August 2009 News

Hi Everybody,

We just recently finished a much needed two week vacation (winter break down here), allowing volunteers some rest and tranquillity while the children visited their families. A surazo (cold south front) announced the commencement of classes again, although for a short time, we wondered if there would even be any students on campus to teach classes to! The rain completely devastated our dirt highway, the worst we have ever seen.

As we fought our way into town to pick up the children, we came upon at least 30 trucks and cars lined up on both sides of the road, unable to pass because of the extreme mud. We prayed earnestly to be able to pass, especially so as we had to drive at the very edge of a precipice, squeezing by the huge trucks. The tourists we had picked up on the way in decided it wasn´t very wise to ride with us, and pick their way through the slippery mess on foot. I wish I had been able to video it, as Doru, our director, red as a tomato from concentrating, handled the pressure of driving through it with a weak 4WD whose two front shafts weren´t working. Our poor pickup has been through a lot and is starting to show it!

We finally did manage to pick up the children the following day, making us miss only 1 day of classes. We would like to be able to say we also picked up all the volunteers who were returning, but unfortunately, 3 of our teachers were delayed a week in coming back. God always overrules though, and we received a new volunteer from Guyana – Indira Seegolan, who was able to cover for two of our teachers.

Another volunteer we´re greatly delighted to have is Steve Torres, who fills a very necessary capacity as a mechanic and maintenance man. He´s also blessing us with his teaching skills as he introduces the exciting world of social studies to our high school students.Speaking of new volunteers, God has blessed us with more than one new one. For months now, we have been praying for a married couple to serve as houseparents for our little girls. Our ultimate goal is to place all of our children in separate homes to experience being part of our family. We had a house for our little girls, but no houseparents so I have been caring for them in the big house. Arturo and Damaris Marquez Sanchez, from Mexico, were warmly welcomed 3 weeks ago, and after a couple of weeks to get used to campus, they moved in with the little girls who are more than thrilled to finally be in a family environment! We now have all of our houses filled to capacity with children and parents, which brings our goal back into focus of needing to build another house for children.

We were joined by an unexpected volunteer during vacation. Jerry Cardoza, another of our volunteers, met an Italian tourist Jonathan Gionata Nencini during vacation, while at the mechanics. They got to talking, and Jerry invited Jonathan out to visit Familia Feliz for a few days. He then joined us on an overnight trip to Ixiamas and when we got back, decided to stay a bit longer to help us out. He has been joining in our staff worships, and Steve loaned him his Italian Bible that he happened to have brought for some unknown reason. He is very excited as he is learning to know God as his personal friend. Just yesterday, he told us that he would stay until the end of the school year in November to help us out. He is now our English teacher for the high school students and adds a helping hand in maintenance and construction. This is now the second tourist who has ended up being led to Familia Feliz as a volunteer, and I´m sure it won´t be the last.

Alejandra, one of our houseparents, also just gave birth to a baby girl several days ago, which adds one more to our staff. Sara Abigail is now a part of a family with seven older brothers.

Exciting progress has been made in the most important department of Familia Feliz – Food Preparation! Faithful Euler, our long time Bolivian volunteer, recently finished building his third brick oven, the biggest one we have had so far. It works wondrously for our traditional Friday night pizza, as well as our weekly breadbaking, saving a lot of propane and providing ash for the agriculture program. In order to save this oven from the fate of the last two, we have built a big roof over it, extending it out far enough to provide us a cooking area where we can cook over wood fire on the occasions when there is no propane available (a not too infrequent event!) Indira has also introduced us to the wonders of soy beans, teaching us how to make tofu, soy meat, and soy cheese, adding a delicious new taste to our pizza and other cooking as well. It provides us with a healthier option too than what is available at the market.

This last trimester has marked the quinceñeras (15th birthdays) of two of our girls here, a very big event as they transition from childhood to womanhood and we celebrated this event with them.

Cristina, another of our girls who has been here almost since the beginning, and is now a high school student, preached her first sermon at one of our Friday night church programs. Since 9 years old, Cristina has never been able to speak above a whisper, having lost her voice due to an STD contracted while she was in her home (abuse). Last March, she was operated on by a specialized ENT team who came to the Mission of Hope Clinic in Santa Cruz. Since then her voice has slowly but surely been improving. We are so happy and glad for her. God is so good to His children.Liesma and Ruth have been with us for almost three years and are among the few original girls left since I arrived in April 2007. The girls have grown and matured into young ladies and it is sad to think they will be leaving us soon.

A great blessing we received this week as we are finishing off our second trimester is a visit from Melissa Harding and her children (they have been in Santa Cruz working on the legal adoption process of her 7 children). She was only going to be here for the weekend but God impressed her to extend her stay and we are all so glad. Most of this years´ volunteers had not met her before so her stay is a good opportunity for them to get to know her, as well as hear her testimony of how Familia Feliz first started. Plus, we get to remember how much of an avid water-fighter she is in this heat we´re in!

Thank you for all your support and prayers.Another bit of good news! For those who don´t know yet, Fred Adams, the father of Daniel Adams who volunteered at Familia Feliz last year, undertook the project of building our Familia Feliz website. You can hear stories of our children and volunteers, learn how to apply as a volunteer to Familia Feliz, and get information about how to donate, contact details and other general information.

God Bless!

Love,

Christina Dawang
Familia Feliz
(591) 711 230 04
christinadawang {at} gmail(.)com

P.S. Thank you Melissa! (for helping me write this newsletter).

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