Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chikungunya and Privilege

I just returned from a two day trip to the Department of Esquintla. In that region there are three communities in which we work, Sipicate, La Gomera and Las Palmas, and I was anxious to visit with families as it had been quite a while since I had last been there. But with Dale Beyer out of the country, this was the perfect opportunity to do some catching up with the families I love.


We did have some wonderful visits with families, and I was greeted like a valued family member each place we went. I love these people so much, and it was great to reconnect. However, three visits into Sipicate we realized that these people were struggling greatly. An illness called Chikungunya had struck the region, and every family we saw had at least two family members that had been stricken. This illness is carried through mosquitoes primarily and the symptoms are harsh. A high fever, severe headache, vomiting, and joint pain and swelling combine to wipe out a person for at least a week. And, in some cases, people were forced to the national hospital for treatment. In many situations, parents have been helpless as their little ones suffer with pain and fever that causes delirium.

IMG_3367This is a special concern for us as so many of the special needs we encounter here are caused by improperly treated fevers. A loving parent sees their child shivering, so they wrap him or her in blankets. Their fever rises, the brain is damaged by the high temperature and permanent disability results. So we spent time at many stops describing how to treat the fever when it comes.

As some turned to the national hospital, another crisis was revealed. For months the hospitals and health clinics have been without medicine and supplies. The government has not been providing these things to the government hospitals and clinics due to “a shortage for funds.” Yet somehow the rest of the government continues to function with no problem, paying the politicians’ salaries like clockwork. In some hospitals doctors and nurses have gone on strike to send a message to the government that they cannot work without medicine and supplies. (On a side note, we have been trying to arrange for the immunization of the children in our home for six months, but all the clinics are without the needed vaccines.) So many with Chikungunya showed up simply needing acetaminophen to control their fever, only to discover that the hospital did not even have that basic medicine. As a result, people are dying of very treatable illnesses.

IMG_3364I don’t know about you, but until recently I never thought about how blessed my family is to have access to Tylenol. If one of my children gets sick and their fever rises, I pull it off the shelf, give it to them, and 30 minutes later their fever has dropped. But many of the families with which we visited do not have the money for even that basic medicine. It is heartbreaking and sobering.

So, we were instructing families to dress their sick family members in light clothing and wipe them down with cool water to lower their fever. We did not have enough acetaminophen to go around, so that was all we could do. Of the 15 families with which we visited, 14 of them had Chikungunya in their household. And of those 14, most of them had two or more family members affected.

So, the next time you find yourself reaching for a bottle of Tylenol, give thanks to God. Because if you have it, you are blessed.

10383107_10204585277939611_6921604588065954991_nIn lighter news, little Humberto joined our household last Wednesday and is doing great! After waiting for 3 1/2 for our court appearance, the judge signed the order to move him to our home based upon the recommendations of Casa Jackson and the court’s social worker. This was a huge answer to prayer, as we felt strongly that Humberto belonged in our home.

When we first met Humberto, we believed that he could progress far beyond his current condition. That is why we agreed to take him, knowing our home could provide the therapy, stimulation and education he desperately needed. He has spent most of his life lying in a crib, and the completely bald spot on the back of his head proves that. So, our work with him has begun, with the goal of getting him out of his crib and into the world that surrounds him.

1462912_10204591901345192_5156637710107791805_nOne of our first tasks was to get him a wheelchair fitted perfectly for him. So the day after he arrived we picked-up a new chair from Hope Haven. I went to their shop expecting to pay $250 for the chair, only to leave with it for free thanks to the generosity of a sponsor I do not know. Jeremiah and I worked hard to adjust it to his very small size and place it on a tilt, as his neck muscles are not strong enough to sit completely upright. As he spends more and more time out of his crib and sitting upright, his neck muscles will strengthen and we will be able to remove the tilt.

10676347_10204586927940860_2722216184915493664_nIn the week since he has been with us, we have seen him begin to use his hands more to reach, grab and manipulate. He is also showing signs of progress in his speech, using distinctive grunts for “yes” and “no”. In addition, he came to us with chronic breathing problems, but our doctor has changed his medicines and we have begun doing breathing treatments three times a day. The doctor visited yesterday and told us that he had significantly improved.

We are anxious to see what this little guy can achieve in coming days. We suspect his progress over the next three months will be rapid and significant. Thank you for helping us pray him into our home so this could become a reality!

On another high note, my daughter, Carissa, returned to Guatemala after a four month stay in the States. She was there speaking and raising funds for her future ministry in Uganda. We are so happy to have her back. But sometime in 2015 she will be leaving again to do more speaking and fundraising, so we are just going to enjoy the time we have until then.

That is all for now. Please pray for those families affected by Chikungunya and for Guatemala as a whole. I continue to see the suffering increase along with the corruption of the government. We need your prayers now more than ever.


Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Alternative

closed doorThis morning I had to say “No” to another child. I have had to turn away lots of children since our home opened, but this one hit me extra hard. Maybe that is because I know we really are completely full now and have no more room, man power or resources. I knew that I had to say “No” and I know that I will have to keep saying “No” for the foreseeable future.

Note: Since my last blog we were contacted by the malnutrition center, Casa Jackson, about little Humberto. He was supposed to come to our home, but due to a foul-up by CNA he was instead transferred to a state-run orphanage in Guatemala City. Casa IMG_0059Jackson has petitioned the judge to have him moved from there to our home because we are better equipped to care for his needs. He has a hearing tomorrow morning, and the judge has asked me to attend. We believe this injustice will be reversed and Humberto will come to our home. This will bring us to our absolute maximum capacity.

The child we turned away this morning was an 11 year old boy with a seizure disorder. He is in a hospital in Huehuetenango and is ready to be released, but he has no home to go to. The social worker begged us to take him and, when we explained the situation, then asked us to please tell her of other homes that might take him. We gave her the names and numbers of other places, but all of them are filled as well. So, we turned away a child today, and I have no idea what is going to happen to him.

This led to a conversation/argument between God and me. (I was doing all the arguing and God just listened while I vented.) To be honest, I am angry. I don’t think I am angry at God, but am instead angry at some vague entity that I call the church. I just don’t understand why, with all the need there is in this world and the access to information that brings that need into our homes day after day, Christians aren’t flocking into the world to meet that need and proclaim Jesus.

I have pleaded with God daily to send us more help to open more homes. I have pleaded with people through this blog to come and join us. And…nothing. Our home is full, we are turning children away, and we have no ability to open our next home because there is no one to lead that home. Why not?

Some people have told me that I am too transparent in this blog. I am too open and honest about my own failures and struggles and too open about how hard this ministry is. And maybe they are right. Maybe I have just scared people away as I have related both my highs and lows. (As I read back through my past blogs I find myself wondering if I would have scared myself away.) But the simple reality is that my blogs are true. This ministry is both wonderful and horrible. The highs are really high and the lows have led me to the graveside twice in the last year. This ministry has invigorated me and exhausted me, sometimes on the same day. And I have often thought of quitting only to quickly realize that there is nothing else I could do and still be happy. And before anyone would choose to join us I want them to know those truths. Because if my words would scare them away, the reality most certainly would.

So, I thought I would take a moment to share with you why I do this ministry, and why it is worth it, even  through the lowest valleys. There is a simple reason that you may or may not understand, and it is this:

It is way better than the alternative.

I could close up this ministry, sell off the possessions and head back to the States. It would take a little while, but we could do it. I see missionaries having their moving sales almost weekly as they leave the field and head back home. We could do the same.

I could get a job in ministry. I have lots of contacts and ministry credibility that would likely land me a job as pastor of a church. I was asked by one denomination to head their church planting efforts already, so I could go do ministry Stateside and it would be a noble cause.

We could purchase a decent home, get the kids enrolled in school and I could forget trying to master this Spanish language thing. (I can’t even explain to you how nice that sounds as a 47 year old still trying to learn Spanish.) And we could support missions from a distance.

But what we could not do is un-learn what we have learned and un-see what we have seen. We could bury our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is okay, but in our hearts we would know that is not true. We could not forget the faces and stories that have shaped our lives and ministry over the last seven years since we started coming to Guatemala. And we could not pretend that our absence would not be devastating to those we would leave behind.

You see, today I am mourning that I had to turn an 11 year old boy away. But if I run away I would be turning away 12 more that God has brought to us. I can grieve those that I cannot help, but is that an excuse to ignore and abandon the ones I can? Of course not.

Staying can be hard at times, but the alternative of leaving is unthinkable. So we stay. And at times things are good and easy. (Well, not easy, but easier.) At other times, things are hard and painful. But we stay because the alternative is far worse.

And in that is where the help we so desperately need lies. Somewhere out there is a family reading this blog, and the alternative of staying where they are is looking worse and worse.This family cannot un-learn what God has taught them and un-see what He has shown them. So the comfort of their life is looking less and less comfortable. The pressure is building, God is speaking and the clock is ticking. And, in them, lies the hope for a home for this boy we turned away this morning… and so many more.

I know that everyone is not called to this ministry. We need prayer partners and financial supporters, as do so many other wonderful ministries and missionaries. And if that is your call then thank you. You are valuable and precious to us.

But some of you are called. I don’t know who you are, but you are called. Maybe you are arguing with God and listing the reasons why He could not be talking to you. Maybe you have the excuses written out and memorized. But God is calling. And the alternative to going is looking less and less appealing. I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am praying that soon the call to go will surpass the alternative of staying.

The fields are white, the workers are few and people are dying apart from Jesus. That is the alternative.


Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bureaucracy, Incompetence and Lives

There are days when I wonder how many lives have been lost due to the incompetence and bureaucracy of the Guatemalan courts and CNA, but most days I simply don’t want to know. Yesterday was a day that I did not want to know as I realized that another child had been lost by the system.

IMG_0059A few weeks ago we made the decision to accept little Humberto into our home from the malnutrition center, Casa Jackson. That was not an easy decision, but when we realized his plight we felt that we could not say no. So the appropriate messages were sent, papers were filed with the court and we awaited the official order from the judge.

Then last week we received word from Casa Jackson that the judge had contacted CNA to verify our licensing. And this is when the story gets interesting. The worker at CNA told him that we were not licensed to receive children.

Really? Then what is that piece of official paperwork hanging on our wall that says we are? Why are there 13 children that the court has placed in our home? Why are we listed on CNA's official Web site as fully licensed and accredited to receive children? All of these are very good questions. But the biggest question is this: Why on earth does the agency that licensed us and regulates all orphanage licenses in Guatemala not know that we are licensed? The answer is…they do. But some lazy worker did not properly check when the court contacted him because they did not care enough to do so.

So, we immediately sent a copy of our license to the judge, Casa Jackson and CNA to clear up this “confusion.” But, you can probably guess the rest of the story. The judge had already signed the order and sent little Humberto to a state-run orphanage in Guatemala City.

These people who are entrusted with caring for these precious children have tossed aside another child because of incompetence and apathy. And the only thing we can do is pray for little Humberto.

I do know that God is good and in control. I also know that nothing can thwart the plans He has for Humberto. But I am just so tired of seeing those that are supposed to be helping these kids not care enough to even do their jobs. Bureaucracy, incompetence and apathy seem to rein supreme and children are lost in the system and die because of it. We are a family that already loved Humberto. Our doctors were standing by to treat him. Our therapist was awaiting his arrival. Our shelves and drawers are labeled with his name. He already had a place in our hearts and home. And now he is gone before he even arrived. All because someone did not care.

Please pray for Humberto. Pray that the orphanage where he was sent has someone who knows how to care for him properly. Pray that he will be loved and come to know God’s love. Pray that he will have the treatment and therapy he needs. Pray that he will find healing and hope.

And pray for the system, that those who fill it will care enough about these precious children to do their job.


Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On the Road Again (Urgent Help Needed)

Over the last year I have distanced myself somewhat from the rural village ministry. With the opening of our group home and some of the challenges we have faced, I simply have not had time to be as involved with that area of our ministry. And with the addition of the Beyer family and Dale's leadership in the village ministry, I have not been needed very much. However, that is once again changing.

My daughter, Brittney, will be moving to San Pablo La Laguna to begin her educational ministry with children who have special needs. Since a part of my heart will be living there, I have assumed responsibility for the work in that town and the surrounding areas. And since that is one of our larger communities with a lot of families, I will be kept busy.

Yesterday Gerardo, Brittney, Jeremiah and I set out to San Pablo, but we had quite a detour on our way. A few months ago we were contacted by a home building company in the States called Brush Arbor Homes. They have a wonderful business model that results in them building a home in the third world each time they build a house in the US. So they emailed me and asked if I knew of two families that needed homes. Of course, the answer was "Yes!" but the challenge was choosing which families would receive them. After consulting with Pastor Efrain who ministers in San Pablo, we chose two families with children who have special needs, Gerber and Javier. Gerber is 19 and has severe cognitive delays, autism and a seizure disorder. Javier is 3 and is missing his lower leg and foot and part of his hand.Both families are very poor and were living in desperate conditions, so they were excellent choices to receive homes. Those houses have both been built by Pastor Efrain's ministry and paid for by Brush Arbor Homes. So we set out to visit them both and see their new homes.

We met Pastor Efrain in Panajachel and drove to Gerber's new home. It was a drive that took about 1 1/2 hours over some very rough roads, but we managed to make it in one piece. But once the drive was complete we still had a walk ahead as his village was not passable by vehicles. We walked down a steep hill and then crossed a footbridge above a ravine before arriving at his house. This walk is amazing when you consider that the men who built their home had to carry every cinder block and bag of cement and mortor on the 400+ meter walk.

When we arrived we found a very enthusiastic Gerber who would not sit down and relax until every one of us was seated. He had recently had a seizure and had hit his head when he fell, but that did not seem to slow him down. We visited with him, his siblings and his parents as they repeatedly thanked us for providing the home. We, of course, repeatedly told them that we had done almost nothing in the process except choose them and pass along the money. It was Brush Arbor who paid the expenses and Pastor Efrain and his crew that did the work alongside their family. We also explained that it was a gift from God to them because of His great love and concern for them.

During our visit we discovered that the father works in the fields for about Q.700 a month (about $92 US). His son's anti-seizure medication costs them Q.175 (about $23 or 1/4 of their monthly income). So I told them that we would be seeking a sponsor for those medications. If you would be willing to help this precious family by sponsoring them for $23 a month, please write me at

It was while we were visiting with them that their pastor mentioned that there was another girl with special needs who lived close by. He wondered if we would like to visit with her family as well. So we started walking again. This journey led us down a steep ravine where we found their home perched. There we met Lirria, a young woman with down syndrome who lived there with her family of seven. The pastor asked if they could be the next home we built. We told them we would pray and talk with Brush Harbor

After saying goodbye we walked back across the footbridge and up the hill to my truck and headed to our next destination, another 2 1/2 hour drive. There were no decent places to eat within a couple of hours, so our lunch consisted of snacks from a tienda. But we were excited to see Javier and his new home.

Alas, it was not to be as about an hour into our drive we hit a traffic back-up that stretched for miles. After sitting still for about an hour we decided Javier would wait for another day and turned back to head to San Pedro where we would overnight in a motel. We finally landed safely about 10 hours after leaving home and crashed for the evening.

So yesterday we spent about 10 hours on the road and only visited two families. Today was a different story as we visited with 14 families in a town that is about 1/4 mile by 1/2 mile. Quite a difference, eh? But what a day of ministry it was.





Here are some of the families that we spent time with today:

Marta Delores - When we first met this young girl she was seizing most of the night. She had not slept well in months and her grandmother was exhausted. Since visiting our neurologist and receiving medications through her sponsor she has been seizure-free and sleeping wonderfully.



Maria - Maria's mom was very skeptical when we visited and offered to help them with a wheelchair and monthly food. But now we are met with a big smile and a hug each month. Maria is growing quickly, so we made adjustments to her chair today, and she smiled the entire time.



Pablo Michel - This young man was nearly catatonic when we met him, staring in a daze and seldom responding. He suffered dozens of seizures each day, and his family was desperate. Now he is seizure-free and happy. He has cognitive delays, but the medicines our doctor prescribed has helped him tremendously.








Michael - This little guy and his mom, Juana, were desperate. She had gotten pregnant at age 15 and found herself with a child who has special needs at age 16. Her family disowned her and she was alone and scared. We have a sponsor for them now and provide food and money for therapy each month. About eight months ago we took a plunge and decided to give her a micro-loan of $125 to help her start a business that sells merchandise that cannot be found in San Pablo. And that business is now thriving. She recently sold out her entire inventory and had to make a special trip to a distant town to restock. She is repaying her loan faithfully each month.





Lucia - A little over a year ago Lucia could not sit or lay flat in bed. Her back arched severely and she was in constant pain from seizures and spasms. Now she is smiling, seizure-free and able to sit and lay comfortably in bed thanks to the medicines a sponsor provides each month.








These are just a few of the kids in San Pablo whose lives are being changed due to people such as you who give to sponsor them each month. (Just a reminder...when you sponsor a child through Hope for Home Ministries, 100% of your donation goes directly to the child. Not one penny is withheld for administration or expenses.)

But now I need to share a desperate need with you. This will likely be a very expensive need that will require lots of people working together. But it one of the rare opportunities we have to actually prevent special needs.

Little Yosselin is two months old. She was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. We met her last month when we visited town, and we stressed to her parents that she needed a shunt installed soon to relieve the pressure in her head before permanent brain damage results. They agreed to take her to the national hospital in Xela and see the neurologist and arrange the surgery. So we were anxious to visit with them this month. However, the parents informed us that the neurosurgeon told them that the shunt could wait until later. I confess to you, my blood boiled at this point. I wanted to drive to Xela and punch a doctor.

As I sat there and held little Yosselin I could see that her head had grown considerably in the last 30 days and the pressure was building. She needs surgery and she needs it now, before her brain is permanently damaged. So we called our neurosurgeon to arrange an appointment for this Friday. They are taking the bus to Chimaltenango and we will transport them to the city to see the doctor so he can schedule the surgery. However, we expect the surgery to cost $8000-10,000 US (although we will not know for sure until Friday). Once we know, we will need your help quickly to raise the funds. We have a small window to get this surgery before she is permanently brain damaged.

Please be in prayer for Yosselin and her family. And please stay tuned for more information coming soon.

We are now back at our hotel hoping for some much needed sleep before I drive home tomorrow. I am also giving my truck a much deserved break as she has stopped speaking with me because of the pounding I have given her over the last 36 hours. But before I crash for the night I want to take a moment to thank each of you who pray and give to make this ministry possible. I am honored to work alongside you to change lives and proclaim the name of Jesus!

Because of Him!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew












Monday, October 6, 2014

The Power of a Parent

There are very few moment in my life that I would qualify as life-changing, but one of those occurred in 2007…

DSCF5216Wanda and I were seated in a governmental office in China where we had just met our soon-to-be-adopted son, Joshua. From the beginning Josh was a go-getter and had shown us that quality in our first 15 minutes together as he used his awkward, yet efficient and speedy, crawl all over the room. He was a bundle of energy, speaking rapidly in Chinese and darting across the room after the toy car we had given him.

But our translator interrupted his play and called him over beside her. He sat there with a serious expression on his face as she spoke quietly to him. Occasionally he would look over at us with a puzzled expression and then turn back to the translator with a question. More talk would follow. Finally, after about five minutes, the translator turned to us and said,

“I have been trying to explain to him that you are his mom and dad, but he doesn’t know what a mom and dad are. You are just going to have to show him.”

At that moment it felt as if the universe shifted. Everything changed. For the last 18 months I had been working full-time in orphan ministry with The Shepherd’s Crook Ministries, so I thought I knew what was at stake for orphaned children. I had left behind the pastorate in order to serve those children, so how could I not. But suddenly I realized that I had only scratched the surface.

My new son, abandoned at age two on a train, had spent the last two years and nine months in a special needs orphanage and was approaching his fifth birthday. And this little guy had no idea what a mom and dad was. He didn’t even have a frame of reference on which to build. And, in that moment, Wanda and I vowed to teach him what a mom and dad is.

DSCF5342I remember placing him on my shoulders for the first time. At first he was scared and grabbed two handfuls of my hair to hold to, nearly yanking it out by the roots. But within 15 seconds he had realized that I was holding him and would not let him fall. And he began to laugh with a belly laugh that was contagious to everyone around us. It was a beautiful moment as he discovered that his daddy’s shoulders are a safe place to be.

DSCF5264Later, at our motel, he broke down crying. We aren’t sure what triggered it, but I suspect it was simply the overwhelming changes that had suddenly engulfed his life. We found him lying quietly on the floor behind our bed, sobbing with his face buried in the carpet. So Wanda gently lifted him and sat with him on a chair. He laid his head on her chest and cried until he slept. I captured that moment is the photo posted here. He awoke a little later, once again happy and ready to face the world. And for the first time he realized there was a safe place of comfort where he could go to cry. He discovered a mother’s arms.

DSCF5706These and a thousand other lessons followed. He learned that a mom and dad are people who listen. He learned that a mom and dad discipline. He learned that a mom and dad believe in him. And he learned (on a sidewalk in China) that dads get very angry when someone says something mean about his child. (Another story for another time. Remind me to tell you about how I nearly went to a Chinese prison.) And, above all else, he learned that a mom and dad love. By the time we landed on US soil 10 days later, he had a pretty good idea what a mom and dad is. And those lessons still continue today, seven years later.

But this experience forever changed me as I began to wonder how many other children do not know what a mom and dad is. And I had trouble sleeping as I thought about the ramifications of that omission in their lives. Because the absence of a mom and dad goes much deeper than just earthly love and care.

Stop and think about it. Why did God create the role of father? It was not just to provide an earthly caregiver. It was to help us understand who He is. He was Father before any human was father. Before Cain and Able were ever conceived, he was Father to Adam and Eve and shared the intimacy of that relationship with them. And it is through that earthly relationship that we better understand Who God is and how He sees us.

The first time I held my daughter, Brittney, in my arms I learned more about God than four years of theology classes had taught me. I understood better what His love and mercy and passion and sacrifice really is all about. And it is through my love, imperfect as it is, that my children learn about who God is. God created parenthood to help us understand His love and the way He sees us.

So if a mom and dad are stripped away from a child then that child will be greatly hindered in understanding God and His love for them. How will they ever come to understand that a Heavenly Father loves them when there is no earthly father to show them that kind of love? How will they ever understand that their Heavenly Father wants what’s best for them and can be trusted unless they see that mirrored in earthly parents? How will they ever learn that they can be lifted safely by God to new heights on His shoulders if they have never ridden safely on their earthly dad’s shoulders? And how can they ever know that they can crawl into the comfort of their Heavenly Parent’s lap and arms if they have never known the comfort of an earthly mommy’s arms? I am not saying it is impossible for an orphaned or abandoned child to learn these things, just that it becomes much, much, much more difficult.

DSCF6143And so, it became our mission to do everything in our power to assure that every child knows, first-hand, what a mom and dad are. That drive led us to start Hope for Home Ministries in 2008. It led us to move to Guatemala in early 2011. (This picture was taken during a long night at the airport in Washington DC. I still remember the excitement and fear of that move as we headed into an uncertain future.) It led us to start Ministerio de Esperanza in the Spring of 2012. It led us to open Hogar de la Esperanza in August 2013 and fill it to the brim with children who need a family. And it is leading us as we move ahead, trusting God every step of the way.

Why am I sharing all of this with you? Good question. I guess it is because we need your help. We need you to be a parent to the parentless. And you don’t have to move to Guatemala to do so.

Look around you. Likely you are surrounded by children who need a mom and/or a dad. The fallen nature of man has stripped away what God intended every child to have, but you can fill the gap.

In your neighborhood and church you will likely find some or all of the following:

  • A family abandoned by the husband and father, and a tired mother trying to make ends meet.
  • Children whose have one or both parents who are withdrawn or absent due to alcoholism or drug abuse.
  • A child who has been removed from their home by Family Protective Services.
  • A widower trying to raise his children without their mom.
  • You can probably think of more.

One of the greatest and most important ministries you could ever do it to fill the gap left in these children’s life by become a surrogate parent to them. Through such a relationship you can bind up wounds and help them come to understand and know the perfect Parent who can forever heal those same wounds. I can think of no higher calling than this: Be a parent to the parentless.

Men, reach out to that boy whose father is absent. Take them to the game. Teach them to hunt. Help them pick-up the game of golf. And in the process, take time to listen, love and mentor. Show them what a real dad is.

Women, look for the children who need a mother and love them like your own. Let them learn your arms and your home are a safe places to be. Teach them who a mom is so they can learn to trust and believe. Show them what a real mom is.

And don’t forget to prayerfully consider becoming foster parents or adopting a child waiting for a home. Also, don’t forget that if you are drawn to be a parent of international orphans, we have a place for you.

There is not doubt that this mission of becoming parents to the parentless is important to God. He instructs us repeatedly to care for the orphaned and the fatherless. In fact, He tells us that this concern and action on their behalf is one of the key distinguishers of true religion (James 1:27). As the church, this should be a part of our mission, and it goes hand-in-hand with evangelism and discipleship.

Together, let us make this our mission so that every child, in the US and around the globe, will know what a mom and dad are. And, in turn, will know their Heavenly Father as well.

Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Battle with Want

WeddingLast week I had the opportunity to fly to the States for a few days to be a part of my daughter, Teisha’s, wedding. It was a quick trip (I arrived in Dayton late Thursday evening and flew out again very early on Sunday) but it was a special one as Wanda and I were able to visit with friends and family, see two of our daughters we haven’t seen in a long time and finally meet our grandchildren (Tristan, age 3 and Allison, age 4 months). There is not much that we miss since moving to Guatemala, but family and friends are at the top of that very short list. It was so nice to finally hold my grandkids.

Our schedule was packed full with family and friends, US drivers license renewal and shopping. There are quite a few things that we cannot buy here or are cheaper in the States, so we took the opportunity to go to Walmart and Meijer and make some purchases. I was not prepared for what I found there.

Mms-in-Walmart-Candy-AisleWe do have Walmart in Guatemala now. They opened stores about two years ago, so we shop there once a month. However, the stores here do not have anywhere close to the selection of US Walmarts. I was literally overwhelmed by the choices and merchandise available. A trip down the candy and cookie aisle yielded 12 different kinds of Oreos and 9 kinds of M&M’s. And at one point I found myself in the men’s underwear section looking like a deer caught in headlights. I mean, I just wanted regular men’s underwear, not boxer briefs with a micro pore sweat dispersal system and Bluetooth capabilities. Everywhere Wanda and I turned we were met with an overwhelming number of choices.

In some parts of these stores I found myself getting disgusted. Do we really need so much stuff? It is ridiculous to have this many choices for basic products. But in other parts of the store my hypocrisy showed through. As I walked through the hardware section I found myself drooling and “needing” tools and gadgets that I did not know existed until that moment. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? The same thing happened when I walked through the electronics department and saw all the handy gadgets for my phone. After all, I really need it don’t I? It will make me faster, more efficient, better organized, blah, blah and blah.

WantAnd in the midst of one of those ponderings and justification sessions I caught myself. And it scared me. I could feel the demon of want worming its way into my heart and life…along with its constant companion, discontentment. There I was, a man who works daily with the poorest of the poor, finding my priorities shifted in just a couple of hours of shopping. I put down those luxury items a left the store as quickly as possible.

And this whole experience left me thinking. We often fail to realize that the majority of the US economy is built on marketing wants to people by convincing them they are needs. And the powers-that-be do it pretty well. That is why people with perfectly good iPhone 5’s have been lining up around the block to buy the iPhone 6. It is new, it is different and they are sure they NEED it. That is why shoes come in two million different styles. Yes, you have shoes, but you don’t have THOSE shoes. That is why every other month they come out with a new razor or toothbrush that is no better that the old ones. Because they know we will just have to try it. Over and over again the marketing industry plays us like a violin, and we keep pumping out the same tune. (Insert your own 80’s or 90’s tune to the following lyrics):

I want it! I need it! I really have to have it!

The economy in the States is dependent upon us buying what we don’t need. And this is to the point that if we were to stop buying luxuries and only bought needs the economy would completely collapse. And so, day after day we are faced with marketing and commercialism. Buy, buy, buy! Spend, spend, spend! And we do.

Gloria's House - copiaTwo days before standing in those department stores I stood in a very different place. I stood in the home of a poor Guatemalan family with dirt floors and a leaky roof. They have a child with cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder and I asked them a question:


That is a pretty wide-open question, especially when it is asked of a poor family by “wealthy Americans.” They could have mentioned so many things and I would have understood. A new roof, a concrete floor for their daughter’s wheelchair to roll on, beds, clothing, and more would have been acceptable responses to my question. But without hesitation the father responded, “We have everything we need except the medicine to control my daughter’s seizures.” (As he answered this there were three children playing happily in the corner with their homemade dolls.)

So, how on earth could I find myself two days later trying to justify gadgets and cell phone cases as needs? How could I find myself so quickly almost captured by that culture’s snares? The answer is painfully obvious: The marketers are good at what they do, and I am bad at keeping my eyes on God’s heart.

MaterialismPeople often ask us if we are scared to live in a culture like Guatemala with all its crime and violence. My answer is no. But living in America scares me to death, because I fear what it can do to my heart and priorities. I fear losing my soul in the American Dream and awakening (again) to discover it is a nightmare.

And so, my family and I continue to walk imperfectly this line of needs versus wants. I so desperately want to see, act and spend like Jesus. But the voices around me scream loudly in an attempt to drown out His voice, and those screams get a lot louder in the US.

So, to those of you who live in the States I extend my respect and prayers. I pray that you will walk the line much better than I and say no to the voices that scream. I pray that you will "spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed” (Isaiah 58:10a). And I pray that you will lose yourself within the heart of God instead of in the American Dream. That is the call of God that each of us shares.

Blessings and love from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew