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 firstname.lastname@example.org