Monday, April 30, 2012

On Politics (But Not Political)

Usually this blog is a means of keeping you up-to-date on our life and ministry here in Guatemala. This is an important link to our prayer and financial supporters around the world, so I don’t want to take advantage of your time. However, occasionally the ramblings of my mind center on a thought that burns inside of me. During those times I have found that I had better share that thought, or I will not be at peace until I do. This is one of those moments.

Otto_Perez_Molina_2011Last year we lived through our first Guatemalan presidential election. Believe it or not, these events are even more obnoxious than in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of posters, billboards and flyers covered the country, and vehicles with loudspeakers blared music and political rhetoric up and down every street. When everything was said and done, the new President was Otto Pérez Molina, who recently celebrated his 100th day in office.

Now, for the first time, I am observing the US Presidential election process from a distance as an outsider. I don’t have time to follow it closely, so I only catch an occasional headline or a few posts by friends on Facebook, but the gist is the same as every election around the globe. Everyone is looking and hoping for a candidate who will fix things. They want someone who will change the country, make life better, lower gas prices, create more jobs and make them happier than they currently are. It is the common cry heard around the world.

Last week as Guatemala marked Molina’s 100th day in office, there was a huge article about a poll that was taken showing the country’s hope for the future has skyrocketed in the last year. The president now enjoys an 82% approval rating compared to the previous president who only had one in the upper 20’s. The reason for this radical swing is obvious…it is early in the new president’s term, so there is still hope. I am confident that in 3 years President Molina’s approval rating will have plummeted as well. How can I be sure? Because in Guatemala’s history as a Democratic Republic, no political party has won two presidential elections in a row.

In this country with 50% unemployment, out-of-control inflation, and a crime rate that is scary, everyone is looking for a president who will change things and make their lives better. But, as the years of a President’s term slide by, the hope of change gradually dies and they look to the next election. It really is no different than any nation that has elected leaders.

VotingRecently I was struck by a profound thought…in democracies and democratic republics politics are simply a symptomatic expression of the nation’s heart. In other words, people vote according to the condition of their souls and the government is a simple reflection of that. Therefore, trying to change a nation through politics is like a tail trying to wag a dog. It does not work.

For years I have heard conversations about corruption in politics, and that conversation has continued here in Guatemala. But a nation’s great problem is not corrupt politics, it is a corrupt heart within its people. Nations around the globe clamor for peace, happiness, fulfillment and hope. We believe that more jobs, lower gas prices, a balanced budget and a prosperous economy will provide these things. In other words, we are seeking in politics the things we can only find in God. For too many years I have allowed myself to be distracted by politics when I should have been focused on something far more central to real national health. I believe that is true for the church as well.

chuck_colson_0923Last week we said goodbye to Charles Colson. Never has this contrast of values been so clearly seen in one person. He is a true picture of before and after. Before, he was Nixon’s “Hatchet Man” doing whatever was necessary to advance a political agenda. After he encountered Jesus he was a man of God who spent his life changing one heart at a time through the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He once spoke these words:

The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us or what laws are passed or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. That’s where our hope is in this country. That’s where our hope is in life.

I am not advocating that we, as Christians, withdraw from all political involvement and dialogue. To have a vote in selecting our leaders is a privilege for which much of the world pleads. It is also an incredible responsibility which we must take seriously and approach through prayer. However, I do believe that we need to remember the true source of hope is not politics. As a result, political involvement should not be at the top of our priorities. In fact, I believe it falls well down the list, well below loving God, loving our neighbors, making disciples, loving our spouses and raising our children as world changers. But my fear is that, for many in the church, it has usurped these higher callings.

The only hope for real change that will improve our nations and our world is Jesus Christ. We must lend ourselves completely to the mission of changing hearts, one at a time, through our risen Lord. And, as more and more lives are changed, the nations will change.

P1060843And so, together we do the things which God does. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the fatherless and love the unloved. And, as we do so, we boldly proclaim that joy is not found in any of those things, but in Christ alone. And the world is changed, one life at a time. Because hope has nothing to do with the one who sits in the White House and everything to do with the One who reigns in our hearts.

I feel better. Thanks for reading. Now, let’s go to work!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

When things move…they really move!

First, I want to thank everyone who prayed for and responded to our need for a sponsor for Britani. I am pleased to let you know that we found a family to provide the support for her and her mom within a couple of hours of my post. And the offers kept coming and stacking-up! Thank you all!

DSCF5724On Monday we arranged for her mom to take her to Hermano Pedro to be seen by a doctor. As expected, they sent them down for an X-ray and they are supposed to return to see the specialist at the end of May. They stopped by Hogar de la Esperanza after they received the X-rays to bring back the change from the money we gave them for the appointment. I took a look at the X-rays and my heart sank. Not only is her hip displaced, but her hip socket is greatly deteriorated and broken. I suspect that she will require significant reconstructive surgery and six to eight weeks in a Spica cast. Of course, I didn’t mention any of this to her mom. That news, if it comes, needs to come from the doctor. Please pray for Britani and her mom in the days ahead.

On Sunday I preached at our home church, Vida Nueva y Paz. At the beginning, I introduced myself and the ministry we do here in Guatemala. After the service I was approached by a lady who told us about her neighbor who has a little boy “who is six years old but cannot walk or talk.” We gave her a ride home from church to find out where she lives and made an appointment to meet her Monday morning to go visit the family.

DSC00078When we arrived, we found little Rafael who has cerebral palsy and is very undernourished. His mother, Judit, was abandoned by her husband (an all-too familiar story) and is struggling to survive with her two children and her mother living with her. She runs a used clothing store out of the front of her home to try to earn a living, but only makes about Q.60 each month (about $7.40). Rafael’s anti-seizure medication costs about Q.180 each month. She has been borrowing money to pay for it.

As we talked with them more, we realized that they were out of his meds and did not have any food in the house. Looking at the weight of Rafael, his mom and grandmother, I decided that we didn’t have time to wait. So, we arranged to give them one of the monthly food distribution boxes along with a full box of Kids Against Hunger food packets. We also provided a months worth of medication for Rafael. We prayed with them, and as we left Judit hugged me and cried in relief. I am pleased to say that I contacted one of the families who had offered to sponsor Britani, and they agreed to sponsor Rafael instead. Praise God this need is already met!

girls-in-poverty2Much of our work is done in rural village settings, but I am always finding myself amazed at how close great needs are to us. Britani and her mom live about 100 yards from our house. Rafael and his family live about 15 minutes from here on the edge of Antigua, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Central America. Yet both of these families were hungry and desperate. It has caused me to wonder how many others are right under my nose every day. How many doors do I pass with desperate needs right behind them?

Things are on schedule for the opening of our day care program for children with special needs. We will officially open our doors on May 22nd, and we are working to get everything in place. We will begin with four children, one day a week. Once we develop a rhythm and gain experience, we will open it to more children for more days. This is kind of a test-run and on-the-job training for our group home.

HdlESpeaking of the group home, I am excited to say that things are happening! The first year was getting things in place to begin our licensing, including developing a support network and obtaining wise council. At last, everything is ready for us to officially begin the licensing process. I praise God that He has provided us with an excellent man who is highly recommended from numerous sources to oversee the work. His name is Edy Tum and he and his team will guide us through the process and serve as our staff social workers once the home opens.

We met with Edy on Wednesday and things are moving quickly. He assured us that our home should be licensed in eight to ten months, which is much faster than we were told to expect. We are now pulling together documents, forming a Guatemalan board and obtaining some required signatures and equipment. We meet again on Tuesday and expect to take some other significant steps in the process that day.

Please pray for this process. Specifically, please seek God for:

  1. Wisdom for us as we formalize our board, vision statement, and the specifics of our group home.
  2. Approximately $5500.00 in legal fees and expenses that are required to obtain our license.
  3. An additional $1500 a month support for Hogar de la Esperanza to cover the cost of a staff doctor, psychologist and social worker (which are required by the government) and a couple of trained nannies to assist with care.
  4. That we will be able to raise these additional funds without me having to travel home to speak. I cannot afford the time away.
  5. Favor in the eyes of the government officials with whom we will be working.
  6. A smooth and quick licensing process.

Thanks for all your prayers and support! We couldn’t do any of this without you!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Friday, April 20, 2012

Help Needed for Britani

DSCF5721This morning a desperate mother rang the bell at Hogar de la Esperanza. We invited her and her daughter, Britani, inside and listened as she told her story.

Magdalena and her daughter were abandoned by her husband two years ago. Since then she has struggled to make ends meet by making crafts to sell in the market. Her income each month is Q.200 (about $25). Meanwhile, Britani (age 6) is in need of orthopedic surgery to repair dysplasia or her right hip, but Magdalena cannot find the money to properly feed the two of them, much less pay for surgery. She had heard about our ministry several months ago, but was ashamed to ask for help. Finally, with no food in their home, she reached a point of desperation and came to us.

We immediately loaded up one of the boxes of food we give out each month in our distribution along with a box of Kids Against Hunger packets and drove them back home. We also arranged for Britani to go to Hermano Pedro on Monday morning to see a doctor and get a referral to one of their orthopedic specialists. We provided the money they needed for that appointment and x-rays. We are hopeful that she will be put on a list to be seen by the next Faith in Practice team who will provide her surgery free of charge.

Ironically, as we drove them home in our van I realized that their house is only about 100 yards from Hogar de la Esperanza. She lives in a wooded section behind our house, but it is about a 10 minute drive on rough roads to get there. From this point forward, I will be using the 4-Runner to visit them.

What we are in need of is a sponsor to pay for monthly food to be provided to Magdalena and Britani. We would like to make their food amount higher because of the desperate nature of their situation, so we are seeking a $45 a month sponsor. If you can help with some or all of that need, would you please write to me at

Thanks so much for all your prayers, support and encouragement! Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Friday, April 13, 2012

Exciting News to Share!

Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. – Psalm 115:1

Today my blog entry is serving as a newsletter on behalf of Hope for Home Ministries and Hogar de la Esperanza. There is a lot of news to share, so let’s get right to it:

Introducing Our New Maternity Care Director

Some time ago I shared my desire to begin a ministry to pregnant mothers in Guatemala. Many of the special needs that we encounter here could be prevented or reduced through good care during pregnancy and having trained personnel available to assist with deliveries. So, it has been my desire to have someone to oversee a program that would meet those needs.

Rachel McCrayI am pleased to announce that Rachel McCray will be joining our team sometime next spring or summer and will serve as our Maternity Care Director. She will provide regular check-ups of pregnant women in their homes, advise them regarding nutrition and lifestyle during pregnancy, distribute vitamins, and assist with births. Our desire is that she will also train other midwives in rural villages to duplicate that ministry.

Rachel currently resides in Warsaw, Missouri and graduated from Heritage College in Kansas City with an Occupational Studies Degree in X-ray Medical Technician/Medical Assistant. She is currently completing her training as a midwife and gaining experience in that role.

We are excited to have Rachel join our team here in Guatemala! Please pray for her over the next year as she raises support, completes her training and makes her transition to her new home and country. If you have questions or would like to invite her to share at your church, you can contact her at

A Transition for the Ecklebargers

Ecklebargers 3Even as we are welcoming a new team member, we are saying goodbye to Ron and Melanie Ecklebarger and their family. At the end of this month they will be moving back to the States and Ron will be transitioning into his new role as our Communications Director. The reasons for this move back to the US are numerous, but high on the list are the medical needs of their children.

The Ecklebargers have adopted five children from Uganda, and three of them have special needs which need to be addressed. Of particular concern is some surgery that their daughter, Immaculate, needs that is quite extensive. As a result, they will be moving back, having these medical needs addressed, and seeking God for their next step.

However, even as they are looking for God’s direction, they will be serving a valuable role for Hope for Home. We have lacked a person to speak on behalf of our ministry in America, and they will now be filling that much needed position. They will be available to speak in your church and, due to their time here in Guatemala, have a greater understanding of both the needs and the opportunities we face.

Meanwhile, Ron’s parents, Bob and Jane Ecklebarger, will be staying in Guatemala and continuing to assist with our ministry and others. They have become valuable ministers to the people of Guatemala, and we are glad to still have them as a part of our team on the ground.

Please pray for Ron, Melanie and their children as they move back to the States. Pray especially for God’s provision and for their children as they address their medical needs. If you would like to arrange for their family to speak are your church, please contact Ron at

A New Kids Against Hunger Distribution Point

kah-food-bagIf you follow my blog regularly, you have seen me mention the huge blessing that a ministry called Kids Against Hunger is to our work here. They provide high calorie/high nutrition food packets to us free-of-charge that we distribute as a part of our rural village ministry. They have not only helped us, but numerous other ministries in Guatemala as well.

Recently I was contacted by Coral Matus from the Toledo branch of Kids Against Hunger. She asked if I would be willing to oversee the opening and management of a new Kids Against Hunger distribution point in our area. It did not take me long to respond with an excited “Yes!”

As a result, we are currently searching for suitable warehouse/storage space to hold a shipping container of food at a time (That is 36 pallets of KAH food!) and making arrangements for hiring the necessary truck to get it from the ports to here. This distribution site will provide the packets for Hogar de la Esperanza and numerous other ministries in our area. Once everything is in place, my right-hand man, Gerardo Hernandez, will oversee the daily operation.

As we begin this new area of ministry, please pray that God will bring together the necessary logistics. Also pray that He will be glorified in the way it is distributed.

Hogar de la Esperanza Opening Soon

DSCF7072No, we still have a long ways to go before we are licensed as a group home for children with special needs. However, we will soon be opening the door to those children as a day care program.

Recently, the mother of a child with severe disabilities approached Gerardo and asked him, with tears in her eyes, if we were able to take her son into our home. She told him that she loves her son, but is unable to care for him properly and go to work. This started my mental wheels turning (always a dangerous thing). What if we were to begin providing a day care/respite program for these children? This would give their parents an opportunity to get a break, go to work, or just take care of errands and chores. At the same time, it will give us valuable experience and help us to sharpen our care-giving skills in preparation for the opening of our group home.

After discussing it as a family, we decided to open such a program on a test basis beginning in May. At first, we will open one day a week and will expand to additional days as we are able. We already have strong relationships with lots of families that have children who have special needs in our community, and we believe a number of them will be blessed by this ministry. Please pray for us as we begin this new work.


As you can tell, there is a lot going on in addition to our ongoing work. We hope to have even more big news to share in the next month or two.

Thanks for your ongoing prayer and financial support! It is greatly appreciated!

Daryl Fulp

Director, Hope for Home Ministries

Monday, April 2, 2012

Trapped by Alfombras

DSCF6917As I write this my neighbors are busily cleaning the street in front of their homes. Tomorrow morning at 10:00 am our town will have the largest Catholic procession of the year to celebrate Easter. As a result, in about two hours the street in front of our home will be shut down until tomorrow noon as many of the Catholic households will lay alfombras in the street, trapping us in our home. (The photo to the right is one taken last year from our rooftop.

DSCF6911An alfombra is a decorative carpet made of colored sawdust, pine needles, flowers and/or fruit. As the procession comes through, people will walk on each side of them until the float carrying Jesus comes through. Those carrying that float will walk through the alfombra, messing it up. Usually there is a crowd of children following closely behind the end of the procession who rush up and pick-up the fruit.

We are surrounded by religion here. Almost everyone here professes belief in Jesus Christ, but very few reflect that belief in in the way they live. In many cases, Jesus serves much like a lucky rabbit’s foot. You hang his image in your store or Tuk Tuk or name your business after Him, and in return He will bless you and keep you safe…or so many believe. One day my normal barber shop was closed, so I went to another one down the street. As I sat waiting my turn, I was confronted by a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall with dozens of bikini model photos hanging around Him. The name and image of Jesus is frequently used, but the heart of Christ is seldom encountered.

IMG00597-20120325-1849Last Sunday Wanda and I were in Antigua and found ourselves caught in a crowd of people who were awaiting one of the largest processions of the season. As we were standing there, the float carrying Jesus came past and people snapped pictures. Then we found ourselves being jostled and pushed as people tried to get closer when the float carrying Mary came past. My heart broke as I saw this huge mass of people who were interested in Jesus, but passionate for Mary. It is true that she was a devoted servant of God and He used her for great things, but why do we insist on worshipping and serving created things instead of the creator? (Romans 1:25)

Please do not misunderstand me. We have encountered wonderful Catholics here who seem to love and serve Jesus with sincerity. All do not fall into the trap of religion without relationship. And, on the other side, we have encountered many evangelical Christians who seem to only know religion and legalism. And that is the battle we face, cutting through religion and modeling intimacy with Jesus that changes lives. And that is probably our greatest prayer need. Please pray that we will show and live a Jesus that is so much more wonderful than mere religion and draw people to Him.

DSCF5591And, on a note of praise, I now have my 4-Runner back, and it is running better than it has since I bought it! Juaquim returned it this afternoon and walked me through all the repairs. He explained everything that our previous mechanic did wrong (although he was very uncomfortable speaking negatively of someone else’s work) and gave me the receipts for parts. He also gave me a handwritten receipt showing all of his labor and detailing the complete purchase of parts! (This is almost unheard of here.) I drove Juaquim home and realized that I have about 25 or 30% more power and that the engine is running much cooler.

I praise God for leading us to this honest and methodic mechanic. And I thank God that my 4-Runner (officially dubbed the Batmobile by some of the Guatemalan children) is back in its loving home and ready to take on more Guatemalan roads!

Thanks for all your prayers and support!

Good afternoon from San Antonio Aguas Calientes!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew