“Happy Hogar” was the way my 10-year old daughter, Kate, closed her journal entry on the night we arrived at Casa Hogar. We arrived past midnight and she hadn’t met any of the children of Casa Hogar yet. I wasn’t sure why she chose those words to describe her home for the next week but she continued to do so after each journal entry. One night while we were talking about our day Kate mentioned that even though the children at Casa Hogar don’t have a lot of “stuff” they are always smiling and seem very happy. I made note of her insight and we continued to discuss all the fun things we did that day.
My wife and I were hoping the Casa Hogar experience would give our oldest daughter a deeper appreciation for all the blessings God has bestowed on our family while providing an opportunity to serve others. This trip would also allow Kate and I some quality time together which is hard to come by with 5 kids and a busy travel schedule for work.
This experience has certainly accomplished everything I listed above and so much more. Kate has witnessed several teens and college students dedicate a week of their summer to serve the children of Casa Hogar (many of the teens are here for their 3rd and 4th time).
My daughter has lived without television or technology for a week and has never been happier. She has been loved by and learned from the members of the Orangewood team and the children and staff of Casa Hogar. She has started thinking of ways to get donations and resources such as sewing machines, sewing supplies, and clothing fabric to support Doña Isabel, a loving woman at Casa Hogar who makes clothing for the children and provides care for 20+ young boys. Kate has read a brief bio on each child at Casa Hogar and knows how this wonderful place, fueled by Christian organizations and churches, provides a loving home for so many boys and girls who were left or abandoned by their biological parents. She is beginning to understand what it means to live her life for the glory of God.
There are so many adults who make Casa Hogar a reality – the staff and volunteers at Orangewood and Mission to the World, the parents who send their teens on this mission trip, church members who make financial contributions to this mission, the staff at Casa Hogar, and the local church in Acapulco that sponsors the children’s home.
I am amazed by the generosity, dedication, and commitment of these adults. However, what makes the Casa Hogar mission trip unique are the children and teens who come to build relationships with the children of Casa Hogar. The soccer games, activities, reading time, and board games provide ideal opportunities for the two groups to connect despite language and culture barriers. It comes so natural to the teens from Orangewood, no adult prompting necessary. The relationships with the Orangewood teens most definitely contribute to the contagious smiles on the faces of the children of Casa Hogar. I have heard that Friday evening is the hardest time because that is when it is time to say goodbye. I have also heard that there are typically more tears on the Orangewood team, which is further proof that your heart will not be the same after a week at Casa Hogar.
Casa Hogar is very much part of the “Orangewood” experience. Pastor Joe Creech and his team of dedicated volunteers (David, Al, Dawn, Janet, Jared and Sarah Jane) have been leading groups to Acapulco for many years. My heart and my daughter’s have been transformed thanks to the service of the many adults and teens that have come before us and made Casa Hogar the place it is today. Words cannot describe this place, one has to live it to understand. Thanks Orangewood for this amazing week. Happy Hogar!