring-bearer. As Linda was escorted down the isle by Josh, she was nervous, but looked so happy.


Our quinceañeras at Love & Hope have always begun with a church service. During this service, Linda received several symbolic gifts. She was given a Bible, to make reading the Word of God a lifelong habit. Linda was also given a bracelet to represent God’s unending love and promises. A ring was placed on Linda’s finger to represent her commitment to purity.

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The service also included worship, a sermon, prayer and special words spoken by one of Linda’s caregivers.

After the service, it was time to party! We went all out with Linda’s color choices of lime green and aqua: decorations, cake, centerpieces.

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Linda was our first young lady to choose to do a waltz at her quinceañera. She choose to do the dance with her sponsor, Josh. Josh, on his own accord, even took dance lessons before coming to El Salvador! Days before the party, Linda and Josh practiced and practiced the waltz. They looked confident during the entire dance and Linda’s smile was a mile wide!


Later, we did a ceremony called “15 Candles.” During this ceremony, Linda chose 15 special people in her life who lit a candle, then were allowed to say a few words especially for Linda.



We finished off the quinceañera with piñatas. How else would you end a party in El Salvador? After cleaning up and heading home, Linda excitedly opened her presents and cards.

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The next morning at church, we noticed something different about Linda: confidence, poise and radiance. We recognize Linda’s caring, sensitive, and loving heart for others, the way she takes care of her brother, her academic focus and dedication, her great sense of humor, and her contagious bouts of happiness and laughing. She really is becoming a beautiful young woman, inside and out.

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Thank you to everyone who made Linda’s quinceañera so special! It took many people and many hours to make this event happen: Josh Bradley, Kelly Moore, Kathy Sanson, Suzana Gomez, Kirsten Zimmerman, Justin and Rachel Klubnik, Julio Ramirez, Eric and Mandy Elkins, Alma Reyes, Sevens Salon, Alex Perez, The Union Church of San Salvador, Lauren Balata, Sandy Bstic, Suzanne Rulitski, Melissa Mullet, Angelica Rosales, Karen Vana, Nate Migal, Kayli Plotner, Orestes, Carmen, Herberth, and the caregivers and staff at Love & Hope Children’s Home.