Thursday, November 29, 2012

A God Schedule (aka. A Crucial Need)

SAM_1636This week I had one of those times in which God interrupted my schedule in order to accomplish His plans. I have come to love these moments and see them not as intrusions, but welcomed course corrections to my day and life. That was the case yesterday when God led us to a little guy named, Jan. But before I share the story with you I should take a few moment to set the stage so you understand the significance.

It was Wednesday morning and the week had already wiped me out. Due to a series of events last week, I had been forced to delay our monthly food distribution until Tuesday. So, Monday was filled with preparations as food was weighed, bagged and sorted to prepare. At the same time I have been dealing with an ongoing war with our bank where our new ministry account has been established. Long story short…for the last three weeks we have been trying to gain on-line access to our account so that we could transact some much needed business, but we were unable to do so because someone at the bank had entered my e-mail address incorrectly. We kept explaining this to them via telephone, but they could not seem to grasp the concept. Finally, on Monday in the midst of food sorting and medicine prep, I found myself having to drive to Chimaltenango and explain the problem in person and watch them correct the issue. Finally, the problem was solved after taking a total of about six hours over a three week period because someone entered my e-mail as

SAM_1562Between frustrating conversations with the bank, I decided to get a jump on the food distribution and make deliveries to some of the families in San Pedro las Huertas and San Juan del Obispo. We were able to deliver water filters to Vinancio and Katerin’s families as they have been carrying their water up from a water source 200-300 yards away from their shacks and dumping it into an old, metal 55-gallon barrel. We realized that both families were struggling with stomach issues, thus the delivery of the filters.

I returned home to find a family waiting for me who had a daughter with special needs. We agreed to come to their home the next day and meet her and do an assessment while we were doing the food distribution.

SAM_1595Tuesday morning came earlier than usual (or so it seemed to me) and we were off to do the distribution. I always love this day because it give me a great opportunity to visit with families. Late morning we stopped in at the family’s home and met Nirma, a 20-year old young lady. Her mother explained to us that she was perfectly normal until she was 13, but she then fell into depression and “lost her mind.” After further discussion we determined that she has good days when her mom says she acts almost normal. Then there are other days in which she is afraid to go outside and cannot concentrate. As we talked I realized that she was doing needlepoint and I asked her if I could see it. She held it up and you could see the truth of what her mom had been telling us. Parts of the needlepoint were beautiful and precise. Other parts were random scatterings of stitches.

I am not a psychiatrist, but I believed that we might be dealing with a chemical imbalance within her brain that could be helped with medication. We arranged for her to visit our doctor and asked her family to stop by and tell us what he said.

SAM_1615We finished the distribution and I returned home in time to eat quickly and then prepare for a meeting with a local group of citizens that works with children who have special needs. We helped to sponsor a Christmas party last year and they were meeting with us so that we could work together again this year. The meeting was productive and I was exhausted by the end.

It was 9:30 and I was heading to the shower when the bell at our front gate rang and I found myself face-to-face with Nirma and her mom and grandmother who were coming to report on their doctor’s visit. As I suspected, Dr. Augusto had referred them to a psychiatrist in Guatemala City, so I spent time with them explaining the next steps.

This brings us back to Wednesday morning as Gerardo, Brittney, Carissa, Jonathan and I were heading out to Guastatoya to make deliveries and visit with our sponsored families. As I stated earlier, I was tired. The thought of the three hour plus drive followed by a long day in a hot area and then another three hour trip back through Guatemala City traffic was not appealing…especially the day after our distribution. But there were families waiting, so we headed out.

Our second stop was at the home of Marian and Jorge. While visiting with these wonderful families, Marian’s mom mentioned a single mom with a little boy with severe special needs. She wanted to know if we would go with her to visit and see if we could help. As soon as she mentioned it I sensed that this was from God and, even though we were running late because of traffic and road construction and I was feeling so tired, I should allow God to keep us on His schedule. So we loaded up and headed out.

SAM_1637What we found was a little boy named Jan who stole my heart from my first glance of him. He is seven years old, has severe cerebral palsy and is very malnourished, but he is beautiful. His mother, Claudia, handed him to me and I spoke to him as he smiled up at me. His mother explained that she was struggling as a single mother of four children and was unable to afford his seizure medication or formula. She makes just a few quetzales each week selling used clothing, but cannot pay her rent.


DSCF3284She then mentioned that Jan had suffered from a cough for the last month, but she could not afford a doctor for him. Then he developed a fever eight days before. I grabbed my medical bag and thought I heard pneumonia in his right lung, so we immediately provided money for them to take him to the doctor and buy medicine. We then asked them to call us after seeing the doctor to let us know what he said.

As we were preparing to pray before leaving his mother broke down sobbing. When we asked her what was wrong, she told us how grateful she was for our help and didn’t want to ask for more. After prodding, she explained that she was completely out of money and could not afford to buy the formula that Jan needed (he cannot eat solid foods). We then realized that she was completely out of food and could not wait for our return the week before Christmas. After kicking myself for being so blind, we immediately provided the money she needed to buy his formula until our next visit.

Last week God took me to the woodshed about the way I work with families like Jan’s. Until that time, when we found a family with a real need we would provide emergency help and then explain that we would try to find a sponsor to help with their ongoing needs. We always told them that we could not make promises, but would do our best to help. God showed me that if we find a real need that we need to commit to help and trust Him to provide for us as we do. So, I told his mother that we would provide the following for him:

Medicine – Q.150

Formula – Q. 130

Diapers – Q. 20

Food basket – Q. 190

In US dollars this breaks down to around $60 a month. We will be providing this assistance to him and his family, regardless of whether we find a sponsor. We will trust God to provide it in some manner. However, we would love to have one or more of you sponsor him. If you do, we will provide you with regular updates and photos of him and will share any photos or messages you wish to send with him and his family. If you are interested, please e-mail me at

Update: Last night we received a call from his mom telling us that Jan does have pneumonia.  This morning we sent more funds up to them to cover the cost of additional medications. Please pray for his recovery.

By the time we left his home it was 2:00 pm and we had only visited two of our scheduled families. But I didn’t mind at all. Somehow I left their home less tired than when I entered and we finished the day and the trip strong. My days always get better when I let God control the schedule.

That’s all for now. Blessing from San Antonio Aguas Calientes, Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving that Matters

Tomorrow is the US day of Thanksgiving. I have always loved that holiday, but it has taken on special significance over the last two years. Since I came to know Jesus Christ it has been a day that has caused me to focus on being thankful for the thousands of blessing which God has showered on me, but the work we are doing here has changed my perspective on what I should be thankful for.

I will come back to that thought in a minute as I want to share a story that has unfolded over the last few weeks…

About three weeks ago I was contacted by a friend for mine, Joe Bedford, a missionary serving in Ciudad Vieja. An elderly man at his church had a stroke about four months before and was bedridden and being cared for by his elderly wife. He wanted to know if there was anything we could do. So Gerardo and I met him the following Monday to visit with the family.

SAM_1400They live in San Pedro las Huertas in a settlement partially up the side of the Volcano Aguas. There is a large field there that is owned by the municipality and they have given small pieces of land to poor families on which they can build. The result is a large area about three football fields in size on which shacks have been built. Most of them have been erected using tree branches, cornstalks, plastic and cast off corrugated metal. Over 100 families live there without running water or electricity.

SAM_1397We found Vinancio lying on a single bed in their home, which was a single room about 10’x6’ in size. Since his stroke his left arm and leg had retracted severely and he was unable to straighten either of them. We did an assessment and decided to provide him with a wheelchair and two months of physical therapy. We arranged to come back the following week with the wheelchair.

As we were leaving I spotted a young girl next door that I suspected to have special needs. I spoke to her, but she did not talk at all. I decided to follow-up with the family when we returned the following week. Meanwhile, Gerardo got to work finding a therapist who would go to their home for therapy, as transporting him was simply not practical.IMG00085-20121116-1315

We returned the following Friday with a wheelchair for Vinancio and he and his wife were thrilled. For the first time since his stroke he was able to go outdoors and sit in the sun. By this time Gerardo had located an excellent therapist and we made arrangements to return the following Tuesday with him so he could do an assessment and begin therapy.

IMG00088-20121120-1625As we were leaving their home we went next door and found the little girl outdoors playing. As we started talking to her her mom came out and joined us. We found out that her name is Katerin, she is 10 years old and she is severely cognitively delayed. She does not speak, has no bowel or bladder control and no concept of fear. As a result, she often falls from high places because she simple walks off the edge. She will also hurt herself because she will crawl off her bed and land face-first on their dirt floor.

As we talked with her mom, Aura, we realized that they were in great need. So we told them we would be back with some diapers for Katerin on Tuesday and we would do an assessment then.

On Tuesday we met the therapist and took him to Vinancio’s home where he began the therapy. The therapist, Luis, told us that he felt that he could help him over time. (On a side note, Luis is considering becoming our physical therapist for our group home, Hogar de la Esperanza. Please pray for God’s guidance in this matter.)

IMG00089-20121120-1630While Luis was working with Vinancio, Gerardo and I went next door to do a complete assessment on Katerin. This was the first time we had entered their house, and what we found was heartbreaking. A family of nine was living in a one-room shack that was about 10’x12’. There were two double beds wedged in and the roof was composed of cast-off corrugated steel that was filled with holes. There was not enough metal to cover the entire room, so the last two feet of their home was uncovered. Their water is carried about 300 yards up the hill from a community supply and there is no electricity. In this small place a father, mother and seven daughters live. (The ages of the children seemed to be from about 14 down to about 6.) The father works as a construction assistant, and his income is dismal.

We didn’t get far into out time with them until we knew that they needed help desperately. We are arranging to provide them with diapers for Katerin and monthly food deliveries. We are also going to provide them with a couple of sheets of corrugated steel so their dad can properly cover their house. All of this means we need a sponsor for Katerin for $30 a month. If you would be willing to be that sponsor, please write to me at

SAM_1400As we drove away from their home yesterday and went past row after row of similar shacks, my heart broke. An entire ministry could be dedicated to just those three football fields of houses. A feeding program could be established along with children and adult ministries. A church could be planted. A job training and skills program could be started. These are people hungry for hope, and that field is ripe for the harvest. And I see it all so clearly as I sit here overworked, overwhelmed and understaffed.

So, all this brings me back to Thanksgiving. Why has this experience, and countless others like it, changed my view of this holiday? To put it simply, it has changed both what I am thankful for and how I express that thanks.

SAM_1432You see, these experiences have sharpened my senses to the little things. The running water that comes from my faucet is huge, even though it is not safe to drink. Opening a drawer and finding freshly washed clothes are a gift that is no longer taken for granted. A bathroom with a flushing toilet is an honor that I seldom noticed in the past. My education that enables me to read and write are now truly appreciated. Real, sweep-able floors instead of just dirt are a Godsend. These and a thousand more little gifts are now big gifts to me. I am overwhelmed by these floods of blessing that I never noticed in the past.

100_0533It has also changed how I express my thanks. In the past, my gratitude to God was expressed through quiet times with Him where I poured out my prayers of thanksgiving. While I still do that, my gratitude has become so much more. I have come to understand that thanks is expressed much better through actions than through words. I, one of the most blessed men on planet earth, have the opportunity and privilege to allow that gratefulness to flow out of me and into the lives of others in such a way as to help them find gratitude to God as well. I am still learning how to do this, and will likely be learning it for the rest of my life. But, as I do it more and more and better and better, I am convinced that my Jesus receives what I have wanted to give Him all along…true thanks.

I trust and pray that you and your family will have a wonderful and meaningful Thanksgiving as you focus on the One who is the source of every true blessing. He is so good and so worthy of our thanks and praise!

Because of Him!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Friday, November 9, 2012

Water Filters and Living Water

Disclaimer: Knowing that the world famous blog thief, Dick Rutgers, will likely copy and paste this entry into his own and add his own distortions of the truth, the author of this blog wishes you to know that he is not responsible for Dick’s added fictional addendums and fantasies.

I just returned last night from an overnight road trip with Dick Rutgers to Rabinal, Guatemala. My daughters, Brittney and Krishauna, and two of Dicks boys, Alex and Brayan, came along as we headed up Tuesday morning to do a water filter distribution to about 25 families. When I travel with Dick it is always an adventure, and this time was no exception.

DSCF9817You see, most people think Dick is a level-headed missionary with maturity and restraint. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is especially bad when he is off his meds, as was apparently the case and demonstrated quite clearly by the accompanying picture. Imagine an 11 hour round trip with him as both navigator and driver and you can picture the terror.

DSCF9967I have come to realize that Dick is an evangelistic driver. If someone doesn’t know Jesus before they leave on a trip with him driving, they will by the time they return.  (Assuming they don’t see Him face-to-face.) Nothing will bring you closer to God than riding in a car on a single lane dirt road around blind curves doing 40 miles an hour. My prayer life bumped into high gear.

IMG00065-20121106-1658We arrived in Rabinal and checked into our motel. Motel is a kind description unless you put the word “roach” in front of it. Our first priority upon entering our rooms was to clean the mouse turds and cockroaches off our beds. Some of the rooms had water and one even had hot water. Mine had neither, but it was just as well since the shower was dirtier than I was. Motels in Guatemala have become a source for much laughter and amusement in our home and ministry as you never know just what you are going to get. On the bright side, we only had to pay Q. 60 a person (about $7.70), so it is worth the occasional bug and mouse dropping.

We were told upon check-in that we could not have keys to our room. Apparently they only had one key to each room and did not want to risk losing them. But they assured us that an elderly caretaker would be available to open our doors when we returned from supper.  He also assured us that he would sit in a chair outside our rooms and make sure our rooms were well protected. So, we packed up our computers and took them with us as we headed for supper.

stupid-criminals1We actually found a decent place to eat supper and had a good meal. Then we returned to our motel to discover that the caretaker was nowhere to be found and neither was the wireless modem that Dick had left sitting on his window ledge. We knew it was an inside job as his window that had been open (with a wire leading through it from the room to the modem) was now closed and latched from the inside. (We found all this after another lady from the hotel opened our doors for us.) After some frustrating moments Dick was struck by an idea. The modem has a battery back-up and we could trace it by its signal if they had just unplugged it without turning it off. Sure enough, he still had a signal that got very strong right outside the caretaker’s door. So, we called Julia, a wonderful lady in the area who had helped us arrange the distribution, and she and her husband, Luis, came over.

We all gathered around the caretakers room while they pounded on his door until he got out of bed and opened it. She explained that there was a chip inside the modem that allowed us (and the police) to track the modem and it showed that it was in his room. He mumbled that he didn’t take it but that his kids had brought something into his room earlier. He brought it to us wrapped in a plastic bag with the modem lights still shining through the plastic.

We saw him again the next morning as we headed out, but he would not speak to us or make eye contact. Interestingly, he was outside sweeping the dirt parking lot as we left. I considered telling him that he might want to think about doing some cleaning INSIDE the rooms, but decided to leave well enough alone.

DSCF9859We had a decent breakfast and met with Julia to head out for the first of two stops where distributions were planned. Most of the filters we gave out were provided by Living Waters Church in Hastings, MI. They provided 50 of these wonderful filters to Hope for Home almost a year and a half ago, and I have been giving them out sparingly, knowing that this area needed them so badly. Finally, after working for months to coordinate Dick’s, Julia’s and my schedule we were able to make it work. Dick also brought along five or six filters that were donated by a Rotary Club from Washington.

DSCF9882We did two distributions in the area and gave out 28 filters. At each location Dick demonstrated how to use and clean the filters and then set me up to share the Gospel. I then proceeded to explain that we were happy to give them the gift of clean water, but after drinking it they would become thirsty again. Then I shared the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well and invited them to receive the gift of Living Water that He offers after which they would never know spiritual thirst again. We then passed out Spanish Bibles along with the water filters.

I was truly blessed by the way we worked together as a team. Dick demonstrating the filters, me sharing the gospel, Alex, Brittney and Krishauna assembling filters and passing them out with the Bibles, and Brayan translating made everything flow smoothly. It was an incredible day of ministry.


I don’t know if anyone made a decision to follow Jesus that day. We do not do an invitation because we don’t want anyone to feel obligated to respond in return for the water filters. We did give them an opportunity to pray, but did not ask for them to indicate to us if they did so. However, there were three moments that touched my heart:

1) At one site, after distributing the filters and Bibles, I spotted a group of three ladies standing together reading and pointing out different things to one another in the Scriptures. I could not hear everything they were saying, but distinctly heard one woman excitedly say, “I’ve heard this story before!”

2) An elderly lady approached us and told us that she could not read but wanted to know if she could have a Bible anyway. She told us that her children could read it to her. Of course, we were more than thrilled to give it to her knowing that both she and her children would be exposed to God’s Word.

3) In another instance, we were driving out after the last distribution and passed a lady walking back to her home. She had her baby strapped on her back and her filter under one of her arms, and as she was walking she was reading her new Bible. That hunger for scripture stirred and humbled me.

I joke a lot and tease about Dick’s driving and bad motels, but I just want to get serious for a moment. I love what we do. I would gladly and joyfully stay in a thousand dumpy hotels and bounce a million miles of rutted roads to do this ministry. I am humbled and honored to work alongside people such as Dick, Brayan, Alex and two of my incredible daughters, Brittney and Krishauna. And I continue to be amazed that God gives me the privilege of sharing Him, as inadequately as I do. A flea ridden motel becomes a luxurious hotel when you are staying there for Him. Shoot, even Dick’s driving isn’t so bad as long as my Jesus rides with us!

Actually, even as I joke about Dicks driving, I should let you know how difficult it is to drive here. Lousy roads, narrow streets, buses, trucks, tuk tuks, and all kinds of traffic. And sometimes the traffic isn’t cars as demonstrated by this picture:


Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Updates and Assorted Details

I wanted to take a few minutes to update you regarding various areas of ministry. There has been a lot going on in recent weeks, but in the rush of life I haven’t had a chance to bring you up to speed.

SAM_1150First, three weeks ago we received our Association paperwork from SAT! This means that Ministerio de Esperanza (Ministry of Hope) is now officially recognized by the Guatemalan government and is tax exempt. Under the approval that we received we are able to open multiple children’s home, run our rural village ministry, open schools and medical clinics and do public education. This is a major praise as the bureaucracy of the government here can be a nightmare. I know several ministries and churches that have been seeking this status for years and are still awaiting approval.

With this new status as an association comes numerous responsibilities, including filing regular reports to the Guatemalan government. In order to make sure that we meet all the filing requirements we have hired an accountant who works with numerous other associations. This is important as we don’t want to do anything incorrectly that could jeopardize our ministry here. The cost of this service is about $195.00 a month, but it is well worth it.

paperworkYou would think that the addition of an accountant would take away some of my much hated office work but, alas, it is not to be. The record keeping and receipt organizing that we are required to do and submit to our accountant will actually take me more time than I have been spending until present. I am still waiting for someone to be called to join us here as our office manager! Open-mouthed smile

I have also been busy opening a checking account for the association. Until now, since I am not a resident, I was not allowed to have a checking account. I could only have a savings account and all transactions had to be in cash or bank card. But since I am the legal representative for an association, I can now get a checking account for the ministry. This will save me lots of work in the long run, but has been are real pain in the here and now. Imagine having to gather nine different documents and take two hours to open a new account and another half hour to have them set it up the way you want it. Then I will spend another two hours tomorrow picking up the checks and arranging for a credit card. Blah!

CNAIn addition, the licensing process for our group home continues to proceed. Two weeks ago I had the official interview with CNA (Consejo Nacional de Adopciones), the government organization that oversees adoptions and orphanages. It went smoothly as I got to know the woman, Victoria,  with whom we will be working from that office. The next day, however, we were told that there might be a four month delay in our licensing. I am not yet a resident of Guatemala because we were waiting for our association paperwork to come through so that we could apply as religious workers. We had been told that it would not be a problem, but CNA informed us that it was. We had a discouraging few days until we found out that we could proceed if we just would appoint Gerardo as the temporary Director of Hogar de la Esperanza while my residency is completed. He agree, so we are off and running again. (I continue to serve as the legal representative for the home.) We are now awaiting our big inspection which could come any day now, so we are making last minute preparations to assure we pass with flying colors. We are hopeful that we will be licensed and ready to accept children by the end of January.

SAM_1319Meanwhile, our work with families of children with special needs continues. Last week we were approached by a family across the street wanting to know if we could help a single mother and her daughter who go to their church. We went to meet them and found Soledad (age 33) and her mom in desperate need. Soledad has Down Syndrome and is deaf. We also found her with a nasty skin rash that she had scratched until she bled. It covered her body, limbs and face and she was miserable. We quickly made arrangements for her to go immediately to see Dr. Augusto and get the treatment she needed. We also gave her and her mom a basket of food as they had none. Her mom, Julia, only makes a few hundred quetzales a month (less than $40) doing laundry and cleaning for households around her, so their situation is quite desperate.

If you look back through my blogs you will see that I have written several times that we are restricting the families with which we work. You could wave those in my face and show me how I have said that we will only work with families who have children with special needs who are under 21 years of age, and I would have no defense. I wrote that with the best of intentions, realizing that we would run out of resources quickly if we did not limit our scope. However, I do not know how to turn away people like Soledad and her mom and still sleep at night. I cannot say no to a situation like this and not feel like I have turned Jesus away. So, if you would like to sponsor Soledad for a basket of food each month (cost $25/month) please write me at

kiteToday is Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in many of the Hispanic cultures. In Guatemala it is a national holiday in which families eat picnic lunches in cemeteries and fly kites as a means of connecting with their dead loved ones. The kites, made of bamboo and colorful tissue paper and reaching up to 16 foot in diameter, are beautiful to see, but the pagan Aztec roots and fears that led to this tradition are sad. Please pray for the people of Guatemala.

229550_3870532414260_123215031_nFinally, the real celebration of the day is that my daughters, Teisha and Carissa, are arriving back home from Uganda! (Teisha and Carissa are the two very white girls to the right of the photo.) After six weeks away, we will be very glad to pick them up from the airport late this afternoon. We will have the holidays together before Carissa heads back to Uganda for a six month stay beginning mid-January. God faithfully provided for this ministry trip and we are trusting Him to provide for Carissa again. I ask you to also pray for both Teisha and Carissa as they take their next steps to full-time ministry in Uganda.

That is all for now. Thanks for all your prayers, encouragement and support!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew