Posted in Personal Stories

Through It All… 3 Years Later

It will be 3 years tomorrow…

I thought it would hurt a little less each year. But it doesn’t. It’s as real today as it was then.

I’ve been balling my eyes out – walking in circles…. literally – as I’m slowly making my way around the park.

I have nothing profound to say or to share… I just miss her with every ounce of my being.




JULY 12th

She has RISEN!!

I know it’s not quite the same as when CHRIST rose from the dead – but it is truly a miracle… something no one expected would happen either.

She is unable to walk, sit on her own, or care for herself…but she is strong willed & determined.

The doctors continue to be baffled & confused that she’s still here. They are still VERY pessimistic about the final outcome. However, she’s already proven them wrong each and every day.

Her infection is under control and labs are abnormal… BUT today they are starting to move in the right direction. She is in NO WAY over this and each day has it’s own set of complications. Her complications have complications. But she is STILL here.

Yesterday she turned 49, Bud turned 48, and Mikela turned 16! It was quite the day for celebrations!

I still can’t organize my thoughts into words….but I am thankful for the way you surround & love us.

Keep believing.
Keep praying.


July 18th

Urgent Prayer Request:

The past few days have been the most difficult by far. On Tuesday night after 24 hours of un-responsiveness, we prepared to sing Lori into Heaven. We wept all night and said our goodbyes. At 5am, Scott leaned over and told her he loved her as her respirations became shallow. THEN – Out of nowhere she looked at him and said, “I love you too, Scotty”.

We were blown away. She came back to us. She was eating, talking, and coherent.

Today she should have received the next round of immunotherapy. However, she has become unresponsive yet again.

Her labs have never looked better; they truly believe the immuno is working. All is well except for one lab….her white blood cells. Her infection is back and they are afraid she’s going septic again….she will not survive if that’s the case.

We are surrounding her, loving her, singing to her, reading scripture over her, and praying that Lori will come back to us as she has time and time again.

We have given her permission to leave us and accepted that fate if it’s His Will. But every time we let go….she comes back.

It’s such an emotional rollercoaster….we have wept till there were no more tears and rejoiced with all that’s in us when she opens her eyes and looks at us.

So if it’s His will for her to live….please pray that she will not suffer and that this is not septic shock.

And if it’s His will for her to enter into His Kingdom… the prayer is the same – that she will not suffer anymore.




Unfortunately, she is not coming back to us this time. Her organs are shutting down.

Thank you for your prayers. Our family is coming together during this difficult time and it’s absolutely the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do.

I don’t know how to do this…. I don’t know how to breathe in this world without her in it. My dad can barely stand as he grieves and I’m really concerned about his health.

Please pray for her comfort and pain as she transitions out of our hands and into His.



I appreciate the prayers and messages so much. Mom and I have been reading over them as we wait. Last night we were told it would be just a few hours….then we were told it would definitely be this morning. Still we wait.

Her birthday balloons are still floating with helium. How can we celebrate life and death so closely together?

Though she’s unable to talk or move – she looks me in the eyes when I rub her face. Tears stream down her cheeks. She’s still here though so much of her is gone.

She hears us though she can’t really respond verbally she squeezes a hand or raises an eyebrow. Mainly she moans in pain.

We cannot understand how she’s still holding on… what is she waiting for.

Her lungs are slowly filling with fluid and hearing her gasp through crackled breaths is like nails on a chalkboard.

I have had so many people message me asking how I am “really” doing….. I wish I had some sort of “Godly” response of how He’s given me strength and peace.

But in full transparency I’m confused and I’m angry. I believed the miracle and if it wasn’t in His will then why let her come back from the dead time and time again? I just don’t understand.

She’s still in pain despite our best efforts and she just deserves more than that. She’s a good and faithful servant whose suffering seems so unfair.

Please pray for God to show mercy on my sister.


July 20th 

Lori left our loving arms and woke up in His at 4:45am. Surrounded by friends and family, she passed away peacefully.

I can’t put my feelings into words right now… and I don’t know how to keep breathing without her in this world….but I do know the suffering has ended.

Please keep praying peace and strength over our family as we begin to make arrangements that we pray will honor her.

Pic taken August 22nd 2018… her first chemo treatment.



Today is Gabriel’s birthday…. he is turning 12.

Gabe had an undeniable & special connection with Lori. He spent more time with her than any of my other children.

In fact, anytime he started a conversation with her… he’d greet her by saying – Hey Lolo, it’s your favorite nephew! (which often made Levi & Asher mad!)

They spoke every week through voxer. He has spent weeks/months at a time with her throughout his childhood.

She promised him last month that they would bake a cake & have their own special day together.

But he doesn’t want to celebrate today….. he said the only cake he wants is the one they were going to bake together.

Oh. My. Heart.



Every morning & evening I brushed Lori’s hair, applied moisturizer on her face, and swept her lips with her favorite raspberry flavored lip gloss.

Now when I close my eyes….I see her sweet face….I so desperately want to touch it again….

I’ve spent the past 2 days planning her Celebration of Life Service and it feels SO UNREAL….like I’m living someone else’s life.

I lost my best friend January 1st and my sister July 20th. I feel so broken….so very, very broken.

You’re in a better place,
I’ve heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times
I’ve rejoiced for you
But the reason why I’m broken,
the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place
Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow
I’ve never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don’t understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I’ll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I’m still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place
Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow
I’ve never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbyes
And in Christ, there is no end
So I’ll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place

Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow

Won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow

I’ve never been more homesick than now

Posted in Personal Stories

School Daze…

Can you believe I’m actually posting another blog!?!

I know,  it’s been so long since I’ve been able to consistently share updates about our lives!

BUT… that’s what happens when I’m “grounded”  – not allowed to do anything fun because of my right hand…  AND YET – my left hand is totally fine to keep on typing alone! 


I am often asked how we do school with our kids… especially since they are all in different grades. I think the best way to describe it,  is to think about the tv show – Little House on the Prairie.  Mikela, Malaya, Rosie, Gabriel, Levi, and Asher all do school in one room.

Miss Beth retired from the mission field in October of last year.  We recently shared a blog about her last week on:

Miss Beth has been the only school teacher my kids have ever known. I love my boys, but I have NO idea how she kept her sanity when they first started attending.  **I’m just thankful that I didn’t have  to take over full-time when those little rascals were younger because I KNOW how annoying they used to be! LOL!


Our School Room…

After Miss Beth officially flew back to the states in October, we started our school back up that week. I knew that the kids would really struggle walking into the classroom without her. Even though I have always taught several subjects with both the girls and boys -those classes were in our home.

Miss Beth told us about her plans to leave right before we shipped the crates.  Knowing how difficult the transition would be, we decided to renovate the classroom, upgrade their desks,  and give the room a fresh (different) feeling. **And since Christmas was just around the corner (at the time), we had to add some seasonal decor too! 

So it’s a new year – with a new teacher –

-using a new learning format – and now with a new look – 



  • Malaya and Mikela are Juniors.  Our plan for their senior year is to have them live with a friend/youth minister from Kansas City. They have yet to experience “the American teenager life” and we don’t want their first experience to be when they’re in college. So next year, sadly they will not here. However, we know they will learn a lot – as they get an after-school job, apply for college, open a bank account, work with others on projects, join clubs, etc.
  • Gabe is in 8th grade and Asher/Levi are in 7th grade.  They do 8th grade Science & History together. Then Math, Literature, and English are done separately.
  • Rosie is in 4th grade.  Even though she should technically be a Junior, her learning capacity/ability is closer to 3rd/4th grade.  Once the boys passed her up in school, she began doing her school work separately from everyone else.



I still teach Health, Creative Writing, and Leadership with both the boys/girls. Malaya and Mikela do all of their classes online. Rosie uses workbooks for all her subjects. BUT when it comes to those crazy boys of mine – I knew I would need some “back-up” going into this year. 

SO THIS YEAR – we ordered the DVD sets that go along with the textbooks.  They are SO awesome! I wish I would have known that this existed sooner.  

  • For every subject, there’s a teacher (on DVD) and a DAILY video clip (ranging from 20-50 minutes). **You don’t need internet for this!
  • The teacher will actually go right along with the books, even telling the students which pages she will be discussing. 
  • At the end of each video, the instructor tells the students what workbook/questions they need to do for homework.
  • The following day, the instructor goes over the homework.

We start school at 8:30am. The girls are typically finished by noon, but the boys are usually here until 2pm. Thanks to the DVDs, I’m not exhausted every morning. I actually enjoy watching them and I catch the girls watching them throughout the day too. 

***When I had to fly out for my hand surgery –  the kids never missed a day of school.  Most of the materials/information that are needed are on those DVDs. (They really hate that fact!)


Honestly, (all jokes aside) I have really enjoyed doing school with the kids. I know this is the last year that Malaya/Mikela will be here for school. I can’t think of a better way to spend the morning. I always write daily questions on the board that everyone has to answer. We laugh a lot at the kids responses! But we also share a lot of ideas and dive into deeper discussions too.


Posted in Personal Stories

Hand Surgery Update…

Sorry I haven’t been very active on our personal family blog.  However, there have been a few fun updates on our “ministry” blog – 

This past week, I got an email asking when I was having my hand surgery. I just realized that I had never shared about this latest and greatest drama on our personal blog.  I did post an update on Facebook, but I know that many people don’t have access to those updates.

For those of you who don’t use Facebook – this post is for you! 
If you are on Facebook – then you can totally skip this post!



As many of you already know, while packing crates last fall, I insured my right hand (causing nerve damage). I had to wear a hand-brace for 6 weeks.

AND –in the typical Castillo-fashion  a few months later – I managed to trip over my 3lb dog (Chloe) and fall down cement stairs.

That gracious fall caused me to dislocate one of the bones in the palm of my hand AND tore all the ligaments around it. Even though the bone only moved a millimeter, it resulted in the numbness of my fingers AND palm swelling if I grasp even a pencil in that hand. #neveradullmoment


On Tuesday, (Feb 15th)  I will have the first of two surgeries.

In this first surgery, they will cut the center of my hand to repair nerves/ligaments. AND – at the same time – they will begin to stretch-out other ligaments in preparation for my 2nd surgery.

After I completely heal from this first operation (roughly 10 weeks from now) – – I will have another surgery where they will completely remove that bone from the palm of my hand. The ligaments/tissues that were stretched from the first surgery, will now be used to “fill in” the area where the bone was.

The 2nd surgery is usually a last resort due to the intricacy & painful recover.  BUT as they say “Let the first be last AND the last be first” – so of course the last option for most people –  is my first & only option.

All that to be said, I am not looking forward to the next few months and the annoyance of not having my dominant right hand to use.

We plan to fly back into Haiti a few days after surgery, while we wait for the second one.

We appreciate your prayers for complete healing of my hand & patience for my family who now have to “literally” be my right hand!

(Oddly enough – some people say I was already a handful – before I even injured it! ) 😉😂

After I posted this original update on Facebook, I made several comments which I have included below:


Someone wrote: Prayers for patience for YOUR FAMILY?? Perhaps for someone else also? Always praying for all of you my dear friend!❤️🙏🏿

    • I replied: They need the patience to deal with my impatience! 😂 The surgeon told me I can’t lift more than a pound between surgeries.  The Surgeon said,Do you know what that means? I don’t want you to even hold a burger in that hand”.   I said, “I’m not sure what kind of burgers she’s used to, but I usually just eat a quarter pounder!” She laughed and then said,No seriously”!


Someone wrote: When you do anything, you always do it well! Prayers for healing.

    • I repliedI’m as passionate about my injuries as I am about my ministries! What’s that saying – “Go big or go home…or Go big or go to the ER”.? I think it’s something like that! 😉 Either way, it’s one of those mottos I try to live by! Haha!


Jose’s Comment: I just wanted to let everyone know that Jody’s surgery went very well. The anesthesia always makes her sick, so they had to give her extra medication which knocked her out. This morning has been very rough. Any movement of her hand causes her to cry. The surgeon said we could go back to Haiti after the first 48 hours. We would appreciate your prayers for healing and safe travel.



Right now, I’m on a plane heading home to Haiti! (Feb 18th)

I just wanted to say thank you SO MUCH for your prayers and words of encouragement.

I’ve learned how to use the “microphone” button on the screen, so you can simply speak into the phone – and it types for you. It’s not a perfect system though.

Jose does have to review those texts and fix all the errors. For example, EVERY-TIME time I say “also” – it types something very different!  (HAHA)

Recovery is rough but nothing compared to my shoulder surgery. Due to my esophagitis, I can’t take ibuprofen because it causes too much acid. Tylenol isn’t as effective so there’s very little relief with meds.

My hope is that I won’t have any other medical drama (falls) and can wait at least 10 weeks (for surgery two). There is a little betting pool going on with the staff!

After every trip back home, they guess how many days until I have to fly out again for an emergency. They don’t lose any money if they don’t guess correctly, but I do give a “tip” to the one who is closest to the number of days!

There was a rumor that Bena colluded with the dog when I tripped … because he would have won if I had indeed flown out at the time. I have learned to make a game out of everything! HAHAHAHA!


So, that’s a little update on the craziness which is our life! LOL! I do have several more posts to share (blogs I started but never finished).

Since I’m not allowed to do very much (without my right hand), I should have some time to actually get it all done! I’m really great at typing one-handed! 😉


Now that you’ve read this somewhat depressing post, I wanted to reward you with a funny little video –  featuring those cute little stinkers  – Aria & Amia!  They really do make us laugh every day! And since laughter is the best medicine (and the only one that doesn’t give me acid) they are helping me recover quite nicely! (HAHA)

Posted in Mission Stories, Personal Stories

Fall 2021 Family Update

Dear Friends & Family,

First and foremost, we are safe! I know that many have sent messages after hearing about the 17 missionaries who were kidnapped near PAP.  I posted an update on Facebook, but I apologize that I haven’t been more active on this platform as I know not everyone has a Facebook account.

In general –  my health issues, procedures/tests, and operations have kept me from being online.  We are back in Haiti now and getting ready to enter into our favorite and most active season of ministry!

I do have a few posts from Facebook that I can share below – just to give you an idea on how life has been the past few months. Now that I’m feeling better & back home – I hope to post a lot more often.




I’m ready for a life-changing week of renewal, restoration, & healing!

The AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors) happens every 2 years. The first time we attended was in 2019, just months after Lori died.

My therapist, Joan, invited us to attend with her. She had to continually hold me up – hold my hand – and force me to face the grief head-on. This conference played an integral part in helping me process the PTSD & finding my way forward.

This year we are back again with Joan! This has been a traumatic year – crisis after crisis – both for Haiti and our family. My anxiety levels are high & my emotional/mental capacity is waning.

The timing of this conference couldn’t be better…I am SO ready to begin a new healing journey. 🥰

FYI- I haven’t been able to focus on communication/work the last several weeks.

SO – if you are waiting for me to respond to messages/emails… I apologize. Hopefully after this week, I’ll feel renewed and ready to fully engage again.




October 6th

Comment I made:

While packing the crates, I pinched a set of nerves in the palm of my hand. I’ll have to wear a brace for the next 4 weeks – no writing, making a fist, or grasping anything in my right hand.

If the numbness in my fingers & pain in my palm doesn’t correct itself – I’ll need hand surgery. (Seriously…I can’t make this stuff up!)

So this was my creative way of giving an update without having to type a lot! 😉

Honestly, even if I could physically write it all out, I’m not sure I could put into words – – – all the emotions I encountered this month – or begin to describe what happened when Jesus met me in my brokenness… in front of hundreds of psychologists.

♥️ All that to be said…I’m really doing well. I’m more at peace now than I’ve been all year.


Another comment I made:

Some of the ballrooms are split in 2. So for example: there is a J1 and a J2. I was supposed to be in J1 and I went to J2.  I sat in the 2nd row so I could see the PowerPoint.  So I’m right up front.

About 10 minutes in – I realized that this seminar wasn’t about play therapy with traumatized children.  This workshop was called Suffering, Sovereignty, and God’s Glory.

The speaker stopped in the middle of his speech (while i was quietly sobbing) and asked if he could lay hands on me and everyone in the room joined in….

So wrong room – but definitely the right destination.




October 17th

Just wanted to let everyone know we are safe. I know a lot of people reached out after hearing the tragic news that 17 missionaries were kidnapped while visiting an orphanage.

The area where these  missionaries are serving is near PAP and is a 7-10 hour drive from us (depending on how many flat tires you have along the way).

I appreciate all of your prayers and messages this morning. Please continue to pray for all of those involved.


Comment I made:

We really appreciate all the prayers for the ministry, concerns for our safety, and the encouragement to not lose hope for the country.

We started the ministry when mom was pregnant with me. We’ve been through constant rounds of political upheaval and horrible dictators.

Nothing has been as bad as it is now in the past 42 years of our ministry. Many people have no food but somehow have access to the internet.

People can easily find out where missionaries are serving and can instantly call people to action with the click of buttons.

I commented on another post, but thought it would be helpful to post here too.


Another Comment I made:
we are safe, but we have also adapted our ministry to maintain that safety.

We already have a voodoo group who constantly cause unnecessary drama – but they would never hurt us. They are just hoping they can intimidate our staff and run them off by having services on our property lines.

We do have locals who follow closely everything we post … and I’m constantly aware of how I word things – and whether or not to share about activities- or even whether to ask for prayers on a public forum.

It’s best to post about a ministry activity AFTER it happens versus allowing others to know where we are and what we are doing ahead of time.

No one knew when we flew in and we never let anyone know when we travel within the country.

That being said, we feel COMPLETELY comfortable walking all over town. We are just taking extra precautions should anything change.



October 21st






October 23rd

It’s Campus Movie Night!

This past week the Haitian staff, older kids, Jose, Abbey, Malaya, & myself have been working NON-STOP to prepare for the boat’s arrival.

***FYI the boat was supposed to leave this week but due to bad weather it’s still in Miami. It usually takes 10-14 days after it leaves Miami before items arrive here.

1-Part of that prep involves cleaning every depot, painting, rat-proofing, and building more shelves. We created a new system so that at any given time we know exactly what we have and exactly where to find it.

2-We also went through the manifest and started creating signs (such as medical, soap, shampoo, peanut butter, school, church, etc).These signs will allow everyone to immediately place items into the right category instead of one big pile that takes forever to sort.

3- AND lastly – we had to pull out all of the Christmas decorations and holiday supplies to make room in the depot.

All that to be said – it’s been a long week.

SO- to offer a little encouragement- we invited everyone who helped with the prep to our makeshift outdoor theater!

Everyone is enjoying coke, chips, popcorn, and candy!

In the midst of Haiti’s seemingly endless heartache, drama, and suffering – it’s these little moments that bind us together & remind us of God’s provision and protection.

– – –

Someone made the comment that they thought I was gonna say we are already decorating for Christmas since we had to pull out all the Christmas tubs.

**I assumed that was already implied! 😉 We just started a brand new series for Children’s Church using Board Games each week to tie into our lessons. Just made sense to go ahead and get a jump start on decorating the cafeteria as well! 😂 🎄

Posted in Personal Stories

Christmas Eve Service…

We held our Christmas Eve service last night!  


All of my children performed special dances  – as well as several of the girls from our Children’s Home. After the performances, we sang Christmas songs together and my dad gave the message. 


After we ended the church service, we passed out hot chocolate & peanut butter sandwiches while showing The Star Movie. 


I can’t even begin to explain how thankful I am to spend this Christmas with my parents. Every visit we have together is a time I cherish  – especially as I watch my kids continue to make sweet & long lasting memories. 

Posted in Personal Stories

Fall Facebook Updates

Here are some updates we’ve posted on Facebook since my last blog post…

October 12th: Lessons learned while strolling along…

For the past month, I’ve been carving out a few hours every evening to spend at the park. This is where I walk, journal, read, take online courses, and catch up on work.

When it’s nice outside, I like to bring Sophie and Chloe. Sophie is the white dog & is 9 years old. This summer she got really sick and we were afraid she might die. So we brought her out to see the vet where they did a few minor procedures to rid her of a massive infection.

Chloe is brown and 9-months old. When I take the dogs to the park – Chloe runs wild. AND yet if you put her on a leash – she will refuse to walk at all. Sophie will walk right beside me – but she tires easily and moves slowly. So in order for me to get my steps in each day – the simplest thing to do is put them in a stroller.

Chloe has to look at everything. If we are out for 3 hours – she won’t sit down for even a second. There’s too much going on around her. I think she’s nervous she’ll miss out on barking at a squirrel.

As soon as we get back to the car – she’s exhausted! If you try to stand her up – she tips right over – keeping her eyes closed!


My shoulder surgery is scheduled for tomorrow at 6:45am. The surgery is about 2 hours long.

I’m really not nervous about the surgery itself. I’m more concerned about being in a sling for a month and it taking several more months before I gain full mobility back.

We are entering into our biggest season of ministry! As soon as we arrive, we will be decorating the campus for Christmas and lining up our holiday events! It’s a non-stop pace for us.

So the timing of this surgery really stinks. The thought of not being able to use my right arm during these specific months is overwhelming!


I looked at my dogs today and laughed. When it comes to the Christmas Season- I’m just like Chloe! I’m consumed with everything going on and constantly worried that I might miss something/someone.

And just like Chloe – I’m finding myself completely exhausted as I over-think and over-engage with all the things surrounding me.

Here’s what I know….
Sophie and Chloe will arrive at the same destination – at the same time. However, Sophie actually enjoys the journey and still has love/energy left to give at the end of a very long day.

🔸Sometimes the best thing we can do is…🔸

  • Allow God to pick the park & decide which path we will stroll down today.
  • Be still long enough to enjoy the breeze & catch our breath.
  • Stop & stare at the art piece He painted just for us… the one we almost rushed right by.
  • Come to that peaceful conclusion that as long as God is pushing the stroller… we ARE going to arrive where we are needed – one way or another!


October 21st – 

It’s been 10 days since my shoulder surgery. I still can’t use my right arm but I’m determined to find joy & peace regardless!

I can’t text/write/dress/shower/stand-up/buckle-up/pick something up… etc. on my own! (Thanks Jose for typing this). 🙄😘

-if you dress me,
-put my shoes on,
-pull my hair back,
-drive me to the park,
-open the stroller,
-put the dogs in the stroller,
-put my ear phones in my ear,
-open up my Coke Zero,
And point the stroller in the right direction…

WELL – I can still walk 7 miles a day all by myself!!! (4 days straight so far) 🎊🎈🎉

#puppypeerpressure #GirlsJustWanttoHaveFun


November 1st – HAITI BOUND

3 adults
6 kids
2 dogs
18 suitcases
9 carry-ons
9 backpacks
2 pet slings

**And Rosie/me can’t lift anything more than 3lbs 💪

**And I only have 1 good arm 🩹

**And we are sleeping at the airport gate tonight ✈️😴

**And we only have an hour layover in Chicago and we are already delayed 20 minutes!! 😧 😱

**And Sophie looks how I feel! 🐶 😂



READY OR NOT… here we come!! 🎈🎉🎊


November 12th- Overworked

The boat with all of our crates arrived last week! WAHOO!!!

Don’t worry… I made sure to protect my right shoulder while sorting and organizing all of our supplies!

In fact, I was SO careful with my right side… that I totally forgot how much work my left shoulder had to do in order to compensate.

I may or may not have lifted too much with my left arm.

I may or may not have called my surgeon who believes I just tore a ligament in my LEFT rotator cuff!

My surgeon may or may not have told me that I have to start icing the left shoulder every 4-6 hours AND put it in a sling for the next 10 days!

I may or may not look like I’m wearing a janky straight jacket!! 😂

All that to be said… the depot looks amazing, the supplies are being distributed where needed, most of our outdoor decorations are up, and the campus is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! 🎄🎁

It only cost me an arm and a leg… I mean an arm and another arm! 😉

#neveradullmoment #adayinthelife


November 26th- HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!🍁🦃 

Happy Thanksgiving!🍁

There’s a roof up above me,
I have a good place to sleep.

There’s food on my table,
And shoes on my feet.

You gave me your love Lord,
And a fine family.

Thank You Lord – for your blessings on me!


November 27th- Children’s Church Kick-off

Tomorrow night we will be kicking off our 3-month Children’s Church Series with a special movie night!

Abbey, Malaya, Jose, and I have been working in the cafeteria since 11am…and we’re still not done!

Here’s a sneak peak of our version of Candyland!

Psalm 34:8 – Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Posted in Personal Stories

Rosie’s Road To Recovery – Days 2-4

I can’t believe we are already on Day 4 Post-Op. I have sat down multiple times to write an update… and have fallen asleep at the keys every time. We are EXHAUSTED!

I spent the first 24 hours with Rosie. Since then, Jose and I started rotating our time in the hospital. He covers 9am to 6pm and I do the 6pm-9am shift!

The hospital has been REALLY GREAT about letting us spend some time together with Rosie. We usually get to hang out with her an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening before we switch out. She’s still in the PICU right now but should be moving to a regular room today.

Rosie has done SUPER WELL! I am SO proud and impressed with how she’s handled everything. Rosie is a very strong-willed little girl…it’s why she’s still alive. It’s that determination and mindset that’s allowed her to survive Tetanus, Cerebral Malaria, Typhoid, Dengue Fever, etc.


Rosie is 16 years old, but has developmental delay and sensory integration disorder. She’s developmentally more like a 9-year old.

HOWEVER – after surgery – she became more like a 3-year old! With all of the pain meds & anesthesia – she became a giddy little girl! Rosie calls me “mama” and Jose “dada”. She says “HI” about 200 times a day. (Not an exaggeration).

She doesn’t really speak in full sentences but more like short sayings: I drink water, I cold, I roll over, I go potty, I hurt, etc.

“All Done” is her favorite saying. Whether it’s taking her meds, eating, using the bathroom, rolling over, etc. When she’s ready to move on – that’s what she says.

We have laughed SO much! Definitely there’s been a lot of tears and A LOT of pain… but she’s handled it all like a champ.

A few of our favorite moments:

  • Rosie LOVES her balloons! She talks to them and hugs them! If Jose hits them – she laughs and laughs.
  • Sometimes she hits the call light just so she can say HI to the nurses. At one point I fell asleep holding her hand beside her bed and the next thing I know she and the nurse are eating a popsicle. She pushed the button and told the nurse she was lonely and wanted someone to talk to!
  • Rosie has 3 stuffed animals on her bed – a koala, a panda bear, and a prayer bear. Apparently, the panda and koala have been SUPER whiny. She had the nurse put the panda in time-out. She said she just can’t keep holding them because they are being super annoying. (The kola bear is flatter and she likes to sleep on it. The panda bear has been super jealous.)
  • At one point – all 3 stuffed animals were at the bottom of the bed facing away from Rosie. She said prayer bear was praying over them because of all of the fighting!
  • When we first started feeding her – she insisted Jose makes the chew-chew train sound before putting the spoon in her mouth.
  • She likes for Jose to kiss/blow on her hand. She dies laughing. The first two days she stuck her hand out almost non-stop and craved being touched.
  • She likes to pat Jose’s head and say that it’s Chloe.
  • She likes to repeat sounds that people make. So, if the nurse drops something and says Ought Oh…she repeats it.
  • She constantly wants to look at the x-ray pictures… she cries every time we show her. She keeps thinking that it’s not really her back but someone else’s. We have to convince her every time that it really is fixed.


Day 2 & 3 were really difficult for Rosie. She just couldn’t get comfortable in bed. She hated laying on her back, it’s impossible to lay on her stomach, and her hips really hurt when she goes from side to side.

She’s got a cooling vest on her almost 24-7. It really helps with the pain but it’s also SUPER COLD. She’s constantly shivering and has a minimum of 4 blankets on her at all times. Her hands are so cold that the O2 monitor has a difficult time reading her finger. So that machine is constantly beeping.

She doesn’t really sleep more than 45 minutes at a time before she’s moaning and in pain. I know she’s exhausted and miserable. Besides her back hurting – her bowels are backed up causing her stomach to constantly ache as well. She doesn’t want to eat anything because her stomach is so hard…which makes it difficult for her to build up her strength.

The first two days she was unable to do ANYTHING unassisted. It took 2 people to help her go from side to side. BUT yesterday afternoon we noticed a huge change. She is starting to roll over on her own. We have to place the pillows all around her – but she can grab the bedrails and slowly turn on her own.

Once we help her sit-up – she can push herself off the bed. With the help of her walker – she’s able to walk down the hall and go to the bathroom. She’s been doing therapy every day and there’s a noticeable difference now.

She may get to come home sooner than later! I was talking to the doctor today about taking over her care at home… similar to how I did my sister’s home health care. I can do her therapy, get labs drawn, and do everything else that she needs.

She’s now on oral pain meds and all the IV’s are out. We already have her room fixed at my brother’s house. The doctor and I both think she will do much better if she’s home with us in her own surroundings. She only sleeps a few hours total each day but maybe if she were home she could rest more. The noises & atmosphere are an overload for her. She keeps asking to go home.

Here’s a few pictures from the past few days:

Posted in Personal Stories

Rosie’s Road To Recovery: Day 1

We want to extend our sincerest appreciation for your words of encouragement, your prayers, your love, and your support! It has felt like the day that would never come….and the day that would never end!

Rosie’s surgery was Tuesday, June 16th. 



We arrived at the hospital at 4:45am. The surgery was to start at 7am and would last roughly 6 hours. Rosie was shaking so bad that it was difficult to get her IV started. The nurse and anesthesiologist weren’t aware of Rosie’s Developmental Delay/Sensory Integration Disorder. They couldn’t understand why a 16 year-old was struggling so much to sit still and was unable to follow simple commands.

As soon as I explained that she’s developmentally more like an 8 year-old… they began to approach her differently and things went much smoother.


The anesthesiologist wanted Rosie to feel more comfortable so he took off his mask and hat. He was an elderly bald man. He said he has grandkids too and he will take good care of her. I said, “See Rosie – he’s just like papaw!”

Rosie frantically: Oh no! Papaw can’t keep his hands still. I don’t want him poking me with needles if he can’t keep his hands still. We need to find someone younger! (LOL)



Rosie had a few minor setbacks as her bones were more rigid than expected. The first update we received was a bit discouraging. They weren’t sure they would be able to fix the curve more than 10%….and perhaps the best they can do is simply keep it from getting worse. Rosie had such high hopes that the surgery would help her look “normal”.

We always remind Rosie how special she is and how God has a great plan for her life. She’s a miracle. When I give her health history – starting with tetanus at 8 days old – everyone is shocked she survived. But her response is always the same: I don’t want to be special. I want to be like everyone else.

The great news is that her surgery was actually VERY successful! In fact – they were able to correct her curve more than 80%!

**You can see in the photos the drastic difference of her “before/after” x-rays. (FYI – the “after” x-rays were taken while she was still open on the table. They removed those scissors before they closed her up! LOL!)



Rosie was taken from surgery directly to the ICU. To our PLEASANT surprise, Jose & I both were able to spend the whole afternoon with her. The first few hours were really difficult. She was in SO MUCH pain and couldn’t find the words to really express how she was feeling. We used “Feeling Pictures“ with different emotions to help her express how she was doing.


Our First Conversations Post-Surgery:

As Rosie woke up in the ICU these were her very first words:

Is it over? I didn’t die? Give me a hug. Are you sure I didn’t die? What time is it? When will they start the surgery?



Me: You already had your surgery. It’s over. You did it.
Rosie: No. No I didn’t. (Shaking her head)
Me: Yes baby. It’s over.
Rosie: I didn’t die?
Me: No Rosie. This is definitely not heaven.
Rosie: oh no. I didn’t make it to heaven?
Me: Rosie we are in Indiana in the hospital.
Rosie: Yeah. You are right. Indiana is not heaven. (She said it not me!LOL)
Rosie: What time is it?
Me: It’s 2pm.
Rosie: Oh no. I missed my surgery. It was at 7.
Me: Rosie it’s over. You already had it.
Rosie: No. I don’t think so.
Me: Yes you did it! I can’t wait for you to see what they did to your back. You are going to be taller now.
Rosie while trying to turn her head to look at her back: Oh no. I can’t even see my back anymore. Did they remove the whole thing?
Rosie: Where’s daddy.
Jose: I’m right here.
Rosie: No. I want to see Jose.
Jose: It’s me Rosie.
Rosie: oh. Yeah. You are right.
Rosie: I need to use the bathroom.
Me: You have a tube hooked up. It’s okay to pee. You don’t need to get up. You can go in the bed.
Rosie: No. I’m not a baby. That’s gross. I’m not going to make a mess.
Nurse: Rosie it’s okay. You won’t make a mess because it’s going to go into this bag.
Rosie: Well that’s nasty. You really shouldn’t be proud of that. I’m not a puppy.

The nursing staff LOVE Rosie! They are so gentle and caring with her.

Rosie got to pick out a stuffed animal from the ICU floor. She picked out a koala bear. Rosie asks every person to hug her as they come into the room AND to hug her koala when they leave the room.

They did a change of shift this afternoon and the nurse said goodbye to Rosie.

Rosie started to cry: Why are you leaving? I wanted us to be good friends! What I am supposed to tell my bear? She will be so sad.



Jose left around 6:30pm and I’m here for the night.

Being in the ICU – the nurses, the smells, the beeping machines, the constant vital signs/pain checks… feeding her ice chips, helping her get comfortable in bed, reminding her what day it is, where she is, that everything’s going to be okay .. it felt ALL TOO familiar. I had to stop giving regular updates…because quite frankly – I couldn’t see the keys for the tears. My post from “a year ago today” was about officially taking over all of Lori’s home health care.

I’ll have more updates tomorrow! Please continue to lift my sweet baby girl in your prayers! I’m SO proud of how well she’s handling everything.

They said day 2 & 3 are usually the worst days of the recovery process and she’s going to have to find a new way to do her daily activities. She can’t bend/twist her back or lift anything more than 5 pounds for at least 6 months! So we’ve got quite a rough road ahead….but we know we aren’t traveling on it all alone.


There was a comment earlier today about whether something could be sent to Rosie during her hospital stay. She can’t have any live flowers… but anything else is fine. We really don’t know how long she’ll be here in the hospital. We’ve heard anywhere from 5-10 days. She will be staying in Garrett, IN (just 15 minutes away) over the next several months while she does her therapy/recovery. If you would like my brother’s home address – I can message that separately.
Currently: She’s in Parkview Regional Medical Center.
Name: Rosie Castillo
Room: PICU 2nd Floor
Hospital: 260-266-1000
Posted in Personal Stories

Castillo Family April-June Family Updates…

I just realized that I haven’t been posting any updates on our family. The following is a list of Facebook Updates from the past 2 months!


Malaya and I have been competing each day to see who has the most steps. Our goal is 10k/day which is hard to do without leaving my parents’ house.

She just did 2 intense hours of an online dance class… and I simply cleaned out two of mom’s closets. Guess who had more steps? 🤗

Malaya was mad … but I just think it just speaks to how long it’s been since Diana Owen has done any spring cleaning! 😳😉


2. Jody Owen Castillo is with Jose Alexander Castillo March 29Versailles, KY

Asher and Rosie kept begging me to go bike riding. So yesterday we rode in an empty flat parking lot near Kohl’s in Frankfort!

Today we went to my old high school where apparently they added speed bumps.

I may or may not have crashed my bike 3 times!!! 🚲😱

The kids may or may not have laughed so hard that one of them peed their pants! 😳😂

I may or may not need stitches😬


3. Jody Owen Castillo April 12

Happy Easter from the half of our family that’s still in Haiti! Missing them SO much today.

Last Easter, Malaya and I went to church with Lori. Today is her first Easter in Heaven.

It’s STILL so difficult to process but I have peace that she is leading worship (as she did every Easter) and that brings me great joy.


4. Jody Owen Castillo April 13

We are humbled and honored by the thoughts, prayers, and efforts of those who have continued to surround our family!

We just wanted to extend another – Thank You – for those who’ve written notes, sent cards, drawn pictures, and mailed gifts to Rosie and our family! What a HUGE blessing! Seriously…you have NO IDEA how much it has meant to us.

So far, we received one envelope of drawings for our Campus Kids! Thank you for thinking of them! We hope to receive more…so keep them coming! (You can see a previous post with more information about the 34 children who live on our campus).

Rosie continues to be CONSUMED with fear as her surgery is delayed. We are working through an Anxiety/Fear Workbook as so many things continue to remain out of our hands. Honestly, it’s just as much of a blessing for me as it is for her! Our family is also spending countless hours every week with our therapist. That has definitely been the best part of being out.

A VERY sweet family from the Louisville area COMPLETELY surprised us last week with an Easter Basket unlike anything we’ve ever seen before!

Though we don’t personally know them, they had seen Rosie’s post and felt a nudging from the Spirit to drop off this special gift… in hopes of calming her nerves.

So it’s with great shock & awe that we present the newest Castillo: Chloe! 😱🤗

She’s a 1.5 pound, 4-month old schnauzer… who isn’t expected to weigh more than 3 pounds when fully grown! She is SO TINY!

Though I was uncertain at first – she has truly brought great JOY & LAUGHTER for the kids (and my parents) during this quarantine.

For the first time in weeks – Rosie is smiling from ear to ear and rarely puts her down. Asher has new found purpose in trying to teach her tricks; and Malaya keeps her alive by constantly reminding us that we are about to step on her.

Yesterday, we face-timed with the rest of our kids still in Haiti. Their Easter Baskets were supposed to come in with the team but they had to cancel due to the virus. So unfortunately, they didn’t have anything to open. BUT we did introduce them to Chloe and they seemed pretty content with that! 🙂


5.Jody Owen Castillo April 15

That awkward moment when you are talked into joining a LIVE video chat on Forward Facing Trauma with 30 other therapists…

-Sit on your bed wearing your favorite Christmas nightgown… that doesn’t quite button right and has a big stain on it
-Adjust your screen 20+ times – not worried about WHAT PART OF YOUR BODY or area of your room the camera is facing
-Put your hair in a bun and go through your daily skin care routine
-Eat cheese dip… that falls on said gown – AND since no one is looking – you just lick it off instead of grabbing a napkin

Jose may or may not have told me 25 MINUTES LATER: You know they can still see you right? All you did was black out your own square… so you (personally) don’t have to stare at yourself.

I may or may not have immediately ended the session!

I may or may not “show my face” in that group EVER again! LOL! 😳😂🤣


6. Jody Owen Castillo is with Diana Owen. April 27

For my dad’s 75th birthday (his first without Lori) – we wanted to do something special. Everyone knows how much our family loves Christmas! I remember when I was little, we would cut down 10+ trees and plant them in our yard so we could create a Winter Wonderland! We would spend a full week decorating… and even won competitions for having the best Christmas Displays!

So in honor of my sister and his birthday – we planted a blue spruce which looks like a Christmas Tree. It’s planted in our front yard where he can look at it from the porch – and we can look at it from our bedroom window.

We spread some of her ashes with the roots of the tree and decorated it as we typically do. She loves Disney – so we have a Mickey Mouse Flood Light facing it. We have a timer on the lights so it will automatically come on for 2 hours every night.

Last night after my dad opened his presents and cards… we brought him outside to see the special tree. Though it was a tear-filled evening… it brought a lot of joy to our family.

We wanted to say a special Thank You to everyone who made his birthday a day to remember!


For the past 10 days I’ve been walking 9-10 miles a day in random neighborhoods… rain or shine. I’m usually gone 3 hours a day as part of my therapy/mental health regimen. Sometimes the kids come but usually I’m by myself.

Asher: So what do you think about when you walk everyday? Do you think about auntie Lolo and Haiti?

Me: Sometimes I do. But honestly… I usually think about how I would decorate each house during Christmas. Whether their yard is big enough for my imagination and if there’s enough foot traffic to make it worth the effort!

Asher: Oh I see. That would definitely require deep thoughts because it takes us forever to decorate the Mole.

Me: Exactly. Sometimes I’m completely worn out mentally with all my ideas on how to make each yard look as Merry as possible.

Asher: yeah I bet that’s really difficult. Next time I’ll walk with you and we can discuss it together.

Me: thanks Asher! That would be a HUGE help if I knew the best yard/house to buy If we were rich and had an unlimited decoration budget.

Asher: no worries. I got your back. You don’t have to think through this all alone!


Other Comments I made:  The first week of April – Malaya and I started a competition on who had the most steps every day. We couldn’t show each other our count until 10pm. Then we had 2 hours to battle it out on Just Dance… giving the loser a chance to catch up if desired.

You know how competitive Malaya is. I’ve exercised right up until midnight just to beat her for that day. We went from averaging 10k steps/day to 13k then 15k.

My therapist gave me some seminars/audio books to listen to while I walked… and the next thing I knew I was averaging 21k steps!!

I can’t shut off the “Christmas” that lives so deeply inside of me. So even in deep thought – I’m thinking about all the ways to decorate wherever I am. 😉

Another Comment I made: Jose & the kids have joined me the past 3 days. 

Asher: None of these yards are big enough. The houses just get in the way.

Me: So true.

Asher: Plus we live in Haiti so we don’t need a house. We should just rent a yard for Christmas. I really like the yard by the Rosa School.

Me: hmm… Maybe we could ask them to let us use it at Christmas so all the kids there can see it. Then the community will love the school even more.

Asher: AND we can put out a donation box to cover the power it needs.

Me: That’s brilliant. But how do we afford the decorations?

Asher: Remember when the boat sank? And I talked to customer service at Home Depot? Remember I told them about how we need help and they gave us a discount? Even the people in line gave us money too.

Me: Yes. You are a really good fundraiser.

Asher: What if I talk to them and tell them what we are doing for “those little kids”? We could have them give us the “examples” they put on the floor. We can leave the price tags on them. When people see them – we can say they came from Home Depot and give them their phone number so they can order them.

Me: WOW Asher! You are really smart. I definitely think you should talk to customer service instead of me…cuz you make friends really easily.

Asher: Yeah.. it’s cuz I’m so cute! So when should we go to Home Depot?



It’s our first “family outing” since we flew out in March.

We brought a few friends with us tonight. We pulled into the theater at 6:30pm to reserve our spots… and the first movie started about 45 minutes ago!

I love going to the drive-in with the kids… it’s WAY LESS stressful than going into an actual theater.

We were with Lori the last time we went to a drive-in … 2 summers ago.

In fact, she also took me to my very first one when I was in middle school. We used to go twice a month when she lived in New Albany, IN.

Rosie asked me, “Why does the Trolls Movie make you cry?”

I told her it’s not the movie… just the flood of incredible/hilarious memories that I didn’t anticipate feeling. Missing my sister SO MUCH tonight.

I’m thankful that so many of my best experiences were with her … though reliving them now often feels bittersweet.




We just heard from the hospital that Rosie needs to be there tomorrow at 5am and her surgery will be at 7am.

Because of the Corona Virus – the nurse is unsure whether both of us parents can be with her during recovery. We hope that’s not the case. It will be hard for Rosie if only one of us gets to see her after surgery.

Rosie has been SHAKING and crying “knowing” she will die tomorrow. This weekend she started sending messages to her friends in Haiti saying her final goodbyes. 😢

Please pray for her surgery tomorrow and that everything goes even better than expected!

With Rosie’s sensory disorder and developmental delay… we are all a bit anxious of how she’ll handle the pain. Please pray that God will give Rosie peace and comfort.