A look back at 2015

We have felt God asking us to, "Gather all the pots and jars as I’m getting ready to fill them up with My oil."  We have been gathering…and as we present ourselves as vessels to be used we have felt Him empty us and stretch us to our maximum capacity so that we could hold even more of Him. Empty us O Lord, we long for more of you. Only You can heal the broken hearted and release true freedom…Only You can do that!

This year has been marked with change and transition—full, hard and amazing! Take a look...

New Hope Creations

We have more women than ever working in our workshop thanks to the donation of a few more good running machines and the ambassadors stateside selling our inventory. There were several special and motivated ladies who organized and kept inventory moving through home sales during the  year to ensure their Dominican sisters had work.  This year we also collaborated with other ministries as they added our items to their venues including WAR international, Baseball Chapel, Hearts and Hope and Dare for More.

Nueva Esperanza- New Hope Girls joined forces with the Garven family as they hosted a virtual run, Miles for Megan, collecting funds for miles ran in honor of our dear friend Megan Garven to support the work of New Hope.  We hope that in the coming year our girls will be able to participate as they recently launched a running club and participated in their first 5K.

 Fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith.  II Timothy 4:7

We had many visitors this year who popped in to see what we were up to, pray, play and share with us.  You brought gifts, kind words of encouragement, new energy and new points of view as we would sit and reflect on all that God has done and is doing before our very eyes.  You were a blessing to us and we Thank God for you!

We thought it wasn't going to happen and then...it did.  God provided our girls with a sleep over camp at the beach!  What an amazing time full of "firsts" for our girls including snorkeling, boats, caves, swimming lessons, crafts and fun meals.  So much packed into one week--Thanks Tonya King for taking a step of faith to organize and plan this special trip.

God sent us some phenomenal interns this year Keren Armir, from Colombia who lived in the workshop providing discipleship to the ladies and teaching in the girl's academy. Then as we said goodbye to Keren, Corinne Carver arrived and is currently living full time in the home with our girls!  God has been faithful to provide the most excellent help from all over the world.

We also had the honor of baptizing several of our girls and even some staff who had never been baptized

When one of our teachers was robbed at gunpoint  the girls prayed the prayer I didn't have the faith to pray..."Lord return her purse."  What a faith builder when I received the call asking for Amanda to go down and pick up her bag.  What a celebration when she walked into class with the purse on her shoulder...Only God does that!

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We we were able to  witness God answer the impossible prayers of healing and restoration and before the close of 2015 we were able to finally sign papers to purchase a NEW HOME on a beautiful piece of land!

To all of you who donated, prayed, following the journey toward this land. THANK YOU!  We are so excited about the coming months ahead as we consider a remodel and a move!  When we didn't think we could hold on ANY longer. God said, YES.

Our new home has seven bedrooms and will be able to host more girls under the best living conditions with space to run and play, grow, learn and heal.  We can't stop singing.  We can't stop marveling--How Great is our God!

We will need lots of help to get this house ready for our girls. We are organizing work projects preparing for the next phase.  Pray about being a part of the move, the renovations or helping us to raise the remaining $85,000 needed to complete the purchase and begin the remodel.

To all of you who "held our arms up" as the battle was being waged through your prayers and financial support we are profoundly grateful and wait with great expectation to see what God will do in 2016!

 

 

 

More than Etiquette Classes

Keren took on the great task of teaching our girls some table manners and Etiquette this summer. It was no small task. They reminded me of the little mermaid twirling the fork in their hair and using the knives as mirrors as I opened the packages for the first time. We had a goal. We were going out to eat with Reba and her special guests at the end of the summer and we wanted to be ready…. 17072015-DSC05928-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. --Romans 12

Before the first time Reba talked with our girls she asked me what I wanted her to share with them. Off the cuff, I said, I want them to know who they are. She prayed that night and we covered her in prayer before she entered in. She gave the most compelling re-telling of David and Goliath that our girls had ever heard. They hung on every word and were truly inspired. Afterword, she told me that God had impressed on her heart that she would be speaking before kings and presidents. That’s who they are! –She got it!

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Our girls know what the world says about them…“daughters of prostitutes, rape victims, thieves, liars, lice ridden girls who only know hunger and perversion”. These are the things they hear about themselves and even say to each other.

We are determined to fill their minds and convince their hearts of the truth! May the words of their heavenly father ring louder in their head than any other. May they know who they are! May they know they are a holy nation, a royal priesthood, chosen, loved, daughters of THE king. Beautiful, lovely and restored... Princesses!

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Princesses, fit for a banqueting table with a king.

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So we’ve been practicing… We practice telling the truth-- To ourselves, to each other and we practice living the truth too.   We got all dressed up and went out to eat together, another day to practice.

Practice being what they don’t always feel like they are…beautiful, educated, worthy, princesses.

I listened to the girls talking as they modeled their new dresses I heard them say, “look at us, we are people now.” Oh, my sweet daughters—May you know in the depths of your hearts who you are because when you get it, the world will never be the same.

What would a Mother do?

Never have I asked myself this question so many times as I have in the last six days.

Part of me wonders if I had ever asked myself that question seriously until I had arrived at New Hope last week for a more permanent stay.

I have dove in with these girls. I have begun to learn their lives much more closely with a different mission than before because I am making my home with them. Their bedroom is my bedroom, their kitchen my kitchen, their house my house, their world my world.

I am constantly challenged to look outside myself and honestly it truly is hard to focus on my needs and wants when I have almost 30 little ones surrounding me waiting to see my next move.

There are 14 that live in the house and almost 30 that attend and each day I am met with the reality of seeking to love each one of them in the way that is best fit for their needs, personality, and current state of mood/desire. It is a delicate task to try and share attention with many little people at one time but it is a challenge that continually grows me and calls me higher.

Each morning when I rise I meet with my King. I share time with Him and oh it is food for my soul!!! We reflect, and talk, and journal, and kneel. It is amazing how alive this time has become because it is how I am surviving… Through the power and filling of the Holy Spirit who enables and commissions the love and acts to flow forth out of a heart desperate to obey and find wholeness only in Him.

I am eating up Romans right now and it is speaking right into my situation and the story of the New Hope girls. I was cut to the heart in reading Romans 8, the whole thing, but these specific verses still ring in my ears,

“’So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of Slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoptions as sons, “ by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:12-17

I see the war.

It rises and falls.

The battle between good and evil.

The war between flesh and Spirit.

I watch these girls share moments of friendship, of courage, of bravery, and joy and then also I watch them fall and yell and cry and pout. I watch them reject and be selfish and try to fight their own battles and crash and burn time and time again.

They find themselves in a storm and oftentimes I see on their faces that they know what the “right” thing to do is but still they succumb to the opposite… To what they have chosen before… The so called “easier” way instead of disciplining themselves in the ways of the Spirit that they have received.

But OH….

DOES GRACE ABOUND.

Time and time again it does.

G R A C E.

Because… If you can imagine…. We live like a family.

And the same sister that hurts you with their words and fist is the same one you share a bed with when it is time to go to sleep.

I continue to watch grace flood over these relationships and lives truly like a waterfall flowing from our Father’s hands. I can’t help but rejoice when I see God win. When His heart and His love is displayed in a way that causes me to worship my good Father.

I am learning. I am growing. I am praying. I am tired. But I am resting in the calling the I have received and when the Spirit speaks He is clear….

“Not YOUR strength… but MINE.”

“Not YOUR love… but MINE.”

“Not YOUR plans… but MINE.”

“Not YOUR burdens… but MINE.”

Thank you God that you endure, you come near, you speak and you ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS show yourself faithful in this

crazy loco house. You are keeping us close because I know that you surely are not done with us yet. What an adventure of healing, sanctification, and life have you welcomed not only these little girls but also myself and the others that step foot within these walls. I look into YOUR eyes and wait on YOUR voice to command my next move… I lean on your understanding and I am trusting that you are indeed making something beautiful.

Guest BLOG by Corinne Carver at: http://www.corinnecarver.co/blog-1/2015/9/21/what-would-a-mother-do

Consider the orchid...

I've been challenged to consider God in all of creation.  If we look for Him we are sure to find Him and He is using all of creation to show us a little more of Him and little more of us.  There are lessons everywhere when I can be still enough to hear them. For me, orchids are among the most amazing and curious of all flowers. They remind me of my girls--amazing and curious!

You can spend months watering a dry awkward looking stick believing and hoping the flowers will come.

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The fat green leaves at the base are proof of life, even if they looked a bit haggard and vulnerable.

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We try to keep them rooted and but it seems they just naturally come undone.

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Yet, there they are growing out of the rocks. resilient and forgiving.

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When I see a new leaf budding at the base. I literally cheer and tell all my friends.

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I am careful not to drown the little gal with too much water at one time, but I am more attentive than ever looking every day for a bud. It's easy to think nothings happening or nothing will ever happen and then there's a bud.

Oh the joy of a bud.

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Buds are the best because they always bloom!

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We celebrate every bloom.  Call the neighbors to take a look.  Stop everything and consider her with awe.

Each day I check in and watch for the tiniest signs of buds forming and it’s not just me everyone who passes by notices and points out the buds with excitement. They don’t form all together, but one at a time and it’s like watching a time elapsed film because everyday there is change.

It doesn’t get old watching this quick development after such a long quiet time of dormancy. And the more experience I have with orchids (and girls), the less impatient I am with the awkward stick stage.

I’m certain each time there is a bloom, it's different and more amazing than the last time.  God was creating something even better than the time before. Something totally new!

May we never tire of watching things grow, waiting and experiencing new life.  We were made for this!

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P.S.  I almost didn't post this blog, and then this morning this little girl prayed--Thank you Lord for all the gifts you give.  Thank you for the flower. Thank you for school. Thank you for Nayelli and Joy.  Then the little next to her continued to pray giving thanks to God for the flower.  When the prayer was over I asked the girls why they thanked God for the flower and they said with bewilderment in their eyes--"Aren't flowers a gift from God?"  Yes! they are and therefore we will say Thank You.  Consider the orchid...

Love in Action

Before Nueva Esperanza-New Hope Girls Inc. had a girl or a bed or a concrete form of any kind. God told us that He would send thousands to work alongside us. Not because He needed them, but because they needed Him. He would send them to be blessed! monument group shot

New Hope is in its fifth year and while we don’t officially host teams, we have had many visitors come for a morning to spy on what God is doing in our little mansion on the hill. I believe that God has blessed them as he promised, but what I didn’t expect is how profoundly He would bless us!

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I’m protective of the girls, their home, and their privacy. I work hard to make sure they never feel further exploited, on display or show. I try to error on the side of caution—like all mama lions do.

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God has helped me create these boundaries and then sent the perfect guests at the perfect time to soothe, encourage, provide, support, entertain, play, pray, work, live, share, hope and dream with us. “How good and pleasant it is when we dwell together in unity”-- Praise the Lord!

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I know we haven’t hosted thousands yet, but I do wonder if there are not thousands praying. We feel your prayers. We need them more than you will ever know. Those of you who pray from afar…THANK YOU! May God continue to move your hearts to prayer on our behalf. We know that, “where your treasure is, your hearts are also”--To those of you who invest in New Hope with your financial support…We receive it as love, are honored, blessed, and thank God for you in our prayers!

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Love in Action-- Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12

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I wasn’t prepared for it to be so emotional. I wasn’t prepared for the knot in my throat. I just kept thinking, Thank you. Thank you Jesus for asking me. Thank you for letting me bear witness to your transforming power filling the broken hearted with your light and love. IMG_1420

It’s been messy, at times a war zone. But we know who has the victory!

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You have whispered in our ear, if I am for you—who then can be against you!

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You promised that you see every tear and answer the cry of the oppressed.

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Crying out reminds us of our dependence.

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Weeping leads us to reconnect with God.

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Our tears are sacred. They water the ground around our feet so that new things can grow.

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The grace that has been extended to you when you were at your lowest- Extend it to others. The thing that has happened to you—go make it happen for others.

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We now have this light shining in our hearts. God is calling us to be God colors to the world. Shine!

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Don’t worry God does not embarrass His children. He puts his treasure in fragile clay jars to make it clear our great power is from Him.

Rest, my friend in your brokenness, boast in your weakness, because light can only get into the broken things.

 "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a NEW LIFE!-- So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus"--Rom. 6

Wounded Warriors

When people ask about what motivated us to start Nueva Esperanza-New Hope Girls Inc. There are many faces that come to mind. Broken eyes, lips, and backs. Broken hearts and lives. Their stories broke our hearts and stirred us to fight on their behalf.

  “Who can listen to a story of loneliness and despair without taking the risk of experiencing similar pains in his own heart and even losing his precious peace of mind? In short: “Who can take away suffering without entering it?”― Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

This week we had a case with an eight year old, a heartbreaker.   As we finished the first of countless days in an arduous process I was feeling exhausted. But as I walked out of the courthouse, I saw one of those faces from the past. Her face covered in scares from those days long ago.  She was the first girl I went to court for. She was one I would have said the system failed and made me doubt the entire process. I had so many regrets… But, today seeing her there broke my heart in all the right ways.

Her face lit up as our eyes connected and we hugged a significant hug. She had come to be sure someone was advocating for this girl. Tears streamed down her face as she imagined, better than anyone could, the pain of this little one. She wanted to see justice served and her hope inspired me to press on.

"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." -- I Corinthians 15:57-58

 

Growing in the Rocks

Two years running the girls favorite song is “The king is here Kim Walker.” I have thought of those words countless times as we wrestle with the residue left from the miry pit we’ve all been pulled out of. We feel that the time is long overdue for us to leave our current location, as it has felt impossible to grow and thrive in such a stifling atmosphere. But until God’s ordains the move, we will wait… DRweb

Last weekend I had a chance to visit a special part of this island in the national park Los Haitises. It’s an amazing sight only accessible by boat as it sits in the middle of the ocean. It’s full of Mangroves and ancient caves with Hunch Back whales breaching nearby, but I was most moved by the trees growing out of the rocks.

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The guide kept saying, “Isn’t it incredible they grow straight out of the rocks!” It made me think of the story Jesus told about the seed falling on rocky soil and not being able to develop deep roots. How were these tall trees thriving in the middle of the windy ocean growing straight out of the rock?

Jesus had another teaching about being in this world, but not of it. It’s a curious thought, but I think these trees are a live illustration of its truth.

They seem to be thriving in the middle of the perfect storm of circumstances that add up to certain death. Trees growing out of the rocks in the middle of the salty ocean…but they are connected to another world that you can’t see. Deep under the rocks flow 200 unseen rivers of life-giving fresh water. These trees are holding onto the rock for stability, but deeply rooted in order to receive the life-giving water that no one can see. They are proof of the rivers of life that flow from an unseen world.

Nueva Esperanza-New Hope Girls Inc. seems to be placed in the middle of the perfect storm that leads to certain death, but our girls are proof of a hope that comes from an unseen world that offers life, abundant life. Growing in the rocks…their smiles, their ability to play, love, pray and trust are proof that there is a living God-the corner-stone of an unseen world, that they can hold onto in the middle of circumstances that point to death. They are proof of a God that floods them with rivers of life that can heal the broken, hurting and sick opening prison doors to set the captives free!

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A look back at 2014

WOW! 2014 was full of so many blessings and sweet curveballs that it will be hard to fit it all in a summarized note. God has aligned hundreds to provide prayer, along with physical, emotional, spiritual and financial support. He has seen our need and answered our cry. We are humbled by His great love for us! photo 2-2IMG_4124

 

We had tDSCN1425he opportunity to share the work of Nueva Esperanza-New Hope Girls Inc. with many this year as we traveled to build awareness, receive training and participate in conferences. It was a honor and privilege to travel as a leadership team and connect with others from around the world, working in the trenches to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with their God as they battle on behalf of the vulnerable and exploited. We continue to walk in the fruit of these experiences as they have changed us as a team and elevated the level of care we are able to provide to our girls. We are in awe of God’s provision.

We have seen our girls grow and begin to walk in their true identity as chosen, loved, gifted and confident. We pray that they have a word to share, a prayer to offer, a hand to lend, a song to sing, a dream to dream! Our hearts are full!

10516820_10203460371043253_5764762050507562801_nWe hosted many visitors who provided opportunities for our girls to have life experiences outside of the barrio including visiting a book fair, museum, waterfall, beach, theater, and sleep over camp. We are in awe of God’s kindness.

IMG_5496God is arming quite a spectacular team who pour into the lives of the girls each week-- A group of overqualified volunteers who make themselves vulnerable alongside these precious ones we have all been called to. We are in awe of His goodness.

The women’s workshop has continued to grow in strength and we have struggled to keep up with demand. In 2015 we are making plleather sellosans to include more women, improve production and delivery as well as increase inventory. We will launch a new design in January and are thrilled that Nueva Esperanza-New Hope Girls Inc. will be able to work in the prevention of exploitation and empowerment of women through the creation of jobs, while helping to sustain the safe house and those they protect. To those of you who supported with your purchases and salesTHANK YOU!

Visions for the Land…God has opened up the heavens and moved in the hearts of many to raise the funds for a move. We are buzzing with excitement and trusting God to provide the perfect location in His perfect time. We are seeking direction and working with community members to create the ideal design that serves and honors our girls—When we are ready, you all will be the first to know because we will need armies to help us make it a reality!

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We walk alongside struggling families, wounded, hungry, abused and sick girls holding onto the truth that these are God’s chosen-and if we are with them, He is with us.  And if He is with us, who then can be against us? This is not work for the faint of heart.  Our hearts are broken everyday and we walk in constant battle, BUT we live in constant victory! When you are desperate for God, He is there and shows Himself amazing each and every day!

 

Choose Joy

I had a chance to meet with an incredible group of women this summer, true dragon slayers in the trenches fighting on behalf of the most vulnerable and exploited in the world. We had inspiring times of prayer and were able to encourage one another as we went back to our respective underworlds. As I ran to get one last hug from a new dear sister, she left me with a word…

“The battle you are waging is for joy. The enemy seeks to rob your joy. Don’t let that happen.”

 

I reflected on the previous few weeks and realized how true that was. We had seen some of the most profound breakthroughs but had allowed conflict to rob our joy. We were blessed beyond measure but allowing ourselves to be consumed by every threat of attack as if we had forgotten who we were and who lives in us.

The joy of the Lord is my strength…

“Remember who you are.” I cannot tell you how often I say those words. Encouraging my children, girls, staff and myself to never forget who we are or the authority and power given to us through the holy spirit who lives in us and works through us. Knowing that and rejoicing in that is our strength, a great source of power—but also a choice.

I choose Joy…

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse… Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

--Phil. 4- (NET and the message)

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"Life is a battle — and Joy is a kind of courage and a smile slays all kind of dragons. There are brave, defiant smiles. Grace holds and there ain’t a dragon that can fire-breath out this kind of Light."