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