Thursday, February 20, 2014

Worth It

1654425_10203415953785520_512088816_nIf you follow this blog, you know that the last six months or so have been difficult ones. Without becoming too specific, I have sought to be transparent about the challenges we have faced while running this ministry, and the personal struggles that has caused within me. I won’t revisit those struggles for a couple of reasons. First, I have already shared them, and second, I don’t want to live in the past. We are coming through the other side feeling refined and with a tighter grasp on Jesus, so that is enough.

What I will say is that when I was in some of the darker times, it was hard to remember that what we do was worth the struggles. During those times, the problems loomed large and the returns seemed small. To be honest, I spent too much time wallowing in self-pity and martyrdom and was, therefore, unable to take my eyes off myself to see Jesus as I should. Neither could I focus on the big picture of His plan.

I find that I have moved beyond that stage, due to God’s grace and mercy, and have found my joy and strength in Him again. And, now that I have, it is so much easier to see that the payoff of this life and ministry far outweighs any challenges or struggles we have faced. At times God gives me moments that are frozen in time as evidence of that truth.

1654425_10203415953785520_512088816_nToday was one of those instances. One of the children in our home (for confidentiality purposes, I am withholding her name) met with our psychologist today. The children are required to meet weekly with a psychologist, so this is a normal part of her life, but today was special. This girl was abandoned by her mother when it was discovered she had special needs. So, she was left with a father who beat her until he was arrested for stealing. That is when she came to us. Then we found out yesterday that her father has gotten out of jail and is requesting visitation rights.

For him to receive those rights, two things have to occur. First, the judge needs to give his permission in writing. Second, the child has to agree to the visits. So we asked the psychologist to talk with her to avoid any perception of influence on our part and to have it officially documented. Here is the conversation as related to me through the psychologist (the child cannot speak, but communicates through gestures and head nods and shakes):

Psychologist: Do you remember your dad?

Child: (Nods with a big smile)

Psychologist: Do you know where you dad is now?

Child: (Another smile and nod)

Psychologist: Where is he?

(At that moment, I passed through the area where they were talking, totally unaware of what was happening.)

Child: (A very huge smile and points to me)

Needless to say, I wept when I heard this. In that moment, I knew everything we have been through was worth this moment.

The conversation continued from there:

Psychologist: Do you remember the dad you had before?

Child: (Suddenly solemn with wide eyes she nods)

Psychologist: Did he hit you?

Child: (With eyes tearing, she nods her head)

Psychologist: Would you like to see him again?

Child: (A firm shake of the head with a very fearful look in her eyes)

1655593_10203378016477111_1583136114_oAs I learned of this conversation, all of the struggles of the past slipped away and became very insignificant. In that moment I knew, once again, that everything was worth it. We had prayed that we would become a home and a family to these children, and we have. They are safe, loved and happy, so I would do it all over again if I had to.

Different times we are told by others that they respect us because they could never do what we do. I understand that. In many cases, it is just a matter of calling. If you haven’t been called to this life, then you would not be able to do this, just as I could not do what many of you do. We need many believers doing very different things in this world, so God calls and we follow our own specific calling.

But there are other times that I believe that they have been called. Their hearts are broken and they are passionate to make a difference, but fear of the challenges keeps them from responding. So, they don’t. Fear of the struggles keeps them from seeing the benefits. And it breaks my heart.

I wish for just one day they could see the difference that could be made. A changed life…a secure and happy child…a family where there was once loneliness. If they could see the possibility I think the fear and struggles would fade. And, boy, do we ever need it to fade.

SAM_0089Soon, we will have children number eight and nine joining our home as we welcome twins. Now we really need to open a second home, but we cannot due to a lack of workers. We need a family who loves children with special needs to come and join us. Actually, we are praying for nine more such families so that we can open a total of 10 homes, caring for 100 children. But for that to happen, believers have to look past the challenges to see the benefits.

My favorite quote is by Francis Chan. He says this:

“Our greatest fear should not be fear of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

Many of us, myself included, spend too much time succeeding at things that are easy, but don’t matter. Christ calls us to the difficult (actually, the impossible) that really matters, for both this life and eternity. But for us to discover that reality, we have to realize that it is worth it. And once we do, our world changes, along with the world around us.

That’s all for now. Blessings!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Friday, February 7, 2014

Travels, Hospitals and Additions

20140128_180136After a couple of months away from our rural village ministry I was finally able to head back out for a trip. These times are such a help to me, as they breathe new life into me. This trip was to San Pablo La Laguna, so I was able to enjoy some great scenery and wonderful families. In addition, I was able to take along our niece, Chelsea Musser, who was visiting from Ohio and my daughter, Krishauna. We had a great time together.

20140128_145653When we first started working in San Pablo 14 months ago, we were met with much skepticism. Many outside groups had visited with families there and made promises of help, but never delivered. As a result, everywhere we went it was assumed that we were offering empty promises. We realized quickly that it would take time to earn these families’ trust.

20140129_100902On this visit our T´zutujil translator, Michel, told us that people are noticing the changes in the families with which we work. Mariano, who was barely verbal and suffering from seizures, is now seizure free and carrying on complete conversations with excellent articulation. Oscar, who was lying in his bed and dying from infected bed sores is gaining weight and getting out of his home regularly. Marta Delores, who was seizuring almost all night long every night, is now almost completely seizure free and sleeping well. And the list goes on.

IMG_2900Michel told us that people are talking about our ministry in a very positive way now. One church in the town had a time of prayer and fasting for our ministry last month. And each month there are more people waiting to see us when we arrive. As a result, we are getting more and more opportunities to talk with families about Jesus. We have always told everyone that the help comes from Him and that all credit and glory goes to him. But now we are having more in-depth conversations.

IMG_2414For example, during my visit with Oscar he mentioned that he had been praying that God would help him, but He had not answered. As a result, he wondered if God was real. So I sat on the ground next to his wheelchair and asked him, “What do you mean God hasn’t helped you? What about us? He sent us to help you!” And from there we talked about the difference between believing in God and surrendering to God. We also talked about the great plan God has for his life, and the only thing he needs to do to realize it is to surrender to Jesus. As we spoke, he began to cry and nodded his head. We then prayed with him and he assured us that he would be thinking about what we said.

envoy_bgdOne of the things we are excited about is some new technology that is coming our way. My brother and sister-in-law, Rusty and Vanessa, will be visiting later this month, and through the generosity of their church they will bring with them special solar powered devices onto which we can save the Bible, Bible studies, children's’ Bible stories, or whatever we believe beneficial in their own language, including T’zutujil. This is a huge blessing as many of the families with which we work cannot read or write. So early in March we will be taking along several devices for delivery to families in San Pablo La Laguna. This is simply another way that God is opening the doors for us to share Jesus and His Word with the people of that area.

My sister and brother-in-law (Kathy and Bob) will also be visiting at the same time, so I am really excited. This will be the first time we three siblings have been together since my mother’s funeral in October 2012 and only the second time I have seen them since we moved to Guatemala, so I am really anticipating a great reunion and time together.

SAM_0101Back at home we have been facing our share of challenges. Little Angelita had to be hospitalized with a respiratory infection while we were in San Pablo. She spent three days in the hospital and continued to struggle when she returned home. It was finally decided that we needed to remove her feeding tube because it was impeding her ability to clear her lungs and swallow. Since its removal we have seen slow but steady improvement in her breathing. We are currently back to feeding her by bottle, and it is a battle. We will likely need to have a feeding tube surgically installed directly to her stomach once she is healthy again.

IMG_2651On the bright side, Thania is finally gaining weight and growing somewhat stronger. The feeding tube has been a blessing for her as it is much easier to get her required daily nutrition into her system. However, she does not like it. She frequently tries to pull it out, so each night we have to put her arms in straight braces so she does not yank on it while in bed. She still needs a lot of prayer as she has a long way to go.

SAM_0029Another piece of good news is that four of the children in our home have started attending school each afternoon. In mid-January Yenifer, Brayan, Alejandra and Rafael started attending a school for children with special needs in Antigua, and they love it! Each day they are excited as we put on their school uniforms and get them ready to leave. And each day they return excited to show us the work and projects they have done that day. This also gives our family, staff and volunteers a much needed break and time to spend with the kids with more severe needs.

And in the next week or two we are anticipating our lives will get even more interesting as we are expecting twin two year old girls who have microcephalus. Please pray for them through this time of adjustment.

Thanks for all your prayers that support us, strengthen us and encourage us through all the good and challenging time! Each intercession is appreciated!

Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew