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Dec 2 2011

Bob’s notes: How sponsorship gave Annamary an education

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

This report from the November 2011 mission awareness trip to India will come in two parts: Annamary’s story and the rest of the trip.

Annamary, CFCA sponsored child in India

Annamary

Bob: Let me start with the inspiring story of Annamary, 11, a sponsored girl from a remote village in CFCA’s project in Bhalgalpur. What a joy for our sponsors to meet this young woman. What follows are Annamary’s own words.

Annamary: In the village where I live, there are about 100 families.

No electricity, no running water, no cooking gas and no toilets.

When the villagers have no work, women go to the forest to collect firewood.

Men get drunk and fight, and the children are always in their natural dress playing in the village lanes. I know this, because I was born in this village.

Like the other villagers, we live in a mud hut. There is my Papa, Sushil. He is always out looking for a job.

Every morning, my Mummy left us in her best dress. I did not know where she went. When I was 4, I had the job of babysitting my younger sister, Dolly, 6 months.

One day, I asked Mummy, “Where do you go every morning?” Read more of Annamary’s story

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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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Oct 18 2010

Walk2gether: CFCA helps families grow like trees in Peruvian desert

Yesenia Alfaro is the CFCA project coordinator in Santa Ana, El Salvador. She has been walking with Bob in Peru, and she sent us this recent update.

Yesenia Alfaro, CFCA project coordinator in Santa Ana

Yesenia Alfaro

Walk2gether has covered 375 kilometers (about 233 miles) in Peru, South America. We have walked through many towns and cities observing the reality of this country and its people.

I have seen great contrast, tourist areas with huge hotels, oil exploration areas and poor families living in the middle of the desert sand lacking basic services.

Poverty and inequality are everywhere; they just have different shades in different places.

Every day our road is different. However, risks remain the same such as crossroads with heavy traffic, large vehicles and high-speed driving, sometimes up to 150 kilometers (approximately 93 miles) per hour.

Our group of five or six walkers is very vulnerable, but we can feel Godís protection and the prayers offered by all families who are part of CFCA walking in spirit with us.

Loneliness on the road, long distances, exposure, and the poverty and inequality we see only serve to motivate CFCA and its mission to transform this reality.

While walking in a desert, my attention was caught by some trees that were growing in the middle of the desert.

I asked myself, ìWhy plant a tree in this desert? How are the trees going to survive?î

Peruvian desert tree

Tree planted in a Peruvian desert

These trees were planted with the hope of seeing them grow. They were planted with a different method: planting four bottles with water, with very small holes in the bottom, so the tree could be wet enough until its roots grew a little.

The results are trees with green leaves and signs of developing life.

Many times, we think that families and communities we serve canít grow because it is too difficult for them to develop.

Now I see families like these trees. They lack many things and go through lots of difficulties. The terrain is hard to work, but it is not impossible for it to produce and give life.

All we need to do is find the right method, with the hope that these families will be able to bloom.

Bob always invites us not to close our eyes to those who are in need.

They are there, close to us, and their blooming will require lots of work, effort and sacrifice, but the satisfaction will be much bigger.

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Feb 26 2010

The best birthday gift

By Shirley Foley, CFCA sponsor

On Aug. 30, I went on a mission awareness trip to Bolivia to meet my sponsored child, Kevin, and to visit the different CFCA projects. The mission awareness trip coincided with my birthday, Sept. 1, and this trip was the best gift that I have ever received.

I couldnít wait to meet my godson, Kevin, who will be 8 years old next month. Kevin and I have been writing to each other regularly for nearly three years now, and have become close through our letters. Meeting Kevin personally for the first time was truly a moving experience. As we hugged, I was in tears ó tears of joy and gratitude for the gift of sponsorship of this beautiful child. Kevin is delightful: he loves to play football, loves to draw, was the best student in his class last year, is an excellent reader and is very precious to me. Kevin and I were able to spend three days together visiting homes and projects with our group

As I am writing this, I am filling up with tears, not tears of sadness, but tears of joy as I remember the outpouring of love by our Bolivian friends. We visited homes and projects each day. In every project and in every home, we were received with such warmth and love as one could not imagine. During these visits, we, the group of sponsors, experienced a whole range of emotions ó love, joy, kindness, heartbreak, laughter, friendship, faith, goodness, generosity, sadness, elation, the love of God, solidarity and the oneness of us all.

It was obvious that our Bolivian friends had spent months preparing for our visit. Everything was perfect. No detail was overlooked. Everywhere we visited, we were met with welcoming banners, with music and dances, delicious home-cooked meals, handmade gifts, necklaces, flowers and their wonderful warmth and love. And we danced!!!!! Joyfully!!!

The sponsors that I met in this group are loving, caring people who filled my heart with happiness and appreciation to have the pleasure of sharing this visit with them. I think that we really didnít know what to expect on our visit. We knew that we would see poverty, but what we found was a deep and abiding love ó a love showered on us at every step of our journey. Yes, we saw poverty, heart-wrenching poverty, but through and overall was the ever-present love and hope and faith of our beautiful Bolivian friends ó men, women and children, old and young. They thanked us for our help and called us Godís angels. But they are Godís angels. We could never give these wonderful, kind and generous friends what they have given to us.

We were honored to walk with them, honored to stand in solidarity with them, honored to be united with them and honored to be family.

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Feb 8 2010

Gratitude of magnificent proportions

During the last week of September 2009, Typhoon Ondoy blasted the Philippines with the worst rainfall ever recorded in the area. Some parts recorded water levels more than 20 feet high, leading to mudslides and widespread loss of life and homes. Many of CFCAís families, both sponsored and staff, were affected.

CFCA responded by sending monies set aside for emergencies from our Disaster Assistance Fund. Because typhoons are so common, the Philippines projects also set aside funds in their budget for calamities.

The staff assessed the situations of the different families and put them in one of three groups: families who were homeless; families whose homes were still standing, but damaged, and whose belongings were gone; and those who had recovered some of their belongings. The families received food, clothing, medicine, housing materials and livelihood replacement funds, according to their needs.

After the water receded and rebuilding began, Paul Pearce, director of International Programs, visited the projects and was given a surprise and heartwarming gift. Four youth in the Manila/Antipolo projects created a massive and beautiful thank-you card that was meant to send appreciation to CFCA for all of the support they received. Signed by roughly 200 people, it represents the families who were helped by CFCA special funds.

The card, done in the Japanese style of anime, depicts scenes from the flood such as brown water with debris floating in it, people salvaging things from their homes, and children in their school uniforms with their pants hiked up so as not to get their uniform dirty.

Cover of the card

The card is 30 inches tall, and drawn with crayons and markers.

ìWhen I saw it, I knew I had to take it back to the office,î Paul said.

However, the card was too large to fit in any luggage or backpack. So, Paul decided to carry the card during the 8,000-mile journey. He wondered just how he would get through airport security with this oddity, but found people to be not only curious, but genuinely grateful to CFCA once they heard what the card was for.

ìWhen I reached the airport in Manila, at every security checkpoint the guards wanted to look at it and talk about it,î Paul said. ìWhen I was walking by shops in the airport, one of the shopkeepers told me that her house had flooded as well.î

Once in Japan the security guards were impressed with the artwork of the card. Flight attendants and fellow passengers were accommodating to Paul and his giant card.

ìInstead of being a hassle, it became a badge of honor,î Paul said. ìIt is a reminder of the special grace the Filipinos have. That in the middle of this disaster, they have the thoughtfulness to come together to make this thank-you card. They never stop amazing me by their resiliency and how they respond to hardships. Itís pretty humbling.î

The card arrived at CFCA headquarters unscathed and is on display.

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Feb 4 2010

An endearing spirit

By Henry Flores, director of the Communications Center in El Salvador

Manuel was a 16-year-old boy, living in El Salvador, who, in spite of his severe muscular dystrophy condition, lived with hope for the future to come.

ìI want to be a radio technician,î he said, ìI like it, and I can learn.î

Manuel and his grandmother, Mercedes

His 85-year-old grandmother and only relative, Mercedes, kindly smiled and believed in his words, ìManuelito learns very fast and has fixed a little TV which he connects to a car battery because we have no electricity.î

A few weeks ago, after complications from hepatitis and kidney problems, Manuel passed away, leaving a great example to the world he left behind. Through his shining personality and kind smile, he was able to enter people’s hearts, which motivated many to sponsor more children in his community, others to contribute to the construction of four homes for families who were living under cardboard and plastic in the area, and sparked the creation of a new fund for children with special needs.

Because Manuel was the first sponsored person in that area, the CFCA staff and Manuelís community members saw him as the ìfatherî of their community. In his honor, the CFCA community he lived in changed its name from Community La Linea (train tracks) to Community Manuel.

Deep in my heart, I feel Manuel had a mission, and he accomplished it. He made us aware of the problems of his neighbors, and CFCA was able to help many because of him.

Manuel

I pray to the good Lord to help me find my mission in this world, as well as the understanding to carry it with the same love, hope and joy that Manuel had.

Editor’s note: The winter issue of “CFCA Spirit,” mailed this month, features a story about Manuel and Mercedes. CFCA did not receive news of Manuel’s death until after the publication was printed.

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Jan 27 2010

Greetings from the roads of Honduras

Dear friends, greetings from the roads of Honduras in Central America.

The Honduran mountains make for a difficult trek.Walk2gether continues and, step by step, we are overcoming the mountains of Santa Barbara and La Esperanza, walking at an altitude of approximately 9,000 feet above sea level.

Some of the walkers have begun to experience the wear and tear from their efforts, such as blisters and chapped lips; however, their spirit continues, strong and unbreakable.

On Jan. 24, we arrived at the area of La Paz. Because the difficulty of the altitude, mountainous terrain and roads limited our progress, we were unable to cover the full 40 kilometers planned per day. So during our rest day, on Jan. 25, we had to go back and cover the 16 unwalked kilometers accumulated from the prior days.

That very same day we decided to suspend Walk2gether for two days, returning to the road on Jan. 28. The reason for this is that the new president of Honduras will be inaugurated on Jan. 27, and many demonstrations are planned for that day. This is a risky situation for us, as any type of demonstration is viewed as political. The local authorities are mobilizing military troops and police to the same roads where we are walking to prevent protesters from entering Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.

One little story during our walk: a few days ago, Bob fell while walking on a dirt road. I can report that he suffered no injuries whatsoever. On the contrary, he proved to be in great physical condition, and, at the same time, we discovered that Walk2gether will continue either walking, jogging, running or rolling down the road.

My best to all,

Manuel Pineda
CFCA Santa Barbara Project Coordinator

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