Monday, July 14, 2008

Some days are difficult

It's never easy, leaving Guatemala. There are always mixed emotions. You want to get home and see your family, you want to take a hot shower, you want to have a coke with ICE:) But I don't ever really want to leave.

Saturday seemed like a fight from the moment I woke up. When you pay to stay in a nice, safe hotel in Guatemala City you kind of expect hot water. 3am and a cold shower was just what I needed I guess to get me going. The boys on the other hand did NOT want to get up. It's like their 2 weeks of being in Guatemala had come to a head. Cameron was struggling.

I went downstairs to find that most of our Asheboro team had gotten on the shuttle to the airport, but not all of them. The next hour was craziness, trying to get everyone to the airport. There were plenty of other guests at the hotel who didn't mind jumping in front of our team - forcing their way on the shuttle and separating our team. One of the kids on our team, Taylor was throwing up and once we finally checked in we learned that our flight was delayed more than an hour. Would we make our connecting flight in Miami?

Breakfast always makes people feel better and we were thanking God for a McDonald's in the airport. Our flight to Miami was pretty uneventful until we arrived. On route to immigration Kendall started throwing up. The carousel that our luggage was to arrive on, broke - so we had to wait a really long time for it to come off on another carousel. Meanwhile we realized that if God didn't intervene we would surely miss our flight home. I've never had the immigration/customs part of the trip take so long.

We finally figured out where to put our luggage and were rushing through security when a man picked a fight with my 16 year old nephew, Jonathan. I held my composure for the most part until Kendall started throwing up again. The security agent looked at the zip lock bag he was holding and said "you can't take that through security." It was our last bag and Kendall's sickness wasn't letting up. Meanwhile the irritated man began to pick a fight with me. The woman behind him said to me "you're being WAY to nice to this man." As nicely as I could I apologized to the man for anything we had done to upset him and then said "We're a little stressed. While you're picking a fight with a teenager and keeping it going with me - we're missing our flight home and my son is throwing up. You're in front of us and will get through security before we do. I suggest that you turn around and leave us alone." Our team was separated and I had lost all control. Cameron heard a different man say in Spanish "that woman is crazy." And he was right - I felt crazy. And I wasn't the only one. Our Asheboro team leaders lost a carryon in the midst of the wildness.

The flight to Raleigh was uneventful except for Kendall throwing up every 15 minutes. We were all relieved when we landed in North Carolina and saw the smiling faces of our family and friends. Of course 1/2 the team's luggage didn't arrive and we couldn't find my car in long term parking. My Mom said it was parked in "C" for Christian when we realized later it was actually in "G" for God:) Thankfully David's sister and her husband were there to help us out!

Once we found the car and headed east toward home I decided to stop at a convenience store to get Kendall some gatorade. The lights were on and there were cars in the parking lot - but the door was locked to the store! I couldn't believe it. I quickly found the last bit of my joy fading. "Why Lord does everything have to be so hard today?" I drove across the street and went inside another store. The clerk, a man in his 20's said "Good afternoon M'am. How are you?"
I said "I'm fine." He replied "If you're so fine, why do you have that scowl on your face?"
Guilt took over me and I felt defeated. I had failed all day long. Do I look that stressed?

"I'm sorry" I said. "We've been on a trip for 2 weeks and my son has been throwing up since Miami and they lost our luggage and I still have to drive home 2 hours. I'm really not as bad as my face looks. I'm sorry."
The young man said, "Bless your heart."
It was in that moment that I heard a Kirk Franklin song coming from his little cd player. Imagine Me is the name of the song and it's one of my favorites.
"I love that song!" I said. "Have you ever seen the video?"
The young man said "No. I haven't." and I replied "You need to go to his website. It's an awesome video."
The man gave me my change for the gatorade and as he placed it in my hand he gently grabbed my hand and said "I'm going to pray for you M'am."
And.....he prayed the sweetest most incredible prayer for me. Right there in that convenience store. He prayed for safety, a clear mind, healing for my son, and that I would sense how much God loved me and how proud He was of me for the work I do for him." He didn't even know that we had been on a mission trip.
Through my tears I thanked him for being obedient to the Lord in that moment. God had used him in an incredible way.

It's amazing what a little sleep will do for you:) Sunday was a blur. But today I realize what happened on Saturday. How often are we obedient, faithful to God and Satan is upset? Doesn't the Bible say that he is a thief and that he comes to steal, kill and destroy? He succeeded most of the day on Saturday - to steal my joy. But God was faithful. He used a young man in a convenience store to remind me of His love - and give me my joy back.

Please pray for our team members as they return to home, work and church. God used them to share the Gospel with many, love on orphans, give school supplies that will allow kids to continue their education, encourage care givers, and offer freedom and healing for those who have been abused. I bet satan is unhappy. Your prayers have made a huge difference in these team members' lives. Please keep them coming!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Comments from debriefing

At Caroline's Promise we're all about helping people process their mission trip and ask the question, "What is God teaching me and how is this trip going to change my life?" We ask team members to list their favorite memories from the trip and then narrow them down to the top 4. Then we look to see if there is a theme to these events.

This is our first attempt to bring families on a mission trip. In a lot of ways it was an experiment. We had some doubts about how it would work - if at all. Tonight we were blessed to hear how God continues to work in the lives of team members - especially the children! Here are some comments:

* This trip taught me about having faith in God. Faith that He would provide the finances, faith for the trip, faith that He will take care of these kids.

* I learned that God answers prayers - we have to keep praying.

* I learned that I need to be thankful for what I have.

* I miss and love my family. I need to spend more time with my little sister:)

* God provides. For me and for these people.

* What I do makes a difference.

* The Body of Christ is beautiful. Everyone has a part.

* I saw how adoption can change a child's life.

* I saw the kids on this team love the Guatemalan children - without hesitation. They taught me.

* I want to be more involved in the lives of orphans. How does God want me to support them?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Family Team - Friday

One of our bus drivers called Thursday night to say that the people in Solola were going to be protesting/blocking the road on Friday morning. His suggestion was that we leave Eagle's Nest at 6 AM!!!!

So - we rolled out of bed before the sun came up and headed back to Guatemala City. God has provided us with a beautiful hotel and the team has been resting, swimming, taking hot showers! We'll debrief tonight and eat our last dinner with the Asheboro team. We leave the hotel at 4am Saturday and should be back in Raleigh by 5pm Saturday.

God has been so good to us these past 2 weeks. It's a privilege to serve with Him in this beautiful country. We have mixed feelings about returning home. I personally can't wait to see my Caroline! But I'll miss this place and these people.

Keep checking back as we add pictures and testimonies from team members! Thanks for your prayers and your support!

Family Team & Asheboro Team Unite - Thursday

Our team from Asheboro has been at Eagle's Nest all week. They haven't had great internet access so you'll have to check back later this week for an update on their trip.

We were blessed to join them on Thursday for ministry in San Antonio Chacaya. Our friends Ron & Jose coordinated the day. We took a bigger boat across the lake to this little village that is off the beaten path. There's not even a boat dock! We just pulled up to the shore and put a plank out to walk on. The children from the village heard the boat and came running out to meet us. It was precious. The walk up to the school was anything but precious! Think mud, manure from every animal you can think of, walking through corn fields, not a real path - you get the picture! When we made it to the little road we looked out to see our boat leaving. It reminded me of a scene from Survivor!

This by far was one of the highlights of our 2 weeks here. The school was started by a group of indivuals who truly just care about the children. The one public school in the village was charging for uniforms and supplies and many of the families were not able to afford these fees. The government is paying for several teachers and they meet in a tin shack - literally. Thankfully a new school is being built for them.

The children were precious and so thankful! We did Children of the King and the Asheboro team did a carnival that was a blast! At the end each child received a school supply bag and a rain poncho - and of course, candy:) And the teachers received a bag of classroom supplies each!

While the team played with the kids at the carnival a group of us went on a Prayer Walk through the village. This is by far one of the prettiest places I've been to in Guatemala. We stopped to pray as the Lord led us. One place was a Baptist Church. Five minutes later we saw a clinic and stopped to talk to the man that was there. We learned that HE was the pastor of the church where we had just prayed! So we prayed for him and his family.

We ended the day in Panajachel and at dinner with all of our friends at Don Rodrigo's.

Family Team - Wednesday

After a sleepless night in Antigua we drove to Chimaltenango. For those of you who have been with us to Lake Atitlan - you might remember this town. It's the one where everyone changes tires. Dirty, smelly town. I affectionately call it the "Tire Town." I now know that on the outskirts of the town is a precious Children's Home called "Agua Viva." Over 80 boys and girls live there.

They loved the capes that the ladies from Shady Grove and students in Raleigh had made for them. I'll never forget the 2 little boys - maybe 4 years old - running around with their capes flying behind them. Thank you ladies for using your gifts. Your love is making a lot of kids smile:)

On our way to Eagle's Nest we ran into a little trouble. At one point traffic came to a complete halt on the Pan American Highway. It was getting dark and to be honest, I was a little nervous. Our wonderful Guatemalan driver, Hector got out to see what was going on. The people of Solola were protesting a recent increase in bus fairs and they had the road blocked. We were told that we could wait it out (possibly several hours) or take the "other road." We had been told that the "other road" was dangerous so opted to wait it out. We prayed as a group - specifically that the kids on our bus would fall asleep and that God would protect us and give Hector wisdom. God was faithful and the kids slept or were so involved in their ipods that they hardly noticed the delay. Less than an hour later we were on our way to Eagle's Nest! Thank you God for your protection:)

Family Team - Tuesday at Prince of Peace

We're finally back in the city - with internet!! Here's a recap of the rest of our incredible week!

On Tuesday we drove to the beautiful city of Antigua. Everyone enjoyed a few hours in this old town and then we headed to San Cristobal, Mixco - outside of Guatemala City. We were honored to share with the girls at Prince of Peace Children's Home. This place has ministered to girls ages 4-19 for years. It's a peaceful, beautiful home and the girls seemed glad to have us. As we drove up it started raining.....HARD. The building where we were to do our program has a tin roof and the harder it rained, the harder it was to hear each other speak.

Things were delayed because of the rain. We prayed and before long the rain slowed enough that the girls could join us and we could start. After we did the Children of the King skit the team performed an abstinence themed skit called "The Princess and the Kiss." During the craft we took the girls to another room, 2 or 3 at a time and let them choose their princess costume or dress up items. Of course every girl received a purse and pretty things for her hair!

A few of the team took the younger girls back to their home where they played games and got to know one another. The rest of our team joined the older girls in a circle and shared testimonies of purity, sexual abuse, forgiveness and healing. We ended that service with everyone writing something on a piece of paper that they needed to give to God, someone they needed to forgive, or a hurt they needed to let God heal. And we all threw them in a garbage can! Each girl received a hand made bracelet - a constant reminder of God's love for her and healing in her life.

The day before we visited this home we received their newsletter via email. We learned that one of the newer residents, an 8 year old girl, had been raped by a man in his 30's 6 months before. She spent 15 days in the hospital and had to have surgery. When she was released from the hospital she was taken to Prince of Peace where she was loved back to health. Her testimony of her time at Prince of Peace was precious.

I share this with you to give you a brief picture into the lives of orphans in the US and around the world. Kids are hurting everywhere. And they need us. Thanks for partnering with Caroline's Promise to "Reclaim Hope for Orphans!"

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tita's School

We were blessed this week to meet Tita. What an amazing woman! She ministers to children and their families in the ghetto of Guatemala. God is using her to change a generation! Please remember Tita and the children of La Limonada in your prayers. We are excited to see how God will use Caroline's Promise to help them

in the days to come.

Children of the King at Hannah's Hope

On Monday we went to one of our favorite places - Hannah's Hope Children's Home in Guatemala City. This is the home connected to All God's Children Adoption Agency out of Portland, Oregon. It also happens to be where Caroline spent her first 5 months!

The moment we walked into the older kids' house Barbara remembered that it was where we first saw Caroline. The kids started coming in and were so excited to have a group minister to them. Diana did an excellent job of communicating the message and the kids totally got it! One little boy kept saying "hijos de Dios!" (Children of God).

Katherine and Lea Ann dressed each child as a prince or princess and they made their grand entrance as everyone cheered! Anna's crafts were a huge hit and we even received requests to sing again:)
Several of the team went into the room where a few special needs children were resting. Team members prayed for each child and for their special mothers (care givers). As we were leaving the Director of the house told Diana that this team was special. She said that a little boy, Carlos would usually go into convulsions when he was touched. But several of our team members touched his face and rubbed his hair - and he didn't flinch. He looked so peaceful. Another little boy who was 13 responded in amazing ways to our team. The special mothers said that they were amazed at how he reached out to our team. They'd never seen that. Could it be that the children on our team are the difference? God is good!

Reflections from Team 1

God teaches me something different on every mission trip. A few years ago when I was in Guyana He totally confirmed that David and I are where we are supposed to be. After years of wondering if we were to live on the field somewhere, God spoke clearly and confirmed that taking short term teams was going to change our lives. Our goal since then has been to do teams the best we can, helping people process their experiences and figure out what God is saying to them. It's not always easy. Sometimes it's exhausting:) But it's so worth it when you see someone's life affected and changed. I want to be a part of changing a generation - working with God to raise up a generation of people who care for orphans.

In the weeks to come I hope you will be encouraged by the testimonies of team members. Without your prayers and support, their lives would not have been changed!

I recently had the opportunity to travel with Caroline's Promise for the second time to Guatemala and I am so thankful for that chance. Last year I was deeply affected after witnessing the poverty in Guatemala, but this year's trip affected me differently since I went knowing what to expect. This year I seemed to pay more attention to how God was working within each team member and the relationships between the team. It was evident God was teaching me the effect the people you surround yourself with have on your life. I definitely saw God making lifetime changes within people on our team and it was awesome! This trip was very rewarding. I went there to touch the lives of many children and left feeling as though they touched my life even more. Thank you David and Lisa for making this trip possible for so many people! Please keep the children of Eagle's Nest in your prayers. -Casey Caron


Two years ago on our first trip to Eagle's Nest we met Kenia. All we really knew about her was that she was blind. Our friend, Angie who was with us fell in love with Kenia and spent most of her time with her. But then Angie moved to Guyana to run the children's home there. So the 2nd year Kendall had to take Angie's place. And he fell in love with this precious little girl.

One day while one team cleaned the home, the other team helped care for the children. Kendall was so touched and bothered by Kenia's situation. Stephanie, one of our team members really ministered to him in that moment and explained that perhaps God had put Kendall in Kenia's life to pray for her. Stephanie reminded him that God knew Kenia by name and that He would answer Kendall's prayers. Last summer we learned that Kenia has other special needs besides being blind, but we continued to pray for God to bring her a family!

This year was our third trip to Eagle's Nest and when we entered the home Kendall found Kenia right away. We hardly recognized her. She looked much healthier and was sitting in a little seat. She looked so cute with pigtails in her hair. It's been a difficult week for Kendall, knowing that Kenia was never matched with a family and now adoptions in Guatemala are closing. How do you explain that to a kid?

This week as I was emailing with the Director of Eagle's Nest who is in the States for a few months I learned that there is a family that wants to adopt Kenia! They have other special needs children and believe that God wants Kenia to be a part of their family!! I also learned that the attorney for Eagle's Nest believes that although adoptions have closed, the government may approve Kenia's adoption! Please pray with us that God will remove every obstacle that keeps Kenia from going home to her forever family. Pray for the family as well, that God will provide all that they need to complete her adoption!

God truly is a Father to the Fatherless! He makes a home for the lonely!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunday morning at Iglesia Adonai

Sunday at the Zoo

Kendall, Cameron, & Daniel

Child sponsorship works! Our family has sponsored Daniel for several years. We met him 2 years ago and were so excited to get to see him again this year! The sponsorship provides many things for him - but the most important to us is that He is learning about Jesus! Daniel is consistently at the top of the group as far as Scripture memorization. What a joy to watch him grow and how cool for our boys to share in his life! $30 a month is a small investment to change a child's life:)

Barbara, Ana & Her Father

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Meeting our sponsored kids

One of the highlights of these mission trips is meeting the kids that we sponsor through World Hope International. The kids are always excited to meet their sponsors but the sponsors are the ones who receive the real blessings! Today Barbara met her little girl, Ana who is 10 and lives in Guatemala City.

The zoo was a blast! Lots of animals, new friends, and the rain stayed away until the very end!

Pray for us tomorrow. We'll be at a school and Hannah's Hope Children's Home.

Family Team

Our first day has been awesome so far! We attended church at Iglesia Adonai in Guatemala City. It was a joy to see how this church has grown. The team enjoyed doing crafts and the Children of the King Program with the children there. We're on our way to the zoo! We're taking 10 children from the church who have memorized chapters 4, 5, and 6 of the Book of John! Wow! Photos to come:)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

As we debriefed last night team members listed their top 4 experiences of the week. Over and over they mentioned our time with the kids sponsored by Compassion International. This is our 2nd year with this precious group of kids and once again God used them to bless us!
Before we shared our skit and carnival with them they shared a cultural presentation of songs and dramas. One of our favorites was this one. The little girl shared her heart with several boys who ripped it to pieces. Toward the end of the skit this little boy walked in and shared his Bible with her. She asked Jesus into her heart and God gave her a new heart. Everyone was touched!

Wednesday - Friday

On Wednesday we spent the day at Eagle's Nest Children's Home. Our first job was to move the children out of the home and into a separate building so that we could clean the home. What a job!!! The team took turns helping with the children, cleaning the home, and finishing our projects. We built shelves and storage boxes for the cabanas. Eagle's Nest is not just a children's home. It's a retreat center as well that hosts groups of all types. This generates income that helps keep the home open. The storage boxes and shelves will be used in the cabanas for guests that come for retreats.

On Thursday we took a boat across Lake Atitlan to a village called San Juan. Several team members sponsor children through World Hope International and were able to meet the child they sponsor. What a precious day! While they visited the rest of the team delivered school supplies at a Christian school. A bumpy, WET boat ride back across the lake and an afternoon or shopping in Panajachel. It rained, and rained and rained. Some of us were smart enough to take a taxi - 80 cents. Others preferred getting soaked!

Friday we packed and said goodbye to Eagle's Nest. We stopped by Antigua for a few hours and then checked into the hotel in Guatemala City. One of the highlights of the trip was when we debriefed as a team and shared how God had spoken to us throughout the week. Just another confirmation that these trips are making a difference in people's lives.

Saturday - 4 am - Team 1 headed to the airport. They'll probably meet the 2nd teams in the air. We hope to post more pics today. Thanks for your prayers and keep checking back as we share how God is blessing the 2nd teams!