Missionary Donie Hernandez has always been a favorite in our office. Her selfless devotion to the poor at Casa Bernabé, a children’s home in Guatemala, continues to be an inspiration. She truly puts her faith into action.
A few staff members recently visited the orphanage and got a chance to hear Donie’s powerful personal testimony.
She came to Guatemala 27 years ago, despite not knowing a word of Spanish, because she knew that’s what God was calling her to do.
Since age 4, Donie knew she wanted to be a missionary. “My grandmother used to tell me stories about all the missionaries who were working with children and lepers — that really got my attention.”
Donie worked for years helping orphans in the U.S.; she even adopted a little girl. But when she made her first trip to Guatemala and met the couple who started Casa Bernabé, she was blown away.
“While I was there God confirmed that I was supposed to be there and help,” she recalls. “My daughter was 11 at the time and the war was still going on in Guatemala, so it was a difficult decision, but I knew God wanted me there.”
Within two months of her visit, Donie had sold everything she owned and moved with her daughter to Guatemala.
“I didn’t speak the language or even know how to ride the bus,” Donie said with a laugh. “I had a week early on when I was feeling incredibly discouraged. I kept thinking, ‘Who do you think you are coming down? How can you possibly do this?’ That’s when God stepped in and told me, ‘You never could do it. I will.’ Then I found complete peace.”
That peace has stuck with Donie through all her years of ministry in Guatemala. It’s what keeps her going even on her most difficult day — and there have been plenty of them.
When she and her husband, Pedro, a Guatemalan pastor and co-director of Casa Bernabé, took over the children’s home in 1995 it was about to close.
“The ministry was a bunch of dilapidated trailers with holes in the floor, and we didn’t have a dime to fix them up,” Donie said. “Then, one by one, we were able to replace the trailers with buildings. God just kept providing…It is amazing to see him working in the kids’ lives each day.”
God has continued to bless Casa Bernabé. They now have more than 160 children, two schools, and our about to complete construction on a new clinic that will offer medical care to poor villagers in the community.
Though the work is hard, Donie considers it a blessing to be serving the poor. She said that James 1:27 is a constant reminder of why she gets up each morning: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”
Please remember to keep Donie and her life-changing ministry in your prayers. To learn more about Casa Bernabé, click here.