Grace’s Team: 8 IUP students, 9 adults, and one 12 year old boy
Our team was greeted by Alberto and Luis, Caring Heart Ministry
staff members on Friday evening. They provided a power point
orientation describing the Caring Hearts Mexican Ministry.
Saturday, January 12 the Grace team visited their first work site,
organized 17, 40+ lb suitcases filled with tote backpacks, hats, socks,
soaps, clothing, and shoes. At 4:45 pm the team went with Alberto
to the Village Ministry mission to provide worship, praise Jesus
through songs and bless the people with Beans, Bibles, and treats.
The team attended the Sunday 10 am service at the church Pastor
Francisco preaches. The team gathered materials, prepared the area,
and made plans for their first work project; a roof for a local house in
Monday-Friday, 2-3 team members walked to the Soup Kitchen to
make a warm breakfast for the local children. The remaining team
members participated in their daily 8-8:30 devotions. After collecting
all the needed tools & materials from the Oasis workshop the team
walked to their project. The project moved along quickly, God blessed
us with a great team! The men finished the roof up in the afternoon
while the girls visited 3 shut-in families and the Women’s Rehab
Our team visited Shut-ins throughout the week: a family of 11 children
living on their own; a bedridden widow; a very ill mother with 5 boys; a
physically challenged grandma and her 4 grand kids; a 30+ year old
bedridden women that is not only coping with her painful illness but
recovering from finding her 13 year old daughter who was kidnapped,
drugged, and came back pregnant; a young women in a wheelchair,
supporting 2 children who creates pinatas for money. We were blessed
to be able to buy 5 of her pinatas for our Thursday evening picnic for
the Caring Hearts Staff & volunteers cookout. We were also able to fill
them with candy to share with the kids from the area attending the
Soup Kitchen’s Saturday morning block party, lunch, and games.
Our team built a Corn Hole game for Oasis. We left the building design
for the boys to build more games to sale or play with.
Team members worked daily on the 1 st , 2nd roof projects and/or went on
the various outreach ministry projects. On Wednesday, we went to the
Park at 1:30 to hand out sandwiches and drinks to the homeless and
transients seeking a place to rest. Alberto blessed many with his
short sermons, and words of encouragement.
The team attended the Wednesday 6:30 pm service. Pastor Francisco
mixes his English and his Spanish so all can enjoy his amazing
message. The congregations always walks around to greet us with
open arms, many hugs, and wonderful smiles. We may not always
know everything they are saying but we definitely feel God’s presence
when we are in the church.
Thursday’s picnic is usually one of our favorite activities. We cook for
the boys, the staff and their families. We play games, sing, cook
marshmallows and hot dogs over the fire. The corn hole game was very
popular Thursday night. Two of our College girls did a great job
painting a Sunset, desert scene on the game. One of our girls brought
4 hammocks, the kids spent a lot of time playing and giggling on them.
After the Oasis Boy’s ceiling was painted and the two roof projects
were finished, we were able to do various Outreach Projects on Friday.
We took sandwiches, treats, burritos, drinks, and donation in tote bags
to the Dump site to hand out after Alberto's message and a few
songs. After leaving the Dump, we all went to the Blind Center to
worship, sing & praise, and buy handmade items. Friday afternoon
was busy visiting more shut-ins. We took all the boys, Luis (our work
project manager), Fran (boy’s house mother), Angelica (finance
coordinator), and Pena (house assistant) to a local restaurant. All 34
of us laughed, ate way too much, and wished the night could go on
forever. The boys and 5 of our college kids went to youth group at the
church after our meal.
Saturday morning, we packed early so we could go to the 9-11 am Soup
Kitchen Block Party. Our group provided face painting, fishing for
ducks, bouncing balls, bowling, hoops, balloons, and many suitcases
full of clothing, shoes, socks, hats, and purses for the kids and families
to take home.
Saying good-bye to Oasis is never easy. Tears are shed, life-changing
memories are never forgotten, life-long friendships bless us as we
solemnly drive to Phoenix and fly back to the freezing temperatures in
Pittsburgh. Our hearts warm up as we go through our phones, looking
at the Oasis boys, the children we grew to love and the passionate
adults that take care of them and each other. Thank you Caring
Hearts Ministry for everything you are doing!!!
Grace UMC Team
17 June 2019 by Natalie Hennessy.
Natalie coordinates mission trips, volunteers, sponsorships and fundraisers for Caring Hearts Ministry.
Photos by Allison Mayer Photography.
Today I was editing our website, I was writing our mission statement and without any warning, my throat got tight and I starting thinking of the families we serve
The mission of Caring Hearts Ministry is to be passionately committed to delivering hope and empowering the community of San Luis, Mexico towards real change through feeding the hungry, educating the forgotten, providing shelter and comfort to the abandoned and orphaned, rehabilitation for the addicted, care for the sick and disabled with a demonstration of love to the poor and hurting.
I think the reason I got so choked up is because as I typed it, faces flashed into my memory. Faces of the Oasis boys on days when they are hurting and struggling to do whats right after years of neglect, abuse, and learning to steal and commit crime on the streets to survive. I thought of the trauma that I see them dealing with which is something beyond their control. They are battling years being taught to fight to survive, not to trust, to fend for themselves and re-learning a whole new mindset of biblical teachings, that they are loved, that they are safe, that they are to put others before themselves. They are kids, they are supposed to be care free and innocent.
I thought of Omar. Omar gets bullied at school. He has trouble making eye contact with people when he talks. His parents abandoned him and his brothers. They were tossed around between orphanages, begged on the streets, and every year on his birthday, Christmas, graduations, etc he stands without a blood parent to claim him. He likes to be alone and it takes him a long time to trust. When I tell him I love him, I can see that he doesn’t know what to do with that. He is still learning what Christ-centered love is. I hurt for Omar.
But here is the thing, in the midst of all this pain, all this hurt, all this neglect, I find two things to be common and present in each situation. Hope and resilience.
In each of these situations that seem so dark and so horrible, I get to see something so incredible.
The Oasis Boys: They come into Oasis scared, scarred, angry, hungry, smelly, untrusting, testing their limits. Years later, we have examples of people like Luis Valenzuela and Fernando Pena. They grew up at Oasis. Now they are college educated, and working for Caring Hearts, being examples and leaders for the younger guys. They are resilient. They radiate hope.
Claudia and the shut-in families: They could not afford food, medical care, electricity, water. I have seen families whose drinking water is warm buckets on the ground, whose homes have dirt floors, broken roofs, and no lights or air conditioning in 100-degree weather. But then I see these families thriving after Ines, our leader, adopts them into the shut-in program and they are able to eat, have shelter, pray with Ines, be visited by teams ready to encourage and fix their homes, and so much more. I see their faces light up when they know Caring Hearts is coming. They tell us that they know God hears their prayers. They are resilient. They don’t let sickness and poverty stop them from being amazing mothers, fathers, sisters, families. They join together and push forward.
I see children in the dump and in the villages playing and running without shoes, smiling, enjoying their life. They don’t need fancy Nike cleats and a fully inflated ball to have fun. They play pick up soccer in the streets with a ball made of tape and they run for hours, smiling and finding community. They shine hope.
I see strength in Sonya and in the workers at the garbage dump. They search through what others threw away and they find treasures. They keep San Luis running by sorting the recyclables. They know the work is dirty, but they know that they are strong and they are important. They welcome prayers, they are thankful for the bag of beans that Caring Hearts volunteers give. They teach us about perseverance and contentment. That is hope.
We see this in the bible too. In Philippians 4:12 it says “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
As an ambassador for Caring Hearts Ministry, I get to be the connection and the bridge for those in need in Mexico, and those who are blessed in the states. I get to bring hundreds of people each year to Mexico to leave their comfortable lives and enter into the challenges of poverty. I get to see how we are all equal. How those in Mexico shine their best selves as they depend on God and His strength to get through the toughest times. I get to see Americans who are insecure, selfish, searching, discontent, bitter and unsure of their purpose let go of all dignity, pride, popularity, and status and humbly work hard to join with their brothers and sisters in a country that needs a hand up. I see them become confident in their skills, loving and self-sacrificing, content, playful, and full of joy as they wake up every day and help someone else.
It is like magic to me. Caring Hearts has taught me not to be afraid of pain, of hard times, of being in need or getting sick. It has taught me that when I or anyone in Mexico am in need, God will send someone with a caring and compassionate heart like His to stand by me and give me the help I need. And it has taught me that I have enough and I am enough to be that for someone else. We are all equally in need and equally able to offer someone something else. Hope and resilience cannot be taken from us, and cannot be drowned out by pain and by challenges of life.
If you need a dose of hope, a dose of resilience, I encourage you to get uncomfortable and dive into a situation where you can see a need and help meet it. I invite you to be a part of the Caring Hearts Ministry as a volunteer. I invite you to meet the real people I mentioned above and let them be your heroes.
To learn more about trips with Caring Hearts, email Natalie at email@example.com
This is Fernando Muñoz Peña. A former Oasis boy who was recently awarded a trip to study abroad in Canada from his college in San Luis. This was a huge honor and a testimony to how growing up in a loving, Christ-centered environment can change the course of one man's future. Pena was chosen out of many competitors to receive this honor and go study abroad.
When Peña was younger, he would skip school to sell candy on the streets of San Luis to make money for his brothers and his mother. He missed out on early education as well as the safety and security children need when they are young.
Pena came to Oasis as a young child, grew up and graduated from the Oasis boys home. When he left Oasis he went on to a local college in San Luis where he would come back home to Oasis to visit and help with Caring Hearts, we also had sponsors that helped support him throughout his college career.
To learn more about our education program and how you can become a part of someones story, visit our website here.
Meet Amy. She was born with a rare condition known as Tetraphocomelia; without arms or legs. After being abandoned at the hospital by her birth parents, she was adopted by faith-filled parents, Richard and Janet. Growing up, they taught her the importance of being independent and they’ve been on a lifelong journey in helping her to achieve that independence in every area possible.