Fr Rother’s spirit keeps inspiring others to do service in Guatemala. Hanna Thomas, Mount Class of 2011, and her husband Evan, have recently decided to leave their lives in America to become foster parents to children in Guatemala.
The Thomases first went to Guatemala in 2014 as chaperones for a high school mission trip. Evan worked at the high school, and Hanna tagged along because she didn’t want to be lonely at home. During her visit, Hanna said, “I fell in love with everything about it.”
While on their trip in Guatemala, Hanna and Evan served with an organization named “Hope of Life.” The couple soon realized they were meant to be here and God had called them to work in Guatemala. They were struck by the love and compassion in all of the people they came in contact with as well as the culture as a whole.
In addition, they were struck by the poverty there. Most of the orphans that Hope of Life fosters are coming from horrible situations; 90% of the children there have been sexually abused and infants have been starved, hurt, abandoned and have witnessed brutal situations.
Hanna and Evan would visit Hope of Life in Guatemala three more times before deciding they wanted to move their life there. During the second trip, they were able to meet the Monks, an American family who serves at Hope of Life doing Family Style Orphan Care. Patty Monk is the mother of the family which consists of her 3 biological children and 10 Guatemalan kids as well. Hanna and Evan were amazed at the healing the Guatemalan children have been able to receive through the Monk family. Hanna expressed, “the Monks played a huge part” in their decision to move to Guatemala for good.
During the last year, Hanna and Evan moved out to Idaho to start their “dream jobs.” They were not ready to be parents and they were living successfully, comfortably, and happy. Hanna expressed that both of them were left thinking, “what is our life really worth?”
It was Hanna’s first day at work and meanwhile Evan had gone down to Guatemala to surprise his former students on a mission trip. He called Hanna and exclaimed, “we have to move here.”
Making the decision to move to Guatemala was not an easier decision for the Thomases though. Their decision was made over a long period of time with a lot of time spent in prayer and reflection. They were asking and looking for a sign from God to show them that this is what they are meant to do with their lives. They prayed in most of the same places that Fr. Stanley Rother did – in the Seminary Chapel and walking through the stations of the cross at the Grotto.
One thing that sealed the deal for Hanna was remembering one of the experiences she had on her previous mission trips with Hope of Life. She recalled a time when she was with 20 of the orphans and they were signing worship songs. She said she was “completely overwhelmed with that sense of peace I felt in my heart.”
Although the decision was a hard one to make, the Thomases are very excited for this new phase in their life. Out of everything, they are most excited to be parents. They are able to have kids, but they were always reminded through their trips to Guatemala that there are lots of kids without parents who deserve to be loved.
Having no children of their own, they requested Hope of Life that they receive toddlers and younger kids. They will find out which orphans they will foster when they arrive in Guatemala. Hanna said, “Evan is so excited to be a dad and to be a parent to a sweet little girl.” As for herself, Hanna is “so excited” to be a mom. She wants to teach her girls how to cook and dress up while reminding them that they can still play sports. She is also excited to have boys.
The Thomases will be moving in October to Rio Hondo, Zacapa in South East Guatemala. When they arrive, they will have around a month of training and will work alongside nannies for the first couple of weeks. She knows that learning a new language and working with these kids who have horrible trauma will be challenging, but she said, “with God, all things are possible! He is the God love and healing and restoration and I know that we will be able to love and help these kids heal only through Him.”
After the Thomases get settled in Guatemala, they will be eager to come back to the U.S. to spend time with their families and spread their story to various churches and organizations. Because of their visas, they will have to return to America every 6 months. Their ultimate goal is to become residents of Guatemala and live there indefinitely, while planning to visit home as much as they can.
Hanna is more than grateful for all the support they have already received for help with their journey. She said that people have come out of the blue to write checks for her and her husband – which she described as “an act of God in itself” since they are not fully funded yet. She cherishes the emotional support from her parents and all the encouragement she has received from people sending them emails and she said continuing to receive those emails while they are in Guatemala will be so important.
“Prayer is going to be huge,” explained Hanna. Nothing is more powerful than prayer. She explains that they will also need toys for their kids, and one of her friends has already started a book drive for them.
Hanna concluded with saying, “I’m an introvert but Guatemala makes me so happy I became an extrovert. I love being able to share what we are doing.” She continued, “not everybody has to be a missionary but we are really made for something awesome.” She was and still is so thankful that Fr. Stanley Rother went to the Mount and how she and Evan were able to follow his legacy and prayer in the special places around the Mount that he did.
To follow their story, they have a blog: cheersandtrails.com which has great pictures and more details of their story thus far!