Monday, December 28, 2015

Goodbyes, Hellos and Holidays

As usual, I am a day late and a dollar short on this blog. Much has been happening, and I have struggled to find time to sit down and update you on events. But this week is a vacation week for me and most of the staff, so there is no time like the present…

 Three weeks ago we said goodbye to the twins, Racquel and Esther. Since our home is for children with special needs and US adoptions are closed, we did not anticipate any of our children being adopted. The idea of adopting children with disabilities or delays is foreign to most Guatemalans. But God raised up a wonderful adoptive family for the girls in the form of Luis and Marcia.

We were notified of the possibility a few months ago, but were not sure when the girl’s transition from our home to their new home would happen. But Luis and Marcia were finally allowed daily visits on December 7th, and they left us on the 11th.

We praise God that He has given the girls a forever family, and that they are committed Christ-followers. They are a wonderful couple, and they will love the girls passionately. But the transition was hard on us, nonetheless. On Friday morning they came to pick-up the girls, and our entire family, staff and volunteers had tears in our eyes. We gathered around the new family and prayed over them, then Wanda and I walked the girls out to the car where we said our final goodbye.

When we were back inside our gate again, Wanda and I hugged and cried a little more. There are a lot of tough things about this ministry, but this is one of the tougher things that we face…saying goodbye. But we remind ourselves that this ministry is not about us. We don’t do it to feel good, we do it to change lives. And if that means that our hearts have to break so that two beautiful little girls can have a better life, then it is worth it.

As God would have it, He arranged for our good friends, Scott and Traci Smith and their family, to arrive that same day. It was so nice to have a hello to help ease the very difficult goodbye.
The Smiths ministered with us all week long, including several village trips. Scott is a mechanical genius and Traci is a nurse with lots of experience, so they were a perfect addition to our team. They served in our home and Traci was able to sharpen the medical side of our care of the children. She was also able to help me sharpen my pressure sore treatment skills. Scott was able to help me deliver two wheelchairs and gave me valuable wisdom in making some very difficult modifications to one of the chairs. We ministered in 5 different communities and drove about 20 hours over a three day period. Needless to say, we were a little tired by the end.

One of the children we visited with was Lucia. You may remember that she was hospitalized by pneumonia around three months ago. When we returned her home, we believed she would die within one or two days, but she is still hanging on. She has continued to decline, however, and is now very malnourished and weak. Her mom, a very traditional T’zutujil woman, told us that she believes someone has placed a curse on her to keep her from dying while prolonging her suffering. We are praying that God will take her soon, so she can know the joys of running with Him. Please keep praying for Lucia and her mom.

About two months ago, our ministry hit a financial crisis. The funds for our group home were almost exhausted, and our rural village ministry funds were getting low as well. At that point, I found myself withdrawing from ministry. In other words, I got stingy. As I would face new needs, I began to answer with, “Sorry, but we cannot afford to help now.” I was responding with fear instead of faith, and that is always a bad decision.

One night as I was praying, God reminded me of a lesson I learned years ago. In the States I pastored a church that I helped plant in 1999. During the early years of that congregation we saw great things happen. Many people came to Christ, marriages were healed and addicts were set free. Our congregation often looked more like a biker gang gathering than church, and I believe Jesus took great pleasure in that. We were ministering to those who were way outside the church, and I was on speed dial at the local jail because I was regularly ministering there. It was a great time.

But something happened. We hit a financial crisis as a church, and we became money focused. No, we weren’t greedy, but we kept allowing money to decide the ministry we could and could not do. We withdrew instead of advancing, and that was the beginning of the decline. Oh, we saw some continued lives changed, but there were fewer and fewer. And our concern for money drove us to make some foolish decisions.

After I had left the church, I debriefed myself and saw clearly where I/we had failed. And at that moment I confessed my sin to God and received His forgiveness. I also committed myself to never retreat or withdraw from ministry again. And yet, just 60 days ago I found myself doing it again.
Praise God that He caught me and corrected me early, and I once again went back to advancing instead of retreating. I began to say “Yes” to needs again, and we very quickly saw God’s provision begin to flow again. And it was just a month later when God spoke to me clearly again.

We attend a wonderful church here called Nueva Vida y Paz. It is a simple church in which we are some of the very few non-Guatemalans. No one, including the pastor, is paid. Everyone is a volunteer. And the church helps run a group home for children and a men’s rehab center. In fact, the church meets in the rehab center, so we have no facility costs. All of the offerings go to ministry. And the Word is plainly spoken week after week.

As I sat in church three Sundays ago, the words of Sondra and Pastor Victor grabbed my heart once again. And I heard God speak to my heart. In the midst of financial challenges, He is calling me out of the boat and onto the waves with Him. He is asking me to expand the ministry without regards to our bank account or monthly giving. There have only been a few times in my life that I have heard God’s voice so clearly.

So, here we go again. In January we will be expanding our rural village ministry to one of the poorest areas of Guatemala, Chiquimula (the far east side close to the El Salvador border). Soon after we will be expanding southeast to Santa Rosa. Meanwhile, we have recently received requests from two contacts, one in Retalhuleu and the other in Totonicapa, asking us to expand our ministry to those areas. In both cases, the conversations were similar…“the need is great, children are dying, please help.”

With the addition of each of these new communities, our ministry is spreading out further and further. More miles, more gas, more vehicle maintenance and more children in need of help. I have no idea how we can afford this, but God is calling. So, we leap out of the boat and, with God’s help, become wave walkers. Please pray for us in the days ahead!  

We just had a wonderful Christmas in our home! Our house was full and I was surrounded by those that I love. Here is a panoramic photo I took on Christmas morning, right before we had devotions and opened gifts. I truly am a rich man!

I pray that you and your family have a very happy New Year! God bless you all!
Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas from Hope for Home Ministries and Ministerio de Esperanza!

To each of you who have prayed, given encouraging words and donated to make this ministry possible…THANK YOU!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Fulp family, Beyer family and all our staff and volunteers! We appreciate you all! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Failures…and Rising Again

My blog has been silent for a while now. There have been a couple reasons for my absence. First, I have been faced with sheer busyness. With Krishauna’s wedding here in October and then our trip to Pennsylvania for her U.S. wedding two weeks later, my schedule was completely messed up. These were two wonderful events, but I returned to Guatemala to find an overwhelming amount of work waiting for me.

God has blessed us tremendously with a growing ministry, and I am so grateful. But the workload of trying to keep us can be staggering. And when you add special events into the mix, the demands seem to multiply. However, we are now down to planning only one wedding! Brittney will be married here in Guatemala on January 16, and we can then take a deep breath.

The other reason for my silence has been some personal issues that I have been facing. Specifically, how to deal with my failures.

As the ministry has grown, I have struggled to keep up. We have added additional staff to serve and carry the load, but the end result has been more responsibility on me. I am managing more staff, a bigger budget, more paperwork and more and bigger decisions. And my personal abilities have not grown enough to effectively handle these greater responsibilities. As a result, I am dropping the ball more.

Most of the time, these fumbles on my part are small. I forget to make a bank transfer. I forget that someone is waiting for a new wheelchair. I lose a new prescription for a child, and we have to call the doctor to get new orders. These are usually resolved with a quick apology and taking responsibility to fix my mistake quickly. But occasionally, it is much bigger.

About six week ago Manuel and Gerardo visited a new family that was seeking support. Their son, Luis, had cerebral palsy and needed medicine and medical intervention. My guys did exactly what they were supposed to do. They filled out an application for assistance, sent it to me, and talked to me later the same day about the case. But I missed the gravity of the situation. They told me he was sick and needed help, but it blended in my mind and ears into the sea of voices that was seeking help. And his application landed in the stack of those that were awaiting processing. I looked at the stack and decided that there was nothing pressing and decided to deal with them after Krishauna’s weddings were over.

Last week, we received news that Luis had died. Immediately, I played back through the events surrounding him, and realized that it was my fault. Although I don’t know if we could have saved him or not, I realized that I didn’t even try. I had missed the gravity of the situation and mixed him in with a stack of paperwork. And it devastated me. It was completely my fault. Everyone else had done what they should have done and were awaiting my instructions, but I never acted.

Please don’t write and tell me not to blame myself and tell me that everything is in God’s hands. I do believe God is in control and is sovereign. That is not in question at all. However, I also believe He has given me responsibilities to fulfill. And, in this case, I failed miserably.

And please don’t tell me that we have helped so many other people. While that may be true, it doesn’t bring back Luis. And I will always wonder if we could have saved him if I had acted.

I do realize, however, that there are extreme responses in situations such as this. I could choose to fall into condemnation and despair, focusing only on my failures. That does neither the ministry or me any good. Or I could choose to gloss over this failure and loss (and the many others) and focus only on the good things we have done. But this is counterproductive as well, dooming me to continue making the same mistakes.

But in between these extremes lies the sweet spot. The place in which I am broken by my failure while seeking God to change me and this ministry so that it is not repeated. I have to grieve my mistakes, particularly the costly ones, while rejoicing that God’s grace is sufficient to forgive me and change me. And that is precisely the balance I am trying to find right now. Please pray for me as I try to do this.

The next day, I realized that if I spent any more time in my office I might snap. So, my friend, Michael Gross, and I headed to Nueva Conception. I needed to see people and do something tangible to help. So we went to visit Jorge. You might remember that he had his leg amputated almost a month ago. He has been struggling with discouragement since then, so I thought he could use some cheering up.

When I last saw Jorge, I noticed his wheelchair was in bad shape. It was corroded and the bearings were shot in both the main wheels and the casters. So, I decided to surprise him with a new chair. The smile on his face when we wheeled it in was well worth the 2 1/2 hour drive to get there. We made some modifications to the chair to accommodate his shorter than normal lower leg, and as soon as he sat in it he popped a wheelie and was off and rolling! But, just between you and me, I believe that moment meant more to me than it did to him.

We also had the privilege of delivering a wheelchair to Teresa. About 16 months ago she was sitting on a curb when a motorcycle ran over her right leg, shattering both of her lower leg bones. The national hospital put on an external fixation device to hold the bones in place while they heal. However, these devices were never meant for long-term usage, so she has developed numerous infections that have eaten away the flesh on her shin, leaving her tibia exposed. We are seeking to get her proper medical attention so that the device can be removed, but in the meantime she needed a wheelchair to ease the burden on her family and increase her mobility. And I happened to have the perfect chair for her (after a couple of modifications).

The reason I have the right chair sitting around is due to Vine International. A few weeks ago I received a call from my friend, Dennis McCutcheon, telling me they had just received a shipment of 200 wheelchairs. He invited me to come over and take my pick. So, Dale, Gerardo, and I drove to San Jose Pinula on the far side of Guatemala City with my truck and our Ford van with all the seats removed. We picked and loaded 32 wheelchairs that we hauled back. There were about 12 custom children chairs, and the rest were standard folding chairs of varying sizes. What a blessing! They have also informed us that they have another shipment coming early in the new year, so more are on the way.

FullSizeRender (2)We had also been praying for an autoclave, a device that is used to sterilize instruments. We have been using a combination of flames and alcohol until now, but we needed something more efficient and speedy. While I was with Dennis, he asked me if we needed anything else. I smiled and said, “You don’t happen to have an autoclave, do you?” To which he responded, “You’re kidding!” He then took me back to a room where he gave me a brand new autoclave that had just arrived the day before. It is little moments like this that God reminds me that He is looking out for us and providing.

I am so thankful for Vine International and the McCutcheons. They do so much to selflessly serve us and so many other ministries. If you are looking for a worthwhile ministry that does medical missions and seeks to glorify Jesus Christ, you would do well to support Vine International.

Well, that is all for now. I will try to update again soon instead of falling of the grid once more. Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Friday, October 30, 2015

Celebrations & Amputations

It has been some time since you have heard from me. The reason is simple. Life has been busy…very busy…ridiculously busy.

One of the main reasons for our busyness has been the wedding of our daughter, Krishauna. She because Mrs. Andi Brubaker this past Saturday in a beautiful ceremony at a garden here in our town. The weather cooperated, friends and family joined in, and we could not have asked for a better day to add another incredible son to our family.

I cannot share most of the photos of that special event yet, as they will be doing a second wedding in the states next Saturday, November 7th, so they want to keep those under wraps so as not to ruin the surprise for their US friends. Wanda and I will be in the States from November 4 – 9 to share in that event, so please keep the ministry here in your prayers during our absence.

We are excited about the future ahead for Andi and Krishauna. They will be in the US fundraising until next summer when they plan to join us here in Guatemala. Krishauna will be working with children who have special needs under Ministerio de Esperanza, while Andi will be serving with the sports ministry, Push the Rock, to open a Guatemalan branch of that ministry. I believe God has great things in store for them as a couple.

Once we get the Stateside wedding behind us, we can then start focusing on another wedding. Our daughter, Brittney, will be marrying Joel Caal on January 16, and we could not be happier about it. Joel is serving as the Director of our Solola headquarters in San Pablo La Laguna, the town where Brittney lives and serves. He has rented a home there, moved in and is beginning work to improve it so that after their wedding he and Brittney can share it. It will also serve as a ministry center for their work together. Please be praying for them in the months ahead.

I wish all the reasons for our busyness could be as happy as these, but they are not. We are facing so many medical hardships as the national healthcare system continues to collapse. Every day we receive calls requesting help, and many are desperate.

IMG_1143Sometimes these situations are extremely frustrating because they were preventable. One such call came on Monday as I was contacted by Jorge’s sister because he was in crisis. We have worked with Jorge, who has spina bifida since 2011, when we were introduced to him by Dick Rutgers. At that time he was struggling with a pressure sore on his right foot, and we assumed responsibility for making monthly visits with his family and helping to treat his foot. As Dick had done before us, we explained to his mother how to treat the sore and how important it was that they take good care of it. Pressure sores can be difficult to heal, and very few people here understand how to treat them.

One of the problems with these types of sores is that they tunnel deep into the flesh. Usually people bandage the tops of them, and the skin grows over the top. However, the wound is still there and growing under the surface. They believe the sore is healed until one day it ruptures open. In their mind, the sore came overnight, but it was there all along.

For this reason, you have to pack the wound with gauze wetted with saline solution. You then leave the gauze sticking out of the hole and place dry gauze over the top. These bandages must be changed at least once a day. This enables the wound to heal from the inside out.

In spite of these instructions, his family did not take the wound seriously. By 2013 the wound had gotten worse and he suffered from repeated infections that had eaten away his heal bone. So we arranged for a surgery team from the US to perform a Syme’s amputation in which they removed his heal bone and saved his heal pad. After this procedure he was sore free…for about two months. He then developed another because they did not follow our instructions again.

IMG_6076So, for the last two years, we have been treating this sore. Each time we visited I would debride the wound (cut away dead tissue around the edges), pack it and make sure the family knew how to do it. This became more difficult when his family moved from La Gomera, one of our regular ministry towns, to Nueva Concepción, which is farther out and an area in which we do not minister currently. At that point, my visits dropped from monthly to quarterly. There would be periods where we would see improvement, and I could tell they were following our instructions. Then there would be other periods during which the wound would worsen and I could tell they were not.

When I last visited the wound has worsened again. I spent time caring for it and, once again, stressed that they needed to do the same every day. I told him he needed to keep pressure off the wound, and he promised he would.

Then the call came Monday, and his sister was frantic. He was running a fever, and she said his foot was in horrible shape. She sent me a photo of the wound, and I could tell it had gangrene. And I knew it would have to be amputated. And just between you, me and God, I was angry. I was angry because I knew it could have been prevented.

The next day, Katie, Gerardo and I drove all the way down to Nueva Conception. When we entered the room I could smell the infection. We unwrapped the foot and realized that it was even worse than the picture showed. (If you are squeamish, you might want to skip the next paragraph.)

IMG_1939 2There was black, rotting flesh that ran through the wound. When I lifted his foot, I realized that the sore had tunneled all the way through his bones and out the other side. If I pushed on one side of his foot, puss would squirt out the other. His foot was eaten away with infection. I also noticed that there was angry red swelling up to mid-tibia on his leg, indicating that the infection was working its way up his leg. I knew then that they would likely take his leg at the knee.

When I confronted his mother, she said they had been treating the wound like I told them to. She insisted that two weeks before the wound was healed, but it came back suddenly. That just showed that they had not treated the wound properly, and I told her so. At this point, I had to bite my tongue and not say anything more out of fear of saying something I would regret later.

Resources are short these days, so we could not afford a private hospital. We decided to drive him from his town to Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City. It was a three hour drive, but that is the best national hospital in the country. They have competent doctors, but lack basic supplies such as antibiotics and fever relievers. We decided that the best use of resources was to take him there and offer to pay for the supplies.

I won’t take you through the long ordeal to get him hospitalized. Let’s just say it involved a nasty nurse who would not listen and Gerardo getting kicked out of the room because he was trying to explain the issues and the nurse would not hear what he had to say. But, at the end of the day, he was admitted and the doctor agreed that his leg needed to come off just above the knee.

We arrived home late, and shortly after received a call that they were doing emergency surgery to remove his leg. When the doctor went in, he discovered infection in his knee and decided that he needed to amputate at mid-femur. This has left Jorge depressed, as he thought he would only lose his foot.

This situation has taught me a lesson. From this point forward I will be carrying photos of severe and infected pressure sores on my phone. When I find someone with these sores in early stages, I will show them the photos and explain this is what happens if you don’t care properly for the wounds. Hopefully I can scare them into obedience.

Please pray for Jorge. This is a hard lesson in responsibility for him and his mother. His road to recovery will be a long one, and his life will be changing significantly.

And we ask that you also please pray for this ministry. Our expenses have increased significantly in the last six months, as has the demand for the work we do. I don’t believe we are in a financial crisis, because we can never be in such a state when God is our provider. One of my favorite quotes is by Hudson Taylor and says this:

“God’s work done in God’s way never lacks God’s supply.” 

I believe we are doing God’s work and, to the best of our abilities, are doing it God’s way. So we trust. But we do ask you to join us in praying for God’s continued provision, especially for our group home, which is the area that is needing God’s intervention most.

Thanks! Blessings from Guate!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Walls That Grief Built

It’s confession time, and this confession may cost me. But I have always tried to be transparent in this blog, and I want that to continue.

For the last eight to twelve months I have struggled to feel God’s presence and hear His voice. And that has been scary for me. What has frightened me so much was that I had no idea why.

In the past I have gone through periods of spiritual silence, but in each case I knew the cause. There was an issue I needed to confront in my life…a sin I needed to address…a call from God that I was ignoring. And I knew what I needed to do to end the silence.

For the last year I struggled more and more to hear God’s voice and feel His hand, even as I felt them slip away. And I did not know the reason.

What I did not realize was that the intimacy with my wife, Wanda, was also slipping away. We have always been close, sharing laughter and tears through whatever we faced. Through our 27 years of marriage I would have described our life together as  fun, adventurous and intimate. In recent months she has shared a feeling of increasing distance from me, but being the typical, thick-headed guy, I wrote off her concerns as “oversensitivity” or just a phase due to my busyness. But a few weeks she looked me in the eyes and told me that she felt alone. And that shook me.

So the next morning I sent the staff off on their respective assignments and cleared my schedule to spend some time alone with God and get to the bottom of both the spiritual silence and my wife’s feeling of isolation.

I hit my knees and prayed. And………nothing. I felt alone. I felt as if I was praying to a wall. No feeling of His presence. No correcting words. No epiphanies. Nothing.

After about 45 minutes of silence, I reached over and picked up my iPad, planning to read the Bible. But as I did, I felt the urge to read a new book I had just downloaded instead. The name of the book is The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken, and had been recommended to me by a friend from my childhood. So, I began to read.

This book tells the story of a man and his family who were missionaries in Somalia during the civil war. It is a challenging, heartbreaking and inspiring story, and it gripped me right away. And as I read the story of death, suffering, poverty, oppression and abuse they saw there, I found myself crying. I’m not talking about sniffles and slow tears flowing down my face. I am talking about can’t-breathe-snot-flowing-gut-wrenching sobbing.

But here’s the thing…I wasn’t crying about the suffering and death in Somalia in 1992. I was crying about the death and suffering that I have seen here in Guatemala. It was as if four-and-a-half years of grief came out of my body in an explosive release. And then I felt God hand on my shoulder once again. And I heard His voice for the first time in a while.

Daryl, you have been shoving down grief so long that you have gone numb. Why don’t you bring that grief to me instead? Let’s face it together.

So, I did. I sat and began going through the ones I had lost over the last four years. And it hurt…badly.

DSCF7298bGabby, who died of an allergic reaction to new seizure medication. (I was the one who spotted her petit mal seizures and encouraged the Director of her group home to take her to the neurologist for the same medicine that killed her.)


DSCF7869bPilar, an elderly woman who died from an obstructed bowel after we told the family that we could not pay for her surgery.



Fam50My mom, who died from injuries received in a car accident. A few days ago we passed the third anniversary of her death. This one really hurt when I confronted my grief.


IMG_2334Maria Jose, a precious little girl from Sipacate with cerebral palsy who was taken one night due to complications from a respiratory infection.



Our three year old neighbor, Jose, who stepped in front of a chicken bus and died from head injuries he sustained.


EsperanzaOur little Esperanza, who taught us more about God’s love than any sermon ever could. She filled our home and hearts with that love.



10014695_10203741857972921_853329514_nOur little Thania, who died in my arms in spite of my frantic attempts to save her with CPR. I watched the light go out in her eyes and was helpless to stop it.


SAM_5936Our little Micah, who came to our home and died eight days later. He suffered greatly during his short life, but it was still hard to see him go.


Brandon, who died last month when he and his mother were hit by a car as she carried him to the physical therapy our ministry provided.



[IMG_1720%255B1%255D%255B4%255D.jpg]Lucia, for whose life we have been fighting. She is currently in her home with her mom, expected to pass away soon.



And I could go on, but I won’t. This lists does not include all the deaths of precious children we have known, and it does not include the suffering we see every day.

I have attended so many funerals. I have consoled so many grieving parents. I have helped dig graves and I have helped fill them with dirt once the casket has been lowered. So much pain. So much loss.

Each time we lost another one, I would cry and grieve for a brief period. But I would tell myself that there is work to be done (true) so I needed to get over it and move on (false). I would shove the pain down deep and get back to work.

If this had happened once or twice, I could have likely moved on without noticeable consequences. But the grief piled up, one after another. And I believe my shut-down came shortly after Thania died. The trauma of that day, the flash backs, the guilt of not being able to save her…it was the emotional straw that broke this camel’s back. So, I shut down and withdrew. It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t even realized I had done it until my sobbing break-down three weeks ago.

And so, over recent days I have grieved anew. And through this period I have learned how healing it is to really grieve. All my life I have heard that you need to take time to grieve after a loss. And I have always given an intellectual nod to the sentiment. But until I faced the consequences of not grieving, I never really understood why.

Each day I feel more of God’s presence and hear His voice more clearly again. Wanda and I are laughing together and taking more time to just talk and love. I am more emotionally available to my family again. I can feel the walls coming down, and it feels good.

I am under no illusion that my grief has been dealt with and things are fine now. I know that there is still grieving to be done. And while I continue to grieve, there will likely be new reasons for grief that will arise. What I am learning is to face it and bask in the pain of loss while allowing Jesus to grieve with me. While grief unaddressed builds walls, grieving tears them down and enables us to find laughter on the other side. And it helps us stay connected to both God and those that we love.

I pray that in my weakness and my hard-learned lesson some of you will find help and healing for your own pain. Face it, feel it, allow the tears to flow, because the alternative is a life lived in numbness. And that’s not worth living.

Blessings from Guatemala!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A National Emergency

I have a backlog of blogs I am waiting to publish, so as to not overwhelm you. I need to update you regarding the status of Lucia. (She is home now, but we don’t know how long she will live). I also want to share with you some hard lessons I have been learning. However, I need to put these blogs off a little longer to alert you regarding a crisis in Guatemala and ask for your help.

For some time now I have been telling you of the crisis in the Guatemalan healthcare system. The national hospital system has been woefully lacking in basic supplies for months. (By basic supplies I mean things like acetaminophen, pain killers, bandages, vaccines, anesthesia and more.) Today we learned that things have reached a crisis point.

Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City, which is the largest and best national hospital in the country, may be suspending patient services tomorrow due to a lack of these basis supplies. This means more than a thousand patients will be without care. Even if they are able to keep the doors open and doctors and nurses on staff to treat patients, they will not have what they need to care for them.

In other national hospitals conditions are the same or worse. This morning I was told of a lady who was in labor in Antigua and she needed a C-section. The hospital did not have the supplies they needed, so they sent her out to buy them. She was in labor and out on the street begging for money so she could buy the supplies.

Last week there were 18 women lined up awaiting C-sections in that same hospital, but they did not have the supplies to do them. Their families were out begging, borrowing and purchasing the supplies they needed. I wonder how many of those children will have special needs as a result of stress caused by delayed birth.

In another hospital near Huehuetenango, they are using old sheets and towels to bandage wounds. Yesterday a group of doctors from the area was out begging for money for medical supplies. And things are going to get much worse before they get better.

So what does this mean for us? This crisis hits families with children who have special needs more than most. Many of them are frail and prone to infections and respiratory illnesses. And now they have no where else to turn but us. Further, this crisis will result in an increase in special needs due to effective intervention during childbirth. And it means that burden for medical care will increase significantly on our ministry as our families have no other option for assistance. Almost daily people are seeking us out for medical care, some via phone, while others are knocking at my gate. I am having trouble keeping my medical bag sufficiently stocked.

[IMG_1728%255B1%255D%255B3%255D.jpg]We are seeing a steady rise in medical emergencies in our families. So, I am asking for your help.

I do not fundraise for this ministry. We do not ask for money to pay salaries, rent, gas, maintenance or other ministry expenses, and I will not start now. God always provides for those things as we trust in Him. However, I will ask for money to go to specific needs of families, and that is what I am asking now.

Would you pray about donating to our Emergency Medical Fund? If you do, not one penny will be spent on administration or ministry expenses, but it will all go directly to providing doctors and medicine to those in desperate need. Please hear that again…every cent of your gift will go directly to those in need of emergency medical care.

[IMG_1734%255B1%255D%255B5%255D.jpg]We need this fund to increase significantly to meet this current need. So, if you feel led by God to respond, please visit to learn how you can give. And please note that your gift is for the Emergency Medical Fund. If you are unable to do so at this time, then please commit to pray for this ministry and those we serve. And pray for Guatemala. There are dark days ahead for this country, but they give us an opportunity to shine the light of Jesus more brightly!

Thanks, and God bless you!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

For This One

It is going to be difficult for me to describe this past Saturday in a way that is orderly and makes sense. But I really need to try, because it was one of the most challenging and impacting days of my life in Guatemala. Please stay with me as I try.

IMG_1720[1]For the last three weeks we have been in back and forth communication with Lucia’s family. They live in San Pablo La Laguna, about 20 meters from where my daughter, Brittney, lives. Lucia has severe Cerebral Palsy, and we have been working with her for almost three years. She developed a respirator infection that turned into pneumonia, and they hospitalized her in the national hospital in Xela (Quetzaltenango). (That is about 1 1/2 hours away from San Pablo by car and three hours by bus.)

We were very concerned when we learned this because, as you have read in this blog many times before, most national hospitals are nightmares. When she had not improved after a week there, we began to investigate other hospitals. Brittney took the bus to Xela to visit Lucia and her mother, Maria. While she was there, she also visited several private hospitals to arrange for her to be transferred. However, most hospitals said they could not accommodate her because they do not have the facilities to accommodate the intensive care that she needs. She did find one hospital that agreed to take her, but they told us it would cost Q.33,000 a day (about $4350.00). While that seems normal by US standards, that is an astronomical price by Guatemalan standards. However, she was told by the administrator of one private hospital that the Intensive Care Unit in the national hospital in Xela was very complete and that it would be best for her to stay there. So, we dropped it.

This past Friday, however, I received a call from Brittney. She informed by that Lucia was continuing to decline. Further, Brittney’s home was filled with family and neighbors who were concerned about both Lucia and her mother. At this point they had been in the hospital for 18 days. They were in a communal room with other patients, and the only place her mother could sleep was in a straight-backed chair beside her bed. She was exhausted. And, to make matters worse, the hospital had accused her of being a bad mother and called in Derechos Humanos (Human Rights) to investigate. (They had based this accusation on two situations: 1) Lucia was malnourished. This was not due to a lack of attention and provision, but due to the difficulty of giving enough nutrients to a child with severe Cerebral Palsy who struggles to swallow. 2) Maria’s unwillingness to allow them to surgically install a G tube. She felt her daughter was too weak to tolerate the surgery. She also felt it was unnecessary because her daughter was eating. She was right on the first issue and only needed someone to explain the second issue to her in a way that she could understand.)

As a result of these accusations, they were threatening to remove Lucia from her mother’s care. Her friends and family gathered at Brittney’s home begging for our ministry to intercede. They stayed there until almost 10:00 pm seeking Brittney’s counsel and help. So, we jumped into high gear.

We spoke with the national hospital to find out what was required to remove her from the hospital. They told us we needed two things, an ambulance to transport her and a letter from the receiving hospital stating that they would take her. By this time, the hour was late, so we had to put everything on hold until the follow morning.

Saturday morning, one of our faithful workers in San Pablo communicated with the Bomberos to arrange for an ambulance to transfer Lucia from Xela to Antigua, which is about a 2 1/2 hour drive with sirens and lights. Meanwhile, Joel and I headed into Hospital Hermano Pedro Privado (not to be confused with Hermano Pedro Obras Sociales, the special needs hospital in which we work) to get a letter. This proved to be far easier than I expected because I know the hospital director, having worked with him several times before. We left 30 minutes after we arrived with letter in hand and an ambulance preparing to meet us at the hospital.

IMG_1725[1]We arrived three hours later at around 2:30 pm. When we entered the room we found Maria exhausted and Lucia with an estimated fever of between 102 and 103. The previous 19 days had taken their toll on both of them, and I wanted to get them to a better place quickly. We gave our letter to the doctor and informed her that the ambulance was waiting. She left and then returned soon after to inform us that they could not release her. Because they were under investigation by Human Rights, they needed them to provide the okay to leave. Unfortunately, no one was answering the phones in their office. Of course, they had not informed us of any of this when they told us what we needed to get her released. Thus began a three hour wait.

IMG_1728[1]Finally, they agreed to release her to us if I would sign a form assuming all responsibility for Lucia’s care and supervision. In essence, I became her guardian, responsible to protect her. And then we were freed to leave.

Just a note: As we were leaving the room I asked for a list of medicines that Lucia had been given. When I looked at the list I noticed their was nothing for fever control. So I asked the head nurse if they had given her anything for fever. To which the nurse replied, “She doesn’t have a fever.” I insisted that she did, and her mom confirmed that she had had one all day long. The nurse again insisted that she did not, and stepped over to prove us wrong. As soon as her hand touched Lucia’s face, her expression changed from annoyance to embarrassment. She looked down and said, “I’m sorry. We don’t have anything to give her for that.” Understand the significance of that story. Lucia had been in INTENSIVE CARE, running a fever all day, yet none of the staff had checked her closely enough to notice.

I am now going to step away from Lucia’s story to tell you about events that unfolded during our wait for that release. You see, it did not take long for the word to spread that there was a gringo in the intensive care ward that was helping a family. So, soon I was overwhelmed by needs.

IMG_1736[1]It started with a man who approached me with tears in his eyes. His eight year old son, Adolfo, has had eight surgeries on a brain tumor. His previously healthy and happy child at age six is now in a coma and on a respirator. He needed medicine and the hospital informed his dad that he needed to buy it, but he had no money. Before I walked away, I had given him Q.200.00 (about $26.00 USD).

IMG_1734[1]The next thing I knew I had a crying mother leading me by the hand to show me her three month old daughter, Dafry. She, too, is in a coma and on a respirator due to complications from pneumonia. She wept as she begged me for help for the medicine and blood tests that the hospital told her she needs to pay for. When I returned home, we transferred money to help with those costs.

IMG_1731[1]Then it was the mother of another three month old, Jessica, that was leading me to a bedside. They believe her daughter has leukemia, but they need more blood tests to be sure. She and her husband do not have the money for those tests.

And the stories continued. I prayed with each one, and made arrangements to help when I could. When we finally left the ward at around 5:30 there were people lining the hallway on both sides. As I was pushing Lucia’s bed with one hand and carrying an oxygen tank in the other, there were people reaching out and touching me as I passed. I only heard snippets of their pleas as we moved down the passageway.

“My daughter is sick…”

“My son needs surgery…”

“We need money for a test…”

“My baby is dying…”

When we finally made it inside the elevator, away from the begging, I put down the oxygen tank and wiped my tears. I realized that this one little girl that we were helping was not even a drop in the ocean of need. At that moment, everything felt completely hopeless. We could work a million years and spend tens of millions of dollars, and we would only scratch the surface.

IMG_1726[1]I have never known or experienced such hopelessness as I did in that dismal hospital ward. For most of those families, they saw me as their only hope. And I just wanted to scream at them and explained how misplaced their hope was. I am one man. We are one ministry with very limited resources.

When we got off the elevator I simply told myself, “You can’t save them all. You can’t care for every child. But you can make a difference for this one.” And so I focused on the child in front of me and keeping her alive for the next 2.5 hour hospital ride.

I rode in the ambulance as sirens blared and lights blazed to get us through the city traffic. Joel drove my truck and detoured to San Pablo to pick up Brittney.  I was concerned about the toll the ride was taking on Lucia, as she would regularly begin to cry. We administered medicine through her IV every 20 minutes, and she arrived very weak at her new hospital.

IMG_1737[1]As soon as the doctor saw us enter, he rushed us to a room in the emergency ward. Within three minutes, he and three nurses were working on her. Once they had her stabilized they transferred her to a room, and when I left her she was sleeping peacefully in her new bed.

The cost difference between a semi-private room and a private room was only $6.50 a night. So we decided to splurge so this exhausted mother could have a comfortable reclining chair in which to sleep and some privacy.

Yesterday afternoon I visited her and her mom. She was still battling with a fever, so I spoke with the doctor. He explained that her infection is very severe and he is not sure if she is going to make it or not. I expressed my concern about her fever, so he decided to add a second medicine to help control it.

Please pray for her in the days ahead. Her life is truly hanging in the balance.

Today I received a contact from some people who live in the Department of Retalhuleu. They are begging us to expand our ministry into their area of Guatemala. It is a very poor region, and the crisis for those with special needs is great. They have offered to help us set up a headquarters and even provide us with a psychologist to assist families. Meanwhile we have people waiting in Santa Rosa and Chiquimula for us to expand to those departments. The needs are so incredibly great.

I have committed to never ask for money for our ministry, and I am not breaking that commitment now. (We do seek sponsors for children, but we never fundraise for our ministry expenses.) But I do want use this opportunity to make the following vow to our supporters:

If you feel led to give to our work, we will use every penny you give wisely and for the glory of God. And we will save Every. Single. Life. Possible. while proclaiming the glory of Jesus Christ. And I, personally, will invest everything I have in order to do so.

This, you can count on.

I can do more. We can do more. We will do more. And we will make His name famous!

Thanks for every prayer, every dollar and every encouraging word! Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Political Tidal Wave…So What?

Unless you have been completely disconnected from all news sources for the last five months, you are likely aware of the uprising that has occurred among the people here in Guatemala. This groundswell movement against corruption has led to the resignations and arrests of both the Vice-president and President. In case you have missed it, allow me to fill you in on events.

Back in April the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala released its findings of an investigation that had been going on for nearly two years. Hundreds of wire tapped conversations and documents exposed a bribery scheme called “La Linea” (The Line). In this scheme, government officials and their accomplices were receiving bribes in return for lowering import taxes on businesses. For example, a business might owe a Q.50,000 import tax on goods being brought into the country. But officials would arrange a secret deal that would allow the business to lower their taxes to Q.25,000 if they would make a discreet payment of Q10,000 to a certain representative. Through this scam, millions of dollars was pocketed by corrupt officials, and many millions more were denied to the nation of Guatemala. And arrests began to happen.

Such corruption is rather commonplace in Guatemala. It happens all the time. But a few things made this instance different:

  1. The size and scope of the theft. As already stated, millions of dollars were stolen and over 100 people are being investigated as being a part of La Linea.
  2. The scam was exposed at a particularly difficult time in Guatemala. For months the national hospitals have been without basic medications (vaccines, Tylenol, amoxicillin, bandages, etc.), teachers have gone unpaid and police departments have not had money to buy gas for their vehicles. And during this time the government has simply stated, “Sorry, we don’t have the money.” Suddenly Guatemalans knew that a lot of that money was in the pockets of corrupt officials.
  3. The levels to which the corruption rose. By the time all of the evidence was presented, it was clear that both the Vice-president and President were involved.

Upon the release of these findings, the Guatemalan people began to protest in a unified manner. Fueled by social media, they assembled peacefully around the seat of power in Guatemala City. They blocked roads throughout Guatemala. And they kept doing it. There is a general awareness of corruption in government here, and it is usually assumed that nothing can be done about it. Powerful people protect other powerful people and visa versa. Many times they had seen justice subverted. But this time they stood firm. And they began to see results.

In May congress voted to remove the immunity of the Vice-president, Roxana Baldetti. This meant she could be arrested and prosecuted like any other citizen. Shortly after this move, she resigned. Her passport was confiscated, along with her helicopter, to assure she could not flee the country. In addition, her bank accounts were seized while the investigation continued. The people saw their first victory, and it made them hungry for more. So, the protests continued and grew as they demanded the arrest of the Vice-president and the removal of immunity for the President.

Throughout May, June, July and August the President, Otto Perez Molina, insisted that he was innocent and would not resign. Meanwhile, as congress tried on a couple of instances to remove his immunity, the President’s party (Patriota), combined with the Lider Party, to defeat the measure each time. So the protests continued to grow.

On August 21st the Vice-President was arrested and, while the people celebrated this victory, they were not satisfied. They wanted to see Otto Perez out of office and prosecuted as well. This culminated on August 28 with a nationwide protest. Hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans protested throughout the country, and many businesses closed in a strike. And they made it clear that the protests would continue.

Finally, on Tuesday, September 1st, congress voted to remove the President’s immunity. On Wednesday evening an arrest warrant was issued for Otto Perez, and he resigned shortly thereafter. On Thursday morning his arraignment began, and the country celebrated.

All of this unfolded leading up to Guatemala’s national election on Sunday, September 6 (yesterday). And this scandal has changed the landscape of politics. Prior to these events, the Lider candidate, Manuel Baldizon, was the heavy favorite to win. In fact, only six months ago it was predicted by some that he would win without a run-off. (In Guatemala, you cannot be elected president without 50.1% of the vote. Since there were 16 candidates running in this election, the odds of a candidate getting that majority are slim.This results in a run-off between the top two candidates.) However, because of the Lider Party’s role in protecting the President, a political outsider, Jimmy Morales, is now in first place with almost 24% of the vote, and Baldizon is in third place as the votes continue to be counted. (There is only a .02% gap between him and the second place candidate, Sandra Torres.) All polls show Jimmy Morales winning the run-off, regardless of which candidate he faces.

So, what does this mean for Guatemala? That is a good question. In the last four months we have seen people rise up in peaceful but firm opposition against corruption. And they have won. That is a very positive step for a country that has been abused and oppressed for so long. For the first time in recent memory, the people feel that they are not powerless, but can actually influence change. And those in power are shaken as a result. Suddenly they are realizing that they may not be as untouchable as they once believed.

And all of that is good. But there are a few questions that only time will answer:

  1. Will this last? Or will this be a temporary withdrawal of evil within the government, waiting for people to once again become complacent and distracted. That is the likely outcome. As Macbeth said, “Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely”. We can only pray that those in power will realize that their power is not so absolute.
  2. Will the people place their trust in politics instead of the things that really matter? Don’t misunderstand me. I am happy that people are exercising their right to vote and demonstrate. There is nothing wrong with that. It is estimated that nearly 80% of the Guatemalan people voted yesterday, and that was a record turn-out. And I am thrilled to see so many people who want to have their voices heard. But politics is never a long-term solution. That is a lesson that the church in American seems to have forgotten. Often politics become a distraction from the most important things…knowing and loving Jesus, loving our neighbors, and proclaiming God’s glory to the world.
  3. What have I/we learned? Guatemala is different today because hundreds of thousands of people stood up and said “No!” to corruption and oppression. But, face it, most battles for justice do not take the form of a national revolution. Most of those battles are fought daily in hundreds of smaller situations. And often you and I are the only ones there to fight. The widow is cheated. The child is abandoned. The teen is bullied. The single mother is left to fend for herself and her child. And, in those moments, we have a choice. Will we place ourselves between the oppressor and the oppressed? Will we absorb injustice to shield the innocent? Or will we shrug it off and convince ourselves that it is not our problem? After all, that’s just the way things are, and we will never change it. Or will we be inspired to rise up and fight for justice? Time will tell.

Now that the protests are behind us, this ministry becomes a little easier. We have battled closed roads and worked to avoid protests for months. Just last week we were unable to get a child in for medical care because the route was blocked. So I am breathing a little easier these days.

Allow me to close with two prayer requests:

IMG_1580First, Lucia from San Pablo La Laguna is in critical condition in the national hospital in Xela. She has pneumonia, and the doctor is uncertain of her recovery. She has severe cerebral palsy, which make recovery more difficult. Please pray for her.

FullSizeRender (2)Second, Angelita continues to struggle. A few days ago she was diagnosed with a respiratory infection. In addition, she continues to cry much of the time, especially when she is being moved. We suspect head pain, but cannot know for sure because she is unable to speak. She is not eating, so we had to insert an NG tube to feed her and dispense her medications. We will be getting new tomography of her brain in the next day or two. Please pray for her healing.

Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Angelita Is Home

Forgive me for being so late in sharing an update on Angelita’s surgery. The last six days have been a blur, and I am only now getting my feet under me.

We arrived at the hospital late on Friday afternoon. My daughter, Brittney, and her fiancé, Joel, drove us and helped us get checked in to her room. Because of the long drive to the city, combined with vehicle issues and the fact that the hospital is in a more dangerous zone of the city, we decided that I would stay with Angelita the entire time and provide her care.

Her surgery was scheduled for the next morning (Saturday), but we had some immediate concerns. Friday was a big day in Guatemala. The former Vice-President, who resigned in May due to a bribery scandal, was arrested and formally charged. In addition, more evidence was released that links our current President to the scandal. This triggered protests all over Guatemala as the people began demanding the President’s resignation or his impeachment, and the central focus of that was around the seat of power, which was just a few blocks from our hospital. In addition, other protests blocked roads all over the country. So we were concerned that the staff would be blocked from getting in to do the surgery. However, after a lot of prayers, they made it in early the next morning before the protests heated up.

IMG_1653[1]The surgery on Saturday went flawlessly. The doctor was very pleased with the procedure, although Angelita did take longer to wake up from the anesthesia than normal. She spent most of the day sleeping, and only had one glitch when she threw-up at around 3:00 am on Sunday morning. But when she woke up later in the morning she had a huge smile on her face! She was alert and happy for most of the day. Wanda, Brittney and Joel came in late morning so that I could leave and get some real food. The fresh air did me good.

On Monday morning she awoke even happier than the day before. As I spoke to her she laughed! In fact, she laughed more by 10 am on Monday morning than I have heard her laugh for the previous year! Our little girl was back! The doctor discharged her late morning

By this point I was a walking zombie, having not slept well for the previous three nights. I had planned to come home, take care of urgent office work and crash. I had also planned to take Tuesday off, except for doing a quick update to my blog, but that was not to be. Instead the morning was filled with a stream of families at our gate, vehicle problems and a stomach virus that has filled our home with vomiting and diarrhea.

Speaking of vehicle problems, both of the ministry’s 4-wheel drive vehicles are in the shop right now. This has effectively shut down our rural village ministry. We are hoping to get one of them back today or tomorrow, but this is Guatemala. So we really have no idea when it will be done. Please pray that the work on both of these will be completed soon, as we have families that are waiting.

In addition, the protests continue to heat up. Yesterday roads all over Guatemala were blocked, making travel difficult. The protests will likely continue until the President is removed from office. Thus far the protests have remained peaceful and have yielded results. Please pray for justice and peace for Guatemala.

Blessings from Guatemala!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew