An Open Letter to NPH Volunteers from a Grown Pequeño

By Jonathan, Class of 2016 (in his own English!)

Dear Volunteers,

I would like to personally thank all of you for your commitment to NPH.   I truly believe that both the children and the great family of NPH are also grateful for you.

I would also like to express my thanks to Vicky who manages all the volunteers that make NPH feel like a family.  Your ability to recruit people to volunteer in NPH and place them in the appropriate country and house as role models for our children who need to be prepared to live their lives beyond NPH is much appreciated.

Our volunteers have the opportunity to share their talents and knowledge while serving children. Often volunteers are highly trained and skilled individuals whom NPH leverages for our children as nurses, teachers, and therapists working in different areas where the house needs, also including childcare.

Volunteers always bring new ideas and different perspectives in order to help improve our family.  To volunteer with NPH is one of the greatest gifts for our family.  Thank you for the things you do for us.  You spend time with us for protection and love, and sacrifice time away from your family, thank you infinitely, dear volunteers.  I just wish that when it’s my turn to support my neighbors, that it is half of what you were within our family.

No matter how much time passes without a visit, or how far you go, you can be sure that on your return to the family of NPH, I [we] will welcome you with abundant love and hugs.

Congratulations for the great time you shared, the hard work, and thanks because this program would not be possible without your generous support.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Palma, NPH Guatemala

 

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Editor’s Note: In October, Vicky facilitated a workshop called “The NPH Volunteer Experience” with the students, in which they learned about the logistics of the program and spent time thinking about what makes a good volunteer for our family.  It was after that day and re-connecting with many former NPH volunteers here in Seattle that Jonathan decided upon this topic for his blog post.  Former volunteers in the Northwest have made significant contributions to the beginnings of this program as well, and we are so grateful that your love and support continues after you return “home”!

 

 

Cinema de los Cuates: A Lesson in Unconditional Love

By Kara King (Program Director) & Florine St. Eloi (Haiti, Class of 2015)

About a month ago, we were at a leadership workshop as a group.  The task at hand was to bring a worry or concern to the group in order to receive feedback, to hear questions, and to perhaps find new ways to approach a problem.  As each shared, the group interacted and provided feedback to each other.

When it was Florine’s turn to share, I watched her struggle to give words to her concerns.  As she did, she honored herself and the group by being deeply honest about what she was facing.  She painted for us a picture of her mother’s current living situation: dangerous, unhealthy, and desperate.  Her description reminded me of what we called in teaching “first hour needs”.  How could I expect her to focus on leadership training when constant on her mind is that her mom is living in a violent neighborhood, breathing in fumes from the burning garbage of the city dump, and unable to stay dry in any storm?  No, these are “first hour” needs that must be heard if Florine is to be able to grow and develop into the strong woman and servant leader that God has created her to be.

And yet, we live in a complex and unjust world.  NPH cannot buy everyone a house.  We don’t have the resources, nor is that our stated mission.

As we sat there with our sister, Florine, I felt grief and despair and anger.  I feel proud of the group for staying with her in her worry, for praying with her, hugging her, and not offering ridiculous and empty words like “it will be okay”.  No, these are young adults who know all too well that is not always true.  Their ability to accompany her in her grief is beautiful.

It was Nelson who eventually spoke into that space wondering aloud: ‘can’t we do something?’.  None of us really knew what we could do, we didn’t know in that moment that if we worked together we would be able to help Florine and her family of origin.  But the group committed to try to do something – even knowing it might not work out.

And do something, they did.  As I write this, they have raised more than enough money for Florine’s mom and siblings to move into a safe and healthy home and pay the rent for one year.  It is a life changing gift and came about because six young people, who grew up in our NPH homes refused to ignore a sister in trouble.

When we teach our children at NPH to serve others, when we give them the opportunity to see how much they have to offer the world, we instill in them the idea that they are not victims but rather people who have much to offer their communities.  We empower them to be creative problem-solvers.  And they learn that in combining their efforts, they can make good happen.  They are living out our mission and vision, and it is a delight to witness.

I asked Florine to reflect on what the experience was like for her, and this is what she said:

“What would have happened if Kara did not ask us about what was bothering us?  This movie night turned into a successful event. Yes, that is what it means to me. Nelson, Luisa, Samy, Magda, Lucre and Kara’s participation to help my family and I was quite a powerful story. From them, I learned how it is important to work as a team. Of course they are part of my life because of NPH, but now it becomes stonger.

Do not hesitate when it comes to help others; that is also another lesson that I learned from this group after all the struggles that we have been through.  I did not have any solutions, but they found out what needed to be done.

Isn’t that the “unconditional love” that Father Wasson has left to us? There’s no other name for it. They acted as leaders, friends, brothers, and sisters. The supporters also made it possible. Thank you so much for coming and supporting, thanks a lot for those who could not make it but helped in different ways.

Words cannot express how grateful I am…thank you for everything that you all did for my family and I. Thank you for helping to find a place where my family can live normally, somewhere they can call “home”!  Good memories stay forever, and this movie night was one of the best that I ever had. Thank you to all of you who made it possible, I will never forget it.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you, gracias and may God always bless and protect you!”

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NPH Youth Development Programs

We believe that all children deserve the chance to reach their full potential and lead the best lives possible, both personally and professionally. Our nine NPH homes provide a variety of development opportunities for our youth to help make this possible. Our programs span the areas of leadership, young women empowerment, spiritual formation and a variety of extracurricular activities so that they can develop their talents and creativity.
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“We know to be strong leaders you really have to know yourself and we try to provide opportunities for young people so that they can continue to learn more about themselves and where they see themselves serving. . . We are not just talking about leadership in general, we are really talking about leadership that comes from the heart, that comes from the understanding of what it means to serve.” -Donna Egge, Director of Family Service, NPHI
Watch our latest video to learn more about youth development at NPH!
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GIVE MEANING TO YOUR LIFE BY SHARING WITH OTHERS

By Luisa, NPH Guatemala (with a little translation help from host mom, Karen)

JUBILEE WOMENS EXPERIENCE:

The first thing that impressed me was when we were received with joy by Emerald and Sam. They gave me positive energy that made me understand the word SHARE. Sometimes we think we deserve a smile and to be happy, but when we go out of our comfort zone we need to understand that everyone needs a smile to continue with their purpose of life, we are not the only ones with a broken heart.  Then I understand what our purpose as human beings is to help each other as JESUS said,  “Blessed are those who give without remembering. And blessed are those who take without forgetting.”

Then came the hour of delicious lunch and all came with a different look and then their cheerful smile that says thank you. Sometimes you plant seeds of hope without realizing. I felt part of them because when visitors come to NPH, I feel hope to continue living – but now I gave a sign of hope to these women who struggle every day to be someone in life.

During my time here in Seattle I realize that everyone has their own economic problems, but I’ve learned that no matter what, people help regardless of anything in return, one of the things that Father Wasson taught is to SHARE without seeing who you benefit, you just have a smile that marked your life.
Brief history of JUBILEE CENTER SEATTLE:
JUBILEE is an organization that helps women who do not have a home. Jubilee provides the women safe, affordable community housing and educational resources to help the women become independent. It was founded by three Sisters of St. Josephs of Peace.

DALE SENTIDO A TU VIDA COMPARTIENDO CON LOS DEMAS

Lo primero que me fascino fue cuando nos recibió con alegría la encargada, ella me transmitió una energía positiva es lo que me hizo comprender la palabra COMPARTIR A VECES pensamos que solo nosotros merecemos una sonrisa y ser felices, pero cuando salimos de nuestra línea de confort es necesario entender que todo el mundo necesita una sonrisa para poder seguir con el propósito de la vida, que no somos los únicos con el corazón roto, entonces entiendo cuál es nuestro propósito como seres humanos, es ayudarnos unos a los otros como dijo JESUS Bien aventurados los que dan sin recordar, y los que reciben sin olvidar. Luego llegó la hora del delicioso almuerzo y entraron todas con una mirada diferente y fue entonces aquella sonrisa tan alegre que te dice gracias, a veces uno siembra semillas de esperanza sin darse cuenta, me sentí parte de ellas porque cuando llegan las visitas a NPH, me siento con una esperanza de seguir viviendo pero ahora me toca darles una señal de esperanza a estas mujeres que luchan día a día para ser alguien en la vida Durante mi tiempo aquí en Seattle me he dado cuenta que todo el mundo tiene sus propios problemas económicos, pero he aprendido que no importa eso aquí, la gente ayuda sin importar nada a cambio, una de las cosa que nos enseñó el Padre Wasson ES COMPARTIR sin ver a quien beneficias, simplemente has una sonrisa que marcara tu vida.

Breve historia de JUBILEE CENTER SEATTLE JUBILEE es una organización que ayuda a mujeres que no tienen un HOGAR, factor económico y sobre todo a trnsformar a estas mujeres en futuras empresarias. Fue fundada gracias a tres mujeres el Capitolio de la Arquidiócesis de Seattle.

Editor’s Note: One Saturday each month, the leadership students accompanied by friends of NPH spend the morning cooking lunch for the women of Jubilee!  We look forward to continuing to build this new partnership!  Jubilee’s executive director, Cheryl, has supported NPH with leadership development for many years and each year offers her advice and teaching to the Seattle students as well!  To learn more about Jubilee’s great work: http://www.jwcenter.org/

Helping Hands

This Spring, Celson visited St. Anne’s School in Seattle to share the NPH story and the story of NPH Nicaragua’s outreach program to the local garbage dump.  Inspired by both Celson’s talk and pictures from his Dad’s trip to a clinic in Haiti, one of the students began his own campaign to help our NPH family.

Since then, Brendan, a 13-year old student from Seattle, has raised more than $1,000 for NPH!

Joe Cotton, Celson’s Host Parent and Brendan’s 7th grade religion teacher at St. Anne’s Catholic School, has focused on instilling a sense of social justice in his students. He encouraged Brendan to turn his passion into action.  Brendan decided to focus his fundraising efforts on our programs in Haiti.

He hosted a community bake sale and school movie night with the goal to provide food for the children in the Father Wasson Angel’s of Light Program in Haiti.  Both Celson and Jacinto attended on behalf of their brothers and sisters in Haiti.  The students responded with overwhelming support to help raise money for NPFS Haiti by purchasing baked goods and attending his movie night- admission was a donation to NPH.

St. Anne’s Catholic School recognized the efforts of its students by matching all of the donations to Brendan’s projects!

Esta primavera, Celson visitó la Escuela de Santa Ana en Seattle para compartir la historia de NPH y la historia del programa de divulgación de NPH Nicaragua en el basurero local.

Inspirado por tanto hablar y las imágenes de viaje de su padre a una clínica en Haití, uno de los estudiantes comenzaron su propia campaña para ayudar a nuestra familia de NPH

Desde entonces, Brendan, un estudiante de 13 años de Seattle, ha recaudado más de $ 1,000 para NPH

Joe Cotton, Padre adoptivo de Celson durante su estadia en seattle y profesor de religion de Brendan un niño de séptimo grado en la escuela católica de Santa Ana, se ha centrado en inculcar un sentido de la justicia social en sus alumnos. Alentó a Brendan convertir su pasión en acción. Brendan decidió centrar sus esfuerzos de recaudación de fondos en nuestros programas en Haití

Brendan organizó una venta de pasteles en la comunidad y la escuela y una noche de cine con el objetivo de proporcionar alimentos a los niños del Programa Ángeles de Luz en en nph Haití. Tanto Celson y Jacinto asistieron en representación de sus hermanos y hermanas de Haití. Los estudiantes respondieron con un abrumador apoyo para ayudar a recaudar fondos para NPH Haití mediante la compra de productos de panadería y asistir a la noche de cine y los ingreso fue una donación para NPH

La escuela Católica de Santa Ana reconoció los esfuerzos de sus estudiantes, haciendo conocer todas las donaciones a proyectos de Brendan.

 

 

How can a mini-van help an emerging leader? We are so glad you asked!

Use your old mini-van/suburban to contribute to NPH’s future!

The NPH International Leadership Institute in Seattle is growing!  Next year, the SIX participants will no longer all fit in Kara’s car presenting lots of logistical complications!

At least once a week all the students engage in a service project or attend a workshop, class, fundraiser, worship service or other event together.  We also have several retreats throughout the year that we get to by car.

Being able to transport all the students in ONE vehicle is a huge blessing!  We hope to be able to continue that as the program grows.

To that end, we are looking for a donated vehicle with at least 7 seat-belts (6 NPH students, 1 driver).  If you or anyone you know is ready to downscale (kids off to college?), will you consider donating your vehicle to these emerging young leaders?

In reality, we are also going to need extra help to pay for licensing fees, taxes, and gas if anyone would like to help with that too!

Sorry for the very direct plea, but we are realizing how needed this will be come September 8th, 2013!

For more information, please contact Kara at: 206-949-0792 or kking@nph.org.

Thank you!!!!!

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On Earth as it is in Heaven: Tierra Nueva

This past weekend, the leadership students visited Burlington – home to the ministries of Tierra Nueva (New Earth).  On Saturday morning, we arrived at their organic farm in Mt. Vernon unsure what to expect.  We were greeted by the people who coordinate and run the farm, and it was fun to hear a bit of the history of the farm and how it got started.  Rodolfo was especially interested to learn that Tierra Nueva actually started in Honduras before expanding to the Skagit Valley in Washington State to serve the migrant worker community here.

We spent the day volunteering on the farm: pulling weeds, planting seeds, and helping however we could.  The NPH students were eager to help and made comments like, “I love this” and “I feel like I am back at NPH”.  We learned new words in both Spanish and English, and played around with the unique “Spanglish” spoken by the staff!

The next day we took a short drive to Deception Pass and then returned to Tierra Nueva for worship in the afternoon.  The healing work happening in this community was both evident and inspiring.  Stories of former gang members who have changed their lives, women who are giving up addictions, and men who are raising their children as single fathers were told.

We prayed for each other, for our communities, and for the world before sharing in Communion together.  Afterwards, over soup, we spoke with people about their struggles and their faith in God.

Thank you to Amanda and everyone at Tierra Nueva for welcoming us into your family!

Leadership and Vocation

Over the past few weeks, we have been exploring in depth the intersection of our gifts and the needs of the world.  As Frederick Buechner said, “vocation is the places where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need”.

We began with a day-long workshop on Spiritual Gifts.  This gave us time to learn about different gifts, as well as beginning to identify which gifts we may have.  Time to meet one-on-one with an experienced spiritual adviser was valuable in understanding how God may be working through us.

We identified a gift to “practice” using during the week and this “gift experiment” gave us the opportunity to intentionally put into practice our learning.

Then, this weekend we enjoyed a wonderful weekend retreat on Whidbey Island.  Exploring our personal strengths, gifts given by God, and the needs of NPH and the world; we began work on our culminating projects.  The hope is that these projects will allow us to share what we have learned this year in Seattle with our brothers and sisters at home.  We will spend the next few months working on these projects and gathering the necessary resources.

It has been an exciting and hopeful process to discover our passions, gifts, and consider how to use them to bless others.

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Volunteering at St. Francis House

The following is a post by Doris reflecting on her experience:

St. Francis House is a place that tries to help immigrants and poor people from the United States that have few resources. This place helps them with clothes for children, young people and adults, furniture, tickets for the bus, food and toys; especially for Christmas. Volunteering in this house was a great experience. I had the opportunity to help people and to give them the things they needed. What I liked was that the people could pick whatever they needed, but there are always people checking that they don’t take more than they need.

During Christmas, this place collects toys for boys and girls of different ages with the goal that every family will have toys for their kids. Every family had a list in their hands of their kids and their ages. They had the opportunity to pick the toys for their kids and then bring them home. It was exciting to see the parents picking the best toys for their kids, hopping to get home and surprise them with the best Christmas gift.

It was an experience that taught me that in life, it is not necessary to speak the same language as somebody, but rather to have the desire and the love to be able to help.

Doris

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Homelessness in Seattle

Today the Leadership Group had the opportunity to visit one of Seattle’s most established Tent Cities (https://sites.google.com/a/nickelsville.org/home/), Nickelsville.  This self-managed eco-village can provide shelter for up to 1,000 homeless men, women and children.  During the last two months, the leadership group has become very aware of the homeless population living in Seattle and they have had many questions and conversations surrounding this issue.

During our visit today, we were able to bring dinner and had the privilege of serving it to many of the people who live there.  The pizza was a big hit!

After dinner, we had a short tour of the village.  We learned about their community government, regulations, lack of electricity and running water and met their two goats!  Afterwards, we spent some time chatting and learning from the people who live there.  We hope to return again in the coming months to serve however we can and to get to know our neighbors better!

 

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