Monday, October 23, 2017


Again I find myself apologizing for being so negligent in blogging. For three weeks I have been trying to find the time to sit down and do an update, and for three weeks events keep interfering. But at long last…ta daaa!

The last month has been challenging for me in many respects. On September 22nd I flew to the States for 17 days to speak in churches and share a message that God placed on my heart. I had a wonderful time with my sister, Kathy, and my brother-in-law, Bob, as I was able to stay with them in North Carolina throughout the duration of my trip. We were able to travel to the coast to see my brother, Rusty, and his family as well, and I was able to connect with old friends from high school. 

In addition, I spoke in four churches and shared my passion for the church to embrace true discipleship. The response was tremendous, as people trusted their lives to Christ for the first time and others committed themselves to a deeper lifestyle of discipleship. So, from the perspective of family and ministry it was a great trip. 

But, as always, I wrestled with culture shock. Prior to this trip, I had spent only about four weeks total in the States over the last almost six years that we have lived in Guatemala. Two of those were for my mom’s accident and eventual death and funeral, eight days were for two weddings, and one week was to see two of our daughters and grandkids. While I experienced culture shock during each of these trips, this visit was especially difficult. It is hard to describe what it is like to leave a place like Guatemala and land in a place like the US, but I can tell you it is overwhelming.

One day we went to Costco to pick up a few items. We have some big box stores in Guatemala, but the US takes it to a whole new level. I was overwhelmed as soon as we walked through the door straight into the electronics department. It overwhelmed my senses. So many TV’s, computers, tablets, phones, accessories and more. I walked through looking for items that might be helpful for ministry, but then decided to walk away because I just could not process it all. 

From there I went to the hardware and automotive department. Again, I was overwhelmed, but this time something new was added to the mix. Want. I suddenly found myself wanting things that I did not know existed until 15 seconds before. I picked up three different items with plans to purchase them because “we really need these for the ministry.” But then I returned them to the shelf and walked away before materialism could completely engulf me.

At one point, I felt what I can only assume was the beginning of a panic attack. I just wanted to find a dark quiet room and lock myself in for an hour or two. I just felt completely dwarfed by the choices and sights that surrounded me. When we left the store I had purchased only antacids, reading glasses, and a new thermometer for the home, all of which were on sale. So I felt as if I passed my first big test.

At another point I entered a Christian bookstore. I believe it had been over seven years since my last trip inside one of these businesses. My nephew, Jason, needed to go, so I went in with him. I figured it was a good chance to see new books that were available. I started in the book section, and was greatly disappointed. While I found some excellent books and authors available, I also found that the majority of what was available was “spiritual junk food.” So much focused on living the life you want and personal satisfaction while so little focused on discipleship and the Word of God. But I did find a few titles that I later purchased and downloaded electronically. 

But the really hard part was when I stepped away from the books into the “Christian nick-nack” section. Paintings, crosses, jewelry, serving platters, t-shirts and more filled about half of the store. Prices varied from $10 to almost $400 to include Jesus and the Bible into your home’s decor and wardrobe. And, as I walked through this merchandise, I was overcome by a sadness and a thought…

Jesus has become big business.

Was this really what Jesus had in mind? Did He really want us to market His name and the image of the cross? I quickly felt an almost claustrophobic feeling and had to step out of the store.

The reality is that there are very few cultures in the world in which Christians have the luxury of buying Christian nick-nacks and jewelry. There are very few places in which the faith community has the resources for building amusement parks and attractions. And the US is one of those places. But the question is, in light of the suffering of the world and the difference we could make, should we? And what does it say to the dying world around us when we do?

I don’t have a firm answer to those questions, but I believe the church needs to be asking them with openness and honesty. Just because it has always been a part of the church culture in the US does not mean it should be.

But as hard as some of those moments were during my time Stateside, the harder adjustment awaited me when I returned home to Guatemala. That may seem strange to you, but it is true.

For over two weeks, I had been in the US where life is so good. (Please understand, I am not saying that there are no real struggles or pain in the US. I know there is, and many of you might be facing suffering as you read this. I do not wish to belittle your pain, because it is real and important. But the kind of pain and the causes of pain are frequently different.) Then I returned home where I was slammed with issue after issue of poverty wrapped in suffering.

Within 48 hours of returning home, I experienced:
  • a little boy that is going to die, barring a miracle, because only the wealthy can afford a heart transplant here. 
  • little Alicia’s death, who had been my friend for five years. She died because they did not have room at the national hospital where she could have received dialysis.
  • a call from the neurological institute, asking me to come visit four infants with microcephaly, likely caused by Zika.
  • news that a surgery team that we have been waiting for who can hopefully save Dora's life had cancelled their trip.
  • three families that came to our door who are dirt poor and dealing with special needs.

At one point, I retreated to my office, locked the door, and wept. It was not that the needs were greater when I returned than before I left. In fact, that it pretty much as typical two day period here. But, after being away for over two weeks, the harshness of the poverty and suffering hit me anew. And it brought me to my knees again.

I dealt with it the only way I know how. I prayed and then I got to work. Three days after returning I visited the neurological center to deliver a wheelchair and assess three of the infants with microcephaly. Four days after returning we distributed around 25 wheelchairs in Magdalena Milpas Altas. And, we began to work in earnest to begin construction on the birthing center.

Speaking of the birthing center, we now are fully funded! Over $23,000 has come in to cover construction, furnishing and equipment. We are currently making a few changes to the plans and will then begin materials purchases and construction.

Then we welcomed our new midwife, Stephanie Konrad, last week! She is now on the ground and getting settled. So much is happening at once that I am having a hard time keeping up.

At the same time, we are preparing for a wedding, as our daughter Carissa marries Stevie Chapin on November 3rd. They will be heading to Liberia in March, where they will be overseeing the special needs ministries there.

And, speaking of Liberia, things are heating up there as we seek to partner with His Safe Haven to care for children. Don Riley is currently assuring the quality of care for the children through his oversight, and we recently decided to hire additional staff to assure top-notch care. Then we expect construction of the new village for children with special needs to begin this summer.

As you can tell, things are busy. But, through it all, God is good and in control. 

I will be making a very brief trip to Ohio with my beautiful bride, Wanda, on November 9 - 14 so that we can participate in Carissa’s Stateside wedding. And looking ahead, I will need to make a trip to Liberia, Africa in late spring to provide some assistance and oversight to the ministry there. Please be in prayer as we continue to seek the Lord for guidance as the ministry grows.

Blessings from Guate!

Daryl, Wanda and the Crew