Children's Haven International

Articles

Education: Key to Breaking a Vicious Cycle

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

education-keys

It may be a surprise to some, to know that 60% of our children come from homes where their parents had only a 6th grade education or less. Though a few of their parents went on to Jr. High, sadly none attended high school and college was seen as an unachievable dream. (more…)

Ingredients for Progress

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Just over a year ago, our Board got together and had a ‘brainstorming’ session. Then we began to lay out some very exciting long, mid and short term plans for the ministry of Children’s Haven at out facility in Reynosa. We established priorities, such as ‘Project Makeover my Casita’ to remodel/update all of the houses that the children are currently living in. Since this is a rather large undertaking, we decided the best place to start would be with the extensions of the house parents private living quarters. Why there? Because our ‘Tios & Tias’ are the ones who provide the hands-on ‘loving Christian care to the needy children’CHI serves. For decades we had thought nothing about only providing a single room (measuring less than 350 sq.ft.) as their only private space to share with their own children. But in the last year, thanks to people like you (Donors, TEAMs, Winter Texan Work Crew) we’ve been able to double these quarters on three of the homes, by adding two small bedrooms.


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Having Doubts About Coming to RIN? Please Read…

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

amigo once pics 2009 085

Upon request, Steve Friesen, the Pastor of our last group of the season, wrote a few lines about their most recent trip to the Home:

‘Amid all the reports of violence at the US-Mexico border, our church (Grace Community Church, in Newton, KS) recently enjoyed a tremendously blessed week at Children’s Haven children’s home in Reynosa. Our ‘Amigo Once’ family missions trip to CHI was our 11th consecutive venture, and just like the previous ones, this ministry excursion was a powerful and positive experience for the 29 of us (18 adults and 11 youth and children) who went. (more…)

Celebrating Christmas 2008 at Refugio Internacional de Niños

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

It is never more evident, than at Christmas time, how tremendously blessed the Children of the Haven truly are. However, it can be quite challenging to keep their focus on Jesus, as the Reason for the Season in the midst of all of the busyness. That being said, these visible signs- such as parties and presents – do themselves, give testimony to these youngsters; that despite all of their hardships, they are now part of a huge, loving, giving family… and that, is priceless!

Our first official Christmas fiesta was the morning of Dec. 13th. Several cell groups from Mr. Steele’s church – Palm Valley, in Mission, TX. got together and presented each child with a beautiful stocking, filled to the brim with goodies! They also gave a beautiful jogging/track suit to all residents of the Home.

The group picture (above) was taken that day and the children and staff were all walking a little taller in their lovely new long sleeved red Christmas shirts- donated by Wilfred & Ethel Sandridgeís congregation, First United Church of Christ, in WI. and the Word of Life Church in Le Sueur, MN.

That same afternoon, “Dibujando Sonrisas”, a great organization from Monterrey also had a party for the Kids. They gave them some very nice gifts, had delicious food, and brought the “toughest” piñatas any of us had ever seen!

The following week our elementary school held itís celebration. Teacher Gloria and the instructors went all out – the children had a terrific program, each grade participating in some way. A group from Bibleville had collected numerous gifts, which we decided to let our children hand out to their classmates from the outside community.

The following day, was RIN’s Christmas Party; 73 volunteers & child sponsors made their way across the Rio Grand- using 3 vans and a charter bus, to spend the day with the children. Our program began in the auditorium with a special song and dance by the children. Next was a scrumptious turkey & pork loin dinner with all the fixings, catered by VIPs- much to the delight of our volunteers and the staff at RIN.

After dinner, you could feel the excitement in the air as the children eagerly awaited to see themselves up on the big screen. This year, instead of a live performance, we decided to do our very own DVD presentation of the Christmas Story.

Everyone at the Home, from our youngest “Heavenly Hosts” to the Tios and Tias as the townspeople of Bethlehem had a ball. Though the sound wasn’t the greatest, this really helped us make Christ’s birth more realistic for so many of our children who really hadn’t given it much thought before.

DVDs are available from our office for $7 and virtually all songs & narration were done in English no less!

Once ready to move from the Auditorium to the Gym, we were met with an unexpected surprise! Malena, as her personal Christmas gift to the kids, had arranged for us all to be transported in style by a miniature train which the children adored.

Since the sight, and time it takes to open, multiple presents for fifty-nine children, plus house parents and staff, can be somewhat overwhelming – to visitors, to the children and especially to a single Christmas tree …we decided to do things a little differently this year!

Each Casa brought their tree to the gym the day before the party. (The children and Tios had been working since November on homemade decorations in the hopes of winning a pizza party for the house with the best decorated tree.) Then each person’s presents were carefully placed into large plastic bins, around the home’s tree!

Child Sponsors and guests joined the Casa of their choice and the house parents made sure everyone got their presents by turns The new system seemed to work well and was as ìintimateî as it could be considering our numbers.

Each child received 3 toys or personal items thanks to groups like Pharr South, Danny Hickman’s Spanish Class & Emmanuel Lutheran Church – Sandy Beyer’s group in Menominee, MI. -which have been doing this for over 20 years!

In addition all children received a pair of pajamas, new sneakers, a brand new change of clothes for church or special occasions and they got to keep their plastic bin for extra storage under their beds. These additional gifts were either provided by the Child Sponsors or purchased from our Christmas Fund – which is used to make sure all children, fully sponsored or not, (like the new ones or the house parents kids) received comparable gifts.

Those who had parents or relatives that were able to take them for a few days left later that afternoon. But we were all together again to bring in the New Year, with even another gift for everyone – courtesy of the members at the Club at Cimarron and an amazing party, thanks to the Klassen Family from Manitoba Canada!
– B. C.

Meet Malena

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

It is a privilege for me to have a space  in this newsletter to be able to share with each of you a little about my  life and my  ministry here at ìRefugioî. My name is  Magdalena Guillen Bujano, but all my friends just call me Malena. I had the tremendous blessing of being born into a Christian home, my parents both teach at a Bible institute and pastor a local church in the city of Mante. My  brother too, is a pastor and now serves as a house parent here in Reynosa.  In 1999, I surrendered my life to full time service of our God. After completing three years of Biblical Studies, I  graduated as a missionary in 2001. From there I went to the State of Michoacan where I served the Lord for two years.
Ever since I was very young, I can remember my mother teaching us the importance of looking out for the needy and helping those less fortunate than ourselves. I distinctly remember the time a young boy, who was very poor, passed by our home on an extremely wet & cold day. My mother called him inside, gave him warm clothes and shoes that belonged to my brother and then asked if I would give him some of my toys since it was almost Christmas. As I ran to my room, I remember hoping that one day, when I grew up, I would have lots of money to help the street children- to buy them clothes, food and of course, lots of toys! As I got older, sometimes other pursuits became priority, but that desire, of helping needy children, always remained in my heart.
So five years ago, when God granted me the opportunity to minister here at Refugio Internacional de NiÒos, I jumped at the chance. My first job was overseeing the Children on the ìTiosî day off. Next, I served as  Luluís administrative assistant for the next four years.  Then, just five months ago, humbled and surprised,  I was offered the position of Interim Director of the Home. It is a difficult job, tiring at times, but in my heart there is great joy and peace. I had dreamed of having lots of money to help the needy children, though that is not the case, Iíve found I do have something very valuable to give them; my time, my love and above all the knowledge of God.
Since Iím only 28 yrs. old, many people – even my closest friends at times, ask why Iím here, ìwasting my life, wasting my youthî?
What they donít realize is that my life, my youth, my happiness is Refugio Internacional de NiÒos.
Thank you for allowing me, and each one of our staff, to fulfill our callings and make a difference in the lives of these children.

MalenaIt is a privilege for me to have a space  in this newsletter to be able to share with each of you a little about my  life and my  ministry here at “Refugio”. My name is  Magdalena Guillen Bujano, but all my friends just call me Malena. I had the tremendous blessing of being born into a Christian home, my parents both teach at a Bible institute and pastor a local church in the city of Mante. My  brother too, is a pastor and now serves as a house parent here in Reynosa.  In 1999, I surrendered my life to full time service of our God. After completing three years of Biblical Studies, I  graduated as a missionary in 2001. From there I went to the State of Michoacan where I served the Lord for two years. (more…)

School is now in session

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

We are pleased to announce, that for the first time, our on campus elementary school ìJuan Escuitiaîhas been opened to a limited number of students from the surrounding community. A few factors that moved us to do so were:
An article about the dire conditions at the elementary school in the adjacent community with no electricity nor running water and only 3 teachers to 110 students.
The need & opportunity to produce some revenue to offset rising costs of maintaining our school.
An exciting new avenue for CHI to multiply our service in the lives of many more needy children .
The willingness of our faithful friend ìMaestra Gloriaî to serve as the new Director.
We estimated capacity to be 60, 20 students per group. With only one week before classes were to start , 30 outside students were enrolled. Our present total is 56- the first & second grade class has 23 students and almost daily we are turning people away.
Our children seem to really love the outside interaction and  have commented on how now, it feels more like a real school!

We are pleased to announce, that for the first time, our on campus elementary school “Juan Escuitia” has been opened to a limited number of students from the surrounding community. A few factors that moved us to do so were:

An article about the dire conditions at the elementary school in the adjacent community with no electricity nor running water and only 3 teachers to 110 students.

The need & opportunity to produce some revenue to offset rising costs of maintaining our school.

An exciting new avenue for CHI to multiply our service in the lives of many more needy children .

The willingness of our faithful friend “Maestra Gloria” to serve as the new Director.

We estimated capacity to be 60, 20 students per group. With only one week before classes were to start , 30 outside students were enrolled. Our present total is 56- the first & second grade class has 23 students and almost daily we are turning people away.

Our children seem to really love the outside interaction and  have commented on how now, it feels more like a real school!

Overdue Additions/Extentions to Casas

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

   
 

 

    In our Jan. / Feb. / Mar. 08 newsletter, we told everyone about the construction of a brand new Home at Refugio, through Rocky Rhoade’s ministry “Hero Makers”. The floor plan is exactly like our other “casas” with the exception of two additional bedrooms attached to the House parent’s quarters. Though construction is moving along very well, the need for these extra rooms for the house parent’s children on all of our existing homes is urgent! Take Casa 1 for example, Tio Hugo and Tia Rosa have been with us for 5 years; their daughter Dalia ,14 (our next quinceñera), has shared their bedroom for almost that long, until recently, when little Jonathan’s crib forced her out- to share a room with 2 RIN girls, much younger than her. (more…)

Checking Our “Pulse”

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

By: Betsy Chacon CHI / RIN’s General Director

Jeremiah 33:3 was the favorite Bible verse of one of my “adopted” fathers & spiritual mentor, Dr. Charles N. Cranford:

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

I can’t tell you how many times, in the last year and 1/2, this has proved to be true for us here at Children’s Haven.

As I put the articles for this newsletter together, I can’t help but be in awe of all that He’s accomplished in just 4 short months. Not to mention what He’s done in 36 years of Ministry!

It’s impossible to adequately convey with words, all that goes on here – as you see, I’ve added as many photos as possible, but a personal visit is highly recommended! We are literally seeing young lives being transformed, impacted for eternity and even saved from near death. Now, I know you may think that I’m being a little dramatic with that last statement, but listen to this:

alvarezMid-June as we prepared for the first large group of the summer – Randall, Malena and I were in search of a new Colonia to take our TEAMs to. Not having any “luck”, we decided to stop by and check on the Alvarez boys, who had left the Home a year earlier- once their mother felt she was back on her feet.

Within minutes of arriving at their less than 300 sq. ft. casita, made of plywood and tin; we knew things weren’t right. All 4 boys were thin and gaunt & we quickly learned the three oldest had each been forced to drop out of school because of lack of money. Worst of all, Veronica Alvarez- who left a life of prostitution upon receiving Christ, now had TB!

God was about to show us, one of those great and mighty things that we knowest not. On the other side of Reynosa, Veronica was in a restaurant being forced to eat something, by a friend who had taken her for medical treatment. Guilty, knowing her little ones were doing without, she prayed for God to provide for their needs and show her His will for their future.

When she got home and found food on the table and propane in their gas tank, she knew CHI was the answer to her prayer. After miraculously testing negative for TB, all four boys are back at the Home, enrolled in school and praying for their mother’s speedy recovery.

Friends, you’ll hear it time and time again, with out folks like you, CHI wouldn’t exisit! We do need your support, your prayers, your visits. We need your donations, both material and monetary. Please know that if it reaches us, whatever the gift may be, God will multiply it, and use it for HIS Glory. Gracias!

Canada’s International Children’s Haven: Providing not only funding but physical presence

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

If you would head straight North of Reynosa, Mexico and keep going until you reach the 49th Parallel you would come to Manitoba, one of the “Western” provinces of Canada. Manitoba has a large land base but a small population of only 1.2 million. And 55% of those people live in its Capital city, Winnipeg, which is one of the worlds coldest winter cities. However from such a humble prairie province come the majority of Canadian CHI supporters and volunteers. In fact even some former CHI directors have come from Manitoba.

Rod and Carolyn Harder, who call the Manitoba village of Plum Coulee their home, were CHI Directors for 2 years (2002-2004). They had heard of CHI and in 1978 when CHI Senior Staff Person, Beverly Baerg (whose parents grew up in Manitoba) came to their church on tour with a group of 12 RIN Kids, they were hooked.

Then in 1994, with Gods nudging, Rod and Carolyn went down to volunteer for 3 months and stayed for 10 years! At first they only spent the winters there but then it became year round, serving the last 2 years as directors. This caring and compassionate couple enriched the CHI office with their former business experience. Rod always knew how to keep the finances in the black and the child sponsorship program grew when Carolyn dedicated her time to it and had more contact with the sponsors.

Sadly, and far too soon their valued leadership came to a close in March, 2004 when they experienced Visa difficulties and had to return home to Canada. Since that then they have been able to visit CHI a few times and we are trying to tempt them to come to the second annual RIN Homecoming in February 2010. They miss the children they loved so dearly for so long and would love to meet them again.

Before the Harders, the Gerbrands from British Columbia, Canada also served as the CHI Directors (1996-2002)

Al and Lorianne were a young couple who answered Gods call in 1996, to quit their good jobs in Canada and move thousands of miles away to work at CHI. On top of that they had to raise all their own financial support. They were bright, talented and extremely hard working and selflessly came serve in the areas of maintenance and office work.

Soon after their arrival, the US Directorship was unexpectedly thrust upon them. It was a mammoth task for such a young couple & brought unbelievable challenges. But with Gods’ help and the support of fine volunteers, such as Rod and Carolyn, and Betsy and Randal who were the RIN Directors at that time, they did a super job!

In 2002 because of visa problems and sick parents, Al and Lorianne made the decision to come home. They were exhausted but continue to support CHI in so many ways. In fact, this November Al is bringing a work group from British Columbia to the Home for a week.

Thank You Canada and especially Manitoba for giving us such a tremendous support base. We appreciate each one of you! A special thank you to Rod & Carolyn and Al & Lorianne. Your willingness to work on the “Front Lines” all those years has not been forgotten, by our organization, by the children – whose lives you touched, nor by our Lord!

Editor’s note: This is the second, of hopefully many articles to come in the future – focusing on different aspects of ICH’s partnership with CHI & RIN. I hope you enjoyed reading this terrific piece, written by Mrs. Nellie Epp, founding Canadian Board Member. She and her husband Vic do a tremendous job overseeing our “Canadian Office” (located in their home) and as the Director’s of International Children’s Haven! -B.C.

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Canadian Directors I.C.H. – Vic & Nelli Epp (Left) 

Canadian board members/former CHI Directors Al & Lorianne Gerbrand

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Traditionally CHI’s fabulous Thrift Store has only operated while the “Winter Texans” were around. In fact in 2008, we shut our doors before the end of March, due to the heat and lack of volunteers.

But this year, after much discussion & debate with board members, office staff and “Year-round Texan Volunteers” – we decided to try to keep our doors open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. this summer! (more…)