Last month, our Creative Director, Valerie Keinsley, visited several organizations in Mexico during a family trip. She’ll be sharing her experiences and the stories of these organizations over the next week. We can’t wait to introduce you to the children and people she met during her time there!
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We pulled up in front of the under-construction house on a dusty street in the center of town. It was sweltering hot, I was so tired from being on my feet all afternoon and was wishing in my head that we could just skip this stop and head home. So it was with a little bit of hesitation and not the best attitude that I walked into the home of Maggie Arechiga and the Guaymas headquarters of Agua Y Mas ministries.
Agua Y Mas focuses on providing homes for the less fortunate and specifically focuses on mothers with children that come from abusive situations. They also care for the fatherless, working together with DIF (the child welfare agency in Mexico) in Guaymas. Agua Y Mas provides a safe place where the residents are provided clean water for their bodies, God's word for their minds and God's love for their spirits! They give mothers an education and an opportunity to train for a good job. For the children, they provide access to education and help them be encouraged and accepted by the community.
The home in Guaymas is currently housing 19 children and 4 mothers. There is a single bunk room for all the residents. Maggie sleeps in a small bed pressed up against a wall in the kitchen. A large armoire, handed down from Maggie's grandmother, creates a partition between Maggie's "bedroom" and the kitchen. She shares this bedroom with two girls, and shares her own small bed with a girl she has taken in, an orphaned girl that another orphanage couldn't care for. But Maggie is a dreamer, and more than that, a doer. Construction is nearly complete on a second story of the house, which will add 6 bedrooms. The bunk room downstairs will be transformed into a gathering hall, and the space adjacent to the home is being renovated into a cafe, where the home's residents can work and earn an income to provide for themselves. Maggie beams as she gives us the grand tour. We step into what will eventually be her private bedroom. "Maybe someday I will have my own space," she comments. Terry, our tour guide, smiles and says, "But the minute someone needs a bed, you know you will be cramming extra beds into your room, Maggie!" Maggie just splits into her trademark wide grin. "Yes, yes, I will." She says. "I could not turn them anyway!"
"I could not turn them away." I only spent half an hour with Maggie, but it's obvious that this phrase is the hallmark of Maggie's life and her ministry. She turns no one away. She finds the resources, finds a bed or gives up her own. She takes in the broken, the battered and bruised. She takes in the orphans, the ones with no one to call their own. She makes it work, and the work is never ending. And why? "Seeing the smiles on the children and the mothers working cheerfully and giving and receiving their love is sufficient. A child graduating, a mother loving another child that is fatherless, gives me the assurance that God is at work," says Maggie. "God gives me strength and courage each day to continue and my faith is activated in His grace."
So much of orphan care hinges on orphan prevention. Enabling mothers and fathers to keep their children, equipping them with the life skills necessary to be parents. Maggie and Agua Y Mas are at the front lines of this effort, and it's through people like her that we WILL see an end to the orphan crisis worldwide. I believe in Maggie, and I believe in the power of orphan prevention, the power of keeping families together. And Maggie's dreams don't stop with the competition of the second story on her home. They are working to secure land in Guaymas for an even bigger vision: a home on acreage that will serve 500 mothers, their children and orphans! And with God's courage and strength, and Maggie's faith that is "activated in grace", I have no doubt she'll make it happen.
You can support the work of Agua Y Mas by donating (mail a check directly to their office: PO Box 51823, Palo Alto, CA 94303) or by contacting their secretary at Maliapires@gmail.com