Current Child Count

  • HOGAR DE AMOR I: 11 babies
  • HOGAR DE AMOR II: 6 boys
  • HOGAR DE AMOR III: 8 girls

Thursday, April 30, 2009

the numbers in my head today...

40 children

20 staff members

6 volunteers
family of 6

10 boys & 10 girls in the Baby Home (how does it stay so even?)

4 staff meetings 4 days in a row (3 homes + volunteers)

ONE me!

It's amazing
it's exciting
it's exhausting
it's quite the responsibility!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

blogging trip

One of the most open, honest, raw, real, personal, passionate Christian mothers I have ever had the privilege of learning from, Angie at "Bring the Rain", is in India this week on a Compassion International blogging trip (how modern, no?).

Her posts have been nothing short of astounding. And for me, this is my world already--reaching children in need. In the midst of an extremely challenging week for me (more than anything, just trying to keep my head above water and not think WHAT have I gotten myself into!!!), her reflections during the inevitable ups and downs of the trip have been a great blessing and motivator for me. I haven't had the chance to read all the bloggers reports yet, but those that I have are also very impacting.

As I considered linking to their trip, it didn't seem to make much sense since we also seek sponsors of our children here in Bolivia. However, on second thought I decided that was incredibly selfish in the face of so much poverty and suffering in the world. In the end, it doesn't matter one bit to me which child is sponsored and touched by the Lord (and a new friend!).

And oh, I loved reading what Melissa Fitzpatrick (Beth Moore's daughter) said in her post today: yesterday was the highest day of child sponsorship EVER for a Compassion blogger trip!! Go, Compassion Team!!!

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two for Twos-day

November 2007
Making a wish...

Joint 5th birthday party for L & L

Nope, they aren't twins, just happen to have birthdays two days apart!
(The sad thing is they are still with us, one at CDA II and one at CDA III. Of course we love having these two awesome, VERY smart kids and their younger siblings, but they've been with us since 2005 and would do so well in a family of their very own! And this is not because there are no families for them. Particularly with these two cases of children there have been a ridiculous number of set backs in child protection/the court that keep them uneligible for adoption. This is our constant prayer request, for God to grease the wheels of bureaucracy here!!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Child History 5.0

Each child comes with their own unique story:
heart breaking, tragic, with conflicting details, many unknowns and doubts...or all of the above. Here's the particularly difficult story of one.

Eliana had an unimaginably rough start to life. She was born several hours outside the city in a poor rural area. As with many or most of our babies, her mother was the victim of rape, but with the awful twist that her older brother was the perpetrator. She had to hide her pregnancy and then the birth of baby Eliana under threats of death or injury from the brother/father.

When Eliana was still a small baby, her mother was taking her out to drown her in the river when her father (Eliana’ grandfather) discovered her. At that point, authorities were notified, Eliana was hospitalized with severe malnutrition and other illnesses, and Eliana’ family was scattered: her mother went into hiding for her own protection, her father ran away and when caught was put in jail (although he has since escaped), the grandfather ran away to avoid receiving punished from the community for such a disgraceful family, and the grandmother was left to sort through the mess and get another son out of jail on drug charges (drugs supposedly planted in his car by Eliana's father as manipulation to keep the brother silent on what had happened...although who knows what the real story is).

Although Eliana arrived to us straight from the hospital, she was in a very poor state of health, weighing just 11 pounds. At times we even had her isolated because she had such bad infections. But how she has recovered nutritionally! At 18 months she weighed in at 24 pounds.

Despite her tragic past, even when a sickly baby Eliana has always been one of our brightest, sunniest babies…as well as noisiest! She loves to joke and play and is a busy, active toddler.

There's been some concern that she might have kidney issues because of repeated UTIs, but a sonogram showed all to be fine, at least externally. All year she's been very healthy and so we've elected to not do further [expensive and invasive] exams for now. (Unless you count in violent vomiting when she's in the car for too long!! She's our first who definitely gets car sick, and these roads are anything but smooth.)

At one point my family and I took a road trip to personally pick up an important report from the Child Defense that "rescued" Eliana. Long story short, I did not obtain that report. Still, after much effort and more delays than I'd care to recall, Eliana's papers are being processed in court so that she will someday have a loving adoptive family.

Pictures, top to bottom:

1) January 2009 (I love this dress on her!)
2) My sister Emma holding Eliana her first days with us (when we adopted Emma from Russia, she was in the same condition as Eliana: 11 pounds at 8 1/2 months)
3) Just TWO months after her arrival and already a new baby!
4) Always a drama queen!!

*name has been changed

Help provide loving care for Eliana for just $25/month through Casa de Amor's new child sponsorship program. Download THIS form to start!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Random Picture Challenge

This Saturday's Random Picture Challenge

8th folder - July
25th picture

February 2002
Me enjoying time with a little girl in St. Petersburg, Russia

I just did a quick search and this is the only picture that came up on my computer for 2002 (I know there are more but many of those were scanned in later years).

Not surprising it would be a Russia picture! We first visited Bolivia in August of that year, but otherwise Russia dominated in my family and we were all there together by the end of that year. I'd love to visit again!! It would be so interesting to study again the situation of children-at-risk with all the background that I have now. I knew next to nothing in those days of Russia trips, between 1999--2003. All I knew is I wanted to help, and it's really humbling to see how God took that desire and placed me where I am now! =)

Friday, April 24, 2009

New Blog!

We have a new blog!!

The blog will be a place for the international volunteers of Casa de Amor to share their stories, thoughts, and maybe even future plans, as God works in and through them as they serve our children.

You know how while serving others, particularly in a sacrificial way in a foreign country, He often ends up doing more in you than to others?

There’s lots to be done still but I’m already putting up posts from the contributing authors, so have a look.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Child History 4.0

Each child comes with their own unique story:
heart breaking, tragic, with conflicting details, many unknowns and doubts...or all of the above. Here's another.

Diego’s family came in from the countryside to work in the city. They lived on one of the “hills” in Cochabamba that is dotted with tiny houses and immersed in poverty. Struggles to survive, alcoholism, violent fights and long working hours put the family at much risk. Eventually Diego’s mother couldn’t take it anymore and began telling the neighbors that she would give away her youngest child, then 2, because he was very disobedient and she didn’t love him anyway. There was no father to protest, or at least the man his mother was living with did not claim Diego as his own son.

The mother found her way to child protection offices where she made known her decision. Reading the answers she gave during an interview are heartbreaking: No, I don’t feel anything for him. No, I won’t miss him or come back for him. After a day of testing her resolve but no change in attitude, we were called and asked to take Diego in. He arrived around dark and sobbed at the gate for his mother. She left town immediately, leaving no information and not returning since according to neighbors of their former shack.

Upon arrived to Casa de Amor, Diego spoke and understood Aymara, a native dialect in Bolivia and one of the three official languages. He had to learn Spanish, which he did very quickly without looking back! He was our biggest talker ever in the Baby Home. He was also an extremely outgoing, active little boy whose favorite activities were going out in my car, talking about my car, carrying on a conversation with anyone who would listen (or not!), playing and talking to the other kids, bursting into spontaneous renditions of Happy Birthday (just as likely to be in English as Spanish), and leading the kids in prayer before meal or snack time. He was a ham for the camera and loved seeing his picture afterwards. Diego also had a genuine love for the babies and always watched out for them.

I say was because Diego now has the incomparable blessing of a NEW stable family!! In fact, tomorrow Diego flies to Spain to begin his new life with his doting parents! I will take a few from the Baby Home to see him off. It will be so hard to see him for the last time! Well until I make it on my round-the-world tour…. We were so blessed by Diego’s presence in our home and his absence is felt.

Pictures, top to bottom:

1) Mr. Photogenic! The photographer who came in January fell in love with him, as just about everyone does (he fell and got that scar on his forehead the same day we found out he was assigned parents, in Sept. 2008)
2) First picture at Casa de Amor

3) As a wise man, Christmas manger scene photo shoot
4) Taking in the big news, Feb. 2009: parents are on the way!!!
5) Always ready for a good time!

*name has been changed


In these heaps of paper there are....

multiple volunteer applications,

reference checks,


staffing schedules


ministry newsletters,

pictures of new kids for files and more for our walls,

foster family documents,

medical orders,

kid lists,

monthly and annual staff reports,

random notes on scraps of paper (I love lists)

and receipts, receipts, and more receipts!

Or should I say there WERE, because mission accomplished. TODAY I finally cleaned off my desk!!! It's amazing what I can get done when I'm able to be in the office all day.

Now for time to review the huge stack of staff reports and make notes on all the receipts for my administrator and accountant.....

Two for Twos-Day

It was the twin's turn to come to church with me on Sunday. I think I haven't taken both out (alone) since December 31! There are just so many babies to rotate through. But Casa de Amor had Sunday School duty so I thought, why not! They are crazy busy bodies right now, even him, believe it or not. The tias call them our two earthquakes. Guess that's like us Texans saying "tornados", LOL.

If those aren't the HUGEST eyes ever!!!

Since it's kind of a challenge to find good boy/girl twin outfits, I decided to go with red....matches their personality, ha!

Both still fit in my lap fine! (They are almost 17 months old.) Well until SOMEONE becomes a bucking bronco...

Okay now this is getting totally off the point of everything "two", but check this out: Twin Girl E is IN the diaper bag!

It was nuts, we were 4 adults eating with 3 babies which should've been much easier than it proved to be. But hey, keeps life interesting!

Volunteer Alie with Baby JJ (10 weeks)

And her brother sleeps peacefully...

Their personality differences in a nutshell!

{I can't even IMAGINE how many brownie points this post just earned me with Denise, it's mind boggling!!}

Friday, April 17, 2009

blue skies, beautiful babies, and big birthdays!

More pictures from our big annual April park day...

Lots of baby lovin' time

Tia Sarin and Tia Teresa enjoy some one-on-one time with Twin E & Baby E

Tia Luz with Baby J

Micaela with Baby V

Tia Luz with a few

Games according to age group...

One of the baby groups plays with bubbles

(had to laugh when I noticed both twins at Tia Sarin's feet begging for attention, as usual!)

The 3-5 year olds playing "candy toss"..and then "candy eat" =)

L's shirt, oh so true: "I can't help it, I'm just cute"

Tug-of-war! Boy did they get into this! I didn't even have to explain, just make them wait till the count of three

Then we celebrated three of this month's birthdays...

Happy 1st Birthday, E!

Happy 2nd Birthday, B!

Happy (17th) Birthday, Katrina!

Twins E & E

In the words of volunteer Nick..."there's OH so much cake action here, you've gotta get a picture!"

(For the first time I was glad that I was one of the drivers.....what lucky soul would get these sticky little guys on the way home?!)

And then drumroll............

The amazing group picture--all 39 kids, and all staff and volunteers who helped!

CDA II crammed in and ready to go (12 kids, 3 or so adults + driver)...

And I know I already posted it yesterday, but this picture was so much work don't you agree it deserves another look?

Our kiddos!!

April Park Days

April 2005
~6 kids~

April 2006
~15 kids~
(We thought that was sooo many to take to the park!)

April 2007
~27 kids (?)~

and too busy to get a group picture, apparently!

April 2008
~32 kids~

April 2009
~39 kids~

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15

Today is Baby E's first birthday! Well, the day we gave him anyway. I'd explain,'s just a long sad tale of government inefficiency and bureaucracy and a smidge of Bolivian culture thrown in as to why we still don't know this chubby charmer's exact birth date. He just arrived on August 15 last year and some papers said 4 months old, thus April 15. We'll celebrate on Friday.

But I like it...

My little brother was due to be born on April 15, 1990. For some reason, I realized a few weeks ago that Dan, one of our current volunteers, is just a couple months older than Micah would've been. That was something to digest. As I crain my neck to look up at Dan (a rarity for me in this country!!) and imagine my baby brother being that tall (which he most certainly would've been, knowing the Thompson genes)..... It's hard to believe and for the ten millionth time I miss what could've been.

Some people are not very sensitive to the grief of miscarriages, but it was real enough to me and I was just 7! And again 7 1/2 years later when it inexplicably happened again, to what I'd like to think would've been my second brother.

BUT....I highly doubt any brother of mine would be driving a motorcycle after only a few days in a third world country at age 19! Dan got stopped today by police for not wearing a helmet (he hasn't found one big enough here) and he fairly glowed as he retold the story while digging out more on the future room. He somehow talked his way out of any further trouble [he speaks German, not much Spanish yet], showed his Indiana driver's license, his gun handling license, and I don't know what else, then just continued on his way...! He said it was so much fun. O-o-k-e-e-y....

~And no it's not our motorcycle, although my administrative staff would like one for quicker errand-running. The missionary family where Dan is staying generously lets him use it!