Sunday, February 11, 2007

She Found Her Song...

Some of you may recall my requests for prayers for sweet Maryuri when I was home and privileged to speak to many of you and share my heart about this place. She was one of the names that I begged for your prayers for. They have so worked and I want to share the blessings of that with you the best that I can.

Some great things have been happening on the property and it has made such a tremendous difference in the culture of the "community" of this place. We have two interns back with us, Deborah and Ashley, and they are just a tremendous asset, and then just a week or so ago after much prayer and deliberation, Dorian, my friend and my newest "like a brother" decided that he was going to sign on to stay and minister with us here. We also hired Carlos, who many of you may remember, is one of Deisi's sons ( a lady who works for us ). He is our "junior staff" who helps us so much with the kids and sleeps in the boys bedroom every night to be the "big brother" in there...he lives here now with us all the time, which came as an answer to prayer for his mom. He has grown up in a culture where she has had a difficult time controlling him. Praise be to God that he has spent some time around this place and these kids have softened up neat places in his heart. He is a different kid who is being touched by God whether he knows it or not yet. Amazing changes have taken place. He's learning now how to drive so he can help be our errand guy (and also develop some life skills for someday when he needs to be able to take care of his own family) and he's learning English and he's entering his junior year of school and is on a strict study schedule hoping that with some good grades he'll be able to enter college and we'll be able to help him with that process.

I started all of that to tell you that we've started some new things with the coming of the new year. I shared with you that I spent a couple retreat days at the Mariott praying for direction not just for the children but for the spiritual maturity and health of the project as a whole and so we have taken some steps to help with that. One of them is that the staff that live here have been getting up every Monday morning for a few weeks at 6 am to pray together. It has built such different bonds and unity among us that has been such a gift. Then on Tuesday and Thursday Noel offered to do a total staff devo where all of our ladies and guards and kiddo's and all of us go to a devo for all of us. The staff have shared their stories and we've all come to appreciate one another more I think as people, as friends, maybe even as family, instead of just a bunch of people who sometimes work together. It's been really good. We have also started a bible study in the apartment once a week and a ladies bible study one day a week. We also have started having "family night" on Wednesday nights with the kids where we all are in the kids side at the same time, so it's like one great big party. We sing and do a bible story and some activity and the kids are loving it. So...God has led us into some good things which have been having really neat results so far, so please continue to pray for those things. We do not have a staff that all know Jesus or the life He offers so pray that He might be lifted up in this place by all we say and do and they might come to know Him.

Ok I say all of that to bring us back to Maryuri...her story for those of you who may not remember is that she was taken out of her house because she was abused by her father. He left scars up and down her back and worse than that sexually abused her horribly and left scars on the soul that don't fade easily. When she came here she was so sullen. She wouldn't walk, she didn't want us to touch her, she never smiled, didn't talk, just was so within herself. After a couple weeks she slowly worked her way out of some of that and would come close enough that she'd walk by and lay her little head on our leg first and then want us to pick her up and she has just come so far in the last couple months. She now smiles one of the most beautiful smiles you could ever want to see, she loves all over us, gives sweet sweet kisses, and is just precious.

The best news I could tell you though is this...over the past week or so we've noticed a beautiful thing in this once very broken little girl. It's mesmorizing all of us to be honest. We noticed it first the other day when we were at our staff devo with Noel and Maryuri was sitting in the circle and when we all sang and looked around the circle I saw this sweet little 2 year old face smile from ear to ear sitting over there opening her mouth and singing along as we were praising Him. Everywhere we've been since she's done the same thing. If we sing, she sings. Sometimes she's singing her song when we're not singing. And you should see all of us, we just sit and watch and marvel at the goodness of God. It is one of the sweetest sights I've seen in a while.

She's found her song y'all. God is healing her heart and she's wanting to sing. Can we all just shout hallelujah!! Thank you for your prayers, don't you ever doubt the impact they're having. We watch the wonders that come because of all of them often. Please keep petitioning Heaven for these sweet kiddo's hearts to heal. It's a knock you straight to your knees sight.

Blessings. Keep singing. Maryuri sure is.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Hospital Escuela

You know I've been there probably by now at least 20 times. I have walked through those same front doors, and while every experience there has held a touch of "difference" depending on the circumstances we encountered while doing visitation, it has also held a hint of "sameness." Children hit by vehicles all over this country, lying in beds alone because mom and dad (if dad is around) have to work and can not afford to take a day off to be with their child. Babies who need surgeries on brains and other parts that may or may not happen depending upon funding or lack thereof. I am never completely prepared for any of the sights of this third world hospital and the sights and smells it contains, but I am at least now somewhat aware of what I will witness and experience on those days. They are some of the hardest days of a Torch trip for me. Difficult.

Today though there wasn't a hint of sameness, cause I walked through the door now with this sweet little girl that I now love as my own and we went to visit the doctor and be the patient instead of going to visit the patients. We were unaware that before Katty had come to us, she was having tests run while at Casitas for leukemia and various other serious diseases because her blood cell count was not where it was supposed to be. We were required by Casitas to keep up with this and we didn't know it until a month or so ago. Then all at once this one ugly word kept coming up in conversation and while our Spanish isn't perfect this one you can't mistake..."cancer." Such an ugly word, and it's ugly in either language, in any language. So we had another blood test done on Katty last week and had a follow up appointment with the oncologist this morning at 6:30 am. So I walked through those same front doors and up those same stairs and through those same green hallways, it's just that when these feet stopped walking what I saw in front of me were bald heads of children, or beanies covering bald heads, and I saw mother's and father's, grandma's and aunt's I suppose, with sick sick children. We had to wait to see the doctor for about 3 hours (welcome to be grateful for your 1 hour wait next time :) and in that amount of time I must have said Jesus a thousand times because I just had nothing else to say except to call out to Him for some sort of comfort for these precious people. I watched and sick scared came over me like ok God according to what I can tell it looks like things are pretty much ok with her lab results, but oh dear God what if we walk into that room and she says something like yes she's gonna need chemotheraphy or yes she has leukemia. What then??!!

I told my sweet friend Gina today that in the last 6 months I have experienced more than I have in 29 years I think. Never expected to be sitting in a waiting room on an oncologist with a 3 year old little girl. Never expected to have to learn how to deal with horrendous sexual abuse, and how to love someone through the after effects of it. Never expected it, but you do what you have to do and I have found God in every single one of those moments right beside us.

I found Him today in that waiting room holding this scared to death "momma" and this heart sick human who was witnessing suffering in ways I just don't have words to explain. I watched this daddy attempting to be the rock when his face said oh buddy I just want to cry with you as his son walked through the little glass door to do his chemo treatment. 3 hours is a long time to watch people doing life in a cancer ward. Was another moment to either expose yourself to life and the frailty of it and enter into some part of the sufferings of others or to turn my head and pretend it wasn't happening. I just am finding it so difficult to do that anymore. It is as if I feel as though it somewhat cheapens what someone else is experiencing if I do not at least acknowledge the struggle and pain.

And then we walked into the doctor's office and she examined Katty while I held my breath (speaks alot for my faith in that moment doesn't it) and then I heard these words, no everything looks fine. Her blood cells are at normal levels and there is no reason to suspect anything except anemia, she needs some iron. My heart did leaps and my eyes had tears and I hugged her a little tighter when she got up off that table and I will enjoy her a whole bunch more from every day from now on. I was so grateful.

It's just that then we had to walk back out the doctor's office door and I looked into eyes that couldn't leap because they hurt so bad. They had questions too many to count and a future too uncertain with this one they loved.

I spent today in a cancer ward in Hospital Escuela and I was reminded again how desperately we need to love people and be kind cause you have no idea...absolutely no idea the sufferings they are enduring. I still do not have any idea what it would feel like to have to take your son or daughter to chemo treatments, but I have a better idea what a face looks like now when you do. I will not forget them easily. I saw another element of the human experience today, and I'm learning that the more we embrace those moments and enter into them, we become more what Christ intended for us to be. Active parts of a broken world who attempt to spread light and love.

Thanks for letting me spew. My heart needed somewhere to put all the emotion tonight. This is my place to figure out my own thoughts and feelings as well as share with you.

Hug the people you love a little tighter today...and have compassion for the people you encounter...there is so much hurt in the world and we are God's ambassadors as though He were making His appeal through us. Love them well!!

Because of Me???

There's this neat little verse tucked into the end of Chapter 1 of Galatians that has stuck on me and won't let me comes to mind in the coolest moments and causes me to think about it's implications in a whole host of situations. I happened upon it a couple weeks ago, as we've started to have a weekly bible study in the Casa after the kiddo's go to bed with the folks on the property which has been a great thing. Isn't it funny how you can read something sooooo many times and miss it and then all at once it jumps right off the page at you. This verse did that to me a couple weeks ago. Here it is ready...

"and they gave glory to God because of me..." now I realize that perhaps those 9 words are not all that profound per se it's just that it caught me and hasn't let me go. Think as I read it and contemplated it it's what I decided I'd love to have said about my life someday.

Think it also is worthy of noting that Paul makes this statement after explaining some of his life's worst mistakes and how God had turned them around and completely changed his life. I love that. Is such a vivid reminder that sometimes people will give God glory because of your changed life. Takes no more than one look at a completely changed life to testify of God's goodness. It's one of the clearest proof's. Don't you ever let Satan tell you God can't use you because you've done too much or slipped too far or have too much baggage. That is a lie from the pits of hell. You stare into the eyes of Jesus, you walk toward Him, you leave that junk behind and you watch and see what happens. People won't be able to deny the Christ cause they'll see the change in you and that speaks. It just speaks louder than any other message we offer the world. So you have a past???? Well good, then you're a great opportunity to be a billboard for Jesus, it's all in your perspective. Don't you let Satan hold you down any longer, that's garbage and you call him on it. Then you run toward those open arms and don't you ever look back.

Think it also hit me that even in ministry, maybe especially in ministry sometimes, there are moments when we want the glory. In our human moments it feels good that people notice when you're doing a good job. In my good moments however, my true to my heart moments, what I really want is for people to look at this life and miss me and see Jesus.

"and they gave glory to God because of me..." Oh Lord may it please be so. May we live our lives with hearts that desire to make You look good.

Friday, February 02, 2007

When Life Doesn't Make Sense...

Her name is MacKenzie and I can't get her out of my head today. We graduated from high school the same year. We played basketball together, we were in student council together, we ran in the same circle and were good friends at that time in life. Since then we've all grown apart and gone our seperate ways but she's on my heart today. Cause today she had to stand beside her daddy's casket while hundreds upon hundreds of people came to pay their respects to a well respected and highly succesful man in our community. You ask anyone and they would have told you he was a "good" man and has done alot of good for our community and the people there as a whole. Somewhere within the past few days though life felt out of control and he decided he had had all he could handle and so he drove out a desolate road to the small airport in our little country town, he took a pistol and ended his life.

Sad to say we kinda expect that from the homeless guy who's down on his luck or the drug addict or the ___________ (well you fill in the blank.) But we do not ever and I mean ever expect it from the community man who owns half of our town, who just built a brand new gigantic house with 7 bathrooms, who has 3 healthy grown children and several grandchildren, we most certainly do not expect it then.

And yet I wonder why he isn't just as likely to have had all he could handle. Why is it that we assume that the wealthy and the put together outwarldly are doing just as well inwardly and why is it that we can walk by a person a thousand times and we never know their pain. Doesn't seem like it should be that way. And yet, we've almost convinced one another that this society demands "put together" and success is wealth and in horrid ways I was reminded in the past few days that having "everything" can still mean nothing if you don't have the one thing that matters and it hasn't brought peace to your soul.

Please please please keep this family in your prayers in the days and weeks to come. Especially my friend Mac, whose daughter's heart will have more questions than she has answers and will feel like life doesn't make much sense for a while I'm sure. They need an army of praying people to help hold them up. Thanks.

Yep Bored Again...

I'm a nerd for this stuff, and blogger has just recently given you all kinds of options, so I'm playing with them... bear with me while I change colors and stuff until I create a blog I am satisfied with. :)