Another Trip for the Books!

Hey everyone!

Well, March has been a crazy month packed with trips and still has more to come! A couple of weeks ago my friend and I drove down to Chicago where she dropped me off at the airport and sent me on my way to Juarez, Mexico. I met up with my friend Sam at the airport in El Paso, TX, and from there we crossed the border into Mexico. I always love visiting Mexico. I have been traveling there since I was 8 years old. The people there are like family to me, and it definitely feels like my second home.

The summer after my freshman year at Hope I did a program called HEI (Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative). I spent time that summer helping to start gardens in Juarez, Mexico, at some community centers and orphanages. It was great to be back there this past week and not only see the gardens in full bloom, but to see two more start as well. The people have really taken ownership of the gardens and use the produce to feed the children that attend the after school programs.

This past May I was in Juarez with two other Hope students where we helped start a small business to generate profit for the ministry there. This was an update I wrote about our trip from May…

This trip has been such a blessing, and all praise goes to our loving Father, who has been working in the lives of the people here. Our group (3 Hope College students) came to Juarez with the hopes of starting a Mexican candy-making business to help Amigos en Cristo be more self sustainable. The profits of this business would go back into the ministry to help pay for children’s education.

The idea originally came from Doris as her family has been long involved in the Mexican candy business. Jamoncillo is a popular candy in Mexico that is basically made from milk and sugar, similar to American fudge. The candy has a high markup price and is a popular delicacy here in Juarez.

When we first arrived here at the beginning of May, Doris and her family had already prepared Jamoncillo samples for us to try. We began looking into this by conducting market research by visiting different candy stores both downtown Juarez and in Anapra. When we brought samples to the stores in Anapra, we found that the store owners were very excited about the possibility of selling the product.

While we are here we are working on assembling a budget and timeline to help start the business. We met with the Amigos en Cristo staff for their ideas and to conduct a branding workshop. We are still in the process of determining a name but currently the staff has come up with the name “Amistosas Deliciosas” (Friendly Delights-translates better in Spanish) and the slogan to accompany it is “Diseñado para compartir” (designed to share).

While we have been here we have gathered data of the supplies and materials needed and are currently working on assembling Excel sheets. We are so excited to see where God leads this project. Please join us in praying for God’s blessing on the ministry as well as this start up business.”

When I was in Mexico this past trip it was amazing to see the transformation taking place in the lives of people who worked at Amistosas Delicias. There are 3 young men (ages 17-20) who work there and used to be on the streets dealing drugs and involved with gangs but now they have a job and are living at the community center together. The kids love these guys and they have put a lot of work into the business. They had a pivot in their business where they changed from making jamoncillo to cookies now. They have a great process worked out now and are continuing to improve the business. The best part about continuously taking trips there is seeing the transformation in people’s lives. I also learn so much from the people there, and they continue to challenge and teach me. I’m excited to head back to Mexico in 3 days :]
I love her!
I love her!
New garden
New garden

IMG_7006 IMG_6879

Making the cookies
Making the cookies

What’s happening at Winter Happenings?

This weekend has been a blast. I have been able to relax and have a good time with my friends. On Friday afternoon I went to coffee with my friend and afterward we walked to our church Manna and attended a Downtown Student Fellowship meal. Manna hosts a meal and lecture for college students every other Friday night. We first have a meal together and hang out, and then we listen to one of the pastors discuss a certain topic. The topic for this week was dating, relationships, and marriage. After the pastor spoke for a little while we discussed at our table our thoughts regarding his speaking. Then he opened up the floor for questions, and people were able to share their opinions. I enjoyed listening to the pastor’s insight on marriage. He put the topic into a different light that I had not seen before.

After the talk, the girls headed over to Christ Memorial Church for Campus Ministries’ Women’s night out. The night consisted of games, good talks, sharing in small groups, cookies, soda, Lemonjello’s coffee, pizza, and of course a dance party. The night was a nice stress reliever and a great time to bond with friends and meet new people.  Friday night was a nice little escape from all the business. It felt good to chill with friends and gain new wisdom and insight. 

(HEI). We presented in front of several Alumni, faculty, and people from the community. I really enjoyed speaking about my summer project of Hope Grows to the audience. During the course of the summer I started Hope Grows, which helps the indigent children living in orphanages in Mexico grow their own sustainable food while teaching valuable life skills. Hope Grows is a program that is currently partnering with Amigos En Cristo, an established non-profit organization in Juarez, Mexico. Hope Grows desires to reach out to different orphanages and community centers to not simply give food away, but rather teach others how to grow their own food. 

Matt and I after the Winter Happening Presentation

After presenting we joined some alumni, faculty, and people from the community for the Winter Happenings luncheon. I really enjoyed networking at the luncheon and meeting several Hope Alumni. I also enjoyed sitting next to the president at our lunch table. 🙂

Love our Biggby

After the luncheon, my friends and I traveled to Grand Rapids because Ali’s family owns one of the Biggby in Grand Rapids. We studied for a little while and enjoyed a FREE super Biggby frozen vanilla bean drink. The free Biggby drink seriously brought so much joy to my day. If that wasn’t enough, Ali’s family met up with us in Grand Rapids and treated us for dinner at the Macaroni Grill. The food was incredible, and it was so great meeting Ali’s family. All five of us enjoyed a nice day out and spending it with Ali’s family, made the day even better.

Ali and I with our free drinks 🙂

Well, I have definitely had quite an eventful weekend. I am hoping to go to sleep soon to start off the week with enough rest. Hope you all have a great week! 



Juarez, Mexico Round 2

Hello! I returned from Mexico late Saturday night. My friend Amelia picked me up from the Grand Rapids airport at 11:55 PM. On the way home, we had a fun midnight IHOP run. I missed pancakes while down there!

This past trip truly was a blessing. A group of 10 other people from my church came to Juarez. During the week a couple of the men from the group helped me set up another garden at a different orphanage. A jackhammer was supposed to be delivered at our work site. However, when we arrived at the site, a sledge hammer and pick ax were at the site instead of a jackhammer. Thus, we were in for a very labor intensive project. The foundation of the garden consisted of granite so we needed to break up all of the rock and level the ground.

Once we finally leveled the ground we needed to build a four-foot wall. However, we worked up on a hill so this meant we needed to carry all of the cement, water and other materials from the bottom of the hill in buckets to build the wall. Once the wall was complete, it was time for the garden to be filled with sand and soil. The boys from the orphanage filled up their pillow cases with soil and sand and then carried them up the hill and placed it in the garden plot. After about two and a half hours of going up and down the hill, the plot was ready to receive plants. 

We came back the next day and the children helped plant their first plants for their garden. Their faces lit up as they dug through the soil and watered the plants. Watching them help with the garden was my favorite part of the trip. 

I have been able to help start these gardens because of my internship with HEI (Hope Entrepreneurship Initiative). I really enjoyed this past week of watching the garden come to life. I still need to continue raising funds for the program Hope Grows. Hope College has been very supportive with helping me build networks and learn how to start my own program. I am very excited to continue to work on this program the rest of the summer and even further down the road. God has been blessing Hope Grows immensely. 

Hope you all have a good week. 


The garden before the soil.

Joel bringing soil up to the garden

Hope Grows is now growing in Mexico!

Hola a todos!

I hope everyone is enjoying summer. Can you believe July has arrived? Crazy how fast time flies in the summer. I just returned from Juarez, Mexico where I was working on my project for HEI (Hope Entrepreneur Initiative). While in Mexico, I helped start a garden at an orphanage. We planted tomatoes, chilies, celery, and cilantro. My project idea is called Hope Grows, which helps the indigent children living in orphanages in Juarez, Mexico create their own sustainable food while teaching valuable life skills. So I am basically working with non-profit organizations and creating a garden program for them in Juarez, Mexico.

I have been going to Juarez, Mexico since I was eight years old with my family. My dad led groups from our church to Juarez about four times a year. I really enjoy helping the people there and am so thankful for the opportunity to work at Hope this summer to extend the work being done in Juarez.

Next spring break, I am hoping to take some friends from Hope with me to Juarez. My friends tease me about talking about Mexico all the time during the school year.

Hopefully we will be able to gather a group from Hope to visit Juarez in the near future. While I was in Juarez the weather consisted of full sunshine, and the temperature ranged around 114° everyday. So incredibly hot! I am looking forward to enjoying some nice 80-degree weather in Holland this week.

Well I need to unpack and get organized, and I need to go to the grocery store and stock up on some food. I hope you all have a wonderful fourth of July!

Until next time,


Before Garden

After garden