Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Grown-up Christmas List

One of the regular complaints I receive about my blog is that I seldom give family updates. I can get so wrapped up in the ministry side of life that I forget that many of you would like to hear what is going on with my lovely bride and kids. So, before I dig into a long list of ministry news, let me tell you about our home life.

I am just coming off a four day vacation. This is the first extended break from ministry I have taken since our move last January. I can’t begin to describe how much I needed it. I have been exhausted for the last month, gradually worn down from the hectic schedule, so this break was just what the doctor ordered.

DSCF8357On Thursday we celebrated a traditional Thanksgiving together. We had invited Dick Rutgers and Pat Duff to join us, but their obligations at camp prevented them from coming. So, it was just our family and Gerardo. We had a great day watching the Macy’s parade and enjoying a wonderful meal together. (Yes, we can get the parade on television through NBC, but we discovered that the network feed was from California. As a result, the coverage didn’t start until 11:00 am our time which required some slight schedule modifications to our day. So, while we were waiting for the parade to start, we enjoyed a huge game of hide and seek as a family.)

DSCF8358We were pleased to find that most of the food items that are a part of our traditional Thanksgiving meal were available here. However, quite a few of them were more expensive. But I am pleased to report that the turkey was nearly perfect, the mashed potatoes were excellent, and we were all stuffed and the bird was unstuffed at the end of the meal.

DSCF8367On Friday we celebrated our Annual Fulp Family Christmas Tree Day. You will note that this has an official title along with capital letters because in our home putting up the tree is considered an official holiday. Occurring each year on the day after Thanksgiving, it is a festival of decorating, strange Christmas clothing, carols and snacks that concludes with the movie Elf. This year was especially fun as we were decorating our new home in a new country. We all had a blast together.

DSCF8428On Saturday we loaded the family in the van and headed to Guatemala City to take in the Zoo. In the US such a trip would have cost around $150.00. For our entire family plus parking the total was less than $30.00. We had a great time together enjoying God’s creativity in His creation of animal life, and then enjoyed lunch at Pizza Hut. The afternoon was a little less enjoyable as we ventured into Wal-Mart to allow the kids to do some shopping. (A rare treat for the kids and an all too frequent torture for me.) I am sorry to say that it is every bit as chaotic to shop here during the holidays as it is in the States. Yuck!

DSCF8284Now that I have featured our family for a little while, I want to fill you in on our ministry. One big piece of news is that the board has just voted to hire Gerardo Hernandez full-time to work alongside me. My schedule for the last two months has been exhausting. I have reached the point at which I can no longer get everything done alone. So, beginning on December 1st Gerardo will be my full-time assistant. (You may also recall that he is our first student in our Encarga pastor training program. Don’t worry, I will allow him the necessary time to devote to his studies as well.) I praise God for this much needed help!

Last Tuesday I met Angel and his family at Hermano Pedro so that he could receive his new leg braces. He beamed as Marvin placed them on his feet. He began physical therapy on Friday and his family is so excited. His mother wrote the following letter to his US sponsor:

IMG00097-20111122-1443“I am writing to thank you for the financial help that you gave us. Thank you for paying for the braces that my son needed. We ask God often to give you health and His blessings. For you and your family we ask Him for success daily. Thanks for being an angel that God has sent. Through your help, my son Angel is going to walk and it will be a great joy for us! It brings us great happiness to think of him playing, walking and running, and we will soon see these things ourselves.


Thank you so much!”

Over the last two weeks I have met with and evaluated 12 people in three towns. On Wednesday Wanda, Bob Ecklebarger and Gerardo drove up to El Progresso to meet with Gregory who had found several special needs people in need of assistance. We met with and evaluated nine people that day. Some we were able to help without financial assistance, but they need your prayers. Others need your help. So, here is my Christmas wish list for 2011. Would you prayerfully consider meeting one of these needs?

IMG00090-20111117-1458Franklin is 16 years old and began to experience severe seizures suddenly about three years ago. These would occur about two times each day. Although he is a very intelligent young man, he eventually dropped out of school due to both the teasing of the other students and their fear of him. (Many do not understand the seizures that caused him to act in such scary ways.) The seizures are mostly under control now, but he does not want to return to that school, understandably, due to the cruelty he experienced there. His family is paying large sums each month for his medication and cannot afford to pay for his education in another school. I would like to arrange for sponsorship for him. The cost is only Q170 for registration ($22 US) and Q140 per month ($18.50 US). Would you consider being his sponsor to provide him with the education he so desperately wants?

DSCF8294Jose David is also 16 and has severe Cerebral Palsy and microcephalus.  His single mom is working hard to provide for his needs, but is struggling. His needs for medicine, diapers and physical therapy is overwhelming her. I have made repairs to his wheelchair and will be providing them with a water filter to help with his reoccurring intestinal parasites and teaching the family how to do the appropriate physical therapy, but we need some assistance in providing for his monthly needs. Would you consider sponsoring this family for $50 a month to provide food, diapers, and medicine?

DSCF8324Maria Isabel is 70 years old, lives alone, and has struggled for 20 years with an ulcerated sore on her left leg. When we arrived at her door, she had a bandage around it. When she took off the wrapping both the sight and smell nearly took my breath away. The sore was infected and weeping, so I asked if she had been to see a doctor. Her answer was, “Yes, at the national hospital, but they didn’t do DSCF8322anything.” That is typical of a visit to such facilities. I immediately made the decision to pay for her to go to a private doctor in El Progresso. We are awaiting news of that visit, but I expect that there will be more expenses in medications and treatment in the months ahead. Please pray for Maria.

DSCF8343Jorge is 21 years old and has both diabetes and seizures. His mother and father work hard to provide for his needs, but the four medications he requires costs his family nearly $400 a month! His father is a laborer working 10 to 12 hour days, but this cost alone is more than he makes each month. We don’t expect anyone to sponsor them for such a large sum, but we would like to find a sponsor to assist them with $50-100 each month to offset some of those costs.

DSCF8332Miguel is elderly and had a stroke six months ago. He is paralyzed on his right side and no longer has bowel or bladder control. Understandably, this has made it difficult for his two daughters to care for him. He needs a travel wheelchair and his family would like adult diapers for him. The cost of the chair is $90 US. The adult diapers will run about $25. Can you help with this?

DSCF8344Marian is 10 years old and has spastic Cerebral Palsy and scoliosis. Her single mom struggles to care for her. I am in the process of getting the necessary parts to repair her chair and will be teaching her family how to do ongoing physical therapy, but she also needs new leg braces ($200 US).  Would you be willing to help with this one-time expense?

DSCF8339Britani is almost 2 years old and has had two surgeries to repair a club foot. Unfortunately, both of those surgeries were done at the national hospital and she is no better off than when they started. She needs to have corrective surgery done by competent doctors, so we are arranging for her to come down to Hermano Pedro hospital in January to see an orthopedic surgeon. The cost of this surgery will be more than what her parents can afford, so you will likely read more about her in January or February. For now, please pray for Britani.

After sharing these needs, I need to let you know about a policy change we are making in our ministry. Once these needs are met, we will be limited our assistance to people with special needs who are 18 years old or less. This has been a difficult decision to reach, but due to the growing list of needs we felt we had to focus the scope of our ministry. Of course, we will continue to serve those we are already helping, but will screen all future requests using that criteria.

Over the last five years I have learned so much about what is really important. As a result, I don’t want anything for myself this Christmas. I actually have more than what I need, so why would I want more. These needs are my Christmas wish list for 2011. Nothing would make me happier than seeing these needs met. So, if you are looking for a gift idea for me…

Because of Him,

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


There have been a few times in my life at which I have found myself completely overwhelmed by my desperate need for God. Each of these moments have been triggered when I have found myself facing a situation that is way too big for me to handle. Last night, I found myself facing a God-sized task and it led me to literally fall on my knees and cry out to God in desperation.

I have come to the realization that most of what we have been doing has been Daryl-sized. Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to say that God hasn’t been the Provider and Door-opener for our current ministry, because He has. But the reality is that, so far, I have only been willing to take steps in ministry that will not lead to devastation if God fails to move on our behalf. We have assisted a child or two at a time and I have sought support for each of them as they have come along. But now I find myself facing a large number of needs and there is no way that we can meet them. And last night God asked me a simple question… “Do you trust me?”

I am getting ahead of myself. Let me give you a brief overview of the last week. That should give you a better understanding of this current crisis/opportunity of faith. So much has happened that I can’t give you the whole story, but let me touch the highlights.

IMG00056-20111109-0934Last Wednesday I awoke early and headed out for a day of ministry in our 4-wheel drive. I took my ministry partner, Gerardo, along with my daughter, Krishauna, and both Bob Ecklebargers (grandfather and grandson). We were heading to El Progresso, but first made a stop to deliver a wheelchair to Rosa in Antigua. This beautiful young lady needed a new chair badly and was so grateful when we delivered it and made final adjustments. She hugged us tightly and would not let go.

From there, we headed northwest to El Progresso where we stopped first at Olga’s home. Two blog entries ago I shared with you that she had passed away suddenly, so we stopped to offer our love and support to their family. We were met by two grieving daughters and had a nice visit with them. While we were there, one of their relatives stopped in and asked us about our ministry. It seems he has worked with another organization and has contacts with a lot of families with special needs children. He asked for our cards and told us he would call us soon. (More on this later.)

026After that, we headed to the home of Carmen who has two daughters who have severe cognitive delays and epilepsy. This is one of the most destitute families that we serve. They live in a tiny steel shack and wear old discarded clothing. At times, they scavenge in the garbage to find food. We delivered Kids Against Hunger food packets and money for anti-seizure medicine to them. As we visited with Carmen I noticed that she had lost weight and was looking much frailer than three weeks previously. We asked her how she was doing and she said that she has been sick. She went to the national hospital, but they did nothing for her. (As Dick Rutgers says, the national hospital is the place you go to die. If you aren’t dying when you go in, you will be when you come out.)

The gravity of this situation is severe. If something happens to Carmen I don’t know what will happen to her two daughters, Manuela and Marsela. We immediately arranged to pay for her to go to a local private clinic and purchase her medication. Please pray for healing for Carmen.

IMG00068-20111110-1720Another need that we have recently encountered is a young man by the name of Joel. He is 32 years old and was shot in the head six years ago by a store guard while committing a robbery. He did not come to us for help, but I met him in the street and asked about his needs. He was honest about his past and confessed that it had happened because of his sin. He has since come to faith in Jesus. He was ashamed as he shared his story, but lit up when I told him that Jesus forgives and so do we.

IMG00069-20111110-1801Joel needs a new wheelchair, but that was not his biggest challenge. He lives with his two elderly parents in their home in San Antonio and it is not handicapped accessible. There is a step leading down to his bedroom and another leading up to the toilet. The layout and size of the room was such that ramps would not work. He is mostly paralyzedDSCF8266 on one side and can only negotiate slight inclines. As a result, his parents were never able to leave him along. I made the decision to purchase the necessary gravel, dirt, and concrete to put their entire home on one level. The total cost…$163.00. Their family and friends pitched in to do the work and did a fantastic job. Gerardo got quotes, ordered materials, and made sure that things progressed smoothly. Joel is thrilled and the family is so thankful. We will also be installing hand rails around the toilet to assist him.

DSCF8261At the same time, Gerardo found a young man named David in Santa Catarina. He is 16 and has Cerebral Palsy and microcephalus. He lives with his single mother who is struggling to care for him. He is in need of medication each month along with some wheelchair repairs. (He is still waiting for a visit from me and my tools to make those repairs.)

On the same day, we received a call from a gentleman named Flavio who is the president of a local association for children, teens and adults with special needs. He wanted to know if he could meet with me, so I arranged for him to come on Sunday afternoon. When he arrived, he brought with him five other people who were a part of the group. We visited for about an hour as they shared that they used to received support from a wealthy Canadian who had stopped sending money recently because of some financial hardships. They were hoping that we could help with a Christmas party they are having and with the needs of the group.

At one point I asked Flavio how many people with special needs they worked with. His answer was…wait for it…48. Suddenly 48 families who had been receiving help to care for their needs were cut off. He wanted to know if there was anything our ministry could do to help. Just to give you a point of reference, we currently work with 36 children, teens and adults, so this would more than double our load. We do not have the man-power or the resources to even begin such an endeavor. (Remember, I started all this by talking about the difference between God-sized and Daryl-sized. There is a BIG difference, and He is beginning to show me just how big that difference is.

But wait, there’s more. Last night Gerardo showed up at out home and told me that the gentleman from El Progresso (mentioned earlier) had called. He has eight children with special needs that are desperately in need of help and are awaiting our visit for evaluation. At that point, I went upstairs and found a quiet spot and fell on my knees. Never have I been more aware of how inadequate I am. (Please note: Often people write or express these kinds of thoughts because they are seeking to have their egos stroked. They want words of argument to tell them that they ARE adequate. That is not the case for me. God is God. Two plus two equals four. Gravity holds us on the earth. And I AM INADEQUATE.) I must learn to trust God to do the miraculous to overcome my inadequacy.

Please understand, I am not saying that we are supposed to meet all these needs. I simply do not know. As in every situation, we have to listen to God’s voice and follow His instructions. But I do know that God is calling us to do more than we have been doing. He is asking us to believe more, trust more and attempt more in His power. He is asking us to lay aside the tiny Daryl-sized ministry and embrace a ministry that is God-sized.

IMG00076-20111115-0955Today Gerardo, Taryn and I went to Antigua to purchase the food for our monthly distribution. For the first time we have reached the point that our purchases are all being made in 50 or 100 pound quantities. We have come a long way in the last six months. But today I IMG00077-20111115-1331found myself wondering if we would be making those purchases by the truckload a year from now.

I am not asking for sponsorship in this blog. Usually when we find a need that is my response. These needs are way too big for that. Instead, I am asking you to please pray and fast on behalf of this ministry. Our work will only be God-sized when He moves in miraculous ways to make it happen. Pray for God’s wisdom, strength and provision. Pray that He will raise up workers, because we need more. And pray that He will keep me constantly aware of how inadequate I truly am.

Because of Him!


Monday, November 14, 2011

A New Blog to Follow

I hope to do a decent update to my blog on Wednesday, but wanted to take a moment to introduce you to a new blog that you might like to follow.

DSCF6620If you have been following my blogs, you know that a young man by the name of Gerardo Hernandez has been working with our ministry. He has been such a blessing to the work we are doing as he has begun to assume some of my day-to-day tasks that are involved in our local ministry. Last week alone he saved me two days by supervising a construction project in San Antonio and doing some local tasks. He has also saved us money by negotiating prices for our ministry, thus saving us from paying the “gringo” prices.

He has recently started a blog and I would like to recommend it to you. You can find it by clicking here. His primary language is Spanish, so that is what he uses to post. However, if you are not a Spanish speaker you can still read it in one of two ways. 1) If you use Google Chrome as your Web browser, it should automatically give you the option of translating the page for you when it opens. 2) You can copy and paste the entry into the Google Translator which can be found here.

Please take time to follow Gerardo as he grows under the mentoring of our ministry. He will also begin formal ministry training under Ron Ecklebarger through our Encarga pastor training program soon. And, as you follow his entries, remember to keep him in your prayers.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Olga Passed Away

IMG00975-20111001-1255This morning I received a call telling me that Olga from El Progreso had passed away last evening. You can read some of my earlier posts about her here and here.

Olga suffered the after-effects of a stroke she had 2 1/2 years ago. When we met her she had lost most of her mobility because her right side was too week to handle a walker and she had no access to a wheelchair. We were able to find a sponsor and provide her with a chair. She wept and hugged each of us tightly on the day she received it.

In spite of having several conversations with her about Jesus, I honestly don’t know where she stood with Him. We live in a country in which almost everyone believes in Jesus, but many who believe don’t have a relationship with Him. I do know that several of her family member do not know Him.

I had planned on driving up tomorrow to give her an air cushion for her wheelchair. She was beginning to have some problems and I was concerned about pressure sores. Instead, we will drive up to take flowers to the family and offer our love and support in their grief. Please pray that God will give comfort to her family and that He will give us the words to say so that they will be drawn to Jesus.

Daryl, Wanda and Family

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gifts & Birthdays

As I have lived and ministered in Guatemala over the last nine months, I have been greatly humbled by the giving nature of the families with which we work. So often we arrive at their door planning to help them, only to leave after having them bless us.

Frequently they long to give something back in gratitude for our help. This comes in the form of small gifts, usually from their back yards. I have been given bananas, eggs, plantains, T-shirts, a cold bottle of Coca Cola, and more. Just last month, one family tried to give me a live chicken. I explained that I didn’t have room in my vehicle, so they offered to tie it up tightly and put it in a box. We finally were able to slip out of their home without the chicken, and I think we did so without offending them. I am so humbled by these people who often live in extreme poverty who insist on giving something back.

IMG00478-20110530-1651On Saturday morning, a young man named Cristian showed up at our door. He is the brother of Joni, who lives just up the street and has Cerebral Palsy. We have been helping his family through the generosity of a US sponsor who gives the necessary funds to provide them with food each month. We also fitted Joni for a wheelchair and provided him with a new mattress for his bed.

On two occasions his mother, Marcelina, has broken down in tears and told us that her family (her mother, father, and siblings) doesn’t like Joni and believes he is a curse from God. They have told her to get rid of him. She told us that we are the first people outside their immediate family and her in-laws who have cared about Joni. According to her, we have made them feel less alone.

DSCF8247So Cristian showed up at our house with a hand woven bag made by his mother. She was giving it to Wanda to thank us for caring for their family. Marcelina is a gifted artisan, and the purse took weeks to weave and assemble. It is woven with Mayan symbols that tell a story, and she has promised to tell us the story (once our Spanish is better).

How do you accept such a precious gift of time and talent? With humility and gratitude. This family is so very precious to us, and their friendship is priceless.

IMG00047-20111107-1353Today we went to Joni’s 17th birthday party. We brought the cake and were treated as special guests. His dad’s name is Adolfo, and most of his family were there to help celebrate, including his parents, brother and nieces and nephews. We had a wonderful time with them all. Joni was ecstatic to have so much attention. He and I have formed a special bond and he lights up when I am around (almost as much as I light up when he is around).

IMG00051-20111107-1409So, I am learning that it is impossible to out-give God and it is very difficult to out-give these wonderful people. As I sat across the table from Wanda at the party, I mentioned that I can’t imagine what we would have missed if we had not found the courage to follow this call. I am glad I will never have to find out.

Greetings from San Antonio Aguas Calientes!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Friday, November 4, 2011

Three Day Weeks

I know, that’s a strange title for a blog entry. But it seems appropriate because the weeks go so fast. I woke up this morning thinking it must be Tuesday or Wednesday, only to look at my phone and discover it is Friday already. It honestly seems like my weeks only have three days in them.

IMG00006-20111101-1027This week our family went to Rehoboth Children’s Home in Parramos. This ministry is operated by our new church (more on this later) and does an incredible job of caring for kids who have been abandoned or abused. School just ended here (the school year goes from mid January through October) and we were invited out to enjoy a picnic with the kids to celebrate the beginning of vacation and learn more about their ministry.

IMG00013-20111101-1228We were impressed right away with the quality of care that the children receive and the love and openness among the kids. Considering their background, you would expect anger, rebellion and distrust, but the opposite was what we found. The kids were all respectful, loving, and happy, and the difference is their Jesus-centered approach. I think the majority of our own kids have decided they want to live there. This will be one of the ministries with which all our teams will work.

An unexpected plus of this visit was the guidance that Chici Barbella (wife of our pastor and co-founder of the ministry) was able to give us regarding the licensing process for our group home. After much prayer and seeking guidance from others, we have decided not to operate under the license of another ministry, but to pursue our own licensing. With the counsel and contacts she gave us, we will be ready to pursue that process early in January. Please pray for God’s provision for that process, as we expect it to cost over $5000 to complete.

In addition, our church also operates a rehabilitation center for drug addicts and alcoholics. Currently they have about 35 men enrolled in the program who are finding freedom through relationship with Jesus.

Hearing all this, you might think that we are going to a large church. In reality, the church is only about 120 people, but they are so focused on Jesus they don’t realize that they can’t do what they are doing. So, by God’s power, they do it. It is called Nueva Vida y Paz (New Life & Peace) and is pastored by Victor Barbella and his wife, Chici. Victor grew up in Philadelphia where he came to know Jesus while in jail facing 7 to 15 years in prison. He has an in-your-face approach to preaching that we love. The sermons and announcements are translated to English, but everything else is in Spanish. We love our new church and are looking forward to taking all our teams there. You can find more information here and even listen to the same great sermons we hear each week.

IMG00028-20111101-1533Our ministries to families of children with special needs continues to grow. News of our ministry is spreading by word of mouth, and more and more people are seeking us out. On Sunday, one of my friends pulled me aside and told me about one of his friends who has a 14 year old daughter with spina bifida. Her chair has worn out and she needs a new one. So, we went to her home on Tuesday to assess her needs and measure her for a new one.

IMG00036-20111101-1546Her name is Rosa and she has bright eyes and a beautiful smile. The challenge she faces is that her house is located at the bottom of a hill that has a long flight of concrete steps leading up to the road. As a result, her old chair has taken a beating.

While Rosa is paralyzed from the waist down, she has good upper body strength and trunk control. So, after consulting with Dick Rutgers, I have decided to try and find a more rugged but light-weight chair that will allow better control and a smoother ride. Praise God that we already have a sponsor for this chair! Just please pray that we can find the right one for her.

IMG01057-20111026-0915Another need that we encountered over the last week has been a little guy named Jorje. He is 8 years old and suffers from Autism. He has nasty scars on his forehead from where he regularly bangs his head against the wall, in spite of his family’s best efforts to keep him from doing so. He had not been to a doctor since he was 3 years old, so our first act was to arrange for him to go to our doctor for an exam and to begin getting him caught up on his inoculations.

Also, as I visited with the other kids, I realized that they were all undernourished. So, our desire is to begin assisting them on a monthly basis through food deliveries. So, you know what that means…we need a sponsor for $40 a month. If you are able to help, could you write to me at daryl@hopeforhome.org? Remember, every penny of your sponsorship gift each month goes directly to the family. None is withheld for administrative costs.

Last night Wanda and I slept on the roof. (Actually, we slept there until midnight when we realized that our air mattress had a leak in it.) While lying there looking up at the sky watching the volcano spew its lava and a few shooting stars darting past, I was reminded of the following passage from God’s Word:

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” – Psalm 8:3-4

I am sure that I don’t understand why God is mindful of me, my family, or the people to which we minister. We sure don’t deserve his attention or his care. I only know that He is mindful of us in a very loving and personal way. So, I take comfort in knowing that the Source of it all holds us and every need close to His heart. And that is all I need to know.

I must end now so I can go do follow-up with several families and find a wheelchair for Rosa. Thank you for all your prayers, encouragement and faithful support!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew