We Loved and Loved and Loved: Centola Thanksgiving Trip 2011 Posted on December 5, 2011 by Kevin
Due to the extreme rise in violence in Juarez, the Centola family has not been able to visit the children at Tree of Life for two years. We missed the kids so much. I discussed a possible trip with John Walker and we decided that we would be able to slide in and out of the country with minimal exposure. So this Thanksgiving we did. And we had no problems!! Check out all the photos on the Tree of Life Juarez Facebook page.
We were escorted by John Walker and arrived shortly before dinner.
We were greeted by Ivan opening the gate and many children playing
a pickup game of soccer. We were greeted by lots of hugs from
workers and children. We also noticed that 20 or so children were new
to us. These kids stood off to the side. I thought to myself, These are the
kids that I do not know now but will be close friends in the next couple of days
We ate dinner and all the Centola family sat together. It takes time to transition to life at the orphanage. After dinner we were shown our rooms. Luz, Angela, Theresa, Monica, and the coffee maker upstairs with the girls; myself and Coleman downstairs with the boys.
The next day we were awoke early with the echo of children in the hallway. The kids had a day off from school, but they still were up and about by 6:30 a.m. Brooms sweeping, mops mopping. Children moving about getting ready for breakfast. I had an opportunity to walk the property to view the fence that was paid for by friends from Colorado. It is 10 feet tall, with barbwire on top; quality construction. One of the boys showed me a section that was recently stolen. Stolen? Well it was. My heart sank. It forever feels like two steps forward, one step back. It will be repaired by the workers…eventually.
Our purpose of the trip was to be with the children. I wanted to do a
small project to keep busy. I was given five gallons of oil based paint
and instructed to paint the entrance to the dorm building. It was a job
that I could do at my own pace. I enjoyed it immensely.
My constant companion was Ivan.
For those of you who don’t know Ivan, he is 25 years old. He has been
at Tree of Life for 15 years. He has a form of Autism. He is also bilingual.
He has been called: the Ambassador of Good Will, El Jefe, (the Boss),
and El Presidente. He is so kind. Always happy and a joy to be around.
I painted; he talked, drank my coffee, and complained that I never put enough sugar in it.
The days and nights all blended into one human experience. Caring for each other is so natural when with everyone in a situation like this. All the kids have is each other and they pour out love better than any other place I have seen in this world.
We listened to their stories, we grieved their loss. We poured out our love as fast as we could, but it was no match for these children. If love were a track race they all would hold records and the Centola family would be a distant second. But that is not how love works. We all won.
In the beginning of this post I mentioned that we did not know allvthe kids,
and we sat apart from them on the first day. As I, Luz, Angela, Coleman,
Theresa, and Monica knew, it would not end that way.
Luz translated and asked lots of questions. She cheered for each one
of the children. She listened to their stories, played volley ball, and loved
and loved and loved.
Angela had her camera, and as fast as she could take a picture the kids wanted to see them. As the trip progressed she got busier and busier. She hung out with the girls and the boys. She chased little kids and held babies. She loved and loved and loved.
Coleman burned lumber, jumped fences, and worked with the boys. He chipped in when asked. The girls wanted to know more about him, the boys wanted to keep him for themselves. He always gave, always helped and loved and loved and loved.
Theresa and Monica picked up their plate without being asked, did not
complain about the food, did dishes, helped cook and make lots of friendship
racelets. Oh ya, they loved and loved and loved.
Me, I painted, mopped some floors, ate real Mexican food and chile. I played
volleyball, and helped in the kitchen ‘till I was kicked out by the cook!
I loved and loved and loved.
All six of us experienced something.
When you stand in a room with 45 orphans one thing always happens: you hug. I mean a lot. Like three or four kids at a time. Like 30 hugs an hour.
I can never give them as much as they give me.
Merry Christmas! Posted on December 24, 2011 by Tree of Life
Merry Christmas from the Tree of Life! We pray this message finds you experiencing God’s blessings in all areas of life. God is indeed good and we are so thankful for his many blessings. There have been some very exciting things happening at the home over the last few months.
Thanks to a grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, and with the help of your generous donations, we have been able to create a very comprehensive dancing and physical education program. The children have two instructors who come to the orphanage daily to work on skills related to a variety of sports and activities. Some of these include tumbling, soccer,
basketball, volleyball, trampoline, and Mexican folkloric dancing.
We also have a new rec room with commercial grade ping
pong, pool, air hockey, and foosball tables. What a blessing!
Thank you again for your prayers and support!
May our Lord Jesus bless you and and your
family this holiday season!
The Tree of Life Children’s Home
p.s. We now have a new website! Check it out – www.treeoflifejuarez.org or Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/treeoflifejuarez.
Juarez Angels with a Message of Peace
Posted on December 24, 2011 by Kevin
GREAT ARTICLE. The future of Juarez is in the hands
and courage of it’s youth. Each child I meet has love
and hope. We are here to support the abandoned children.
Read the article: