Monday, November 30, 2009

CONIN isn't bad afterall

We had the opportunity to see new children come into CONIN for a variety of reasons. At one point a brother and sister were both brought to CONIN. Their parents were declared incapable by an agency to take care of them. We had the chance to see the little girl just after she arrived at CONIN. She was filthy. From head to toe. It looked like she had been playing in dirt for days. It was good for me to see it, because it reminded me that for most of the children at CONIN being there is a better option than being at their homes. While CONIN is not the ideal place to spend your childhood, it is a great orphanage. The kids truly are cared for, and it is by far a better place to be than their previous homes.

Marco, after being at CONIN for a few weeks--Looking MUCH better.

Cute little Marlene, all nice and clean :)


There was a little boy, Jason, who is so incredibly sweet. Sometimes a punk ( He hits and bites and spits), but he´s also very sweet. His mom sold him and his little brother for drugs, which is how they ended up in CONIN. He´s now 5 years old. And when you turn 5 you move to a different orphanage where you live until you turn 18, or until you´re adopted. Wednesday was his day to leave. As a going away present we gave him and his brother each a teddy bear and new outfit to wear. Literally, that´s all they had when they left. A teddy bear and the clothes on their back. When they brought Jason in to say bye to us he wouldn´t even lift up his head because he was so sad to leave. It had been his home since January. I was having a hard time holding back my tears. But then they told us that we could go with them to take the 2 boys to the other orphanage. In the car I held Jason. He was so sad. When we got there and got into the office he burst into tears. I then started crying, too. It seriously broke my heart. They finally got him into the back room… and not too much later they brought out a bag of his and his brothers clothes. They even brought back the underwear. These boys now had only the teddy bears we gave them. Of course this made me cry all over again. They had nothing. Not even the clothes on their back. It´s such a sad realization to me and I´ve been thinking about little Jason and his brother ever since. It´s such a hard life, I can´t even imagine.

Saying "bye" to Jason. We weren't really as happy as we look. In fact, I was in tears for about the next hour.

Saying "bye" to Damian, Jason's little brother

We were lucky enough to go back to Jason's new home to see how he was doing. I'm happy to say that he was doing extremely well. Playing with kids his age and having room to run around outside was better for him than his living situation at CONIN. While he still has nothing to his name besides his teddy bear, he continues to smile. He is an amazing little boy whom I can only hope grows into an amazing man by breaking out of the life he has been forced into. Good luck with everything, Jason. You are in my prayers!

Jason is the one on the top right

Jason's friends at his new home

Teddy Bears

Thank you Cedar Hills 1st ward for all of the time you put into making teddy bears for each child at CONIN. They were a huge hit. We decided to write each child's name on their very own teddy bear, making the teddy bears the only item that was truly their own. We even convinced the director of CONIN, Gloria, to allow the children to sleep with the teddy bears. They were truly loved by each and every child at CONIN. So, thank you :)

Francisco like the teddy bears so much that he took them from everyone!
Michael and Jose, loving their teddy bears.
Handing out the bears. They were all so excited to love and hug them!


We were astounded by the number of donations we received to take down to Chile with us this past September. Words cannot even describe how thankful we were for all of the time, energy, and money you all put in to helping us make our time in Chile not only memorable for us, but also for those whom benefited firsthand from your hard work. Thank you so much for everything you guys did. Here is a list of everything that we took down with us to the orphanage (as well as to a stake in Chillan, Chile). Enjoy!

  • 25 Small Teddy Bears
  • 15 Big Teddy Bears
  • 13 Crinkle Blocks
  • 1 Dressing Cube
  • 8 I-Spy Bags
  • 2 Board Games
  • 15 Crinkle Squares
  • 1 Dressing Pooh
  • 8 Wands
  • 3 Learning DVD's
  • 31 Hair Flowers
  • 13 Infant Beanies
  • 7 Child Beanies
  • 2 Large Beanies
  • 24 Colorful Shapes
  • 3 Tummy-Time Blankets
  • 6 ABC Books
  • 37 Little Girl Dresses
  • 13 Older Boy Pants/Shorts
  • 12 Older Boy Shirts
  • 4 Little Boy Outfits
  • 5 Boy Baby Sleepers
  • 14 Generic Baby Sleepers
  • 16 Girl Baby Sleepers
  • 1 Baby Headband
  • 2 Baby Tights
  • 8 Generic Onesies
  • 3 Undershirts
  • 2 Bibs
  • 5 Girl Onesies
  • 17 Baby Girl Shirts
  • 2 Baby Girl Pants
  • 28 Baby Girl Outfits
  • 1 One-Piece Coat
  • 5 Nail Polishes
  • 7 Super Hero Capes
  • 5 Puzzles
  • 3 Crayon Boxes
  • Batteries
  • 14 Jingle Braclets
  • 10 Egg Shakers
  • 10 Sets of Wooden Sand Blocks
  • 18 File Folder Games
  • 2 Burp Cloths
  • 2 Large Spanish Books
  • 10 Small Pillow Cases
  • 140 Little Kid Spanish Books
  • 8 Books On Tape
  • 33 Canvas Rattles
  • Burrito Babies
  • Lacing Canvas'
Also, thank you for all of the money donations! We were able to buy the orphanage pillows, a bookcase, pacifiers, and so much more. We truly are grateful for all of your love and support in helping us make life a little bit better for the children at CONIN.

Going through one of the many bins we took down

Stamping the clothing so that the orphanage workers wouldn't steal them.
The director looking at the books that were donated
Orphanage workers astounded at the amount of items donated.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Scriptures, FHE Manuals, and SOOO Much More

After what seemed like forever, the large-print scriptures and Family Home Evening manuals arrived from the distribution center in Santiago. I'll save you the details, but it was really quite a pain (especially for my mom, who spent hours on the phone and through emails trying to get something we assumed would be simple worked out). We took the boxes to the Stake President and he will distribute them as needed.

A miracle did take place with all of the waiting and hassle though... it turns out there were way too many FHE manuals in the distribution center and they needed to get rid of them to make space for other inventory, so they gave them to us for free. That is $500 worth of free books. We then wondered what to do with the extra money and decided to contact the branch president in Tocopilla, about 2 hours north of Antofagasta. On November 14, 2007 a 7.7 earthquake hit this little town, causing extensive damage. Even living 2 hours away, it was a major earthquake to go through, not to mention 2+ months of large aftershocks.

The branch president gave me the phone number of the Relief Society President. I contacted Sister Victoria Diaz and she immediately knew how the money could be used to help buy supplies for rebuilding. I later found out that she had just talked with the branch president, asking for some more money from the branch to help buy a kitchen sink, a toilet and a bathroom sink. He said the branch didn't have any more money, so she asked if they could contact the stakes in Antofagasta for some help. He said it was a possibility. Not knowing that this conversation ever took place, I called Sister Diaz soon after, offering her the financial help from the Cedar Hills 1st ward. Talk about a modern day miracle!

We shopped for the supplies on Thursday night (the products are cheaper in Antofagasta) and delivered them on Friday. It was a very humbling and spiritual experience, and the members of the Tocopilla branch are very grateful to their brothers and sisters in the United States.

A New Bathroom

Our 1st stop was to the compassionate service leaders house. She had been so busy helping everybody else that she forgot about herself. Her bathroom was badly damaged during the earthquake, and so the plan is to turn this little old room into the new bathroom. The husband of the RS President works 4x4 at one of the mines (4 days he stays at the mine, 4 days at home), so on his days off he has been helping with all of the construction... it was so helpful that he knew exactly which pieces of plumbing we needed to purchase. Your money purchased her a new toilette, sink, all the necessary plumbing supplies, a shower curtain, toothbrush holder, soap dispenser, cup, and milk.


Our Next Visit- Campamientos

The population of Tocopilla is about 25,000. Currently 2,500 families are living in government-provided 'homes' because their real homes were destroyed in the earthquake. In reality they are sheds about the size of a bedroom. Most of these 'homes' are grouped together in various locations in the city and on the outskirts as well. They are called 'campamientos', and each have a name, the same way a neighborhood would have a name. There is no plumbing. There are outhouses and community water. Electricity is available and I believe that all have installed lights. Gas is also available for stoves and ovens. Some families have added on, giving them a bit more space. Some have even painted the inside, fewer have painted the outside. Most of the windows have curtains. A few of the 'homes' have tarp over the front of the house with chairs and a bb-q grill under, like it's their front porch. Children can be seen playing soccer in the dirt between the 'homes'.
A view from the road of a large campamiento at the south end of Tocopilla.A little closer view. Me & my girls, Sister Victoria Diaz, Brother Diaz, the compassionate service leader, my baby & another sister in the ward in front of one of the campamientos.
Some boys that were playing soccer in the dirt by their 'homes'. They were so excited to have their pictures taken for Americans, and they all told me that they were the best at soccer.

Community water. It is brought in by truck.
An example of how the 'neighborhoods' are set up.

Milk and a Light

We took a ceiling lamp to this family to go over their kitchen table. It is the lady in the green shirt and her daughter, the girl in the middle peeking around the Compassionate Service leader. The mother has no teeth at all, and is probably about 50. They share a queen sized bed, have a small fridge and small stove/oven, a kitchen table, and not much else fits in their little 'home'. There is lace dividing the sleeping area from the living area. After receiving the lamp the mother showed us pictures of some x-rays that were just taken, revealing severe osteoperosis. We left a case of milk with her.

3 Children

This family had 3 small children, the baby being only 6 months old. They were given a case of milk, some baby clothes, and some small toys. As you can see behind the mother, this family was fortunate to have been able to add on to the back of their 'home', so they have a little more space and privacy.

Hermana Carmen

I have only met Sister Carmen once, but I already love her. She is a single mother with 3 children, a 9 year old daughter and 2 sons on missions (in southern Chile and Bolivia). Her (almost) bed-ridden mother lives with her as well. During the earthquake 1/2 of her house collapsed. The other 1/2 was too dangerous to live in. Her 2nd son was still at home during the earthquake, but left about 2 weeks later for the MTC in Peru. It was so hard on him to leave these 3 women living in a tent in front of the house. The older sons mission president has called many times because he has been so concerned about his family. Sister Carmen just tells them that they are where they are supposed to be... she really has amazing faith.

As soon as we arrived at Sister Carmens house she gave me a big hug, and thanked me, and thanked her brothers and sisters in the United States. While the others were unloading everything she took my hand and led me through her house, giving me a very personal tour. The ceilings have all been torn down. The bathroom walls fell during the earthquake, but they have put them back up (temporarily). In the backyard is one of the government-provided 'homes'- they received it mid-January... I am so glad they are out of the tent! Their 'home' serves as their bedroom, and a make-shift dining/living room has been added onto the front. They will soon have a bathroom, and other than a kitchen sink, the house has been liveable (well, except for the pesky flies that have about a million ways to get in). They are grateful the summer heat is just about gone, but not looking forward to the cold winter nights. The hope is that in two years they will be able to rebuild the original home.

This family received a kitchen sink, faucet and cupboard for the sink, a Sunday dress for the daughter, and some shampoos and soaps.
The front of Sister Carmen's home... it has the mark that means the house it is uninhabitable. Me and my girls, Sister Carmen, Brother Diaz, the compassionate service leader (hiding between my baby & another sister from the ward), and Sister Victoria Diaz. In the box is the kitchen sink and cabinet. This is the room that was damaged the worst... the entire roof collapsed. Sister Carmen and her family feel so blessed that nobody was on the side of the house that collapsed (she was at work, her daughter was at school, and her mother was on the other side of the house).
A hole looking out to the street.
This is the 1/2 of the house that didn't collapse, but a tractor did take down the roof because it was too dangerous. Once it was down they moved out of the tent and into the house, waiting for the temporary 'home'.
A view from the front door... notice, no ceiling. To the right is where the roof collapsed. To the left is where it was torn down. At the back you can see a bit of the new kitchen/living room (behind the windows).
A view of the side of the house that collapsed (taken from the backyard, right in front of the new living/dining room). Another view of the collapsed half.
This is where the kitchen sink and cupboard will go. The home of the future bathroom... the toilete, sink, and shower from the collapsed house will be moved here.

The Chapel

The chapel will be remodeled soon (they are currently remodeling my ward's building and when they are through they will start in Tocopilla). The outside has a little damage, but the inside is extensive. It is a 2-story building with the chapel and cultural hall on top. Currently no one is allowed upstairs because it could collapse any minute. On the bottom floor all of the inside walls have been removed, with just the supports remaining so that Sacrament Meeting can be held there.

Because it was getting late, we took the rest of the items to the chapel to be distributed later. There was more milk, clothes, a nice new quilt, and the last 5 dresses and 1 baby hat that your ward made. Also, there were a few items that were too large for my car so we just gave them the money for the items (very long copper piping and such).
Can you see some of the cracks?
Wish we could have gone upstairs for some pictures, but it was just too dangerous.
The parking lot is blocked off.

Thank You

Here is a big THANK YOU and HUG from the members of the Tocopilla Branch, your brothers and sisters in the gospel. They really are grateful for your generocity and love.

  • kitchen sink, facette, & cupboard
  • kitchen plumbing
  • toilette
  • bathroom sink
  • bathroom plumbing
  • shower curtain, toothbrush holder, cup & soap holder
  • lots of milk (it has a shelf-life of about 9 months)
  • 1 dress
  • quilt & pillow case
  • gym shoes for a girl for school
  • 2 pairs of boys school shoes (everyone wears uniforms & must have black shoes)
  • ceiling lamp
  • dishes
  • clothing
  • baby hat (the last hat from your ward)
  • the 5 remaining dresses that your ward made

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

World wide sisterhood

As I was listening to the Relief Society broadcast I saw a lady with a baby sitting across the isle from me at the Stake Center. Her baby was wrapped in one of the blankets provided by the Cedar Hills 1st ward. It was such an awesome feeling that came over me as I listened to our church leaders talking about giving relief and service, and seeing the results of such labors at the same time. You have truly helped some people who don't have much as far as material items go. It is so fun as I visit different wards for my calling to see the little girls wearing their dresses and making sure I notice that they are wearing them. Thank you for all that you have done.

Newborn gets a new blanket!

El Salar Ward

El Salar Ward

Friday, September 21, 2007

Miramar Ward

Saturday, September 1, 2007

One more picture

I forgot to post this picture from Antofagasta Centro...