Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends and Family,

In the midst of transition we continue to face more changes. At the end of September, our psychologist resigned. She was offered a job at PANI. So that left us looking for her replacement. We found a terrific candidate that will be an asset as we move forward with our new model! Alejandra has experience working in the court system with victims of domestic violence. Throughout this year’s ups and downs, we continue to see God’s mercy in our lives.

As Alejandra has begun getting acquainted with the kids and has read their files, she has noticed a marked difference in their “before” and “after” story. One day, she was working with Samuel. She asked him what was his favorite color. Immediately, he told her red and asked, “Do you want to know why?” Then he went on to explain that red represents the blood Jesus shed out of love for us. It is clear that the children are learning about the true meaning of Christmas. Amid the festivities, the real celebration is taking place; the joy of observing Jesus’s birthday and the reason for His coming to earth.

We are so thankful as we close out this year, we have had the incredible support of so many. We are grateful for each of you! Our prayer for you this Christmas is:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  a (Romans 15:13)

The Thomas Family

Family of 8!

On July 11, 2013, we received Yamil into the children’s homes. Our House parents took on the challenge of raising this timid boy. Yamil came to us with a significant delay in his cognitive skills. A professional told us that he would never read or write. Today, he is an avid reader and has excelled in spelling competitions at his school.

After being promoted for adoption for years, the Lord has blessed this young man with a family! Matt & Jenn have five biological children and have opened up their hearts to enlarging their family to include Yamil. His folks arrived in country mid November. It is so amazing to watch a child receive a new family for the very first time! It’s an event that never grows old.

Adoption is sacrificial and rewarding all at the same time. Today, Yamil’s story is significantly different. He was chosen by his family, much like our Heavenly Father chose us. We wish the Bakers all the best as they adapt to life as a family of eight!

A Word from the Wise

After our Debrief and Renewal at MTI, we headed off to the Rocky Mountains for a time to recharge. We came across a quote from Oswald Chambers: “Believe also in Me,” said Jesus, not … “Believe certain things about Me.” Leave the whole thing to Him, it is gloriously uncertain how He will come in, but He will come. Remain Loyal to Him. We had the opportunity to meditate on God’s faithfulness over 21 years of ministry. He has met every need that we have had personally and in the ministry. We have learned that life is a continual adjustment to change. As Christ’s ambassadors, our goal is not to feel “settled” here on this earth. Our aim is to bring glory to Him in everything we do!

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Children’s Home Update

In our last newsletter, we mentioned that we would be petitioning PANI for a transition period. This would allow the 7 children that are currently in our care to leave their home in a natural manner. We do want to report that we were granted a one year “grace” period. PANI has renewed our operational permits until Sept. 2019. We do have two kids that will be leaving in adoption soon.  Yamil has been matched with a family in the States. He will be finding out soon that he has a new, large family. His adoptive parents have 5 biological children! He’ll feel right at home with them. While in the US, we found out that Susana, who has been with us since she was 6 months old, has finally been Declared Abandoned! We expect her judicial file to be sent to the Office of Adoptions soon. They will promote her and she will likely be placed with a national family.

Phase II Progress Report

Good headway is being made at Phase II, despite the fact that we have had so much rain. The front wall for the main entrance is now well underway! In addition, we are also working on the first two four-plex’s for our new ministry model. The footers have been poured and the walls are going up. We are hoping to have updated electrical plans soon so we can install the conduit. Once that is finished, we will be ready to pour concrete for the floor on the ground level.

Ministry News

September proved to be a busy time as we attended our training at Buckner Children and Family Services in the great state of Texas. Buckner provides a program for single mothers between the ages of 18-25 that helps them receive an education, thus allowing them to become self-sufficient. Many single mothers in adverse circumstances, cannot pursue higher education due to a lack of child care and transportation. These ladies often have little or no family support.

The staff at Buckner received us with open arms. We were given the opportunity to visit their sites at Houston, Lufkin, and Longview. We were blessed by their hospitality and transparency. We toured each facility and sat down with members of their personnel for comprehensive insight into the ministry. This week-long training in Texas proved to be highly beneficial. It has really helped us gather ideas about how to move forward with our own ministry outreach to mothers in our marginal community. The information we received at Buckner covered important subjects such as: admission of the applicants, housing contracts, institutional guidelines and expectations, on-site workshops, community service, Biblical counseling, and more.

Honestly, our time at Buckner was meaningful as we witnessed the impact they have had on the lives of underprivileged women and their children. It was inspirational to learn that by educating a mother, her children have a very good possibility of graduating from both high school and college. In effect, you are influencing two generations and breaking generational curses. On the other hand, the task before us seems daunting. There is a lot of work ahead of us as we develop our mission plan, which includes our vision/mission statement, ministry plan, and program outline.

With this new plan, we intend to pinpoint and develop new leaders so that we can transition into an oversight, accountability, and support role for this model. Please pray for us as we refocus and launch this brand new ministry. We are hopeful God will provide the people and resources needed to accomplish this new project.

Children’s Home Update

In our last newsletter, we mentioned that we would be petitioning PANI for a transition period. This would allow the 7 children that are currently in our care to leave their home in a natural manner. We do want to report that we were granted a one year “grace” period. PANI has renewed our operational permits until Sept. 2019. We do have two kids that will be leaving in adoption soon.  Yamil has been matched with a family in the States. He will be finding out soon that he has a new, large family. His adoptive parents have 5 biological children! He’ll feel right at home with them. While in the US, we found out that Susana, who has been with us since she was 6 months old, has finally been Declared Abandoned! We expect her judicial file to be sent to the Office of Adoptions soon. They will promote her and she will likely be placed with a national family.

New Model

Future Homes

We are pleased to unveil the plans to our new model: fourplexes to help assist single mothers in need and their children. Our vision is to keep families together by offering physical and spiritual assistance that will empower them to care for themselves and their children, thus breaking the cycle of poverty and abuse in their lives. Working to restore and rebuild families!

Trust in Him

Since our last update, we have had many opportunities to put this verse into practice. Although it seems like everything is falling down around us, God is fully aware. This scripture admonishes us to keep our eyes fixed on God. He alone is our rock and strong tower in difficult times. Misfortunes may take us by surprise, but God is sovereign. The verse goes on to say … “and do good.” In the midst of adversity we must press on doing what is right. There is nothing that frustrates the devil more than to see us doing good despite our struggles and hardships!

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Ministry News

Crossroads …

After our house parents, Esteban & Gaby, left in mid May, we received a crushing disclosure from the supervisor of the Accreditation Department. She, in effect, notified us that she would not be issuing operational permits for the two new homes we had planned to build in Phase II. We were told that we would have to find a new model. We were shocked, to say the least, and left scrambling to come up with a new plan. Over the past few years, Costa Rica has been moving toward a trend to deinstitutionalize children in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. These agreements promote kinship care and foster care. The idea is that children are better off in these settings than in an institution. In the future, Costa Rica plans to reduce the number of children in institutions. This news came to us just as we were renewing our operational permits for our two existing children’s homes. PANI is requiring us to make certain adjustments, changes that we are not willing to make. These changes would impede our ability to carry out our mission and our vision in the way we feel the Lord is leading for this ministry. We found ourselves at a crossroads with few options available to us.

… A  new Beginning

During this period of transition, we had the privilege of meeting some staff from Buckner Children and Family services in Dallas. They visited the AP in the spring and we were able to tour their ministry in early May. Buckner works directly with single mothers (18 years or older) and their children to help restore, rebuild, and transform their lives. They offer programs to help reduce barriers to self-sufficiency. After visiting their ministry in Dallas and after much prayer and counsel, we decided to adopt this concept as our new model here in Costa Rica. Six of us will be traveling to Texas in September to receive a week-long training session from the staff at Buckner. We will learn how to choose the candidates for our program, the different types of training offered, such as: parenting skills, money management, communication skills, conflict resolution tools, spiritual mentorship and accountability, and more. We are excited that we will be expanding our vision to not only work with children at risk, but also work with single mothers who find themselves at risk. This ministry will impact these families in a greater way, as we teach and train the mothers to care for themselves and their children, .

Fortunately, we have been able to make adjustments to our drawings and are already constructing the foundations of two buildings. Instead of a single dwelling, the new plans are to have 4 single apartments in each building.

In regards to the existing children’s homes, we have asked PANI for a transition period so that the 7 children we currently have can leave the AP in a natural fashion (adoption or family member).

Obviously, this will present us with new challenges along the way. Nonetheless, God is sovereign and we are confident that He is putting His perfect plan into action.

Change, as hard as it can be, is essential for us as we move forward. We covet your prayers as we embark on a new beginning. We trust God will provide the people and resources to accomplish His plan in the lives of these families!  Thank you for your continued interest in the ministry God has given us to fulfill.

Crossroads

 A crossroads is a place of decision that will affect the course of one’s life.

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Brother and Twin Sister’s Leave the A.P.

A sibling trio left our home. Sebastian, and his twin sisters Mariana & Isabela arrived here a year and a half ago. Their father, a gangbanger and a minor, and their mother were unfit to take care of their children. Last month, a judge granted guardianship of the three to their maternal aunt. On May 18th, the children were taken to Leon 13, an area known for gang violence. Trusting God to keep them by placing a hedge of protection around these 3 babies.

Jane Doe Gets a Family!

We are  happy to report that baby “Jane” was legally declared abandoned and on May 11th she was adopted! Her parents are precious! They are Costa Rican and have named her Emma Valeria. We believe they are God’s perfect choice for this sweet angel. We trust that Jonathan & Rosalyn will one day share with Emma the story of God’s grace, provision, and care for her as a newborn infant. His active interest in her little life, down to the details of the children’s home she would be placed in temporarily and who would eventually become her father and mother never escaped Him for a moment!

Ministry News

RAISING A WALL

With the construction of the bridge completed, we have turned our attention to raising a wall between Phase II and the property next door. Our friends from Calvary Baptist and Living Hope Baptist Church in Kentucky worked diligently over the course of a week to advance rather nicely on the construction. We are also marking the outlines of the two homes and will start digging footers in the near future.  We love seeing progress!

Jane Doe Update

Last newsletter, we shared about a baby girl we received who was abandoned in a Catholic Church. She is now 2.5 months old and is growing like a wild weed!  She is such a peaceful baby. We believe God has an intended purpose and destiny for her life. The case worker told us that they are still in the process of declaring her abandoned so that she can be adopted.

In the mean time, we pray for the family that will have the privilege of raising her, that they will have a home that is founded firmly on the Word of God and His precepts. Please join us in praying for her placement with an adoptive family.

Shalom!

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: …Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek your good.      Psalm 122:6 & 9

 

The Israeli Ambassador to Costa Rica, Amir Ofek, has visited the Abraham Project twice since the beginning of the year.  The first time, he was invited by Pastor Jorge Gómez to hear about our project and its impact on our community.  Amir also shared with us some of the history of Israel.  Ambassador Ofek returned in March for the ceremonial signing of an Israeli flag to commemorate their 70 years as a nation.  As a community of faith, we are happy to celebrate Israel’s birthday and to pray for their peace and prosperity.  On both occasions, the Ambassador spent time at Phase II learning about our vision to rescue children at risk.  We are thankful for his visit.

Adios!

Today two spunky siblings left our home after being at the Abraham Project for 2.5 years.  They were transfers from another home up the freeway from us.

Last weekend, their parents flew in from Spain.  On Monday, Javier and Carmen visited Richard and Sandra for the first time.  Their adoption process had been a long time in the making, but there was an instant connection the minute they met!  The kids adjusted rather quickly to their new family and their attachment and bonding period was smooth and easy.  It was a joy to see this family fall in love with one another.

We will miss our lil’ friends dearly, but we know that they are far happier enjoying life with their new parents!

Ciao!

This month, we had a sibling trio leave our home unexpectedly. Naomi, Dominic, and Cameron arrived here last August. They were difficult to handle in the beginning. However, the children changed drastically in the 7 months we had them. Dominic stopped cussing in English. Naomi, who had a number of crises at the beginning, adapted to life at the AP, and lil’ sister Cameron seemed to adjust the easiest. PANI notified us that the maternal grandmother was soliciting custody of the children. After completing an evaluation, they found her able to receive her grandchildren. On March 6th, they left to begin a new adventure. Pray with us that the seeds planted in their hearts will grow as they continue their journey with the Lord!


Phase II Update

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Completion of the bridge is estimated for Feb. 23rd.  Not bad considering construction started the first part of January.  We are excited about the progress.  As a matter of fact, we have been able to clear the land due to a generous gift by one of our supporting churches.  Also, a new land survey was completed recently at the request of our engineer.  Once the bridge is ready, we will be ready to move dirt to prepare for the placement of the two new children’s homes.  Off and running now!