Monday, November 29, 2010

Pushing and Pulling

DSCF3408Tonight I feel the pull of Guatemala’s children in a more profound way than ever before. I should be in bed now, but sleep seems far away because my mind keeps visiting the kids that I love so much.

We watched some video this evening that was taken several years ago at Hermano Pedro, and I was struck by how much the kids have grown and changed. And I was brought to tears realizing that they have stared at the same ceilings and walls for all the days, weeks, months, and years since.

DSCF0272aI desperately want to be there, investing my life in them and others who are far worse off. And we are close. We have rented our home, purchased our plane tickets (for January 25th), and have begun the final stage of downsizing. Yet, for some reason, our move seems far away tonight.

We are pushing hard these days. I am in the process of preparing the US side of our ministry to be handed off to our new office manager. We are selling items on Craig’s List and giving away still more. The few items of sentimental value that are to be placed in storage are being packed, and final checklists are being made. Yet there is still so much to be done before we go. So, Guatemala seems far away right now.

DSCF0601As we have prepared for this move, most of our friends and family have been supportive and encouraging. But some have not. Some are even becoming hostile toward us as the move gets closer. They don’t understand what would drive us to uproot our kids and move to a foreign country. They see it as personal betrayal or abandonment as we leave them behind. They don’t understand the pull. And until they look into the eyes of these children that we love and see them as more than statistics, they never will.

But regardless of the understanding of others, we feel the pull and hear the call of God and we are going. To not do so would be to forsake who we were created to be and the One who created us. We can no more resist this call than we can stop breathing. So, we keep pushing through to-do lists while Guatemala pulls.

And as the pushing and pulling continues and Guatemala seems so far away, I am praying for our kids. And tonight I pray that my Jesus, who is close to us all, will hold them tightly in His arms.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Introducing Our New Home!

I am looking back on the last eight days as I travel home from Guatemala, and I can honestly say that I have been blown away by the faithfulness of God! We have worked hard to prepare for our move, and the Lord has done far more than we even thought to ask of Him.

DSCF5502We had the privilege of traveling with our pastor and his wife, Ron and Melanie Ecklebarger. They were a terrific source of encouragement and wisdom to us as we sought God’s direction in so many areas of our transition. In addition, they were two extra sets of arms to love on the kids!

DSCF5331We are pleased to announce that we now have a home in Guatemala! We traveled down with plans to look at 10 to 12 homes, but several of them had already been rented while others were determined to be in locations that were not suitable for our ministry and family. Of the handful of homes we did see, only one met our needs, but it has met those needs wonderfully!

Our new home in San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Guatemala (Yes, that really is the name of the town!) is both huge and beautiful.DSCF5336 With between 6,000 and 7,000 square feet, eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, two living room, and a large and beautiful courtyard, it greatly exceeds our highest expectations. We will be able to house our entire family plus 10 children with special needs on the first floor alone while hosting ministry teams of up to 20 people on DSCF5338the second floor. And, with the revenue created from hosted teams, our monthly rent will only be $550.00 US per month. (That figure is based upon hosting only four teams a year with an average size of 10 people.) After carefully praying and seeking God’s direction, we felt very strongly that we were to sign a two year lease on this facility. So, Hogar de la Esperanza has a home!

DSCF5343The community in which we will be located is one of the safer communities in Guatemala. There are very few Americans located in the town, and tourists seldom go there. As a result, we will be immersed in Guatemalan culture and language (Spanish and Kaqchikel), which was our goal all along. There are lots of young families in the area with relatives in some Mayan rural villages, and we pray that our relationship with them will open up ministry opportunities in those places.

In addition to locating our new home, we also made many wonderful contacts that will assist us with our ministry. We met with the head of a wonderful orphanage for children with special needs who is considering partnering with us. This partnership would enable us to work under their orphanage license instead of applying for our own. This will save years of work and thousands of dollars of expenses and enable us to begin taking in children relatively soon after getting settled. We cannot release the name of our potential partners until it is official, but we believe that the match is God-ordained.

We have also found two wonderful doctors who can treat our children, one in Chimaltenango and one in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Both of these men are Christians and both provide quality care. This is a major blessing as finding quality medical care was a huge concern.

We were able to spend extended time with Pastor Mike from Iglesia del Camino (our church in Guatemala), and he was able to refer us to a wonderful Spanish instructor who will be assisting us with our language studies. Due to her method of teaching and pricing, we will be able to save over $1000.00 of our expected expenses. In addition, Pastor Mike put us in contact with two excellent schools for children with special needs. We expect these schools to be a blessing to us as we seek to be a blessing to them.

On Tuesday evening, I was contacted by a lady who has arranged, through a friend who is well-placed within the Guatemalan government, to get a letter of introduction for me that will allow me to enter the state run orphanages. This is an incredible blessing as access to these facilities is greatly limited. In fact, the locations of many of these institutions are not publicized in order to keep people away, so this excellent contact will also be providing me with a directory of these orphanages. We praise God for this open door!

Last night we were able to spend some extended time with our incredible friend, Dick Rutgers. If you have followed this blog for very long you already know about his wonderful work with the people of Guatemala who have special needs. We will be working closely with Dick after our move, and he was able to give us valuable insight and assistance for our transition and early days of ministry.

DSCF5489Finally, we were able to spend time with our kids at Hermano Pedro. We took two groups out to eat at Pollo Campero and took every spare moment to love on the rest. As always, it is difficult to say goodbye to them, but it was made easier this time since we know that we will be DSCF5509back for good very soon! (Two-and-a-half months and counting down!)

Thank you for your prayers and support for our ministry! I can assure you that they are yielding results and God is bringing everything together! He is truly good!