20 October 2016

Casa Hogar Orphanage


Ok, so I know I said I'd post our vacation photos NEXT but seriously, there are soooo many of those. Believe me, you'll be tired of seeing us on vacation before long. :)

 I know some of our close friends and family might be waiting for an update on our visit to the orphanage so I'm going a little out of order now but sorry, this trumped pictures of us at the pool. :P 

For those of you who don't know, we had also planned to visit Casa Hogar Maximo Cornejo on our vacation (which we did on Day 3 of our trip). Visiting an orphanage is something we've always wanted to do as a family. Months before, God had laid it on Morgan's heart to seek out an orphanage in Puerto Vallarta and try to connect with them.

After several attempts and phone calls, he finally got a hold of someone there who spoke English. He was able to work out a time to visit as well as a list of items we could bring.


Before heading over, we stopped at Walmart in town to load up on groceries and perishable items like shampoo and cleaning supplies. As we walked in, we saw this sign. It basically encourages locals to donate winter clothing to the Casa Hogar orphanage.


We took a 25 minute taxi ride to Casa Hogar. It's tucked behind a busy street near the airport. When we arrived, we got a quick tour from one of the girls who lives there. This was the kitchen. The girl was 12 years old and she spoke English fairly well. When I asked her how long she had lived there, she paused for a long time and then said she couldn't remember. :(


This was the chapel where they have church services every Sunday.


 There were about 10 kids in the toddler room and one person caring for them all.
Zach walked in and apparently terrified that little girl.


 And then there was this sweet boy. He was so interested in Zach.


 He kept wanting to touch him.


 After our tour, we hung out in the courtyard and tried to get to know some of the kids. Look at that precious little girl in pink hanging on Morgan. She had just met him.


At first, everyone was a bit shy (including us) so I asked the girls to break the ice by showing the kids one of their hand clapping songs.

  
This little girl was so intrigued with the gold glitter on Grace's shirt. She just had to touch it.


It didn't take long for this little guy to warm up to us at all. He was the life of the party and had a giant personality to match.


 Morgan decided he was going to start swinging the kids around the courtyard so before long, he had a line forming.


Oh, Zach. He had to learn to share his daddy.


The girls quickly joined in and helped.


Soon, there were endless smiles and giggles.


Miss Celeste stole our hearts.


Grace kicked around a ball with some of the older girls.


 While Faith made some new younger friends.




The kids wanted to see every picture I took on my camera.
And yes, that would be Zach laying on the ground, flat on his back. The heat and humidity were a force to be reckoned with that afternoon.  



These were just some of the grade school kids we were blessed to interact with. 

In total, 44 children currently live at Casa Hogar. Some of the older kids were inside doing schoolwork and then, of course, there were the toddlers and babies.

We saw 3 babies in their cribs and I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of them because honestly, I was just so taken aback. The orphanage does NOT have air conditioning so they had fans in the baby room but with 90% humidity, it was brutal. The babies were all boys: 5, 8, and 9 months old. The 5 month old had mosquito bites all over his legs and the 8 month old was sick with an eye infection. Of course, I couldn't help but think of the first time we met Zach in the NICU. He had MRSA in his eye.

I've been trying to reflect on our experience at Casa Hogar but its been rather difficult to put into words. At first, the children seemed shy and distant but as soon as we opened up and showed them that we wanted to have fun with them, they came alive. The younger ones especially exuded joy. The older ones were understandably a bit more stand-offish. For some of these kids, this is the only home they have ever known (or will know) so that fact, in and of itself, is really heartbreaking. The children come from diverse backgrounds such as abandonment, violence, abuse, or extreme poverty.

The week before we left, we invited our immediate family and closest friends to partner with us in prayer about this visit. And, if they felt led to donate any money, we would use it towards our gift to the orphanage.

In addition to 2 two shopping carts full of groceries, medicine, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, we were also able to give the orphanage $400 in cash to use for whatever needs they saw fit.

Thank you peeps for your prayers and donations!! You know who you are. ;)

The director of the orphanage was EXTREMELY grateful for everything we brought (basically as much as a taxi could hold with 5 passengers) but something she said to us before we left has stuck with us. It has us pondering and asking the Lord, "Ok, Lord, WHAT NOW?"

She said more than all the gifts and money, what they really needed were people who were willing to come and spend TIME with these kids.

Time.

Investing in someone's life by spending time with them. That's how relationships are formed and nurtured, aren't they? That's what these kids needed most. They needed to feel loved and valued and worthy of our time.

Morgan and I have had a lot of adventures together while traveling but I have to say, this experience was by far, the most memorable. Why? Because it opened our eyes to the purpose behind why God continues to bless us. It gave us a fresh new perspective on the parallels between need vs. plenty, heartbreak vs. joy, and faith vs. action.

In many ways, I realized that it wasn't these kids who were needy and whose hearts were breaking, or simply had faith but no action behind it.

It was me.

And at the same time, to know that God has abundantly blessed me and my family to the enth degree??  How is it possible to just walk away and be the same person you were before you walked into this place?

How it is possible to leave there after a two hour visit and go back to our 5 diamond resort where there was a butler waiting to serve us dinner on our expansive deck with a panoramic view of the ocean?

Dang you, Morgan Gough. Dang you for bringing me here.

Can I be honest? This was all his idea. Sure, I went along wholeheartedly but I would have also been quite happy sipping margaritas all day by the infinity pool. #truth

But, noooo. I married a man who is compassionate, kind, and selfless. I married a man who leads by example and wants to follow hard after God.  

I think it all started years ago when he read the biography of George Müller to the girls. I know he was deeply moved and inspired. He started asking himself, "What am I going to spend my life for?"

Well, unlike Müller, maybe he wouldn't open orphanages and help thousands of children, but maybe he could just change the life of one, or two, or three...

Needless to say, Morgan came back from the orphanage with a God-led inspiration to move forward on a plan.
At this point, we have no idea what God will do with this plan but Morgan has a vision and he's passionate about it. I'm just here to support my husband, encourage him, and hang on for the ride. :)

Believe me. I'm just an ordinary woman, married to an extraordinary man.

It's been 15 years and he's still taking me on new adventures. :) 

And in case you're wondering, we were told these kids were not adoptable by Mexican law. If that were not the case, Morgan says we probably would have come home with at least 3 more kids. :)



Our kids did wonderfully on our visit. We are so proud of them, especially the girls, with their great big hearts. Our children have never lived in an orphanage. The girls were blessed to live with a loving foster family for nearly a year before we brought them home and we brought Zachary home straight from his long NICU stay as a preemie. As I look at this picture of them, I am so grateful that God did not leave them as orphans. God has blessed them/us with a family and an amazing earthly father. But for the all kids that we met that day, and the millions of others around the world, our Sovereign God may be the only Father/parent they will ever know or experience.

Thankfully, He is enough.

God deeply cares for the vulnerable and the fatherless and He wants us to care about them, too.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” -James 1:27
Morgan and I have always believed that to whom much is given, much will be required. -Luke 12:48.

As believers, we've been pondering these two questions...

What will we do with our much?
What are we going to spend our life for?

We're praying about it, friends.

Maybe you will, too. :)



Here's my hot, red-faced, drenched-in-sweat toddler, coming back from the orphanage. He's just HANGING OUT OF A TAXI WINDOW, checking out the Malecon. #carseat #whatcarseat #onlyinmexico



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