The Past 2017
This past 2017 was certainly a year of uncertainty with hurricanes pummeling Puerto Rico along with the Caribbean Islands barreling through Texas and Florida. Numerous earth quakes rocked many parts the world, Uncontrollable wild fires encompassed the west coast of the United States, never before has anything like this been witnessed. Hundreds of lives lost thousands more lives and property profoundly affected in this near apocalyptic series of events.
These events made us at Families For the Future change our focus of the Guatemala November group mission trip to concentrate on what we could do to help here at home. Pedro Nieves (president and founder) felt that we needed to help and put all of our efforts here in the U.S. deciding to take much needed aide to Puerto Rico instead.
Families For the Future shipped over four containers (that is including two containers we donated to United City) filled with water, food, toiletries, and other necessities for the people of Puerto Rico. What really seemed like a lot of donations from our perspective seemed like a drop in the bucket once we stepped foot on the battered island of over 3 and half million inhabitants. The need was desperate and incalculable. Drinking water was the main staple most requested by local organizations, municipalities, along with the local churches. Electric power was at about 20 percent capacity for the entire island. What we realized as the days went by was that Families For the Future was one of the many providing aid to the people of Puerto Rico.
Hundreds of non-profit groups from all over the world, along with many countries, along with the USA, were providing water, food, medical aid, with outside power companies rebuilding the power grid for the District of Puerto Rico. The true definition of humanitarian servant-hood was displayed on a global level. Lets us be reminded of the words of Jesus “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets”. Mathew 7:12 (ESV)
The Near Future 2018
Coming up on the second week of June, Families For the Future is planing the yearly group mission to Guatemala. This is featured to be an exceptional exciting trip, as they all are! We have 2- 3 medical missions scheduled, along with a visit to a women’s prison in Guatemala City, and several children’s work shops. As always the main focus is to bring the gospel to everyone we encounter.
One to La Finca, in Santa Lucia, a small farming village of about 30 families. A small school house had been constructed there three years ago. Families For the Future has been actively supporting La Finca students with outside donations of school supplies, clothes, shoes, and toiletries for the village mothers.
The second medical mission is to the mountain village of San Pedro. To get to this village we must first take a 20 minute boat ride across the volcanic Lake Atitlan. The villagers of San Pedro are native Mayan descendants, dressed in their spectacular colorful traditional dress. The most interesting of this mountain trip is that there is a need for three different translators, from English (for those that do not speak Spanish) to Spanish to the native language of Kekchi and then reverse. This makes it for a fun trip. About 6 years ago a church was established there from the gospel that that was brought there by our mission team.
The third medical is to the village of Cocales located in the southwest pacific coast in the township of Patalud. Cocales is the stepchild of Families For the Future. We have have been ministering to the children and families here over the past 12 years.
The first ever school Families For the Future built was here.. We investigated and estimated that less than 20 percent school aged children attended any government sponsored education, as it was just too costly. Currently over 90% of the children attend school here on a yearly basis. Throughout the past five years we have seen these same children go on to secondary education then see them graduate becoming productive men and women of their communities. As recent as last October the township of Patulud has added to the once one room schoolhouse to constructing a second wing that holds up to another 30-40 students.
The gospel has been preached to majority of these wonderful villagers of Cocales. Throughout the years, Families For the Future has maintained a close relationship with the leaders of this community providing yearly children’s bible school workshops, deworming, medical aid, shoes, along with spiritual encouragement. Upon our arrival to the village we receive a joyous welcome making our work most worthwhile. This is what it’s all about! We certainly look forward to this splendid yearly visit.
Upcoming Near Future: Children’s Center 20-?
About twenty years ago as I was sitting on my living room sofa meditating in my spirit, God showed me a vision. In this vision everything around me seem to have stopped, I could see nothing around me as if my peripheral vision had been blocked off.
I saw a sea of (Central American looking) children as far as I can see. I could feel myself looking down to them as if I was elevated as on a platform or suspended in the air. As I stared down at the children I could see and feel the despair in their big brown eyes, as hopelessness girded their dirt stained faces, I could not tell you in real time how long this vision lasted; to me, it seemed like two to three minutes at the most but realistically it probably lasted but just a few seconds. This same vision reoccurred to me a half dozen times during that year.
This vision has stayed with me as if I just saw it yesterday. The passion I felt from the onset of this vision for me has never diminished through the years. I kept asking myself and telling God, in frustration, “what do you want me to do Lord!” He finally showed me.
About five years ago as a result of seeing the lack and the hopelessness of hundreds of children over the prior four to five years I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me in thought. My thought was that these children need to be housed, fed, educated, and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. They need to go throughout their country and teach other children as they are taught. My wife Mary (in which she had a similar vision but to be explained in another blog) and I are called to help put an end to this perpetual cycle dark spirit of extreme poverty for these precious children of this country.
Well, I am happy to announce that Mary and I have recently purchased 5 plus acres of land for a children’s center (not yet named) in Sumpango, Guatemala! It is located in a Catholic dominated agricultural village called Las Flores (The Flowers). The climate in Sumpango averages to a high 72 degrees (fahrenheit) during the day to down to the lower 50’s at night year round.
There is a large population of school aged children who cannot afford an education alongside battling malnutrition and/or other domestic situations plaguing these precious children; which makes Sumpango an ideal location for a children’s center; although one can say this for the majority of villages throughout Guatemala. With God’s help Mary and I will focus on putting a dent to this vicious cycle for these children of Sumpango and throughout the other villages of Guatemala.
Our goal is to build a mission center to possibly house (in the future) orphans, construct a school house slash church to teach a Christian curriculum whereas they learn the word of God and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. We will also introduce a feeding center for all the school children prior to class commencement along to the other hungry children in the village. Eventually the plan is to introduce training programs such as computers, farming tilapia, chickens, and agriculture.
In the Bible God commands us to take care of the poor the orphans and the widows, the downtrodden the hopeless, and the needy. He tells us to love all people and peoples. God did not command the government’s to do this. He commanded the church of Christ, us! James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NIV)
It is not in the name of any church or denomination that this children’s center is to be built but only in the name of Jesus. Together we can make a difference in this tiny part of the world. In saving 2, 3, or 4 children, each child as he or she grows up will save two or three others and they two or three others before one knows it thousands will have been brought to the feet of Jesus. All this by a vision revealed by the Holy Spirit over twenty years ago.
This year has been a year of many catastrophic natural occurrences around the world and domestically from wild fires in Montana, California, and the western states to earth quakes, in Mexico, Guatemala, Italy and other countries, along with the many uncommon number of super cyclones/ hurricanes that have decimated the Leeward and Virgin Islands along with crippling Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida. Hundreds of lives have been lost with thousands more displaced for months to come. Through all this tragedy people have answered the call to come together to help the hurting, homeless, hungry,and the helpless; compassion at its finest in the greatest time of need.
When hurricane Harvey hit the east coast of Texas bringing devastation to Houston and the surrounding areas Pedro Nieves (president/founder of Families for the Future,Inc ) and I talked about maybe postponing our yearly mission trip to Guatemala. Well, not quite two weeks later Irma slams the south coast of Florida coming in through Naples ripping the center of the entire state. No question about it we were cancelling Guatemala mission to concentrate our efforts in helping victims of Harvey and Irma.
As we are in prayer and in preparation in organizing relief Maria rakes through the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico causing havoc and desolation. Our decision of where to help is clouded by all the red tape and bureaucratic hoops from the national relief organizations. The lack of communication from any of the state or national disaster offices caused Pedro and I to scramble in organizing our own disaster relief. My prayer was “Lord help us in organizing this undertaking. Give us wisdom and understanding. Bring the people to us to get help in these efforts”. Behold, God never lets His children down in what is His will in us.
On September 22nd, two days after Maria hits Puerto Rico I get a call from a business client Tricia Gardner of TransCor/Venture Logistics in which she proceeds to tell me several of the employees organized a disaster aid drive filling up one semi trailer full of water and essential items for hurricane victims of Puerto Rico. She proceeds to tell that the donors do have a place to store nor have a way to send it to Puerto Rico. Immediately I get on the phone with Pedro telling him of the news, he is ecstatic of the news! I get a call back from Tricia, “we have three trailers total full of water”! I responded, “are you kidding me”! “Holy cow”!!! When God gives you He gives in abundance! Our dilemma now is where to store three trailers.
A week passed, my efforts to locate a space for the trailers have become futile. I asked several people at my church’s Wednesday service for help in finding someone or company that will help us store these trailers. I had one gentleman who works in logistics himself tell me that he had a couple of possibilities of people he knew in the business that may be able to help. Friday came, no call. Sunday nothing. Monday morning came, and over a week since I I got word of the trailers, I prayed, as I usually am accustomed to every morning, asked of the Lord again to lead me and help me find a place to store the trailers. As I prayed a thought came to my mind of a warehouse that I picked up some construction materials for my home about a month earlier. I told myself, let me go by there to ask if they can help us in storing these three trailers until we can get it to Puerto Rico. What is the worst they can say, no! I start to go to The Empire Company.
I walk into the front office of the Empire building asking the young girl sitting at the front desk that I would to speak to someone about helping us out with some disaster aid to Puerto Rico. As soon as I said that a woman that was in the office to my right asked to me come into her office. She asked how she could help me. I introduced my self “hello my name is Orbis Nieves vice president of Families for the Future a non profit 501(3)c” and proceeded to tell her my story on how we came to have these three semi tractor trailers full of water and other disaster aid items. As soon as I finished explaining our situation she tells me to sit right there. She exits her office and goes to the office across from her. About five minutes later she enters the room with the warehouse manager David Moffitt. He continues to tell me whatever we need we can have, from forklifts to shipping materials even manpower. I couldn’t believe my ears! David walks me through the warehouse to show me the bays to where we can place the trailers. As he is showing and explaining everything I was trying very hard not to show my emotions. I was totally praising and thanking God inside myself for what was happening! Now even though I am excited,, I am not surprised that God would touch the hearts of others so that this good work could be accomplished. As I leave and drive off I called Tricia to tell her we have the bays and where to drive them over. I also called Pedro to tell him of the story. All he could say was “praise God”.
It took several days, in fact it was Monday October 2nd, when the trailers arrived at Empire. The night before I mass texted everyone of my contacts (over 300) on my phone, telling everyone I needed volunteers to unload pallets of water and other materials for disaster relief for Puerto Rico. I received five to six return text telling me they will help. Monday morning I had nine volunteers eager to work. David Moffitt instructed his supervisor Anthony to help with whatever we needed. They used their forklifts and began removing pallets of water in order for the us, the volunteers, to un-stack to then re-stack the pallets of water correctly so that the water would not come apart during the shipping. It took three and a half days of exhausting, hot, heavy lifting,and of breaking down and classifying goods in boxes to re-stacking. The Empire’s workers were unbelievably helpful with whatever we needed, loading, unloading, and then on the last day loading the container to ship to Puerto Rico. Truly, The Empire Company was true a God send.
However it doesn’t end here. We still have to pay to get all this to Puerto Rico. And again, God touches the hearts of many to raise close to $9000 for Puerto Rico Disaster Relief in less than twenty four hours.
Many people answered the call, from the hundreds from Orlando and Lakeland area residents that donated water, food, toiletries, diapers, medicines, etc… to Transcor/Venture Logistics who supplied the trailers, and The Empire Company and its employees that stored and loaded the trailers. Compassion is the root of good proving that when catastrophe hits close to home the hearts of many are tender to the call.
- Venture Logistics and employees
- Tricia Gardner
- The Empire Company and employess
- Segundo Gonzalez
- Phil Nieves
- Matt Espina
- Rene Arrazcaeta
- Brittany Nieves
- Garvi Arias
- Elias Nieves
- Nury Acosta
- Ramon Acosta
Special Financial Thanks
- FWC and congregation
- Mike and Pat Barton of Health Insurance of Florida
- Greg and Vicky of Evergreen Forrest Products 2
- Shawn of Shawn R McDonald Realty Group
- Antonia Ortiz
- Pat Cardin
- Donna French
- Michelle Medlong