Phone: (786) 845-9985

2014 – July

In Their Own Words


If your children were asked how they like living life in your household, you would hope that their answers reveal the many positive aspects you have dedicated yourself to provide them with, such as a loving and supportive atmosphere, fun-filled family moments of sharing and laughter, strong Christian values lived out, etc.  For orphans and those rescued from bad living situations, however, the answers go deeper than descriptions of a good home atmosphere. You see, they recall how things were before and how they were before entering into their current living situation.

 We wanted to learn firsthand about how the boys feel at the orphanage, and so this month we decided to interview a few of the boys at the Santa Maria Children’s Home, in order to hear personally from their hearts concerning their experience before and since they have entered the home. We hope that their testimonies encourage your hearts and provide you with yet another glimpse of how your participation in this ministry is truly changing lives.

When one young boy of 12 years, Johan Flores, was asked, “How do you like your life in Santa Maria Children’s Home?” he responded, “Good, because it is a beautiful home and because they give me things to do…” We have noticed that providing children with the opportunity to learn responsibilities and participate in chores helps them value where they live and makes them feel good about a job well done. Eleven-year-old Jess answered that same question by stating, “Life is good here because they treat us good and they have tutors.  I like to be here because they are good tutors…”  The opportunity afforded these children to learn and grow into someone skilled for a brighter future than they would have otherwise had is a very important aspect of life in the orphanage.  We can hear that same value echoed in the response of Julio Cesar (14 years old) when he answered with the following, “Life here is good because they teach you how to be respectful, not to rob, and not to have bad habits.  Also, I like it because they teach us and that is one very important thing for me.”  Perhaps one of the most moving answers we heard came from 14-year-old Fabio Bautista.  When asked how he liked life in Santa Maria Children’s Home, Fabio answered, “To me, Santa Maria’s is an incredible place to know about and live in.  Santa Maria’s has helped me in many ways, with my studies, in my responsibilities, and I never imagined that I would come to such a place.  Today, I am very happy.  It is a place where I can learn from others.  I can learn from tutors, I can learn from the other children, yet sometimes we fall into bad behavior.  But I am thankful that in those times, the leaders call my attention and I realize that I shouldn’t act those ways ever again.”  Fabio doesn’t want to live a life where nobody cares about his behavior, where nobody takes the time or attention to make him a better young man.  He knows the staff loves him, and that is why they correct him, which has produced in him gratitude for the way he is now being raised.

The boys were each asked to answer a second question, “How has your life changed in Santa Maria’s?” Johan responded, “My life has changed a lot because when I didn’t live here I was addicted to video games, and now I am not addicted to the video games.  I also used to rob money from my mom’s purse, and now in Santa Maria Children’s Home I am studying to become a better person. I have changed a lot.”  If Johan had not had a place like Santa Maria’s available to him, Johan would have had no motivation to stop stealing or to do something productive with his time. His hours spent in video games was his way of escaping to a world where he could conquer, explore, and be a character with a purpose.  Now, Johan understands that his life has meaning and direction.  Jess stated, “Before I used to be all the time in Internet pay stations; I used to rob, I used to escape from my house.  But now that I live in this place, I don’t do those things.  I don’t try to escape from here because I like it and I am studying to become a better person.”  Julio told us, “My life has changed a lot since coming to Santa Maria’s because from the time that I arrived I have experienced a peaceful and healthy life.  Also, I have changed to no longer be argumentative…” and Fabio Bautista said, “My life has changed for the better in many ways.  That is why I give thanks for Santa Maria’s, especially for the people that support me and counsel me, and that have been with me through my worst moments.  I give thanks for the personnel that have dedicated their time to this work, and I know that everything that I have learned here in Santa Maria’s is going to help me, and I am going to need it one day.”

  We are grateful for the financial provision each month to continue covering the utilities and food for the home, healthcare for the director (Luis), and transportation for Will who is attending college classes.  It is because of your faithfulness; without your giving we would not be able to do this continuously, and boys like the four interviewed above would have no real reason to look forward to a bright future.

 We still have not received extra money in order to purchase the needed mattresses.   Twice a year, we also find it necessary to purchase clothing for the children.  They continue to grow, and the clothes they usually wear during the day in order to play and do their chores are fairly ragged. Their shoes wear out quickly, as do their clothes.  We try to buy each child ONE outfit, which is set apart for special occasions only, such as whenever they go out of the orphanage to do presentations of singing and dancing and “the arts” that one of their tutors trains them in.  We need above and beyond the regular support in order to cover these extra, but very important, needs. 

  Rosa and I will be in Conifer, Colorado at Mountain High Christian Center on July 16 and 17 with Pastors Ed and Mona Shirley.  I, Tony, will be sharing from my heart and from the Word of God on the 17th.  Anyone who wants to is welcomed to come.

 Please continue praying for the director of the orphanage, that he will live many more years in order to continue fulfilling his purpose and seeing the fruit of his labor for the Lord.  Together, we can keep providing for this work to go on, and for many more testimonies of hope to arise as a result.        

Grace and peace,

Tony and Rosa Rivera

Home of Refuge International




Tony and Rosa are very faithful, reliable, honest people.  They are the hardest workers we have ever seen; their leadership qualities have encouraged many people to help others.  Whatever Tony and Rosa decide to do, they do with excellence and perseverance. They are great people and we are privileged to know them.

Ed and Mona Shirley
Mountain High Christian Center
Conifer, Co.