Jun 17 2013

Guatemala Day 6

With yesterday being Father's Day, like yours, my Facebook news feed was filled with Father's day wishes and pics of dads.  After getting back home from Guatemala late Saturday night, all I could think of were the orphans that we had met while we were there.   The ones who clung to me, saying "Papi! Papi!", "Daddy! Daddy!" and it broke my heart.  They are longing for someone to be "daddy" to them, someone to be there to protect them, to cheer them on, to wipe away their tears, to pick them up and encourage them to try again… Just someone who will love them unconditionally.  Isn't that we all want?

You don't have to go to Guatemala to find people who want and need the love of a father, you meet them every day.  You may have woken up and looked at someone in the mirror who craves that.  The good news is that we have that kind of love, God is the Father of Fathers, and as hard as it may be for me to believe as a dad, He loves me far more than I love my own children, and He loves you that much too.  God held back nothing in showing you how much He loved you.  He allowed his only son to bear the weight of our sin, so that you would KNOW just how much you're loved, just how much you matter and just how much He cares.  So often we forget that, we engage in our pity parties and self loathing and forget just how much we matter to God.

I learned an extremely valuable lesson from the kids at the orphanage, when I asked them if they ever felt like God had abandoned them, they shouted back with a resounding "NOOOOOO!".  I admit, I felt a bit of that for them, but they didn't!  I believe that we saw a measure of God's grace at work in that moment, many of us complain far more over far less.  I believe the reason that these kids responded with the passion they did was because their eyes are fixed on Jesus, it is when they are not, that we find ourselves sinking into despair.  These children are the teachers, not us.  I am being sent back to you by these children, as a missionary, to remind you that God sees you, He has not forgotten or abandon you, nor will He, ever!

We can honor these children, and more importantly God, by sharing their story.  Take some time today to just think about how much God loves you, and then give it away!  That's what the Gospel is all about, never losing site of how much we are loved, and than sharing that love with those needing that reminder.  I promise that you will meet someone, or know someone already, that needs the reminder the children of Guatemala are sending home with me… "You are NOT forgotten!"

Thank you Shoes for Orphan Souls for making this trip possible!!!

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Jun 14 2013

Guatemala Day 5

For most of us reading this, it would hard to imagine keeping a family afloat for $260 a month, yet that is exactly what the average family of 6 survives on in the village of "El Cerrito".  As if that weren't difficult enough the community is plagued by violence, and sits under the bridge that sadly has become Guatemala's most popular suicide destination… Just reading this probably has you feeling a bit more depressed than when you started, imagine waking up to this reality everyday.  So what do you do?  Should you allow hopelessness to immobilize us?  Of course not, but how often do we?  How often to we try to insulate ourselves from others hopelessness, so that we don't have to be bothered?

In the Bible, Jesus gave us the distinct privilege of being the ones who take His light to the World, but how often is it that sharing that light is the last thing on our minds?  Jesus said the "you" are a city set upon a hill, a light to all the World, a light that should not be hidden.  Seeing El Cerrito and the families living there is a reminder that people need what you have to give…HOPE!  More than just the shoes that we gave the children yesterday, we endeavored to leave them with a message of hope; all week long we have been sharing the story of Queen Esther, and reminding the kids that no matter where they are, or what circumstances they face, God has a plan for them, that "He has created them for such a time as this" to be used by God.  In fact, God used the children of El Cerrito yesterday, to show us that hope thrives regardless of our circumstances.  We came to encourage them, yet it was God reminding us that life isn't about a pay check, or the size of our house, but the size of our heart.  They were filled with such love, not only for God, but for one other.

As Christians, we are to embrace the ideals of "faith", "hope" and "charity", so often we do quite well with faith and charity, but we struggle with bringing hope, and yet it can be the thing that most often is the catalyst for change in someone's live.  Hope can be a hard thing to grasp because it must be practiced through the virtue of patience, which continues to do good even in the face of apparent failure, and through the virtue of humility, which trusts God even in times of darkness.  Often times we must be reminded of the promise of Hebrews 6:19, 

"We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God!" 

When you cling to that hope, you can offer that hope to someone else in need, and before you think it takes going to a place like El Cerrito, think again.  Hopelessness isn't a condition of socioeconomics, it is a condition of the heart.  There are people that you know, that need the hope that you have, in Christ, so share it!


Thank you to Shoes for Orphan Souls and to YOU for helping us make this trip possible! If you would like to do your own shoe drive, you can visit them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Jun 13 2013

Guatemala Day 4

This week has caused me to spend a lot of time thinking that the Apostles must have loved serving "together", and loved seeing what God can do when we work "together". 

"The more generous we are, the more joyous we become.  The more cooperative we are, the more valuable we become.  The more enthusiastic we are, the more productive we be come.  The more serving we are, the more prosperous we become." - Wm Ward.

That is certainly what we have seen on display this week, God has taken the generosity that you showed during the K-LOVE Pledge Drive and multiplied what Shoes For Orphan Souls is able to do in countries like Guatemala and others all around the World.  In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about how important it is that we don't criticize one another, and say that we don't need each other, we most certainly do, this week has been proof of that.  Serving along side one another to accomplish things far greater than we could do alone is most certainly God's design.

This week has been particularly inspirational watching young people serve the kids and families that we have met in Guatemala.  Sydney, Betty, Christa, Elizabeth, Steven, Kristen, Elizabeth, Shelby and Sean are a group of teens and pre-teens that have worked long days and have done so with such joy that the rest of us have been inspired.  They have brought gifts and energy to our group that are so unique and special, they have been used by God to  show love to these kids in ways that only a young person could.  Seeing them and the kids at the orphanage in tears because they had to leave has been a great reminder that we should never look down on someone's youth, God always uses young people in special ways and has throughout the Bible.

We have also met college students who have given up their summer to serve as interns: Jessie, Kelsey, Rachel and Kelly have all said that they would jump at the chance to do this again.  Then there is Kristin, Sean and Steven, they really blew my mind when they shared on a bus ride back from the orphanage that they were all adopted by their parents from Russia.  This has been really special for them, getting the chance to serve children who were in the same place in life that they once were, has touched their hearts, but more importantly God has used their story to encourage the children who long for a family in Guatemala.  In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about how God uses our hardships to encourage others, and we have certainly seen that this week, thanks to Sean, Steven and Kristen.

So find someone to serve with today, it may be a friend, your spouse, a church group, your child, or even a perfect stranger, like it was for us this week.  Making a difference doesn't have to be a huge undertaking, just find something you can do today to encourage someone else.  The joy that you find serving together is a memory that you will cling to longer than anything that you do on your own.  Maybe it can be sitting down and planning your own Shoes For Orphan Souls shoe drive!

For more information visit Shoes for Orphan Souls on Facebook and Twitter!

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