Tag: children

Oct 20 2011

Bob’s notes: Sponsors ‘living on love’ in Guatemala trip

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“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bobís full update on his Facebook page.

Our entire team in Guatemala is delighted to receive this fine group of sponsors and friends.

During the mission awareness trip, sponsors experienced the buildup to a presidential run-off election, scheduled for Nov. 6.

This promised to be an exciting trip, considering election frenzy, heavy rains, swollen rivers, damaged roads and major landslides. We often adjusted our itinerary according to weather and road conditions.

Naturally, we thanked our CFCA family for prayers along the way.

Due to abundant rains, Guatemala welcomed us with a green countryside and pleasant temperatures.

We took sponsors to the CFCA office that serves more than 6,000 families in Guatemala City.

Children, teens and staff had prepared a nice orientation to the CFCA presence in their areas.

Participating were Miguel Dario Tzarax, project coordinator; Maria del Carmen Santos, social worker; Mario, sponsored for 15 years; two groups of sponsored children and mothers groups (Mezquital and El Gallito); moving testimony of Monica Catalan, mother leader from El Gallito; and me (Bob) with a group of children and mothers.

All this week, we had to adjust our itinerary as the 72 highways of Guatemala were blocked from landslides and flooding.

We did make it out to San Lucas Toliman on Sunday. We felt rewarded by the welcome of our sponsored friends and families. Read more

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May 19 2011

Shh! Want to hear some CFCA secrets?

Julissa and Mario

Julissa and Mario, sponsored children in El Salvador.

CFCA has been called the “best-kept secret of Kansas City.”

In that spirit, we’d like to share with you some of our own secrets. See how many of them you already knew!

  • It is our goal to answer each phone call with a person, not a machine.

During normal business hours, we do our best to have one of our trained phone staff answer each call to Sponsor Services. Our automated message comes on only when the workday has ended or when no one is available to pick up.

In 2009 alone, 17 phone liaisons answered more than 84,000 incoming calls.

  • Weíve got mail!

Approximately 1.4 million pieces of mail were processed in 2009, including 833,000 letters, 284,000 Christmas letters and cards, and 297,000 photos.

  • Recycling starts at home.

We believe in good stewardship of the environment and have a recycling program in our Kansas City headquarters, including battery recycling. We gather more than 15 tons of recycling each year.

  • “Upon this rock Ö”

One of CFCA’s early computer servers was named Peter after the apostle. After all, Peter means rock, and Jesus said he would build his church upon the “rock” of his disciple Simon, whom he named Peter.

Peter lived up to its name. It served as CFCA’s rock for many years until we upgraded to newer technology. Its legacy lives on!

  • Printed materials help weekend presentations.

If you heard about CFCA through a presentation in your church or parish, you may have seen one of our bulletin inserts as well as folders that show friends waiting for sponsors. In 2009 we shipped more than 500,000 bulletin inserts and more than 45,000 folders.

  • “Staffing” and “volunteering” hats.

Christmas is our busiest season for sending Christmas cards from the field to our sponsors. In December, all CFCA staff members take turns volunteering 1-2 hours of their time to help pack and mail the cards.

Feel free to share these CFCA secrets with friends and family. As always, we welcome your comments below!

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Feb 9 2011

‘I never felt so loved and appreciated in my life': A sponsor’s trip to Costa Rica

Georgina Hartwell sent us this evaluation after she and her husband, Henry, went on a mission awareness trip to Costa Rica. While there they visited Steven, their sponsored friend. We are sharing this evaluation with their permission.

Steven's family

From left are Georgina; Steven, the Hartwells’ sponsored friend; Steven’s sister, Noelia; Steven’s mother, Jolane; and Henry.

Did you find that the orientation and information provided by the CFCA project staff during the trip adequately described the host country and CFCA’s work there?

Yes.

Would you recommend a CFCA mission awareness trip to others?

Yes.

Why or why not?

It was up close and personal. We saw our money at work.

Please describe your impressions of the trip and how the trip affected you personally.

I cried a lot. I never felt so loved and appreciated in my life (I’m 68). It was more than I expected. I guess I thought we would view much from afar. We did not. We were so very much “with the people.”

Also, on the trip we celebrated our 47th anniversary. The women of Desamparados surprised us with a beautiful, huge, delicious cake ñ enough to share with all!

Hartwells' anniversary cake

The Hartwells’ anniversary cake.

Any additional comments or suggestions?

The week was packed full of activities but I never felt pressured with a time schedule. Yes, there was a schedule but the staff and our wonderful driver, Carlos, always managed to be a bit flexible with a smile!

God bless all aspects and people of CFCA. With the five enclosed brochures you sent us, I will do my best to get five new sponsors.

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Feb 7 2011

Marriage traditions in Guatemala

Valentineís Day is coming soon, and in the spirit of love, affection and marriage, we thought we’d share with you some marriage customs in Guatemala.

Henry Orlando, 24, was sponsored through CFCA from 1996 to 2008, when he graduated as an agricultural technician. He married Silvia, on Nov. 27, 2010. In this interview, Henry describes the traditions before and during his marriage ceremony.

How did you get engaged?

Silvia and I were engaged for three and a half years. Around Christmas 2009, we decided to get married.

We fixed the date for ìla pedidaî (asking the bride’s parents for her hand in marriage). Our ìpedidaî took place April 1, 2010. Usually an engagement ring is given, but I did not have the means to do so since I am attending the university.

Guatemalan bridal party

Pictures of the bridal party after the wedding service.

All my family acted as ìtortulerosî ó people who intercede for the groom during the pedida. My mother cooked a turkey, chicken and baskets of bread for my wifeís family as a sign of my commitment.

There is always a feeling of anxiety or fear during the pedida because the brideís parents may be less than amicable or because they may not like the groom.

During the pedida a time is set aside for ìlos consejosî (advice). I received advice from my wife’s parents.

The custom is to get down on oneís knees in front of the older members of the brideís family and listen to them offer advice for a good marriage. I had to listen to the advice of eight people.

Generally, the tradition in Patz˙n is to have three such pedida ceremonies, but my wife is from a distant village, so we only had one.

Tell us about the wedding.

The wedding took place in Patz˙n on a Saturday. My wife and her family left early from their village to have breakfast at my auntís house. Typically, they are served tamales and French bread.

My wifeís family arrived in Patz˙n at 6 a.m. The wedding was at 11 a.m. Two buses transported about 150 people and my familyís guests. Approximately 300 people attended.

The ladies in my family dressed Silvia in my home. She walked to church with her family, I walked with my family, and there, the two families met.

Two children carrying pillows with the wedding rings enter first. Another child carries the ìarrasî ó 13 coins the groom offers the bride after the ring ceremony so God may give them abundance and well-being. The bride and groom enter next. Two children hold up the veil.

After we were married, the best man and matron of honor put over our shoulders a cord to symbolize our union as a couple.

A private lawyer married us at Silviaís house in a civil wedding one month before the religious wedding.

What does the bride wear? The bridegroom?

Read more

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Dec 22 2010

Advent reflection: Share the good news of holy families

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

ì…let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.î (Colossians 3:15)

A poor young couple is expecting their first child. The authorities tell them to leave their home and travel to an unfamiliar, far-off village.

When they arrive they can find no decent housing and are forced to settle into a ramshackle outbuilding.†There, with animals milling about and nothing but straw to insulate them from the chill of night, the young mother gives birth …

You know the rest of the story. It is a tale we have grown to cherish at this time of year.†It comforts us to hear it over and over again as we connect once more to Christmases past and the manger scenes of our childhood homes and churches.

It is the story of the Holy Family.

But it is also the story of other families, hundreds of thousands of them the world over.†They too are powerless against the whims of government. They too must rely on whatever shelter they can find for the sake of their children. They too struggle against displacement and weather and challenges most of us will never know.

And they, too, are holy.

Yamini and her family

Pictured is the family of Yamini, right, a sponsored child in Hyderabad, India.

At CFCA we call our sponsorship program Hope for a Family. We didnít choose that name just because we liked it, but because it reflects two important truths we have learned over the years from sponsored persons.

The first is that hope liberates people to dream and inspires them to work hard to make their dreams come true.

The second is that the best place for hope to thrive is within the family.

This is good news and we want to share it.†Like the Gospel writers who shared the wondrous accounts of Christís birth, we want to let people know that God dwells among the poor and the marginalized of this world.

And, again like the Gospel writers, we want to invite those who hear us to become part of an amazing story.

Ultimately, the story of the Holy Family is one of perseverance in the face of great challenges.

It is a story of love between husband and wife, parent and child. It is a story of trust in Godís goodness, and reliance on the kindness of other people.

And it is a story with a happy ending despite the harshness of the journey.

The CFCA community celebrates this story. It is our story as well.

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Dec 13 2010

Vote for CFCA’s best blog post of the year!

CFCA blog

We want to hear from you! Out of the top 10 blog posts for 2010, which would you consider the No. 1 post?

And the nominations are:

1)†ëMagic beltí†makes Ecuador walkerís pain disappear

CFCA accounting manager Bill Hansen joined Bob Hentzen during Walk2gether in Ecuador. The 21-mile days were no challenge for Hansen until excruciating back pain left him immobile. Bob’s “magic belt” enabled Bill to finish the walk pain free.

2)†Brother writes letter after sponsored youth dies

“Our whole family grieves his death, but we know that he is an angel of Jesus and he takes care of us from heaven.” So writes Santos SalomÛn’s brother to Santos’ sponsor after Santos died in an accident: “He said there is no better medicine than God and a smile.”

3) Cleaning Cinquera

After hiding in the mountains for 12 years during El Salvadorís civil war, residents of Cinquera returned in 1992 to find their beloved town destroyed. Today CFCA sponsors 500 children, youth and aging in Cinquera, and the town is a model of community cooperation and pride.

4) Regina’s gift to her sponsoring family

“Years ago, a priest came to our parish in Hannibal, Mo. He spoke of CFCA and the dire need of children and elderly around the world. Our girls asked, ‘Can we adopt a sister, PLEASE?!!’ We found it hard to say no. Actually, it was God saying yes to a blessing in our lives. My husband and I thought we could make some small difference in a childís life; we didnít realize the difference Regina would make in ours.”

5) Going back to school at 74

“Today I have some homework in Spanish. I have to answer the following questions: Who am I? What do I want to be? I am not going to answer much. What I will write is: ‘I am Flor de Maria. I am 74 years old. I want to be a lawyer. Granted, this isnít up to me. This is up to God.’ “

6) Juan Antonio ñ the dancing man

Ever wanted to see an 83-year-old dance? Here’s your opportunity! Meet Juan Antonio, a vibrant man in El Salvador sponsored through CFCA.

7) Walk2gether brings out hope on the highway

“At CFCA we talk about hope a lot. Itís in the name of our sponsorship program: Hope for a Family. But have you ever actually witnessed hope? I hadnít until I visited Ecuador and walked with Bob and CFCA families on Walk2gether. Hope was everywhere.”

8) From beneficiaries to partners

“Nonprofit organizations often divide their stakeholders neatly into two categories: donors and beneficiaries. But CFCA has always viewed things a little differently. The word ìbeneficiaryî implies someone who passively receives assistance from another person. But sponsored members and their families are not passive. They are some of the most active people I have met.”

9) El Salvadoran man, 103, explains how to live a long life

Need we say more?

10) Miguel reads a poem

Watch this video of an incredibly eloquent 8-year-old, and be amazed! Miguel, a third-grader, read this poem to CFCA President Bob Hentzen and others on the second evening of Walk2gether.

The No. 1 post that the majority of our readers choose will be given a place of honor on our blog, and it may be repurposed for our promotional and marketing materials.

Have you made your choice? If so, click here to take the survey.

Please share the survey with your family and friends, particularly those who don’t yet know about CFCA. We’d enjoy hearing what they think of these posts, too.

Thanks, and we appreciate your help!

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Nov 15 2010

Desert brings clarity to Walk2gether in Peru

Rafael Villalobos, CFCA project coordinator in San Jose, Costa Rica, sent us this blog post about his walk in Peru with CFCA Co-founder and President Bob Hentzen.

Bob and the Walk2gether team are still in Peru, as of Nov. 15.

ìBut then I will lure her back. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.î ó Hosea 2:14

This text from Hosea brings profound clarity to Walk2gether pilgrims as we traverse the desert of Peru.

Rafael Villalobos, CFCA

Rafael Villalobos

Our Lord has an uncommon way of enchanting us. He brings to the desert those who have been chosen and talks to their hearts.

In the desert, you either trust him or die. There are no certainties or comforts. It is a place of insecurity and solitude.

The desert is a place where we feel we can easily lose important people and things in our life.

In this desert, God talks to the heart of CFCA. He is luring, enchanting and questioning all of us who are part of this movement.

In this harsh reality, he calls us to return to generosity, toward dreams that feed our desire for a new world, and to trust that he is with us on our journey.

It is a call for radical love. We need lots of love to be able to walk these roads.

I believe that this experience is a call to leave a comfortable life, without commitment, without devotion, and to turn toward a lifestyle more in tune with the call we are receiving.

Don Roberto (Bob Hentzen) always says that being in CFCA is a vocation, a calling. Itís not easy work.

It is truly impressive to watch him and DoÒa Cristina (his wife) go step by step in the middle of the desert, walking with happiness and hope.

Walk2gether in the Peruvian desert

The Walk2gether team continues in the desert of Peru.

Recently, the movie ìEat Pray Loveî was released. I have tried to conjugate these verbs in this desert of Peru:

Eat: There are no luxuries in the desert. We eat simply at the side of the road the food prepared by DoÒa Luz. The food tastes glorious when it is prepared with love and shared among friends.

Love: Love conquers pain and fatigue. Here in the desert, love is more pure, without applause or media. You need a love beyond limits to be able to walk this path. We support one another. We encourage one another to keep going when we are tired.

Pray: ìI will lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slipî (Psalms 121:1-3). This psalm profoundly reflects the experience of praying in the desert.

May God grant us all the spiritual experience of a desert so that we can rediscover the true sense of our life of service to those most in need.

Residents of a girlís boarding school in Lima joined the walkers for a day. Hear Bobís podcast below.

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