Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Broken Heart of God

Sometime in the 1940’s Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, penned these words in his Bible:

"Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."

While those words are old, I have seen a resurgence of the sentiment in the last five years. I hear it in song lyrics, from preachers and speakers and in conversations with other believers. It has become a popular concept to express.

But do we really know what we are praying, singing and talking about?

When I began praying that prayer in 2004 I had no idea what I was asking God to do in me. In my mind I was thinking, “God, help me see what is important to you.” But the words I was praying were, “Break my heart!”

If I had know what I was truly praying for at that time, I probably would not have prayed it. If I could have seen where that prayer would lead me, ahead of time, I would have likely kept my prayers focused on safer areas. But I did not, and God answered.

DSCF5668The answer began when we traveled to Korea in 2005 to adopt our daughter Kimberly. While there, God showed us the plight of international orphans and led us to leave the pastorate to begin orphan ministry. And my heart began to be broken.

It continued to be answered when we traveled to China to adopt Joshua in 2007 and to Guatemala to visit our future son Jonathan that same year. Then in August of 2008 we started Hope for Home Ministries and God kicked the heart-breaking process into high gear.

DSCF3390In early 2009 I led our first ministry trip to Guatemala and spent a week ministering to children with special needs. I returned from that trip shattered. I could barely function for the following month after returning from the experience. My wife would find me weeping in my office, and I would awaken from dreams sobbing.

One night, after a particularly vivid and heart-breaking dream, I rolled out of bed and knelt next to my bed and cried out to God. “God, what are you doing to me? Whatever it is, I can’t take it any more! Please just make is stop!”

And in the quietness that followed I felt God’s hand on my shoulder and heard Him speak… “Daryl, that pain you are experiencing is just a drop of the pain that I feel everyday. I have only given you a small taste. So, what are you going to do?”

Fast forward 5 1/2 years through our selling, packing, moving, beginning of this ministry, opening of this home and so much more and you will arrive at present day. And, as I look back over our lives since this move I can tell you, our hearts have continued to be broken. I can also tell you that it hurts in ways that I could never have imagined.

DSCF3297We have seen so many children die. We have had to inform parents that, barring a miracle, their child will not get better. We have tried to comfort children through horrible seizures. We have seen children struggle and fail to complete simple tasks and then cry in frustration and disappointment. We have spent sleepless nights next to hospital beds. And we have been overwhelmed by the suffering and needs that surround us. We have had our hearts broken, over and over again.

You have likely read about our pain over the last month. The loss of our precious Thania, Yenni’s seizures, respiratory illness and more. Relax. I am not going to tell you the stories again.  But what I will tell you is that it has been tempting to withdraw from everything emotionally and settle into a place where our hearts will not be broken again.

One of the things with which I have wrestled is guilt. Some of that guilt has been rooted in feeling like I should have done more to save Thania. But recently the focus of my guilt has shifted. I feel guilty because I am still struggling emotionally from the events of the last month. I keep telling myself, “Come on! You know God is good and faithful! Everything has a purpose! Thania is with Jesus and Yenni’s seizures have improved. The other struggles (some of which I have not written about here) are under God’s control. Snap out of it and get over it!” Yet, I have still struggled under a weight that has left me feeling tired.

So yesterday I discussed this problem with God, telling Him that I was sorry and asking for His help. But, in the midst of my monologue it felt as if He interrupted me. It almost seemed that He placed His hand over my mouth and said, “Shhhhh!” So, I shut up and got quiet.

And in the quietness I heard Him say the words I had said to Him so many times:

"Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."

And I suddenly realized that this past month has been the continued answer to that prayer I began praying in 2004. And I thought, “I really have got to be careful what I ask of God!”

In that moment I realized anew that this problem of suffering in this fallen world will not be solved with a band aid and a pasted-on smile. And I realized that God has not called me to be happy. (He has called me to have joy that comes from Him and does not change, but happiness as an emotion comes and goes.) God has called me to suffer. He has called me to suffer alongside those that are suffering that He loves so deeply. He has called me to mourn with those who weep.

And I finally realized that the sadness and weight that I have felt is okay. It is a part of God’s plan for me. And, for the first time in a while, the guilt lifted.

My friend, Steve Osborn, who has experienced his own share of suffering here in Guatemala, wrote the following to me in the days following Thania’s death:

Do you see how God proved His love for us in that He allowed Jesus to enter into this vale of sin and death, and to do exactly what you and your family have done in the life of Thania. Compassion...that's the frustrating thing. it hurts like hell. and maybe that is how it is supposed to be, as we participate in the sufferings of Jesus.

Paul wrote the following words in Philippians 3:10-11:

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Emphasis mine)

These words have taken on new meaning for me over the last few weeks. Paul wanted to not only know Jesus and the power of the resurrection, but he also wanted to experience the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. And, as I have discovered, it is a dangerous prayer to pray.

Please understand, I am not trying to say that we should be walking around sad all the time. I am not advocating a mindset of doom and gloom. We should have joy and, at times, happiness in our lives. And I do. While this last month has been the most difficult of my Christ-following life, I still would not trade this life and ministry. Because even with all the pain and suffering that is around us here, I still feel God’s pleasure in what we do.

But somehow along the way we have surrounded ourselves with feel-good teachers and books that have convinced us that God wants us happy and smiling all the time. Platitudes and internet memes convince us that the Christian life should be candy-coated and fun. But we should have our hearts broken by the things that break the heart of God. At times we should be overcome by grief due to the effects of sin on this fallen world, even as we grieve with hope and work desperately to change the world. Just like Jesus, we have to wade into the sea of suffering and share the burden of pain. And when we do, it is not fun…it is not glamorous…and it hurts. But it is supposed to. And when we experience that pain we can know that it is only a drop of what our Savior experiences every day.

DSC00028Yesterday we received a call asking us to take another child into our home. He is young, but his age is not known. And he is medically fragile. He has microcephalus, cerebral palsy, a severe seizure disorder, hyper-thyroidism and the after-effects of encephalitis. When I first received the call my initial response was “No!” I have the perfect excuse because our home is full and our finances are stretched. So, of course we can’t accept him.

Yet, after only a few minutes I knew I was lying to myself. My answer had nothing to do with how many children are in our home or the emptiness of our bank account. I have never made decisions regarding the life of a child based on such insignificant criteria.  Instead, I was trying to protect my heart from more pain. What if he comes, we fall in love with him (of course we will) and then he dies? My heart can’t take losing another child. Plus, can I put my wife and children through that again?

But if you know my family you know that the issues were mine not theirs. From the youngest to the oldest every single one of them said a resounding “Yes!” When we spoke with our staff and volunteers to ask their opinion (because we know they are stretched) they said “Yes!” And my incredible wife, Wanda, will never turn away a child in need. So the only “No!” was my own.

DSC00029And I finally looked past my own issues to see God’s heart. In reality, every decent home that would be willing to receive this little guy is filled to the max. If we don’t receive him he will likely end up in a state-run institution, and his life will not be good. We have an incredible family, staff and volunteers waiting for him that will love him passionately. And I knew that my “No!” was not a reflection of God’s heart, but my own. And as I said “Yes!” I felt both God’s pain and His pleasure.

So, soon we will be welcoming another child into Hogar de la Esperanza. And we will pray that the One who provides us with the money and strength we need daily will also provide us with the hearts we need for whatever lies ahead. He is able, even if we are not.

So please pray for this little guy. There are appointments, tests and evaluations that will need to happen quickly. Our first priority will be to get his seizures under control quickly and make sure he is stable before beginning other interventions. We covet your prayers for healing for him and wisdom for us. And please pray that he will feel loved, both by us and by the Father that loves him perfectly.

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”   - Isaiah 53:4-5

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I have been silent on this blog for the last two weeks. That is mainly because I haven’t had much to say. I have continued to struggle with the loss of Thania and my inability to save her. I have been plagued by nightmares in which other children in our home die, and I have regular flashbacks to Thania’s final moments. In brief, I have been in a dark place as I have tried to sort through all the emotions that accompany the loss of a child so suddenly.

On the Wednesday after Thania’s death a few things happened that showed us how significant the trauma was of her passing and related events to some of our biological and adopted children. Without going into detail, there were short tempers, emotional break-downs and acting out. When we went to bed that night we felt completely shell shocked.

SAM_2161Then on Thursday night (actually Friday morning at around 2:00 am) Yenni began a series of severe seizures that racked her body for three days. She had been completely seizure free for more than seven months, so this took us all by surprise. This was heartbreaking to witness. She could feel each seizure coming and would call out to me before going completely rigid. Afterward she would be completely drained, but sometimes another seizure would hit within five minutes. I suspected, and our doctor later confirmed, that she had an infection of some kind that was triggering the seizures. We did our best to control her fever and keep her calm, and over the next few days the seizures diminished in both frequency and severity, until ending on Sunday afternoon. By this point we had reached a point of exhaustion and discouragement that would be difficult to describe.

When God called us to move to Guatemala we felt that we needed to sell almost everything we had and burn our bridges in the US. We did that because we knew times would get tough here and we would be tempted to run away. I see it over and over again. Missionaries move here with a great vision and dream only to head back to the States after six months or a year. We did not want to be one of those, so, like Cortez, we burned our ships.

Nothing could have prepared us for what we have faced over the last 11 months since we welcome the first child into Hogar de la Esperanza. I have never know that such a level of spiritual warfare existed, as we have been attacked from every side. That, combined with exhaustion and the grief that has come with losing two children in our home, has left us beaten down and tired. But we cannot and will not go back.

The other day as Wanda and I were talking I told her, “We can’t go back, so we might as well go forward.” I know that isn’t much of a battle cry. In fact, it may seem kind of pathetic. But for now it is enough for us.

A few days after Thania passed away we received a call from PGN in Guatemala City. They had a little boy who is approximately two years old who has microcephalus and severe delays. At that point we were not in a place where we felt we could make a decision, and we told them so. They explained that the little boy had been placed in an orphanage in the city that was not for children with special needs. The judge had instructed that he could stay there until July 21st when he had another hearing scheduled, but he must be transferred to a home that specializes in special needs by that day. So we took a few more days to heal, pray and make a decision.

Last Monday they called again, asking whether we would accept him. It still seemed too soon to us, but we realized that there was a little boy who desperately needed a home and we, unexpectedly, had room. So, we told them that we would take him.

SAM_2529Last night, after a long day of hearings and waiting for paperwork processing, Milton Giovanni was finally delivered to our home. He arrived with little in way of paperwork. We don’t know his last name, his birthday or mother´s name. We actually know nothing about the little guy except for a brief doctor and psychologist report that came with him. What we do know is that little Giovanni has a big smile and a great hug. And we also know that Hogar de la Esperanza once again has 10 children. Forward.

I believe that God is trying to teach me something. Victory is most often not found in winning great battles or in joyful celebrations. Instead, it is frequently found in simply taking the next step, no matter how tired or defeated you may feel or how much it hurts. Sometimes the victory is simply choosing to go forward instead of sitting down or turning around.

And so, tonight we will love the children God has given us while we continue to look toward the future. I know that eventually the nightmares and flashbacks will stop, and I will be able to remember Thania without feeling responsible for her death. I know that the sun will rise each morning and this ministry will continue as long as God permits it. And I know that God is good and choose to believe that He takes pleasure in my next step, even if I take it painfully with much fatigue.

And I pray that those who are trying to continue moving forward through their pain will somehow find strength and courage from my struggle so that we can take the next step together.

Blessings from Guatemala,

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Raw and Transparent

Warning: This blog entry is an unfiltered glimpse inside my heart. If you are looking for an uplifting and cheerful post, then please read no further. These are the ramblings written by a man who still trusts and loves his God, but is feeling broken. Over the years I have been cautioned by a few people that I am too transparent in my blogs and will scare others, including ministry supporters, away. I want you to know that I understand if you read this blog and decide that I am too much of a wreck to support this ministry. I would not blame you. If, however, you read this and decide that this ministry is worthy of support, in spite of my weakness, then thank you. Either way, I believe everyone deserves to know the unvarnished truth so they can make the right decision regarding who they do and do not support.

10446017_524635344304209_5893585032997631850_nAs you know, on Sunday, July 6 we lost our little Thania. This was six months to the day after we lost Esperanza on January 6. I wrote to you a brief overview of how it happened yesterday, but I would now like to go into more detail.

Thania was completely fine on Friday and Saturday. We had a 4th of July party on Friday for the home and she seemed to have a good time and be happy. On Saturday that continued with no health concerns. When she came to us last October we were not sure she would survive. At age 13 she weighed just under 19 pounds and we struggled to help her gain weight. She was so frail and weak and could not swallow well, so we finally put her on an NG tube and she began to put on some weight. At the time of her death she was nearly 30 pounds which, believe it or not, was proportional to her tiny body size. We honestly believed that she had turned the corner and was going to be fine, even though she continued to struggle with energy.

On Sunday morning she awoke with a slight cough. Two other children in our home, Christian and Angelita, had been struggling with a chest cold, so we were not surprised or concerned. But just to be safe we started breathing treatments on both Thania and Angelita because of their histories with respiratory problems and arranged for the doctor to visit in the afternoon.

10365485_423773071096442_3878521065652202873_oThen at around 1:00 pm Thania took a sudden and severe turn for worse. She went from what appeared to be a minor chest cold to respiratory distress in just a few minutes. So Carissa, Jeremiah and I climbed in my truck with Carissa holding Thania and headed to the hospital. While I was concerned, I was not in panic mode. We have dealt a lot with respiratory issues and I kept telling myself that you cannot just go from chest cold to emergency in 15 minutes.

But we had only gone up the road 50 yards when Carissa yelled that she had stopped breathing. I stopped the truck, moved to the back seat, checked her airway and began doing CPR while Jeremiah and Carissa used my phone to call for the bomberos (Guatemala’s equivalent of paramedics). I was having difficulty forcing air into her lungs, so I turned her around and did abdominal thrusts. Large amounts of fluid and phlegm were expelled, so I turned her around and checked her breathing. Still nothing, so I continued CPR and found the air was entering her lungs better. But after every three cycles or so I had to repeat the process as her airway would once again become blocked. (If you are a medical professional and realize that I did something wrong, please don’t write and tell me that now. I carry a huge weight and feeling of responsibility for her death and do not feel that I can carry more right now. Please give me some more time before telling me what I did wrong.)

10014695_10203741857972921_853329514_nI continued this process while we waited for the bomberos. At some point I realized that Wanda had run up the street and was standing next to me. I felt her hand on my back and heard her praying that God would help Thania and help me know what to do. The only thing I could think was, “I DON’T know what to do! Nothing is working!”

The bomberos arrived, grabbed her and headed to the ambulance. They put her in the back and I climbed in with them. At that point I thought, “Praise God! I can let professionals take over!” But it was very quickly that I discovered that a Guatemalan ambulance is nothing more than a high speed taxi. The bombero in the back did not know how to do CPR. He was simply rubbing her chest in a circular motion and trying to bag her every 30 circles. So, at that point, I moved him out of the way and resumed CPR.

At this point the ambulance was traveling over very bumpy and curvy roads at a high rate of speed. I could not continue CPR from a standing or kneeling position as I was being thrown in the the sides and bounced into the roof, so I laid on the stretcher next to Thania and continued. I directed the ambulance to a private hospital in Antigua and continued respiratory breathing and cardiac massage until they pulled her away from me and carried her inside. They laid her on an examining table and I resumed CPR while the doctor came in and prepared to intubate her. At that point I was pulled from the room.

SAM_1552At this point I knew she was gone. I had actually known it in the ambulance, but kept praying I was wrong. Her eyes were fixed and dilated, her lips were blue…she was gone. It took about ten minutes for the doctor to motion me back into the room and confirm it. And then I was left in the room with her alone.

Wanda and Carissa had not yet arrived. My telephone had been left with others who had used it to call for the bomberos. I was alone. So I went over and knelt next to Thania, I closed her eyes, held her lifeless hand and wailed. I had lost another child and it was my fault. Why didn’t I take her to the hospital that morning when her cough first appeared? I must have done something wrong in my CPR process. Thania was dead and I was responsible. And I completely broke down.

(Please don’t write to me and tell me that these feelings that I had and still have are wrong. Maybe they are, maybe they are not. They are what I feel, and I guess God will have to help me separate fact from fiction as time passes.)

As I knelt there I thought back to Esperanza’s death and told God, “We can’t do this again! I can’t say goodbye again! This is not fair!” I flashed back over the last 45 minutes and lived them all over again. I saw her die in my arms again and again. My adrenaline began to dissipate and the shakes came.

And then another thought hit me. Carissa and Jeremiah had seen the whole thing. And Wanda had seen most of it. Are they okay? They saw their daughter/sister stop breathing and saw their father frantically try to save her (and fail). No one should have to see that. Especially not a 13 year old boy. And I realized how much death they have seen…how much suffering that have experienced. And for the first time I wondered if this ministry is harming my wife and children.

And, for the first time since moving to Guatemala, I wanted to quit. I told God:

That’s it! I am done! I am closing up, selling off, packing up and moving back! I am going back to the States and finding a normal job! I want a job with 8 to 5 hours five or six days a week! I want to live a life not surrounded by death and suffering! I will move my family back, go to church (maybe even pastor a church again), tithe, take care of my own and pray for and support others who do this kind of work! But I can’t do it any more!

I know that at this point I am supposed to share with you how the Spirit of God came and ministered at that moment. That he spoke to me and soothed my heart and helped me see clearly. The epiphany came and suddenly I stood up ready for ministry again. But none of that happened. It simply continued to be one of the darkest days of my life.

At some point I walked outside the hospital as Wanda and Carissa arrived. I met them and told them that Thania was gone. I watched Carissa collapse to the ground sobbing, and we all held one another and wept.

Later that afternoon I found myself waiting at the hospital for Ministerio Publico to come. (Ministerio Publico is the police agency that investigates deaths to determine if there was a crime involved.) Because of the events leading to her death they needed to come, take statements and remove the body for autopsy. Unfortunately, MP runs on its own schedule, so they did not show up until 8:00 pm. I am thankful that my friend and ministry partner, Manuel Moran, and his wife Cristina came to be with me during that time as Wanda and Carissa had to return home. They were such a blessing during that time.

Sometime during that wait my friends, Dick Rutger and Pat Duff showed up. They hugged me, wept with me, prayed with me and shared what were, I am sure, words of wisdom. But while their presence was greatly needed and wanted, my heart had not changed when they left. I still wanted to quit and walk away.

Finally, at around 9:00 pm, the paperwork was done and photos were taken. I gave Thania one last kiss and they removed her body. At that point I had nothing left to do but drive home.

During that drive I continued on the quitting theme. I was ready to walk away. But suddenly it hit me (which shows how unclear my thinking had been to that point)…what about Brayan? What about Alejandra? What about Yenni, Angelita, Rafael, Christian, Raquel, Esther and Olimpia? These are my children and I can’t take them with me. They depend on us as their family. We are all they have.

And then I thought about our rural village ministry…about the families that we work with month after month. Could I leave them behind?

And finally, God spoke. It wasn’t words of great comfort, healing or inspiration. They were blunt and to the point:

Daryl, go ahead and grieve. You are entitled to. But let’s just drop this whole quitting thing, because we both know it ain’t gonna happen.

And that was it. No open heavens. No angels singing. No burst of energy and passion. Just the awareness that I am not going anywhere. I am here…for better or worse…even when the worse far outweighs the better. I am here to stay.

20140707_130501[1]So, yesterday morning I drug myself out of bed. Manuel, Gerardo and I went to the morgue to claim her body following the autopsy. We went with the guys from the funeraria (the place that prepares bodies for burial) and purchased her casket and waited for Thania’s body to be prepared.

Afterwards, we brought her back and had a brief service in our home to say goodbye and remind one another where she is…not in a box, but running and dancing with Jesus. Then we loaded her body in our van and Manuel, Cristina, Gerardo, Jeremiah and I headed to Jutiapa to take her to her biological family there.

When we arrived in their small village we found around 150 to 200 people awaiting our arrival. As we unloaded her casket and carried it inside, I saw numerous stares that seemed to be filled with hostility. From their perspective, we were the ones who took a little girl away who was alive and then brought her back dead. So, I could not blame them. In their position I would likely have felt the same way.

We carried her casket into a room and people pressed in behind us. Once we set it down we opened the lid and the crowd pressed closer. We were trapped behind the casket and could not leave. People were sobbing and wailing and we were crying as well.

At that point, Manuel began to speak. His words were from the Holy Spirit and he spoke with boldness and love. The crowd began to calm and listen. He shared the goodness of Jesus Christ and the faithfulness of his promises for those who receive him. He spoke words of truth and love, and the crowd listened. Their disposition changed. He ended with prayer as those around the room raised their hands in gratitude for Thania’s life and God’s goodness.

Then I spoke and shared how much we loved Thania. I told them that she was like a daughter to Wanda and I and like a sister to my children. I told them that we did everything we knew to do to help her, and that I had done everything I could do to save her the day before. I wept as I spoke, and the crowd wept with me.

By the end, we were welcomed and loved. Her parents and sister and grandfather all hugged us and thanked us for loving and caring for Thania. We gave them the family photo we took last week, and it was passed around the crowd.

At that point, we were able to share with Thania’s parents what we now believe to be her cause of death. According to the coroner, her lungs presented a strong indication that she had undiagnosed Cystic Fibrosis. We are still awaiting test results to confirm that, but the coroner seemed confident. If this is true, it explains a lot, including her respiratory problems, her low energy level and her sudden decline and death.

We had taken her to lots of specialists and had thousands of quetzales worth of tests done, but no doctor had discovered it. When we mentioned her breathing problems we were always told that it was related to her cerebral palsy. It appears the illness was hiding behind her other health problems. Ironically, a simple and inexpensive test would have diagnosed it and enabled us to prolong and improve the quality of her life. And that is another burden I must bear.

If this test comes back positive, we are going to pay for Thania’s younger brother, Henri, to come to the city to see a specialist and be tested. He suffers from cerebral palsy and breathing problems, just like Thania did, so there is a strong likelihood that he has it as well.

Afterward we drove home again and arrived at around 10:30 last night. This morning I woke up, got up, and started into the day. I wish I could tell you that I am once again filled with joy and purpose and things are good again, but they are not. I do what I do mechanically because it needs to be done. And, under it all is a deep sense of fear.

Angelita is continuing to struggle with a chest cold. The doctor came again last night and said she is some better. We are monitoring her closely, but I am afraid. What if I mess up again? What if she needs to go to the hospital and I don’t realize it? What if she is struggling with a hidden illness like Thania and I miss it again? What if I let another child die in my arms? What if…

Respiratory illness is a part of this life and ministry. On a regular basis viruses and infections invade. Children cough, medicine is given, breathing treatments are administered and we keep a close eye to make sure they do not worsen. Until Sunday I thought I did a good job of that. Now I don’t trust myself at all.

Dear God, I can’t lose another one. If I do I may crawl into a corner and die. I love each of them desperately and cannot stand another goodbye. Please help us.

I warned you ahead of time about this post. I am raw and transparent. I know God is good. I know He is sovereign. I know He has called me. I know Thania is with him and that she is whole and happy. And I know I am here to stay. But I am broken and scared right now. And that is all I have the heart to share at this time.

For those that pray for us, thank you. It is those prayers that have enabled us to continue to function over the last two days. Please continue to pray. Pray especially for our children who have seen so much suffering and death. Pray that God heals their hearts and gives them peace.


And please pray for healing in our hearts and home. Our house is emptier today and the pain is immense.

Because of Him,


Monday, July 7, 2014

Thania Is with Jesus

1939874_10204446262942605_6287394924302651061_nWe lost our little Thania yesterday. It was sudden and unexpected, and all of us are reeling and broken.

She woke up yesterday morning with what I assumed was a chest cold. We have had one going through our home, so none of us were surprised. She had a cough and a rasp in her breathing, but it was not severe at all. So Carissa stayed home from church with Thania, Angelita, and Christian, who were also suffering from the same illness.

As I was driving home from church I received a call from Carissa. She had grown concerned because her breathing was labored. To make it easier for her to breath, she had removed Thania’s NG tube. I was almost home and arrived a few minutes later. We quickly decided to transport her to the hospital, so Carissa, Jeremiah, Thania and I loaded up in my truck, backed out of the courtyard and started driving. About 50 yards up the street Carissa yelled that she had stopped breathing, so I stopped and moved to the back seat and began CPR while Carissa and Jeremiah contacted the bomberos (paramedics). I did CPR until they arrived and then continued it in the ambulance all the way to the hospital. I did everything I knew to do, but could not save her.

We rejoice that Thania is whole. We know she is safe in Jesus’ arms. She now runs, jumps and plays, and we are happy for her. But we are struggling on this side of the story. Our pain is great, and I feel responsible. I missed the fact that it was something serious. I thought it was another cold or virus like so many that go through our home. And now I wonder if there were other signs that I missed. Regardless, our home is one more child emptier and our hearts are breaking.

We are going this morning to collect her body from the coroner. Her biological family has requested that she be buried near them in Jutiapa. They have no money, so we are going to pay for the funeral expenses. We hope to have a service for her here before we transport her to her family.

Thank for your prayers. I cannot remember a time in which we have needed them more.

Daryl, Wanda and Family