Tag: Hope for a Family

Dec 1 2010

Advent reflection: Dare to dream of a better world

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.

ìÖhe shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the landís afflicted.î (Isaiah 11:4)

The second Sunday in Advent presents us with one of the most evocative images in Scripture. In this lovely reading from Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1-10), the prophet paints a magnificent picture of wolves reclining alongside lambs and babies playing in safety around venomous snakes.

He describes a peaceful land of hay-eating lions and gentle leopards, where former predators recline without aggression and the former prey roam without fear.

Isaiah uses this picturesque image to stir the imagination as he foretells the coming of the Messiah.

Writing in a time of upheaval for Israel, with the glory days of David long past and the kingdom largely decimated, the prophet seeks to both admonish and reassure the people.

Just wait until the Messiah ó the Son of David ó comes! He will restore glory to Israel and bring order and harmony to the land.

Flash forward to 2010. Disorder reigns and harmony is in short supply. Lions still eat meat and wise parents still keep their children away from snakes.

More than 2,000 years after the birth of the one Christians embrace as the Messiah, the world is no better than it was in Isaiahís day. So what gives?

Martha and Suzanne

Martha, left, from Nicaragua, and her sponsor, Suzanne

The people who first knew Jesus were forced to grapple with that same question. And, ultimately, those who chose to follow him had to let go of some deeply rooted, preconceived notions.

They had to empty themselves of their expectations of the Messiah as a great king or military leader in order to embrace a savior more powerful than they could have imagined. They had to take a leap of faith to discover the true Christ.

It is the same for us. At times we are tempted to wrap ourselves in our own preconceptions like a security blanket, especially at this time of year when the sentimentality of the holidays is hard to resist.

But if our Advent preparation ó our reflection on the coming of the Christ ó never gets past the baby in the manger, we canít grow in our awareness of who Jesus is and what he truly means for each of us and for our world.

We, too, must take leaps of faith. We must push our comfort zones and dare to dream, like Isaiah, of a world different from the one we now see.

Those who participate in CFCAís Hope for a Family program ó sponsors and sponsored persons ó have taken the leap of faith necessary to embrace the dream of a world where people share their blessings with one another and help lift each other up.

And their dream is coming true, one relationship at a time.

Jul 8 2010

Hope for my family

By Ruth Hubenthal, Sponsor Services Representative and CFCA sponsor

Rose petalsI had the opportunity to go on a mission awareness trip to Bogota, Colombia last week, and I met Juliana, the girl that I have sponsored for the past two and a half years, along with her family. I wonít say that the trip was life changing in an earth-shattering-kind-of way, but there was a more subtle change, soft, like the rose petals that surrounded us along the entire trip.

I spent a day with Juliana and her mother, Elizabeth, and we shared stories about our families and about challenges we had to overcome, about our likes and dislikes, about plans we have for the future. We felt that we were a part of the same family, and said as much to each other. What I told her is that I saw hope in her eyes and in her voice, and in turn, that gave me hope. Hope for a family. Hope for MY family.

Elizabeth is going to be a grandmother at 35. Her oldest daughter, Deisy, is going to have a baby in November. Deisyís only 15. But this family doesnít sit back and feel sorry for themselves: they are already talking about the baby, talking to the baby and planning on how to make his or her life better and brighter. Deisy and the babyís father are both planning on continuing school, Elizabeth intends to stay home with her grandchild, and give that opportunity of education to her children.

Ruth with Juliana and her motherItís a simple story, a reality that is not uncommon in these communities, but I think that Elizabethís sacrifice of her personal goals and dreams to give her family a better life, is, in a way, fulfilling her goal. As a mother, I understand that, and I understand that itís not always easy. Thatís what gives ME hope as I support this family. That the love of a mother can help make the world a better place, that sponsoring Juliana and giving the family an opportunity to overcome their poverty can encourage them to stay hopeful.

Mothers like Elizabeth plant seeds of hope in their children and cultivate that hope. And the end result is as beautiful as the roses that are planted and cultivated in that region of Colombia. Itís tangible, and itís just the most beautiful feeling.

May 15 2010

Show your family some love

Weekends in May can be busy, with a mixture of graduations, end-of-school preparations and weddings going on. But today, International Family Day, try to take a moment to gather around you those you love, and let them know how much you appreciate them, whether it be a phone call, a high five or a hug.

We’ll leave you with an inspirational story of a strong family, sent to us by the CFCA Quezon project.

This is about how Noemi and her family survived the wrath of ìPepeng,î the typhoon that hit Northern Luzon. It was Oct. 8, when the heavy rains and strong winds started to ravage the town where they lived. The familyís small hut was situated on the hill side. The continuous wind and rain made the family nervous and worried, keeping them all awake.

It was midnight when suddenly they heard a roaring sound coming from the mountain. The father cautioned the family to stay close together and to embrace each other, and they prayed. In a minute, they and their hut were being carried by the mudslide coming from the mountain. Even during that time, they never let go of each other. As they struggled against the falling stones and mud, Noemiís mother seriously injured her arms with a piece of bamboo, but she just ignored it: all she cared about at that time was the safety of her children.

When they were able to come out of their hut, they rushed to their relative’s house for shelter, waiting for the morning to come.

With the projectís aid and with additional assistance from CFCA, the family was able to rebuild a new house and able to start a new life again. With the familyís strong faith and love for each other, they were able to survive the storm that nearly took their lives.

Noemi is a 4th year high school student who has been sponsored since kindergarten.

Mar 31 2010

Bells and brooms are signs of a community rebuilding

Pablo Alvarenga is one of the original residents of Cinquera, El Salvador. The town was destroyed during the countryís civil war from 1980-1992. After the war, Pablo and other families returned to rebuild their community. Pablo was one of the community leaders who welcomed CFCAís support in 1992.

Today, CFCA sponsors 500 children, youth and aging members in Cinquera. Pablo recently recounted the townís history and CFCAís role in its rebirth, for Henry Flores, director of the El Salvador communications center.

PabloMy name is Pablo Alvarenga Escobar, and I am native to the community of Cinquera. I work with Christian communities in Cinquera. My main focus is to strengthen the work of the small Christian communities, trying to bring them the Gospel of Jesus and the spirit that he wanted us to have.

My work as a catechist started in 1960, and I worked until 1979. On May 9, 1983, a huge attack by the armed forces against the rebel forces forced everybody to abandon their homes, belongings and Cinquera. To save their lives, many left for the mountains, leaving everything behind.

After the attack, this town stayed empty. We say it was a ghost town. A few days later, armed forces started to bomb the area and ground forces broke into the town and finished the destruction.

After Cinquera was destroyed and abandoned, nature started to cover the ruins of the houses. When we returned, Cinquera did not look like a town. You could not see anything. It was like looking at the forest.

The new Cinquera church with the original bell tower

The new Cinquera church with the original bell tower

The church was destroyed, except for the front walls and the bell tower. There were big trees inside the church property. We all agreed that we had to keep the remaining walls and bell tower. We knew that we were going to rebuild the church in the same place, and these ruins would be a sign of hope and a reminder of our history.

When we began rebuilding our lives here, we needed a way to call people for community gatherings. That is what church bells are for: to call the people to gather. But we did not have any bells.

Our people are creative, and some members of the community said that they had seen a 750-pound bomb that did not explode. They said, ìDon¥t worry. The rebel forces deactivated the bomb and made a new bomb that they used against the army, so it is inactive now.î

Many of us walked far to get to the place where the bomb was. Children, youth, men and women helped bring the heavy bomb. We carried it, we rolled it, we pushed it and we pulled it until we got it into town. We placed it in front of the church, standing it up for the sound to be better, and it worked. It sounded so loud!

The church bells are actually old, diffused bombs. The third bell does not sit by these two.

The church bells are actually old, diffused bombs. The third bell does not sit by these two.

Sometime after that, we found another bomb and later, one more. So this is why we now have three of them in front of the church.

At the end of the war, we had absolutely nothing. It was then when the solidarity of a man named Bob (CFCA President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen) came here. He used to walk around the town. He played the guitar and told us about CFCA. We all got excited. This was like a boat in the middle of the ocean for us.

The impact of the sponsored members and their families in the community is great, and this is because of the leadership behind CFCA here in town. CFCA has local staff working for the communityópeople who have a heart for the town, a love for others and a great sense of solidarity.

One of them is the CFCA social worker Blanca. She has been leading the families in different groups to clean the town.

This is why our town looks very nice.

More about Cinquera, El Salvador:
Read more about the cleaning campaign in Cinquera.
View before and after photos of Cinquera during cleanup day.
Meet the Blanca and the CFCA families who clean Cinquera in this video.
See some photos of Cinquera that help explain its history.

Dec 30 2009

Walking with hope

Henry Flores, director of the Communications Center in El Salvador, traveled to Guatemala for the start of Walk2gether. Below is his reflection of that first day.

About two years ago, Bob Hentzen, CFCA president and co-founder, announced his desire to walk from Guatemala to Chile. Dreams, plans, logistics, organization, hope and physical training started to be in the minds, souls and bodies of thousands of staff members and families around the world.

Time has gone fast and, yesterday, we began Walk2gether, a pilgrimage of 8,000 miles through 12 countries in Central and South America. At 2:30 a.m., hundreds of people were walking around the halls of the CFCA center in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, excited for the pilgrimage to start.

Waking up to the sound of the marimba, traditional music of Guatemala, was fantastic, the vibes of the music touched my heart. As Bob took his first step into the walk, fireworks, firecrackers, flowers, smiles and tears were merging all together into a sense of deep spirituality as sponsors, staff members and CFCA families were connecting to the road, connecting to Mother Nature.

What an inspirational message it was for me to see how the families were coming out of their homes or gathering along the highway to greet Bob and the pilgrims, some other ones were walking for miles and miles with us, and when I was looking at the road ahead of us, I only thought of how much more we need to do, of how many more people we need to reach out to.

The first 25 miles of the walk are finished. There are 7,975 more to go, lots of challenges to be faced on the road, thousands of families to meet, and the promise of the Hope for a Family sponsorship program is carrying us and calling all of us involved in CFCA to continue our mission to help create a path to out of poverty and self-sufficiency for our sponsored families, with dignity and love.