Monday, August 27, 2012

Hastening Towards Immortality

The measure of a life

ROAMING in thought over the Universe, I saw the little that is Good steadily hastening
And the vast all that is call'd Evil I saw hastening to merge itself and become lost

Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass, 1900

I wonder what happened at 12:42:31 when the hands stopped moving on my grandfather's pocket-watch. I confess I do not even know if the time was near noon or midnight. Whatever the case... it is clear that time ceased to be measured and the hands found their rest. 

The life that was lived before the hands stopped was seasoned by eternity. The days lived between the ticking and the tocking were left as evidence of the man who held the timepiece. I want my days to matter. I have seen great beauty in the midst of suffering. I have walked in the dust disturbed by the feet of bloat-bellied children and then come home to walk between aisles of bounty. I have heard the empty compliments of hearts that find pity but miss compassion. I have wrestled with the frustration of seeing well-meaning people impoverish themselves with inaction in the face of dire need.

How hard is it to live forever? I do not believe it to be so hard. And even so, I must agree that few may achieve this promise. I find myself accountable. I find myself with eyes open. I am surrounded by chances to do some good in this world... moments to simply care enough to meet the gaze and feel the embrace of a person in need. We are made immortal by living out the love of God.

We walk this land as sleepers. Like violin players on a titan of a ship on her way under. We tell ourselves soothing whispers like, "God is in control, you don't have to worry." Yes, this is true. God is always in control. And yet... there have been times when atrocities have raged, innocents have been burned, and chaos has covered the face of the earth. 

What is at stake here is not the condition of God, but rather the condition of our own eternal souls. Yes, we do have need to be involved. We each have been created to stand in our own place. Many will merge into the meaningless expanse of ignoring the suffering while we pet our own desires. And then... we wonder why we feel so unsatisfied. We shut our eyes at night and we fear the darkness.

We miss the incredible peace, freedom, and joy that is available to us when we open our eyes, see the need, and let the love of God flow through us to others who hurt. The secret to immortality is understanding that the smallest measure of goodness is able to overcome the vastness of evil. It is a simple action of reaching out our hand to do the good that is within our reach.

We are given this time and we have the capacity to do amazing things. You can change the world. You can watch it change in the eyes of the one you lift up. You can feel the power of hope when it pours into a life that has been without a drop. Fill the space between the ticks and tocks with moments of immortality.

There will come the day when the hands of time that embrace our lives suddenly are silenced. When those who hold our broken parts in their hands reflect on our time... will they see that we lived a hastening towards immortality, or a mere hastening of death?

Because strait is the gate, 
and narrow is the way, 
which leadeth unto life, 
and few there be that find it.

Matthew 7:14

Thursday, August 23, 2012

GUATEMALA 2012: (36) If I Were A Cook

My recent changes with my employer have resulted in 4 mornings a week being spent at STUB (Shepherd Transitional Underground Bunker). At first I was not pleased with this development, finding it acceptable only because it was necessary to get us to our June 13, 2013 date of moving to Guatemala. Over the past couple of mornings though, I have found my perspective shifting a bit... due to Guate coffee, eggs, and some prayer.

I have been a master omelette maker (self-imposed credential) since a class in high school first had me cracking two eggs at a time, one in each hand. Even then I didn't really like step by step instructions, choosing rather to cook by sight, touch, and taste. But, this morning I though I'd try something different.

I was looking at ingredients left over from last night's fajitas that flooded my senses with taste and smell memories of breakfast in Guate. Brewed coffee from the volcanic soil of Antigua was already softly flavoring the air as I opened the refrigerator door and my eyes began to focus on: black beans puree, jalapeño pepper, bell pepper, onion, marinated chicken breast, sour cream, Salsa Brava Picamas sauce, eggs, and tortillas.

I heated up a small non-stick skillet and coated it lightly with olive oil. When it was sizzling hot, I dropped the diced onion, bell & jalapeño peppers onto the steaming surface and breathed in the satisfying aroma. After flipping them a few times with my favorite spatula, a simple flexible plastic sort, I added the chopped marinated chicken while the black beans warmed nearby. I added some fresh ground black pepper for a little extra kick. 
The onions and peppers found that special color and texture that means they are cooked and still a bit crispy and I quickly pushed them into the warmed tortilla, rolled it tight, and garnished it with the Picamas and a spoonfull of salsa. The black bean paste went alongside with a topper of sour cream. Coffee freshly topped off, I sat down and enjoyed the tastes and textures of the porch of Mimi's House.

There are moments in life that are meant to simply be enjoyed, breathed in deeply, and exhaled with a smile. The table runner holding my delectables was purchased by Kellie at the market in Antigua. I remember Nellie and her daughter rolling it with care and handing it to us after we paid the asked price. This morning had become one of those moments that fuels the soul and warms the heart.

Not every day is comforting, and not every experience is enjoyable. Each one of them does however take us closer to our life work and passion. Every sunrise pushes us like a ray on a wave towards our vision. This morning the sun shone warmly and I felt the embrace of being exactly where I am supposed to be. I needed this today.

A friend of mine asked me a question last week over a game of UNO (you know who you are... by the way I have won the last two). He asked, "if money was no issue, and you could do anything that you wanted with your life, what would it be?" After a moment allowing my mind to wildly skim the vastness of possibilities, I told him... "exactly what we are going to do." 

We only live once. I may not be a chef, but I can cook a mean breakfast. I may not be an author, but I can write a blog. I am no artist, but I can recognize the beauty of a painting by a child in Guate. I am no saint, but I can take whatever I am, whatever I have... and I can fold it into my belief.

We sent out our August update to our partners last night and I again double-sent the email. I have to laugh at myself as I bumble through all this newness. I have to think that errors will come with the risk. Even so, I am at peace to be walking this beautiful road. 
As we watch God take our small bits of faith and create an amazing bounty from the ingredients of our life, I am beginning to smell the aroma of his work. We sit at the table of God and we find that His provision covers our doubts and fears. 

And so... if I were a cook, I would still want to be in this place. 294 days to Guate.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Love Extravagantly

Julissa Tzunun - Aspiring Artist

She has been a part of our lives now for several years. We learned about the girls at Mimi's House through our Church and we knew that we wanted to be a part. Since that time we have spent incredible weeks with Julissa and the other girls at Mimi's House and we have been able to watch these tiny girls grow into strong young women that rise above the statistics. 

From the earliest letters we received from Julissa, they were covered with artwork. Her drawings always had intention and dimension. She would write to us, ask us questions about our family, and she would cut, fold, glue, and even weave pieces of paper to form beautiful gifts. More than once, we would open the envelope and Aleksandra would say, "that is SOooOOOoo Cool!"

Julissa now is at art school in San Cristobal and she is learning techniques of pastels and painting. Kellie and I have made her promise that when we move to Guate in June, she provide us with a painting that we can purchase and hang in our home. 

We are privileged to be a part of Julissa's story. Each time we return to Guate we are thrilled to meet with Julissa and catch up with her life. We know that great things await her as she chases her dreams and passion.

Even as I type this, each member of our family wears a woven bracelet on our wrists that Julissa tied on our final day at Mimi's House in July. Aleksandra has earrings that Julissa crafted, and we have a pencil drawing that rests above our desk. We think of her often and thank God that she is in our lives.

She is an example of what happens when ordinary people are willing to partner with God. It isn't so much about saving the world... it is the simple act of extending your hand and then pressing it against the hand of another person. You feel the pulse of their life, and you realize that your own life is changed by your willingness to help another.

It is simple love. We are called to love extravagantly.

But for right now, until that completeness,
 we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: 

Trust steadily in God, 
hope unswervingly, 
love extravagantly

And the best of the three is love.

~1 Corinthians 13:13~

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Smell Like A Monkey

It somehow became my best birthday Ever.

The care that she took grabbed my attention. I could see the expectation in her eyes. She had prepared it for me while I worked. A large 38 was written on the open spiral notebook that was my placeholder. She had made my favorite dessert, a simple chocolate pudding with a dollop of whipped cream. The candle was notebook paper taped around an empty water bottle and it was elaborately colored and even had a paper flame. My napkin had been folded and was standing tall. Aleksandra called the family together and led them in Happy Birthday. 

It is these simple moments in life that happen unexpectedly, without fanfare, without planning, and without worry... that become the most valuable parts of life. You cannot buy this kind of love. In this moment the world stood silent as a daughter created a perfect event for her father. Chocolate pudding, crayons, and notebook paper carried the weight of the emotion. Her actions were the evidence of her feelings toward me. The depth of her eyes pulled me into the significance of her effort. 

I do not worry about the future of my children. Each of them is a miracle to me. They each have a story to tell about how God brought them to our family... whether through birth or adoption, they are all given to us by God. Everything good that has come to us has come by His hand. 

There are dangers in the world, and yet... we know that God has overcome the world. When we realize the truth of what matters, our perspective on circumstance changes. When I read my Bible, I see that the most amazing encounters with God occurred in the most unlikely of places: a lion's den, a fiery furnace, at the edge of a sea, in prisons, during famines, and even in the belly of a fish. Have you ever noticed how God was present in each of these situations? 

The den of a lion is a great place to pray. You want to be closer to God, then you must be willing to follow Him. When we are forced to rely on Him, he draws near to us. So many times we grumble at the difficulty and fear the danger... and we miss out on the God who extends His hand to us across the fire.

My children will not live a safe life. I can not guarantee their health, or their comfort. And yet... I have no guilt or fear in this regard. What I give to them is far more valuable. They will live a life that allows them to see the face of God. 

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~2 Timothy 1:6-8

I look at the faces of my children and I see the potential in them to do great things for God. I want them to be comfortable with risk. This belief that we hold is not a safe one. It is better than safe... it is true. It allowed Daniel to calmly pray as hungry lions slept. 

Whatever comes our way, God is able to handle it. He has even defeated death.

I remember the song in my daughter's eyes as I watched her sing to me. I could see that God continues to hold that little life. He whispered words of comfort into her eyes on that dark day when she was abandoned for a chance at life on the steps of a concrete orphanage. He cradled her among thousands as she waited on us to make our way across oceans. He gave her a papa, a mommy, a big brother, a tiny sister, and maybe even other siblings to come... who knows?

God's story weaves through us all. I laughed as the birthday song took its normal ornery turn as Sasha laughed and sang, "you look like a monkey, and you SMELL like one too!"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

GUATEMALA 2012: (35) Breaking Bad

Recently my imagination has been captured again by AMC. While our television watching has decreased dramatically over the past year, we have watched several AMC series' with rapt attention. Breaking Bad is a terrible story with terrible characters who make terrible choices. It truly is abysmal and with has no redeeming qualities. And yet... the characters seem real and their struggles resonate with the human condition and the struggles of life. We watch as the life of a man is shattered and something deep within his soul seems to snap. It reminds me of the scene I watched each Christmas as a kid of the Grinch's heart shrinking 2 times too small. 

Life does not always behave as we expect, and sometimes it can shatter us. I think belief plays a big role in how we handle the pressure. Mr. White broke bad when he found life meaningless. It leaves me to ask the question, how would things have turned out differently if his actions would have backed his belief? I find similarities between my life and the life of Walter White. We each encountered moments in our lives that broke us. I think it is reasonable to say that we all have had those moments. If you haven't so far... then the time will find you.

It is in these breaking moments that our character matters. The pressure of life begins to boil the content of our soul and we either cling to the promise of our convictions or we abandon what we know and seek solace in the flight. 

The problem with running is that you can't run forever. When you finally have to collapse... you are the same person with the same problems. But this is the good news. God loves broken people. He makes all things new. If you have been broken... it is time to discover your belief. It is your moment to begin coming back.

I was broken by the conditions of living that I encountered in Guatemala. I was broken by the poverty of my own belief and convicted by the lives of faith that I observed by the people who held their faith in the midst of devastation. I came home and my own problems seemed ridiculous, my stress seemed petty, my missteps and sins glared as selfish... I felt humiliated by my own world. 

What do you do when your world suddenly glares as false? You break. This is the power of the realization of true belief. A moment like Paul had on the road to Damascus when God slammed him blind in the dirt. A moment like Walt White had when the Dr. told him he had cancer. Each a moment when a man realized that what he had believed was suddenly stripped bare and empty in a moment. 

Has God ever found you in a scene like this? You know... when it seems like the world is crashing down around you and you are standing defenseless and in your underwear? Hopefully not literally! We all find ourselves broken. 

I think it is important to know that the brokenness is not the end. It is the steps we take after we break that make all the difference. Will we break bad... or we will begin backing belief with action?

As we take steps towards God, He is there to take our hand. God's story is His pursuit of us. His pursuit of me. His pursuit of you. 

Life for us... is amazing as we pursue living our belief and allow the love of God to guide our steps. Everything takes on powerful meaning when you do it because of the love of God. Fears dissolve. Barriers shatter. The impossible simply happens.

Kellie and I are missionaries because this is where we find ourselves being pursued by God. This is how our brokenness is being mended. God finds us all in different places. We simply need to listen for His voice and take steps of obedience. 

My path is Guatemala... yours is probably different. God needs people to stand all over. When your world is broken, change the equation.

Break good. Find your element. Pursue it with passion.

Friday, August 10, 2012

GUATEMALA 2012: (34) Standing In Empty Fields

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
~Matthew 9:37

We have now been back in the states for 5 days. When I contemplate all that has happened in these few days, it feels like weeks ago that I hugged and spun Kenya and Luis... and yet, when I close my eyes and remember that moment... my heart beats like I am feeling the embrace now. Time has lost all relevance.

I realized that my mind has been filled with: issues of funding, complications of stepping down at work, and the daily list of to do's... but then I understood that it is all just noise. God has called us to this mission and He will provide through those who know His heart. Kellie and I are being faithful on our part... and God is big enough to do the rest.

The important stuff has to shove aside simple fear and worry. I am so thankful that my friends on this trip have been posting pictures on Facebook. I now can see clearly those things that are important. This past week was simply epic.

How many things do we accomplish that we will really hold dear at the end of our days? I spent last week watching my family live out the evidence of their love of God. I watched my family feeding hungry children. I watched my daughter play and laugh with girls who have never seen a McDonald's, and and watched my son build a chicken coup for a family who has never cooked in a microwave. I watched my 19 month old daughter have flowers placed in her hair by a child who has never felt the love of being tucked in by her father at night.

My life was decorated with beauty as my children held the hands of children who were destitute, malnourished, and even infested. The most precious thing I have ever held is the small hand of a barefoot child. 

Do you know what it is like to receive a smile from a face that hasn't had food for a day? What if you only had a single meal to sustain you daily? How appreciative could you be for a plate of pasta and a cup of rice milk? If you were starving... you would be forever grateful. These kids eat for what equals less than a dollar a day.

I spend more than that on gum and coffee.

One of the four classrooms at Labor de Falle village school.
Can you picture a classroom with 20 hungry kids? What if I told you that your $20 bill could feed them all for a day. I have stood in that classroom... and I wish I had a forever supply of $20 bills. God does... His people hold them. You may even have one.

This is what it looks like to feed hungry children...

My son, Caleb

My daughter, Aleksandra

A guy in a hat

My wife & my infant daughter, Sterling
Of all the incredible things we did all week, this was the most important. And here's the coolest thing... you can be part of it too. We have feet on the ground... we just need people who are here in the states who can send down some cash.

$150 will feed the entire school for a week. If you break this down... each dollar you can toss their way will feed a single child for a week! The cost of a large coke at McDonalds will guarantee a child a hot meal for a week. I can barely wrap my mind around that concept. Can you spare even 5 bucks? Feed five children for a week.

Act now. Here's how:

Labor de Falle Feed The Children
(type "Labor de Falle Feeding Program
in the desciption)

Click that big link and put food directly in the mouths of children this week. Try it one time and see if it does not return to you. If you give... and you feel cheated, call me and we will meet for lunch. I will tell you my story.

I will pour the conviction of my experience into your heart. I am overflowing.

Me with Kenya... a major love of my life.

Sterling, a child of adoption among children of poverty.

Caleb & Luis... chalk drawings on the pavement.

I could sit here forever... quatro amigos.
Take the time now... punch that link and make a difference in the life of some incredible children.
Even 5 bucks makes an impact.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

GUATEMALA 2012: (33) Though He Were Dead

Sometimes we do not know the answers.

I remember the feel of the underbrush as it scratched my arms and legs. The ground was rough and rocks were pressed into my thighs as I sat in the darkness. Bentley was panting next to me... we had just ran nearly a mile before I collapsed into the edge of the woods. The night seemed to bear down on my lungs and the tears running down my face burned like acid. I was bitter and there was no hope.

How can our choices take us to such dismal places? My life was not what it needed to be, and I saw no way that I could ever get back on track... much less become the man I once dreamed I could be? I was not the father my children needed, and my wife longed for me to stand up and be a man. I was running from my life and I was hiding from God. And still, I felt His eyes on me in that moment. I just felt so hopeless... so frustrated... so directionless.

But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him.
John 11:10

It was nearly midnight on that night, years ago... and I just sat down and wept. I was bankrupted. I prayed to God that He just take my life... it wasn't mine to take on my own, but if God chose to just take me, well... that seemed better. I couldn't see how I could ever get back to the belief that I could do something for Him.

I sat there in the dirt for nearly an hour... wrestling and praying with God. I watched headlights pass by and I listened to the sounds of the night. Stiff and sore, I finally stood up and held tightly to the leash as Bentley walked me home. God didn't answer my prayer.

But... sometimes we do not know the answers. God heard my prayer... and God answered it in a way I did not understand. "Please just take my life." Yes... He did.

Looking back I realize that those steps home were the first steps of obedience as I found my way back to God. It wasn't apparent to me at the time, but he was changing my heart. He placed people and experiences in my path that changed how I saw the world... how I believed God saw me, and I was broken to be slowly reformed.

I picture myself on that night as a man with the dust of the desert caked over his body... his clothes stiff and torn, and his lips split with thirst. When the first drops of rain displaced the earth on my head I didn't recognize the oncoming flood.

How could my heart not be changed as I began considering the adoption of Aleksandra, watching my son begin to grow into a young man, feeling the power of the lives that touched my own in Guatemala, and finally the adoption of Sterling. God begin to move big in my life in every direction I turned. The more quickly I followed him, the more my perspective shifted.

Watching my kids this past week in Guatemala, and holding my baby as I walked those streets... I knew that I had changed. I looked down at the dust covering my boots and I knew that this dust was from walking towards God, rather than sitting in despair.

Have you ever searched for a reason to live? To endure the pain... or even just the monotony of life? It isn't money, or a career, or chasing selfish gain. It isn't even giving to the poor or moving to Guatemala. It is more simple than that. It is about pursuit.

My reason to live... is so that I can follow the footsteps of Jesus.

It comes down to realizing how you look in the eyes of God, and then capturing that vision as you look at others. The best way I can explain this to you... is to ask you to hold a small child that has no hope. Feel the rise and fall of her chest. Let your heart break as you feel her grasp your thumb with her whole hand. Look into her eyes and feel her fear. Recognize yourself in her gaze.

Accept her love as a gift. Let your pain be overwhelmed by the strength of her grasp. And then give of yourself. Give any way you can... just give. This is how you will feel the air again alive in your lungs and you will know the power of the beat of your heart. Find your faith in this moment... this simple exchange.

Just ask God to take your life. 

I was willing to lose my life that night... and now every day I have is a beautiful gift. God took my life and He made it new. Each day I have is now His. He is showing me how to live. I am learning the wonder of a life lived by belief.

My life has been saved by God. The remainder of my days belong to Him.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live...

~John 11:25

Monday, August 6, 2012

GUATEMALA 2012: (32) We Are On Mission

Surveying the countryside on our final day of work.
We stood from the heavy wooden table in the dining room at Mimi's House. The rain was pouring down in heavy waves on the other side of the glass wall. The sky was dark, but sporadic lightening would illuminate the volcano Pacaya with each flash. We had to nearly shout above the pound of the rain and the rumble of thunder. Although we were dry and safe inside, we all had smiles on our damp faces.

Fontaine shook my hand, pulled me close, and said words that I will never forget, "Welcome to C.R.I."

I understood instantly that a changed had fallen over me. I was no longer a convergent missionary. I had just become a missionary. I was not preparing to travel home... I was traveling back to the home of my parents, the city that was once my home. Kellie and I knew that our desire was to remain in Guatemala, but out of necessity we had to return to Ohio. 

We are missionaries in Guatemala and we are in the United States for 10 months to complete necessary tasks... and then will will return to our new home, San Cristobal Guatemala. What was once permanent has now become temporary. We have travelled through a process, and we have come through as changed people. 

This past 10 day period was like a final examination at the end of a two year soul-searching and truth vetting journey. We had never had our family in the country for any period of time, and over the past few days we were able to get just a small taste. I have no disillusions... I understand that 10 days does not give us a sense of what it will be like when we set our suitcases down and spend that first night in a strange place. But... we have done what we could, and we have done our best to take our time and prepare.

Our hearts are strengthened and we are eager to take that flight. The past year has been incredible for us with: an adoption completed after 6 years of waiting, a house leased after steps of faith, missions training completed, ordination process begun, selling and giving away the bulk of our possessions, 3 trips to Guatemala (the last one including even the 19 month old baby), and allowing God to change our vision, equip us to tell the stories of the children of Guatemala, and watching God provide when we have no means.

Today was my first day back to work after arriving home at 4:00 AM this morning. I was greeted with a phone call from the Human Resource Manager. He asked me to email him a picture of myself and to type a short bio of my career at Kroger. Today Human Resources would announce to the corporation my job change status as I begin to relinquish my role and responsibilities. My exit from the Kroger company officially started today.
The picture I submitted to Human Resources for my press release
I have learned to take every opportunity to tell my story, and so I seized this moment to again tell people about Guatemala. I typed up our story and sent it to H.R. At 5:30 PM this evening, the announcement hit the email box of all our employees. While parts of my faith and testimony had been edited out... enough remained that the message shined through. Here is the second page of my release:

Since this hit the company web this afternoon, my email and phone have been alive with an outpouring of shared faith and support. God continues to provide opportunities for folks to walk with us on this mission. 

As we made our way through airports yesterday I received a message from a close pastor of mine who shared with me that he felt compelled to share part of our story from the pulpit on earlier that day... and at the end of the service, a man approached him asking how he could be a financial supporter of our mission. God is our provision. He is working for us at all times.

And so... I simply want you all to know... Guatemala is now our calling, it is our passion, it is our home. This doesn't take anything away from the deep love we have for our family and friends. This doesn't reduce our tight-grasped memories of all that has brought us to this point. 

I sat at the red-light coming off the highway this evening after the gym and I felt a cool breeze blowing through my open windows. It carried on it a memory of my childhood... cool summer evenings in the backyard that I loved. I suddenly remembered the smell of the trees and the endless days of imagination. I realized that these types of memories will strengthen me on many days to come.

And yet... God has captured our minds, our souls, and our forever. Like Saul on the road to Damascus... we have stood up with our lives different from our encounter. 

So... if you ask us when we are coming home... don't be surprised when I tell you that we leave for home in about 300 days. We are on mission now, spending time in the states to complete necessary tasks. We extend to you the invitation to join us as we prepare our return.

The call of God is unmistakable. We strive to faithfully take steps, and to live our life as proof of His love.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

GUATEMALA 2012: (31) The Dust of Truth

Life is not complicated. It is quite simple. We learn who we are by those who come before us. Simply put, we discover our story. We find how our story fits into our belief, and then we live out our belief. Every breath we breathe is an inhalation of the deep truths that have made us. Every puff out carries the fragrance of who we are.

We move to Guatemala because our greatest mission is our children. We find our deep truth in the peace of our belief here. We want them to see us living a life of faith. We want them to know the power of relying on God. Living out faith requires some risk. When you are required to measure the worth of everything around you, fear looses its teeth. Nothing compares to finding ourselves in the story of God.

I have seen giants of faith who live with the barest of possessions and I have seen champions of success who will die empty shells. Poverty can exist among extravagance, and I have felt the immeasurable worth of a life well lived with shoeless existence. The choice is not difficult. Give me my belief, my faith, and a footsteps that disturb the dust of truth.

My life, my possessions, and even those I love are not my own. My children belong to God. Our walk follows the dust of his sandals. These days that we are given are to be lived out with abandon. God holds the future and the outcome is His. The power of our story is greater than the worth of our everything. Should we lose it all, we still hold to His hand in the darkness. There is nothing that can separate that grasp.

This evening was breathtaking confirmation of our faith… again and again. Missionaries can serve for years to gain acceptance and trust with the people of the land. Within the past 24 hours I have exchanged hugs, tears, prayers, and words of devotion from those I consider the most significant in this place. Edgar Ramos, the man I first worked with in  June of 2010 and who first opened my eyes with his passion, faith, and devotion to family. Ramero Espana, who has taught me to mix concrete, mortar, stucco, lay block, cut roofs, and lead crews… and has shown me the value of nunca cansado (never tired) and uno mas (one more). And Fontaine Greene, whose steps of faith set everything in motion.

This week has prepared our way. We step onto the plane tomorrow knowing that we are part of the Catalyst Resources International team. We now make our final preparations and continue to prepare our hearts. We look forward to our work with the Christian Academy of Guatemala, short term mission teams, and what is to become our life’s work… caring for orphans.

June 2013, we are on approach. We will leave the dust of truth from the imprint of our steps.

GUATEMALA 2012: (30) The Fellowship

We all sat around the portrait of Mimi last night and processed the week. The days seemed to race by like trees along the highway. It is always difficult to say goodbye, especially to an epic team. 

We came from Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, Colorado, Arkansas, Germany, Russia, and China to form a team that gave two families a house and a village a sustainable tilapia farm. More than this, we hugged and played with children... along with serving them lunch each day.

If you have never felt the hug of a desperate child... then life still has a lot to give to you. Each member of our group has now been challenged to tell the stories of the lives they touched. Once you come to this place, you are forever changed. It has a way of opening your eyes... I have thought often this week of Saul on the road to Damascus. 

When God finds you... it stops your world. You have a choice to make. Do you change how you live, or do you continue to walk in blindness. Our coming to this place for our life's work is not a simple choice. It is simply what we know we must do. It is our desire to allow our life to be the evidence of our belief.

Who isn't searching for meaning? When we are here, we know we are home.

The Shepherd family is saying see-ya-laters to our family here, and we are comforted with the knowledge that we will soon return. It is good to know that our next project in Labor de Falle will not be followed with a plane ride.

We had a lot of goals for this trip... and all of them were exceeded. Both Caleb and Aleksandra have begged us to stay here now. With a smile on my face I explained that it is necessary that we return to Ohio and continue to build support. June has been a great month that we have seen friends come alongside us financially for the first time. I am thrilled to share this journey of love with them.

Our ministry with our partners is proving to be incredibly rewarding. Your monthly giving to us will provide us with the foundation to do ministry. We now know that we will be; caring for orphans in our home with a staff of 3 nannies, volunteering at the Christian Academy of Guatemala (CAG), and working with short term mission teams that build homes, food projects, medical missions, and direct contact with the people.

We intend to give our lives to this place. We intend to remain here with no plan to return to the States. I have heard the voice of God in my blindness, and now my eyes see differently. 

Walk this with us. The kids will complete this school year, and then we will take the support that God has provided us through people who want to find meaning through this mission. 

Begin supporting us monthly today. Your contribution is fully tax deductible, and as our partner, you will receive monthly updates and pictures on our work. You will also have the opportunity to come and stay with us. You can see the lives you change... you can come and hold a child that was once without hope... who thanks to you, has an inheritance everlasting.

Follow this link to partner with us now. Commission to Every Nation.