Frequently Asked Questions
» Where is Guatemala?
Central America, bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between El Salvador and Mexico, and bordering the Gulf of Honduras (Caribbean Sea) between Honduras and Belize
coordinates: 15 30 N, 90 15 W
» What is Guatemala Like?
The Maya civilization flourished in Guatemala and surrounding regions during the first millennium A.D. After almost three centuries as a Spanish colony, Guatemala won its independence in 1821. During the second half of the 20th century, it experienced a variety of military and civilian governments as well as a 36-year guerrilla war. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending the conflict, which had led to the death of more than 100,000 people and had created some 1 million refugees.
total: 108,890 sq km
land: 108,430 sq km
water: 460 sq km
tropical; hot, humid in lowlands; cooler in highlands.
» How many children are in the orphanage?
» How do the children come to the orphanage?
They are sent by the Judges, Procuraduria and people that bring them to the door.
» What methods of discipline do you use with the children?
We believe there is no "hidden sin." Everything we do affects the others. For this reason, we insist on the children being forthcoming about what they have done. The children develop their own ability to understand what is good for them and what is good for the community. We explain sin in terms of sickness, since the children cannot understand sin but can relate to being sick. Furthermore, for children, guilt is implied in the word sin, but not in the word sick. We teach them that they have to open a wound for it to heal, and have to bring their illness to the doctor. The doctor is Jesus, and they have to bring their sicknesses to Him to be healed.
We address discipline problems in church. We look for the cause of the problem, and try to reason with the children. We also try not to let anything pass by us, and receive daily written reports from the teachers.
Discipline in church is different than the discipline in school. The children are not obliged to come to church, but are invited. Those in church do not want to be bothered or distracted, but want to pray. We tell the children if they want to be bother-some, don't come! If they are bothersome, they are asked to leave the church. To pray (to pay attention) is hard work. Sometimes the children are given a treat after a service if they have prayed and paid attention.
Because the school and church are both right here at the orphanage, we can be flexible. The schedule of church services accommodates the needs of the children, and their school schedule is also built around the liturgical schedule. We have Matins and Typika each morning and Vespers and Compline each evening. On Sundays and Feast Days we serve Hours and Divine Liturgy.
» Do the children go to church?
The children have come to love the Church. They know that it is the Church that has brought them out of hell. We sometimes remind the children where they came from. We need to remind them so they don't repeat the mistakes of their parents, not to make them feel guilty. Guilt doesn't help them. We show them God's love, God's mercy rather than guilt. We use reason, teach them that they must lead orderly lives. We also remind them of the value of families.
Our children accept that they are different from other children. The basic trust (of their mothers and fathers) has been broken. They have suffered so much that their hearts have become stone. They need to love others in order to learn to love God. How will they learn to love God if they have no one to love?
We tell the missionaries who come to the Hogar to let the children love them. This creates a little opening in their hearts. Because the missionaries are Orthodox like they are, the children see them as "safe." The nuns [six, including Mother Ines] also try to be free from administrative work as much as possible so we can have a presence with the children. We need time to pray and play with the children.
The children need to be loved. This is our mission - just to love them. Our work is very healing . . . for everybody.