From Tears to Triumph, My Journey to The House of Hope

I started blogging about my journey in writing, editing, polishing and publishing my book, From Tears to Triumph. Now that the book is published, I will blog about aspects of the book: finding hope, making sound life choices, The Children of God, Costa Rica, sex-trade, redemption.

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Does God Use the Internet?

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Does God Use The Internet?

I was washing out the bathtub recently and a question came to mind. Does God use the internet? Silly question? Well, I believe God speaks to us and in many, many, diverse ways. He spoke to Moses via a burning bush. He spoke to whole countries via prophets. He spoke to me via a still small voice when He directed me to go to Costa Rica and help street girls.

So? Does he also use the Internet? Since sitting down to write From Tears to Triumph nearly three and a half years ago, I have reunited with FOUR people who played major roles in the book - all because of the Internet. It’s amazing. It’s a blessing.

My thoughts were being “attacked” one afternoon while I sat at my computer writing the chapters about the girls in The House of Hope. 

“What did you ever do that warrants writing a book?” one thought said.

“Who are you to write a book?” said another.

Those thoughts stopped me in mid-typing of a memory. “Maybe they’re right…who am I and what did I ever do?”

Feeling intimidated, I closed out of my word-processing program a few minutes later and switched over to Facebook. There, sitting in my “Friend Requests” icon, I found a message from “Marcela.” 

The name sounded familiar. I clicked on the request and found a message in Spanish, which translated says, “Cari, is this you? It’s me Marcela from The House of Hope. Is this really you?”

My heart lightened and a smile lit up my face. Maricela, one of my girls from La Casa had found me. We hadn’t spoken for over ten years.  In answer I said, “Yes, it’s me. How wonderful to hear from you.”

The following day, I received another “Friend Request” but didn’t recognize the name. I opened the request to find a message. “Cari, is this you? It’s me, Estelita, from The House of Hope. I’ve been looking for you for twenty five years!”

Again, my heart leapt and I thanked God for sending me such a validating sign. Yes, The House of Hope had touched the lives of a lot of girls and, as co-founder and director I was the perfect person to write the story.

Even more amazing, as those connections came in, I held two plane tickets in my hand…a pre-planned trip to take my youngest daughter, Karina, to Costa Rica as her high school graduation gift.

Marcela (who I had always called Maricela) and Estelita were ecstatic. They hadn’t seen each other in over 35 years and the fact that they’d contacted me independently within a day of each other was a miracle. Our reunion in Costa Rica was magical.  

My next Internet find was Carlos Jaramillo, the young Colombian, who along with Fernando and Eduardo helped me at The House of Hope after its inception. Networking online, I located him still in Colombia and employed as an airline pilot.

After the book was published, “Shalisha” appeared through the computer screen.  Those of you who have read my memoir may remember that Shalisha joined the Children of God with me in June, 1971. It’d last seen her in California in 1978. Before the book was published I tried finding Shalisha through her high school alumni association and via a Google search, without success. I found a few people on Facebook with her real name, but no picture, and no identifying data. Blindly I sent out Facebook messages to people who shared her name. My message…”Shalisha is this you? It’s me, Mik.”

After several months and just weeks after From Tears to Triumph was published, I received a “thumbs up” image on Facebook in answer to one of my messages. That was it – a thumbs up. I’d found her. Shalisha and I are now in regular contact. It turns out that she returned to the Children of God after I’d last seen her and stayed some 38 years!

Does God use the Internet? Obviously I believe so! 

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Award-winning author, Linda Bello-Ruiz, was born and raised in Redwood Valley, a small grape growing community in Northern California. Linda co-founded and directed the House of Hope—the first safe-haven for street girls, runaways, and sex-trafficked minors in Costa Rica. She was a twenty-three-year-old college dropout when she took on the project, and relied on her faith and determination which was much bigger than her curriculum vitae.


After her return to the United States in 1976, she went back to college and earned her Master’s Degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University. Ms. Bello-Ruiz worked in the vocational rehabilitation field as a bilingual counselor for twenty-six-years, and as a vocational forensic expert on disability for five of those years.


Linda is president of The Authors Resource Group and Faith Writers of SCLH, a member of Inspire Christian Writers and Destiny Church, and is an active member of the Northern California Publishers and Authors group and the United for Barra Association in Mexico, and an Ambassador for Courage Worldwide.


Ms. Bello-Ruiz speaks to clubs and organizations on her experiences in moving beyond despair into hope—advocating for groups whose mission is to combat sex trafficking and provide a safe haven for girls rescued from the sex trade.


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