It has only been 2 weeks now that I have been gone from Guatemala, but it feels like 2 months. I am back at home and back at work (well right now I am visiting family in West Palm Beach) and I feel completely out of place. It is a weird feeling. It is home and I have so many friends and family surrounding me. I love my job. I love my church. Still, I have this overwhelming desire to give it all up. I constantly talk, think, and pray about Guatemala, but how do I know the depth of the desire God has given me for it. Has God planned all of the small details in my life to this point to reveal and fulfill this desire now? Being single? Not having a home to sell? Being virtually out of debt? I have to write a post trip report for Chris Price at Chets Creek Church and I am trying to figure out what to say.
I thought of this verse this morning while writing this. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:26-28 ESV) At times I just have to say “God, You know my heart” because i have no idea what to say. I am beginning to see verse 28 in a completely new light. The good and the bad that has formed me into the person I am now. The success and failures I have had in life until now. Has all of that been orchestrated by God to work together for the good of His purpose that I have been called to? I think so!
Is His purpose for me to go to Guatemala on just a trip here or there (I am going again in December btw - the title “154” is the number of days until I leave)? Does He want me to go for a year or two? Does He want me to make it my home? I honestly don’t know, but I do know that God will take me where He wants me and I need to be open to all possibilities.
To finish up I want to give you some more kids to pray for. This is a list of the Chicks group. These may not be all the names as new kids may have joined the center since this list.
Also, please pray for me for decisions that need to be made, finances to go back, and supplies (and a way to ship them) for the center.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24 ESV)
I read this verse in church this morning and thought that it was worth sharing.
Let me tell you about the context surrounding this verse. Paul was traveling through Asia on his way to Jerusalem and he calls together the elders of the church of Ephesus. He reminds them about the time that they had spent together previously and says now he is being led by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. He tells them that only affliction and imprisonment await him there. Then he says, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” He then assures them that none of them will see him again. They say their goodbyes and he leaves.
If you read Paul’s letters later on in the New Testament, you can get a picture of what he had to suffer for doing exactly what he was called to. I pray that I would have the same boldness and courage that Paul had and be able to do exactly what God calls me to… without hesitation.
This is the list of the “Squirrels” group at the malnutrition center. These are the older girls which hang out a lot with the Ducks so I got to know them really well. They are awesome, quite a bit calmer than the Ducks, and very smart. Maybe it is true that girls mature faster…
Please pray for these girls!
Since I forgot to post some names this morning I am just going to post the entire list of ducks. Would you please pray for these guys? I will leave this list up for about a week and then put up another list.
Hopefully tomorrow I will have my act together and get back to blogging some Word!
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10
I have decided to go back to Guatemala! I felt like I came home too early. I feel like I still have more to accomplish in Guatemala. I work for a school, Eagle’s View Academy, so I get a winter break. I saw on the Orphan’s Heart website that they have another trip leaving on my first day of Christmas Break (12/15) and returning a week later (12/21). Before I went to Guatemala, I felt a strong desire and urging by God to go there. Through Him working everything out I finally made it there! And now I can’t wait to go back. Between now and then I am going to be collecting some more supplies if anyone would like to contribute. I will be taking the necessities like diapers, wipes, desitin, gloves, and baby soap/shampoo, but I am also wanting to take something special since it will be Christmas. Any ideas? If so, reply, via Facebook preferably, so I can start gathering those items as well. I am going to ask one of the interns at the center, Sarah, if there are any other items they desperately need.
Until then, I am going to be praying for the children and will post some of their names so you can pray for them as well. The groups at the center are broken down in 5 groups: Canaries (babies), Bunnies, Chicks, Squirrels, and Ducks. I am going to start going down the Duck list. Here is today’s prayer list.
Pray that God will continue to heal these kids, they will learn and remember His Word, and grow up to be great men and women of God.
I enjoyed blogging so much while in Guatemala that I have decided to continue with it as much as I can. I will mostly blog about what God is showing me personally through His Word in my daily devotion. I will say that I am really tired because last night I did not sleep much because I was thinking about and praying for Guatemala.
I started a reading plan of Psalms while I was away and wanted to share a few verses from Psalm 37 that I read this morning.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:4, 5 ESV)
I have always held to verse 4 as one of my favorite verses in Bible. I think verse 5 is a verse that I have often forgotten when pursuing the desires of my heart, but it is a very important extension of. Let’s look at them.
In verse 4, notice that we must first delight ourselves and then He will give us the desires of our heart. I know when I first read this verse I think I was in high school or just out of and there was this girl that I really liked. I remember thinking God if you give me the desire of my heart, if you let this girl like me, I will delight in you. I had it all backwards. There is no “if” statements that I can give God. He said first delight in Me then He would give. The funny thing is when you delight first your desires change. You begin to desire things that really matter; things that matter to God. Delight yourself; rejoice and take pleasure in Him.
After reading verse 4, I like how verse 5 follows it up; commit, trust, and He will act. Wait, I thought God already gave me my desires. I think He did. He corrects the desires of your own heart to match His desires. Verse 5 then says to commit your ways to the Lord and trust in Him, then He will act. When you have taken pleasure in the Lord and have found your joy in Him you must then commit your way, your actions including motives, to Him. After you have committed your ways you must trust in Him, that He is God and will do as He says. Once these 4 things, delight, desires, commit, and trust, are inline that is when He acts to bless you with those desires, that He has placed within you.
I know for me that it is a good thing God has even bigger plans than just the desires of my heart. He has His desires. He is always busy with His desires for us and this world, which is good because often it takes me more time than it ought to complete this 4 step plan.
We left from Antigua yesterday morning and began our trip back to the USA. I had a lot of time to think about my final post as we traveled. We woke up at 4:00am and I arrived home last night a little after midnight. After a short night’s rest I came up with a few thoughts. Bear with me, they may be scattered.
First off, if you read this please pray for blessings on the children at the center and all the workers that make things happen according to plan.
Today is my birthday and I thank God for every one of my friends that have called, texted, and told me through social media Happy Birthday! It is a milestone too. 30. However, one thing that I can’t seem to forget is something that I learned my first day at the center. I was told a lot of the children do not even know when their birthday is. So, how do they celebrate it? Do some kids know and celebrate their birthday? Do they make a best guess one day and pick that day? We heard the first night people celebrating a birthday around the city. They shoot of cannons (just noise… I think) and fireworks. So, my first day back has been very surreal knowing that it is my birthday, but is it shared with a child that doesn’t even know that it is theirs?
One thing that really amazed me about the culture of people in Guatemala was their friendliness. Everyday on the way to the center, we had our “ambassador” ride shotgun on the bus to wave at people and be the first face they saw. Sondra was our usual ambassador and a great one. She waved at everyone. They smiled and waved and looked forward to see us driving by everyday. We think some liked Sondra a little too much. We passed a gas station on the way to and from the center everyday and the same men were always waiting to wave, smile, and shout at Sondra. Ron told Samuel, “Don’t you slow down! I don’t want Sondra jumping out!” Well, Wednesday, we switched it up. I decided to be the ambassador on the way to the center. I tried to wave and smile just like Sondra, but I did not receive the same reactions. Maybe it was my smile or they didn’t know how to react to me. As we passed a bus station I was determined to be really nice and getting some waves and smiles. Well I got two waves and a…”smile”…as a boy, about 10 years old, put both hands on either said of his face, opened his mouth wide, and made the funniest face he could make.
All joking aside, even though I did not receive the same reactions as Sondra people still waved and smiled and were happy to see us as we drove by. I couldn’t help but think about some of the reactions I would receive at home if we did the same thing. Just think about it for a moment… See what I mean? Even walking through the streets and hotel people almost always greeted each other. I saw a place that had very little monetarily but were far advanced in their demeanor with one another.
Some missions trips are construction based, some are open air evangelism, and some are going into jungles to communicate with people that have never heard of the Good News. Our journey was simply loving people that needed to be loved. That reminded me of these passages: 1.”Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:36-39. 2.”Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27. This past week we have visited, helped, fed, taught, played, loved and gave all we had. As Lori quoted in devotions Thursday morning, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2. I know that God has worked in my life this week and I have seen Him in others. He has changed me, renewed my mind, changed my perspective, and broken my heart. Now that we have returned home to where things are “easier” can we remain unstained from the world?
To all the staff of Orphan’s Heart, thank you for allowing us to serve with you. To the interns, Marianna, Sarah, Rachel and Kaysey, that are there for 4 more weeks, thank you for your dedication, encouragement, and patience with us as we tried to help. To the center staff, Gracias y que Dios los bendiga! Samuel One and Samuel Two, thank you for the safe transportation all throughout the week and keeping a clean driving record. Olivia and Alejandra, thank you for filling in the huge gaps in the language barrier. Ron and Cynthia, thank you for your leadership and all that you allow God to do through you.
I failed to mention a few things from yesterday (probably because I was sick and forgot about them) so I will open up with them today. During the night I kept thinking about one of the last images I saw as we left the center on Wednesday. It was not the thought of William, the little duck, who could not make it to the bathroom fast enough and decided to use the “corner” in a quiet room instead. It wasn’t the thought of the $1420 we raised and brought to purchase items like oil, salt, and other necessities to put in bags for the families as they come to visit their children on Friday. It wasn’t the thought of Billi, with a big grin on his face, waving goodbye to me and trying to get on our bus. It wasn’t the thought of our driver Samuel and Tim setting off fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July for us gringoes or the thought of Gerson, being held by Melissa, being scared by the fireworks the he bano’d on her. The image was of Gerson though, but it was the thought of us backing out of the driveway and him trying to follow us. As we backed away, a nanny had to pull him back to safety and he cried uncontrollably. It seemed that he had fallen so in love with our team that he did not want us to leave.
Andres (left) and Gerson (right) are twin brothers at the center. I don’t remember how old they were when they were brought there, but they have recently been declared abandoned. They do not have a family coming to see them on Friday when other children do.
The thought of Gerson stayed with me throughout the morning, during breakfast, and up until our devotional time. Lori led this mornings devotion and she challenged us not to go back to normal when we leave Guatemala. Were we going to let this be an annual experience or a life-changing moment? We headed off to the center as normal and began our day.
We had a new baby come to the center today. She was a month old and weighed only 3lbs. We will be praying for her that she will be able to eat, get stronger, and grow up.
Today was a crazier and different day. It seemed to be nonstop. We started them off with their normal routine of getting ready and eating a snack. Then we did something that most of these families have never had: family portraits. Candace and Cynthia (and I am sure others) did a great job setting a nice scene outside for this to be done. They found a decently painted blue bench and placed it in the shade near some bushes. Then all the siblings, one family at a time, were taken outside to get there pictures taken. This was a long process, but I believe it will be well worth it and appreciated greatly by them and their families.
At lunch time, I noticed that people kept disappearing, as in team members. Soon I was the only one in with the ducks and squirrels except for one of their nannies (Marianna, I think) who speaks only Spanish. I speak only English (with the exception of the small vocabulary I have developed during my stay in Guatemala). We had a pretty funny moment. She was trying to tell me something and I was “no comprendo”. Laura Beth was walking down the hall so I tried to get her to help. She was “no comprendo”. After about 5 minutes of us all laughing we found an interpreter and found out she was saying that she would go get another drink for one of the kids.
Anyways, back to the missing persons report. The kids were almost done eating and I heard Cynthia talking in the hallway so I listened in. Team members had been pulled out to eat lunch early so they could take a bus full of children to the clinic to get their vaccinations. I don’t know which vaccinations they were just that the center had provided a way for them to get them.
The children were sleeping and I ate a quick lunch with the few team members that were still here. Afterwards, during chore time, we started moving some furniture. Recently, they were able to renovate a second building they have on the property which is where the team and staff ate lunch. There were 2 rooms where we were hanging curtains, setting up some bunk beds, moves some shelves, and a desk.
Before I knew it our day at the center was over. Our week at the center was over. The kids told us Adios and gave us hugs as we left. Did they understand that tomorrow they would not see us again? Will we ever see them again? Will they continue to get healthy and be here next year when our team returns? That is something that we have to leave in God’s hands.
We returned to Antigua. Some people went shopping and some people went back to the hotel. I went back to the hotel to catch up on my blogging. At 7:00, we met at dinner and prayed together as usual. The hotel staff really setup a nice dinner for us since it would be our last night. After dinner, we were sitting at the table talking when I heard singing. I turned around and I was being told to stand up because they were singing Happy Birthday to me! I stood up and they presented me with a Guatemalan specialty, Tres Leche (Triple Milk Cake), and had written on the plate “Feliz Cumpleanos” (Happy Birthday). Tres Leche is something I think you have to acquire a taste for. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t bad, but we call it “soggy” cake. Like the name Tres Leche, it is filled with milk which makes it soggy. Overall, it was a great surprise!
After dinner, we went to a conference room for our Wow Time because it was hard to concentrate with the Spanish singer entertaining another group outside. This would be our final time of everyone meeting together to talk about our day. We sang, prayed, and shared about all that we experienced. Ron & Cynthia challenged us to not go back to normal and then closed in prayer.
We went back to our rooms, packed our bags, and went to sleep saying Adios to our last full day in Guatemala because tomorrow we wake up at 4:00am to travel to Guatemala City, fly back to Miami, and drive back to Jacksonville trying to avoid normalcy.
It was a normal morning for us except that Lief shared with us during the devotion time this morning before we left for the center.
At the center today kids were very excited to see us show up. I think the staff was too. Ron told the staff that on July 4th he would cook them lunch. The staff are the full time employees at the center. He agreed to make them shrimp. For the gringos, he made us hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, and watermelon.
I spent my morning running around to different areas. I agreed to help Ron with preparing the meals and I still needed to help with the ducks & squirrels (girls aged 2-7). I was able to help get them herded into their common room first thing, help with snack, and we took a walk outside to a shaded area and played with bubbles and sidewalk chalk. This is where I met Gladys. On the way outside to play, I offered my fingers to Gladys to hold so she didn’t fall. We walked a good 150 yds like this until we reached the play area. There we blew bubbles and wrote our names with sidewalk chalk to pass the time. Alas, I was called away…
I went to the staff kitchen to help Ron prepare for the meals. I started by slicing tomatoes and onions for the burgers and then assembled the burgers and hot dogs on buns for quick delivery. As for the staff lunch it was prepared by a staff member, I guess they were scared of Ron’s cooking, and he sauted 22lbs of shrimp with only 12 staff members. They ate all of them! I haven’t seen that many shrimp put down since Larry Solano and I went to Red Lobster for All You Can Eat Shrimp.
At some point this morning I began feeling sick. I was careful not to drink the water like everyone said, yet I still got sick. Luckily for me, someone at the center had some Cipro (antibiotic) for me to take. After lunch I laid down for a little bit to try and feel better. It worked for a bit, but the long drive back seemed to make me sick again. Before we left the center Samuel, our driver, and Tim set off fireworks. They may have been counterproductive when Gerson peed his pants while Melissa was holding him.
Even though I was sick I couldn’t pass up Ron’s treat for us that night. He bought us all dinner at a restaurant in Antigua. I had preordered a quesadilla which turned out to be really good. They also had this frozen lime and coconut drink which was phenomenal. We sat down front with a live band playing.
After dinner, still feeling sick, I went right to sleep while Tim set off more fireworks outside the hotel.