Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We need your help

CIMG5769Yesterday Gerardo, Ron Ecklebarger, Taryn and I took another trip to four different towns and villages. It was an amazing day of ministry where we were able to not only share food, diapers and medicine, but Jesus Christ. I will share more of the details below, but first I want to let you know about three needs that we encountered and ask for your assistance.

Our first stop of the day was in Ciudad Vieja. This town is only a few miles from our home, and Gerardo had arranged for us to meet with two families who had children with special needs. When we arrived, we found the two families awaiting along with a third family who had heard we were coming. Each of these families need assistance to care for their children. Please note: If you sponsor a child through our program 100% of your gift goes directly to the child. No money is taken for staff, administration, or other expenses.

CIMG5749Fatima is seven years old and has Downs Syndrome. She is only able to say a few words and has difficulty with mouth and tongue control. Her family had been taking her to speech therapy, but stopped because they could no longer afford to pay. The cost for a one hour session is $10 (Q75). They have recommended that she attend therapy twice a week, but we would be very happy if we could provide her with one session a week. Would you be able to help by providing $43 a month to cover that therapy?

CIMG5745Angel is three years old and has Cerebral Palsy that affects both of his legs. Like Fatima, his family was taking him to physical therapy once a week until they could no longer afford the expense. When I spoke with his mother, I realized the therapy had been almost useless. The therapists had not trained the family to provide daily stretches and were attempting to teach him to walk without the necessary AFO’s (leg braces). I spent time teaching his mom and grandmother how to stretch his legs twice a day and found them to be eager and excited learners. I have arranged to have him casted for leg braces and to receive physical therapy once a week at Hermano Pedro, but we need a sponsor for both of these. The leg braces will cost $200 (about 1/10 of the cost of the same braces in the US) and the physical therapy will cost $8 a session (Q60) or $35 a month. Is there someone who would be able to help this little guy?

CIMG5750Finally, we met Luis who is 29 years old. He has Cerebral Palsy that is accompanied by seizures and behavioral disorders. In order to control his seizures the doctors have placed him on two different medications that cost the family $90 (Q680) each month. Recently they have been unable to provide those medicines due to the father, who is a carpenter, experiencing a shortage of work. They insist that they can pay for half of the medicines, but asked if we could help with the other half. Would you be able to provide $45 a month to help the family with these expensive medications?

If you are able and willing to assist with one of these needs, please contact me at daryl@hopeforhome.org.

CIMG5778I won’t take the time to fill you in on our entire day, but I do want to let you know about a few key visits. We spent time with Pillar who has begun to deteriorate rapidly. She fell last week and injured her hip. It was not broken, but she is dealing with considerable swelling. When they examined her hip, they discovered a tumor on her back. As we sat and talked with her, she shared that she is in constant pain and unable to eat. It is clear that her life is coming to an end. So, I asked Gerardo to talk with her about her relationship with Jesus, as my Spanish is still so insufficient. We found out that she has given her life to Jesus and loves Him dearly. So, we spent time encouraging her that her suffering is nearly over and her new life will hold no more pain or illness. We then prayed together with the entire family.

IMG01049-20111024-1314We also visited with Alejandro who is being treated for Asthma. We have two sponsors in the US who are paying for his expensive medications each month. We showed up and realized that one of his medications had run out. (This was my mistake as I thought he had been given a full month, but one of the medication were only for three weeks.) When we provided the money they needed to refill his prescriptions Alejandro’s mother broke down and began to weep. She hugged me and sobbed and said she hadn’t known what to do. I want to personally thank each of you who give to sponsor a child or family. You are making a tremendous difference in lives.

CIMG5784On the way home we also stopped by Esquintla to visit little Walter and see how his new leg braces were working. He ran up to greet me (Yes, I said ran!) and gave me a big hug. His braces needed a slight adjustment, which I made, but otherwise he was doing great. His mother and step-father were thrilled and they all showed us his graduation certificate from school. I have truly grown to love and appreciate this family.

IMG01038-20111023-0937On a personal note, the Fulp household has grown with the addition of Ki’ko, a Husky puppy. His name, according to some sources, means “guardian of the children.” We thought that was quite appropriate! We have all fallen prey to this little fur ball.

Thanks for all your prayers, encouragement and support that makes this ministry possible!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hard Lessons for a Dumb Guy

Next week we will surpass our nine month milestone living in Guatemala. Since the last week has been slower with only the mundane to report, I thought I would take a few minutes to share with you some of the hard lessons I have learned. Actually, I should amend that to the hard lessons God is still trying to teach me. I am a slow learner who is very thankful for a patient and merciful Teacher.

Lesson 1: This is way tougher than I thought it would be.

DSCF7839I never thought this would be a cake-walk, but the demands of this life and ministry are huge. The toll this takes is both physical and emotional. The physical demands of long days, hot visits in tin-roofed houses, and long drives over very rough roads gradually accumulates and leaves you crashing. I don’t think I have ever known the kind of tiredness I experience at bedtime each night.

But the emotional toll is even greater. Each day we are faced with overwhelming needs, and we can only meet a small portion of them. While we have some success stories of lives that God has used us to impact, the stories that tend to stick in my mind are the ones of people we have not been able to help. It is so easy to look back over the course of my day and second-guess every decision. Did I do the right thing? Did I do it God’s way? Should we have done more? Those unanswered questions take the highest toll.

Lesson 2: I don’t know near as much as I thought I did.

IMG00495-20110606-1155I like to be right, and I like to prove that I am right. God has been showing me that pride, manifesting itself in this way, is one of my greatest sins and battles. I have failed to learn so much that I could have. I have damaged relationships. I have lost credibility. And all of that is due to my pride and insistence on being right. As God has shown me this ugliness in my heart, I am also having my eyes opened to how little I know. This applies to all areas of my life, but it has especially applied to my theology.

In the safety and sterility of the western church, it was easy to think I had all the answers. I learned about grace, forgiveness, justice and judgment from Sunday School age and up. From there, I went to college and learned more answers. Over the last nine months God has showed me how insufficient those answers are. Don’t misunderstand me, the unshakeable, unbreakables are still in place. God is still God and His Word is the inspired Word of God. But my understanding of the depth of His plan and truth for the world has grown in ways I never dreamed. It is one thing to sit in a middle-class home and talk about God’s provision, and it is entirely different to have that conversation in an 8”x8” bamboo shack where a single mom is raising her two special needs daughters. And if you want to learn about forgiveness, try having a conversation with a young lady who was impregnated by her father at age 11. Each day I learn a little more about how little I know and how much I have to learn. And along with those lessons I am finding the freedom to simply be wrong.

Lesson 3: I am not a savior.

DSCF7869It is easy to believe the hype. Once you enter a town or village and help one family the word spreads. The next time you enter that place people see your vehicle and gather outside the home in which you are visiting. When you exit, the crowd is waiting to give you their problems and illnesses. You feel important, special and needed. You are a savior!

But, speaking for myself, I am not. As I have already stated above, I am just an ordinary guy who knows way less now than I did nine months ago. I have limited resources and even more limited knowledge and skills. All too often, the only thing I can do is pray with them and refer them to the nearest doctor, perhaps giving them money for the bus and appointment. I am finding that we can only help 1 out of every 8 or 10 people in an effective way. We just don’t have the money or the skills to do more. This can be discouraging because the ones you can’t help are the ones that stick out in your mind. As my friend, Pat Duff, often reminds me, “There is only one Savior and they crucified Him!”

Lesson 4: God is way bigger than I ever imagined.

DSCF7863In the midst of all this exhausting and (sometimes) discouraging work, I am learning more about the faithfulness and awesomeness of my Father. He is showing me more and more about the depths of His love, the limitlessness of His provision, and the availability of His power for those who realize they need it. So, as I learn more of the first three lessons, I find that God is able to use me more effectively than before.

Not only that, but I have found a peace in knowing that I am not judged by the number of people I help or fail to help. Nor does He measure my life by how much I know or don’t know. His only concern is that I do everything with Him and for Him while depending on Him. If I can lay down each evening having done that, I have succeeded. I am truly learning that His arms are more than big enough to hold me, those for whom I care, and all my failures too. That is a growing peace that I have never quite grasped before.

Lesson 5: My family is still my most important ministry.

DSCF7988As I learn more of how big God is, I am starting to realize that I am not as important as I once thought I was. Actually, I am not important at all to God’s plan. The reality is that He will accomplish His purposes with or without me. He just chooses to bless me by allowing me to be a part of it all.

My first few months here I neglected my family and exhausted myself. On several occasions I was sick and should have stayed home and in bed, but insisted that someone needed me and left. I had bought the lie that I was somehow crucial and indispensible. But I am not. While God has called me to this place and ministry, I am not crucial to it. There were faithful servants of God doing similar work before I came and there will be others doing it after I am long dead.

But there is one place where I do play a crucial role…in my family. No one else can be a husband to my Wanda, and no one else can be a father to my kids. I dare not take off in a 4-wheel drive to “save the world” while abandoning them. My ministry and calling to Guatemala is important, but my ministry and calling within my family is paramount. God, help me to be the husband and father to them that you are.

Lesson 5: This is our home and our life.

As I sit here in Guatemala, there are some things that I miss about the States. I miss family and friends greatly. I wish there was some way to ship them all here. I also miss biscuits, real American sausage, Dr. Pepper, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Monday Night Football broadcast in English, and American beer commercials. (Sorry but, come on, they are hysterical!) But otherwise, I don’t miss much about the US and have no desire to go back. Don’t get me wrong, I am not America bashing. In fact, as I have lived abroad I have grown to appreciate the States more than ever. (Even its political process!) But it is no longer our home.

IMG00213-20110227-1536I love these people. I love our neighborhood and neighbors. I love the Mayan people with their traditional dress and deep heritage and customs. I love walking up the street to buy fresh vegetables and spending 30 minutes in the hardware store buying three items. More than that, I love the ministry to which God has called my family and me. I love the children and families with whom we work. I love the visits with them in hot, tin-roofed shacks. I love this life.

And I love the lessons I am learning, albeit very slowly. And I love God who is so patiently teaching me. This is our home, and this is God’s classroom for me.

Greetings and love from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day by Day

Once again, I realize that too much time has passed since my last update. As a result, I find myself overwhelmed with trying to catch up. But here is a day-by-day summary of the last 12 days in a format that will hopefully not turn into a novel.

Friday, September 23

DSCF6789Dick, Scott, John, Gerardo, and I made it home safely from our three day trip. I will withhold my normal critique of Dick’s driving since I was having some back spasms that day and he kindly chose to drive gently as a result. (By gently I mean that he hit the speed bumps at only 60 kilometers per hour instead of his normal 80.)

Saturday, September 24

This was a rest and recovery day after a very long week that included four days on the road in villages. It was nice just spending time with the family and having some fun.

Sunday, September 25

DSCF8159After worshipping at our church (Iglesia del Camino), we returned home and celebrated Jonathan’s seventh birthday. Presents and cake ensued and another milestone was passed. It is hard to believe that almost 4 years have passed since we completed his adoption from Guatemala.

In the late afternoon I drove into Antigua to meet Alejandro’s family. You may recall from my last blog that we found this little guy in Las Palmas. He was struggling with low energy and his lips and fingers regularly turned blue. So, we arranged for him to come to Hermano Pedro and be evaluated. Because of the family’s long trip by bus, they came in on Sunday and I helped them get accommodations in Casa de Fe. This is a free facility that provides lodging for families who are receiving treatment at HP.

Monday, September 26

IMG00962-20110930-1212I met Alejandro’s family at 6:30 in the morning and showed them how to begin the process in HP. The process is a series of long lines and long waits to see the necessary doctors. Once I got them started, I left them to take care of several responsibilities in the Antigua area, checking in with them frequently.

Finally, at 12:30, they were able to see a doctor. He quickly determined that Alejandro has asthma and prescribed several expensive medicines that totaled over $100. I was thrilled with the diagnosis because IMG00956-20110926-1327I had thought he probably had a heart problem that would require surgery. However, I was also overwhelmed with the monthly cost required to deal with his asthma. However, I am pleased to report that God has already blessed us with the necessary monthly sponsors to pay for his medication! God is faithful in His provision!

The doctor also prescribed two inoculations for Alejandro. After going to several pharmacies with no success, I finally had to place an order through a local hospital and made plans to bring them out to him later.

Tuesday, September 27

Two weeks earlier, while doing our monthly food distribution in Santa Catarina, we met a man whose son had been paralyzed in a fall four month previous. He had asked if we could come meet him and help with his care. So, on Tuesday we finally found the necessary time to go for a visit.

IMG00960-20110927-1058When we arrived, we found Elgar lying in his bed. His fall had paralyzed him from the waist down, and he had developed pressure sores on his feet and buttocks. After looking at the sores, I realized that they were not severe, so I showed his father and brother how to make saline, clean the wounds, and bandage them. We also provided him with an air cushion for his wheelchair to better distribute the pressure.

One thing that I am learning slowly is how careful I have to be in regards to medical advice. Thanks to Dick’s careful mentoring, I am beginning to understand how dangerous it can be to offer medical counsel or treatment. It is easy to begin to think that I know more than I do, and that can lead to serious problems. If I offer medical advice, treatment, or medication and a person worsens or dies, I can be held responsible legally. Plus, in certain areas, I could quickly find myself and the other missionaries targeted and the ministry shut down in the entire region. And, even if the treatment is entirely successful, we can find ourselves overwhelmed with medical needs brought to us.

As a result, I have backed way off in what I am willing to do medically. I quickly explain that I am not a doctor and refer them to one, providing the finances when necessary. I only give treatment to the most minor of bedsores or wounds when other options are not feasible. Please pray that God will give me the wisdom to understand my limitations and know what I should and should not do in helping.

Wednesday & Thursday, Sept 26-27

These were not my most favorite of days. If you know me, you know how much I hate office work. Sitting at a desk in front of a computer is not my favorite way to pass the time. However, if you are going to serve as Director of a ministry, it is a necessary evil. I have decided not to provide pictures of me pulling out my hair.

DSCF8170Thursday was also another birthday as Jeremiah celebrated his 11th. We had a good time of presents and cake. I think his favorite gifts was the Philadelphia Eagles jersey that we found in the Paca (used clothing section) of the market.

On Thursday afternoon, I went into Antigua with Jeremiah to pick up the inoculations for Alejandro. At that point, my plans for Friday changed as I realized that the injections were packed in dry ice and had to be given sooner rather than later. So, a last minute trip to Las Palmas was planned for the next day.

Friday, September 28

I woke up extra early to finish my office work and then drive to Pastores to meet Ron and Bob Ecklebarger. Their van needed work, so they followed me to my mechanic in Chimaltenango and I gave them a ride home.

I rushed back to my place, where Dick met me and accompanied Brittney, Carissa, and me to Las Palmas to deliver Alejandro’s vaccines. He had to install and new controller for Sergio in San Lucas, which was very close to where we were going. So, we decided to carpool together (with me driving this time). I am getting concerned with Dick’s age, because he complained so much about my rough driving. He must be getting senile because the drive in my Forerunner was smooth as silk.

IMG00963-20110930-1213Dick and I discussed the two shots Alejandro needed and decided it would be best for us not to give them. While both of us have given lots of injections, we don’t want to give the perception that we are medical professionals or be held responsible if something goes wrong. So we found a nurse who lives in the same town who was willing to administer the injections. This was a wonderful blessing as we realized that the nurse was the grandmother of a young man with whom Dick had worked in the past. He had gone to camp a couple of years, and his grandmother was more than willing to give the shots at no charge. Alejandro was a trooper and accepted the shots with very few tears.

IMG00968-20110930-1413We left Las Palmas and drove to San Lucas where Dick installed a new controller on Sergio’s chair and we visited for a while with the family. His mom makes a mean glass of lemonade, and we had fun playing with his younger sisters.

We left San Lucas ahead of schedule, thinking we would get home early. That illusion was crushed when we found ourselves stuck in standstill traffic due to a multiple vehicle wreck. That, combined with some heavy downpours, delayed our return considerably.

Saturday, October 1

For some time I have been needing to return to El Progreso to visit with three families we have been assisting. Due to an overwhelmed schedule, it had been three months since my last visit. So, Bob Ecklebarger, Gerardo, Jeremiah, and our friend, Alba, loaded up early and headed out. Alba’s parents live in El Progreso, so this was a good opportunity for her to have a rare visit with them.

Once again, we were making excellent time only to suddenly find ourselves sitting in standstill traffic due to road construction. (Are you starting to catch a common theme to driving in Guatemala?) This delay was only a half hour, so we considered ourselves very blessed.

We arrived at Alba’s parents house late morning and had a brief visit with them. We then left Alba there and headed out to visit with our three families.

We stopped first at Orefina’s house to check on her and her daughter, Iris. Iris had struggled with frequent headaches and dizziness, and the family thought it was related to the brain tumor that was removed 2 1/2 years ago. She had been taking expensive medication to help. In June, Coral Matus, a doctor from the States, stayed with us and examined her. She quickly determined that Iris was dehydrated and told her to drink more water. We found out on Saturday that her headaches and dizziness were now gone. That was a very simple and inexpensive cure.

Orefina has been struggling with a variety of health problems, the latest of which is a chronic kidney infection. We encouraged her to go back to the doctor soon and then just visited for a little while. We concluded our time with prayer.

IMG00972-20111001-1228From there we went to Carmen’s house. She has two older daughters who suffer from cognitive delays and epilepsy. We provided them with some Kids Against Hunger food packets and vitamins and then prayed with them.

IMG00973-20111001-1255Our final stop was at Olga’s house. I seated her in a wheelchair in June following a stroke that had left her weak on one side. I wanted to check to see if the chair needed any work and see how she was doing. We arrived to find that she had recently gotten out of the hospital after a 15 day stay. She had undergone surgery and was no longer able to walk at all. As a result, she is spending the entire day in her wheelchair.

Concerned about pressure sores, I told her that we would return in a month and provide an air cushion for her chair. We realized that the whole ordeal had taken a toll on the entire family, so we took some extended time to pray with them all. When we were done, I was ready to rush away, but Gerardo stopped me. He recognized that her daughter was caring extra hurt and wanted to pray especially for her. When he asked if it was okay for us to have special pray just for her, she broke down crying and readily agreed. I am so thankful for Gerardo and his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

We returned to Alba’s parents and had a late lunch with them. I am pleased and surprised to report that the trip home was uneventful.

Saturday evening we had Alba and her family over for supper, but the night didn’t go as planned. Her husband, Cesar, is a police officer in Antigua and was scheduled to come over at the conclusion of his shift. However, he was held at work late, and by the time he was done, the rain was pouring down and streets were flooded. Alba received a call that his truck, along with countless other vehicles, we flooded and stranded on the road between Antigua and Ciudad Vieja. So, we loade Alba and her kids in the Forerunner and headed out to find Cesar.

We connected with him in Panarama, pushed his truck to the side, and drove them all home through some of the most flooded streets we have experienced to date. I once again found myself praising God for His provision of our 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Sunday, October 2

Another rest day. I fell asleep in front of football and nearly slipped into a coma.

Monday, October 3

IMG00983-20111003-0835This was a special day. We met little Walter at Hermano Pedro where he received his brand new leg braces. You might recall that we found him in Escuintla with pressure sores on both his feet from ill fitting braces. We showed his mother how to care for them and instructed them to leave his braces off. We also provided a wheelchair so that he could have some mobility through the process.

IMG00982-20111003-0835Two weeks ago, he was cast for new braces and today was the big day. I wish you could have seen his face when he walked for the first time in six weeks! His mother, stepfather, and grandmother all cried and hugged Wanda and I. We explained that the braces were provided by a family in the US and that all the thanks belongs to Jesus. This is just one example of what you sponsorship of a family can do.

While we were there, we also had Joshua and Kimmie cast for new braces. They have both outgrown and worn out their old ones and are past due.

Tuesday, October 4

I am typing this blog sitting in a Nissan dealership waiting on an oil change for the van. I will leave here, go to Antigua, and do banking and pay bills. Not a fun day for me. But, though it all, God is good. Even in the midst of Guatemala City traffic.

Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda, and the Crew