Learn more about My Special Treasure

Mi Especial Tesoro or the English translation “My Special Treasure” (MST) is an all-girl’s orphanage in Chimaltenango, Guatemala, which is about an hour and a half southwest of Guatemala City. This private Christian organization was founded by Carol Alvarez, and her late husband Cesar, to provide care for children abandoned after their orphanage in Guatemala City closed.
MST presently cares for 14 girls ranging in ages from 8 to 23 years. These girls have been removed from their homes of origin by the Guatemalan legal system, and MST provides a safe, loving environment for them to live, learn, and grow. Located on a small, gated compound, the girls share four- to five-person dormitory-style bedrooms, take part in daily devotionals, and eat meals together in a common room. Each girl is responsible for washing her own clothes by hand, helping prepare meals, and performing daily chores around the compound.
Most of the MST girls attend school at the Education Center nearby. The Education Center is a Christian school ministry that Carol’s daughter, Vanesa, and Vanesa’s husband, Luis, launched to serve children from the nearby Chimaltenango Dump. Some of the girls attend a separate Saturday-only high school program and work on their studies during the week.
Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (CPC) began a relationship with MST in 2010 through an intermediary American Christian organization. A sponsorship program for each of the MST girls was established, and CPC started conducting annual missions trips to MST. Focusing on a Survive, Thrive, and Succeed development model, CPC embarked on a journey to develop genuine and real personal relationships with the girls and staff of MST, while also providing for their physical needs. Additionally, Cornerstone began training missions team members to serve MST using a broad development model from the book When Helping Hurts, by Steven Corbett and Brian Fikkert (2009). The When Helping Hurts model strives to overcome first-world country domination patterns and emphasizes the importance of serving from a place of humility. Missionaries are taught to have an awareness of their individual brokenness, to understand the gift of reconciliation through Jesus Christ, and to share this gift with others in their own brokenness and suffering.
In 2016, a two-person CPC-MST ministry team was created. The ministry team has grown over the years to nine active members. CPC currently sends two, 8-10 person missions trips to MST per year: one in January and one in June. Periodic leadership trips to investigate new partnering opportunities are also conducted.
In 2018, MST and CPC co-launched a Transition Home program on the MST property for girls aging out of the orphan care system, but still in need of more independent skills training. In 2019, CPC decided to work directly with MST without an intermediary organization, and hence, the ministry team has completely taken over the relational, organizational, and financial responsibilities of working with MST.