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Minute Maid

To say it was hard for Juan and Kathy Peña to leave their home country of Guatemala is a massive understatement.

"I remember thinking, 'I don’t know when I’m going to come back,'" recalls Kathy. "And my family’s everything, so it’s hard."

The couple came to the United States in 2006 so Juan could study and pursue a career in motion graphics and video production.


"We sold everything we had just to get enough money to pay the tuition," explains Juan. "It was a leap of faith."

Juan and Kathy Peña. All photos via Minute Maid.

On top of stretching finances for Juan's school, the couple had trouble getting pregnant.

The doctors had told Juan he had only a 1% chance of being a parent, so they thought it might never happen. But out of the blue, Kathy got pregnant with what they nicknamed their "miracle baby."

While it was a dream come true for the Peñas, the doctors told them the pregnancy was high-risk, which meant Kathy had to be on bed rest for the majority of it. So not only was Juan trying to complete his schooling, he was taking care of his pregnant wife at the same time.

"I knew in my heart we would be all right because we had each other," says Kathy.

Kathy and Juan during Kathy's pregnancy.

Thankfully, Kathy's pregnancy went smoothly, and Juan managed to keep up with his education throughout.

Soon, they were holding their daughter Elizabeth in their arms.

"Our daughter, our miracle. We couldn’t believe it when we had her in our arms," recalls Kathy.

But the blessings didn't stop there. In 2015, they welcomed their son Joseph into the world.

Elizabeth and Joseph drawing together.

Today, thanks to Juan and Kathy's inexhaustible faith and perseverance, they have two happy, healthy children who have everything they need and more.

Juan hopes their life up to this point inspires his kids to work hard and keep dreaming big.

"I think dreams and purpose are the things that drive us as humans," says Juan.

Kathy's also been able to pursue her ambition of becoming a designer of hand-crafted party supplies.

Crafting is Kathy's passion, so being able to throw herself into it has revitalized her sense of purpose.

Her creativity sparked an idea in Elizabeth. She wanted to make something really special for her parents.

Elizabeth's future diploma.

So she started putting together a colorful display filled with hand-drawn pictures of her family, festive hats, and decorations — just like her mom's.

It included one extra meaningful piece of paper: Elizabeth's future veterinarian degree — her dream profession.

When her parents saw what she'd made, they were overwhelmed with emotion. Her mother was so proud to see her daughter showcasing her creativity, and her father knew just what to do with the certificate.

"I will save this, and then we will see it in the future being a reality."

Juan holds Elizabeth's future degree.

Taking a leap of faith isn't easy, but the Peñas' story reminds us that it can be more than worth it in the end.

While there were times when they weren't sure they were making the right decisions as parents, seeing their kids develop lofty aspirations that are totally achievable is all the assurance they need.

The family has a comfortable life with so many opportunities at their fingertips. And it only happened because Juan and Kathy made a decision to finish what they started and stuck to it. While that's a reward all on its own, their daughter showing them what their efforts did for her was the sweetest icing on the cake.

Then she said this, which left them speechless: "I’m so proud of you because you work so hard."

Watch the Peña's whole story here:

They thought they could never have children. And then their miracle babies arrived.

Posted by Upworthy on Monday, September 18, 2017
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A U.S. Army soldier sent her parents a surprise for the ages, and it's pure magic.

She tells everybody how amazing her parents are. The thing is, she hadn't said it to her parents.

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Minute Maid

Elva "Lala" Torres is a soldier in the U.S. Army.

Growing up, she says, her parents always did all they could to bring out the absolute best in her. They saw something special in her that Lala often didn't see herself. No wonder having to leave home was the hardest part for her.

All images via Minute Maid.


But even though her parents, Raoul and Marta Torres, now live more than 2,000 miles away from her in Layton, Utah, they send her loads of love and encouragement in their own little way — by mailing care packages.

"I am halfway across the country from my parents, but it doesn't feel that way," Lala says. "Getting care packages from them motivated me to keep going during those moments when I was ready to give up on myself."

That's why Lala wanted to show her parents just how much they mean to her. So she decided to flip the script and send them a reverse care package.

She included some goodies and mementos and, most importantly, heartfelt letters to both her parents with everything she's ever wanted to say to them. She even threw in a special surprise you'll have to see for yourself — check it out:

When Raoul and Marta received their daughter's care package, it was pure magic.

They opened the box to see all sorts of amazing photos, a bottle of sand from the same beach where Lala and Raoul had trained — Raoul was also in the military for 27 years — and handfuls of little green toy soldiers that Lala played with growing up.

The best item in the box, though, might just be the beautiful letter that Lala wrote for her parents.

"Dear Mom and Papa,

Even though we may be many miles apart, I wanted to send you a couple of items to let you know that your love and wisdom carries with me wherever I go. When I told you I was thinking about joining the military, you taught me to never question my potential. You showed me that I could dedicate my life doing whatever it was that I was truly passionate about. I haven’t had the chance to walk beside you in a while, but I still feel as safe as I did when you were by my side. Thank you forever.

Love,
Lala"




For many people, it can be challenging to stay connected with family — especially when the distance between them is so far.

But sometimes, all it takes is something small — a sweet text message, a random video call, or even a special care package — to let loved ones know how big an impression on you they truly make.

Want to send a reverse care package of your own to someone you love? Head over to MinuteMaid.com right now for some awesome ideas and inspiration to get you started.