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!