ROCKINGHAM — Casa Aleluya, a nonprofit home for children in Guatemala, is more than 1,500 miles from here — but the Woods family decided after a year of prayerful consideration to leave everything behind to move there, so they can work for the organization and help spread the word of God in Central America.
Randi and Walt Wood and their sons Nathan, 4, and Jordan, 9, have contacted several local churches seeking support for their endeavor
“Walt first traveled with a different team, a medical ministry, in 2014,” Randi Wood said. “They visited Casa Aleluya just one afternoon, and he knew after that he felt called. So we both went back in 2015 with our church group from Roberdel Baptist, and I had the same emotions and thought, ‘God is really calling us to do something here.’ I just didn’t know why.”
She said the family prayed about it for nearly a year as they tried to decide what to do. They returned last May and spoke with Mike and Dottie Clark, the founders of Casa Aleluya.
“Mike said, ‘Well, a funny thing is I have just started the foundation for this new dorm,’” Randi Wood explained. “He said there were too many boys, and that they needed a new dorm, and American dorm parents. And we sort of looked at each other and after we prayed about it for a couple of months, we decided and we applied.”
She said the application process was complicated, with numerous interviews and background checks — but once it was over, they were asked to join the staff.
“We will house from 15 to 24 boys ages 7, 8 and 9,” she continued. “We will be basically mom and dad to them as dorm parents. The children there are orphaned, abused, neglected. Some of them are, we say, abandoned. But abandoned in a good way, if you can say that.”
“The poverty is so severe that parents don’t have education, don’t have a job and live in the streets,” said Walt Wood. “So they find out about this place that they can get food and get shelter and educated, sometimes moms will drop off their kids there and leave ‘em.”
He explained in any given week, there are more than 400 children at the home. There, they have their own school and a cafeteria. The compound is protected from the violence of gangs and drug lords by a surrounding wall with razor wire at the top. No one comes or goes unsupervised.
Randi Wood said Casa Aleluya is a place of refuge from the rampant crime and poverty Guatemalan children face, and provides an opportunity for them to be educated enough to go to college, learn about Jesus and ultimately find gainful employment in positions that will allow them to improve their country.
On a flyer the Woods have passed out in the community is a list of requests for supporting their missionary work. The first thing they ask for is prayer for all aspects of their journey. Next, they hope people will follow them on Facebook by searching for ‘Walt and Randi Wood – Casa Aleluya in Guatemala.’ They ask anyone who is able to make donations to help the mission.
In addition to following the Woods’ journey on Facebook, Walt Wood can be reached by email at email@example.com, and Randi Wood’s email address is M_Randi@hotmail.com.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.