Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fighting for Henri

HaynesTaking a page from Dick Rutger’s book (the world’s best blog thief) today I am copying and pasting from someone else’s blog. A few months ago I was contacted by Geoffrey and Jenna Haynes who are in the process of opening an orphanage in Coban (about six hours from here). Their ministry, Mision Vida Nueva, has a passion to care for the least of these, including the many orphans of Guatemala. They had discovered that one of their neighbors, a single mother, had a 22 year old son with severe cerebral palsy and was in desperate need of help. They had been reaching out to provide that help, but the mother, Maria, realized that she was no longer able to care for her son, who is now bigger than her. She is a wonderful mother who loves her son deeply, so this was a painful decision. After dialoging with the Haynes’ and Maria it was decided that they would bring him down and we would try to get him admitted to Hermano Pedro. What follows is a description of that attempt from Jenna’s point of view. My comments are added in red.

Jenna Haynes writes:

Sunday night I didn't sleep. Too many things were scrolling through my mind. We'd be waking up at the crack of dawn praying that Maria hadn't changed her mind. And how were we going to fit Henry and 5 others in our 4.5 person car with all the luggage? Did I have everything prepared for our interview with the Consejo Nacional de Adopciones (CNA) on Wednesday which would determine whether or not they saw us fit to be the directors of another children's home in Guatemala? And how were we going to fit it in to meet with the accountant before we left to get our passports back? Two volunteers arrived at 12:30a.m. in Coban on their motorcycles soaking wet...were they safe? Would they be able to find a hotel? Were we going to have time to meet them in the morning and show them the land before we had to leave? Two sleeping pills later, I still laid there wide awake.
Monday came quickly. We hurried to the accountant, got our stuff, hurried to our new volunteers, found them a place to stay and showed them to the land, hurried back to town, packed our stuff, made 7 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, drove to Maria's house and she wasn't there. It was 20 minutes after our scheduled departure time, and she was not there. Her sister Olga and her niece were going to go too. Olga's husband is an abusive alcoholic and the situation was very delicate. He did not want her to go, but Maria needed the support. After all,  if they accepted Henry, Maria would be riding back to Coban alone right after giving up her only child. Olga couldn't go without her 14 year old daughter, and so it was. But where was Maria? Finally, she showed up and an hour and a half later, after Maria cleaned and dressed her son, we left. Every one of Maria's neighbors had come out of their rusted tin, wood, nylon shacks to watch what was going on.

Henry had no wheelchair, no shoes, no diaper, and a huge bag of stinky blankets. He had never ridden in a car. Maria put a plastic grocery bag on him for his diaper. We piled him in with everyone else, and off we went. 6 hours later we arrived in Antigua. We met with Daryl Fulp and his assistant Gerardo and we tried to get everyone checked in to Casa de Fe.

They allow 2 people only, the patient and one person. We had 4. The person must have a cedula to get in. Maria had a photocopy only. They accepted it. Then there were two more people. They said "no" and "no". Everyone in the room told us it was against the rules. We did not know what to do. Then something changed, someone gave in and said okay. (Gerardo and I stepped into the social work office and did some fast talking. Actually, Gerardo did the fast talking while I whispered talking points in his ear. He must have said the right things because she began writing out the tickets for admission.) Obstacle number 1 (besides all the obstacles overcome getting everyone down), overcome. We took them to Casa de Fe and Daryl carried Henry in and we immediately faced obstacle number 2, the people said only the patient and one caregiver could stay. They refused and refused even after we told them the other people said yes, and we pleaded. The people were very unfriendly and stern. (I am convinced that the lady who receives people is the witch from the Wizard of Oz. She apparently wasn’t crushed by that house after all.) We told the lady we came all the way from Coban, the mother is by herself and can not move Henry alone, the sister's abusive husband would not let her come without her daughter...and we begged. She finally said yes. Obstacle number 2, overcome.

Daryl ran and found some diapers for Henry. Maria and her son slept on the floor of the chapel. Geoffrey and I went to Hogar de Esperanza to meet Daryl's family.

They are amazing people. They are starting a home for 12 disabled children, orphans, and they already have 10 children, 7 of which live with them in Guatemala, 8 if you include Gerardo. (Actually, we have 9 living with us, but Teisha and Carissa’s trip to Uganda confused the situation.) One is adopted from China, one from Guatemala, and one from Korea. Two are foster children that they adopted from the US and the rest are their biological children. This family is great and live the great commission out every day. The Lord has provided a castle for them to live in with extremely crazy decor covering the entire 6000 sq feet. We couldn't believe our eyes. Getting to know them and hear their story was such a blessing and encouragement. If they can move to a 3rd world country with 10 children, start a home for 12 more, and have a huge multifaceted ministry and live and operate by faith....nobody, NOBODY, has any excuse for why they cannot or did not go to the mission field when they heard the Lord's command. (If you can’t tell by your reading to this point, Jenna is a very sweet girl who is easily impressed.) ;o)

5am, Tuesday, we are up and getting ready to head out to Hermano Pedro. Prayer warriors all over the world on our side pleading for Henry, pleading to the Lord that they would have a space available to accept him into the Home, pleading that Maria would truly give him up to them when the time came. 6:30, we are in line and waiting to get to see the first doctor. 8am, we are in and he says Henry qualifies. (This prompt appointment is credited to my friend, Xiomara, who works at HP and had a number waiting for us when we arrived. Otherwise we would likely not have seen the doctor until the afternoon.) Next, social work. Social work looks us dead in the eyes and says, "There is no space". They wouldn't budge. I am about to cry and I can not even look the woman in the eyes when I ask her, "You are telling me there is no space for this boy, after we came all this way?" She says, "No, I am sorry." So much more I want to say, but I can not because I was too overwhelmed. I just walked out. We came all this wasn't going to end that quick.

Someone goes back in, and they say we can be put on a waiting list, but we have to see the neurologist before we can even be put on the list. We head to the neurologist's secretary who tells us one, he won't be in until 1pm, two, he doesn't have any opening to see anyone until February of 2013. We asked what we could possibly do. She said come back at 1pm and if someone cancels, we could fill in. (Xiomara was also in the wings ready to intercede on our behalf if no appointments opened up. She is a life-saver!)

Meanwhile we leave and Daryl finds a ministry that gives wheelchairs to people in need for $200. (Hope Haven provides most of the wheelchairs we give out to families.) Just so happened that that day they were giving wheelchairs for free. (They have received a large sponsorship for 500 chairs so we will be taking full advantage of that in the days ahead) We spent about two hours there while Henry got fitted for this super nice $6,000 (if it were new in the States) wheelchair. It was incredible and we wheeled him away like a king. (His mother hugged me, crying, and told me that now she could take Henri out of their house. I later found out that this trip was the first time he had been outside in 10 years.)

Back to Hermano Pedro. Up to the neurologist...we wait. He won't see anyone until 2pm. We wait. About 4pm we got in. This doctor has to say yes or no. We sat outside and prayed and prayed. Five minutes later the door opens, and not only is he accepting Henry, but he is writing a referral to social work, and tells us if social work will not tell us there is space, we need to go directly to the priest. The priest of the whole hospital/home! Obstacle number 671, overcome.

It is 4:30pm and everyone starts leaving at 5pm. We hurried to social work and they said no. Firmly it was a no and there was just no space and nothing they could do. So Daryl and Gerardo brought the priest over. I am thinking wow, God is just making this work. The priest goes into social work, 2 minutes later he walks out lays his hand on Henry, and walks away. Daryl and Gerardo come out and the answer is "No". (Father Jose was very kind and did everything he could do to gain us admission. But right now they have 270 patients when they capacity is supposed to be 240.) There is no space and nothing they can do for him other than put him on the waiting list. Our fight was over, after spending the entire day overcoming obstacles, at the end of the day...Henry would be wheeled away from the home.

We took him to a hotel, put them up in a room, and early Wednesday morning we put the four of them on a bus back to Carcha.

What a wonderful relationship we've built with another incredible ministry here in Guatemala. We can not thank them enough for their love, sacrifice, and service they gave to us in the name of Jesus.

Hope for a Home Ministries

and thank them for with us by liking them on Facebook:

Hope for a Home Facebook

Our meeting with the CNA went well and we got back to Coban late last night and found out that our two awesome volunteers, the EnduroBros, had finished our fence for us. What a blessing.
Today we took Henry his wheelchair and modified their home and flattened their dirt floor in order to help Maria to be able to move the wheelchair about easily.
The Lord knows what He is doing and His time is never early and it is never late. We will praise the Lord.

Mision Vida Nueva


One of the things I have learned here is that our role is not to win every battle. We are here to fight alongside others so they don’t have to fight alone. We had the privilege of fighting this battle at the side of Maria and Henri for one day, and will help again when there is a spot open in HP. Geoffrey and Jenna are fighting for them every day by providing assistance until that time comes. Please take time to visit their Web site above and pray for and support them and their wonderful ministry as God would lead. You can also read Jenna’s blog here.

That is all for now. Blessings from Guatemala!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Did God Forget?

Life is returning to some semblance of normalcy after the loss of my mom and time in the States. I still find myself thinking that I need to give her a call only to remember that I cannot, and in those moments the pain hits sharply. However, with each passing day the peace is greater. It always helps to know that I will see her again before I know it.

Meanwhile, there is lots of work to do. I have been laboring furiously, trying to catch up on on the work that was awaiting me when I returned. Last Tuesday I discovered that I DO have a desk, and I am able to see it again after finally clearing the pile that was on top of it. I have also been working to try to catch up with our village ministry where numerous families were awaiting our much delayed visit.

On October 12th we headed up to Guastatoya and spent a very long day of ministry with nine different families. It had been almost two months since our last visit, so some of the children were pretty desperate for our visit.

SAM_1121Our first stop was at Berne’s home. He had been waiting for a wheelchair since our last visit and needed one desperately. They had been given a chair some months earlier, but it was a large stroller-style device that they could not use in the home. His mother was hoping to sell it and buy something more suitable with the money, but had no idea what he needed. We found a sponsor for a new chair for him and brought it with us and seated him. They love the new chair and they can easily navigate it through their home.

SAM_1131Meanwhile, Berne’s younger brother, Jeremi, is eight months old and has one of the worst heart murmurs I have ever heard. You can actually hear it if you sit in a quiet room close to him. We had arranged for them to go to see a cardiologist in Guatemala City in September, but he had ordered tests that cost over Q.500, which they could not afford. So, we bought their old wheelchair from them (we have other families who live in rough terrain areas for which the chair will be perfect) and they were going to use the money to get the needed tests the next day. Please pray for little Jeremi as he will require surgery soon.

SAM_1146Berne, along with Darolin, were the two main reasons I felt pressure to get up to Guastatoyo so quickly after I returned from the States. Both of them are greatly malnourished and needed formula quickly. Up until this month we had been using store bought formula that was expensive and not as effective as I would have liked. After charting weights for a couple of months I was not seeing gains I wanted. So I spent two full days in September researching other options. I finally found a ministry that works in the Coban area that told me about a formula that they were using and with whch they were seeing great success. We can mix it ourselves at a cheaper cost and provide about 50% more to each family for the same price. So, we made these deliveries for the first time that day. Please pray that Darolin and Berne will gain weight in the days ahead.

By the time I returned home that evening (after fighting through two hours of Guatemala City traffic) I was wiped-out. I think it is time to make Guastetoya a two day trip, spending the night in a cheap motel, as the number of families have increased so much.

SAM_1206On Thursday of last week a mother came by with her daughter, Lydia Patricia. Lydia is 19 years old and has spina bifida that has left her paralyzed from the waist down. After noticing how beautiful this young lady was, I also noticed that she had no rubber on her wheelchair’s wheels. The tires had completely worn away and fallen off and her mom was pushing her on metal rims. (If you have never pushed a person in such a chair you would likely be surprised at how hard this task is. I had three sets of extra tires in my storage room and I prayed that one set would fit. Praise God, one of them did and we put them on and performed some basic maintenance on the chair while they waited.

We then interviewed her mom and found out that their family is hurting financially and in need of assistance with diapers for Lydia. She is also underweight and could benefit from a formula drink to help her gain weight. The total cost for both of these would be Q.275 (about $35.00 US). If you would be interested in sponsoring her for these needs, please write me at

SAM_1225This past Friday we had a team from Pennsylvania join us to help with our food weighing and sorting and distribution. Our good friend, Heidi Anderson, led this group, and we were blessed to have them as a part of our day. Distribution day is always one of my favorite days of the month as we get to visit and catch-up with so many of the families with which we work.

On a down note I received word that one of our families in La Gomera has gotten themselves in a serious financial jam. As a result, they have moved to another village that is two-and-a-half hours further away from us. This family receives monthly sponsorship, so we are faced with a decision. Do we follow them to their new village with the monthly food and diapers they receive? That would mean a five hour drive each month. In addition, it would mean opening our ministry up to and entirely new area that will likely uncover an new group of children needing help at a time when I am already overworked. Or, do we wish them well and release them to God?

This leads us back to our regular struggle…we need more help. With the addition of two more 4-wheel drive teams (along with the financial support) our ministry could expand significantly, adding approximately another 100 families and 20 additional villages. The Beyer family is working hard to get here and have a tentative move date of early April, providing the funding has been committed. Rachel McCray is shooting for the Fall of 2013 as her moving date and will work alongside our teams to provide maternity care. But we need more help.

burning bushOn Sunday our pastor, Victor Barbella, spoke about Moses at the burning bush and how he argued with God about his call. “But God, I don’t speak very well!” Moses spoke those words as if God needed to be reminded of who he was. He thought God had forgotten that he wasn’t a gifted speaker. And we do the same thing…

  • God, did you forget that I never went to college (or graduate from high school)?
  • God, did you forget that I have a career?
  • God, did you forget that I have a wife and children?
  • God, did you forget that my bank account is empty and I have no retirement plan?
  • God, did you forget that Guatemala (or Uganda, or Kenya, or Russia, or China, etc.) has lousy health care?
  • God, did you forget that I seem to fail at everything I try to do?

It seems absurd when you say it out loud, doesn’t it? Did the God who envisioned us and knit us together in our mother’s womb forget anything about us? Of course not. He knows the number of hairs on our heads and the greatest fears of our hearts. And yet He calls and invites us to join Him in what He is doing! So why do we (I) argue with Him?

Moses almost missed the adventure he was created to live, but God sent along a babysitter named Aaron to get him moving and he eventually embraced God’s call on his life. I refuse to miss a moment of the adventure God has for me because I foolishly think God has forgotten anything. And please…don’t allow yourself to miss a moment of His adventure either. Say yes to His call, whatever it may be.

Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thanksgiving After a Funeral

Wanda and I are back in Guatemala after a week in NC for my mother’s death and funeral. Life is trying to return to normal, although I am not sure what normal is anymore.

SCAN0025We landed in Greensboro late last Sunday evening where we were met by my sister, Kathy, and her husband, Bob. We made it to their place just in time to have a very short and troubled night of sleep. At several points throughout the night I awoke and cried out to God for the strength I needed to face the next day. As a pastor I have stood with other families and supported them as they removed the life support of a loved one, this was the first time that I had done so. Nothing can prepare you for that experience.

We arrived at the hospital to spend some time with mom before meeting with Hospice and arranging the removal of the ventilator. At shortly after 10:00 am, Bob and I stood by mom’s bedside while it was removed, and as soon as she was cleaned-up the rest of the family joined us in her room. The following hours were filled with prayer, tears and even laughter as my brother, Rusty, and my sister and I and all our spouses shared old stories. At points we laughed until tears flowed. At other points, we simply wept.

Around mid-afternoon mom’s vital signs declined rapidly and we all gathered around her bed to say goodbye. But, typical of my mom, she rallied again and stabilized. At around 7:30 pm it was decided that I would stay with mom and call if anything changed. So, the rest of the family left and I slept on-and-off at her bedside. Finally, at around 5:00 am, my brother came to relieve me while I went home to get a few hours sleep. My sister joined him there shortly afterward.

At 10:00 am we received a call that her vital signs were declining, so Wanda and I rushed back to the hospital only to find her stable again. Then, at around 1:00 pm they decided to move her out of ICU to a Hospice room, so they sent our family ahead to the new room while they transported her. But, as they were preparing to move her to the new bed for transport she stopped breathing. By the time we made it back down, she was with Jesus. This was not how I had hoped her passing would go, but I rest in the knowledge that God’s plan and timing is perfect.

SCAN0015My mom died on what would have been her 49th anniversary with my dad, had he lived. That seemed appropriate as they had always told one another that they would meet at heavens gate. I have no doubt that dad greeted her with one of his great bear-hugs…after Jesus was done.

When we returned back to the house, my sister found three boxes that mom had placed in the file cabinet with her will and funeral wishes. The boxes were labeled with all the sibling’s names and contained a Christmas ornament with the following words:

I love you all dearly, now don’t shed a tear,

I’m spending my Christmas with Jesus this year.

I confess, that took my breath away and I completely broke down for the first time.

Fam4 2The next few days were a blur to me. For the first time my siblings and I found ourselves planning a funeral without an older generation to help.There is something sobering about the realization that you are now at the top of a family line. And through this experience I have determined that the American way of dealing with death is quite foolish because it allows no time to grieve. Meetings with the funeral home, service arrangements and planning, flowers, estate business and more come at you like a flood. During the time that you most need to grieve and turn to one another you have no time to do so.

But we made it through and actually had a beautiful service on Friday in which my mom was remembered and Christ was glorified. I am so thankful for the many people who gathered around us during that time to help and comfort.

Wanda and I flew home to Guatemala on Saturday morning and were met by our children at the airport. I took Saturday afternoon and Sunday to rest and decompress and then went back to my office on Monday, where a mountain of work was waiting for me.

At the end of this experience I find myself filled with gratitude for so many things. Yes, even after the death of my mother, I have so much for which I can be thankful. Here are a few of them:

  1. Pauline FulpI am thankful for over 45 years with my mother. I lost my dad when I was 29 and many of the children with which I work never knew their parents. Thank you, God, for the time I had with my mom.
  2. I am thankful for the manner of her death. No, I did not want or anticipate my mom dying in an ICU ward after a horrible car crash, but it could have been much worse. We lost my dad after a prolonged battle with Alzheimer’s that stole his memory and his mind. He spent the last two years of his life bedridden. Thank you, Jesus, that mom’s passing was much quicker and easier.
  3. I am thankful for renewed relationships within my family that resulted from mom’s passing. My brother, sister and I have grown much closer through this experience, and we were able to renew relationships with extended family.
  4. I am thankful for the hundreds of people who rallied around me and my family (if we count everyone who prayed for us the number would be in the thousands). Over the last three-and-a-half weeks my inbox and Facebook has been filled with over 600 messages of love and support. At the viewing and funeral I had old classmates show up that I haven’t seen since sixth grade. I have never felt the love and support of the body of Christ like I have through this time. I hope to, in some small way, return the blessing to each of you that you have been to me.
  5. I am thankful for everyone who sent money to assist with my travel expenses. While the entire cost of my two trips has not been covered the generosity of others has made a huge dent in it.
  6. I am thankful for a mom that loved me and made great sacrifices to be there for my brother, sister and me. When money was tight for our family it was tempting for her to go back to work, but she decided over and over that some things are more important than money. As a result, I never remember a time growing up that I needed my mom and she was not there.
  7. Finally, I am thankful for a God that is good all the time. He is good and faithful when you stand next to a newborn’s cradle, and He is good and faithful when you stand next to your mom’s casket. I am unworthy of Him, but oh, so grateful for Him!

Thank you for all your prayers over the last four weeks. I ask that they continue in the days ahead. Please pray especially for my sister, Kathy, and her husband, Bob, and their son, Jason. Mom has lived with them for the last five years and their home seems especially empty these days.

And now…back to work. I continue to grieve, but there is a call and mission that awaits as the world still needs Jesus. I will see mom soon and want to take a lot of people with me.

Because of Him!


Pauline Fulp - 10x13