The Rock and Our Reminders

By Corinne Carver

It took place just a few days after I arrived to see the girls that had captured my heart during my year spent with them.

Joy came as she does daily to the house and the moment she began to share this idea with me I was all ears…

There’s something about Joy that is so beautiful: her ability to come up with meaningful, thoughtful, creative and overall signature activities and events for the girls.

I was sure this idea was going to be no different.

She said we would be going on an adventure, that we would go to the river, that we would go searching for rocks.

Although I am always all for adventure, and I love a great day by the riverside, you have to know that what rivers and adventures entail in little old La Vega is much different than what you would normally expect…

Because the river, well, it's usually littered with an unfortunate amount of trash and some interesting characters from time to time.

But still… I was hooked, I was ready, I was already anticipating what these rocks could mean.

Before we left, she began to explain a bit to me about the meaning these rocks would take on once we found them and brought them home with us.

She started to cast a vision of how these rocks would come to be reminders and take the shape of memories that the girls have cultivated and lived throughout the last couple years. Her hope was that we would remember together what God has done, what He has given us, and continue to dream, ask, and pray for more.

So when we loaded the littles into the van and took them closer to our old neighborhood where our mansion on the hill still sits, we huddled them together on the river bank and began to prep them before they began their search.

You could tell that the girls were already gripping onto the chance to be in a less familiar territory, exploring and searching and finding and discovering together.

We let them go free and occasionally had to reign them in from time to time, some a little more daring and prone to straying than others.

By the end of our time, girls had stones piled up on their bellies, holding them in the pouches they made from their shirts and stuffing as many as possible into their pockets and little drawstring bags they had brought.

We rounded them up into the van and began our journey back, but not without stopping for some lunch. At the table we began sharing stories at the table of all the changes each girl had gone through since coming to New Hope. It was the beginning of what these rocks would mean to the girls, mean to me, mean to us.

And it wasn’t till one of my last days with them we were able to finally gather in our upstairs living room and begin to name the stones that already felt like they held such significance. We gathered together in a circle, and Joy began sharing her heart, inspiring each of us to dig into a space with Jesus where He would tell us what it is that we have received from Him and the story behind it all.

I remember closing my eyes, but before I could even begin to ask them a word came so suddenly, so simply, so sweetly.

It was a word that seemed all too familiar, even vague and obvious to most, but I knew exactly what He was speaking to my heart, the stories behind this name He was giving to my last year and a half of chaos and beauty and trial and triumph.

And so we began sharing.

We began picking up markers and making permanent the reminders that these rocks would be to us so that we would be sure to remember, and to share, and to reencounter these God stories that were so precious as they began to be spoken out loud.

Girls began to share words like “family” and “friendship” and “joy” and “new life."

They also put words like “fridge” and “new house” and “patio.” These represented the tangible, material reminders that also spoke so truly of God’s faithfulness and realness to all of us.

We remembered together the things that we had like dirt floors and water tanks and the things that we have like trampolines and fruit trees and decorated rooms.

The girls were wide eyed and excited as one began a story that they all knew, each jumping on the inside, wishing they were the one to be telling the story, just as excited and delighted in the evidence of God’s way of providing that we had received together.

And when it came to me, I almost hesitated to share my word because it seemed so unoriginal and typical and obvious…

But once I finally choked it out I couldn’t help but explain what God had shown me behind it…

The girls waited patiently as I began to speak it out…

“Love.”

“My word is Love.”

And then I explained to them…

“It’s this love that God has for me that has convinced me of my love for all of you.

I wouldn’t be able to be here without this love. I would have never come, let alone come back. It is this love that has made me so sure…. So sure of what I am meant to do.

Because… 

I had to know I was loved in order to love each of you.”

And it was in that statement I was brought back to the moment when I knew I had to be in their lives…

The first time I had come to pick the lice out of their curly locks and walk their little selves to school each morning and venture to their homes and meet their families on the hill.

It was this love that has been compelling me all along, and it started with my ability to receive what the Father has always had for me, a love that has been bestowed and will always be meant to be given away.

This love that we are all made of, that He is made of, that the girls are made of.

I couldn’t think of a greater reminder to be given.

And as I wrote “love” on the rock before me, I hoped that the girls would be able to recall the story behind each time they reached for it… The love that has changed me, changed them, and allows us to change the world.

To be reminded of such a love…

It frees us to then give it away, to remember the purpose as to why we have been loved in the first place.

To be the love that saved us to someone else.

And what a beautiful recollection that will always be.

We finished our circle time with remaining blank rocks, but only because we believe our God continues to give, continues to write our stories, continues to pour into us and New Hope and our lives that so desperately need His vision and favor and kindness.

It was yet another symbol of faith and belief that He will meet us in our present and future, providing for needs we aren’t even yet aware of, but that He is already anticipating to give us… Not because He has to, but because we are His…

And again I am reminded of just how unconditional He truly is.

And I pray that these girls will continue to recognize the Father and search for these rocks daily, finding comfort and hope in what they truly mean. 

The victory in vulnerability

Some days we get word that we will be receiving a new girl. Some days we get word that we will be receiving two.

Like the day that they arrived.

The first one was escorted in around lunch time. After being welcomed and having her papers signed, she ate an entire plate of rice and beans with a fork and her hand.

She was dressed so much older, and I marveled at how she transformed back into a little girl when I gave her clothes that simply covered her body instead of displaying it.

The scars all over her skin prompted so many questions in my mind. I wanted to wipe them off. To hug them away. To make them disappear along with the memories that put them there. The things she had been forced to do made my breath catch.

As I was handing her necessities, the second one arrived.

She was so young. She escaped her situation on her own, for she decided she had had enough. She walked herself right up to the door of the people she thought could do something, and she begged for help.

We spent the first night sitting on the floor in the intake room together. The intake room is meant to be a place of sanctuary, where girls girls can process and recover from events and harsh realities. Often times they arrive raw and raging, sick both physically and emotionally and desire to share details about whatever situation brought them here. Therefore, immediately moving them in with the others can stir up more than wanted.

"I have no one," the younger girl sobbed. Words that sting coming out of the mouths of adults. The fact that she had already come to this realization in life brought tears to my eyes. She longed to be in our home, for she desired a sense of normalcy and belonging and felt she could find that here.

The older girl wanted nothing to do with the home our little family shares.

Home.

Family.

Words that don't have the same connotations for her as they do for me. She couldn't understand my intentions when I smiled and used those words in my description of what we offer.

So often I find myself reminding the girls that home and family are what we have here. But lately I've seriously questioned my tendency to do that due to their tendency to associate the words with meanings I don't intend.

I say home and they remember instability, a structure with bare floors, empty plates and a location for memories they'd rather forget.

I say family and they remember abandonment, conditional love, zero tolerance, broken relationships and abuse.

And the reality is, I can't expect them to magically rewire the connection between experiences they've had and feelings that have resulted from them. I can't magically change their perspective on life simply because I give them a hug and tell them they are safe now.

It's a process.

Just like everything.

Some days I feel like we are taking ten steps forward.

Some days I feel like we may never find the road again.

And these two little ones who arrived on the same day...

Their process has been so amazing to watch.

I've seen them go from crying through their first few nights to comforting others crying through first nights of their own. I've seen them mesh into the routine and the normal, adding more sparks and joy than there were before. I've seen them love Jesus, worshipping Him with their little hands raised high and retelling stories of miracles He has performed.

They themselves are living miracles. 

I heard them testify just yesterday.

A dear friend brought visitors to the Luz y Esperanza safe house, and our girls soon learned that these visitors had stories worth sharing.

We sat around the fire pit intently hanging on every word our new friends said, for they related to the lives the girls have lived. They understood the loss of parents. They understood the curveballs life can throw. They understood uprooting from "normal" and being placed in a group home. Circumstances in their own lives placed them in one many years ago, and they're both still living there at 20 and 21 years old.

The girls listened wide-eyed as these two beautiful, young women who appeared as though they had it all together shared the ways that their lives have been torn apart. Through their openness, these strangers transformed into inspirations. Through their willingness to relive their hurt and experiences, it was another step towards healing for some.

They became an inspiration to the little girl whose parents also died of HIV.

They became an inspiration to the little girl who also witnessed significant acts of violence done to her own family members.

They became an inspiration to the little girl who hasn't been convinced that this family of ours could ever become hers.

Our two new friends encouraged them and told them the secret to surviving the things that have happened to them.

The Lord will use for good what man meant for evil. 
It's okay to not be okay.
Don't try to deal with your grief alone.
Run to Jesus.

Then came their question for the girls:
Does anyone want to share something with us?

And those two little sparks of life who arrived on the same day in January eagerly raised their hands to give their testimony.

I listened as the older one went first and shared the anger she carried when she first entered our house. She shook her head as she remembered the person she was before. She smiled at me and recalled how many times I held her when she sobbed, and she declared that her life is full of joy now.

The second girl, the younger one, raised her hand too.

I listened as she described the anxiety that plagued her mind and the tears that filled her days of her first week here at Luz y Esperanza. She told parts of her story to our new friends and the other girls, and she did so with her unique and vibrant way of speaking.

"When I first got here, I cried all the time over not having friends, and now I have friends in the girls here," she said.  "Jesus answered my prayer of friendship, and I have a friend in Him too."

Both girls shared from places of deep hurt that were now filled with living hope.

And I watched one who had just arrived a couple of weeks ago hang onto every word they were saying. The cycle of sharing and encouraging continued.

These girls are ever-changing. How amazing it all is. 

To see them begin to understand the meanings of family and home...
To see them recall the days of the past and hardly recognize themselves...
To see them envision the possibilities of the future...
To see them share their struggles with others in hopes of the chance to reassure...

Our biggest opportunities to witness can come from our deepest places of pain, of shame, of darkness. When we share the valleys with others, when we tell them how we pulled ourselves up out of places that we once lived in, a glimmer of hope can spark.

And to those who are willing to share, to converse with those who may learn from you...

Your willingness to be vulnerable is a already a victory.

Through sharing, you have said that your vulnerability does not matter more than your testimony or the potential impact on others. You are allowing someone to watch as you sit down with humility and tell of what you have had to overcome. Places of brokenness seem to yield the most beautiful moments of connection.

That is what will change the world. Even if it's just the world of one.

His Construction Zone

I walked into a construction zone as if I had never anticipated it. 

It’s true, I had heard that there were projects going on. They were on their third team from the states and about to receive another in just a few days. I knew the plans, I was excited by what I was going to see.

But I didn’t ready myself for all that I would see when I opened the iron gate that enclosed our property.

I had to weave through piles of sand and rock and drying cement.

I dodged wood structures reflecting the walls that would one day be solid and standing.

By the time I reached the house I was already covered in dust and clay.

I saw strangers all around that looked like me mixed with locals who were also part of the construction team. I greeted them as I walked through but my eyes darted as I searched for the ones my heart had truly come for.

I wanted to bring out my camera, wanted to somehow capture our interactions for the first time in months but I decided against it.

I wanted both hands free, both arms open.

And as I began walking through the front doors of the house,

I began to see the ones I knew... The one's that had captured my heart so many times before. 

There were only a few, the rest were returning from school but it was enough for me to be filled with so many emotions… familiar and foreign.

I grabbed them by twos… I held them so close… Some of them bigger than before… growing into themselves and looking more and more like little women.

Minutes later I turned around and saw the little ones pouring through the gates I had just entered back through. I saw them and my heart leapt.

So. Much. Love.

And I yelled to them, called out to them, and began to walk back outside where dust and sand swirled in the air.

And then they began to run.

They ran to me.

And my eyes filled with tears as they had almost daily when I lived with them just shy of 7 months ago.

Before I could move towards them any more they had already reached me...

They were already in my arms again.

And it felt so familiar.

It was as if no time had passed.

It was special, but there was this normality about seeing them that also made me realize the depth in our relationships reflected a reunion that didn’t feel so out of the ordinary.

It was as if this reunion was always meant to take place and we were just stepping back into each other’s lives, each other’s stories in the most natural way.

And I watched them play later that afternoon.

In that space outside overtaken with dirt and sand.

As teams worked into the night and the girls ran around their projects and messes.

The path to their trampoline littered with scrap wood.

 

The walk up to the house required a bob and weave motion under and over countless latters and makeshift structures.

The volleyball court overtaken by piles of broken rock and cement.

The kitchen shoved into the corner of the house entry way while the permanent one was being built on the other side of hanging tarps and temporary walls.

And I began to see this reality come together as I took in the environment around me and also reflected on the girls and what my relationships with them have taught me.

I began to see their stories, my stories, our stories within this construction site.

All the different areas, aspects, and endeavors taking place in this enclosed area that belongs to them.

I started to see piles of rubble and they began to speak out the brokenness and areas of the past that were marked with darkness and difficulty.

These areas that are being made and remade that speak of the experiences these girls have gone through and the process of healing, restoration, redemption and freedom they are in the midst of.

It’s a now and not yet reality…

The work is still being done.

The cement is still being mixed.

The tile is still being laid.

The beauty is still breaking forth.

But the process is something to behold.

Because it matters.

And it takes an army.

And as I looked out at all the workers I began to see the faces of so many that have walked into these girls lives and been invited into their stories, their realities, their lives that hold so much diversity and value and endurance.

I saw myself walking frantically between each of the projects… Wondering where to start… Trying to identify what needs to be fixed and finished and even forgotten.

But then... He stilled me… Because He told me I was in the piles, too.

And I was being found just like they were.

Found in the mess.

Found amidst the transformation and chaos and labor.

I began to see my own construction site.

And it didn’t seem as dramatic or impossible or intimidating.

Because God’s kindness in bringing in the teams, the back up, the reinforcements in my own life helped me know that these girls aren’t walking without that same reality in their own stories, in their own processes, their own journeys.

And to enter back in during this time made me realize that I still get to be part of it, too.

In whatever way the Lord will allow.

Because with each meal I share with them.

And with every song we sing together.

And with every hug I squeeze them with.

And every kiss that I give their brown cheeks.

I get to be part of it.

Whatever it is...

Whatever stage in the process they’re at.

And I’m not anxious or worried about when it might be over or when I’ll step onto the plane in a little over a week and I’ll have to say goodbye again...

Because they’re still part of me.

And I have to believe I’m still part of them.

In this mix of stories and breakthroughs and victories and battles.

I still feel part of it all.

And I’ll always be able to enter in, that I am certain of, that I have true confidence in.

-Corinne Carver, former intern

An intern's update on the daily

Every time I sit down to write a blog post, I seem to get overwhelmed at how many stories I want to share. Each day brings post-worthy moments, but I can't always find the words to relive them.

So the same process happens again and again. I find myself in these moments FULL of lessons and revelations, but typing letters that form words that form sentences that form a whole story can be daunting.

But I feel the need to share an update about my new normal.

My daily work includes working with New Hope Creations, the New Hope workshop that employs vulnerable mothers. These women receive training, discipleship and an income that allows them to provide for their families with dignity. They begin each day in prayer and in scripture, for the workshop is designed to be more than just a place to work. Our desire is that the women form a community amongst themselves that serves as a safe place to share, grow, pray and find encouragement in.

My role consists of organizing and tracking inventory, checking in with the workshop, keeping up with social media accounts (follow us on Instagram!!) and designing advertising materials for New Hope, New Hope Creations and our products. The proceeds from products sold pour back into New Hope to provide an education and safe house services to girls ages 7-15. Shameless plug: Click here to explore our online store!

And while my primary role is one of business, it wasn't just my mind that made the move to La Vega. My heart for people paved the way, eagerly anticipating the opportunity to attach itself to all the people it could meet. People like my nine little housemates in the Luz y Esperanza safe house who have all hidden little pieces of my heart deep inside of theirs.

Oh, no, my position has never been (and never could be) just a marketing intern. My emotions would never allow it.

So when I'm done with the task list for the day, when the bigs are home from school and ready to run at the track and the littles get home and need help with homework and all of them need love and attention, I play the role of being theirs. I spell words for English homework and ask them about their days as they fall into my lap. I jump on the trampoline and recite endless amounts of handshake games. I remind them of the importance of apologies, table manners and being kind to animals. I cry when I think about us being separated one day and when they display the Lord in ways that prove there is light in darkness.

What precious children they are. What a life we share together.

As we conclude each evening with devotions around our much-used kitchen table, I often reflect on the moments that the day included.

It can be chaos.

Like the other night when nine were all yelling at the exact same time because they desire to be heard and one was scaling a column to escape our teething, two month old puppy and one of them slid across the floor because the same puppy peed where she wasn't supposed to and another one couldn't find her cup of juice anywhere until we noticed it had been hidden under the table and two of the littles were dipping their ham sandwiches in Kool-Aid and the nannies and I couldn't help but laugh.

It can be calm.

Like that same night when our tummies and hearts were full from dinner and devotions and the bigs were finishing homework and the littles were braiding my hair and one was sleeping in my lap and one of the caregivers was talking to one of the girls about her favorite worship music and everything was quiet.

It can be draining.

Like when it was too early one Saturday evening to just put them to bed and one was yelling about not wanting to eat soup for dinner and I was so so sick which is why we had soup in the first place and one took out her frustration and anger on me and I retreated in my room to lay down because my head was spinning and my heart was hurting.

It can be uplifting.

Like when they proudly hand me coloring pages and notes they spent an hour and countless crayons on and one of them writes a sweet song about each caregiver and there are more breakthroughs than breakdowns and smiles appear where they didn't exist before and we have the most spirit-filled prayer time sitting around our kitchen table together.

Some days I can't believe this is the life God has called me to live for this period of time. And the most amazing part is that each day I get to wake up and live it again.

-Lauren Sims, Intern

Princess Sophia

Ruby, our family dog, lived in two family homes during her nine years, but we always said that when we got the girls’ house she would spend her last days there loving and protecting them. 

 

The day finally came that she arrived to the new house, “Luz y Esperanza”, and we were so eager to see the girls love her.  But, much to our dismay, she was not well received.  The girls didn't know how to treat her correctly--they haven't had the best examples of how to treat animals .  They were mean to poor Ruby, and very much out of character, she was mean right back!  We then learned that she was dying of cancer and it became clear that her time was short.  We had to tell the girls that we took her to our beloved vet to take care of her in her last days.

 

I was so sad as she had been such a good girl, and I wanted our girls to know the unconditional love of a dog.  Dogs are such great companions for children.  I had recently received a testimony from a veterinarian friend about that very truth…

 

“We reach people by showing how the most innocent of creatures can show mercy, kindness, forgiveness, understanding and compassion in a way that is only equal to Jesus.  Many children in our neighborhood only get complete love and devotion from their pets.  Through those furry creatures of unconditional love, we teach the gospel of Christ, and the belief in Hope.”

 

I so wanted that for our girls! 

 

Then one Saturday after their long run at the stadium, our girls spotted a litter of abandoned puppies covered in fleas and patches of missing hair.  Of course they decided that one of them needed rescuing, so they picked out "their" puppy and brought her home.  They named her Sophia, and they were determined I let them keep her. 

I wasn’t too convinced. I was nervous they would resort to their old ways of treatment after the initial swoon ran dry.  I wanted to be sure our staff was on board with the work of a puppy. But, she was so sweet and mellow I couldn’t really resist.  I’m drawn to fiery girls and mellow puppies! 

Our girls had much to learn about being kind to an animal.  At first, they would love Sophia for a few minutes and then toss, hit or kick her aside.  They didn’t know what to do with such attentive unconditional love.  It was impossible not to see the parallels to their own lives and how most of them came unable to receive care, touch and love.  I became even more determined to make this work, but I’m only one me, and our staff just didn’t “get it.”

 

But, God sent us Lauren, our newest intern, who excitedly spotted every single animal on her drive from the airport to New Hope the day she landed.  We half-jokingly reminded her, "We rescue GIRLS, not animals."  She laughed and said that she would convince us.  Her family has several family pets, including six dogs!  She was the perfect girl for the job. 

DSC_1291.jpg

I LOVE how God provides!

 

Her love for people and animals is perhaps unmatched by anyone I have ever met, and it has spoken volumes to our girls and staff.  The girls have learned to take care of Sophia and give her the love she deserves.  They feed her, bathe her, clean up after her and carry her around like a babydoll. But it isn't just the girls who have had a change in heart!  Today in our staff meeting, tears were shed as they shared how precious the journey of bonding with this sweet puppy has been.   Giving and receiving love from an animal is something they never imagined possible! 

 

I look forward to the watching the love and friendship between Princess Sophia and our girls grow, and I am so excited for the ways God is working to heal the hearts of our girls. 

In her arms

Oh the last 11 days have truly never ceased to surprise me. Showered with blessings and break through’s they have been, with also great burdens and bruises that I have simultaneously endured.


 

I’ve heard a lot of words this past week. I’ve gone deep into the mess all over again and realized that there is a need everywhere I look… And it has made me uncomfortable, it has made me anxious, it has made me crumble.

 

And as I soaked our dining room table with my tears this morning and reached for yet another tissue again and again, my own deficits began to become more apparent to me than ever.

 

I saw myself in the way that I see my girls.

 

I became one of them.

 

The girl’s lack of their own parents in their life became my own as I longed to be in the presence of my mama.

 

The girl’s lack of discipline and responsibility became my own as I wanted to give up the calling and mission He has given me here once and for all.

 

The girl’s process of emotional healing became my own as I reflected on the reality that God is still in the business of being my Healer, my Father, my Great Physician.

 

The girl’s insecurities and questioning and pain became my own as my identity began to crumble and the lies that I have made the habit of pushing away began to take ground over the truth planted in my heart.

 

And as we began praying and asking for the Holy Spirit to speak over us what He would want to say, Negra, one of our caregivers, placed her hand on my shoulder. My brokenness wanted to push it away but as the Lord began to soften my bitterness I let it rest there and put my hand on top of hers.

 

The more her touch radiated on the inside, a desire to be close began to well up within me.

 

At first I wanted a hug, and I imagined receiving a big, overwhelming embrace in her arms. I pictured it in my mind’s eye, and even then I didn’t want her to let me go.

 

And by the end of our staff meeting… Through my tears and wails and cries....

 

I was not only hugged, but held.

 

I ended up on our Negra’s lap... hugging her neck... unable to let up my grip... I just let myself go and was overcome by the deepest desire to be known and loved. Understood and valued. Honored and treasured. Affirmed and desired.

 

I told her how much I needed her in that moment. I missed my country. I missed my family. I missed the safe place in my own mama’s arms.

 

She let out soft sighs and told me I always had a place on her lap, that as she has dreamed of having rocking chairs on our property to rock our girls as a way of therapy, I too would be welcomed into that safe place of healing and refuge with her and the Father.

 

It’s a humbling place to know you are called into a service when you are still sorting through your own pain and past as well. Things come up that you thought were dealt with, done with and conquered, but I have realized that God is desperate to bring everything into alignment, and wholeness is the manner in which He is healing the world back to.

 

He’s just too good of a Father to leave us with holes and hurts that might be hidden but still reside deep within.

 

I’ve realized that my purpose for being here is bigger than a service, a mission, or even a calling.


It has to do with my story, their stories, and how we fit into the Father’s story together. My past in conjunction with their pasts, my future in conjunction with their futures, and us together in a present that feels so excruciatingly difficult but surely has a place in this adventure, relationship, and story that God invites us to be part of with each new day that comes.

 

- Carina (Corinne Carver, Intern)

May 2016 Update!

WE HAVE MOVED!  After only a couple weeks we are very pleased to say that we have already begun to see the fruit and experience the blessing of our new location the girls have named, “Light and Hope.” 

 

We spent weeks in preparations in order to “move well” setting up new structure and operations before introducing to the girls in their home, we are praying that those daily routines and schedules would become engrained in them so we can focus on their health and healing. We have seen drastic growth in our girls and staff and we are so grateful!  We are praying that we would only continue to grow in these necessary areas.

 

As New Hope grows so does our need for qualified staff.  We are in need of teachers, caregivers, interns and assistants.  We are eternally grateful to our current staff, but some of our key players will be moving on in the next couple months to different locations and we are praying that God will faithfully fill in the gaps.

 

Our girls are finishing up classes before the end of the school year in June and as we move toward a Montessori based curriculum we are excited that our staff will be receiving their certification beginning August thanks so full scholarships that have granted from the Montessori Institute in Santo Domingo.

 

One of the activities the girls have loved most of all has been going to the stadium track that is just across the street from our house, a less than five minute walk. Corinne, our current intern, has been running with them almost daily and they haven’t grown tried of it yet (although it could be because she uses time at their new favorite park as motivation :) We are praying that as she leaves this coming June there would be someone else who could continue training with our girls as they are eager to continue enter into races as they did earlier this winter when the big girls completed their first 5k.

As far as our property goes, one of the girls’ favorite additions is our trampoline that a dear Dominican supporter gave to us and set up just a few days before the girls moved in. Every last one of them are completely fascinated by it, and we are supportive because trampolines are actually used as a tool for therapy and allows for those who have experienced trauma or interruptions in development to catch up in regards to touch and sensory. 

We are so pleased to announce that a team has agreed to fix the pool in June as well as host a camp for the girls, right here at Light and Hope. The building of our kitchen and out-door eating space has also been pledged by a team and will be tackled in January 2017. In the meantime, we are in the waiting process as we believe that the Lord will surely bring other individuals and teams to commit to our other projects and help us complete the payment of the property (you can check out the link here to get informed on our Capital Campaign that was launched just over a month ago: http://www.newhopegirls.co/captialcampaign/

The Healing in our Tears

In the beginning of the new year as a New Hope staff we attended a conference that gave training on how to be a competent caregiver/provider for children who have experienced trauma and and/or entered into some type of foster care, adoption, safe house/orphanage living in their lifetime. This opportunity for our staff was incredible and an answer to prayer in our ability to give quality care, love, support and parenting for our girls. 

 

During the week-long training they talked about the power of our tears and that God made us to be able to cry with a purpose. Our tears our healing, they are cleansing, and they are necessary in processing and overcoming past/present emotional trauma and hardships. 

 

In the bible, David was no stranger to emotion. He took them on full force, expressed them with raw, unfiltered desperation, and shared with the Lord his pain, fears, worries, anxieties, and regrets. In Psalm 56, when David was being held captive by the Philistines in Gath, in verse 8 he writes, “You have taken account of my wanderings; and put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

 

When I was in high school I had an amazing mentor that shared with me this beautiful verse that God sees me in my crying and actually keeps my tears for Himself. I imagined them as little glass vintage bottles all lined up, filled to the top and sealed with a cork top. I was amazed at this new truth, and gave it me even more freedom to shed the tears that seemed to flow quite regularly. (Yes, I have always been that “cryer” in bible studies, movies, church, worship services... etc... Letting the tears go has never been foreign to me!!!)

 

There was one night in weeks past where I was having a really rough time in the house. It was at night, and the nanny I was working with was very sick and had gone to bed and I was left with the girls that were rowdy and restless. I was struggling... I didn’t want to even attempt to put them to bed or coax them into obeying me because I was just too tired to experience any resistance or pushback. I found myself on the phone with Greci, one of our directors, expressing to her my struggle with the girls and how I had just about had it. She listened to my cries, and began to encourage me in the truth and empower me to move forward and began to calm the situation for me. 

 

After our phone conversation I went into our front room by myself so that I could let the tears flow and wait until I was ready to step into my role and get the girls to bed.

 

But... Just as I began to let lose once again, one of the girls came next to me... The one who had been giving me the hardest time of all. 

 

“What’s wrong Corinne?” She asked me.

I told her that I needed some space before I talked to her... That I was hurting and I didn't want to hurt her because of what I was going through. 

 

But... instead of leaving me alone, she wouldn’t leave my side.

she just sat there with me as I cried for a while, as i let my emotion go in raw freedom before this little girl who saw a very broken mess of me. After a short time her and I went upstairs and sat on our sofa benches in front of the big windows that overlook our barrio. We started to talk through what had happened tonight, she wanted to hear my heart, she asked me what I had been struggling with. The Lord opened up this space of trust and maturity in our relationship that can be difficult to come by but was so sweet and genuine in this very moment. I shared more of my story with her, and she was surprised at how much we were able to relate, details of my past that I had held back but felt ready to release in this moment of vulnerability.

 

Towards the end of our conversation, when I was still drying my tears that had continued to flow, she looked me in the eyes and told me, 

 

“I wish I could cry like you, Corinne. I know I need to, but I just can't. I see you crying and I wish I could too.” 

 

In that moment the whole night came together and I saw the Lord’s purposes overcoming the difficulty that I had been facing in anguish and defeat. I saw that my vulnerability was not only part of my healing process, but also hers, and the Lord was speaking to her about the ways in which He desires to heal her. I saw the power in my tears that night, and ever since then when a little one of ours begins to shed a tear, I begin to celebrate because I know that they are engaging a part of their healing process and so much more is going on in the inside than I could ever know. 

 

By the end of our conversation, she told me that when she saw me crying outside in defeat, the Holy Spirit had told her that she needed to be there for me and not leave until she listened to my heart and was there for me through my struggles and all that I was going through. I was amazed at her obedience and God truly loved me so well through her that night.

 

There is a worship song here in spanish called “Llora si quieres llorar” which means, “Cry if you want to cry.” 

 

I downloaded a version of it that starts with a preacher giving a mini-sermon on the power, importance, and freedom of crying. It is about 6 minutes long and then the song is another 4 so it can feel like a commitment when you begin to listen to it but I have seen sweet transformation some girls have gone through in listening to this song. 

 

One afternoon I was listening to music in the house and a little one came next to me and asked me if I would put the crying song on for her to listen to. I put the song on and we listened to it all the way through. I looked at her to see if any tears had began to flow, and they hadn’t. After the song finished she asked me if I would put it on again. And then again. And then again. By the end we had listened to the song 5 times! Each time I repeated I asked her if she wanted me to fast forward through the pastor talking, but she told me no, that she wanted to hear it all. 

 

That little girl never shed one tear... Not one through the whole hour long listening session... But I still believe God was working out His healing within her, teaching her that when she’s ready and able, her tears will hear and He will see and keep ALL of them for Himself. 

Preach it!

The sermons we give ourselves are the most important.  Those are the moments when we have to pull from the truth we have written on our heart and use it to fight against our enemy.  The enemy of doubt, sadness, anxiety, worry….most of us have seen him and some of us know him well.    

 

The battle I’ve been fighting most often lately has been against fear, anxiety and stress.  There have been days I thought my eyes might literally bleed like some cartoon character.  In my head I knew I was being ridiculous, but I had to preach it—preach it to myself. 

 

Throughout the day I would find myself without words to pray.

Without reason. 

I was too stressed to even cry. 

I just buzzed about completely paralyzed-a useless ball of nerves. 

And I was ashamed of that. 

 

I became my biggest accuser.

You are the founder of New Hope—Where is Your hope?

Where is your faith?

Why do you fret?

Why do you worry?

What is the matter with you?

 

Then I had one of those days. You know the day, when you have a million things to do and all the stars in the universe must align to achieve it all.  –Too many of my days are like that actually.

 

I put my boots on for the day, because some days just require boots!

 

I was heading up the hill to have a much-needed heart to heart with a family. I was rehearsing my speech and I was feeling very brave.  When I arrived to the home I found the woman in her bed. Not well.  But not ill.

 

I asked her what was going on and she began to fall apart--shaking and talking about suicide. She was a mess asking me to get the poison and take care of her kids--over and over.  She was without reason and described herself as suffering from nerves.  She was so overcome with anxiety that she struggled to walk.  In some small way I related to her.  And that made me mad with righteous anger.

 

Each time she said she wanted to die.  I told her that was a lie. 

 

“You don’t want to die.  That is a lie from the devil.”

 

You want to live.  You must live.  You have children you love and you want to see grow up. You are a child of God and you have His word written on your heart--preach it to yourself.  Fill your mind with His truth.  NO weapon formed against you shall prosper.  You shall be protected in the shadow of his wings. 

 

You can breath in and out.  May His truth be in your every breath…Inhale and Exhale His truth.

 

Father, I belong to you.

Jesus, you are enough. 

Lord, help me. 

Lord, save me. 

Lord, be here now. 

 

Choose joy. Choose peace. Choose love. 

It’s all within you!

 

Call on the Holy Spirit.

Grab onto Jesus like a crazy lady—don’t let go. 

He won’t let you go.

Imagine Him parting the path as He carries you out of this dark place. 

 

I went on and on….Preaching it to her…. Preaching it to myself.

 

The sermons we give ourselves are the most important, but it’s never just for us. 

 

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…

 

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.--Romans 12:2

The power in our listening

It might be crazy to say but some of my most beautiful moments during my experience with New Hope thus far have been when I get to see girls be their most vulnerable selves... Normally we try so very hard to hide our brokenness, our fear, our anxiety and disappointment. I see it every day, girls reaching for masks in order to show the world that the can "handle it," that what they're fighting really isn't "that bad," and they don't need to address what is "really going on inside." But really, we know the truth... None of us can truly handle anything alone... We are truly useless by ourselves no matter how difficult it can be to finally arrive at this conclusion. So when I see them cry, soften, and actually FEEL, I realize that there is true healing happening before my eyes.

 

So that's what happened the other night. One of our girls fled about a week ago. She had had enough. She was "done" with New Hope. I didn't see her go, only heard stories, and that's what made it all the more harder for me because I wasn't there. So I just began praying and believing that she would come back. There was continued talk, possibilities of her coming back or while others would say that she had left for good... but I truly didn't know what would take place. 

 

Until a few nights ago when I was upstairs with a group of girls getting ready for bed. We were relaxed, listening to music, winding down for the night, but, then we began to hear someone knocking on the door... And of course in an instant my group of littles ones ran downstairs to see who had just arrived. 

 

They began saying her name... The one who had run away... They began shouting, announcing her return. And I waited. I asked the Lord what to do. When the girls returned I decided it was my turn to go look for her.

 

And there she was... In the front room... Curled up in a ball, head squished between her knees, and as I continued to approach I heard faint, muffled sounds of a little girl who was trying to hide her tears of vulnerability. When I approached I didn't say anything, I just came down to her and wrapped my arms around this little ball of tears. I felt her body shaking and I knew I couldn't let her go... Not now... Not when she needed someone most.

 

And I didn't try to stop her crying... I wanted it to continue.... I wanted her to continue to feel, to process, to let it ALL out no matter how ugly, sad, pitiful, broken... It wasn't my mess to clean up... And God was in the midst of us, I could feel Him.

 

I began to ask her what made her come back, or rather who. And with my few little questions here and there, she began to tell her story through the tears that continued to flow. And I realized in that moment I was given the privilege to listen. 

 

This story reminds me of the one in the Bible where Jesus is in a crowd of people with his disciples on his way to go and meet someone, to do a miracle and heal a little girl, but while He was on his way something else grabbed His attention. It was the bleeding woman, the one who reached out and touched His cloak without Him seeing. Before she reached out she believed Him for healing, that if only she could just touch the cloth of his garment she would be healed. And Jesus immediately knew something went out from Him... That his power had been released over someone in the crowd. He turned His attention on her, and there is a version of this story where it says that Jesus directly asked her what had happened to her, and she then it says that the woman turned to him and told Him, "her whole story." 

 

Now I don't know exactly what story it was that she told. It could have been just her disease, or how she came and found Him and knew he would be able to heal her... But what is most beautiful to me is that He listened. 

 

Sometimes God gives us the space, the opportunity, the privilege to be the listener that He is, to be part of the healing process that He is working together. I found myself with this girl, in the midst of her struggles, in the midst of her pain and cries. I held her as if I was holding a daughter, I prayed for her as I would pray for myself in my most desperate moments of suffering and confusion. I made sure she ate and went to bed with a full stomach as I am sure she had been missing when she had been outside of our care. I believed God for victory over her current situation and for her future. She let me in, because God let me in, and I realize that standing in the gap for these girls is the most beautiful position I could ever be blessed with. 

 

Please join us in prayer for this girl who is in the middle of a very fierce storm. We are continuing to commit her into the Father's hands.