Detour: Guatemala

Detour: Guatemala

Don’t you love a story about how life’s detours can lead to great new adventures? The Babcock family was supposed to visit Israel this summer. They were looking forward to their trip and started to plan, but their travel plans took a slight detour. Instead of seeing the sights in Israel, they connected with us in Guatemala.

Preparing for a trip they didn’t plan to take

We believe God connects people with Dorie’s Promise to help meet the needs we know of and even some we haven’t noticed yet. Although their initial plan was to visit Israel, earlier this spring Dan and Tara felt a definite push to switch their plans to Guatemala.

Without a clear destination, other than the country of Guatemala, they researched possible organizations that offered mission trips. Imagine the many options waiting for them online. Eventually, Tara chose Dorie’s Promise. Having the opportunity to spend time with our kids and work in local communities seemed like the best mix of orphan care and community development.

Very quickly thereafter, they were officially part of our July multi-family team. Within a few short months, they had switched their trip from Israel to Guatemala, partnered with Dorie’s Promise (even sponsoring one of our kids before visiting), and landed in Guatemala City to visit our home for the first time. That was quite the wild detour!

Finding their place right away

Both Dan and Tara have medical and emergency preparedness experience. Dan is a nurse practitioner and firefighter; while Tara is a nurse and director of quality for a medical center. Within 20 minutes of entering our homes, Dan noticed possible safety improvements he could help us complete.

His training identified ways to make our homes even safer.

For her part, Tara began talking with our office staff about the importance of a formal disaster plan. Although our supervisors had plans for many situations, we never created a comprehensive plan for all situations. Living in a country where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions happen regularly, we quickly understood how Dan and Tara’s suggestions could greatly increase the total safety of our home.

Their connection was clear for Dan, “this needs to be fixed and we’re gonna fix it.”

Before they left to return home, the Babcocks completed what would become the first phase of emergency preparedness for Dorie’s Promise. They identified high priority equipment, improvements, training, and planning needed for our home. On their list: new smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers; create a disaster plan; implement fire drills for the kids; conduct fire aid and emergency training for our staff.

Returning home on a mission

Landing at home on Friday, by Saturday evening the Babcocks began their fundraiser to purchase all of the equipment and supplies needed to implement the first phase of their plan.

Within 12 hours, they raised enough money to purchase all the smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors for our homes. There was even money left over to buy toy fire hats for the kids’ fire drill as well as new pajamas for everyone! Not only had the Babcock family been changed, they instantaneously rallied their community to support Dorie’s Promise as well.

Armed with funds to complete phase 1, the Babcocks coordinated their return trip to Guatemala within 6 weeks of their first trip.

Leading the way for safety

With only a few days to implement all the priority items in phase 1, the Babcocks returned to Dorie’s Promise in August. Their mission was large but manageable with help from our staff—install new smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors in all the homes, conduct fire drills with our children, and lead emergency training with our staff.

Having professionals spend time teaching emergency preparedness and first aid to our staff was not only helpful, but it was also very much appreciated. Unlike formal training in a larger classroom setting, training at Dorie’s Promise with the Babcocks was specialized in our home. Our staff felt free to ask questions about specific situations in our home and with our children.

A very important part of training at our home includes our kids. Dan and Tara spent intentional time teaching our kids about fire safety and practicing fire drills in our homes.

Although we pray to never use these skills, we understand the importance of everyone being prepared. Most notably, the Babcocks were especially aware of how they worked with our kids. Some of our children associate fire with traumatic events in their lives, but Dan and Tara were careful to use their time for positive conversations to promote safety instead of increasing fear.

Looking ahead

Dan and Tara aren’t done making Dorie’s Promise safer. This winter, they’ll be returning to work with our staff to create a disaster plan.

Next spring, a new AED will also make its way to Dorie’s Promise thanks to the hospital where Dan works.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Frederick Buechner

Partnering with the Babcocks helps make Dorie’s Promise a safer home for our children and staff. We’re thankful God led them to us and look forward to working together. Their summer detour became our blessing.