May Newsletter

Mission Trips have officially returned to Casa Hogar La Familia. Following the visit to La Familia of Lighthouse Fellowship in Fort Worth and Federated Church in Kingfisher, OK are two more mission teams who have scheduled trips to visit the home this year.

Both Fishersville UMC of Northern Virginia and Lighthouse Fellowship have mission trips planned for this summer.

When the Federated Church left La Familia, they were disappointed that they did not have time to complete one last project: Repaint what the children call the casita, the small structure that contains the swings, sliding board and small playhouse for the children of La Familia.

The Federated mission team purchased the paint for the project and Juan Francisco said he and some of the children would get the casita painted after the team departed. Below are photographs of the freshly painted structure:

painted casita

This past week, Juan Francisco’s church in Quecholac (Grupo Amor) held a church camp for all of the children of the church. I don’t have any photos yet, but will try to get Silvia to send me some.

We also have news from Colima where Isabel Urbina, her husband, Gabriel, and their two children are living while Isabel is a student at the University of Colima. They are also serving as volunteers at a Casa Hogar operated by the Grupo Amor Church, also headquartered in Colima.

Isabel's Family (Alicia not pictured)
L-to-R: Fernanda (freshman at University of Colima), Baby William, Isabel (Senior at University of Colima), Josué (8th grade), Juan Carlos (Colima), Jasmin (recently graduated from nursing school in Colima) (Alicia not pictured)

The Good News: At 1:40 PM on May 7, Isabel delivered a baby boy. His name is Noah Malcolm Urbina Cortes. He is healthy and weighed in at 6-1/2 pounds.

Noah Malcolm Urbina Cortes
Noah Malcolm Urbina Cortes, born May 7 at 1:40 PM
Noah Malcolm - Congratulations Gabriel and Isabel!
Congratulations Gabriel and Isabel!
Isabels-three-boys-asleep-together
Isabel’s three boys asleep together – Josué (left), William (top), and Noah Malcolm (bottom)

April Newsletter

Fear of testing positive to COVID-19 has been prevalent among virtually everyone in the world, but especially among those churches that under normal conditions put together a mission team to travel to Mexico. As a result, we have not had a mission team travel to Casa Hogar La Familia since February of 2020 until recently.

Four of us decided we couldn’t stand it any longer and in December of 2021 I joined three missioners from Texas and flew down to Palmarito to show our faces and let Juan Francisco and Silvia know that we had not forgotten about them. All four of us tested NEGATIVE for Covid on our trip back to the States.

Then in March of 2022, I joined a mission team from Oklahoma to travel to La Familia, and once again, all ten of us tested NEGATIVE for Covid on the trip back home. Our work projects while at La Familia included giving the dining room its first coat of paint in two years and changing out all of the hardware and installing automatic closers on all of the exterior doors.

While we didn’t have time to paint the casita that houses the swings and sliding board, we did purchase the paint and got a commitment from Chucho and some of the boys that they would get the little house painted after we left for home.

The Federated Church Mission Team from Kingfisher, OK purchased the services of “Taco Man” who brought all the fixings needed to prepare a taco meal for both the mission team and all of the children and staff. What a great treat, especially for the kids. Little Cristofer ate ten tacos — I counted!

Jazmin is staying at the casa for a few days until her nursing job begins at a Puebla hospital. Jazmin wants to specialize in anesthesiology, but before she can fulfill that objective, the hospital wants her to spend two years working as an intensive care nurse to gain the experience she needs before moving into her specialty of choice.

Josué and Rodolfo have entered engineering school twice only to have the school close because of Covid precautions. Now they are getting ready to return to Puebla and begin their studies again.

Isabel is a senior at the University of Colima and is currently seven months pregnant. She and her husband, Gabriel, are staff members at a Casa Hogar in Colima where they have an apartment. Daniel is doing extremely well at the University of Colima and Fernanda began her freshman year at the University of Colima this past Fall.

The casa is really in great shape. The next time you visit, I believe you will be impressed with the improvements that have been made to the property. The casa received a donation that was sufficient to install solar panels on the roof to reduce the cost of electrical power, install approximately a quarter acre of pavers on the parking and laundry area of the property, install railings on each of the balconies and complete the perimeter wall on the lower side of the property.

We are currently studying the possibility of replacing the 15-passenger van, which gets very poor gas mileage and is costly to keep in good repair. We will let everyone know if or when we will need donations to fund that expense.

Finally, we are proud to report that the church Juan Francisco pastors that meets each Sunday and each Thursday evening on the second floor of the casa has almost fully returned to the attendance levels it experienced before Covid came along. We all enjoyed an enthusiastic worship service of singing, prayer and preaching on the Sunday we worshiped there.

La Familia is currently home to 30 children.

-See updated photos of the La Familia children here-

September 2021 Newsletter

A letter from Silvia to the Friends of La Familia:

We want to thank all of our brothers and friends who like every year, with so much love, support us so that our children have everything they need for the new school year. With their support we were able to buy shoes, tennis shoes, underwear and school supplies for each child.

In addition, we already have everything ready for our young university students: their beds, work tables, some things they will need in their room, and their computers for work at the university. We really appreciate with all our hearts all the support you give us for our children. God bless you, we love you very much.

Due to the general situation we are living with the Covid, our children continue to study at home, they started this school year remotely; that is, they take their classes from home and we work with them on their homework. At the beginning of the week we pick up the work plans at school for the full week and on Friday we deliver back to the school all the work and homework that the children have done during the week. We hope that the situation improves and in a few more months we can send the children to attend their classes in their school room.

On behalf of all the children and workers at Casa Hogar, we send you a loving greeting and a thousand thanks for all your love and support.

May God bless you always.
 

Students at University

One of the most exciting things happening at La Familia is the number of children we now have at the university in Colima and now, in the City of Puebla, as well.

Fernanda has already started her classes at the University of Colima. She has also received a scholarship, so a portion of her educational expenses will be paid for by the State Government.

Pictured below is a photo of Josué and Rodolfo. They are renting a room in the City of Puebla and Embrace the Dream and a Friend of La Familia have purchased their beds, mattresses, sheets, pillows, pillow cases, computers, chairs, and worktables. They are planning to attend the University of Puebla when Covid allows classes to restart. In the meantime, they will continue living in the casa.

Jasmin wants to specialize in Anesthesiology. Silvia is asking everyone who knows and loves Jasmin to please pray for her as she embarks on her nursing career. Silvia has spoken with the hospital director who has give Jasmin a strong recommendation.

Isabel is a senior majoring in Accounting at the University of Colima. She and her husband, Gabriel, are working as volunteers in a Casa Hogar in Colima to help pay their expenses until Isabel graduates. They have two children: Josué and a 14-month-old little boy they call Bebe William.

Solar Panels for the Casa

This month — thanks be to God — we finished with the solar panel project. As of this month, they are already working. After a good amount of time spent making modifications, the Federal Electricity Commission was at the casa to approve the work and do the last few things so that they will begin producing power. Thank God everything has been very good with the electricity and we hope to very soon see the savings in the electricity bill. We give special thanks to Alltech for all of the support they gave us to enable La Familia to enjoy so much savings on our electricity bill.

solar panels

Suri Celebrates her Quinceañera

On August 10, our daughter Suri turned 15, she has been with us since she was 7 years old, now she has become a very pretty young lady, she graduated from high school and will start high school and is a teacher of children in the Church, Suri is a very sweet and smiling young lady, a blessing for everyone in the casa.

 

Additional photographs of the volunteers and children of La Familia:

August Newsletter

I had a real treat in July, I was given the opportunity to escort Juan Francisco and Silvia on a short visit to the USA. Although they had a lot going on at La Familia, they accepted an invitation to sing at the wedding of one of our donors and veteran missioners who lives just outside Chicago in Downers Grove, IL.

Juan Francisco and Silvia at wedding in Downers Grove, IL

En route to Illinois, they stopped off in Fort Worth, TX to appear at a fundraiser at Lighthouse United Methodist Church. During the normal time Lighthouse would have held their worship service, the pastor interviewed Juan Francisco and Silvia with questions about their work with the children of La Familia. Marshall Sansbury, one of my mentors in the mission field, also shared with the audience his experiences working in the La Familia ministry.

Bill Lee with Juan Francisco, Silvia, Marshall Sansbury and his wife Dottie at their home in Fort Worth, TX

The fundraiser was a tremendous success in that over $30,000 was donated.

Next, my fellow missioners, Brian and Liz Walter, from The Federated Church in Kingfisher, OK, met us in Branson, MO to give Juan Francisco and Silvia a few days of R&R. These two servants in the Lord’s work serve the children of La Familia 24/7 and we felt that they could use some “down time” enjoying the entertainment provided in Branson.

Juan Francisco and Silvia with Brian and Liz Walter at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO

The highlight of the time we spent in Branson was attending the JESUS SHOW, a stage production put on by Sight and Sound at their theater in Branson. I highly recommend it. The play was made up of the highlights of Jesus’ life and the production included not only two story tall props, but live animals that had been trained to exit the stage through the audience. Seeing camels, sheep, goats, etc. live on stage was remarkable. I could go on and on.

The JESUS SHOW is available on DVD from Amazon for $11.99 with free shipping. Target and Google also offer the DVD of the JESUS SHOW. This is terrific for showing at your church for a special family night.

On Thursday evening, July 15 we arrived on the last leg of our trip in Downers Grove, IL. On Saturday, July 17, Juan Francisco and Silvia sang at a most beautiful wedding and also participated in a fundraiser at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church following the worship service on Sunday.

GREAT NEWS: At La Familia, all of the children are getting ready to return to school.

As you can imagine after ten months with 32 children quarantined in the casa, the staff is exhausted. Through a special fundraiser at one of our donor churches we received enough money to transport eight older girls on the 15-hour bus ride from a casa hogar in Colima to Palmarito to help with the children. It was a win-win because most of the girls had never before traveled that far away from their casa.

University News

Fernanda has moved to Colima and is attending university there.

Jazmin has been offered an opportunity to begin an internship at a hospital in Colima and after two years to accept a job in Puerto Rico working as a nurse in her speciality, which is anesthesiology.

Josué and Rodolfo are moving to the City of Puebla and attending a university there. They will be renting a room in Puebla.

Daniel continues to study at the university in Colima.

I feel sure all of you who have been involved with the children of La Familia are as excited as I am to see our children do well in high school, graduate and excel in a university setting. Please keep these young people in your prayers.

We have been blessed to have had only two cases of Covid in the casa. Pray that we can continue to avoid having to deal with more infected children.

MISSION TEAMS

Two mission teams have set firm dates to travel to La Familia in 2022, the first in February and the second in June. The Directors are extremely happy to know that mission teams will soon be returning.

April Newsletter

A lot has been happening at Casa Hogar La Familia over the past few weeks. The best news is that Juan Francisco’s and Silvia’s son, Aleksei and his fiancé, Johana, were married in April in Colima. A large group representing La Familia made the 12-hour drive to Colima to attend the wedding.

The sad news is that Juan Francisco’s father recently passed away. His health had been failing for sometime. Then in April, Juan Francisco’s mom also passed away. She had moved into the home with her daughter when her husband died. Her health was such that she was unable to live many more weeks. Please keep Juan Francisco and his family in your prayers.

Lighthouse UMC in Fort Worth, a long-time supporter of La Familia, raised the funds to enable the directors and staff to put on a huge “Taco Party” for the children. A professional cook was recruited to bring in his team and prepare the tacos for everyone in the casa.

The children had not had haircuts for several weeks and asked Silvia if she would give them all haircuts so they would be as handsome as possible for the party. Silvia gladly accommodated their request. Karen and her team made the decorations for the party, Damaly and her team made the dessert (Karlotta) and Silvia and her team made the fresh mango drink to go with the meal. Aleksei and Johana, who were at La Familia for a visit, were in charge of preparing all of the games for the children to play.

The party began at 5:00 PM with lots of games. Following the games, the tacos were served followed by homemade ice cream, the Karlottas and the mangonadas. At the end of the evening, the children gave Joan, who celebrated her birthday, birthday cards and also cards of congratulations to Aleksei and Johnna, their newly married brother and sister.

The party ended at midnight and the very tired children were really ready for bed. The children send many thanks to Lighthouse UMC for a delightful evening full of delicious food and great fellowship.

Thanks to Altech, a Mexican-based donor from the town of Ciudad Serdan, the casa has been outfitted with solar panels to help reduce the casa’s cost of electricity. They have an electrician coming to the casa on Saturday, May 1, to complete all of the electrical connections.

In April, also, Jasmin Urbina was finally able to walk across the stage at the University of Colima and receive her diploma that makes her La Familia’s first resident to graduate as a Registered Nurse. Now Jasmin must make one of the biggest decisions of her life: to enter medical school or stick with nursing.

We pray that we will soon feel safe traveling to Mexico to participate in mission trips to serve our friends at La Familia and the Quecholac / Palmarito communities.

On behalf of Embrace the Dream Foundation, we cannot thank each of you enough for your unselfish commitment to this casa hogar and these children. Were it not for you, 33 children would miss the love and opportunity they each receive at La Familia.

With the pandemic forcing 33 children to attempt to attend classes via the Internet, the death of Juan Francisco’s parents, Juan Francisco actually contracting the virus himself and Aleksie’s and Johana’s wedding taking place in Colima, it has just not been possible to synch all of the photos with the newsletter, so we are sending the newsletter and the photographs separately.

It is my hope that all of you will be able to figure it all out.

Embrace the Dream Foundation
Bill Lee, President