We find it hard to believe that it’s now a year since we left Paraguay but we are enjoying celebrating this season of Advent here in Cheltenham.

We’re very thankful that the Esperanza Foster Home has been able to continue providing the essential love and security that all children need but which is so often lacking for children in care in Paraguay. In October the Esperanza team celebrated four years of caring for a total of 27 children so far.

[Photo: The Esperanza carers (from left – Juana, Ester, Carmen and Angela) take a well earned breather]

These last six months have been extremely frustrating as there has been so little movement in the children’s legal paperwork. At one point all the Judges were on strike ! But at last we are receiving news of decisions about the children currently in the “Esperanza family”. Surprisingly four of the five children are due to return to their birth families. Elba, who arrived earlier this year, has already gone with four siblings to live with her grandmother. Siblings Barbara and Victor, who came in December 2008 having already been in a large children’s home for a year, are due to go either to their birth mother or their aunt, and Belen who we know well as she arrived in early 2008, has just this week left to live with her grandmother who helps to care for Belen’s unstable mother who has recently had another baby. Having initially heard the reasons why these children were placed in the care of social services, we are always nervous about them returning to the same or similar circumstances so we really would appreciate your prayers for their future. Alexis, who is the remaining child, was legally declared “adoptable” but we understand that there is to be an appeal to this decision.

If the required paperwork does not come through before Christmas, Barbara, Victor and Alexis will spend the festivities with the ladies from Esperanza and their families. This is a chance for some repairs

and redecoration within the home. It is also a time when Juana, the main live-in foster mum, gets to see her family in the interior and have some much needed rest and recuperation. In the New Year the

Anniversary celebrations with local volunteers last year

Adoption Centre will be bringing more children to receive all that Esperanza offers.

[Photo: Anniversary celebrations with local volunteers last year]

One additional item for your prayers is the health of Teresa Maidana who took on the supervision of the home. She has had a string of health issues and at present is confined to her house due to a problem with her spine. Her husband, Pastor Agustin, has been spending more time at Esperanza as a result.

As always we are so grateful for your generous support which is essential if Esperanza is to continue its ministry. May you and your families receive many blessings in 2010.

With love

Penny and Murray Metcalfe