Friday, January 28, 2011
Several years ago the only option for the poorest kids living near our partner church in Guatemala City was to go to the public school. Not only are the schools overcrowded, but the kids are targeted by gangs who prey on their vulnerability. Imagine a 13 year old girl without parents, being lured by a gang member who can offer her clothing, food, a cell phone and "hope" for the future. I shudder to think of where she might end up. Promised an education and a job in the US, she could ultimately believe the lie and end up trafficked, living a life of abuse and oppression.
God has beautifully stepped in and given us the privilege to partner with this church to offer real hope to her. Because of the monthly support of her Caroline's Promise sponsor in the US she can now attend a safe school where she is loved, protected, educated and can learn how much God loves her. She now understand the "real" hope and future that God has planned for her.
We're seeing the same issues in Guyana where we are working with a local church to fight poverty and reclaim hope for vulnerable children. Orphans are at a greater risk for human trafficking. Please partner with us to prevent and protect them from this tragic existence.
We hope you are stirred by this post by Christian Alliance for Orphans and take time to view the webinar on human trafficking.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
I always approach short term mission trips with an attitude of expectation. What does God want to teach me? What one sentence would sum up the experience? How should my life change because of this time away? This trip was no different. There was plenty to be excited about! The church and school that we partner with had been busy. I was amazed and blessed to walk into the building and find that they had spent several months building new classrooms, installing new bathrooms and working overtime to get accreditation from the Department of Education in Guatemala. My heart soared as I was greeted by the children from the school and was able to tell many of them that they now have a sponsor in the States who love and support them. I celebrated with them as they put two and two together, realizing that they would be able to attend the school another year. I was blessed when the teachers, who at one time were “stand-offish” were now connected and open to relationship. God confirmed once again that this is where we should be; partnering with this Church, investing in these vulnerable children and their families.
My joy soon turned to a sense of being overwhelmed. As we heard the stories of the children and I began to count the number of sponsors we still needed, my heart sank. I know myself well and one of my strengths is being a visionary. It can also be one of my weaknesses. I have a hard time resting in what has been accomplished and a much easier time focusing on the great needs before me. We had begun the sponsorship program in November and 18 people had committed to sponsoring children. I fought hard to celebrate that number and not become overwhelmed by the 59 that still needed sponsors. I won’t lie. It was a battle. I cried out to God, “Please send me some people who can help promote this ministry.”
That evening we ministered at Kairos House. There are no waiting rooms in the hospitals in Guatemala so many families live on the streets while their children are receiving treatment for cancer. Kairos House is a safe haven where they can sleep, eat and rest as a family, free of charge. As I listened to the founders share their story, God spoke directly to me. Early in their ministry when they found the house to rent, the husband was excited at what God had done, but the wife could only focus on what they still needed. “We have the home, but we don’t have money for electricity, food, or furniture” she said. His response was, “Is this your problem or is this God’s problem?”
I felt conviction and encouragement at the same time. Of course I could not go through life, trying to meet all the needs of Caroline’s Promise on my own. How many times does God need to teach me this lesson? I’m thankful that His reminders are gentle and consistent. “Is that the theme of 2011, Lord?” I asked.
The next day I was talking to a team member and sensed God calling me to share with her. She was not there by accident. This young woman has had a difficult year. I met her in May as her mother was dying of breast cancer. As we shared I searched for an analogy that would make sense to her. She lives on a lake and God began to give me an image of skipping stones across the water. I shared how her mother started this process by calling me. In that moment it was like her Mom put the stone in the water. The next ripple occurred when the team member and I met and began a relationship. Then she went on the trip to Guatemala, met a little boy named Mario and decided to sponsor him. As I looked ahead I saw amazing ways that Mario would continue the ripple effect; how his life would change and the ways that he could possibly impact others. “Your mother began this process” I said. “She was responsible for throwing the stone in the water. God is responsible for the ripples.”
The next week I saw this analogy again. I received an email from a family that Caroline’s Promise had given an adoption grant to several years ago. I guess you could say that’s the point that the stone was thrown into the water. The father and their oldest child, Anna joined us for a mission trip the next year. Now Anna is pursuing full time missions for her future, has a huge heart for orphans and has decided to sponsor a child. In the email her Mom shared how the child I chose for Anna to sponsor has the exact birthday as Anna. A coincidence? I think not! I heard God whisper, “Lisa, your responsibility is to throw the stone into the water. The ripple effect is MY responsibility.” That’s the theme!
You would think it would be enough for God to give me this beautiful picture of 2011. But He wasn’t finished. A week later I was on the phone with a ministry, discussing partnership. I shared with my new friend how God was giving me this theme for the new year. There was silence on the other end of the phone and then he said, “Do you want me to share what I have on my desk?” “Sure” I replied.
“It’s a quote from Roy Lessin.” He shared.
The Impact of One Life.
“When a stone is dropped into a lake it quickly disappears from sight, but its impact leaves behind a series of ripples that broaden and reach across the water. In the same way, the impact of one life lived for Christ will leave behind an influence for good that will reach the lives of many others.”
I was amazed once again by God’s timing and His love for me. So what about you? What is your theme for 2011? How will God use your life to impact others?
"The New York Times yesterday carried a surprisingly frank and poignantly written piece on the complex intertwining of issues related to abortion, adoption and fertility in America. As Ross Douthat concludes in The Unborn Paradox, “This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.” The piece is well worth the read."
Thursday, January 13, 2011
We were blessed to have Hannah on our team. She was not only an amazing translator but we quickly learned that she is a poet! Hannah wrote several poems while we were in Guatemala. We’re happy to share two of them with you.
G – giving simple gifts from our hearts
U – unreal is the experience we go through together
A – actuality and reality of people’s situations never completely settling in our minds
T – taken for granted the blessings we rarely share
E – everlasting thoughts of return
M – memorable vegetation that thrives on the sharp inclines of hills
A – although McDonald’s is still the same
L – lots of other things bring hopelessness and pain
A – Abba our Father working in mysterious ways everywhere
Hannah Fernandez 12/31/10
Faces unable to be described
Young souls who have seen so many who have died
If I had said I knew their pain, I would have lied.
The sight makes most want to go and hide.
So many have cried.
No shape or form to grasp
Something must be done at last.
And although so many say it is too much of a task
God has said to throw down our flask
And not hide behind our mask
This was not my first trip with Caroline’s Promise or my first trip to Guatemala. I was sure of how this trip would go because in hindsight I had quit expecting God to WOW! me.
For the past four years my mother battled lymphoma – cancer of the lymphatic system. In that time she survived three returns and each time God brought her out. Somehow I figured with all that prayer and deliverance I must have met my quota of grace and mercy. I took this trip the day after Christmas with one daughter who has been four or five times before and one daughter who had never been on any trip. This was our “present” trip to ourselves after a year of economic hard times and losing a grandmother and mother twenty days apart.
I took for granted God would deliver the money we all needed but in typical God fashion at the 11th hour – He did. We were given a beautiful “White Christmas” and in the morning we had such an abundance of white snow we could not get our car out of the driveway. So after crying and praying for a solution at least one hour past the time we should have been at the airport – God delivered two men and a truck to get us to the airport just in time for our flight.
We arrived from 20 degrees and snow to 70 degree warmth, great food, loving people and a week of work on a school. All the while a little at a time, God revealed His work to each of us, for each of us, in typical God fashion – on His time.
I had forgotten some key points and now on the plane home I can see all of it clearly.
God really does not need me to work things out – but He loves me enough to let me be a part of amazing experiences.
If I just listen and obey and get out of God’s way He will give me what I need, when I need it along with so many other people and he lets us discover it together.
This trip did not just stir my heart. It went deep within. A peace and joy came back that I had thought was gone forever.
I never realized how callous and blind I had become to the WOW! of God. He never stops. I just quit recognizing it. So this trip has reopened my eyes and I realize that I have unlimited WOW!s in my life daily.
I can’t wait for all of the WOWs to come because I cannot imagine what they will be. In typical God fashion they will be amazing!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I am on my way home from Guatemala….. reflecting on the past week, hoping and praying that my own life will be different. For many years I have yearned to be moved by the things that break the heart of God. I’ve even asked Him to break my heart that I might be able to love others through His heart….that I might see others as He does. This trip has been an answer to that prayer and I have felt His love for the people of Guatemala – especially for the children. Although it has been heartbreaking to see the suffering and how very little the children have – it has been strangely comforting to be so close to God’s heart. To hear that it is the norm for a mother to lock her four year old and two year old inside all day while she goes and tries to earn $1 a day, is hard to comprehend. To know and see how these mothers love their children and are not even able to provide for their basic needs, is so sad.
I am so encouraged by the Caroline’s Promise child sponsorship project that helps pay for a child to attend the private Christian school called Casita Adonai. For $35 a month you provide most of the tuition, uniform and books. I love that the parents are expected to pay a small portion of tuition so that they are also contributing to their child’s education. The children are served a good meal and loved, encouraged and taught by precious teachers.
We were given the honor to spend time with the teachers. I was able to share ideas for teaching art on a limited budget with very few resources. This was so fun! It became clear to me on this trip that God does indeed have plans for me to use my art background along with my social work background to offer hope and healing to His children.
We spent an unforgettable evening at a house called Kairos, meaning “In God’s Timing.” This is a house for children who are sick and undergoing treatment from the hospital. Some have walked four hours to get there. There is no cost for them to stay in this very simple home filled with love. Often times the house itself is much nicer than their own home. We served a meal and we did art with the children and their families. These children were very sick yet smiling with grateful hearts. After we prayed a mother of one of the children grabbed my hand and we were both crying. Her little girl had no hair and the mother looked at me as if to say “Please don’t go.” I just held her for a minute – sharing in her sorrow – loving her – so close to the heart of God. What an honor to share in the sufferings of His dear children.
When we were leaving and in our van I wept from deep in my soul – for a moment I know my heart was in touch with the compassionate heart of God.
I hope and pray as I get home I will live my life differently – stop saying…..one of my dreams is to do art with children in poor neighborhoods…..that I will not wait any longer but will begin my plans for doing this. I am passionate about the sponsorship program and have seen first hand what $35 a month will do for these precious children. I have met them, played with them and loved them. If these children are not sponsored they will have to go to a public school, or no school and will be targeted for gangs, trafficking, drugs, etc because of their vulnerability. The children love Casita. It is safe, nurturing and filled with God’s hope and love!
children in Guatemala.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Your purchases truly made a difference in the lives of 20 orphans in Guyana.
We learned in December that the home had lost all of their Christmas decorations in a small garage fire. And then, we realized that no one had stepped up to provide Christmas gifts for the kids. Boy were we thankful that you had shopped!
Our Guyana Country Coordinator, Angie Hemric shares on her blog, what it was like to spend Christmas with 20 orphans! We hope you enjoy the stories and pictures.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Follow this link for more details, including a 45 minute webcast following the movie: