Skip to main content

To comfort all who mourn

Last Spring, our Board of Directors met with a Strategic Planning Team.  We felt like it was time to refocus and ask God what He wanted for His ministry.  The process seemed a bit cloudy and overwhelming when we began, but then He showed up, and we realized that we share the same heart: His heart for the people of Guatemala.  

He gave us a new Vision Statement:   

"A world where hope grows and communities thrive"

He gave us a new Mission Statement: 

"Growing relationships that nourish individuals and communities to be whole 
and thrive in Jesus Christ" 

He clarified our objectives and helped us set goals.  We walked away knowing that the scripture that He so often had brought to us in the past would continue to be our theme.  Over the next few weeks, I hope to share stories of how your partnership with us in Guatemala is bringing Isaiah 61 to life.  Perhaps you would like to join me in praying this scripture daily or weekly over our community here in the states, as well as our communities in Guatemala.  
This week, I want to tell you about Andrea and verses 2 and 3 of Isaiah 61. 

Isaiah 61: 2-3 

"to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.

The call is to "comfort all who mourn."  That feels overwhelming to me.  Everywhere we look, we can see grief and sorrow.  Even as I began to write this post, a friend texted to say that she had hit the "sad" stage of her grieving process.  I remember last December when grief hit me like a ton of bricks, completely unexpected.  Many of you remember our sweet boys from Gerona, Erik and Samuel, who passed in a drowning accident.  I thought I would suffocate from the loss of a child who felt like my own.  In the months that followed as I sat with their family, I began to see God comforting them in their deep grief.  Your support allowed us to take a trauma team and minister to not only the family, but the community of young adult leaders who had experienced this great loss.  All of the kids in that family had sponsors, and through that support, I saw God provide for their basic physical needs.  

As time passed, though, I saw God provide on a deeper level.

It was July, and our team was at a local community college in Guatemala City with a group of girls and women.  They were exploring different career opportunities, and we were learning how we could support their ongoing education and job skills training.  We were taking a break when I sat down with Rosa, Samuel's mom.  We caught up and I asked her how she was doing.  She quickly switched to talking about her daughter, Andrea, and her concern for her.  I remembered Andrea as a beautiful girl, full of life, a huge smile.  Rosa shared that the loss of Samuel had changed Andrea.  Her teacher often shared how she would cry out in the middle of class uncontrollably.  

I asked Rosa if there was any way that we could help.  The counselor in me wanted to provide some tool that would help Andrea through her grief.  I asked what she enjoyed doing, and Rosa said that the only time Andrea was happy was when she was dancing.  Andrea had shared,

 "Mami, when I dance, I dance for Jesus and I see Samuel sitting beside him, cheering me on.  It makes me smile."

Rosa went on to share how Andrea had asked for a dance costume and how God had provided miraculously.  Rosa's mom purchases used clothing and resales it, and in the last purchase, there had been a dance costume, the exact size that Andrea needed.  Later, Andrea told her mom that she needed ballet shoes, and Rosa explained that they just did not have money to buy them.
That's when I started crying.  You see, my daughter Caroline had asked her dance teacher weeks before if she would like to get the girls at the studio to donate dance items to be given to the girls in Guatemala.  Ms. Robin jumped at the opportunity and the only things that were donated were ballet and tap shoes.  No costumes.  Caroline's goal was to use the shoes at a fine arts workshop, but that workshop never happened, and so as I sat listening to Rosa share how Andrea had asked for ballet shoes, I realized that the shoes from Ms. Robin's girls were for Andrea - not for the fine arts workshop. 

Rosa and I cried.  It was another layer of mourning the loss of her sweet, sweet Samuel.  But the tears were also tears of rejoicing, because of the great love of our Father who knew this mom's desire to provide dance shoes for her daughter.  

A few days later, Caroline was able to fit Andrea with her very own pair of ballet shoes.  You see, all the counseling in the world could not do what God did for Andrea.  He...  

"bestowed on her a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."  

I learned a very valuable lesson that day.  God calls us to live out Isaiah 61.  "To comfort all those who mourn."  But He never asks us to do it on our own.  Never.  It is He who works through us.  All of us.  He could do it on His own, but He invites us into the process.  And I know why.  Because when we partner with Him, Isaiah 61 becomes true for us.  It's never about "us" helping "them."  It's about God healing all of us.  

And that takes me back to our new Mission Statement:

"Growing relationships that nourish individuals and communities to be whole 
and thrive in Christ Jesus"   

Thank you for partnering with us.  Really.  We can't do it without you.  In the months to come, there will be changes in Caroline's Promise.  They will be hard, and we will be presented with opportunities to grieve.  I encourage you to read Isaiah 61.  Let's pray it over ourselves and over our friends in Guatemala.  May we grow to be oaks of righteousness - whole and thriving.   

Popular posts from this blog

“Who told you that?”

This is my second mission trip to Guatemala. Last year was an eye-opening and humbling experience for me. Last year I was very nervous about coming and had an overall negative attitude. This year I felt I was being called to come and went in with a more positive attitude. I chose this week to come, because this year I was coming without my mom and brother and I knew both of the leaders, Ruth and Jacey. It turned out the week I chose to come, we were going to be doing a girls retreat. 
We arrived Friday around lunchtime and headed from the airport to Delmi’s so we could get settled in and get lunch and rest before we headed to Shama, a camp in Gerona. We prepared for the girls arrival, some of us helped with decorations and some of us decided to get to sleep early. 

Waking up Saturday morning, I was anxious for the girls to get there. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to make an impact on the girls or that the language barrier would keep me from helping out. 

Then, one of our team …

Will you help Florecer to purchase sewing machines?

Caroline’s Promise artisan group, Florecer, is growing!

Thanks to our new friend, Meredith Ferrell, the group has several new products to make, requiring higher quality sewing machines. We would like to be able to purchase 6 quality sewing machines. The average cost for each machine is $500. We have raised $510 to date. 
Changing the world doesn’t mean giving hand outs. Changing the world means providing jobs, training, education, and sharing Jesus. By partnering with us to purchase sewing machines, you become a world changer. You are making an impact on an artisan’s life. It gives her work. Work gives her income to feed her children and pay tuition and gives her dignity. Worth and dignity. Partnering with us to provide sewing machines brings worth and dignity to women, children, and families living in an impoverished country. Be a world changer!
You can donate here. We appreciate your support!

Things Change for a Reason

Meetings, Dates, Deadlines: us humans spend so much time trying to control the time given to us on this Earth, that we become obsessed with making sure everything goes according to plan. However it's only when things take an unexpected turn and we are forced to leave our comfort zones when God is able to get to work.
This year's trip to Guatemala was by no means similar to the year previous in the aspect of scheduling. Last year was pretty smooth sailing with minimal obstacles diverging us from our plan. This year however was completely different. While the purpose of this trip was to help and interact with the kids in Gerona, God decided that he wanted us to help at the Church as well. Even on the very first day that our team arrived in Guatemala our plans changed. What was originally going to be a rest day to acclimate ourselves, turned into us moving 900 cement blocks up to the third floor of the church. However I believe that God had those blocks delivered at that time fo…