By: Hanna Thomas
It blows my mind that we just celebrated our first year of life in Guatemala. Thank you all, those who visited us, loved us, walked with us, worshiped with us, prayed with us, prayed for us, and supported us and our kids. We couldn’t have done it without you. We are thankful to Hope of Life for all that they do to support the people of Guatemala and their deep investment in the lives of so many orphans. And we definitely couldn’t do this without the presence of our God in each moment of each day.
We’ve grown in so many ways. As a couple we have grown stronger learning to rely on one another. It’s beautiful how our strengths and weaknesses are complimented by the other. Evan is such a good dad. He is our protector and our kids feel so safe with him. He can do anything and everything from building things, to cooking great food, to fixing cars, to braiding hair, to play soccer. I certainly couldn’t do it without him and our kids wouldn’t be half of what they are without him.
We have grown as parents. At this time last year, we had 0 kids. A few weeks into our life here, we moved into a home where we had 5 kids. One left, leaving us with 4 kids for a few months. We felt like we were really diving in with 4 kids but now that we have 8 we look back and laugh at how easy things were then. We had some kids return to family which was really hard, especially as it happened unexpectedly. It reminded us that these kids are true gifts and whether it be the kids we are committed to raising or someone’s biological kids, we never know when something could happen. These kids aren’t ours but we are called here to raise them, to love them endlessly and to point them to the never ending, all consuming love that Jesus has for us.
Our kids have grown! Our kids have grown inches in such a short time. All of the clothes they started with are far too small. (A big thank you to groups who brought down great quality clothes for our kids!) Even our older kids are growing. When kids from trauma are put into a family where they are safe, have consistency, rules, and love, they grow in endless ways. All through Jesus’ love and grace, our kids are growing in their ability to reason, they are doing better in school, they are some the best soccer players, they have the funniest personalities that are finally starting to shine through, and they are becoming compassionate leaders and siblings every day.
Endless memories have been made in this year and tons of ‘firsts’ have happened. But to finish this post, I want to share about my dreams being made true of being a soccer mom. I grew up constantly playing sports and loved having my parents on the sidelines cheering me on. One of my biggest joys this year came just a few weeks ago when our oldest boy, Hector, got invited to play with the Safe Haven/Village of Transformation soccer team. He is one of the younger players but probably one of the tallest. I can’t hardly explain the joy I had cheering him on and watching him play his heart out. I loved watching all of the kids play because I know so much of the trauma they have each gone through and seeing them unite and play for one goal truly was beautiful. I loved having my other kids by my side yelling out cheers for Hector. Later that week, my girls and I got to play on a team with some others from up here at the Village of Transformation. We played a team from town and had a blast. A full field and a full 90 minutes without subs was tough but my heart exploded being able to be on the field with my girls, cheering them on and working beside them. And let me tell you, my girls are talented.
This is the beauty of Family Style Orphan Care- we are doing all we can to give our kids full lives and opportunities that could change their futures. And the fact that we get to do it together brings such a strong bond to our family. I am so thankful and we cannot wait until the next soccer game. I also cannot wait to see what plans God has for us in the next year!