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7 Days of Celebration - Mourning into Dancing

This whole "7 Days of Celebration" idea came to me (Lisa) a few weeks before Erik & Samuel died in an accident.  I was so confident that God was asking me to use the last 7 days of 2017 to CELEBRATE all that He had done.  He had led me to readings on the Feast of Tabernacles, a time when the Israelites gathered to celebrate how God had provided and protected them during their 40 years in the wilderness.  It seemed like a great idea.  Share a story a day for 7 days, celebrating all that God had done in and through the ministry of Caroline's Promise.  Easy, right?

And then I received the call that rocked my world.  It was a snowy, Friday afternoon in North Carolina and I was waiting to have a video conference with our partners in Guatemala.  I wasn't shocked to see Delmi's name pop up on my phone but I was shocked to hear her weeping hysterically on the other end of the line.  I'm not sure I have cried on that level before.  In the hours that followed,  board members, family, and friends jumped in and did what needed to be done.  I am so thankful for them. 

It's hard to explain who these boys were to us.  Who they were to me.  They were so loved by our Caroline's Promise family here in the states, and our Adonai family in Guatemala.  They were both 13 years old.  Cousins and grandsons of our beloved Azucena.  The oldest boys in their families, they were usually seen together, caring for younger siblings. 

Samuel had the most beautiful smile.  He loved to dance and play.  He often seemed to live in  his own little world.  He could make you smile and had a special way of making you feel deeply loved.

I was closer to Erik who I met when his mother died, giving birth to his baby sister. That was 3 years ago and since then I didn't visit the community of Gerona without Erik being by my side.  His family called him "Guapo" (handsome).  He had a huge heart for God and told me the last time I saw him that he got up each morning at 4am to pray with his grandmother.  He was a protector and would often hold my hand and tell me to be careful.  He knew my family by name and talked about praying for them.  He loved for me to take video of him, sending messages to his sweet sponsor, Mary.  It was a blessing to speak truth over him and encourage him.  He was "one of mine".  And I miss him deeply.

And so I've avoided this "7 Days of Celebration" series.  Seriously,  I should have written the 7 stories the day God gave me the idea.  Procrastination was not my friend this time.  And so I sit here on December 30, staring at my computer.  As a non profit leader I have felt the pressure to write some brilliant post that would compel you to give to our projects.  It is a heavy place to be - seeing so much need, knowing that a ministry can make a difference, and yet, lacking the one thing that you need - money. 

I digress......back to the Feast of the Tabernacles

I love this quote that I found from this website:
"This feast, like all of the feasts of Israel, consistently reminded the Jews and should remind Christians as well that God has promised to deliver His people from the bondage of sin and deliver them from their enemies. Part of God's deliverance for the Israelites was His provision and protection of them for the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness, cut off from the Promised Land. The same holds true for Christians today. God protects us and provides for us as we go through life in the wilderness of this world. While our hearts long for the Promised Land (heaven) and to be in the presence of God, He preserves us in this world as we await the world to come and the redemption that will come when Jesus Christ returns again to "tabernacle" or dwell among us in bodily form."

And so I celebrate and ask God to remind me of all the amazing things He has done.  And He does.

*  Samuel passed his grade for the first time in a while.  You helped us provide tutoring for him and I wish you could have seen his face when he told me that he had passed.

*  Both boys had just gone to youth camp, led solely by our youth and young adults at Adonai Church.  Your support enabled us to invest in them and they are now leading the children and youth in both communities with passion and love.  Two of you sponsored Erik & Samuel to go to camp. Erik & Samuel are in the presence of Jesus today because of your investment in CP.

*  Their grandmother, Azucena shines the love of Jesus.  Your support helped her when she lost her daughter.  She attended sewing classes, a women's retreat, and business training.  She has taken what she has learned and has become a leader in her family and community.  Through her businesses she has been able to move out of the shack they lived in and into a real house.  She has started a business savings program in her community and a Saturday afternoon home church.  People in her community are finding Jesus through her and your investment in CP was the foundation of that.  Her dream is for their to be a church building in her community but until then this once shy, insecure woman is now using her home. 

*Samuel's parents who had lived together off and on for 10 years found Jesus this past year and decided to get married.  Your support provided a small group marriage curriculum because when I asked them what their dream for their community was they said "We want to invite couples into our home and teach them how to have a good marriage." 

*  When we couldn't find a flight to Guatemala because of the snow, and our hearts were broken because we just wanted to be with the family - the youth and young adults of Adonai stepped in.  They went to Azucena's home and stayed for days, providing food, love, and comfort to the family.  On Christmas Day many of them returned with toys, games & food.  Your sponsorship of kids and support of our CP mission teams helped develop these leaders.  I am so incredibly thankful
that you have made a way for us to invest in them and I'm beyond proud of them for ministering when their hearts were breaking. 

So I guess what was true for the Israelites is true for us.  Even in the midst of the wilderness God is protecting and providing.  There is much to celebrate.  He is more than able to turn our mourning into dancing. 

I guess I have to close by giving you an opportunity to give an end of year gift.  We really do need your help to continue the work that God has called us to in Guatemala.  $50,000 is needed to complete the third floor of the school, $5,000 needed for funeral expenses & counseling team, and monthly sponsors and one time gifts so that we can increase our teachers' salaries.

 If you want to be a part you can give at this link.


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