Thursday, May 29, 2014

Angels and Desperation

20140528_111045This week we received a little angel into our home. Her name is Olimpia and she is already woven into our home and hearts. This little 5 1/2 month old has Down Syndrome and weighs only 5 lbs. 8 oz. She was removed from her family due to health concerns and her severe malnutrition.

In spite of this rough beginning, she has bright eyes and is a content child. She stole all of our hearts from the beginning and we love having her in our home.

She has a long road ahead as we try to nurse her back to health and help her gain weight. She is on a diet that requires a special formula every three hours and several vitamins and supplements. Please pray for her in the days ahead.

Yesterday as I was completing the stack of paperwork that comes with receiving a new child, I looked back through my records and came to a sober realization. Since our home has opened we have said “Yes” to 11 children (the 10 who are in our home and Esperanza who passed away in January). During that same time, we received 96 calls for placements. So, for every child to whom we have said “Yes” there have been about 8 children to whom we said “No”. That hard number shook me…badly.

Each of these children is not a statistic, but a real life that we have turned away from our home. There were reasons why we said “No”, and I am not saying we made the wrong decision. I honestly believe we have done the best we could at hearing God’s voice when deciding. But that doesn’t take away the sting of wondering where each of those 85 children are now.

We are surrounded by needs, and as the word of our ministry continues to spread, the number of people seeking help increases. There are very few days in which we do not receive a new request for help or to accept another child.

20140528_112256When we picked-up Olimpia we received her from a malnutrition center in San Felipe de Jesus. She had been placed their six days prior, but when they realized that she had Down Syndrome they said they could not keep her long-term. So, we were called. While we were there, we were introduced to another little guy named Humberto. He is two years old and suffers from Cerebral Palsy and severe cognitive delays. It is hard to determine the cause of the brain damage. It could have occurred at birth or could have been caused by malnutrition. Regardless, he needs to be in a place where he will receive individual care, therapy and lots of stimulation. So they asked us if we would take him as well.

These types of situations are the hardest things I have ever faced. To be confronted with a child in need of a home, knowing that we have the skills, experience and care he needs, but knowing that our staff and finances are stretched to the max. Do we open our home to one more? And one more? And one more? At what point to we overstretch ourselves and cease to provide the quality care and individual affection that each child needs? If we grow too large, won’t we become like the places to which we hoped to offer an alternative?

Still, it is hard to say that little two letter word… “No.”

20140529_102001Today I was in Hermano Pedro Obras Sociales and met a little guy named Brayan. He has Spina Bifida which has left him paralyzed from mid-tibia down. He needs AFO’s (ankle and foot orthotics) at a cost of $195.00, which we do not have. Our rural village ministry fund is running very low, and I don’t know if we will be able to find a sponsor for him or not. But I could not walk away and leave this very poor family without help. So, we will be working with them to purchase the braces and praying for a sponsor.

As I walked back out of Hermano Pedro, I passed lots of people waiting to see doctors. Many of them had special needs. I want to confess something, to my shame. I walked out with my head down, not looking to the left or the right. I didn’t want to see the need. I didn’t want to see the parents carrying older children because they could not afford a wheelchair. I didn’t want to see the broken wheelchairs or makeshift crutches. I didn’t want to see the twisted limbs or the seizuring children. If I did, I knew I would need to do something, and I just felt overwhelmed.

Then, this afternoon, I ran into a man that I met two weeks ago. I first met him as he was going door to door looking for work. He was carrying with him his paperwork, including references from past employers and his background checks which showed no criminal activity. He asked me if we had work available, and when I told him that we did not, he began to cry (something you rarely see from men in this culture). He told me that he had a six year old son with special needs and he had been laid off two months prior. I told him we would arrange to come out and visit to see what we could do to help, but in the business of the last two weeks it had been pushed aside until a later date.

Then today I went up to out town’s health clinic to receive my final rabies shot following my run-in with the stray dog last month. As I was leaving the clinic I heard someone yell my name. I turned and found this father, Manuel, running toward me. He asked me if I had any work available now, and I told him I did not. He explained that he was out again and looking for any small jobs he could do to earn enough money to feed his family for the day. He once again started to cry and it suddenly hit me how desperate this man was. (I know. I’m an idiot for not being aware much sooner.)

I brought him back to our house and we fed him lunch. While he ate, he explained that he did not know what to do. He had been able to find a few small jobs that paid a dollar or two, but nothing significant. He also explained that he and his family would be evicted tomorrow unless they could come up with Q.500.00 (about $65 rent). He told us, through tears, that they had no food or money and that he felt like a failure as a husband and father. His wife had just told him this morning that she didn’t want to live any longer.

20140529_132547So, we loaded up a basket of food and went to visit. When we arrived at their home we found a small one room house with a thin foam pad about the size of a single mattress. The four of them sleep on that every night. We also found that he was telling the truth about having no food.

His son, Manuel, is indeed deaf and is unable to speak. Both he and his sister were well behaved and the parents were loving. But their situation was desperate.

20140529_132532As I told them that we were going to help, the hugged each other and wept openly. Our first order of business was to give them one month’s rent and an additional Q100.00 to help with incidental expenses such as charcoal for their tiny grill so they could cook the food we had just brought. They brought out a pair of hearing aids that had been provided to them through Ronald McDonald charities when he was only three. But he has now outgrown the molds and they cannot afford the Q.250.00 (about $35) to have new earpieces molded. But even if they could pay for that, they cannot afford the Q.100.00 per month for the special batteries that the aids require.

So, we have committed to help long-term and are trusting God for His provision. If you would like to help by sponsoring the following, please let me know at

New hearing aid molds – $35.00 one time

Food and hearing aid batteries – $42.00 each month

Rent – $65.00 a month until we can help Manuel Sr. find work

You can visit Manuel’s sponsorship page at: 

Or, you can see all the children awaiting sponsorship by visiting:

Would you please pray for me? I truly need God’s help so that I don’t look away from the need. I also need His help so that I don’t look at finances when deciding whether or not to accept a child into our home or when deciding to help a family. I am weak and foolish and need to look to my Jesus who is both strong and wise. Sometimes I forget that.

On a brighter note, in about 3 hours our family will be heading to the airport to pick up Brittney, who has been in the States for the last five months! She has now completed her student teaching requirements and all the required work to receive her double degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. We are so proud of her, and even more excited to see her again!

That is all for now! Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Friday, May 23, 2014

No Heroes

On a regular basis I encounter people who ask me how I ended up in Guatemala doing this kind of ministry. It is a good question, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about the answer. It is easy to throw out a quick response of “God called us.” But the actual answer goes even deeper than that.

How did I end up here? The real answer is that I discovered a secret that completely rocked my world. It was a revolutionary truth that had remained hidden for most of my life, but when I discovered it, it forever changed me and my family.

If you are interested, I will share it with you. Lean close into your screen and I will digitally whisper it to you. Ready? Here you go…

There are no heroes.

Did you catch that? It is an amazing truth!

hero1For most of my life I assume there were heroes. Through the first half of my Christian walk I would encounter people that just seemed better, brighter and more filled with faith than me, and I would put them on a pedestal. They were the missionaries. They were those who would begin ministries that would thrive and touch the world. They were the ones that I saw making a real difference for the kingdom. And I labeled them heroes.

They had it all figured out. They didn’t wrestle with doubts and fears. They knew just what to do. They never fell into discouragement. They never screwed up. They never wondered if they were doing the right thing. They heard God’s voice clearly and followed Him boldly.

And, of course, I did not place myself among them. I could never fit in with such a group. I could never be used in those ways. Sure, I could be faithful in a few little things, and God would probably bless some of them. But I could never be a hero. (And I was right.)

In my mind there were the heroes of the faith…and then there was the rest of us. Those who do great things for God and those of us who somehow survive intact. I knew, in my heart, that I would always be a part of the latter.

When I was about 10 years old my father, in a moment of anger and frustration, pointed his finger at me and spoke words that I will never forget. They scarred me so deeply that I still feel them 37 years later. They have governed the way I see myself and the way I have approached the world for much of my life. What did he say?

“You will never amount to anything!”

I know some of you are wincing and thinking what a horrible dad I must have had. But he was not a bad father. He truly loved me, and I know it would have shattered him if he had understood the impact those words would have on my life and heart. I forgave him long ago, and understand that he was simply spreading the pain that had been heaped on him in the same way I have unintentionally splattered my own children with some of my residual pain. In fact, considering his background, I had a good dad who went a long way toward breaking the cycle of sin and ugliness that he could have continued.

FailureBut those words have deeply impacted my life. That comment sits in the back of my mind, waiting to rear its ugly head. In my heart I have always known that I would never amount to anything. So, as I watched this parade of heroes pass through my life, I knew that I could never be one of them. I could love my wife, love my children, do a decent job as a husband, father and minister, but I would never do great things for the God I love and serve. And every time things would go badly I would hear those words again... “See, you will never amount to anything.”

But then, like a bolt of lightning, it hit me one day. There are no heroes. The people that God uses to do great things wrestle with fear and doubt. They wonder, at times, are the doing the right thing. They stumble and fall and rely on God’s grace to be new every morning. They are not heroes.

These people are simply people who have decided to trust God, believe His Word and follow. They are broken and scarred, just like me. They face discouragement and failure, just like me. They have their own harsh words that play in their minds at times, just like me. They know the grip of fear, just like me. There are no heroes, just people who believe and follow, one step at a time.

And suddenly I realized that the world would not be saved by heroes, because there were none. If the world would ever be saved it would be saved by sinners who have been saved by grace, just like me. So I started believing more and following with greater boldness, knowing that I didn’t need to be a hero. I just needed to be His.

And since that day life has been an adventure. But I have never been, nor will I ever be, a hero. That is why it bothers me so much when I sense people are beginning to see me as I used to see those others, as somehow set apart or special. I am not special (except that I am God’s child), and I am not a hero. I am not some incredible man of God. I stumble and fall. I get discouraged and broken. I let others down and wound them with far too frequent regularity. And I still hear my father’s voice on the down days and, at times, I believe it.

Recently, one of my friends told me about his doubts he had about me when we first moved to Guatemala. He told me that when he met me I had just moved here, could not speak Spanish and did not know what I was doing. He heard me speak about our dream of a group home for children with special needs and seriously wondered if it would ever become reality. I laughed when he told me that, because I had the same doubts. Now, three-and-a-half years later, I still struggle with Spanish and still don’t know what I am doing. Yet, somehow, God is accomplishing His purposes. He does that, not because of who I am, but because of who He is. And that is true for every missionary I know that is building God’s kingdom.

20140522_114007So, that is my secret. There are no heroes. There is just you, me and the wonderful grace of God. If you are waiting for your doubts and fears to go away and for you to become a hero before you do your part to change the world, good luck with that. It is not going to happen. You and I are not heroes, but we don’t need to be. We just need to believe and follow one step at a time.

The dying world around us is waiting, not for heroes, but for real people like you and I who love and serve a very real Jesus Christ. And, by the way, we WILL amount to something when God is finished, because His math is perfect and we are multiplied by His goodness.

Because of Him,


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sponsors Needed

DSCF7820As this ministry has grown, I have had a difficult time keeping up. In the early months of our rural village ministry we were dealing with a handful of families, and it wasn’t a problem for me to keep track of it all. In fact, until we topped 30 families I could have listed from memory every child with whom we worked and what they received, including the names of their medicines.

I remember where I was when that all changed. I was standing outside a family’s home in our town and suddenly came up blank. For the life of me, I could not remember what medicine, diapers or food they were supposed to receive. My brain was officially full, and I could no longer store it all. Fortunately, even in those early days, I did keep written records, so I was able to recover. However, that day I knew we had to change the way we were working.

Thanks to the excellent work of our Ministry Coordinator, April Clark, we have come a long way. Now our calendar and important files are shared online with all our employees. When we add a new family we can add their details straight from our I-pads or phones and the same changes will be seen on all our devices. Our family database, village supplies list, inventory, and supplies order spreadsheet is available online to each of our volunteers and staff. And, even with all of that organization, we have still struggled to make sure families or children don’t slip between the cracks.


Just recently we began to implement a Work/Care Order system that assigns responsibilities to staff and assures completion and proper follow-up. The purpose of this is to make sure that we keep the promises we make to families and every child gets the care they need. We represent Jesus, so when we fail to keep our word, we tarnish His image in people’s hearts.

One area that has dragged behind has been our sponsorship program for children. Until now we have not had a single place where the children waiting for sponsorship can be viewed. However, April and I have done a lot of work to change that. Now you can see every child that needs a sponsor by clicking the following link:

Waiting Children

So, if you would take a few minutes to pray over that list and consider sponsoring one or more child, I would greatly appreciate it. I confess, as I look at the list I feel a little overwhelmed, but I know how faithful God is. He provides for His children, and I am confident that he will continue to do so.

Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Friday, May 9, 2014

Dog Bites and Miracles

dogLast week I experienced another first…I was attacked by a dog. On Thursday afternoon I stopped by my mechanic’s shop to check on the work he was doing on my truck. When I entered the gated yard where he was working a female dog saw me from 20 feet away and apparently decided that I looked like a tasty meal. Before I could respond she had ran across the yard and torn into my left leg. (Actually, she tried to rip into my crotch, but I dodged and my thigh took the blunt of her rage.) Two bites later I was able to connect with a sharp kick to her ribs that sent her running.

I cleaned and treated the wounds, and our doctor placed me on antibiotics. The dog was a stray that had been hanging around the shop, so we don’t believe that she has ever been vaccinated. That meant that the next morning I headed in to the local health center to get my first of a series of rabies shots. Fortunately this series is now only five shots in the arm as opposed to the old process of 15 shots in the stomach. The bad part is that the dog ruined my best pair of jeans. If you know me, you know how much I hate to shop, but now I am forced to go find a new pair of jeans. I don’t mind the wounds and the shots near as much as shopping.

In this ministry we often experience the miraculous leading and provision of God. One of the ways we see this is in the way he connects us with resources and people at just the right time. Allow me to share with you the last three days of my life to show you one such miraculous connection.

This week we have had our good friends, Josh and Denise Stewart, visiting with us from New York. In addition, their friend and fellow pastor in their church, Jay Lee, came with them and has now become a good friend as well. We have had a great time with them and they have been such a blessing to our family and ministry. During their time with us I was able to take them out to visit numerous families in the village setting, and that is how our story begins.

20140509_143344[1]On Wednesday morning I dropped the three of them off in Antigua to have breakfast with April Clark, our Ministry Coordinator. While they were there I headed over to Hope Haven to pick up a wheelchair for a young man named Saul who lives in Zone 18 in Guatemala City. While looking for his chair, the factory manager, Larry, was assisting me. As he was looking he pulled out a tiny little chair and made a comment regarding how small it was. When I saw it, I said, “Wow, that is small! It is hard to find a chair that small and really rare to find a child that small who needs one.” Most children that small are better served by strollers instead. We continued our search until we found the right chair for Saul and I went on my way.

20140507_121955[1]I picked up the team in Antigua and we headed down to the city of Esquintla to visit Walter. We have been working with Walter for three years now. He is nine years old and has spina bifida that has left him paralyzed from mid-tibia down. We were contacted by his family a month ago requesting help in getting him new braces for is legs. At the time we did not have the funds, but told them we would look for a sponsor. Last week we found a sponsor and made arrangements for him to come in and be casted for his new braces, but when he arrived we realized he had a pressure sore on his left foot that made it impossible to cast him. So, we sent them home with wound care instructions and I was anxious to follow-up with him.

When we arrived we made some alterations to his wheelchair, treated his wound and gave his mother further instructions. His sore is already healing quickly and we expect him to be ready for casting in three or four weeks.

Pressure sores are a constant battle here. Once one of these wounds develops it is very difficult for it to heal. Even many of the doctors here do not know how to treat them, and we have had to train local health centers in what to do. Many people with disabilities die of the sores in developing countries because they so easily become infected. In other cases, limbs are lost. So we were very pleased with Walter’s improvement.

20140507_145023[1]From there we headed down to Nueva Concepción to visit Jorge. It is a long drive to visit him as he and his family moved far outside our normal area of ministry. However, we had received a call from his mother telling us that the caster on his wheelchair was broken, so we headed down to make repairs. While visiting with him we gave them a gift basket of food and replaced his wheel. We also discovered that his mother was sick with stomach pains that we suspect are caused by parasites. They have been drinking water from the local well which is very unclean. So we made arrangements for her to go to the local health center. We will also be making another trip down soon to deliver a water filter.

Because of the long drive, we were all pretty well wiped by the time we returned home that evening. So I headed to bed early, knowing we had another long day ahead on Thursday.

20140508_113441[1]The next morning we headed out again with the Stewarts and Jay, but this time we added my friend Rolando Monterosso. In February we had delivered a wheelchair to one of Rolando’s friends, a young man named Brandon, who attends a school in Zone 18 in Guatemala City. He had introduced us and took us to deliver the chair. While there we found another teen, Saul, who badly needed a chair as well. So this trip was to make that delivery.

We were able to seat Saul quickly and easily and he had a great time wheeling around and showing the teachers and students his new ride. He was beaming with joy.

20140508_114042[1]At that point, the physical therapist brought a little girl to meet me. Her name is Divia, she is two years old and she suffers from low-tone cerebral palsy. The therapist wanted to know if I thought she needed a chair. He was pushing her in an old stroller and she was tied in place to prevent her from flopping forward. I pulled her from the stroller and felt her crooked spine and realized how weak she was. I knew immediately that she needed a chair with good back and lateral support, but it would have to be a very small chair. And suddenly I knew why God had placed that tiny chair at Hope Haven and had us discover it the day before. He had brought that chair to Guatemala for Divia.

So, this afternoon my daughter, Carissa, and I stopped by Hope Haven and purchased the perfect chair for that perfect little girl. (We already had a sponsor for her.) And, as I wrote that check, I praised God for His perfect provision.

20140508_120036[1]While we were still at the school we were also introduced to a 13 year old girl name Yasline. She had been a completely healthy young lady until she suffered a head injury two years ago. That blow to her head caused permanent brain damage which resulted in high-tone cerebral palsy. The therapist asked us if we could help her by getting her a wheelchair as well. The chair she is using is ripped up and a very poor fit for her. So, we are seeking a sponsor for a standard chair for her. The cost will be $150.00 US. If you would be willing to sponsor that need, please write to me at

As we were heading out of the city, we stopped to meet another family. Last week I received a call from a woman who told me that she had a son that she had adopted who was nine years old. She is now a single mother and is having trouble caring for him due to expenses. My Spanish is bad, and my Spanish over the phone is even worse, but when she began to cry I lost all ability to understand what she was saying. I was only able to discern that she loved her son, but was so tired.

I arranged for Gerardo to call her back and talk with her to get a better picture of her situation. We then made arrangements to meet her and her son while in the city yesterday.

20140508_133229[1]What we found was a wonderful lady who loves her son, Daniel, deeply. He was clean and well cared for, but she cannot afford the doctor visits he requires. He needs a good check-up, a dentist (most of his teeth are rotted), a wheelchair, and a monthly sponsor for food and diapers. His mother also needs people who will stand with her in prayer. She wept as she told us that she has been praying for help for the last nine years and that we were finally God’s answer.

So, would you be willing to sponsor him for one or more of the following needs:

  • Standard Wheelchair – $150.00
  • Dental work – $100.00
  • Monthly sponsorship for food and diapers – $40.00

Once again, if you are willing to help with any of these needs you can write me at

In closing, I would like to give you an update on the malnourished little boy we agreed to take into our home last week. We have heard nothing from Human Rights or the courts, and all attempts to contact them for answers have yielded a brick wall. We simply don’t know if he is still coming or not. That is typical of Guatemalan government agencies. So, please pray for this little guy. We know that he is starving and in a home where he is not receiving the needed care, so our hearts are with him.

That is all for now. Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew