Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Desperation

I would like to ask you to imagine with me. I want us to take a trip in our minds and put ourselves inside some parents here in Guatemala. For just a moment, let us walk, not even a mile, but just a few steps in their shoes.

Little Sara’s parents noticed that things were not quite right immediately after she was born. Her head was too large for her tiny body. In short order, a doctor explained to them that she had hydrocephalus, an excess of cerebral fluid that was causing her head to grow rapidly and pressure on her brain to increase. While there was life saving surgery available at the national hospital, they would have to pay for the supplies and equipment, and the shunt they needed to install costs more than six months of their income. They don’t have the money, so day after day they watch their daughter’s head grow in size and wonder how long she will live. There is nowhere to turn. No one who can help. Their extended family and neighbors are just as poor as they are. Desperation.

This beautiful little girl, Fatima, was born, and early on her mom recognized significant delays. This struck fear in her heart, as Fatima’s older brother was born with special needs caused by a genetic condition. Her husband abandoned her shortly after Fatima entered the picture, and she found herself fighting to care for two children with special needs. And she watched their health decline. This December her son passed away. In spite of her fight on his behalf, she could not save him. And now she is wondering how much longer Fatima has. Her resources are spent, and she is tired and grieving for one child lost and another slipping away. Desperation.

Beautiful Adriana was born, and at six months of age she was diagnosed as having Lisencefalia. This is a genetic condition which causes the brain to not form with its normal ridges and can cause severe cognitive delays and seizures. And little Adriana has both. Her mom has a really good job as a teacher that pays her well. She earns over Q2500.00 a month (about $345 USD). But Adriana has severe allergies that require her to drink a special formula that is very expensive. This, plus her seizure meds and diapers cost more than Q2500.00 a month. Each week this single mom sees her little girl lose weight and feels her slipping away. Desperation.

I could keep going. I have a long list of children and their parents with similar stories. In fact, the three above and an addition five were all found in the last eight days. And you can add to that list a three year old boy that I was called about last night that is dying because his family does not have money for supplies for his treatment. There are times that life here feels like a war zone, but, instead of bombs and bullets, the damage is caused by indifference and corruption. So many people die needlessly. And every day, I see the desperation.

In the midst of this, our team is fighting hard to save and improve lives. Last week we expanded into our 11th department of Guatemala. (A department is like a state, and Guatemala has 22 of them.) We are currently working monthly with over 160 families, and this is possible through our sponsorship program in which many of you participate. And I am so grateful. We are fighting, but we are outnumbered and overwhelmed.

Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the work and the long days. But, more often, we are overwhelmed by the emotional toll of seeing desperate families like the ones above. And the emotional toll of seeing so many die, in spite of our best efforts.

Last night, Wanda and I went out for a date to spend some time talking. Wanda had recognized that both of us were struggling with fatigue and discouragement, and thought we should talk it through. I, being the typical man, did not want to talk about it. So, we compromised and talked about it (because I knew she was right).

The desperation that surrounds us can be soul crushing. And we came to the conclusion that the only cure is to more intimately connect with our Jesus, the Source of all we need. So, we are committed to praying more and leaning more on Him. That will not ease the battle around us, but it will ease the battle within us.

And we will continue to fight and pray for more soldiers to fight with us. If you are interested in fighting at our sides, here are some ways you can:

  1. Sponsor a child or two. We have a long list of children waiting for a sponsor, and it includes some of the ones listed above. You can see that list by visiting http://hopeforhome.org/get-involved/sponsorship.html. Remember, 100% of your sponsorship goes directly to help the child. None is taken for administration or delivery expenses.
  2. Come and serve. We need long-term workers who will help. We know that everyone is not called to this life and ministry, but some are. We simply ask that you take time to pray and ask God if you should come. And, if He says yes, have the courage to obey.
  3. Pray with us for the children and families we serve. And pray for us as we serve.

And, while I am writing about prayer, I would ask you to join us in praying for land for this ministry. God has placed it on my heart to pray fervently and boldly for the next 30 days, asking Him for the land we need to consolidate our homes and ministry onto one piece of land. This will be Comunidad de Esperanza (Community of Hope) and will have room for lots of additional homes and ministries. But the first step is to obtain the land. We are praying for at least five acres that we can obtain debt-free. 

Will you please join us in asking God for this miracle?

That should be enough for now. Back to the battle!

Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Who Else Can Do It?

Recently, our lives seem to be a serious of hard and important decisions. I am not complaining about this. I am just stating the fact.

Here are just a few of those decisions:
  1. A few weeks ago we received call about a one year old boy in desperate need of a home. He was in the hospital due to neglect, abuse and malnutrition, and he needed a home. Because of the severity of his special needs, they had no where else to send him. No one else was equipped to deal with his needs, and everyone was full, including us. Our home is full and our family, interns and staff are stretched. But what happens to this little guy if we say no? That is a hard decision with life and death implications.
  2. About 15 minutes later, we received a call about a brother and sister in need of a home. The little brother has cerebral palsy. The big sister is severely under stimulated and very delayed. Both are malnourished. Can we please make room?
  3. Over the last three weeks we have received calls asking us to take 12 other children. All of them have special needs, and none of them have other options for a home.
  4. One of our rural village ministry teams visited one of our sponsored children two weeks ago. I received a call from the team leader asking me if we could take Paola into one of our homes. Her mother has given up and is broken. She is depressed and has stopped caring for her daughter. As a result, she has worsened significantly. She is malnourished and is fighting infection. She has become increasingly less alert. She is dying. After spending three days wrestling with the decision, Stevie and Carissa decided to take her into home 2, even though they are stretched as well. When we returned to the home to inform the mother of our decision, we find that she has changed her mind. She refuses to surrender Paola to the courts to be placed in one of our homes. What should we do? Should we report the case to PGN to have Paola forcibly removed? If we do, it could mean the end of our ministry in that community due to the possibly hostile response of her family and neighbors. We have never had a child removed before, but Paola’s life is hanging in the balance.
  5. In the past 15 days I have received calls from six new communities asking me to come and help children who are in severe or critical condition and in need of help. When do I say yes? When do I need to say no? How do I choose?


I confess, there have been a few days that these decisions have overwhelmed me. On two occasions, I retreated to my room, closed the door, and wept and cried out to God for guidance, help and strength. And there were two nights that I lay in bed awake and fretting over these decisions. And, one by one, we have made the decisions.

Answer key:
  1. We said yes, and little David is now safely in our home and arms and moving toward healing.
  2. Stevie and Carissa said yes, and little Dani and Roxy are safely under their care and improving rapidly.
  3. To each of these 12, we said no. We have 15 children in house 1 and 10 children in house 2. We simply have no more room.
  4. After wrestling hard with this decision, I chose to report them to PGN. She was removed from her mother last Thursday and brought to our home. Thankfully, PGN handled the situation beautifully and helped the family to see that we are with them, not against them, and they are not angry. But Paola arrived at our home in bad shape. She had a nasty lung infection, her O2 sats were very low, and she was unable to lift her head or arms. Our doctor came quickly, and we started her on antibiotic injections, oxygen, and breathing treatments. Praise God, she has turned the corner and is doing better. But I am not sure she would have lived much longer had we not intervened.
  5. I am still sorting through these requests and praying hard for answers. We have begun ministry in one area, but are still unsure about the other five. I know that where we choose to go, lives will be saved. Where we don’t choose to go, lives will be lost. 

Last week, as our home came together to pray before bed, I felt overcome, not with pressure, but with gratitude. As I prayed, I thanked God for putting us in the middle of hard situations filled with hard decisions. I thanked Him for the pressures we face, because that means what we do matters. For years, I prayed that Jesus would make my life matter for Him, not knowing what that prayer really meant. But I realize now that the only way we can ever make a real difference is by embracing the hard things of life.

Last week I visited with my friends, Todd and Amy Block. They have a wonderful home for children and teens that cares for the abused, abandoned and sexually molested. I was privileged to know them before their ministry opened, and I have seen it grow and blossom.

As I spoke with them, they told me how so many people told them to focus on the little children because they were “easier.” But God led them down a different path. As a result, they now have pregnant teens and teen mothers. They welcome children and adolescents with baggage and brokenness, and these often come through their door angry and defiant. And the Blocks  are seeing transformation in those that most everyone else rejects. 

And that is where the church is suppose to be…right in the middle of brokenness, making hard decisions and facing the pain of every loss. Why?  Because no one else can.

God created the church to do the things that others cannot and will not do. And He filled it with His Spirit to provide the necessary strength to do that work. We are His channel for doing the God-sized work the world desperately needs.

The dangerous, the heart-breaking, and the impossible should be the home field of God’s people, and historically it has been. Yet, over time, the church has gravitated toward the easy, the comfortable, and the mundane. And most of our time is spent doing things that anyone could do.

But the invitation remains. He invites us to trust and follow Him where others cannot and will not go. He calls us to risk our lives, our possessions, and our reputation to do the things that only God’s people can do through His power. And that is where we will find the life and significance we have always wanted. But we will never find it if we seek comfort.

That is one of the reasons why we have decided to avoid getting too close to the missions community here. We love and work with many members of it, but we don’t join their groups. Time and time again, we see people move down to Guatemala with a fresh fire in their hearts to give away their lives for the sake of the Gospel. But they plug in with various missionary groups here, and they begin to gradually change. They find themselves “needing” more and wanting more. Their willingness to sacrifice is drowned out by voices that tell them they need to “take care of themselves” and return to the States more often. “After all, God would not want you to (fill in the blank of sacrifice here).” And soon their willingness to sacrifice, bleed, and die for the Kingdom dissipates. 

Time and again, Wanda and I have been told by others that they cannot do what we do. The reasons are varied, but usually it comes down to one issue. “It would hurt me too much to do what you do.” And hidden within that statement is the lie of the enemy that says, “God wouldn’t want me to hurt that much.”

  • God wouldn’t want me to love a child and watch them die.
  • God wouldn’t want me to not be able to see my family back in the States.
  • God wouldn’t want me to be faced with impossible decisions with life and death consequences.
  • God wouldn’t want me to do anything that would cause my children pain or endanger them.
  • God would not want me to be exhausted because I poured myself out completely.

And so, we don’t. And the world dies around us while we convince ourselves that we are doing all we can do…all that He would expect us to do. And we spend our time doing what anyone can do instead of doing the things that only the children of the Living God can do.

But still, the invitation from Jesus awaits. He invites us out of the boat onto the waves of pain, poverty, desperation, and life-and-death decisions. He invites us out of the comfortable and into the unimaginable. He invites us to a life that matters, to both Him and to the world that needs Him.

But what will we choose? And if we, the church, say no, who else will say yes?

Blessings from Guatemala!
Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

And here are a couple of verses for meditation:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”
John 14:12 NLT


“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT

Friday, March 2, 2018

Whirlwind (aka The Silence Is Broken)

News flash: I am not dead! I have just been too overwhelmed to blog in quite a while. Hopefully after reading this post, you will understand why.

Back in January, my beautiful Wanda and I took a cruise to the Caribbean. We celebrate 30 years of marriage this year, and we wanted to do something really special. So, we used an inheritance we received when my mother passed away in 2012 and booked a 10 day cruise. 

I have to tell you, it was awesome! During our time away we acted like newlywed. We swam, laid by the pool and on the beaches, slept, ate a ton, laughed, kissed a lot, and enjoyed one another in a way that we haven’t in a long time. And I fell more in love with my wife than ever before.

I am so thankful that God allowed us that time away together. The last seven years have taken their toll on both Wanda and I. We would not trade these years for anything, but we needed a time of renewal for both our relationship and ourselves. And we returned rested, tanned and ready to tackle ministry once again.

The only hard part of our trip was little Analia’s death. We had just arrived on the cruise ship when we received a message that she had passed away. For a moment I wondered if we should get off the boat and fly back, but I realized by the time we returned the funeral would be over. So, we checked to make sure that all the details were covered, hugged one another, wept, and then proceeded with our time away.

The crew here did a fantastic job of covering both her death and funeral. All the legal issues were covered, the grave was dug, and a beautiful service was held. Everyone worked together and everything flowed smoothly. I am so grateful to each of them.

When we returned it was difficult. This little girl who had been such a part of our lives and house 2 was no longer here. But Wanda and I never had a chance to say goodbye or attend her funeral. When we left, she was here. When we returned, she wasn’t. There was no closure and no opportunity to grieve properly. And yet we know that we will see her again some day. And we long for that day.

I returned to find construction on our new birthing center in Escuintla underway. But it was proceeding slowly. We originally had a foreman working on the site that came highly recommended. But we began to see that there were some major problems. He was costing us money and time, and seemed very incompetent. So, we let him go and hired Joel’s father to serve as the contractor. 

Immediately things began to progress under our new foreman. He corrected mistakes, pointed out material problems, and got the crew running smoothly. I visited the site yesterday, and they have finally begun concrete work on footers and rebar is rising from the site.

Meanwhile, our Maternity Care Director, Stephanie Konrad, and my daughter, Taryn, have begun maternity check-ups down at the site. Once a week they are seeing pregnant and nursing women for check-ups on them and their babies. They are doing a fantastic job, and we are anxious to see this ministry grow and mature.

Meanwhile, my son, Jeremiah, has been working hard to develop our prosthetics and orthotics program. In February we traveled to Guatemala City where Hope to Walk was doing a prosthetics clinic and got to see, firsthand, their process that we will soon be implementing in our ministry. The founder, Phil Johnson, walked us through the technique and explained how we would be able to produce their below the knee prosthetic for around $60.

This process is revolutionary and will enable us to carry the parts into a remote region, cast a person’s stump, produce a socket and assemble the leg onsite in one visit. We can find a person in need of a leg and give it to them on the same day. And, we can employ some of our families who have children with special needs to produce the components we need!

Below the knee prosthetics have cost us from $2000 to $4000 up until now. This will make legs affordable and enable us to give them away in large numbers. Hope to Walk will be returning to Guatemala in June and training our team fully to produce these legs, and we can hardly wait!

At the same time we are pursuing this area of ministry, Jeremiah has also been working on 3D printing of orthotics and braces. Near the end of 2017 we purchased an inexpensive but highly rated 3D printer. The goal is for us to be able to scan hands and feet to produce 3D models that can be edited to produce the braces we need at a fraction of the cost. We expect each pair of AFO (ankle and foot orthotics) to cost us around $30 to produce. At present, we pay around $208 a pair. We will also be able to produce hand and wrist braces for around $8. These will be custom printed for each child and will be durable and breathable. In fact, they will be a higher quality than we are currently purchasing. Imagine the possibilities! 

As most of you know, our desire is to eventually expand our rural village ministry to children with special needs to all 22 departments of Guatemala. Currently we work in ten departments in the southern portion of the country, and there is a lot of territory up north that we need to reach. Last week we began the process necessary to expand and open a headquarters up in Petén that will put us in a strategic location to saturate the northern part of Guatemala.

Kevin & Katie Harms accompanied Jeremiah and me on a trip to Petén last week. The goal was to scout out the area and determine a good spot for a headquarters. We also wanted to connect with people who are serving in the region and establish strategic partnerships. And God accomplished more than we ever anticipated.

Our drive up was long and exhausting. With traffic and road construction, the total drive was 14 hours, so we arrived exhausted. But we were welcomed by Barbara Stoltzfus, her daughter, Anita, and her son-in-law, Edgar. They allowed us to stay in their home that night, and the next morning Barbara went with us to San Benito and introduced us to key people.

Barbara has been a missionary in Guatemala for 46 years, and she has pretty much seen it all. She and her family were burned out of their home by guerrillas during the civil war, and had to live in tents. Anita, who is a nurse and midwife who runs a birthing center, delivered her first baby when she was 18 years old in one of those tents.

Their family has so much to teach me about Jesus, service, and missions. And I look forward to learning from them.

That first evening we toured the birthing center. Then I collapsed hard into a bed, surrounded by the warm hospitality.

The next morning we loaded up and headed out to San Benito. But before we even started, God redirected our plans. A missionary in the region, Jimmy Dinsmore, learned we were in the area and contacted me. We decided to meet up on our way to San Benito, and I am so glad we did!

Jimmy Runs a Bible Institute for pastor from the Q’eq’chi tribe. And it is hard to describe how amazing this school is. They are truly raising up men and women who will change the face of Guatemala with the Gospel. And they are sending them back to their villages, not only with knowledge, but with skills and a trade that will support them and also revitalize their communities. 

As a part of our discussion, Jimmy invited us to come to their school and teach their students how to care for those with special needs. Through that, we will be able to touch those with disabilities in even the most remote places in Guatemala.

And speaking of reach villages, Jimmy told us something that was shocking. He explained that in that region of Guatemala there were over 1100 villages that had never heard the Gospel! Many of these are hostile to outsiders who enter, and many have been killed who tried. He is planning to begin a program of dropping gifts from airplanes to make contact and establish communication, with the goal of eventually taking the Gospel to these remote communities.

We left there amazed at what God was doing and continued our journey to San Benito. There, we stopped in at a prosthetics clinic run by a ministry called Lifenabled. They have still a different process for producing prosthetics at a low cost, and we were deeply touched by their ministry. But what was truly helpful to us was their work with 3D printing.

They showed us what they are producing with 3D printing technology, and we were amazed. They also spent time showing us how to take our 3D scanning and printing to the next level. We are so grateful for the time they spent with us and their commitment to continue to walk beside us as we develop this ministry.

From there we visited Hospital Shalom, where the founder, Tim Spurrier, gave us a tour. When we met and he learned of our ministry and plans to begin work in their region, Tim shook my hand and said, “I have prayed for you to come for 20 years!” At that moment, I realized that we were all a part of something that is way bigger than any of us.

Hospital Shalom is an incredible facility, filled with quality staff. It provides excellent medical services at a low cost to people from the region. Tim agreed to partner with us to help with people we find who need hospitalization. He also agree to help us purchase medicine at a low cost. In return, we will assist individuals that he finds with special needs. (He already has a long list.) This promises to be a very strategic partnership in years to come.

The next day we connected with Harry Divido. He and his family serve in Poptún, Peten and have a ministry center there. We explained our ministry, and he invited Kevin and Katie to join him there for a few days to see his ministry and meet some families with children who have special needs. They readily agreed.

So, early the next morning, Jeremiah and I headed home while Kevin and Katie headed to Poptún. They are still in that region, seeking God’s direction for our ministry.

And that brings us to this week, which has been very eventful. And Wednesday was the climax of the eventfulness. Within a three hour period, the following happened:
  1. I received a call from the courts in Jutiapa. They had a brother and sister, both with special needs, and wanted to know if we could take them. The sister is 2 1/2 and is deaf and very delayed due to a lack of stimulation. The brother is 1 1/2 and has cerebral palsy and malnutrition. Both have been abandoned. Stevie and Carissa agreed to receive them into Hogar de la Esperanza 2.
  2. While we were discussing the case above, we received a call from another court regarding a little boy who is 2. We were told he had paralysis in half his body and they needed a home for him quickly. His condition was caused by a botched abortion. Wanda and I agreed to welcome him into Hogar de la Esperanza 1.
  3. We received a message about an 11 year old girl and her 8 year old brother who are living alone. A friend who knows them and has been trying to help them wrote me. Their mom died, and their father is an alcoholic who abandoned them. Their older sister, age 16, has left as well, and we have been told that she is prostituting at a local bar. I spent the afternoon trying to find a good private home that can take them. We have no space for older children in our homes, and we do not want to involve the police unless we have a good home for them, as they will otherwise likely be placed in a government run home. So, for now, they will be coming to our home each day to eat while we try to make other arrangements.
So, on Wednesday evening, little Jaret joined our home. And yesterday Roxana and Danilla joined Stevie and Carissa in house 2. That brings our total up to 23 children in the two homes. The adjustments of these new children are challenging, so please pray for them and our staff, interns and family.


Then yesterday I traveled down to Escuintla to visit the birthing center site and check in on a family that Stephanie and Taryn had met early this week. It was another heart-breaking visit, as we had to explain to little Sayli’s mother that the reason why she was not yet walking or talking was that she has cerebral palsy. She wept as we tried to talk her through the prognosis. But we quickly moved on to explaining that we were going to walk with them.

Sayli is malnourished, so we had brought along formula for her. But we quickly realized that her mom, grandmother, and four year old uncle were all malnourished as well. We are going to be providing them with formula and a food basket each month. In fact, as soon as I am done with this blog I will be driving back down to take them their first delivery of food. I had trouble sleeping last night, knowing they did not have food in the house. We will also be taking Sayli to our neurologist for a complete assessment. Please pray for Sayli and her family.

Well, that is it for now. And that is why I have not had time to blog. Please forgive my lack of updates.

And now…forward! God bless you as you go make a difference for Him!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

No Heroes (Revisited)

This blog is a reposted from 2014. Why am I reposting it now? Because God has placed a vision in front of me that is bigger than I could ever accomplish. We need people to come and serve, but we don't need heroes. We just need real people with real strengths and real weaknesses who believe and trust in a very real God. Let's stop waiting for heroes to step up, and step up ourselves.

On a regular basis I encounter people who ask me how I ended up in Guatemala doing this kind of ministry. It is a good question, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about the answer. It is easy to throw out a quick response of “God called us.” But the actual answer goes even deeper than that.
How did I end up here? The real answer is that I discovered a secret that completely rocked my world. It was a revolutionary truth that had remained hidden for most of my life, but when I discovered it, it forever changed me and my family.
If you are interested, I will share it with you. Lean close into your screen and I will digitally whisper it to you. Ready? Here you go…

There are no heroes.

Did you catch that? It is an amazing truth! 
hero1For most of my life I assumed there were heroes. Through the first half of my Christian walk I would encounter people that just seemed better, brighter and more filled with faith than me, and I would put them on a pedestal. They were the missionaries. They were those who would begin ministries that would thrive and touch the world. They were the ones that I saw making a real difference for the kingdom. And I labeled them heroes.

They had it all figured out. They didn’t wrestle with doubts and fears. They knew just what to do. They never fell into discouragement. They never screwed up. They never wondered if they were doing the right thing. They heard God’s voice clearly and followed Him boldly.

And, of course, I did not place myself among them. I could never fit in with such a group. I could never be used in those ways. Sure, I could be faithful in a few little things, and God would probably bless some of them. But I could never be a hero. (And I was right.)

In my mind there were the heroes of the faith…and then there was the rest of us. Those who do great things for God and those of us who somehow survive intact. I knew, in my heart, that I would always be a part of the latter.

When I was about 10 years old my father, in a moment of anger and frustration, pointed his finger at me and spoke words that I will never forget. They scarred me so deeply that I still feel them 37 years later. They have governed the way I see myself and the way I have approached the world for much of my life. What did he say? 

“You will never amount to anything!”

I know some of you are wincing and thinking what a horrible dad I must have had. But he was not a bad father. He truly loved me, and I know it would have shattered him if he had understood the impact those words would have on my life and heart. I forgave him long ago, and understand that he was simply spreading the pain that had been heaped on him in the same way I have unintentionally splattered my own children with some of my residual pain. In fact, considering his background, I had a good dad who went a long way toward breaking the cycle of sin and ugliness that he could have continued.

FailureBut those words have deeply impacted my life. That comment sits in the back of my mind, waiting to rear its ugly head. In my heart I have always known that I would never amount to anything. So, as I watched this parade of heroes pass through my life, I knew that I could never be one of them. I could love my wife, love my children, do a decent job as a husband, father and minister, but I would never do great things for the God I love and serve. And every time things would go badly I would hear those words again... “See, you will never amount to anything.”

But then, like a bolt of lightning, it hit me one day. There are no heroes. The people that God uses to do great things wrestle with fear and doubt. They wonder, at times, are the doing the right thing. They stumble and fall and rely on God’s grace to be new every morning. They are not heroes.

These people are simply people who have decided to trust God, believe His Word and follow. They are broken and scarred, just like me. They face discouragement and failure, just like me. They have their own harsh words that play in their minds at times, just like me. They know the grip of fear, just like me. There are no heroes, just people who believe and follow, one step at a time.

And suddenly I realized that the world would not be saved by heroes, because there were none. If the world would ever be saved it would be saved by sinners who have been saved by grace, just like me. So I started believing more and following with greater boldness, knowing that I didn’t need to be a hero. I just needed to be His.

And since that day life has been an adventure. But I have never been, nor will I ever be, a hero. That is why it bothers me so much when I sense people are beginning to see me as I used to see those others, as somehow set apart or special. I am not special (except that I am God’s child), and I am not a hero. I am not some incredible man of God. I stumble and fall. I get discouraged and broken. I let others down and wound them with far too frequent regularity. And I still hear my father’s voice on the down days and, at times, I believe it.

Recently, one of my friends told me about his doubts he had about me when we first moved to Guatemala. He told me that when he met me I had just moved here, could not speak Spanish and did not know what I was doing. He heard me speak about our dream of a group home for children with special needs and seriously wondered if it would ever become reality. I laughed when he told me that, because I had the same doubts. Now, seven years later, I still struggle with Spanish and still don’t know what I am doing. Yet, somehow, God is accomplishing His purposes. He does that, not because of who I am, but because of who He is. And that is true for every missionary I know that is building God’s kingdom. 

20140522_114007So, that is my secret. There are no heroes. There is just you, me and the wonderful grace of God. If you are waiting for your doubts and fears to go away and for you to become a hero before you do your part to change the world, good luck with that. It is not going to happen. You and I are not heroes, but we don’t need to be. We just need to believe and follow one step at a time. 

The dying world around us is waiting, not for heroes, but for real people like you and I who love and serve a very real Jesus Christ. And, by the way, we WILL amount to something when God is finished, because His math is perfect and we are multiplied by His goodness.

Because of Him,
Daryl

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Dream With Me

Recently I had some friends visit our homes here. As I was introducing them to children and showing them our two homes, I casually mentioned my personal dream for this ministry. They are good friends, so I assumed that they were already aware of this vision, and I was surprised when they seemed clueless as I spoke.

That led me to stop and think. Have I shared this dream with anyone beyond my immediate friends, family and ministry team? And the answer was, surprisingly, no. It has been such a part of my thinking for so long that is seems like it is a part of me. But, as I look back through my blog and Facebook posts, I realized that I have never shared it publicly. So, that needs to change today.

So, come and dream with me…

Currently, our ministry is comprised of two group homes for children with special needs and our growing rural village ministry. (There is also our new birthing center in Escuintla, but that does not play into this particular dream.) In order to house this work, we are currently leasing three properties here in San Antonio Aguas Calientes:

  • Our main home, which is 6000 square foot and serves as our largest group home and offices for me, our social worker, our accountant, our psychologist, and our therapist. (Rent Q.8900 - $1240 USD)
  • Our second group home, which is around 2500 square foot. (Rent Q.3500 - $485 USD)
  • Our warehouse, which is 5000 square foot and serves as storage and work area for vehicles, food, wheelchairs, medicine and medical supplies for our rural village. (Rent Q4000 - $555 USD)

While each of these facilities are excellent for our purposes, this means that we are paying approximately $2280 USD a month in rent. And that is a huge hit on our budget.

These facilities are also spread out. House 2 is about 100 meters down the road from house 1, and our warehouse is over a kilometer away in the main town. While this is functional, it does create logistic issues. And, as we add additional homes, these logistical issues will increase.

And that is where my dream comes in. Imagine all of these ministry sites and more on one piece of property that we own. I can see it now in my mind, and it is beautiful!

I envision a large piece of property that is ours. Twenty or thirty acres that is a paradise for children with special needs. Every building and piece of equipment is built with them in mind, and it all exists for the glory of Jesus Christ.

The Homes:

There would be ten homes built that would serve as family-based group homes for children with special needs. Wide doorways and hallways, spacious bedrooms, a centralized bathing and changing station, handicapped accessible bathrooms, and a large family room where there is room for every wheelchair and person.

And each of these homes would be built around a large central building that includes the following:
  • A commercial kitchen, where nutritious meals will be cooked for all the homes and staff
  • A well equipped therapy center, where each of the children will receive top quality therapy and where therapists will be trained to be the best in Guatemala.
  • A school where children can receive special education and teachers can be trained to be the best.
  • A medical clinic with a full-time doctor providing care for the children.
  • Offices for our entire team.
  • A large multi-purpose room that will be used for special events and for a church on Sundays, where everyone is welcome to worship.
  • A beautiful outdoor playground that is equipped to accommodate every special need.
  • And connecting it all are beautiful handicapped accessible walkways with flowers and shade trees.

The Independent Living Section:

As children grow to adulthood, what happens? Once the courts release their cases, do we simply send them to an institution? Of course not. They need to have a place where they can continue to grow and receive care in community. 

So, I envision accessible apartments where those who are more independent can live. There will be staff to assist them where needed, but they will also be able to do all that they can on their own. Those that can work will have jobs within the ministry, and will receive pay and be taught to budget and spend responsibly. They will even pay a modest rent and help with their expenses. 

The more-abled will help the less-abled. And they will live in Christ-centered community.

The Rural Village Ministry Section:

There would be a large warehouse that will serve as storage for vehicles, wheelchairs, medicine, medical supplies, food, and equipment. Within that warehouse will be workshops for woodworking, metal work, and general repair. There will be a prosthetic shop, where braces and artificial legs and arms will be constructed. And there will be a garage area, where our fleet will be maintained and repaired. Within these workshops, teens from the homes who are able will receive training in these skills and will be employed when possible.

The Farm Section:

There would be a barn and riding area where there will be a therapeutic equestrian program, with horses and adaptive saddles. Children who cannot walk will find freedom and mobility on the backs of horses. Children with emotional needs can find comfort and companionship with animals. I can see a large grazing area and chicken enclosures, where animals will be raised to provide meat, eggs and milk for the homes. I can see a vegetable farm. And I can see children and teens learning to grow and raise the food that sustains them while learning valuable life skills.

And I can see the doors swinging open each day to the community. I can see families coming for therapy, medical treatment, therapeutic riding, counseling and education. I can see them coming to worship with us. And I can see families who were previously alone, finding love and support in the body of Christ.

I know. This is a huge and seemingly impossible vision. How on earth will we find the money to purchase that much land in Guatemala? How will we fund those facilities? What about the staff? How will any of this become reality?

I can honestly say that I don’t know. But I can also say that it is a good vision. It is a vision that maximized resources and enables us to accomplish all that God has called us to do for the least amount of money.

I am not a Name-It-And-Claim-It believer. God is not my genie that serves my desire. I am His slave, and I serve at His pleasure. But I believe that God wants to be the Author of our dreams, and I believe He is the Author of this one. So, we are praying and doing all that we can to pursue this dream.

And I am asking for you to join with us in dreaming this dream and praying to make it a reality. This is a God-sized dream, so only He can accomplish it. 

So, will you dream with me?

Blessings from Guate!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew