Saturday, June 28, 2008

Un Dia con La Familia Lopez

We had lunch today with a Guatemalan family in their home. They are Rene and Nelly, and their three children: Rene, Daniella, and Pablo. They had a very large home that was laid out very interestingly.

We ate a delicious typical Guatemalan meal: Chicken in a sauce of blended tomatillos (little green tomatoes), cilantro, green pepper, and green onion with potatoes and zucchinis with a side of rice cooked with veggies. This along with tomalitos (tamales w/o any just steamed corn mush). All this took Nelly all day to make for us. She also made us sweet empanadas for dessert. They are little fried bread pouches filled with a homemade fruit jelly, made with papaya, peaches and apples. And to drink, we had atol de fruitas, or fresh squeezed juice of papaya, peaches and apple. Everything was so delicious, and we ate it in the traditional manner of the town of Salcaja (where they live). We sit down at the table, and they serve us bowls of the rice and chicken and soup mixture.

We know them b/c they are working with a CAM missionary couple (the Ekstroms) who have been in Guatemala since 1952 and are currently working in another town about 2 hours away on a project called the mega-voice. It is a little audio device thing that is solar powered, and has the entire Bible on it. There are buttons to go from book to book, buttons to skip chapter by chapter, and buttons for verse by verse. Go to the website for more is super cool and they are working to get the Bible in the native Mayan languages on the cool device.

Anyway, they have become some of our good friends here (the only other Christian couple that we know). Nelly was telling us about the over 1,700 children who live in the communities that they work in. Most of the children are so poor that they can die from a fever b/c they can't afford a dose of Tylenol or Advil or some other medicine to get their fevers down. It is difficult to imagine this kind of intense poverty this close to our home. We see lots of poverty, but there is no one in that community that has any kind of wealth. Everyone is so poor.

They are getting ready in a few months to move to the town that they minister in. Evangelism in Salcaja is so incredibly difficult, b/c it is a relatively wealthy community. Most everyone has work of some kind and so they don't have particularly great needs. Sound familiar?

Brandon gave a little Bible study in Spanish in Psalm 100. They have another machine that has the music for all of the hymns in their hymnal and we sang 3 hymns in Spanish with a digital accompanyment. (Mighty Fortress is Our God, Holy Holy Holy, and some other one that I can't remember.) Then we read the Psalm, made some observations, and did a little interpretation and application. Those of you that were in the college ministry while we were there would have felt rifght at home! It was great

It was a fun day. Don't you just all want to come and join our little adventure? Come on down! We have plenty of fun for everyone.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Re-Post - Guatemalan Orphan Video

This is the video that I wanted to put on my blog last week. SUCCESS! Watch it and please pray for these little ones. It may take a bit to load, but it is worth it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A day in Guatemala

Well, we went to church this morning. Acutally just Sunday school b/c Brandon didn't sleep much last night, and he was just to tired to translate a church service in his head. Every Sunday after class, they sell "refracciones" or little snacks for 2 quetzales ($0.25). They are SOOO good. Today it was enchiladas: tostado shells with a tomato salsa on top with minced cooked veggies (carrots, celery, onions, peppers) and a sprinkling of dry white cheese. YUMMY!

When we went to lunch, we went to the famous Pollo Campero (the KFC of Guatemala with the popularity of McDonald's) and this very old lady stopped us to tell us how handsome Deacon is and she said (in Spanish of course) : "Look at my fingernails! Look at my red fingernails! I'm 80!!" It was really funny, and really odd, and Deacon was so sweet to her. He just said "Hola" and smiled as she presented her very long, bright red fingernails to our son. He-He.

Then, tonight as I was nursing Madeline in her room, and right before I put her down, we heard 5 very loud, quick gunshots. It wasn't on our street (we live in a gated condominium with 24 hour guard) but it wasn't far away. This is why we don't go out at night.
Note: Parents, don't get freaked out...we are very safe here, as safe as anyone is in their homes.

All in all, a pretty cool day, some good food, funny ladies, and a little adventure.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress...

I have been trying to load this video onto my blog for almost 3 days, and it won't load. Please go to the link and watch it. These are real photos of Guatemalan orphans. The video was made as a petition for prayers for these little ones.

There was an orphanage here in Xela several months ago that our language school did some work with. The name was Jerusalem. It was run by an evangelical pastor. Our school sent groups there to volunteer and to play with some of the children. Last year we bought some toys to take there for Christmas (we didn't go, just sent the toys).

Anyway, the orphanage has now closed because there was some concern when the boys and girls were heard crying loudly during the nights. At one point, the police went to find out what was going on, and discovered that the pastor has been sexually abusing both the little girls and the little boys. That is raw, and gross, and so incredibly sad. The saddest part is that it is a true story that really happened to real children, just like Deacon, and Madeline. Anyway, I can't go see those exact children, because the orphanage has since closed and the children dispersed among other locations. I just can't help but think about all that those children have gone through without anyone to love them and care for them. Some of them disabled, mentally and physically, some with parents who can't care for them, some without any family at all.

I am going to begin (hopefully this week or next) going to visit an orphanage to love on the children there. I can not let my desire to have routines, be rested, get my to-do list done, have "personal time" get in the way of ministering to these people.

Please pray for them as this video says. Please pray for me that I can be the hands of our Lord in the lives of these children and in the lives of those that work with them.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Great News....and I'm un poco triste.

I wanted to first thank all of you who have been praying for us and the situation with the abandoned baby girl. Something extraordinary happened. Very abnormal.

The baby's mother and family came forward. The mother was underage (probably 14-15) and hid the pregnancy from her family. Somehow the facts came to light and they grandparents of the baby, as well as the baby's uncle want her. That is such incredible news. They only just came forward, but there is significant interest by the family to take care of her. A permanent home is going to be so good for her.

We finally had to go to a lawyer to get the information, and he knew the judge and called him on our behalf to get the whole scoop. I am so glad that the family came forward now instead of months or even years from now.

I have to admit, that although I am extremely relieved that she will be with her family, and also a little bit relieved that I won't be taking care of two tiny babies at the same time (not to mention Deacon and our 1 year old lab) and trying to be in language school, I am a touch sad. We had prepared our hearts to take in this little girl, and in doing so, I had began to imagine what life would be like with her in our lives. I began to love her and I haven't even met her.

All in all, we are so pleased with the results of all of this, and we feel like a little chapter in our lives has closed. We also realized that most likely we will try to adopt some little baby sometime in the future.

Thank you again for all of our prayers. We believe that God answered them faithfully.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Update

I wanted to post a quick update on the status of the baby girl. We found out that the judge assigned the case typically prefers orphanages to foster homes. Even so much that he has recently removed children from current foster homes and placed them in orphanages. This justs sounds so incredible to us, but it is what we were told by the case work office. The health and human services has an attorney who has gone to the city to plead the case to the adoption agency of Guatemala in order to basically return and convince this judge that foster homes are better places for these children than orphanages.

So...we are supposed to call the case worker Friday to check on the status. PLEASE PRAY! We need the Lord to intervene. He know the best place for this little baby. This judge will get to decide what he wants. I will write more on Friday after we talk to the case worker. Hopefully we will know something by then, as this waiting is very difficult.

Then there is the question of when to potty train Deacon and when to put him in a big boy bed if we are just looking at another major life change coming up with a new baby in the house. I am interested in opinions in this matter!

Thank you so much for your prayers and concerns. It is so encouraging to find out how many people are praying for this situation. The voices of the saints of God do not go unheard!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I am challenged.

We had a missionary couple over for lunch today. They told us they would come early, but we weren't expecting 8am, and I was in my pajamas with a messy house when they called at the entrance to our neighborhood. Um...I got ready pretty quick and things were ordered enough 3 minutes later when they arrived. It was such a blessing to have them here. They have been missionaries here for 57 years. Geez!(This is a photo of the Ekstroms: the couple mentioned above)

Anyway, I have been really challenged over the last month as to what kind of ministry the Lord has for me here. I of course am going to be ministering to my family and children. I wanted to write a bit about some ideas that I have.

1 - I want to get some sort of ministry going with the children in our neighborhood. Most (if not all) of them are Catholic and so we may begin a weekly craft and Bible story hour in our home with them. I will need to talk with their parents first, and I don't even know them all yet.
2 - I want to have a movie night over at our house once or twice a month with some university students. We only know a couple right now, but they have friends, and they might come to watch a movie (we have ton with Spanish sub-titles) and free snacks.
3 - A friend of mine attends a very small church in her community and has asked me to help with a children's program on Sunday mornings. We can't do that, because we want to get involved in a church closer to home on Sunday mornings, but I do want to maybe get some people together and maybe do some kind of training with them so that they can do some of the things that I would do. (I have a million craft ideas, etc)
4 - I met with a Guatemalan couple who live in a little town near us and they are working with CAM churches in the area, especially with young people. We are going to try to get together with them soon to get more information from them on the current needs among these churches. (I want to write more about this later, but I have to go give the kids a bath!)

We have quite a bit more language learning to do before I will start anything that will take up too much of my time, but there are plenty of things that we can do to get more involved in the community without interfering with our language learning.

Please pray for us that we could begin to get involved and have appropriate boundaries, and that the Lord would continue to challenge us!

Friday, June 06, 2008

An abandoned little girl

Well - We were waiting to find out more before we make it totally public. Right now it is looking 95% sure that we will have a new baby girl in our home for a time.

Exactly one week ago a newborn baby girl was abandoned here in Xela. A microbus found her at 5am with hypothermia, ants in her umbilical cord, an infection in her umbilical cord, and her cord had been torn, not cut (so the mother probably birthed alone). After some prayer and some thought, we have decided to be foster parents for this little girl.

When I read about her in the newspaper, I literally cried at the thought of a tiny baby being so alone and scared and sick. My friend was with me and we went to the hospital to get some more information about her. The social work office was closed so we had to go back the next Monday (This last Monday) They directed us to the child services judge and that office directed us to health and human services, but ultimately we found out that she will go to an orphanage. Our hearts can't handle that. We are the only people who have asked about her! After one week, not one person has inquired about taking care of this baby. It has been in the papers almost everyday and still no one is interested!

I am going on Monday to take a copy of my residence status to the office and after that I think we will become foster parents. Now, it still may be several weeks before we actually take her home from the hospital. I am going to try to nurse her, and if she can't latch on then I will pump as much as I can so that she can have breast milk.

there are so many things going through my mind right now. 1st is when am I going to sleep? I am already a little tired most days. 2nd is am I going to be able to make enough milk for both babies? 3rd, we have many things to get before welcoming another baby in our home: clothes, another car seat, maybe a nanny to help me deal with 2 babies...who knows? 4th What happens if we take care of her for a very long time and then some other family adopts her? Can I deal with that loss? 5th Can we travel to and from the states with her? 6th What things might be wrong with her...fetal alcohol syndrome, any number of things that can go wrong with poor prenatal care? 7th WHAT ARE WE GOING TO CALL HER? She doesn't have a name right now.

So many of these things are unknown, but none of the unknowns mean that we can let this little girl go to an orphanage with so many other children and so few laborers. It is not very often in ones life that they get to do something that has such a significance. How blessed we will be to get to sacrifice for the life of a baby.

Please pray for us. Please pray that the Lord leads us as we try to figure out the best things to do. The Lord knows where this baby belongs. We will keep everyone updated.