Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Poco a Poco

It has been a while since my last post. There are several reasons for this, but the primary one is that I have been sick. I would like to say this is a new illness, but it is actually a continuing saga that began about six or eight months ago. The last two weeks have seen a worsening in the severity, so your prayers would be appreciated.

The timing of this downturn in health has been pretty good, though. At the same time that I have been out of commission, so has my truck. About two-and-a-half weeks ago I took my truck into our mechanic because it had been making weird noises and losing power (just as I had with my illness). I was hoping for a quick repair, but it was not to be. The repairs were extensive and expensive. But when I got it back on Friday it felt like a new truck and, since it practically had a new engine, it should have. The total bill was Q.5100.00 (about $660.00 US). Considering the work would have cost 4 or 5 times that in the States I felt pretty good about it. My power has increased significantly and so has my gas mileage. And hopefully it will give me tens of thousands of miles of trouble free driving now.

In this blog I believe I do a pretty good job of keeping all of you notified regarding big news and special happenings in our home and ministry. However, I have not done well at updating you on the children in our home. So today I wanted to take a few minutes to do so. This is not an update on all the children, but rather a highlight of happenings in a few of their lives.

Geovanni - The newest addition to our home, Milton Geovanni, is doing well. His first few weeks were challenging, as he was prone to temper tantrums and aggressive behavior, but he has settled in and is doing well. The courts do not have access to any records for him, and his mother has not been willing to share any information regarding his age, birthday, medical history or last name. As a result, we had to take him to an appointment with a forensic doctor. Using numerous physical indicators, this doctor determined him to be around 18 months old. Based upon that determination the court assigned him January 23, 2013 as his birthday. They also assigned him a last name, and we are waiting on a copy of his birth certificate.

When Geovanni came to us, we were told he could not walk, but when he arrived we realized that was not true. He could walk, but would not. Fear kept him from standing or walking without assistance, so he would sit down the second our hand left his. However, after two weeks of working with him, he suddenly realized that he could do it and proceeded to walk all over the house laughing. On the downside, now that he is walking we are wondering why we wanted him to so badly. It just helps him get into more trouble in more places more quickly.

We took Geovanni to our pediatric neurologist, and he has confirmed the diagnosis of microcephalus. This has resulted in cognitive and physical delays. We recently took him for an MRI, ultrasound and extensive blood tests, and we are awaiting a follow-up appointment with the neurologist for him to give us the results and prognosis.

Angelita - This little girl truly lives up to her name as our little angel. While hydrocephalus has severely limited her cognitive and physical development, she still has the divine spark of God within her. Much of the time, she is non-responsive, but we have recently seen some signs of progress in her. On a regular basis she will now turn and follow movement. And, most exciting of all, we have seen her begin to smile and even laugh with regularity. And when she laughs, the room lights up!

I believe that the changes we are seeing in her are a result of living in a home that is filled with love instead of an institution. Every day she receives hugs, kisses, music, stimulation, caresses and more. She has moved from a nearly catatonic state to one of joy. It is these kinds of changes that remind our hearts what our heads already know...that what we are doing is worthwhile and brings pleasure to both the children and the God who created and died for them.

Christian - When little Christian came to us almost a year ago his parents were at their wits end. His autism resulted in numerous melt-downs all hours of the day and night, and they were understandably exhausted and discouraged. In his early days in our home, he would go into uncontrollable screaming fits four of five times a day and two or three times a night. But as time has passed, he has settled down. We have learned how to spot the meltdowns early and how to soothe him instead of escalating him. Most evenings he sleeps through the night and only has a meltdown about every two or three days. He smiles and laughs a LOT these days.

In addition, he has made progress in his eating and drinking. At first, due to his sight and hearing impairment, he had no sense of connection to his body. He did not know how to hold a cup, bring food to his mouth, or play with toys. Now he will hold and drink from a cup and, at times, feed himself when food is placed in his hand. He will also hold and play with balls or small toys occasionally.

Olimpia - Our little Olimpia came to us at 5 1/2 months weighing 5 1/2 pounds. She is now up to 8.1 pounds and actually has some fat on her bones. In addition, her hair that was dry, brittle and very thin due to malnutrition has thickened and started to shine. Her energy has increased and she can now hold her head up and turn herself over. She has also started to manifest her strong will and stubborness in VERY significant ways. (As her body has increased in strength, so have her lungs. Her cute little cries have now become ear-piercing screams when she is fed up with us.) In addition, her eye/hand coordination has increased significantly and she is now able to manipulate toys and objects much better than even a few weeks ago. As an 8 1/2 month old, she is severely delayed, but she is beginning to pass some milestones and make progress.

Yenifer - After a severe bout of seizures triggered by a virus in July, Yeni has sprung back to her old self. She is friendly and outgoing and has no concept of personal space. She loves to get about three inches from your face to chat.

One of the big changes we have seen in her is verbally. She speaks much more now and uses a lot more words. She is also contagiously happy and tends to spread smiles wherever she goes.

Yeni recently had an audience with the judge to determine her long-term placement. As expected, the judge asked us to keep her indefinitely and, of course, we agreed.

Alejandra - This young lady recently got a new set of wheels from our friend Dick Rutgers. Her electric wheelchair has given her a true sense of freedom and independence that she never had before, and she loves it. And, aside from a few smashed toes, so do we.

She is doing well in school and is a favorite with the kids there. We have been working on her mouth and tongue control, particularly chewing and swallowing. We are also helping her to develop language skills by focusing on rudimentary sounds. She is truly one of the happiest and most loving people I have ever known.

I could continue from here and give you complete updates on the rest of the kids, but this is getting long while the day is getting short. So let me give you one final update of the child for which we are waiting...

A few weeks ago I wrote about a little guy of undisclosed name and age who needed a home. His needs are severe (microcephalus, after effects of encephalitis, severe seizure disorder and more) and he had been placed in a home in Guatemala City which does not know how to care for him. We expected him to come within a week, but that has stretched into weeks due to a court system that tends to move slowly. A friend of ours who is a social worker with the courts is now intervening on his behalf to try to arrange an audience with the judge for him to sign the necessary papers. Please pray that this happens soon.

Well, that's all for now. Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

God’s Economy

Last night I was saddened to check a news Web site and see that Robin Williams was dead. He was a brilliant comic, impressionist and actor, and had been a part of my life since childhood. I loved the show Mork and Mindy when I was young, and one of my favorite movies is Dead Poets Society. He made me laugh, cry and everything in between, so I was saddened to hear of his passing.

Immediately I began to pray for his family and friends, for others in the entertainment industry in desperate need of redemption and for the many, many people who struggle with the same enemy, depression, that caused Mr. Williams to end his life. The entire situation is so very sad, and he will be missed.

After reading the news I went to check Facebook and was overwhelmed by the number of posts regarding his death. Literally three quarters of the statuses related to Robin Williams, as people talked of how they would miss him and the entertainment he provided. I want to be clear in saying that there is nothing wrong with people grieving for him. He was, in many ways, a part of our lives as we welcomed him into our homes through his shows and movies. And the way he died should break our hearts.

Robin Williams was important, but why was he important? Was it because he was famous? Because he was funny? Because he was a great actor? Because he was wealthy and influential? Nope. None of the above.

Robin Williams was important because he was knit together in his mother’s womb by God Himself. He was important because God loved him and sought to redeem him, even at the cost of dying for him, as He seeks to redeem each of us. Robin Williams was important for the same reason that you and I are important. Because God had chosen to make him important.

But it is important to note that Robin Williams was no more important and no less important than each of the other nearly seven billion people who occupy this planet. He was no more or less important than the mother in an obscure village who is right now holding her dying child. He was no more or less important than the Christian father who is huddled right now with his family in Iraq, wondering if they will survive the day. He was no more or less important than the child dying of Ebola in an overrun clinic in Liberia. He is no more or less important than any of us in the eyes of the One who matters.

Just this afternoon I received heartbreaking news. Maria del Carmen, the mother of one of the children with whom we work, had suddenly died. Now little Jose Alejandro and his sisters are without a mom and they are grieving deeply with their father. And it bothered me that, in the world’s economy, very few outside of her family will every mourn her passing or share the grief of this family. No one beyond her small corner of her town, outside the readers of this blog, will even take note of her passing. But in God’s eyes she is every bit as valuable and precious as Robin Williams.

That is what bothered me last night. Not that so many mourned and expressed their grief over Mr. William’s death, but that there is so little expression of grief for the incredible suffering and deaths that occur every day in our world. Thousands die and so few notice. One man dies and an entire nation grieves.

So I updated my status and expressed my sadness at his passing and prayers for his family and friends. I then added the following:

I can’t help but wish we could get this kind of interest and concern for the hundreds dying in Africa of Ebola, the thousands being persecuted and slaughtered in Iraq or the 26,000+ children who die in our world every day of preventable causes. What would happen if we could find the passion for the multitude that we have for the one? I wonder...

A little while later one of my friends who has a true heart for Jesus and His priorities replied:

My thoughts as well. But I wonder if Robin isn't more relatable, and because many of us grew up watching him, we feel that we knew him on a more personal level. Iraq and Africa is so far away, and with no names to the faces of the persecutors and victims (of both Ebola and ISIS), we are desensitized to the reality of the tragedy.

And she is, of course, correct. That is the issue. It is much easier to relate to and grieve for someone we see regularly, feel like we know and who has made us laugh and cry than someone who is just a faceless statistic. Joseph Stalin once said, “When one person dies, it’s a tragedy, but when a million people die, it’s a statistic.” As horrible as Stalin was as a human, he certainly understood human nature.

But therein lies the problem. We live in a world that recognizes, honors and grieves the famous and ignores the obscure. In this world there are the noteworthy and the statistics. One is treasured and elevated and the other is brushed past carelessly with platitudes. But as children of God, we are called to live by His economy that sees everyone as important and no one as more important. We are called to see and love as Jesus sees and loves.

But how do we do that? How do we look past the statistics to see the names and faces behind them so that we can care for them as God does and grieve for them when they are lost? Just a few thoughts…

  1. Ask for help – I believe God understands that we are surrounded by wrong priorities and that it is difficult to see past the hype to see the real needs. And I believe He wants to help us. Each of us needs to spend time regularly seeking Jesus’ view of the world around us. I call it “tuning in and tuning up.” It is only by the Spirit of God, alive within us, that we can see with the eyes of God, feel with the heart of God, think with the mind of God and touch with the hands of God.
  2. Look past the headlines – Face it, media outlets are concerned with one thing…increasing their viewers, readers and hits on their sites. Therefore the news is dispensed, not according to importance, but according to the publisher’s perception of the audience’s interest. As a result, the items that make the large print and big new coverage are often not the biggest stories. This is especially true of the United States where there is a strong leaning toward ethnocentrism. The events receiving the most coverage are usually the ones that directly impact the US and its citizens while international events are often ignored or buried deeply in the paper or Web site. (For example, the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa had received only minor coverage until two Americans were diagnosed with the illness and talk began to spread regarding the possibility of it coming to the US. Suddenly the story gained traction in US media outlets.) That is why we need to look past the big print to see the rest of the world. Click on the “World” or “International” link on the news sites. Spend more time in the deeper pages of the paper. Look beyond the hype to see the real news.
  3. Engage the engaged – Never has it been easier to connect with missionaries and workers on the ground. Through e-mail, blogs and Web sites we can see the world news through people who are engaged in the real-life struggle behind the stories. It is one thing to read about the persecution of Iraqi Christians in an impersonal news story, but completely another to read the first-hand accounts of shootings, beheadings and abuse from someone who lives there and loves the people. Just this morning I read the blog of a health worker in Liberia and the blog of a relief worker in Iraq. Those people are much more to me than statistics, they are now names and faces. Connect with those who can help you connect to the real people behind the news accounts.
  4. Meditate on the Word – I don’t want to beat an old point to death, but how can we know what is important to God unless we read about the heart of God? It is through Scripture that we learn to think and see as God does, so we cannot neglect that time and still have His heart.
  5. Pray…like you mean it – I have heard it said that we pray for what is important to us. But I think the reverse is also true. As we pray consistently for a concern it becomes more important to us. Many times I have found myself, through prayer, moved from detached words to tears of profound compassion. As I talk to God about the world’s needs, He often talks back, as I desperately need Him to.
  6. Don’t forget the response – We dare not see the world through God’s eyes but fail to respond with his love. The first does not assure the second. For example, earlier today I read a story online about the persecution in Iraq. I was thrilled to see people posting and talking about that issue, but was disheartened to see the responses of the believers in the comment section. Instead of prayers for the persecuted it was filled with comments about the “monsters” responsible and demanding retaliation. This is a far cry from Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:44, "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." Jesus loves and died for both the persecutors and persecuted, and we should love and pray for both. We should be praying for strength and courage for the believers in the face of martyrdom while also praying that those who yield the sword will see Jesus through the lie that has surrounded them. We need God’s help to not only see the problem, but also know how to respond in word and action as He would.

It is a daily battle to live by God’s economy instead of the world’s. May God help us to do so and do it well. There is so much more to God’s heart than just the headlines.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

And Who Is My Neighbor?

This is a blog post from Dale Beyer, Ministerio de Esperanza’s Assistant Director. He has taken over much of the rural village ministry responsibilities and his blog is now the best way to stay connected to that work. You can follow it directly at: http://beyersnguate.blogspot.com/ 


Luke 10:29

The other day, when preparing to enjoy a relaxing Saturday, we received a call from Misael’s grandmother stating that he was very sick (fever, convulsions, vomiting black stuff etc…).  She was asking if we could possibly take them to the doctor as she cried over the phone to Kathlyn.  As Kathlyn relayed it to me I began thinking of the options and it went like this:  #1-we have plans, #2-he will puke in my car, #3-I’m not a doctor, #4-excuses abounding.  I began to pray for wisdom to know what to do next and during that prayer thought about the parable of the good Samaritan. I was immediately convicted that I wanted to pass by on the other side of the road and not help these people in need.  

With such a direct answer to prayerKathlyn and I went to be a neighbor for this lady who carries such a heavy load.  She recently shared that in one week she lost three close family members (one a son by a brutal murder) and how her husband some years back had tried to kill her and then had succeeded in killing himself leaving her all alone.  She is caring for Misael because his mother, her daughter, abandoned them.  That day we were able to help some with medicine and comfort, but we hope to help her in a more lasting way by helping her to know the peace of Christ that can carry her through.  Now, several days later, Misael's condition has improved!

So this time I was the Good Samaritan.

But earlier in the week when we visited “O” (who has circulation sores on his hips and buttocks that you could put a golf ball into) and he asked for us to take him to the hospital because these sores are showing signs of getting infected again, Gerardo and I told him we could not.  To justify myself some like the teacher of the law in Luke 10:29 did, let me tell some history.  This man has shown himself to be a little too eager for a handout and not real kind to the health professionals who have helped him in the past.  Considering these factors we deemed it best to put the responsibility on him to get a ride from family or friends. 

Sometimes I feel so callused toward the needs of others because we see so many with such deep hurt, pain and suffering on a daily basis. Often I just walk by because I can’t help them all, and I feel so heartless.  The men and women without arms or maybe legs who are begging in the streets we pass by every day. What can we do?

I recently was involved in a Bible study that made the statement that to love always requires an exchange or a cost even though it may be small.  When we are willing to love someone else, especially those in need as Jesus told in the parable, it will cost us something.  I think this helps us to see if we are really loving or self-serving in our actions toward God and others.  Remember this whole parable was told in response to Jesus affirming the teacher of the law’s answer of “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself”, in response to the question of “Teacher what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

As we are involved in a helping ministry we have decisions to make every day of whom and how to help. There are many needs that arise daily that we determine often to help with and there is always an exchange. Many times that exchange is financially costly and other times just a cost of time, but there is always a price to pay. Please pray for us as we make these decisions of how to love our neighbors and what that will mean for the ministry.

If you would like to partner with us there are many needs posted on our website of people awaiting sponsorship.   Click link below to access.  Some have been waiting for months or even a year.  

Village Ministry Needed Sponsorship

You might also feel led to give to the rural village ministry fund which covers the many expenses and emergencies that come almost daily and are not covered by the sponsor program.  

Click for information on financial partnership

Together we can be "neighbors" to our brothers and sisters in need.