In December of 2010, I organized a mission of hope, returning to my beloved Guatemala to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with family, friends, and the people of Escuintla, Guatemala. I spent many days preparing for this trip, preparing myself spiritually, and raising needed funds to bring hope to children in need.
Through donations and my personal funds I was able to purchase over 80 Christmas presents, and thanks to the kind donations of Lorraine & Matt Dudek and Pam Carson I was able to collect additional toys and clothing. Clothing that was donated by Pam Carson was given to Rebeca and her daughter, a young women who took in 9 children after the murder of her sister, and a sweater was given to Eva, a young girl from the community where we work in San Felipe.
The flight took off at 12:30p.m. on December 24, 2010. Arriving in Guatemala, I was greeted by my dear friend Pastor Neri Flores, Claudia Hurtarte, and Karen Tahon, Pastor Abel, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship at Pollo Campero. That evening I traveled to Escuintla, Guatemala, there I was greeted by many children, and they expressed how much they have missed me, and overwhelmed me with hugs and lots of love. Words can not describe how I felt, I missed everyone so much, seeing them again, was as if I found my heart. Later that evening I invited the children in the house to give gifts, as they opened their gifts their faces were glowing with anticipation and appreciation.
Throughout the week I spent time with the children in the community. We played games in the streets, laughed, took photographs, and I spent time talking to the children which opened the door for providing words of advice, love, and guidance. One example of my many conversations was with a young 12 year old girl named Sandra. She lives in an abandoned piece of land in a one room metal hut with her Mother, Grandmother (Who can’t speak because a man punched her in the throat), her two younger half-sisters, and an abusive Step-Father. The “house” has no electricity, running water, or bathroom. One morning she asked if I would sit with her on the street, as we sat there she began to weep, and started to share her life story. She told me about how ever since her Mother married her Step-Father around 8 years ago, her Mother neglects her, emotionally abuses her, makes her work instead of go to school, and her Step-Father recently offered her men for money. Sandra asked me if I know of anyone who can help her get out of this home. With everything within me I fought back my tears, and promised her that I will do everything I can to help her. I let her know what I am trying to do through the Hope Movement, and that I am trying to raise funds to build a home for abused and abandoned children called the City of Hope. I told her I am fighting for you, and I will do everything in my power to give you a better life, for you have a purpose, God has a destiny and plan for your life, and I refuse to allow abusive individuals to rob you of your destiny.
Another day a precious little girl name Nayeli and her brother came the house where I was staying, and whispered in my ear that they have a Christmas gift for me. They handed me a little gift, wrapped in Christmas paper. As I opened the gift, inside I found a letter written by the children. In their letter they thanked me for their Christmas gifts, and said that they love me like a Papa, that my hugs warm their heart. Throughout the week, more children came and gave little gifts, letters, and cards to me to express their love. I would often spend quite time in my room and would read these cards and letters over and over, and as tears flowed down my face I would pray for God to open the doors for me to help these precious children.
Adela Chacón Tax (Sister of Rebeca, the woman who we met) was brutally murdered in July 2007 and left behind a houseful of charming, boisterous family members, including her three children and her sister Rebeca. Rebeca is struggling to get justice in a system imbued with societal normalization of violence against women. There is documentary that will soon be released entitled “Justice for My Sister” which investigates the concept of femicide, or gender-based killings, in Guatemala, and how different people in the rural town of Escuintla remember and make sense of Adela’s death. I spoke with the Director of this documentary awhile back, and emailed her before my trip and informed her that I am going to Escuintla with some toys and clothing, and asked her if she could send me this families address. One hot afternoon, myself, Pastor Neri Flores, Betty Flores, Ivett Flores, Anahi Monzon, and Marlon Monzon visited this precious family to give toys, financial assistance, and words of hope. It was an inspiration to meet a young woman who has dedicated her life to taking care of her children, her sisters children, and fight for justice.
On December 31, 2010, myself and Pastor Neri Flores with the help of Victor (Mayor of the community), Mama Betty, Johanna and Marlon Monzon, Pastor William and Lely Lopez, Merlyn Escobar, Eluvia, Joselin Escobar, and other volunteers organized a street event for over 200 children in the community in the Colonia Madrid and San Felipe. Pastor William drove an hour to Escuintla and brought a sound system and keyboard, ladies in the community prepared the food, and Marlon assisted in blocking off the road. We started the event inviting everyone in the community to attend, and began singing songs with a Biblical message. The children sang, laughed, and danced, and a sense of love and hope filled the streets. As time passed more children came, and even adults came and sat near by to listen to messages and songs. Pastor William’s wife Lely shared a message with the children and incorporated the children in the lession. Later Pastor William introduced me, and I grabbed the microphone. I began to share the Bible story of Samual, the young boy that heard the voice of God. One evening God called Samual several times, but Samual thought it was Eli calling him. When Eli realized that God was calling Samual, Eli said the next time God calls you, say, your servant is listening. The point of the message was that we are never too young to be called by God. As we grow up we will hear many voices, people saying to try drugs, have sex, drink, say this, do that, we must focus on the voice of God. I told the children that you are the generation that will transform your families, communities, and nation. You will be the ones who will break the cycle. I asked them, when someone ask you to doing something that you know is wrong what will you say, and they yelled “NO”, I asked them when God speaks to you what will you say, and they yelled “I AM LISTENING”, I asked them are you ready to be used by God and transform Guatemala, and they yelled “READY”.
After the message we prayed with the children, and Pastor William asked the children to get in a line, and one by one they all gave me a hug. It was one of the most special moments of my life.
After the message and hugs, we set up two pinatas and we had so much fun, one by one the children, and even myself hit the pinatas. When they exploted with candy the children dove to the ground to gather as much candy as they could find. Afterwards, we fed all the children, giving them enchiladas, juice, and a small bag of candies.
That evening I had the privilege of spending New Years with the Flores, Monzon, and Alvarado family, as well as the precious children in the community. We ate, laughed, took photographs, and hugged until 3 in the morning. The morning of New Years 2011 I walked in the room and kissed little sleeping Anahi good-bye, hugged the family, and journied on my way back to Miami. Everytime I leave, I feel as if I am leaving a piece of me behind. I know that my calling is to live and work there full-time, and I wait for God’s perfect timing to return, and see His vision made into a reality. A vision of unity, the uprise of a Movement of Hope, flooding hope in the streets like a mighty river, breaking the cycle of the past, and transforming Guatemala into a Haven of Hope, a lighthouse to many nations.
- Jonathan Roiz
Founder/ Executive Director/ Missionary
The Hope Movement
This Christmas Jonathan Roiz will be traveling to Guatemala to unite local churches, ministries, and community members together as one in a Hope Movement Alliance to conduct our annual Christmas Mission this December 2010 in the Colonia de Madrid and San Felipe in Escuintla, Guatemala, and possibly in Chiquimula. Over 80% of the population in these communities live in extreme poverty, living on less than $1 a day for an entire family. Most children can not even enjoy a piece of daily bread. The homes are constructed with aluminum sheets, and whatever they can find for shelter. Homes don’t have running water and operating bathrooms. Escuintla is the 3rd largest city in all of Guatemala, yet the Hope Movement is the only outreach program. In constructing our City of Hope, and implementing our Generation of Transformation and Adults of Purpose programs in local schools and churches, the Hope Movement will be able to reach thousands through Guatemala. For this reason it is important to unite and train local churches, ministries, and community members as one so that one can become a thousand, a thousand a movement of hope.
The Hope Movement will be delivering donated clothing and toys to the children and families. We will also be purchasing pinatas, food, and candies for our street celebration where Jonathan Roiz will be sharing a message about the process of purpose, music, family counseling, clowns and dramas, pinatas, and feeding over 300 children. If you would like to Adopt-A-Program and Give to this wonderful Christmas Mission please donate online or by sending your donation to the address below.
- Food: $250.00
- Pinatas: $25
- Candies: $25
- Travel to Chiquimula (5 hour Bus Trip): $100
- Purchase of Toys: $100
The Hope Movement
17000 North Bay Road, Suite 808
Sunny Isles Beach, Florida 33160
Haiti: Church Offered No Help To People In Streets, They Said, Help Is For Mormons Only! – Time for Change
LEOGANE, Haiti (November 8, 2010) — The water in Haiti’s seaside town of Leogane rose to the doorsteps of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But if you’re local, and homeless, you needn’t have bothered coming here for help. Help is for Mormons only.
Hurricane Tomas swiped the western coast of Haiti late last week, and three days of rain brought massive flooding to many towns, including Leogane. The U.N. estimates 1,500 people in the city were displaced by the flood, most of whom have been living in temporary tents since the Jan. 12 earthquake.
The LDS church is one of the biggest and most modern buildings in Leogane, with the capacity to safely hold and protect 200. The church’s hurricane policy? Only church members can seek shelter there. On Friday, 36 congregants and family members slept at the church.
They didn’t receive food or water, sleeping mats or mattresses. On Friday afternoon, a dozen women sat on the ground and in chairs outside, underneath the shadow of the church’s enormous satellite dish, while church staff more or less ignored them.
The church did not welcome non-Mormon community members, and did not extend much comfort to its own church family. The policy reflects two common realities in Haiti: First, charity is complicated by a seemingly endless sea of need; and second, many churches are here to serve only themselves, not the community at large.
“It’s not simple,” said Matthieu Chrisner, adviser to the bishop, the leader of the local congregation. Letting people take shelter here “is a very complex decision, and a lot of people would have to agree. It’s a chain of authority that reaches the headquarters in the Central Caribbean.”
If I had a group of children right now who needed a shelter?
“For now, we can have members of this church and their parents,” he replied.
If they were disabled?
“I would have to ask at another level,” Chrisner said. “There is a committee. Really, it’s a committee inside of some other committees. It goes through the bishop, then a committee process … then, there’s no way to know if it’s longer or shorter. I can’t tell you how long it would take for an answer.”
A local Mormon mother, 25-year-old Tanya Favery, sought shelter here before the storm. She thinks the Mormon-only policy is wrong, but she is resigned to her role, as a grateful beneficiary, and doesn’t question the authority of the bishop.
“It’s not normal, as a Christian,” Favery said. “It should’ve been done otherwise. People could’ve come here and found Christ. But I’m not the decider.”
In an interview, Bishop Pierre-Louis Yves told AOL News his church wasn’t welcoming any hurricane victims at all. The church volunteered its premises as a point of coordination for the Department of Civil Protection. He said the 36 people staying at his church were support staff for civil protection employees. People interviewed at the church denied that.
For their part, the eight or 12 rotating civil protection staff, part of a team of more than 100, moved in and out of the parking lot. None of them slept at the church. They, too, didn’t question the scene — a pristine building, with virtually no outreach to the community.
“It’s not shelter, it’s a Mormon church,” a church employee said.
The phrase was repeated over and over by many in the neighborhood, as people seemed not to understand that in a hurricane in Haiti, any building capable of withstanding wind and rain is a potential shelter. Most other shelters were either schools or churches, many of which were far more modest than the LDS facility.
The government of Haiti estimated that the western region had shelters for 20,000, but post-hurricane, many are wondering what that number means and how exactly it was calculated.
Before the storm hit, government employees with bullhorns, as well as radio disc jockeys, told people to seek shelter or risk their lives. But people were not told where to go. Unless they knew a friend with room in their house, most were frozen in place.
Numerous employees of the Department of Civil Protection, who have been working in the neighborhood of the church, said there were other places besides the LDS church for people to go. But when questioned, they couldn’t name or identify any. One employee said he knew there was a map with shelters on it, but he had never seen a copy. “I think the mayor has a copy,” he said.
A U.N. official said the world organization would help facilitate any building that wants to be a shelter, by providing water and sanitation, as well as distribution of food, to ensure people are provided with basic services. But no building is required to be a hurricane shelter just because it is safe, the official said.
Local charities that work in Leogane were not aware of the church’s policy. Stefanie Chang, with All Hands, a U.S.-based charity operating in the area, said she felt most people in Leogane who sought shelter were able to find it, since many decided to stay home and ride out the storm.
The bishop pointed out that the church had been a shelter for earthquake victims. But this time, he came to an agreement with the mayor of Leogane that the church would host a small office for government employees, instead of its homeless neighbors.
If a church is not also a shelter in a storm, what is it? There are thousands of churches in Haiti, many of which were started, like this one, by missionaries. Their relationship to local civic life — as it exists in Haiti — is far different than it would be in a developed country. Religious institutions have enormous power here, if only because they have enormous resources.
At the empty churchyard, Tanya Favery talked gossip and shared food with two new neighbors, Alcine Magolie and Solange Goston, who also sought protection here. Alcine said that with no free food, no water, no beds, they got the picture: Go home. Even though, truth-be-told, they’d rather not. And they didn’t know what they’d find when they did — water, mud, nothing at all.
They knew they were begging and they felt like beggars. But as Christians — and Haitians — their relative good fortune stings.
“The Bible said to open up to everyone,” Favery said with some anger. “Jesus saved many lives in his ministry. A lot of people used to come to Jesus for help. He helped them.”
This is a wonderful opportunity for you to sponsor Hope Movement Missionaries to Mexico. You can support the important work of our missionaries by sponsoring the Gamboa Family for only $25 monthly, or any amount that you can give.
Name: Randall Gamboa and Fiorella Oviedo.
Children: Michelle (10 years old) Melanie (8 years old) and Isabella (6 months)
Born and raised in Costa Rica, Randall and Fiorella made a commitment to serve God with all of their hearts in 1996. A year later they met and fell in love, and in May of 1998 they married. Over the years Randall and Fiorella have served in the church in San Sebastian, Costa Rica as Sunday School Teachers, and have been Youth Pastors for over 9 years. They have three beautiful young girls, and while being full-time Youth Pastors Randall worked in a local bank to support his family. Randall and Fiorella felt in their hearts that God was calling them to be missionaries in Mexico, a nation plagued with extreme violence, and is great need of hope. Pastor William Obando and Randall traveled to Mexico and doors began to open for Randall and his family to move to Guadalajara, Mexico in April 2010 as full-time missionaries, starting a church, home based community groups, with opportunities to expand Hope Movement initiatives throughout Mexico such as Hope Movement Alliance, School-based programs, missions of hope, and outreach programs.
Location: Guadalajara, México
Economical Needs: $1,000 monthly
Currently Received: $700 monthly (Funded by Church in Costa Rica)