Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Birthday, A Stolen Vehicle, and An Open Home

It has been a while since my last blog post. Time is flying these days, and what seemed like two weeks has actually been two months. Life is busy. Very busy.

Let me fill you in on all that has been happening…

When word spread of our decision to open a second home, the church responded in incredible ways, and money flowed to us. We rented the second house that is just 100 yards down the street, and work began. Our entire team worked long days painting, building, plumbing and running electricity. Other ministries stepped up and gave to help. El Amor de Patricia provided us with 12 beds, pillows, sheets and blankets, along with towels, silverware, plates, cups and much more. Orphan Resources International provided a table and benches along with hygiene kits and doubled their monthly food resources to our ministry. We also purchased furniture and appliances and the home came together quickly. 


At the same time, our daughters, Carissa and Taryn, changed their plane tickets and made a speeding return to Guatemala from Uganda. They were installed as the Directors of the new house, and we hired three additional nannies and began training them. Within two weeks, everything was ready to go.

And we waited. And waited. And waited. We had been receiving multiple calls a day asking us to receive children up until the week before our second house was ready. But then they stopped. Stories began come out of inner turmoil in Bienestar Social, UNICEF and CNA. Due to pressure from UNICEF and the funds they provide for children in government homes, Bienestar Social did not want to move children from the government homes to private homes like ours. They were pressuring the President to expand the government homes and move children from private homes.

At one point, we were told that the President signed an order to move all children from private homes to foster care or government homes. This information came from a well-placed and knowledgeable source and was confirmed the next day when a court contacted us asking about the information for the children in our home that were from their court. They told us that they were trying to comply with the President’s order and find placement for them elsewhere. Likewise, another person who works closely with Bienestar Social contacted me and confirmed the story.

Since then, I can find no public confirmation of the story, and many have told me it is false. But I do know that for almost five weeks our phones went dead. No calls came asking us to receive children. And, since the opening of our home, we have never gone more than a few days without a request. Likewise, I heard from several other ministries that had space, but they had stopped receiving calls as well. It was eerily silent.

Meanwhile, in the midst of this, we received word from CNA that an accusation had been made against our home. It seems that someone on Facebook had seen some of my posts and insisted that they were evidence that we were not caring for our children. They said that our children were not clean and were neglected. Right away, I knew what the issue was. A Spanish speaker had likely seen some of my photos of our rural village ministry and assumed that they were children in our home. I knew it would be quickly resolved, but shook my head at the needless waste of time.

Last week we met with representatives from CNA, and my suspicions were confirmed. The big concern was a post about a girl in our rural village ministry and a few misinterpreted photos of a children in our home. Once the situations were explained, everything was good again and CNA commended us for our work.

However, this has led us to make some difficult changes in our social media.  I have changed my Facebook page from public to private. In addition, our staff, family and interns will no longer be sharing photos of the children that display their faces or share their real names. These changes are to protect both our ministry and the children for which we care. 

Then, finally, at the beginning of last week, the children began to arrive in our new home. We received two children, and infant girl and a 10 year old boy. The little girl I will call “Anny” and the boy, “David.” Anny is likely terminal and will not live long, but we are working hard to assure that there is nothing more that can be done. If not, we will love her well until Jesus takes her home.

In addition, we are waiting for three children who were all residents of Hogar Seguro. They have severe special needs and are in desperate need of specialized care. As soon as the judges sign their orders, they will join us as well.

I am daily receiving calls asking us to receive children. Sometimes three or four a day. Even though we have space, we have to be careful about the children we receive. Here’s why:
  1. The courts are desperate to place children and are willing to lie and misrepresent the cases in order to convince us to say yes. They lie about their age and, knowing that we will only receive children with special needs, manufacture needs.  If we are not careful, we could say yes to a 10 year old with cerebral palsy who will end up being a 16 year old gang member.
  2. We are currently waiting on three children with severe special needs. Until we receive them, have them evaluated, and develop care plans for them, we don’t know what will be involved. So, until we know, we have to be careful about receiving other children with severe needs. Otherwise, we might find ourselves completely overwhelmed.
  3. We have to maintain balance. We cannot have a home filled with all severe, high-demand needs. We also need children with less severe needs to the sake of physical and emotion health of the caregivers. So, we rely heavily on the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we receive calls and make decisions. Please pray for that process.
While all of this was happening, we were also dealing with the loss of our Director of Operations, Manuel Moran, who was murdered the same day as the fire in  Hogar Seguro. How do we replace a man like him? How do I replace a brother and friend?

The week following Manuel’s funeral, my son-in-law, Joel, and daughter, Brittney, approached me. Both of them expressed their willingness to move back from San Pablo La Laguna and serve here in our main headquarters if I needed them. I knew right away that Joel would make an excellent Director of Operations, so we all began to pray for God’s guidance. And the Lord confirmed it.

So, Brittney and Joel moved to our town and are actually living right next door to our new home. Joel has adjusted to his new position beautifully and is doing a fantastic job. And our ministry is moving ahead once again.

But on Friday, we hit a little snag…

It was my 50th birthday, so my family planned a special day. It started out with breakfast in Antigua with my adult daughters, Brittney, Krishauna, Carissa and Taryn. We parked in town close to the big arch and headed to breakfast. We returned about 90 minutes later to find our Toyota 4-Runner missing. It had been stolen from a very public spot in broad daylight.

My response was unique. I didn’t get upset or angry. I don’t even think my heart rate elevated at all. I just calmly told the girls that I was going to find a police officer to file a report. So, after a humerous ride in a police truck, the theft was reported and Wanda picked us up and brought us home. And my birthday celebration continued. To be honest, it did not dampen the day at all. I had lunch with Andi, Stevie and Jeremiah. (Joel was in the city for a hearing with one of our children.) Then I watched a movie and had snacks with Joshua, Kimmie and Jonathan. Then I ended the day with supper in Antigua with my beautiful wife.

Through it all, God kept reminding me of how insignificant things such as cars are. What really matters is Him and the family that surrounded me all that day.

That is not to say that the theft of the vehicle is not a problem, because it is. Our fleet was already stretched thin before this, and now is it really thin. I have to replace it, and we do not have the funds to do so. But we cannot wait. We have to move forward, purchase a vehicle, and trust God to provide.

So, please pray for that provision in the days ahead. We need a 4x4 pick-up with diesel turbo and crew cab. I have been pleased with our Hilux, which is a workhorse, so I would prefer another one of those. Please pray that we can find what we need at a good price and that God will provide the funds.

Well, that is a summary of two months in about two pages. Thanks for your prayers, support and encouragement!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew