“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” -Oprah Winfrey
Once in a lifetime—if you should be so lucky—you’ll come across someone who will instantaneously become your best friend. He will be there for you each and every second of each and every day—no questions asked. He’ll wait around at home for you, he’ll wag his tail and jump up and down when you walk in the door, he’ll bark in the early hours of the morning to make sure you’re awake, he’ll get in your way and obstruct your path until he leads you to the area of the house where the bones are, and he’ll do so many other things that bring light to your day. But above all, he’ll always provide you with unconditional love.
Nearly three weeks ago, I lost a family member and my best friend of nearly 14 years. I’ve been wanting to post something in his honor, but it’s difficult to put together words to describe someone who has given me so much. Our house feels so much emptier without our special friend, and life in general seems a lot less colorful. It isn’t easy trying to adjust to such a significant loss, but fortunately, I have been blessed with countless memories that I will cherish for years to come.
Thank you Caine for showing us all what it’s like to truly be loved, and what it’s like to have the best friend anyone can ever ask for. This week’s Snapshot Challenge is dedicated to you because the love you provided me with is truly beautiful. I’ll miss you more than you can imagine.
In honor of running tomorrow’s Miami Half Marathon for Misioneros Del Camino, this week’s Snapshot Challenge is dedicated to the work that Mami Leo has done through MDC. There aren’t many things in life I can think of that are more beautiful than offering a helping hand to a fellow human being. However, saving the life of a child, giving that child a wonderful upbringing, providing that child with an abundance of love, and helping that child acclimate into society is pretty extraordinary if you ask me. Imagine devoting your life to such a cause and saving a countless number of children’s lives on a daily basis for thirty years. Mami Leo has done exactly this, and I believe that this week’s featured picture shows just how beautiful the work she has done, and the work that continues to be done in her name truly is.
If you would like to help support this wonderful cause, you may do so at: https://www.gofundme.com/5y82yn78
After a day’s worth of cooking, baking, and eating, it’s finally time to sit down and write! It’s nothing we don’t already know—Thanksgiving is a time to share with loved ones and really think about what we are grateful for in our lives. Whether it’s knowing that we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, health, safety, security, a bit of financial stability, loved ones who care about us, the ability to receive an education, or even freedom in the very country we live in, there is so much that we can all find to be thankful for.
Throughout these last few days, weeks, months, and years, I have become increasingly thankful for simple treasures, and these treasures are all of you. Knowing that there are people reading what you put out there is a true honor and privilege, and I could not be any more grateful for fellow bloggers and readers who continuously support both me and my writing, day in and day out. However you decide to spend your Thanksgiving, I hope it is a wonderful one surrounded by those you love and filled with countless blessings.
We shouldn’t limit our thankfulness or gratitude to one holiday each year, so here’s hoping we can each learn to be more thankful and appreciative in the upcoming year. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and know that we made it! The cooking is past us, the cleaning is over, and now it’s just us and leftovers. Talk about being appreciative!
This past week was a very difficult one because the world lost an incredible human being on Sunday, March 8th. Whenever the medical mission team I volunteer with would go to Guatemala and stay at the orphanage Mami Leo founded nearly thirty years ago, she would remind us to not forget about the children upon our return to the states. Our group stayed at the home for only one week, twice a year, and that’s it. For the other 355 days in the year, Leonor Portela, who was more affectionately known as Mami Leo was at the home with the children by herself. Through the hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides, and the days with no electricity, Mami Leo was there protecting her children. It takes a special person to dedicate her life just to provide a life for others, and that’s exactly what Mami Leo did.
I flew out to Guatemala City early Wednesday morning and arrived just in time for a beautiful mass held in her honor. The entire church was packed and there was not an empty seat in the building. Looking around the room and seeing just how many people Mami Leo has impacted throughout her life was an incredible sight, and knowing that this wasn’t even close to the amount of people she saved and inspired was even more incredible. The funeral procession commenced once the mass concluded, and it was just as difficult as you can imagine. When the funeral concluded, we drove to the orphanage in Sumpango, Sacatepequez where we all gathered around and talked, sharing stories of Mami Leo with one another.
We lined a bunch of tables next to one another and sat down for dinner in a long rectangular set-up. I sat by the center table, and as I looked to my left and right, a sense of peace overcame me. It was truly a beautiful sight; the table was filled with children of all ages who had been saved by Mami Leo (some of whom are pictured below). Even young adults who no longer live in the home came back to spend time with Memo Leo before her passing, and celebrate her life following this terrible loss. In looking around and taking in the surrounding environment, I realized the true impact of Mami Leo’s life work. Some of the people sitting at the table were among the first few children Mami Leo took in years ago, and they were sitting here with children of their own whom you can tell are provided with unconditional love and support.
The love that Mami Leo gave to her children has been carried on to their own children, and Mami Leo has successfully helped them break the chain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment in Guatemala. They are well-integrated members of society, many in Guatemala, and some in the United States. And what is just as special is the fact that they all still treasure where they come from, the beautiful home Mami Leo took them into, Misioneros Del Camino.
So while we mourn a tragic loss of what I truly believe is a one of a kind saint, we also rejoice in knowing that Mami Leo’s legacy isn’t going anywhere. We can all come together to help fulfill her mission and dream of providing love and support to such children in need, and more importantly, we will never forget Mami Leo, her work, or the thousands of children whom she is survived by. And as she once said, plain and simply, “If you don’t dream, you’ll never make it.” Descansa en paz Mami Leo.
I was recently received the Genuine Blogger Award from Lisa at flVE for my “Genunineness in blogging.” Lisa has an incredible blog with some awesome recipes, and dishes, constantly causing my stomach to rumble, regardless of whether or not I had already eaten. So I would definitely suggest following her blog, and would really like to thank her for such an honor.
I would like to pass this great award on to a few other bloggers. I truly enjoy reading their blogs, and the description of their works fits perfectly with the title of this award: genuine. As time progresses, I’ll come back to this award and nominate more bloggers, but these two blogs definitely stick out in my mind. So, congratulations to the following blogs, as I can’t think of anyone else more deserving than yourselves.