Sunday, December 23, 2007

Luvin's Adventure...

Well as of about 7:30 last night Luvin is at his new "home." I pray it feels like home soon. Not easy to watch a little guy who has about perfected tough and street kid standing there crying because he's scared and because he really really thinks he wants to stay with people that he knows love him. Certainly not easy to drive away.

Regardless the new adventure begins and we pray that this sweet place called "Arca de Noe" (Noah's ark) will be a vivid reminder that God keeps His promises faithfully.

Last year for my birthday Momma Grose gave me a music box and wrote a precious note and put inside it. It plays Jesus Loves Me. How fitting is that. Didn't have any idea that God would use it as a symbol to remind me that He is with us through this. Gina took it off my shelf last night when she saw it and handed it to me and said here it's a sign. On the top of the music box it has this precious little picture of the ark and at the top says, "Noah's Ark" and at the bottom it says, "God Keeps His Promises." I held onto it last night while the song played and we prayed and cried. Have a feeling I'll hold it close to my chest a few times this week to remind myself that He is faithful and that God planned all this before time and will carry Him through.

Please please please continue to pray for Luvin. Scary stuff for a 10 year old who has never had a safe place in his life. Praying for God to wrap him up, please join me in that prayer. This one could use an army of prayer warriors.

I love you all. Blessings on your day.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Update #2 - Luvin

As most of you know, and any of you who heard me speak on my last trip home to fundraise are acutely aware, one of the little guys that God had brought to us a few months ago has been quite the handful. He’s a smart kid and he’s got a great heart that is way sensitive to the things of God, but he’s got quite the rebellious little spirit going on in there at lots of moments. His name is Luvin and you’ve heard me talk about his story on here before. He’s run away from Casa more times than we care to count. The reasons are always different, but most of it is that he doesn’t have regulations living on the streets and Casa has a couple...hundred ;) (we’d never survive with 15 kids without them) and if he doesn’t like the rules at any given time he gets angry and decides he’ll bolt. It’s what he knows and what life has taught him. We are all a product of our environment in some ways.

So…when I had left to go to the States, Luvin had decided he’d bolt again. I was so afraid that would happen. Luvin and I’s hearts connected early, perhaps it’s because I see so much of myself in him and he reminds me what might have happened at some points in my life if people hadn’t believed that I wanted to be different even when all of my actions proved to the contrary. They believed me into being better and it’s what I really wanted to do with him. Desperately wanted. I prayed and tried, God knows I did.

Some folks didn’t understand why I would give so much of my time to this one little guy and take him with me everywhere I went for a while, and give him more chances than “he deserved.” Why would I continue to bother with a little guy who kept choosing to blow his opportunities and chances of a better life. I mean for Pete’s sake out there he had no food and in here he has food and clothes and that should be enough to make him stay. Shewww I know that feeling of having way more chances than I deserve and I have a feeling it will resonate with some of you too. Some of us just had to be given more chances than we deserved didn’t we??!!

It’s so hard though you know because we have a home here where we pray every day to create a safe environment for all of them, and Luvin rocked the boat so much so that some of the other kids definitely felt like their world was shaky. So…we had to make some decisions as a group for the ministry and because it’s early and we do not have some things in place for “troubled” kids who are older, it was decided that we should not allow Luvin to come back after the last time that he left.

So I was driving back into the lane to enter the gate on Tuesday afternoon and I saw this little guy walking down the path toward the gate. He was way skinny and filthy dirty and I think had the same clothes on that he left in, his shoes were way ragged, and his hair was hanging over his eyes and way long, and I honestly couldn’t tell who it was for sure until he got closer. I looked at Jaime who was with me and I said, that could be Luvin, I think that’s Luvin, I’m pretty sure that’s Luvin, and THAT IS LUVIN, and before I could have another thought I was out of the drivers seat and kneeling down hugging this little boy that I’ve grown to love as my own so thankful that he was ok. Took me 6 seconds to figure out what to do next, he needed a shower, he needed some clean clothes, he needed a meal, and so off we went. No child should have to live that way...they just shouldn't.

I thought he was here for a visit, but before the night was over he had shared with Mama Lillita that he was “back at Casa for forever.” Ay no, and the struggle in this heart began. Cause everything in me wanted to say ok, come in you’re safe, yes I want you to be here, and my head knew what we'd all decided was best. Why can't your heart listen in moments like that?? It's just like they don't communicate well, matter of fact I've learned sometimes my head and heart are enemies.

I sat at Gina's that night until long after midnight processing with her and Mama Lillita about what I was going to do...because I knew one thing, I could NOT put him back on the street push him aside and sleep well at night. I couldn't. Nothing in that felt right. I kept saying through huge tears, mama's do not throw their kids to the wolves, they don't. What am I doing? In a few hours time, I'd thought about quitting the ministry here and buying a house and raising a little guy who has never had anyone love him enough to stick it out with him forever. I'd run the gamet to be quite honest. I was wrestling again in ways that I've never ever known before now, because what do you do when you "could" do something about the injustice of the world, but in some ways you can't. Or can you??? You understand my dilemma.

So I brought him home with me that first night and he slept in here on my floor, because I was convinced I could not give him hope that he was going to be allowed to stay. I mean our heads had decided, so what the heck was the problem with my heart??

Took him with me the next day to town and this little guy that I hadn't seen for a couple months was still calling me mama and what in the world other than God makes that even possible. A year ago, I didn't know this little face, and now I won't ever be able to get his face out of my mind. It's embedded in there.

I had spent the next day making phone calls to anyone I knew that might be willing to take Luvin in and offer him more than I was able to here. He needs some men in his world who will show him how to work and be God's man and he hasn't connected with anyone here who will do that. So I was racking my brain and to no avail...people didn't call me back, they had no space, etc.

I was convinced that I was going to have to put him back on a bus to go toward his hometown of Chuloteca where I knew he was selling things on the streets, hadn't eaten well for sure by his thin little self, and wasn't treated well. I was broken.

I called in a sister favor and I said, look Gina, I cannot take Luvin back to Casa tonight, I can't. Is there anyway he can stay at your house for one more night while we try to find somewhere for him to go. (Luvin adores that family so he felt at home with them.) One night turned into two and Mama Lillita and Gina were as committed to finding him somewhere to go as I was, knowing that none of us could allow him to go back to the streets.

So I get this phone call at 8:30 on Friday morning and it's Mama Lillita and she says Jen can you be in here at 10, there's a guy that we knew from a long time ago and he takes in street boys and he wants to hear Luvin's story. We had a group coming in a couple of hours, it was the worst day possible for it to have happened, but all the other things seemed way unimportant in light of this little face I was looking at. So I'm praying the whole way to town, ok God if we're supposed to be doing something different with him please show us but if it is possible this could work, will you please open the doors wide.

So I walked in and waited a few moments and Mr. Samuel came in and from the moment I met him, his face was just kind and for a moment honestly I was puzzled and I thought...wow, I would not have expected this humble, gentle, kind man to be able to handle the rough and tough street kids, but you could see his passion and love for them in the way he spoke and the things he was doing. It was beautiful. The more he talked and the more I listened, way skeptically in some ways, cause this is like giving away someone you love so much, and you want to know they will handle him with care. I cried, and I told him, sir this isn't about me not wanting this little boy, I just need help, because I feel like we can't offer him what he needs right now. Asked if we could visit and he assured us that would be fine, things like that. Told us about their programs to teach the boys mechanics, and farm skills, and how to build houses, so many things that fit Luvin to a T. He is a hands on boy and he needs that desperately. He will be educated, they do two years of schooling in a year and so he'll be able to catch up for his age. And I just plain liked this guy. Period. He told us he didn't have room really, but that he could see that we loved Luvin and that he had lots of potential and so he would take him.

Sheeeewwwwwwwwwww to say that my heart was relieved might be the biggest understatement of the year. I was at the end of my rope of options...I had no more. I was begging God to do something, show me something I hadn't seen. I wanted to help Luvin but I had no idea how and then God showed up and did abundantly more than all we could hope or imagine. He is so incredibly kind.

So we had promised Luvin he could work with this group this week and we wanted to keep our word, it's important for him to know that he can trust what we say, especially now when we're telling him that this is a good place, and we'll come to visit, etc. So he's here working this week and will go to his new home on Saturday afternoon. We went the day before yesterday to visit with him and after some coersion decided he liked it when he saw the cows and pigs and fruit trees and huge soccer field and I think it will fit him well.

I will continue to be a part of his life, I have promised him that. I told him mama's don't quit on their boys and I won't. I will believe him into being better, cause I feel like it's what God has asked me to do. When it makes no sense to anyone else, I'll remember, I'm sure there were times in my life when it made no sense to continue to believe in this heart cause I'd flubbed up soooo much, and some people just wouldn't quit. Now I realize that maybe it wasn't that they wouldn't but that they couldn't cause when God puts it in your heart and calls you to it, it's compelling. Regardless, we're gonna go the distance with Luvin.

Please pray for his transition and ours as well. Pray that God will continue to use us to encourage and love and strengthen a soul that has experienced way too much in 10 years. Please above all else pray that we'll be to Luvin the things God has asked us to be and that we'll honor Him always in the process.

I am so thankful that God goes looking for the one lost and helps him find his way. I am so thankful...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Update #1 - Papi...

I'm gonna spend some time over the next couple of days sending several updates about random happenings because so many neat things are happening, but I have not had a chance to sit down and fill you all in, and so I'm making that a priority over the next day or so.

So many of you have heard me talk about the fact that I have now adopted Honduran family (or they adopted me, I'm never really sure how that works out) but nonetheless, I like it. See some people collect dolls, stamps, trading cards, trinkets, etc. Nope I collect people...family if you will. If you asked me I'd tell you I have family in Ohio, Nashville, Alabama, Florida, West Virginia, Washington State, and our blood lines run different, but our hearts pump with the same passion for things that matter and somewhere in the middle of all of that they became more than friends they became "family." Some of you can relate out there, because you know the feeling of being so linked up in Christ that the title of friend just would never do the bond justice. So now add to that sweet list, Honduras, and this precious family that have just taken us in and loved all over us.


It started with Gina, (my now like a sister just for the record), who has become this precious addition to my world, the lives of these kiddo's, and this place, and you've heard me talk about her before on here. So although I could go on and on about how wonderful she is, I'll save that for another day.

Then came Mama Lillita, Gina's sweet momma, that Gina is selflessly sharing with us. When I tell you she has one of the most gentle hearts and sweet spirits I've ever seen it is quite the understatement, but the best I've got with this limited vocabulary. She is classy in every sense of the word and we are so grateful to have her around when we are soooo far from home and our momma's there. She's a gift in no uncertain terms and we're grateful for her.

Gina's got two sweet brothers and we've decided to adopt them too as part of the package. Saul, her oldest brother is a photographer on contract with Pepsi and he's quite the little artsy fartsy guy. :) Extremely talented guy. Then Carlos Alberto, her younger brother, is about as sweet as they come. He's worked with us on a few teams translating and he's just such a neat kid.


But this email is about Papi...from the moment I met this guy I have walked around telling people he's so cute I want to just pinch his cheeks. It is the TRUTH!!! Goodness he's close to 70 and a doctor who still works every single day helping people, and then volunteers his time for a mission organization every morning. His face just speaks kindness. I was privileged to get to go with their family on a trip to see the site for their project just a few months ago, (sidenote, I thought I would pee my pants laughing at Papi a few times, he's hilarious and ornery as can be) and so I got to know him better through that weekend. Since then he's reminded us at least a dozen times that his home is our home and that we're welcome there always. (You have no idea how much that means when you're way far away from everything that resembles "home") So the other night I walked into their house and I was having a rough day in no uncertain terms. My momma heart was hurting in horrible ways (will post more about that in another post) and Gina and Mama Lillita and I were all sitting in the living room talking, and I had my feet dangling over the edge of the couch laying down and Papi came and sat down at the edge of the sofa and before I even knew what was happening he was rubbing lotion on my feet and massaging them.


Talk about humbled, goodness. My stinky unclean feet and he was willing to sit there for probably a half an hour with gentleness and kindness and speak love through his servanthood. It's funny you know, Papi can understand some English and I can understand some Spanish so we don't have long conversations about anything usually, but I heard a whole lot spoken in that one act. It spoke so much of acceptance and love and encouragement and the fact that sometimes I don't know exactly what to do to help, and my "language" will in some moments be so lacking, but I can always show up and do something to be kind and compassionate. He didn't say a word really, the rest of us talked while he sat there and rubbed my feet. A silent servant. A heart full of love for a God who would have done the same thing from a man who has learned that this is who he wants to be, cause you can see it in most everything he does...the way he loves his wife, the way he loves his children, the way he treats people.

So Papi rubbed my feet and I learned something in the process about who I really want to be as well.

Thanks to all of you that pillow your heads in that Larios house. You have become family, in neat places in our hearts, and I am honored that God's kindness would take us from different parts of the world and place us together to learn and grow together in Him. You are a blessing to us, a HUGE blessing!!

And thanks Papi, for silently serving, and through your actions, challenging me to live my life doing the same.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Homecoming Like No Other...





Well to put it mildly I have been LOVED all over. I have gotten drawings and flowers made out of paper and gotten kisses all over these cheeks and hugs around this neck too numerous to count. Until God put all this love in this heart for these kiddo's I had no idea what "coming home" meant in quite the same way. I always came home as the daughter or the sister or the friend, but when I stepped these feet through the gate and I heard a two year old Antonio yell "mommy" and watched a 4 year old Francisco lose his face in the smile that came over it as he ran to meet me, and I watched an 11 year old Rudy timidly walk up and bury his face in my tummy as he hugged the stuffins out of me, I knew I'd come home in a completely different way. I came home this time as "mommy." I LOVE that!!!


Here are a few pictures to show you the beauty of coming home for this girl...I'll write more soon. For now just know it is good to be back!!




Sunday, November 25, 2007

I am going back to my babies tomorrow!!! :) That part makes this momma heart God has grown within me want to jump up and down...it's just that goodness to go back to them means I have to leave all of these sweet people that make up "home." I have not written as much as I would like to about my fundraising trip and hopefully when I get back and settled in, I will have a bit more time to share with you some of the neat people I got to meet and experiences God allowed me to have while here for a couple months.

I miss Karen too a whole bunch. When God put us together in this ministry and asked us to go rescue some kiddo's I had no idea what all that would entail. The past 2 years however have had high's and low's and we have learned about the faithfulness and our desperate need for God and we have weathered some storms together to say the least and in the middle of that I have grown to respect her character and her love for God so very very much. She has become dear to my heart, a sister in this ministry and being away for a couple months has helped me understand how much I have taken that for granted at moments. She has stayed and been the consistent without much help girl at the house while I've been here fundraising and I never worried once if the kids would be taken care of, they just are when she's around. Anyway, for all the times I don't say it and should...I am soooo incredibly thankful for the partner she is in this ministry and the sister she has become to my heart!!

Anyway, please keep us in your prayers as Ashley and I will be headed back early tomorrow morning. The hello's are always a delight and the goodbye's are always HARD!! I could use your prayers. Thanks as always.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Might I Just Suggest...

Well made a quick trip to Nashville over the weekend because some dear friends had planned a fundraiser for Casa there and it was great to get to see them and visit for a bit.

While there I picked up a new cd and a few new books.

Thought I would lend my rants and raves about them for a minute on today's blog. Can I just say that Mandisa is being used by God in beautiful ways. Her adventure on American Idol was only the beginning of her glorifying God with her gifts. I believe that because her cd is top notch. We listened to it on repeat the WHOLE way back from Nashville.

And I picked up Rob Bell's new book called Sex God. I know a bit of an awkward title until you get into the book and he explains the premise and then you find yourself nodding in agreement with what he's laying out before you with his words. It's a book the body of Christ needs to read and beyond that live out. I would HIGHLY recommend it.

Ok that's all for today just a little book and music review for this morning. The trip is going well, I've gotten to meet so many neat new people and it's fun to watch them getting excited about this project that has stolen my heart.

We continue to pray for people who will give to help us stay and tuck these sweet kiddo's in at night and love on them throughout life. If you are willing and able to help with staff support for the next year, please contact us at casadeesperanza@gmail.com and we'll be glad to send out more information if necessary. It sure does take God's village to raise a child!! :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jessica and Jessie...


I know you can hardly believe it, I am posting AGAIN today!! I can't really believe it either, except I've had two evenings where I've been home in a row and it's been heavenly. So another post is in the making...

This is my friend Jessica...the sweet gal that I met when she came to Honduras with our Belpre team a little over two years ago now. I'll be honest we were all thinking, does she know what she's getting herself into here??? Like this is a bunch of Jesus loving, lots of hugging, country folk who are going to this little tiny country with lots of impoverished people. Shame on me for ever thinking that. Let me explain just a bit...as you can tell, even though she loves me, Jessica is more the give me my space kind of girl (not so much a hugger, but she's learning through force as you can tell) and she's a New Yorker (not born and raised, but as I just spent a few days trekking the streets with her her feet have become New Yorker for sure) and I think it would be fair to say, and I think that she'd tell you, that she wasn't too sure what she thought about all this Jesus loving business either.

Ok fast forward two years to today...and Jessica is one of my dearest friends. She has latched onto Casa with both fists and all her heart and she tucks away a little book of pictures to take with her everywhere that she goes to tell people about those sweet kiddo's. She sends me emails now when I'm feeling the pressure that say things like...Jen remember that God is in control and He's right there with you through all of this...and God is using her to speak truth to me in hard times. She works like a dog building those houses, and she loves with the best of us when a little brown eyed beauty finds their way into her arms. I am honored to know her and BLESSED to call her my friend.

So a little over a week ago, Gina and her sweet momma came to visit and they wanted to see New York. I mean REALLY wanted to see New York. (What I didn't know is that even if I took them in every single store within a 10 mile radius they weren't going to wear out. This would have been great information to know ahead of time. :) ) But out of the graciousness of Jessica's heart, she offered to let 4 of us stay in her studio apartment in Manhattan for 5 days and 4 nights. When a motel in the area costs $400 a night you want to kiss the feet of one who would allow you to sleep in their very free apartment. Not to mention the fact that we got to just have time to hang out with her.

Now I can not possibly explain to you this whole saga, but because I have been made fully aware that a HUGE apology must be granted, I will fill you in on at least part of it. Jessica has a cat named Jessie, now Jessie is cute, but she makes me sneeze. ALOT!! And Jessie is cute, but she wanted to sleep with Gina's mom every night and well Gina's mom really wanted to sleep minus Jessie, so one night I got up to go to the restroom and was sneezing my head off and I saw Gina's mom hiding under her covers in the darkness all I saw was the form of a body under the sheet and then I figured it out...she's hiding from Jessie. So I thought I was doing the world a favor at least for a couple hours, I mean it was like 3 am for Pete's sake...so I "might" have in my not so wide awake moments put Jessie in my arms took her into the bathroom after I was done and closed her in there for the rest of the night. Yep might have. OK I DID...I LOCKED JESSIE IN THE BATHROOM!!!

Now you would think that the other 3 ladies that were with me would have helped me out as I was attempting to save them as well, but do you think I got any help from them, oh Heavens no. As soon as Jessica came in in the morning, Gina had already let her out of the bathroom, but she was meow-ing to beat the band I guess. So that night at dinner Jessica says to me man Jessie was going crazy when I came in this morning what in the world was wrong with her?? So this slight grin that turned into a laugh found itself on my face and...all 3 of those other ladies that I was trying to help looked right at me and said "ummmhmmmm tell her Jen." SO much for trying to help them out ever again!!

So figured maybe a public apology would do the trick!! I love you Jessica and Jessie I will never lock you in the bathroom again (well unless you jump on my bed in the middle of the night and make me want to wet myself as you pounce again)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shock of ALL Shockers...

I know shock of all shocks, this girl who never writes has FINALLY posted yet again. I have been traveling and fundraising for the past month or so and without fail someone in the crowd makes a point to let me know they check my blog EVERY DAY (I am so sorry for those of you who are so faithful) and then I feel this kick of guilt in my gutt, because I know I used to have so much more to write about and I was so much more diligent about doing so. So for those of you who got used to the everyday posts, I sincerely apologize. For those of you who thought ok maybe she'll slack back to once a week, hmmmm yep didn't work out either, and for those of you who have just resigned to the fact that I'm not gonna post any more than once a month, well I'm trying so hard to do better.

I am to the point that I am missing my kids something horrible, so I'm gonna make this a mommy writes to her kiddo's post. I know I know you waited for a month and this post isn't even to you, it's just not even kind is it. But...for tonight it's what my heart needs, so please bear with me. Thank you.

(Karen if you could translate this for me I would so appreciate it) Hey my little tribe, I am missing you so very very much. I have been traveling around telling our story to so many people and they are loving hearing about you and how special you are. I tell them how much I love you and how your little hearts are healing and how much we all love getting to do life together since God brought us to Casa. I will be home in 34 days...make sure that you start counting. I can't wait to see you. My life is so blessed to have you in it. I love you to the moon and back!!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I MISS MY KIDS...





So...I'm back to the world of cable internet where you actually can upload a picture in just a few short minutes and it actually will post to the internet so over the next couple months while I'm home, I will attempt to share some photos with you that have been so well-intentioned to get onto this computer but have gotten lost in my frustration.


I miss these sweet faces so much at the moment...I have now been home for almost 2 weeks and goodness I'm missing their goodnight hugs and their "mommy's" and their "I love you more's" and so many of those sweet moments that we are blessed by God to share.
I am however excited about the opportunities that God is providing for me here. I spent the first weekend that I was home with a delightful group of gals at a ladies retreat in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was by far one of my favorite ladies retreats I have ever been to. I mean let's face it, they sang, "Shackles" by Mary Mary and by all appearances they meant it. Sweet sweet bunch of gals that I quickly came to love and will return to see I feel certain.
Then Sunday night when I got home from there, we were off to a tour of the South. Spent some time in Nashville, Memphis, and Little Rock to fundraise. Got to share about these sweet lives with their difficult stories and ask people to partner with us financially for some needs that we have, specifically personal and staff support for this year. It is always a delight to get to share a story that these kiddo's will never have the opportunity to share with these precious folks. To be a voice for those without one, is a tremendously humbling endeavor because you so desperately want to do it justice.
This week I will be doing a few speaking engagements around here through the week and then this weekend is the Women of Purpose conference that I've been privileged to be a part of for the past few years. This year it has a bit of a different twist (no pun intended as I feel the twisting in the tummy every time I think about it) but I have the privilege (as nervous as it makes me) to offer the afternoon keynote. It is a huge honor I feel way unworthy of, but am looking forward to spending time with the women God will bring that day.
So...much on the calendar as you can tell, and one of my FAVORITE parts of the calendar is that on Thursday of this week, my "Honduran sister" will be arriving to the States to be a part of the next 2 weeks of life here. To top it off her sweet momma will be traveling with her as well. So we're all super excited to have Miss Gina and her momma here. 6 days my friend!!
Let me end this post by telling you about one of the highlights of this past week. It was another defining moment in my life, God is so kind to continue to offer us those isn't He??!! We had gone to a worship experience in Nashville at one of the local churches on Thursday night called Sanctuary. It was amazing and I was touched as I haven't really been in many praise and worship environments in English for a while and it's always one of the places that touches my heart most. So that was great in and of itself, but the afterward was what remains with me and will for a very long time I think. A group of those students who had just spent time worshipping together, gathered in a parking lot to pray and then to go and spend time with the homeless folks who were living in inner city Nashville. It was an honor to be invited into something I learned was quite sacred. When we arrived we saw park benches for beds and brush for a "camp" and a bridge for a roof. We met Al and Robert and Rick. We heard the story of Rick who had lost his oldest son 3 years ago and because of a daddy's broken heart he just never could go home where all the pain lived and so now he lives on the streets. We sat beside some of the worlds forgotten who have not for one day been forgotten by God and we learned the beauty of a life, the beauty of entering into suffering with those who suffer, and we learned that we're all so much more alike than we are different.
I was so incredibly touched by these precious people. I watched my friend Nathan do something that taught me a books worth of lessons in a 1 minute conversation. He looked at these 2 homeless men that he has now spent time with and developed a relationship with, and he said hey guys can you do me a favor...he said my sister has been sick for a couple weeks with a 105 degree temperature and they can't figure out what's wrong, so will you pray for her?? I watched intently through teary eyes to see their reaction, to which both of them said, yeah of course buddy we'll pray for her, and in my heart my face hit the floor. I thought, what a gift Nathan just offered them...this was no longer "the homeless guys" and Nathan...this was 3 friends sitting around sharing life and caring about what happens to one another. I watched what I believe God asks us to be without all the barriers of fear and pride...without all the walls and the stuffiness that accompanies them...I watched the "church" be the bride of Christ and walk where He would have us walk and I wanted to be a part of it for as long and as often as I could.
So while I'm home, I'll be fundraising, but I'm gonna also be looking now for opportunities to love on the forgotten of the world and the down and out...I'm gonna try to be their friend, no matter what that may cost. I'm gonna learn more about being like Him, cause I know He wants to teach me.
I'll keep in touch...blessings!!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Month Again...

Goodness has it REALLY been a month again?!?!?!?!? ay ay ay...

First of all let me tell you that you all made us feel so loved last week with your phone calls and your prayers and emails checking on us and reminding us that our "family" lives all over the world and rallies around when we need them to. It was precious to be reminded that you all care and cover us in your prayers. We remained untouched by the hurricane and I believe with all of my heart it was because God heard your prayers and He answered in huge ways.

Secondly, please continue your powerful prayers because I will be leaving a week from tomorrow for 2 months to go home and raise our personal and staff support for the next year. When my flesh seems way too real it seems a daunting task to think about $50,000 but when I remember that God is in control, I know He has plenty of resources to handle this...but I appreciate your prayers more than I can say. This ministry has become a gigantic part of my life and there are 16 kiddo's counting on us to tuck them in at night and hug and kiss on them daily and it takes financial resources to be able to continue to do that. The stakes are high and the rewards more than words can explain.

I will try to write some updates and things while I'm home, should have some "quiet" time to be able to sit down and share some with you. I have so missed getting to do that.

One last request and the best is most often saved for last...I am begging your prayers for our dear friend Gayle who has not only become a partner in the ministry or a board member to our umbrella organization, she is now a cherished friend and at 10:45 tomorrow morning she'll go in for exploratory surgery for some things that could be potentially serious. We're just praying for healing in Jesus' name and I would just beg you to join us in praying for her health. She is not just our friend, but a tremendous asset to God's kingdom here on this earth, and quite selfishly, I want to journey with her here much longer.

Thanks as always for your love and support. Blessings...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tia Gina...


So last weekend was the birthday of one of our very favorite people around this place...one we've come to refer to as Tia Gina. So when I told the kids it was her birthday I think it was Mario who piped up first and said, "can we have a party for her?" Well how in the world do you say no to that? So we began preparations and I had to be in the city for the afternoon so I told the kiddo's to clean up the house a bit and to write her a card or do something special for her whatever they wanted to do and that I would bring her home with me when I came in a little while. On the way out the door I hear one of them yell, "don't forget the pinata." See when we have a party around this place, we always have a pinata, it's just that usually the parties are for someone under 10 but I thought you know what, they want to throw her a party, they want a pinata, we shall have a pinata. So I bought a Mickey Mouse pinata, (Tia Gina loves Disneyworld) and a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake (Heavens have you all tasted that thing, it is a piece of Heaven on earth) and we had us a par-tay!! Here are some pictures from the evening. I'm not sure who had more fun, the kiddo's or Tia Gina.

















It's not often that you get a pinata for your 34th birthday party but such are the benefits of being way special to a group of 16 kiddo's who believe that a birthday party does indeed include a pinata.


So before the night was over, Cindy came up and whispered in my ear..."We need to sing Tia Gina our song" because it's what we do at their birthday parties. At the end of the birthday we all gather around and we sing..."Who loves (and on this occasion Tia Gina) Who loves Tia Gina, we all do, we all do, we all love Tia Gina, we all love Tia Gina, yes we do, yes we do." So all 16 little voices, including Miss Maryuri who LOVES that song hummed along filling in the words that she could and it was precious and then Luvin asked me if he could say a prayer for Tia Gina. He's our prayer boy in the bunch. He says beautiful prayers, he really does, so he asked God to keep Tia Gina safe and thanked Him for the blessing she is to all of us and asked Him to give her another year of life that is good, and it was sweet stuff. Then Tia Gina got hugs and kisses - 16 to be exact and it was time for bed.
You know I've learned and maybe my kiddo's are learning it too, that it's not difficult to serve a servant. We had so much fun attempting to give something back to Tia Gina for all that she gives to all of us. To my kiddo's she is an aunt extraordinaire and they adore her. When she is around it's fun times, they play Herbie in the car, she hugs and kisses all over them, she calls them precious and special and they eat it up. To me, she has become one of my dearest friends on the planet and a sister to my heart. She has allowed me to be a part of her family when my own is sooooo far away and words really don't do justice to the blessing of that. She has given me the gift of a prayer warrior that I can go before God with and I have missed that so much since coming here.
You know you pray when you have your own children (and these are as close to mine as they can get) that they will have the blessing of being invested in by great people. Great people meaning those that love God and stand for what's right, who impact their world just by being present in it, people who love those around them, who are servants when they see the opportunity, etc. I watch the investments into these sweet hearts that I adore by this great one that I have the privilege to know and I am humbled to my knees that God is so kind.
Thank you Miss Gina, for what you mean to each of us. You are a huge part of this family God has built here and we love you so very very much!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Some Thoughts From This Heart...

I heard one of the truest statements yesterday I think I’ve heard in a long time and it’s a thought that has been mulling around in this brain for some time, especially since I have been long removed from a corporate worship setting that is able to be “uplifting” in the ways I’ve grown so accustomed to. Because of that, it has caused me to think so much about what my “worship” to God really is and what it is that He expects of me in what we so commonly refer to as worship.

Heard yesterday in a conversation with someone this statement and to the best of my knowledge it went like this…”I don’t believe that our moments of truly awe-inspiring, God honoring worship usually happen within the walls of a church building.” I’m coming to believe that myself.

So why is it that we spend 90% of our budgets on doing things that happen within those walls and 10% on anything happening outside?? Why do we have well decorated, luxurious church buildings with starving people living 2 blocks away, and what does that say to a world about the Jesus we serve?

All fingers pointed at me here with the rest of any of us who have sat on our padded pews, who have come expecting “worship” instead of bringing my worship with me when I walked through the door. All fingers pointed in the direction of this heart, who expected a great song leader, a power packed sermon that lasted 30 minutes and no longer that affected change in my life, and every program that a church budget and it’s leadership could muster up to fit me right where I am in my life and “entertain” me into a worshipful state.

Shame on me for not noticing until I was 30 years old that I could kneel beside a bed of one who is hurting and pray there from the depths of the heart God gave me for a child to be healed and realize I had just “worshipped” in spirit and truth. Forgive me Father for not realizing that even as I go about my day with each person I encounter that I am given the choice to worship as I see you in each of them. Help me God to know that my Monday through Saturday is every bit as important as my Sunday from 10 am to 12 pm…and help me to live like I mean those words, instead of just saying them.

God would you raise up an army of your people, and will you please start here, who will give up the idea of a “perfect” worship assembly that meets our needs. God will you help us to remember that You invited us into Your family and took our every flaw away through the blood of Your Son, and will You help us to remember that we worship because You deserve it. Oh Father forgive us for making it something it was never intended to be…we are so human and somehow it always becomes about us.

Could you open our eyes to see the opportunities for true worship…not on a mountain or in Jerusalem or in our own temples we’ve made with our hands…but God would You help us to see every single one of them that You mark as holy ground and a moment and place for worship. Would you turn us into true worshippers that bless Your heart please?!

May this life be worship, as it seeks to love and serve You instead of myself.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Well Hello There...

I know, I know, it's been forever, as my like a brother Tony has so faithfully reminded me. Nagging me is his "big brother" job I suppose. I apologize. Feels like I do that alot on here. Tell you how sorry I am that the updates are getting fewer and further between.

Allow me to give you a few updates. We have a team here right now from a church outside Beverly called, Faith Joy Fellowship. They have been an absolute delight. They came in with such humble servant hearts willing to do anything that was needed and so it has been so easy to work alongside them. They have been a tremendous blessing to our hearts as well. We've said before that the past month or so has been one of the most difficult since I've been here and I was in a season where I felt like I could not "feel" God's presence. Don't know if you've ever been there, but it was horrible. I felt like I was screaming and I could not hear Him answer. Now that being said, I didn't doubt that He was still there helping me or that He was still my Father wanting what was best for my life. His word says it and so it must be true, it's just that the nearness that I have grown so used to experiencing with Him felt like distance. Now don't get me wrong, there have been plenty of times that I have felt distance from Him, but usually I've known exactly why...I was being rebellious or blatantly sinning and God would not allow my heart to rest near Him until I cleared that up. I am not being dishonest when I tell you that I racked my brain for sin in camp and things that would create distance and I could not come up with anything. (Ok that being said, there's some sin in camp every day, because I'm still living on this earth, but I'm talking about a blatant sin with a rebellious spirit behind it.) Just distance, a heart feeling distant. I've decided I'd rather die than not feel His presence.

Perhaps part of the reason for this month or so sabbatical from feeling Him right beside me was because I had NO idea how accustomed I had come to walking so intimately with Him, talking to Him throughout my day, relying on His wisdom with these kiddo's, just all of it. Maybe I took that in part for granted because of it. Maybe God was increasing my capacity to love Him because I realize that I never ever want to be "away" from Him and I'll do anything that I need to to make that not happen. Maybe it just happens because He promises to refine us and maybe this was part of that. I have NO idea. Don't pretend to know the mind of God.

This team however has walked among us for the past week and been Jesus with skin on. They've served us, prayed over us, encouraged us, and they have seemed to be the tool God used to release this heart from feeling distant from Him.

With tears in my eyes, I tell you that there may be a time again in my journey when God removes His presence for a time to teach my heart something, and I will walk it out because I want Him to mold this heart and change it in any way that it needs to be changed, but of all the things that God has used to refine me, through challenges and struggle and those types of things, this one...has perhaps taught me most and yet been the most difficult.

I have to be near Him. I've learned that. I have to hear Him speaking to my heart. He is my life, and just in case I needed a reminder, this month has been one.

God I need You, I desperately need You, near me, holding me, and so I'm asking now Father, if there is any other way to teach me the lessons You need to teach me, I beg You to do it. Give me a heart that will listen, before You must withdraw Your presence. I don't pretend to know all the reasons for this, but this one thing I know, I am lost without You. Everything is sweeter when I feel You walking it out with me. I thank You for times that we must trust what we know even though we cannot feel, there are lessons in that in huge ways. I'll trust Your perfect provision for my life. I will. You have not failed me, You promise You won't. I rest there. I love You so much. Thank You for reminding me just how much.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Well thanks to my friend Lori's recommendation and my friend Donna's purchase and delivery I am presently reading "Irresistible Revolution" and it's a MESS YOU UP book.



Read this quote last night and thought it beared repeating and some serious thought from at least this heart.



"We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside...but one day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that a system that produces beggars needs to be repaved. We are called to be the Good Samaritan, but after you lift so many people out of the ditch you start to ask, maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be repaved." -- Martin Luther King --



It seems that God is bringing so many things across my path. The death of a dear friend in an impoverished land, seeing 8 year old little boys on the streets selling their last 3 bags of bananas at 10 pm at night, reading books where God is revealing to other people ways of living that resonate with my heart, reading the Scriptures and realizing that the same God who said repent and be baptized also said sell everything you have and give it to the poor and His Son who spent most of His life teaching us a counterculture way to live in the kingdom of Heaven NOW.



Makes me wonder what changes need to be made in my own life and what changes I could help to make that would produce the qualities of this kingdom of Heaven that is capturing my heart and making more sense than anything else has in a while.



I highly recommend this book...by the way!!! Blessings on your day dear ones...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Welcome Home...

Well it's been another hum dinger of a week around this place...imagine that!!! Life never seems to be boring around here. Each day presents new adventures and so many ways to learn about God that if I miss a couple, the next opportunity is just around the corner. I am certainly being schooled in HUGE ways right now no doubt.

As many of you have now read on someone else's blog, Luvin (my prodigal son that I blogged about previously) showed up at our gate on Thursday night about 6 pm. Cindy came running back to the porch and saying Luvin's calling you, (which is the phrase they use when someone's calling on the phone and when someone's calling your name), so I was trying to figure out whose phone he was calling on and how he got the number. I stood there looking confused and Cindy said mama come on. So she led me out to the gate where the kids all said, Luvin is out there, and he was timidly off to the side hiding. So I had the guard open the gate for me and I walked out to meet him. I hugged the stuffin's out of him first and then I had all kinds of questions. What are you doing here?? How did you get here??? Long story short, he had escaped from Casitas Kennedy under the wall at 5 am in the morning...spent all day long on buses going first to Jimmy Hughes cause he knew how to get there and he knew that Jimmy knew us. He asked Jimmy for enough money to get here, and Jimmy also gave him some shoes, as he was barefoot. Then he asked for the name of the town we live in and Jimmy told him Santa Ana and so in little boy writing on a Wrigley's gum wrapper he wrote Santana and showed it to every bus driver he could find and asked them to bring him home. When he showed up he had used his "extra" money that he didn't use on the bus to buy fruit for all the kids. He came bearing gifts from a very sorry little heart. So we talked for a few minutes and he said mama I'm sorry, I'll do whatever you want me to do, I will learn the good things, I just want to come home. A broken heart wanting back in the gate, who had traveled a LONG day to get here.

So needless to say Luvin is back home. We are still working on the paperwork with the judge again, but that'll be worked out soon. He is very different so far. Obviously with a past like his, the rough edges will not completely go away in a 2 week stay at Casitas, but his eyes and his heart are much softer. We sat down last night to start memory verses together every week and he loved that. I gave him a notebook with a cross on the front and when I gave it to him he kissed the cross. I just believe God's love and God's word change things, and it gives me all the hope I need for this little guy who fought to come home.

Please pray for us. We aren't here for easy and fortunately we have a crew here who are committed to fighting for the down and out. So we'll battle from our knees and ask that you join with us and battle from yours.

If I feel one iota of the joy about my boy being home that God does when His walk back to His gate, I've learned yet again more about the amazing love of God and all that means.

Blessings to you on your week dear ones!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Time Marches On...

Have you ever just sat back and wondered why the world doesn't stop when someone is in such horrendous pain?? I have, just this week in fact.

One of our dear employees passed away this week, leaving behind 4 children ages 4 to 14 and a wife who doesn't have a clue what she'll do without him as she raises her children in this country that is so difficult. I don't remember another time in my life when I heard the cry of pain in such vivid ways. Gut wrenching imploring cries for God to help her and give her strength.

Ashley did a beautiful job of telling the story on her blog and so for the sake of this heart (which may be entirely selfish) I'm gonna just let you read her blog. You'll find it as the first post if you hit her link on the right side of my blog. Very honestly I'm having a hard time reliving it to tell you about it.

I've learned so much in the past few days yet again. I learned that when I'm weak He is strong, that when I'm asked to do things that I CAN NOT do, that He will carry me. I've learned that you really can build a family with people of all different colors and backgrounds and ages and you can all come together and love each other a great deal. I've learned that poverty can be so unforgiving sometimes...and it's made me want to sell everything I own, when I have realized in new ways our excessive abundance while most of the rest of the world is starving and hurting so badly at the injustices in the world.

I've walked into a free hospital now and realized that people die here from things that in the States wouldn't take more than a couple days to fix. I've seen gurney's lining hallways and I've seen caskets that cost $200 as opposed to $20,000 and realized that they hold the contents of the dead just as well. I've watched a one room home become a funeral parlor and I've watched my pickup truck become a hurse as I drove it up the hill to a burial plot that had been dug by hand without any machines to lower a coffin into the ground. I heard the dirt hit the top of the casket in one of the most sickening sounds I've ever heard and I watched a 4 year old daughter lift her hands up to me as it did and beg for me to let her bury her head into my shoulder and hide as she listened to her mother wailing in grief. As she did I did the only thing I knew to do in that moment and I put my hand over one ear and my mouth near the other and I sang "I Love You Lord" to drown out some of the noise and also to remind myself that when I get it and when I don't, I love Him, I love Him, I love Him, and I will choose to praise Him regardless.

I've now done something here that I wish I would NEVER have had to do. I've seen death and I've experienced it with these precious people. It's changed yet another part of this heart that needed reformed I guess.

I'm ashamed honestly. Today I find myself totally ashamed. Ashamed for having so many things I don't need while a man dies in a hospital you shouldn't have to take your animals to. Ashamed that I'm so self absorbed and so comfortable while a family worries about where they'll find money now that their provider is gone. I'm just ashamed of me. Ashamed of us I guess. I'm ashamed of my American mentality that gives me all sorts of justifications to have what I have as if I deserve it in some way. And sometimes I have false guilt, fair enough, but I'm not sure today is one of those days. Today I think I'm very fair in feeling ashamed and maybe just maybe this time will call me to further action.

Please join me in praying for Santos' family, they need it desperately. Then please join me in praying for "us" all the "us's" that need to give til it hurts so those who hurt might not have to so much anymore. We can't change the world all at once, but I'm tired of that keeping us from changing corners of it at a time, cause that's possible and I'm tired of thinking small when we've got SUCH a HUGE God!!!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thank You...

Well for those of you who were so faithful to pray for all of us this morning, the trial is over and the children didn't even have to testify. The brother ended up pleading guilty to the charges and will be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

I fully expected to walk into the courtroom and want to rake the boys eyeballs out thinking do you have any idea how you have messed these children up?? Do you have any idea how horrific these flashbacks are for this little girl...any clue? Instead what happened was that I walked into the room and I had to talk myself into believing that this was really happening, that I was indeed in the courtroom, that this indeed was a real judge in front of me, that these were the opening remarks from each of the lawyers, that this was NOT a movie...and then the most unlikely thing happened, I locked eyes on the perpetrator and what I saw on his face was the most forsaken remorseful face I've ever seen. He didn't try to deny the charges, he didn't have anything to say except that he was guilty and with a 21 year old face and what appeared to be a little boy heart I could feel nothing but pity for this one. I thought I have no idea what has happened to you in your life that would so mess up your mind that you would do this and now have to pay for sooooo long for it. He'll be 36 before he ever sees the light of day again.

Granted am I upset with what has happened, oh HEAVENS yes!! Every time that sweet little girl goes into a trance remembering what has happened, I'll hate it all over again.

But I'll never forget the face of guilt I saw today. It was pitiful and I will pray that it is touched by the hand of God in ways I'm not even sure how to pray for yet. Cause God loves Him too and wants to rescue him. Sometimes I forget that, today I couldn't.

Thank you so much for your prayers, God led the way and kept the children from having to see or even hear any of the trial and once again we're reminded of His faithfulness! We appreciate you all so much!!

Pray Saints...

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO SHARE THIS WITH YOUR CHILDREN, THIS ONE SHOULD NOT BE SHARED IN IT'S ENTIRETY AND WANTED YOU TO KNOW THAT AHEAD OF TIME. Thank you however, for involving them in this and making them a prayerful part of these children's lives. I believe God hears their prayers best because they come from such pure places. I just want to protect their little hearts and this one will be hard for even the adults in the bunch.

Well as one of my very dear friends, (and as a sidenote one of the funniest and most delightful people I know) says, when she really means she wants it to be..."so pray saints." I've heard her say it when we're giving her a hard time about the love of her life that she's found within the past year and we're asking her about a wedding date...with the sweetest grin on her face overjoyed cause she doesn't know if she can wait another day to spend her life with this sweet guy, "well pray saints." I've heard her use the phrase in reference to the conference we all get to be privileged to be a part of in our area, called Women of Purpose, when she really wants us to know that she really feels deeply about something, "so let's pray saints." I have grown to love the phrase, I heard it first from her, but it resonated with me. I think I like the word "saints" maybe it's what does it to me. Regardless I find myself every once in a while saying to myself gonna need a "pray saints" day. I smile thinking of Brenda as she says it and the heart from which she says it.

I say all of that to tell you that tomorrow it's gonna be a "pray saints" day. As we've shared before we've taken in some tough cases this time. God has prepared us up to this point, perhaps spoiled is a better word, and we've had fairly easy moments with these kiddo's. Not always delightful and didn't always feel easy at the time, but whewww we know now that we've been spoiled.

Tomorrow we go to court with 3 of our kids we just took in for the trial of their 19 year old brother who has molested both the 9 year old, Pamela, and the 5 year old Daniela. We've spent the past several days watching Daniela have what we believe to be flashbacks which have been horrible, horrendous, scary, and painful to watch and I cannot imagine how painful to endure. She looks as though she is fighting someone to get free. I'll leave all the details out cause they're just hard, but I feel convicted to share some of them in the hopes that even though reading this across a computer screen you might know these things are so REAL and might be called to pray in some very heartfelt and deep yearning kind of ways. So tomorrow this 9, 8, and 5 year old will walk into a courtroom to tell the truth about their life and they're so scared. We talked to them for a while tonight and told them they must tell the truth so that this can be a part of the past and they can have a new future, but talk about difficult. Up until now, no one has spoken about the fact that he's hurt Daniela too and only Pamela knows about it. She didn't tell anyone in an effort to protect her little sister. So tomorrow the truth will come out and they'll have to tell it and in a sense relive it.

Please hear this from the deepest places in my soul..."PLEASE PRAY SAINTS!!" They need your prayers. Pray that Satan's hold over this family would be released and that these sweet children might be set free. Please pray that tomorrow ends the torture and begins the steps toward freedom that a child should be able to enjoy. Please pray that the Healer would show up in the most tangible beautiful ways and be balm for these aching hearts and open wounds. Pray for them first, but please pray for us as well that we might be His hands and His heart. Please pray that we'll hear when He speaks and we'll walk so closely in His footsteps that they look as though they are one. We need His wisdom so desperately and we would love if you'd cry out for it with us...for us!!

It's a "pray saints" day my friends. So let's rally around the throne and lift up 3 kiddo's who need all God's saints to gather at the foot of the cross. I'll meet you there, first thing in the morning!!

Blessings dear ones!!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Luvin...

If there’s a tear left in me today, I wouldn’t begin to know where to start looking for it. Might be a couple left in my toenails, but I’ve cried the rest of them out I can assure you. I have had the most difficult day that I’ve had in this position in this place. I had to take one of our little guys back to the judge today and say that he couldn’t stay. Now, for those of you who know me, I’m the girl who roots for the underdog to the end. I don’t give up on people and I believe that the power of God can always change a person and this is certainly no exception. I believe this little guy has the opportunity to change.

Now what you need to know is that when we bring the kids into this home, they don’t come in as “some project” or another kid, they become sons and daughters to this heart. They are in visual form the reason I came. They are knit to my heart much like yours have become knit to yours based on the fact that they came from your womb. I don’t know how to explain all of that, I just know that it’s true. I cry when they hurt, I want to jump up and down when they do things well, I want to show every picture I have to everyone, God birthed within this girl a momma heart and I didn’t know it was happening, I just know that it did.

So when I brought Luvin in, he wasn’t just “some project” or “another kid who needed a home” while he might have been that for moments, with every night he waited for me to kiss him goodnight and every time he walked out of his room wanting me to hug him good morning and every time I watched him make progress with his anger or make a right choice instead of a wrong one every single time he wanted to help me do anything I was doing or be with me wherever I was going…he became more than just the kid who needed help, he found a spot in this heart as my son. He called me mama and asked if he could first and I said of course. So allow me please first of all to tell you there’s not just an empty space at our table tonight or an empty bed in a room there is this wide empty space in my heart that is begging God to take care of a little boy that I love.

With Ashley in the passenger seat and Luvin in between us today we drove to the judge’s office and made the longest 45 minute drive of my life to date. I thought of every single option, I doubted every decision I was about to make, at least 15 times I wanted to turn the truck around. I replayed the past 2 weeks in my mind, with every single scene from the moment we picked him up until the moment we dropped him off today. Every smile, every hug, every memory.

See the problem is that he came from a family that beat the tar out of him and he’s a 12 year old boy. He lived on the streets for a while and has “street” mentality, which basically means, tough guy wins. So he came into this house with all of that and wanted to hit our kids and tried to run away numerous times and he just took soooo much time and energy. Not one second of which I would take back, because I know that somewhere within his heart tonight he’ll remember that it was done in love. Oh please let him know it was done in love Father. Let me interject here, that I never came here for easy. If easy was what I wanted I can assure you I’d be sitting on a deck tonight or in a den or with my best friend or around the table with my family. I’d be with people I love, not far far away, crying for little boys who seem as though they never had a chance. So it wasn’t for a lack of want to or willing to on my part. It truly wasn’t and in the deepest places of my heart I know that’s true.

The problem or the privilege depending on how you look at it at the moment is that I have 15 other little hearts here that are trusting that we will keep this as a safe place when they’ve never had another one in their world. They are willing to put their trust in this white girl that when I said I’d take them home that somehow that would prove to be better than what they were leaving and with everything in them they latched on to the fact that for the first time they would be safe here. So even when it means it rips a part of my heart out to do so I am forced to make difficult decisions to keep it that way to the best of my ability. When our kids were scared of his “tough guy wins” mentality I knew something had to change. Now let me tell you that not one of these sweet ones has failed to ask me where Luvin is tonight. He became part of our family and I pray we all learned lessons in the process. I want them to know that God called us to love each other, that this house was opened for the outcasts and forgotten of the world in some ways and that they will come in “difficult” packages sometimes but that we will attempt to love them like Jesus. I am not interested in raising a bunch of “saved” from their situation kiddo’s with no heart to save the rest who are in similar boats. I want them to live with a heart like Jesus, so desperately I do. I hope we learned some of that together over the past 2 weeks, I know I did.

As I wept this morning and have grieved in no uncertain terms today, I thought about how God must feel so often when He offers us everything and we say no thanks, that looks nice, it is nice, but I’m not willing to give you all of my heart to get it. Not willing to go by your rules. Not willing to choose you over everything else. I think He feels much like I felt today. I think He cries. One thing I know for sure though, He never forces. I get to decide. I can stay within the confines of his property and within His heart or He will allow me to walk away. Somewhere in my humanness I thought walking away meant that He kinda gave a “well you made you choice” huff. I realize after today that with tears coming even from His celestial toenails He weeps that we didn’t choose Him.

I had no idea how much of the God story would be revealed as I walked out the calling to be here with some precious children that God sent into my life and have built homes in this heart. I have learned more about them in my daily dealings with them than I have learned in 30 years otherwise. They teach me something every single day.

Today the lesson was horrendously hard…but yet I love God more after today if that’s possible, cause I loved Him so much it hurt yesterday.

As a final note, I told Luvin that my house was always open to him that he was my son and that when I told him that it wasn’t just words, he was leaving an empty space in my heart that would forever be his and anytime he wanted to change and wanted this home more than he wanted to fight and be rough and run away to other places that this home was his for the taking but it came with rules because it had to for the safety of everyone. I cried my gutts out when I left him at the judge’s office. He cried too. I reminded him that I loved him and I’d pray every single day for him. I will.

I would ask that you’d pray for him too. Tonight there’s a 12 year old little boy that doesn’t know where he’ll pillow his head and this is a whole new element of trusting God for me. I have to believe that as huge as God was to bring Rudy and Brayan home, he’ll find a way to bring him “home” to, wherever home is that will change his heart. If it’s here, we’ll welcome him back with open arms, I can assure you. If it’s not we’ll wait for the seeds that God asked us to plant to grow and wait in eager expectation to see him in Heaven and I’ll squeeze him until his head pops off.

Lord, please be near that little 12 year old heart tonight when the one he trusted to call “mama” can’t tuck him in or hug him before he sleeps. Will you please be so real to him and find him a home that can help him find his way. He wants help God he does, he just doesn’t know it yet. Would you change his want to? In the meantime will you help this momma heart to trust you with all of your children that you’ve granted to my care, even this one that for at least a time had to leave.

Guess I did find a few more tears as I wrote this. A few still in there. I figure God did too, every single time I wandered away.

He never gave up, we won’t either. Please pray with us and for Luvin…my son who I miss tonight in ways I’ll never be able to explain!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Huge Shout Out...

To my heroes who came out in the pouring rain to help 3 white girls and a little boy get out of the flood waters on Kennedy last night.

Only in Honduras do you call your "little brother" who is in for a 10 day trip and say look I'm on Kennedy and I got stuck in the water (because there is no drainage system that's worth anything) and the truck stalled out and I can't get it started...then not only does he show up but has his posse with him.

So to all of you sweet guys who came and bailed us out last night and were willing to stand in the foot of water with your pants rolled up and get drenched while helping us get to a safe place so we could get the truck started, you have earned an extra jewel in your crown.

Nate, Mark, Luis, and Justin huge thanks for coming to the rescue.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

It's late. It's quiet. I'm sitting in my office that I just shifted around tonight, with my lamp dimly lighting this room and my candle making the office smell really good. Hillsong is singing praise music and for the first time this week I am taking time to relive the events of the past week and take them in. It's been an eventful week to say the least. Busy. Beautifully busy.

As many of you know, if you've read Karen or Ashley's blogs we took in 6 new children this week. 6 broken children who needed a place to live. Brayan and Rudy have finally come home, can we shout HALLELUJAH??!! And to my sheer surprise God had other plans and decided to send 4 more with them.

You know it's always a time of huge adjustment here when we bring in new kiddo's. There are those moments when overwhelming is the best word to describe it. We all have moments of "God I can't do this, this is so hard, and I have no idea how to reach this one." There are tears there are always tears as we collapse into bed at night exhausted because we are emotionally spent with giving and trying to be Jesus and attempt to be balm for their wounds in some very small way. It's a difficult time always and we covet your prayers. But I maintain that it is during these times that I learn the very most about God's sufficiency. The whole when we are weak He is strong promise.

This week some of my most poignant lessons have come from a little boy named Luvin. He's a handful in no uncertain terms. And if you knew nothing of his background you'd be able to send him away and not give him a second look, unfortunately. He's one of those kids that would be so easy to give up on and overlook. He has been beaten, has scars on his body as signs of hot water thrown on him, all at the hands of his parents. So his answer to problems in his world is anger and force, as has been evidenced.

After an "episode" where his anger erupted I had come home and walked in and was attempting to calm him down and talk with him. In that room with his 12 year old self on my lap just bawling and me rocking him back and forth and saying Luvin, God loves you, God loves you, God loves you, his heart settled. As we were talking I felt God giving me words to say in 12 year old language that was very unscripted and on the spot (which I happen to be way bad at most often).

Got to sit with a little guy who has never felt loved in his 12 years of life and explain that God loves him on his good days and bad days moment by moment and that we were going to attempt to be God's love to him in this house. I explained that he needed to apologize to Ashley (who took the brunt of his anger with the heart of Jesus) and that he would need to stand in front of the other kiddo's that night before dinner and tell them he was sorry because this was a family and he had hurt one of the members of our family and when that happened we all hurt. He said, "but I'm embarrassed." Whewwww don't know how many times you've been there but it broke my heart, I said I know buddy, I am always embarrassed when I have to tell God that I'm sorry because I did things I shouldn't have done, that I didn't really want to do, but it's still necessary and you'll feel better afterwards. We talked for a while longer about God and how much He loves us and how when we ask Him to forgive us He does and He doesn't remember it anymore and we're gonna do the same. I said to him, are you ready to go tell Ashley you're sorry? He looked at me and I said, I'll go with you but you're gonna have to tell her yourself ok?! He nodded his head.

So with all his courage mustered and his head buried in his hands, I called Ashley inside and told her he wanted to talk to her. She sat down at the table next to him, hugged him first (after he'd spent an hour or so wailing on her) and lifted his head to look at her. He said with much sorrow, I'm sorry for hitting you and making you sad. We both explained to him that we all make mistakes and that God loves us through them and the important thing is that we make better choices and that it was our job to try and help him learn how to do that.

So at supper time, I walked up and I said Luvin are you ready? He looked at me as if to say for what, and I said remember what we talked about earlier. He stood up and walked up in front of everyone else as he was holding onto my hand and in words that came straight from him he said..."I want to live here and I want to be a part of this family and I'm sorry I hurt someone you love today and I need you to forgive me." Whewww puddle of tears in this heart. Those weren't my words they were his. Then Marvin, bless his little heart said, "It's ok Luvin we all make bad decisions, we forgive you." We had a great "family discussion" about God's love and His forgiveness and what that means.

Funny how when you're supposed to be the teacher you find yourself learning the best lessons. Not ones you didn't know but ones you hadn't yet fully realized perhaps.

I thought about how every single time I go before God to say, I am so sorry...I want to live here and be part of this family and I hurt you today and I need you to forgive me...how He so willingly says, it's ok Jen I knew you'd make some bad decisions, I forgive you. Thought about how every single time I have to do that, in a sense Jesus says it's ok Jen I know you're embarrassed but it's the right thing to do, I'll go with you and He's my advocate, my partner in my confession in a sense.

Guess in part I just got caught up in the beauty and simplicity of the love and grace of God and as I was attempting to explain it without flowery words or intelligence that would be admired or doctrine that lined up or any of that I just got overtaken by the pure and simple love of a God who would take me in as much of a mess as I was, who would clean me up, put me in new clothes, and wait patiently for the process of my transformation, believing in what I could be instead of what I was.

Oh Father may we please do the same! Thank you for the visualization of Your love through the eyes of this one You gave to our keeping. May we think and act in the shadow of Your cross as we deal with him.

We continue to covet your prayers. Thank you for them, every last one of them.

Live loved....You are!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


A few pictures from the house and with the momma yesterday...see story below!
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Oh Dear...

So yep it's been almost a month, how in the WORLD does that happen?? I wish I had some great story of why I've been deterred in writing a post, it's just that...hmmm...well I don't. It's just that one day on top of another day added to another day happened and busy and meetings and well life happened and I didn't take the time to sit down and write about it because at the time it didn't seem noteworthy I guess. Then it's like you look back and realize how much has happened in a month or so's time and feel as if you ought to catch those people, (those faithful people, who watch for a blog every morning) up on what's going on. Except then you sit down and think oh Heavens there's so much. So how about that for a rambling paragraph....

Well the last that you heard from me we were being wow'd by God's amazing providence and provision over Rudy and Brian and their sweet little lives. We had been amazed at how He had worked all the details out to be able to have them call this home and how we felt that we needed to take our sandals off in Dunkin Donuts because it became "holy ground" in a sense. Who knew, you could get donuts and a good dose of God in that place, I knew I loved it for a reason. I frequent it often still just in case He might want to make another grand appearance :)

I went to meet with the judge today and it is official, Rudy and Brian are moving to Casa. I'll pick them up on Wednesday morning at 11:30 am and they'll be ours for such a time as this. Please know that I write these next words humbled to my knees because I don't deserve this, it is merely God's favor for reasons that I'll never know, but I got to meet their mother today. I watched this beautiful 29 year old woman walk in who has 6 children and lives a life of desperation but who was as warm and tender as anyone I've met. When she walked into the room and I told her my name was Jennifer she hugged the stuffin's out of me. Then with tears in her eyes, she said, you're HER. In the next several minutes she explained to me that for the last year her boys had been telling her about me and how I wanted to help them but she was scared and didn't know who I was or what they were talking about. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said if I would have known it was a children's home, I would have let them come a long time ago. We needed help. She told me that Brian asked her if she would give him a wallet so that he could keep the note that I gave him with my name and phone number on it because he didn't want to lose it. He kept walking around saying, isn't it pretty handwriting mom, isn't it pretty?! The judge told me that a children's home wanted Rudy and Brian to come live there, but I didn't know anything about the people. She said I wanted to come today and make sure that Casa de Esperanza was run by the person that my little boys fell in love with and when you told me your name was Jennifer I knew it was you. Ok so tears...yet again!! It's not that there's anything extraordinary about me, it's just that God gave me the opportunity to connect with these two little hearts and when I had no clue He was working and all seemed hopeless, there He was, preparing the way, being who He is, and allowing this flawed girl to somehow for some reason hold out hope for two little boys.


After we had a meeting in the judge's office, we went to their house to "see" where they had come from and if ever I forget what desperate looks like, I'll go back to remember, cause it's that important. It was destitute. It was a sheet for a door, it was a dirty mattress on a dirt floor, it was a 3 year old watching a 4 month old while the mother was in the city, it was tin covering a floor with holes in it, a staircase with the most wobbly stairs you have ever seen, it was poverty in the form of a mother who could not care for her children. With tears in her eyes in the meeting yesterday she said to me, "I wish there was some other way..." to which I responded, "so do I." I so wish there was some other way. Thought about all the momma's I know who would have their heart ripped out if they must give their children to someone that they barely know so that they could be fed and taken care of.

It was a great reminder day to me of why we do what we do...even while it's soooooooooo far away from our families and people we love so very much. I connected with this sweet woman yesterday and realized that this ministry goes so much further than taking care of children, it's also being kind and befriending a woman who has been looked down upon and who feels has lost most of her dignity. It's attempting to be who Jesus would be to the oppressed, the seemingly forsaken, the impoverished and hurting. It's living out the red letters...

oh God help me please live them out and then give you all the credit!!

That's only part of the story...just from yesterday! God showed up yet again.

As for the rest of the month that I left you out of, well I'll catch you up on that as well. Gonna take several posts in the next few days to cover it. So stay tuned...

Monday, April 30, 2007

INTERNS WANTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So...just in case your summer plans are still up in the air and no one has told you that this is the COOLEST place to spend a summer, here's your formal notice!!

We are still looking for a few people who will come and work with us here from June through August. You will have the opportunity to fall in love with some precious kiddo's and draw closer to the heart of God as you sacrifice some things and He meets you there. I can't make many promises, but that one you can take to the bank, I'm sure of it!!

If you're interested please send us an email at casadeesperanza@gmail.com

It's gonna be a great summer, don't miss it!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant ministers, we want to earn our bread by making a real contribution. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference. And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer. Those who can sit in silence with their fellowman, not knowing what to say but knowing that they should be there, can bring new life in a dying heart. Those who are not afraid to hold a hand in gratitude, to shed tears in grief and to let a sigh of distress arise straight from the heart can break through paralyzing boundaries and witness the birth of a new fellowship, the fellowship of the broken.

-Henri Nouwen

So...

The meeting with the judge went so well. She seems like such a kind lady. Thank you Lord that there is someone fighting for these children in high places that seems to exude kindness. I'm sure there are others, I'm just thankful to have met her. Please keep her in your prayers, her name is Julia and her job is difficult on the very best day.

We turned in the rest of the paperwork she needed from us, and said she'd have the paperwork done on her end this week. In Honduran time I'm guessing that means next week, but hey we'll settle for that, when we didn't think a few weeks ago it was even gonna be possible. :)

I'll keep you posted and take lots of pictures when they finally get here.

AND YES LORI I AM PRAYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????????????

Monday, April 23, 2007

Update...

For all of you staying tuned...

the meeting with the judge has been scheduled officially for tomorrow at 2 pm, so I should have more information then. Keep praying. We're close to bringing them home and everytime we have opened these doors to more children it has been so incredibly special in it's own ways. This one has it's own tender moments all wrapped up in it, because some little boy took me at my word to help him, to take care of him, to welcome him home, and he held onto those words with all his might. (Don't you ever doubt that God uses you in this world to be someone else's hope, when they have none left.) I have no idea what it was about this flawed, clay footed girl, that made him think he could trust me, but it makes me want to live up to every one of his crazy ideas about her. :) Just because he thinks I will.

Oh Lord please help me in the moments that I am human and he will be disappointed. Thank You that you never are and when we take You at Your word to help us, take care of us, and welcome us home, we are never disappointed in Your faithfulness to do just that.

Here They Are...


So this is the sweet little guys that you've read about...I dug out the picture from the first night that we met them and they ate pizza like it was their job!!
I am going today to meet with the judge to attempt to speed up the paperwork to get Brian out of Casitas Kennedy. Please say a prayer that it will work and that they'll be here so very soon.
I shared with our boys last night before bed that we were going to take in two new little boys and that I was going to need their help. I love them so much!! They started listing all of the things they were going to help them do. Yovani says, yeah we'll help them learn how to clean the kitchen, and brush their teeth, and where they need to sleep, and on and on, there was quite a list. It was so cute!! So for now, I think they're excited that they're coming. I know I am!!!
Blessings on your day!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Adios Mi Amigos...

Well the team left on Sunday and I've just now gotten my head and my life back together enough to sit down and type just a few comments about some of that. What an incredible week we had together. I have worked with several teams by now and never before was the battle of good and evil more apparent than it was this week. It seemed so blatantly obvious that everything we desperately wanted to do for God's glory Satan was attempting to attack. Wanted us to be fearful of the bus rides after 2 how shall we say it, fender benders. Made situations look hopeless in the off chance that we'd give up and be defeated. It was just so obvious that he was on the lookout for ways that he could thwart what God had planned for good. I don't know about you, but that just kinda added fuel to my fire. Certainly didn't make things easier or less stressful, but made me a whole lot more passionate about perservering.

May I just say to you dear ones that I've had the privilege of working beside for the past week and a half that you walked in a manner worthy of the calling. I saw within you servant hearts and beautiful spirits bent upon reaching out and touching and growing and changing while you were here. You encouraged me in ways you probably have no idea.

A few moments will always stick out to me from this trip...

Vicki, Debbie, and Rachel in the backseat of the truck after they'd spent the day with the San Miguel kids with tears streaming down their faces. I was reminded of some very important things through your tears and was refreshed by the way people are touched by the children here after one short day.

Karen and Devin, you moved into Marvin's heart and took up residence. He loves and adores you both and it's so funny because God makes that happen and people have come and loved Marvin, but he hadn't become anyone's "boy" (of course aside from us) until you came. Now he's yours. We're grateful to share him.

Papi Pelon (aka Tio Jeff) I wish you could know how touched I am when I watch you with Francisco. Most guys your age are way too cool to come for a summer fall in love with a little guy and miss him everyday thereafter. He loves you so much and if I could have picked a guy that I hope he models life after, I would have made the same choice he did. :) I love you brother!!

Miss Jessica, your heart just touched mine so much this time. I watched you become so soft to so many things over the past year and then watched it manifest itself on this trip. Yovani wanting to sleep in your bed and you being so gracious with the kiddo's. Your encouragment to me and offering to help raise our support. I just saw so much Jesus in that heart.

John and Ashley, you made the dynamic of the team so much richer, by your servant hearts, and your hearts for God. You were so kind and jumped in wherever whenever and you just made yourselves a part of us and we were delighted to have you with us.

Lauren, I don't think there was a day when you didn't say hello and ask me how I was. Your attentiveness to the people around you was kindness exemplified. Thank you for caring how we all were and taking the time to talk to each of us and wanting to learn about who we were as people.

That's enough for tonight. I'll write some more tomorrow. So many sweet memories and special people. It's worth stringing out for a few days!! :)

I MISS YOU GUYS!!!

Monday, April 16, 2007

UNBELIEVABLE...

Well I promised a post explaining the things that occupied part of my time and lots of my heart last week and kept me at times from blogging much to you in the midst of a hectic schedule. So I shall attempt now to relay the story from beginning to this point.

As I begin to share with you let me tell you that this is the first time that I remember feeling as though God was answering my prayers the moment I spoke them. He didn't ask me to wait and grow (as we're all familiar with that one), He didn't tell me the timing wasn't best, He didn't say no, He just went ahead of me by a step and prepared the way. It was beautiful and I am just now getting to fully reflect on how it happened and how tender it was that He took such beautiful care of my heart.

So many details to share...please bear with me, I promise you'll be reminded of the faithfulness of God. Look past my inadequate words and please see a Father who loves His children, every one of them no matter where they are!

So you might remember several months ago my post on two precious little guys that we had met one night while we were going through the pharmacy drive thru. They had come up to my window to ask for some lempira's and had coke bottles under their shirts and eyes that were cloudy from the effects of the frequent sniff's. As I looked down into their little eyes, my heart was caught and I remember thinking oh Heavens I want to take you home, give you a bath, cut that hair, and sit down and hold you and remind you how much you're loved. They asked for some food that first night that I met them and we were headed to Pizza Hut and so I said well meet us over at Pizza Hut in 5 minutes and yes I'll buy you some food. I am ashamed to say that my thought initially was that we would go into Pizza Hut and eat and I'd either get them some food to give to them or we'd give them our leftovers. (I still shudder at the fact that my brain in the moment was malfunctioning.) Their idea when I said I'd feed them was that they were going in with us and before I even had time to think about it, my 5 boys and these sweet little dirty guys with barefeet just trucked right through the door and into the play area at Pizza Hut. We all sat down at the big long table and they all played together and we had soooooooooo much fun. They ate so many pieces of pizza I was scared to get the bill and delighted to pay it all the same. :) As we said goodbye that night I wrote my number down on a piece of paper and handed it to one of them and told them to come back tomorrow with their mom and that I would help them file the proper paperwork and get them help and that they could come and live with us. We left with hugs and a prayer.

We went back the next day and couldn't find them anywhere. Over the course of the next month we drove through that same part of the city and looked for them sooooo many times. Our boys prayed for them every single night and asked me every day when they were coming to live with us. I didn't have any answers, I had felt so sure that God had led us to them and couldn't figure out why it wasn't working out. Felt so hopeless in some ways because we were here had a home and couldn't find a way to get these sweet boys in it.

When we were in town a few months later when Kay and Joyce were here we were driving by the Mariott and these two little guys came up to my window and they were way familiar faces. I stopped at the light and got super excited to see them and asked how they were and told them to come on we were going for ice cream. Had a ball. That was January 18 and the next day was my birthday. Told them to come back to the same place in the morning and that we'd buy them breakfast and bring them some things. Once again they were barefoot and in ragged clothes. So there they came early the next morning and we all sat down and ate breakfast and I loved on them and AGAIN I wrote down my name and number and I said put this in your pocket, don't lose it, and tell your mommy to call me, I WILL HELP YOU!!! Didn't hear anything from them again and I am still thinking, what in the world??!! God I don't get it, we have a place to help them, I want to help them, I feel called to these two boys so strongly for some reason and I have to believe that's from you, why is this not working?? No answers.

So we went to visitation on the last Friday of March to take the kids to visit their mothers and as soon as I stepped out of the van I saw this little guy running and I couldn't make out who it was until he threw his arms around me and yelled TIA and I looked into a little face that made me want to bawl. It was Brian, one of the brothers that I'd met so many months ago and had prayed for nearly every day since. One of the ladies that was sitting with him walked up to me and she said, you need to know that he has cried every day since he got here because he said some lady promised to help him but he couldn't find her phone number but he wanted to go live with her. She said when you drove up and he saw you get out of the car he said, that's her. Awwwwwwww...ok so I was smitten with this little heart all over again. So I went inside to talk with the social workers and told them about the fact that we'd built a relationship with this boys and that I really wanted to take them to live with me. They told me that that wasn't going to be able to happen, that Rudy (his brother) had already been court ordered to another children's home and that Brian was to go there tomorrow. I wanted to bawl. I said, but he doesn't want to go there, he wants to live with me, and I want them to live with us and our boys have prayed for them nearly every night, and it was a futile effort, they weren't budging. I left feeling very defeated...but praying that God would protect those boys and draw them to him.

This past week the group had a visit scheduled to Casitas on Tuesday and I was running late because I had a meeting that I had to go to between the blind school and Casitas and so was an hour or two late. When I pulled up in the car Ashley was sitting beside this sweet little face that I love and I recognized immediately as Brian. My mouth dropped open because he was supposed to have left a week ago to go to the other center. I got out of my car and asked lots of questions about what happened and he said, I didn't want to go I want to live with you. Ok tears!!!!!!!!!!

So my feet went trucking back into that office and said to the women in there, what do I need to do to take this little guy with me...I will do whatever it takes. I asked for the name of the center where Rudy is because they refuse to seperate the brothers which I completely understand and so I said I'd take them both...they still wouldn't do the paperwork required to change the orders. I was getting way frustrated by this point and felt like we weren't doing what was best for the kiddo's which certainly was getting my feathers ruffled. Left the office way upset and so I went back out to face Brian and tell him there was nothing I could do. I couldn't ever get those words out of my mouth though. So instead I looked at him and I said, I want you to know that I want you to live with me. You are such a special little boy. So you pray and I'm gonna pray and I'm gonna go talk to some people tomorrow and see what I can do ok??!! All of this was said with serious tears in my eyes praying that I wasn't doing the wrong thing by giving him false hope. He just kept sitting beside me putting my hand up to his little mouth and kissing it. Broke my heart. It was time to board the bus and I hugged this little guy with all I had in me, and his eyes filled up with tears. I said hey don't be sad, God is great big and you pray tonight really hard ok, and I'll have all my friends that are here with me pray too ok. Let's just pray. Then I said let's pray right now and so I knelt down there in the dirt on these knees with this precious little guy and I put my head against his and I just basically said ok God we just are gonna trust you and we need your help. I got on the bus and I put my head on the seat in front of me and I cried like I haven't cried in a LONG time!!! I was heartbroken and didn't have a clue what to do and wanted to help rescue this little guy soooooooooooooooooo bad!!

We had a devo at the Jesus statue that night and after devo was over I just explained the story and told them that I wouldn't be with them because I had to go fight for a little boy because I promised him that I would and I begged for their prayers. So we all prayed together for two little boys and for God to work all of this out in the very best way whatever that was because we just weren't sure what to pray for exactly.

After I shared, this sweet gal, Iris, that was with my dear friend Gina that night came up to me and asked for more details and said that her mother worked for IHNFA and worked with adoptions and that possibly she could help me. Gave me just an ounce of hope at least and God used her in that moment. Didn't have any idea how much He was about to use her. The only thing I had to go on at this point was that Rudy was at some center called Amor Y Esperanza and that possibly Iris's mom could help me the next day. I knew though that I only had until about 2 pm because the other center was coming to get Brian then. So I needed a plan and fast.

We were headed back down the mountain to take Gina home and I wanted to take donut's up to the team for a treat and so I asked Gina and Iris if they'd like to grab a donut or would rather just go home. They said yeah they'd like to go with us. (Which is a rare deal as well, because Gina never eats junk food so the fact that she said yes to a donut is worth noting.) There were two other people in the Dunkin Donuts besides us and when we pulled up Iris said hey I know that lady, she's a doctor with the Baptist mission in a village out of the city. So we walked up to the counter to order and Iris went over to talk to them and she came over a few minutes later grabbed me by the arm with enthusiasm and said hey you need to come over here right now this guy is the director of Amor Y Esperanza. WHAT??????????????????????????? I had to pick my jaw up. So I walked over introduced myself, told him the story of Rudy and Brian and just asked him if there was anyway we could work together to help them and do what's best. He said, well I'll tell you what we have 3 centers, let me give you the name of the one where Rudy is and the name of the director there, and you'll need to call her in the morning and explain the situation to her, and we'll go from there. I could not believe it. Out of 1.6 million people in this city, God allowed us to be in the same place at the same time, and I couldn't decide if I wanted to do cartwheels or cry at His tenderness and relentless love.

So Gina agreed to go with me to speak to the director the next morning and so we went early in the morning to meet with this sweet lady named Claudia. She was a delight and if for no other reason than getting to meet her it would have been so worth it. She agreed to let me shadow her and learn from her and she is obviously a woman who is in love with her Lord. I am looking forward to that. When I explained the situation to her, the one thing that stands out is her saying, "if you feel this strongly about being called to these two little boys and the bond you've formed with them I have to believe that's from God and I want to help you." And she did. She gave us a copy of the entrance papers with their full names on them and their id numbers and gave us the judge's name and said that we'd have to go talk with her.

So we went from the director's office to attempt to go to the office of a lady we have some affiliation with from when Tim worked with her with Dona Aguas (the prior first lady). She is what we would call the D.A. over the children's courts and we attempted to call her several times and couldn't get ahold of her and so Gina said well let's just stop by. So we went into her office and she recognized Gina and said well come in. It was crazy, she was crazy busy, and she is normally not in her office but she just "happened" to be this morning. She listened to the story, she looked at the papers we had, she said oh yeah I know this lady she's one of my best friends I work with her often, I'll call her right now. So she got her on the phone explained the situation, told her she thought this was in the best interest of the children and I only heard her end of the conversation so all I could hear was, yes I know we'll need to do an inspection first, so how about tomorrow at 1:30?? I looked at Gina like yeah right, you wait for a month for things like this, they are not going to come tomorrow, and then I heard her say, tomorrow at 1:30 ok I'll see you then. WHAT?????????????????????????

And so the meeting was in place and in a 24 hour period of time God had blown me away. I went from hopeless to hopeful and remembered that if God could create the world, part the seas, calm the ocean, He could certainly bring a couple little boys to this home if He so chose.

The ladies came out the next day to do an inspection and everything went well and the judge walked into my office and said, well I do believe this is best for the children. I will be changing the orders next week. Congratulations you have 2 new boys!!

I am floored and humbled and touched to my toes that God would wait until the perfect time. That He would nestle two boys in my heart long ago and teach me so much through this process. That He would allow me to learn that they were worth fighting for and that the battle will never be mine but His and that He will walk ahead of me and prepare the way. That He would love me and these two little guys so much that He would work this all out in the beautiful ways that He did.

SO I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT...Rudy and Brian are coming home...home to Casa...home to this heart...home to these brother's and sister's in this family that God had prepared for them before the beginning of time.

I am honored to be a small part of all of this...thank you for you prayers. It was such a sweet gift to be able to share the moments of all of this while the team was here. I will never forget the ways you all encouraged and prayed hurt and rejoiced with me through the events of this week. You are precious!!