Tag: christian

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.

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!

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.

Oct 28 2010

Before and after: How sponsorship transformed one childís life

By Shanxi Omoniyi, CFCA web editor and writer

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Milton and Lila Krainbill

Many of us at the CFCA office in Kansas City know Milton and Lila Krainbill, and those who donít will learn pretty quickly.

Theyíre longtime sponsors and volunteers in Holton, Kan., who serve a delicious lunch to all the Kansas City staff once a year. With the employee head count at just over 130, thatís no easy feat.

But even more amazing are the Krainbillsí pictures showing the progress of their sponsored child, Heidy, in Costa Rica.

Milton and Lila took a vacation to Costa Rica in 2003, and they asked to tour the San Jose project there.

From the moment they met Heidy and her family, the Krainbills knew they couldnít lose contact with this little girl. She was one of eight children in a family struggling to overcome poverty.

The familyís galvanized tin house had gaping holes in the siding that let in rainwater. The children slept on pallets instead of beds.

ìWhen we saw the situation, we just couldnít walk away without taking on another sponsorship,î Lila said.

Seven years later, Milton and Lila returned to find a transformed family.

Read more about Heidy’s changed life

Oct 27 2010

CFCA staff from different countries visit Kansas City headquarters

Itís interesting to read what visitors on CFCA mission awareness trips have to say about the countries they visit, but what impresses people who visit the U.S.?

Last week, six accountants from Latin America projects ó four from Guatemala, one from El Salvador and one from Colombia ó visited the CFCA headquarters in Kansas to learn a new accounting system. They account for the sponsorship funds and their use in the field, then make their report back to Kansas City. We asked our guests what impressed them most during the visit.

CFCA accountants from Latin America

From left are Francisco Chavajay, Mario Gonzalez, Pedro Ibate, Alexandra Cardona Gomez, JosÈ Alfredo Julajuj and JosÈ Nery Madrid.

Hereís what they said …


p style=”text-align:left;”>ìIt is a blessing to be here learning new ways of working, and it fills me with happiness. Definitively, looking at the culture, I see lots of organization. I also noticed much cultural diversity. I have seen people from many different countries here in Kansas.î

óPedro Ibate, Atitlan project, Guatemala


p style=”text-align:left;”>ìThis is a very orderly country. I could see different kinds of construction that I havenít seen in my country. You donít have buses or transport trucks, like we have in Guatemala. Here, everybody has their own car. And there are lots of people on the streets, people out exercising, lots of green space. The people are very friendly.î

óJosÈ Alfredo Julajuj, Hermano Pedro project, Guatemala

Read more from the other accountants

Oct 21 2010

From beneficiaries to partners: How CFCA views sponsored friends

Dan Pearson, operations/program development director for CFCA, explains how CFCA programs are moving toward greater autonomy and partnership with those being sponsored. Rather than seeing them as “beneficiaries,” we see them as “partners.”

Nonprofit organizations often divide their stakeholders neatly into two categories: donors and beneficiaries. But CFCA has always viewed things a little differently.

Dan Pearson

Dan Pearson

CFCA has always seen sponsors as more than simply donors. Sponsors are first and foremost human beings with a desire to connect with other human beings.

Part of CFCA’s mission is to give sponsors a way to grow in love through a personal connection to a child or elderly person in another part of the world. In that sense, sponsors are also beneficiaries of sponsorship because we can receive emotional and spiritual benefits as we provide encouragement and material support to a friend in another country.

Similarly, CFCA has never seen sponsored children and their families as simply beneficiaries. The word “beneficiary” implies someone who passively receives assistance from another person. But sponsored members and their families are not passive. In fact, they are some of the most active people I have met.

Sponsored children often get up early and walk long distances just to receive an education. Their parents work long days (often in jobs that are physically demanding) to provide for their childrenís basic needs. Yes, these families benefit from the program. But they are much more than beneficiaries.

Sai and his family

Sponsored child Sai, second from right, and his family in Hyderabad, India.

Part of the message in CFCA’s Hope for a Family program is that the families of sponsored children are our partners.

The mother of a child partners with a sponsor to achieve a childís goals for the future. She is a trustworthy partner because:

a) she has demonstrated her absolute commitment to her child’s future,

b) she understands her child’s unique gifts and the particular challenges her child faces, and

c) she is extremely skilled at overcoming challenges.

The proof of a motherís trustworthiness as a partner in the development of her child is in her tireless dedication. She spends nearly every waking hour dedicated to the cause of her children. Then she goes to bed, wakes up early, and starts over again.

The label “beneficiary” doesnít do justice to that kind of active dedication to a cause.

When one sponsor and one family join forces to change one child’s life, all other labels dissolve. They are simply human beings working together to make one small piece of the world a better place.

We welcome your feedback! In the comments below, please tell us how you view the “beneficiaries” vs. “partners” distinction. If you’re a sponsor, have you always viewed sponsorship as a way to partner with others? Why or why not?

Oct 20 2010

Help CFCA save trees and cut costs with our Automatic Payment Plan

Help CFCA save a tree

CFCA sponsored members in Guatemala are undertaking a beautiful initiative to help the environment by planting 1 million trees by the end of 2011.

Right now, if you sign up to pay your sponsorship through our Automatic Payment Plan, sponsored members will plant a tree in your honor.

Printing, postage costs and bank fees continue to increase and currently average 84 cents for each sponsorship payment made by check.

In contrast, the cost for an automatic bank withdrawal is less than 3 cents.

Contributions made through CFCAís Automatic Payment Plan are safe, secure and reduce our costs.

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.

Oct 7 2010

ëMagic belt’ makes Ecuador walkerís pain disappear

Bill Hansen, accounting manager at CFCA in Kansas City, joined Bob and the walkers in Ecuador during Aug. 15-21. An avid runner, Bill had every intention of completing the route without incident, but had a surprising setback at the end of the week.

Bob Hentzen and Bill Hansen

Bob Hentzen, left, and Bill Hansen, center, continue along Walk2gether with their “magic belts.”

I joined the walk in Quito. Just outside Quito, we crossed the equator and had about a 6-to-7-mile uphill walk.

The terrain got steeper as we approached the top. On the other side of the mountains, we saw trees and mountains. It reminded me a lot of the Missouri Ozarks.

For the next two days, we walked through the Andes and fortunately, it was all downhill.

We saw cows. I donít know how they would get on top of these mountains, grazing, or how they would get down, but it reminded me a lot of Switzerland.

For two days, we didnít see any houses or any people. We saw traffic, of course.

When we arrived at the bottom of that mountain range, we entered the Ecuadorian rain forest. I saw a lot of palm trees, banana trees and coffee plants.

Thatís when we started seeing people. We saw poverty, too. We were walking seven 5K segments, or about 21 miles a day.

On Friday, we came to a community called Porto de Quito where we started walking uphill into the Ecuadorian pineapple growing range. Thatís when I had the experience with my back.

Iíve been running for about five years and I have never had any problem with my back. Everyone told me to watch out for blisters.

I was watching my feet, wiping them off, putting lotion on them, changing socks and I had no problems at all. I was in good shape and feeling good.

When I first felt the pain in my back, I thought I could walk it off. Sometimes when youíre running, you get a cramp in your muscle.

You run through it and it goes away. But this wasnít going away. By noon on Friday, my back had had it.

Magic belts

During a rest period, I was waiting in the van, discouraged and very depressed.

When I started planning my participation in the walk last February, it never dawned on me that I wouldnít be able to do the whole week. My back has never bothered me.

I prayed and told God how I felt.

ìWhy did you bring me this far just to stop it here?î I asked.

Bob came out of the camper to start the walk again. I knew at that point I wouldnít be able to go any farther.

Before I could say anything, Bob came up to me and asked, ìHow are you feeling?î

ìMy backís had it,î I said. ìIím really, really sorry.î

ìWait a minute,î Bob said.

He went into his camper. That was really strange because when Bob gets out of his camper to go again, he doesnít stop for anything. I knew something was up.

He brought out this back belt with two straps that go around your shoulders and an elastic band that goes around your midsection.

You tighten the elastic band around your midsection and it feels like somebody is pushing up on the small of your back.

The minute I put it on, it was instant relief. I didnít feel the pain at all. It completely went away.

We started walking, and I thought, ìWow! This is great.î It was the key.

I walked all day Friday and all day Saturday. I wore the belt both days and had no problems whatsoever. I would not have been able to finish the walk without that belt.

Some people call it the ìmagic belt.î It really is a magic belt. I was able to finish the whole week. It was an answer to prayer.

Bob Hentzen comments:

I believe the magic part of the belt is the fact that it was given to me as a gift in love and concern by our CFCA co-workers in Ocotepeque, Honduras.

Experience has taught me that on these daily long treks, one’s back can suffer from the constant muscular effort made in the same direction.

I have found two solutions: change one’s stride on a regular basis, and use some kind of support for the lower back. This is what I believe helped Peter (Ndungo, Nairobi, Kenya, project coordinator) and Bill.

It also helped Maria Mejias from Venezuela, and presently it is being used by Don Juan, a 61-year-old walker from Peru.

There are two belts. One I use, and the other magically finds its way to whoever needs it.

Greetings to all.

Oct 6 2010

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

In honor of International Day of the Elderly, weíre featuring Federico Antonio, a sponsored 103-year-old in El Salvador. He lives in a Catholic home for the aged. His sponsorship benefits are given to the home, and the sisters provide him with food and other supplies. Read on to learn why heís lived so long!

Federico Antonio

Federico Antonio, a sponsored 103-year-old in El Salvador.

What is your name? Federico Antonio.

How was your childhood? My childhood was humble. I did not have much upbringing, no education. I didn’t study. I had lots of difficulties. I was poor, and that is what I most regret.

Were you raised by your mother and father? Only by my mother. My father died when I was an infant.

Were you the oldest? No. I was the youngest. I am 103. My mother died at 105.

What year were you born? 1907.

Did you marry? No, I did not marry at all.

Do you have children? No, I don’t have children.

Why didn’t you marry? I didn’t have the means. Before, you paid 30 colones (6 U.S. cents) to get married. Imagine. And after that, you still had to eat, get a house and all the other things. Others can suffer, but me, no. If I am poor, I will suffer alone. But I had a girlfriend who told me, “Let’s get married.” But I always told her, no. Her name was Emilia and she was very pretty. But I didn’t want to marry, even though I intended to earn something to take care of her, but I wasn’t able to. I planted corn fields, but I couldn’t earn anything because the soil wasn’t good for corn. So, I learned to make bread and intended to get married at age 28, but I couldn’t.

In your youth, what work did you do? I was a day laborer. I cleared fields with a machete. I cleared coffee fields with a machete. The military accepted me. I learned to cut poles.

Did you live alone or with your siblings and mother? We lived together, with my mother, until she died.

Did your siblings play with you? Yes, we played and they beat me up and wrestled with me. I had to climb a tree to get away from them.

Read more about Federico Antonio’s story