May 2023 La Familia Newsletter

This past Sunday, the second Sunday in May, was Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a very special day at my mother’s old hometown church that was established on this day in 1799, in St. Pauls, NC.

You may be thinking, “Why did they establish a local church on such an important day as Mother’s Day? Some of you may have already guessed the answer to this question: If your guess was because Mother’s Day didn’t exist in 1799, you were right. It was not until 1914, when the then president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, officially established the second Sunday of May as Mothers’ Day.

I went to St. Pauls on Sunday for two reasons: the first was to honor my Mother’s side of my family, and the second was to hear the guest preacher preach. He is my cousin and his name is Mike Feely. Some of you remember Rev. Mike Feely from the mission teams he led to work at La Familia. Mike Feely is the man whose persistence introduced me to our ministry at Casa Hogar La Familia.

Rev. Mike Feely
Rev. Mike Feely

I will be forever grateful to Mike Feely for the guidance and direction he gave this ministry in the early years and we want him to know he is always welcome to join one of our mission teams in Mexico.

Shopping for a 14-Passenger (Used) Van

Thanks to some very generous donors, we have raised enough money to purchase a 14-passenger van for use at La Familia. Several months ago, the bus company that provided public transportation between the City of Puebla and Tecamachalco discontinued their service, so the directors have offered to drive up to the bus station in the City of Puebla and drive us down to the Santa Julia, the hotel we use in Teca.

The pick up arrangement works find for getting mission teams from the City of Puebla to Teca, but it does nothing to provide mission teams with transportation back and fourth to La Familia from the hotel and still give the staff enough transportation to transport the children to school and other destinations they need to travel to on a daily basis.

We have asked Pastor Nahum to use his resources to help us find a third van so we can meet our obligations on mission trips. Colima-based Pastor Nahum operates eight children’s homes and is the head pastor at a very large church, so he has a lot of excellent resources.

We expect to hear some news on the new camionetta this week.

Akin, newest addition to Chuy’s and Damaly’s family

Illinois—Based Mission Team Arrives in June

Saint Andrews — Episcopal from Downers Grove, II is Sending a 13-person Mission Team to La Familia in June. Silvia is already putting together a list of projects for them to work on. They also are excited to learn that Silvia also has a trip to the Water Park on the agenda.

April Newsletter

Happy Easter Everyone.  On behalf of Embrace the Dream, we hope you will have a fantastic Holy Week celebration with your family members.

I am in a great position to report to you what is going on at Casa Hogar La Familia because I have spent two weeks in Quecholac and Tecamachalco with two different mission teams over the past three weeks.

Week #1 at La Familia

Our first mission team departed for Mexico on Wednesday, February 15 and returned to the States on Tuesday, February 21. Even though we began our journeys to Mexico out of four different East Coast airports, we all rendezvoused in Mexico City Airport to continue our journey via the most comfortable and luxurious buses, maybe in the world.

Six-member mission team #1 from L to R: Betty Herrin, Jeanie Fath, Shannon Lee Smith, Bill Lee,Yvonne Moore, and Sarah Baker in Sandy’s Restaurant, Quecholac.

Our project with the first team was to make tablecloths and and “runners” for the new tables in the dining room.  Here is a photo of the work in progress:

Jeanie Fath, Fairfax, VA ironing new tablecloths.

My daughter, Shannon, and fellow missioner, Sarah Baker removed all of the shelving from the kitchen pantry and first washed and then dried the shelving before putting a fresh coat of paint on the wood.

Shannon Lee Smith and Sarah Baker painting pantry shelves.

During our visit, a group of professional haircutters descended on La Familia and provided complimentary haircuts and hairstyles for the children.

Week #2 at La Familia

Our second team arrived in Teka on Tuesday, March 14 and returned to the US on Tuesday, March 21.  This team was made up of veteran missioners from Federated Church in Kingfisher, OK.

Led by GaGa Ball Court architect, Brian Walter, one of the projects the men from Federated Church undertook (with several of the children helping) was to build a “GAGA Ball” Court for the children.  Several of us had never before heard of GaGa Ball, but the new game quickly became a big hit for the children.

GaGa Ball Court

The new game quickly became a huge hit for both the children and the missioners alike.  One aspect of the game that appealed to everyone was that the games were over in a matter of a few minutes and another game quickly began.

The missioners couldn’t keep their hands off Akin.  He is “muy guappo.”

Missioner, Doug Baker, from Enid, OK holds the very popular Akin.
Patty and Tony Stroudemire finally wrestle Akin away from Doug Jackson.
Adam Click and Memo and his wife, Ana sitting at a dining room table with little David looking on.
Popocatepatl active volcano
Popocatepatl active volcano

New Bodega

If are facing the front of the Casa Hogar and look to the left, next to where the garbage used to be kept, you will now see a new bodega to serve as a storage facility for the Casa Hogar.

When we left La Familia last week, we left both money and instructions for Silvia to retain the professional talent to erect an all metal door (with keyed lock) in the opening and knock a hole in the side of the wall and insert a window to give us more light inside the bodega.  When Robert Sawyer originally envisioned the space over the new bodega, he was seeing either an apartment for staff or a dormitory for future children, so the first preparation for this vision is now in place: a stairway from the ground up to the roof.

This is as far as we are going for now, because we are preparing for the future, not beginning construction for the future.  I just wanted everyone to know that we are looking ahead and trying to envision what steps we can take now to reduce the construction cost in the future.

The casa hogar is looking great.  Silvia and her staff do a terrific job of keeping the home clean, neat and yet livable.

Bill Lee, Embrace the Dream Foundation, Inc.

January Newsletter 2023

On Friday night, January 20, at a surprise event for Marshall Sansbury, veteran missioner at Casa Hogar La Familia, Pastor Frank Briggs congratulates Marshall for his service.
Marshall Sansbury commenting on his “surprise” evening at Lighthouse Methodist.
(L – R) Silvia, Bill Lee, Juan Francisco, and the man of the hour, Mr. Marshall Sansbury.

Marshall has been working as the liaison between Lighthouse Fellowship in Fort Worth and Casa Hogar La Familia since the year 2000. He has also served as a mentor to me as I have attempted to learn the ins and outs of the business of overseeing a children’s home. I will be forever grateful for his wisdom.

There was a time when we lost our directors and had no one to take their place. There was another time when we lost our lease on the home and had no place to house the children we were responsible for. Thanks to a lot of answered prayers we are happy to report that Casa Hogar La Familia is now developing strong Christian men and women who are learning the love of Jesus Christ and developing the responsibility to provide for a family.

Sylvia Clark presented an inspirational keynote address.
Joining Jazmin at her table are Fred Schultz (center) and John Nunnally (right) at Laurianne’s Restaurant in Tecamachalco.

Nurse Jazmin, is a recent graduate of the Nursing School at the University of Colima. Joining Jazmin at her table are two missioners from Lighthouse Methodist Church in Fort Worth, TX.

November Newsletter

Juan Carlos Ubrina and classmates.

Pictured above front and center wearing a redish shirt is Juan Carlos Urbina, who this Fall entered a Technical College in Colima to begin his studies to become an electrician. Juan Carlos was raised in Casa Hogar La Familia and is moving on to the next phase of his life. We are all extremely proud of Juan Carlos and wish him the best.

Maria Isabel Urbina graduates
Maria Isabel Urbina graduates from the University of Colima

On November 5, 2022, Isabel walked down the aisle to receive her degree in Finance from the University of Colima. Isabel and her husband, Gabriel, have worked as house parents at a casa hogar in Colima during their college years. Isabel hopes to find a job in a financial institution. They plan to remain in Colima, on the West Coast of Mexico about 16 hours by bus from Casa Hogar La Familia.

grandma silvia and baby
Grandma Silvia made sure we had plenty of photographs of Akin, the brand new baby boy of Silvia’s daughter Damaly.
Nanci Danielsen of Lighthouse Free Methodist Church of Fort Worth, TX is celebrating Sandy’s delicious Flan, one of my favorite treats when I visit Quecholac.
Nanci Danielsen,mission team leader from Lighthouse Church in Fort Worth and her mission team hosting Juan Francisco and Silvia, Directors at Casa Hogar La Familia.
Nanci Danielsen, mission team leader from Lighthouse Church in Fort Worth and her mission team hosting Juan Francisco and Silvia, Directors at Casa Hogar La Familia.
Storage building next to bodegas
One of two new storage buildings being built next to the current bodegas.

September 2022

Back to School

After two years of home schooling, everyone — the children, the directors and the volunteers — are celebrating the return to the classroom; that is, a REAL
classroom in a REAL school.

Of course, back to school means going shopping for book bags, uniforms, shoes, after school clothes, school supplies, etc. Preparing 30 children for a new school year is quite an undertaking. Below are several photographs of the children in their new school uniforms:

School Uniforms for the 2022/2023 School Year

Children in their uniforms and masks
Two girls wearing their school uniforms
Students ready for school
Students ready for school in their new uniforms


Thanks to your donations, Embrace the Dream is once again able to fund educational expenses for the children of Casa Hogar La Familia at the college and university level.

University of Colima: We have the following children from La Familia:

  • Isabel is a senior majoring in Finance.
  • Daniel is a junior majoring in International Business.
  • Fernanda is a freshman majoring in Gastronomy (the art and science of good eating).
  • Juan Carlos is studying to become an electrician and an appliance repair person.

College and University Students in Puebla:

Josué and Rodolfo are attending The Technological University of Puebla. Josué is majoring in Mechanical Automation and Rodolfo is majoring in The Career of Automotive Systems.

Juan Francisco delivers Rodolfo and Josué to begin their studies in Puebla

Karen is attending a business school in Tecamachalco and working on a degree in accounting.

Jazmin has graduated with a nursing degree from the University of Colima, and now she is pursuing a specialty in Intensive Care. She is continuing her studies at a clinic in Tecamachalco.

Bicycles for the Children

Silvia (director at La Familia) has an Uncle Seky who is a great friend to the children of La Familia. You may remember Uncle Seky from years past when he chartered a bus and paid for all of the children to go to Six Flags in Puebla.

Well, this year, Uncle Seky visited La Familia and this time he brought with him some new friends: his new friends are members of a club that collect bicycles in need of repair — repair hem so they look like new and give them as donations to different institutions.

Everyone has a bicycle! Wow!
Happy girl with her new bike

Last week they traveled to La Familia and made a surprise visit. The men prepared a delicious taco lunch for everyone at La Familia and the BIG surprise were the bicycles they brought for the children.

Lunch time on bicycle Day

As you will see in the photographs, the men installed racks for storing the bicycles in a dry space that will preserve their beauty.

Bicycle “garage” at La Familia

And finally, they topped off their visit with a large donation of boxes of flour to make cakes and some other sweet goodies.

Boxes of flour for a cake

Two New Children at La Familia

The children’s names are Sandra Deonate, she is 10 years old and her brother is Felipe Deonate, he is 8 years old. They have 3 weeks in Casa Hogar.

Sandra Deonate, age 10
Felipe Deonate, age 8

Mission Teams

We have one more mission team scheduled to travel to La Familia in October from Lighthouse Free Methodist Church in Fort Worth. The leader of the Lighthouse mission team is Nanci Danielsen

Bill & Patti Lee visited Isabel and her family in Colima. (Patti not pictured). L to R: Bill Lee on far left, Juan Carlos in red shirt; Gabriel is Isabel’s husband, Josué is Isabel’s oldest child, Josué is holding 2-year-old, William,(William is my namesake), Isabel is holding 6-month old Malcolm, her youngest son and also my namesake; and on the far right Isabel’s baby sister, Fernanda.


Isabel and Gabriel are house parents at a Casa Hogar in Colima.