Thursday, May 21, 2015

When Love Hurts and Heals

Today we drove to Solola to visit a little boy named Micah. (His legal name is Miguel, but a missionary friend who has been visiting him has been calling him Micah, so that is what we call him as well.) Micah is two months old and has severe birth defects that have produced a terminal condition.

IMG_0863[1]Micah was born without a skull above his face and ears, so what little brain he has is floating in cerebral fluid that extends upwards in two lobes. Two days ago one of the lobes ruptured due to pressure, and cerebral fluid has been draining as a result. In addition, Micah has severe cleft lip and pallet, and is unable to suck or swallow as a result. Therefore, he relies on a feeding tube for nourishment. (Please note: We are being discreet with the photos we share publically. I have seen too many such photos used in hurtful and harmful ways on the internet, so we are being careful with the images we publish.)

As I approached his bed and reached out to touch his face, all of the tubes and birth defects disappeared. All I saw was a beautiful and precious little boy. And I, once again, fell in love.

At that moment, I had a little argument with God that went like this:

God: You are his daddy. Take him home to his family.

Me: God, I cannot do this again. I cannot love another child and watch him die. It hurts too much.

God: Daryl, do you know how deeply and how many times loving you has hurt me?

Checkmate, God.

At this point I had no idea if they would allow us to take him into our home. He is still leaking cerebral fluid, is at a high risk of infection and is very fragile. But I knew I had to try. So I turned to the representative from PGN, the social worker and the nurses and, with the help of our friend, Felis, explained about our home and the care we could provide. I then asked if we could make Micah a part of our family and carry him to Jesus during the days he has left. There was an immediate and unanimous affirmation of that plan, and Hugo, the PGN worker, left immediately to talk to the judge and arrange for the orders. As a result, an ambulance will be transporting Micah to our home tomorrow morning.

As I left the hospital, I felt joy. Don’t get me wrong, I also felt fear of what may lie ahead. But the overwhelming emotion was joy. This is what God created us to do, and I felt God smile. He loves Micah way more than I ever could, but He takes great joy when His children love the ones He loves. And that is enough to carry my family and I through whatever lies ahead.

Please pray for Micah and for our family and staff. Micah is suffering now, so pray that we can ease that suffering and hold and love him well until the day Jesus does so perfectly. Someday soon Micah will run to Him!


Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Big and Scary Leap

This is one of those blogs that I am afraid to write. I have been wrestling with this for months now, and have resisted putting it into print because of my fear. But as the vision grows in my heart, I find that I can no longer keep it to myself.

ImageMy fear is rooted in the sheer size of the vision that God has placed in my heart. When I was a child, around the age of five, my family and I went to visit the battleship USS North Carolina, and the experience scared me. As I stood on the dock, looking at that towering ship, I felt so very small and insignificant. I remember trembling in awe. It was so big that there was no way I could influence the gentle sway of it in the water at all. That is how I feel right now. There is no way that I can make this vision happen. I am too small and it is too big.

But I am also afraid to address this publically for fear of looking foolish. To the best of my ability to know, I believe this is God’s direction for this ministry. And that conviction has steadily grown. But what if I am wrong? What if I put this out in front of so many and fail? All of my self-doubt and self-esteem issues scream for me to keep it all to myself. But I believe God is calling me to leap off this cliff and trust Him to do the catching. If He doesn’t…splat. But if I don’t jump, He cannot show His faithfulness.

Before I share this vision, I want you to know what this is not. It is not a back-handed way of fundraising. We are committed to trusting God to provide for this ministry without asking for money. He has done this all along and will continue to do so. If we are doing His work His way, He will meet out needs.

Neither is this my way of stepping up as a leader. God does not need my wisdom, vision or leadership, I need His. Modern leadership seminars will talk about developing a clear vision and laying out the steps to get there, but I have not done so to this point, and God has built this ministry. I do not have a desire to have a big ministry, and am not trying to grow it. I simply want to be obedient today, one step at a time, and go where He leads. That is what has brought us this far, and it will take us all the way home. This is simply me sharing what God has placed in my heart.

And the goal of this post is twofold:

  1. Accountability – By making it public, I am placing myself in your hands and inviting you to hold me accountable to this vision. I am moving this from a personal vision to a collaborative effort. Please help me.
  2. Prayer – The size and scope of this vision is way too big for man to accomplish, especially this very insignificant man. We need to, together, seek the God of heaven to fulfill His vision in and through us. Please pray with me.

Now, on to the vision…

IMG_0257Currently our ministry is operating our group home, Hogar de la Esperanza, and the rural village ministry, Ruedas de Esperanza. The size and influence of these ministries has grown beyond our expectations, and we are a little overwhelmed. We are currently working monthly with 92 families in 18 towns (32 villages). We also work with an additional 33 families on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. In the next three months, we plan to add two new communities to this number and, since these areas are the poorest in Guatemala, we expect the number of families to increase significantly.

IMG_0758Our 6000 square foot home has been filled to the max with children, medicine, bandages, food (in 100 pound bags), diapers, wheelchairs, equipment and more. So one of our first priorities is to find a location that can serve as a separate headquarters for Ruedas de Esperanza. The Beyer family is currently seeking another home to rent or purchase, and as a part of that they are hoping to find a place large enough to accommodate this area of ministry. They and the ministry are currently considering all options to allow for this area of growth and establish a separate headquarters for this work.

But as this ministry grows, God has shown me that we also need to de-centralize the work. In other words, we need to establish ministry centers like the one we are developing here in each of the departments in which we work. (Departments are kind of like states within the country.) Currently we are working in Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango, El Progreso, Esquintla, Solola and Guatemala City. We will soon be adding Chiquimula and Santa Rosa.

Ministry MapThe vision is for each department to have a director, a physical address that includes an office, significant storage, and a work area that is suitable for hosting clinics and training. Eventually, we would like to have a medical professional, a therapist and a special education professional in each of these headquarters. We also have the goal of having a birthing center and a trained midwife in each of these locations.

Now this goal is overwhelming and God-sized, even if we go no further. Just this vision alone means seven additional headquarters, along with seven wise and trustworthy men/women of God to serve as directors. Plus the needed therapists, educators, doctors and/or nurses and midwives. And don’t even talk about the money involved in such an endeavor. Oh, yeah…and the administration involved.

But that is the direction we need to go. I am confident of this.This will enable us to save money on transportation, lodging and more, while having people available in the communities as resources and ongoing help instead of a once-a-month visit. So that is the direction in which we are heading with God’s help.

But it doesn’t end there, and this is where it gets really scary. I believe God is calling us to develop these centers in every department in Guatemala. In case you are not aware, there are 22 departments. Yep…you read that right. 22. And as I consider that, the map of Guatemala looks really big, and I feel really small.

Therapy Tub 3At the same time, we continue to feel God’s pull to open more group homes, ten in total. All of these will be located close to us, here in Sacatepequez. The children will be brought by the courts from all over the country, but having them located locally will enable us to share resources between the homes while being close to the best doctors and resources available in the country.

As I stand here on the dock looking at this battleship, I feel so very small. This task is enormous and cannot be done by man. We need God, which means we need prayer. Will you please pray with us for:

  1. Quality men/women to serve as directors as we open these headquarters, one at a time.
  2. Financial resources to pay the increased monthly expenses of these headquarters and the additional families that will come seeking assistance as a result.
  3. Medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and midwives to join us in our work. (We also need a neurologist soon for our current work.)
  4. Special education experts to join us.
  5. Couples/families to join us to open additional group homes.
  6. Wisdom from God to know what steps to take and when to take them.
  7. Courage in the face of fear and resistance.

So, there you go. Now it is out there, and I can’t take it back. For better or for worse, I am jumping and trusting. And even in the midst of my fear I truly believe that the God Who has always been faithful before will be faithful again.

Care to jump with me?

Because of Him,

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

Monday, May 11, 2015

Doubts and Neglect

Kim2Our daughter, Kimmie, is having surgery on Wednesday. She has needed orthopedic surgery on her legs for some time now, but the doctor who had offered to do it has consistently not followed-through. So we arranged to get her in with a surgery team from Faith in Practice that has come from the States.

Yesterday she went in for evaluation to prepare for surgery, and the surgeon spoke with me after seeing her. The gist of the conversation can be summed up in the following bullet points:

  • I can do surgery here, but I cannot do everything she needs done.
  • It will not be my best work, as she needs additional assessment that can only be done in the States.
  • You really should bring her to Texas where I can arrange for further assessment and the proper surgery.

She stopped just short of calling me a bad father and accusing me of neglect as I explained that the trip to the States was not feasible and asked her to please do what she could to help us. So, she finally agreed to do tendon and muscle-lengthening surgery on both legs and her groin.

Now is the time for transparency, so prepare yourself…

Throughout this conversation I kept hearing the voices of everyone who told us not to come to Guatemala. I heard the people who questioned us as parents for moving our children, two of whom have special needs, to a developing country. Those who told us we were being irresponsible. Fellow parents who questioned both our wisdom and commitment to our children and family. And, for the first time since I felt God’s call to Guatemala, I wondered if they are right.

DSCF5657My daughter needs surgery, and I want her to have the best. That is why we adopted her from Korea in 2005. We wanted to give her a family and every advantage to face her disabilities that we could. She is a wonderful young lady, and she deserves the best.

Yet, on Wednesday she will have surgery in a Guatemalan hospital. Yes, she has an excellent surgeon, but she will be in less-than-optimal facilities receiving less-than-the-best procedure. And that is because of my decision to move my family to this country to do this ministry. And I am filled with both fear and doubt. Am I being a bad father? Am I failing my child/children? Am I helping other kids at the expense of my own?

To that last question, I know the answer is “Yes.” In order to help other children, my own sons and daughters have paid a price. My children have paid a price, as have Wanda and I. And that really bothers me. It is one thing for Wanda and I to make a decision and face the consequences for it. It is another thing to force that decision and consequences on our children. Yet, that is what we have done.

Along the way, we have stopped to ask them how they feel about Guatemala and this ministry, and, almost exclusively, their responses have been positive. All have told us that they are glad to be here, and they love what we do. But this situation takes us into new territory. For the first time, this life and ministry is placing one of our children in a situation in which it is not just an inconvenience of lifestyle, but in which their health and long-term development may be affected. So now I am asking, “Am I a bad father?”

I honestly don’t know how to answer that question. I know that I love Kimmie and all my kids. I know that I would give my life for any single one of them. I know that I want them to achieve all that they can achieve, and do it for the glory of Jesus. And, above all else, I want them to follow Jesus, no matter the cost. I want them to be willing to die for Him.

But now I am making decisions that may cost one of my children. And that is much harder. If it were me facing the surgery, as I did two months ago, it would not be a problem. But this is my little Kimmie, my Little Asian Lilly.

Tonight I am struggling. The surgery is scheduled and is two days away (actually, it’s 36 hours away), and I am filled with self-doubt. Am I doing the wrong thing? Am I helping other children while neglecting my own? Am I truly following God’s call, or am I a deluded idiot who has lost my mind? (After all, there have been plenty of those.)

As my mind and heart struggles with these questions, it keeps coming back to this one thought: My God gave his child for me. Am I willing to give my child for Him? And in that thought, I find both comfort and fear.

I find comfort because that seems to provide some order to this chaos and make me think that I am following God. It just helps this path make sense.

At the same time, I find fear because I don’t want my children to ever suffer for my obedience. God, please let me pay the price, but not them.

Years ago, Wanda and I held hands and told Jesus we would follow Him, no matter the cost. At that point, we both were willing to pay the cost personally of that decision. I have to admit, I have never considered my children paying the price. Now that has become very real.

So this evening I am trying to trust. I have gone over and over the call that God has given, and I do believe we are following that call. We have heard God’s voice and have obeyed, to the best of our abilities, and I believe the unfolding of this ministry is evidence of that. I do not believe this is a fool’s errand or a personal delusion. It is us following God’s path, one step at a time.

And I have to believe that the One who started us on this journey loves our Kimmie (His Kimmie) far more than we ever could and holds her care in the palm of His hand. And I have to believe that whatever price he asks us or our children to pay will one day be worth it.

Please pray for Kimmie as she faces surgery one Wednesday. Thanks.

Because of Him,