Thursday, May 31, 2007

City Dump

I wanted to add the link for a video of the dump ministry that is going on. http://www.micahcentral.org/dumpintro.htm I pray that you all view the video to get a better idea of what it is like.

City Dump

Last weekend Colby, Jen, and I met up with Gina and 3 other American girls to spend a day at the city dump. We were joining forces with a local church whose youth have spent every Saturday over the past few years attempting to provide for those living within the limits of the dump the one thing they were severely lacking: a good meal. We met up with them at their church and got to see where the meals were prepared. After loading up the food we headed out to the dump. I happened to be one of the ones riding in the back of the truck and after about 30 minutes of driving I began to smell a stench that could only mean one thing…we were vastly approaching our destination. The smell coupled with the fact that the sky was full of vultures did little to prepare us for what lay just ahead of us. We rounded the corner and I got my first glimpse of what it truly meant to be in need. Since my arrival here I have witnessed thing after thing that has left me shocked and amazed…saddened and sickened. However, nothing I have witnessed so far could have readied me for the short time I would spend in service that day. While I knelt in the back of the truck over a huge plastic tub full of noodles dishing out plate after plate I couldn’t keep my gaze off of those in line. They pushed and crowded, jostled and fought their way to the front of a line that was more important than any line I’ve ever stood in. As I gazed into the eyes of women, men, and yes the worst: children I couldn’t stop the tears that found their way to the corners of my eyes. Then as my spoon began to scrap bottom I was faced with the sad reality that the food was going to run out before the line did. It was going to be my job to look back into those starving faces and admit defeat. It was up to me to drop my spoon back into the tub, slide the lid back on, and call it a day. My head kept trying to comfort my heart with the fact that we had served hundreds of plates but my heart accepted that fact for about the two seconds it took me to stand up and survey the madness surrounding me. Dump trucks were pulling in non-stop to dump the remains of what we “rich folk” had thrown out. The amount of trash that they contained was endless. As each truck came in you would see people swarm the dumping area in search for something they could use for a home, as clothes, or simply things they could eat to get them through yet another day. As they sat sorting the goods that had been left behind I couldn’t help but be reminded that I now live in a country that doesn’t flush their toilet paper but instead places it in the trash can to be disposed of later. I was also thought of all of the things that we place in the trash on a day to day basis: dirty diapers, spoiled food, feminine products, and so much more. Yet here I was in a place where 10’s of thousands of people depended on those bags of trash as a means of survival. Then suddenly I was hit full force by the guilt. Why was I the lucky one? Why was I the one to be born into a good family that could afford the luxuries of life? Why is it that I grew up thinking going hungry meant eating dinner later than 5? Here I was sporting a new pair of sandals while the people before me were walking around mismatched tennis shoes that someone discarded after the sole began to fall off of them. What is it about being American that makes us think we deserve better or that we have earned better. Simply because I was born American gives me advantages that children here will never know. There are city dumps in America…thousands of them. Yet none of them are used to provide “public housing” to thousands and thousands of people. I was once again humbled by the life that lay before me. A life that I had been ignorant of for years. As we prepared to leave I surveyed the scene one final time in an attempt to embed it so firmly in my mind that I would never be able to get it out. That it might always serve as a reminder of how truly lucky I am and how many out there need OUR help. It is a good thing for mental pictures because seconds later as I stood waiting for Gina to unlock my door a man ran up behind me and stole the camera I had in my hand. I had been taking pictures and had wrapped the strap around my wrist before placing the camera in the palm of my hand and pressing that against my hip. However, in a moment of sheer stupidity I had turned my back to look into the car to wait see when Gina got the car unlocked. Well as I stood there a man grabbed me from behind ripping my arm away from my body. Then in one fluid motion he latched onto the camera with one hand and while still holding my arm tore the camera from my arm. In fact he pulled so hard and had such a tight hold that he released the camera from the strap that held it to my arm and took off. It happened so fast that I wasn’t sure what was going on. Colby (who was standing with me) had little time to react other than to grab hold of me in fear that he may have tried to run off with me instead. In the seconds after we both stood staring at one another in disbelief. The only proof that I had that the event actually had taken place was the elastic band still connected to my wrist and the feel of that hand on my elbow. Getting into the car and retelling the events to Gina I was surprised to find that in place of the fear or anger that probably should have come with such a situation I only had compassion and sorrow for this young man that was so hungry had to steal to pay for a decent meal. (That is at least what I’m telling myself the money will go to after he sells it) That the hard life that he had been raised with had taught him little about values, morals, or right from wrong. How could I feel anger after I had stood at the doorstep of poverty with my expensive camera, my nice clean clothes, and my na├»ve attitude? I lost my camera but I learned one of the best lessons life had to offer me. However, that also means that until I raise money for a new one I will be unable to take and post pictures for you all like I have in the past. Bare with me and I promise to do my best to sneak them off of other peoples cameras so that you will still get to see the beautiful faces of my children from time to time. In the mean time remember that somewhere out there is a starving belly or a body in need of some clothes. Remember that you are blessed beyond belief and that those blessings are gifts from our Savior.

Trust

I recently talked with a friend who was finding that trusting God wasn’t as easy in this phase of life as it has been in the past. She has come to the realization that right now as there is a storm raging around her and life is more full of changes than security that she isn’t quite so sure how to find the strength she has always had in her faith. Stumbling for the light in the dark and searching for the hand hold to pull herself up with. As I listened to her struggles and searched deep for the words of wisdom she needed I realized that I had little to offer. I had no answers to give because I too have been finding myself in a similar spot lately. How do I trust him with a future that is so uncertain? How do I learn to let go of life when I have felt the need to be in control for so long? Trust is hard. However, it is so important…..so to this friend and any of you out there that are finding yourself having the same struggle ...know that I am in the same boat. Even though I have no words of wisdom or easy answers I promise that I will be here holding out my hand offering to share my faith and love with you.

Take my hand and walk with me a while
Cause it seems your smile has left you
And don't give in, when you fall apart
And your broken heart has failed you
I'll set a light upOn a hilltop
To show you my love
For this world to see

You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone
Borrow mine
When you can't go on'
Cause the world will not defeat you
When we're side by side
When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine

Take my love when all that you can see
Is the raging sea all around us
And don't give up 'cause I'm not letting go
And the God we know will not fail us
We'll lay it all down
As we call out
Sweet Savior
help our unbelief

You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone
Borrow mine
When you can't go on'
Cause the world will not defeat you
When we're side by side
When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine

When you are weak
Unable to speak
You are not alone
The God who has saved us
Will never forsake us
he's coming to take us
Take us to our home

You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone
Borrow mine
When you can't go on
'Cause the world will not defeat you
When we're side by side
When your faith is hard to find
When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine

Take my hand
Take my love
Don't give in
Don't give up

Monday, May 28, 2007

Simply Pictures

Luby and Yovani...my tough boys!:)

Monica Cindy and Fernando's first day of school


Little Antonio can't get much cutier


Tiger Woods anyone?...Little Bryan pulls off this look like no other 8 year old I know.

Luby always trying to look tough. We know better!:)


Danile has gotten quite lovey in the past few days.


Have I mentioned yet that I have the best friend in the entire
world. She loves me enough to follow me to another country just to visit me!:)
Jacob did so great with our kids. They loved having him here so
much that there were moments when he needed a bigger lap.


Family photo. 2 crazy boys..2 crazy weeks..1 crazy friendship!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

From the cold hard streets of Antioch


I am ever amazed at the circles and loop da loops the ride of life takes me on. I like to think that in the beginning before the days of sin that our walks looked more like a straight line. Our paths were parallel to God’s will and we were walking hand in hand with Him. Then suddenly with one bite of an apple all that changed. Instantly our walks began to look more like to rollercoaster ride at the Happy Holiday Fun House. However, even now I believe God is still there walking with us...holding our hand. He is guiding us along and is putting things in our paths to direct us more on the straight and narrow. Sometimes these things come in the form of a road block that forces us to change the course of our lives completely. Other times they come in the shape of a new friendship born from God’s dreams of what tomorrow could hold for us. Recently I experienced the latter of the two. Working in the mission field means there are constantly people coming in and out of my world. Whether it be a group coming for 10 days, people who work alongside our ministry and are in and out a lot, or individuals who drop into our world out of the most random of circumstances. Therefore, a couple of weeks ago when Karen called home to “warn” me that there would be a couple of guys showing up to do work at the house I realized that I really shouldn’t be surprised. They were coming to help us set up a garden that would hopefully produce fruits/vegetables for our home for years to come. It was our attempt to not only save money on buying the food but also more importantly to teach our children life skills that would help them in the future. So I went into the house to prepare a place for them to stay and to get myself ready as well. I was the only one here and was expected to “do my best to make them feel welcome and answer any questions they may have had.” Little did I know that these “guys” we were expecting were two college age boys (Jacob and Nathan) from Tennessee. Even more unexpected was the relationship that was to be born in the 12 days that we would spend together. Together with Nathan and Jacob, Colby and I found a sense of community that is seldom experienced in today’s world. It is an illusion that implies proximity, interconnectedness and unity. However, all too often it is misconstrued to be this thing that we experience in the workplace or within our neighborhoods, at school or within our churches. It has been cheapened to encompass daily interactions with people who we rarely know beyond the surface. But in those unexpected moments, when true community is experienced, it will be known without a shadow of a doubt. Such community was felt from the moment Nathan and Jacob came into our world and was only reinforced with each meal we prepared, seed we planted, and conversation we shared. Over the course of 2 short weeks, much of our time was spent in fellowship, true fellowship, and for the first time in a long time I experienced the sincerity of community in its rawest form, as God intended it to be. Just as Jesus spent all of his time in communion with his disciples, so does he still desire the same level of relationships for us. However, it is we who have defiled the sacredness of this incredible blessing. We have become a truly individualized society, in which interaction is becoming more and more optional. This is perhaps the greatest injustice of our modern day society. We have forgotten the joy that comes from truly allowing ourselves to bring down those guarded walls that we so protectively place around our hearts. As is human nature we find ourselves believing the lie that community must provide a sense of longevity and remains solely one dimensional. However, the time I spent with these boys showed me otherwise. Community can be born in any time frame and in the most unlikely of circumstances. If only we would allow ourselves to achieve the level of vulnerability conducive to the development of true friendship, we might all experience community as it was intended. It is that level of community that has the potential to penetrate the deepest places of our hearts. So to these two boys I would like to say thank you. Thanks for reminding me just what community really means. Thanks for showing me that even here in this place I can form meaningful relationships that defy all reason. Thanks for walking into my world and not only seeing it through open eyes but also loving it with an open hearts. You have forever left your fingerprints on my heart and embedded some great memories in the scrapbook of my mind.
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person. When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring t he relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent has been answered and now it's time to move on. Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is omnipotent and discerning Thank you for being a part of my life, whether you are to be a reason, a season or a lifetime. You will never be forgotten.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

on our knees

I’m in much need of some prayer. So prayer warriors arise it is your turn to step into a place of action on behalf of Casa. There have been moments today when I felt that I was about to reach the end of my abilities to do my part of this ministry. Thankfully I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and that I can rest in the assurance that you all have my back. To be more specific on my prayer request let me just walk you through my day! I woke around 7 to help Dilcia with the kids…I mean we have 16 now which is no small task to take care of. Not to mention that we found out earlier this week that Cindy, Monica, and Fernando all got to start school today. So there was a lot going on this morning as we had 6 to get ready for school and 10 others to take care of as well. After helping out with morning stuff I retreated to the porch to take some time for morning devo…we of course still had no electricity! Well shortly after Karen found me to tell me that our two new girls had come with little friends all throughout their hair. Oh yes we now had a lice problem times 2. I was recruited to help shampoo their dark little locks. I then sat on the back porch with rubbing alcohol, a towel, and a fine toothed comb sorting through the layers of their hair looking for the unwanted company. Done with that task I decided it was time to pull out the generator before all of our food went bad. Enlisting the help of Dorian we managed to not only get it started but also to move it out back where we could run an extension cord to all the major appliances that were in need of a little power. I was just heading back inside when Karen mentioned that Luvin had locked himself in his bedroom and wasn’t opening up. She was headed for the key and I headed to see what I could do to help. From there it was a snowball effect. A locked door led to a punishment which led to a defiant child which led to more punishment. Karen and I ended up having to carry him back to his room after he refused to listen to anyone and became a threat. Again it was all downhill from there. Taking over so that Karen could go back with the other kids I began to do my best at calming him down and talking him into listening. Let’s just say ..it didn’t work. The battle continued on throughout the next 2 ½ hours and got worse before it got better. To make a LONG story short I ended up having to remove him from the bedroom because he was trying to get at the other kids and was being loud while they all were trying to nap. Once I got him in the dining area I lost all control. The real fight began then. He was angry and I became the punching bag. I’m not sure if I have mentioned but he is with us because he ran away after being beaten on for 12 years. He then lived on the streets for awhile. So this is one very hard kid with a lot of anger built up within him. I also should mention again that he is 12 and comes up to my shoulder! Not exactly the easiest child to battle with. I spent the 2 hours blocking exits, restraining, and doing my best to keep either of us from getting hurt. We ended up clearing the room of anything. All tables, chairs, or other objects were moved to the parameter of the room or were used to help block an exit. I make light of the situation but it was anything but that. It was draining, heart wrenching, and downright difficult. I know that at any moment I could have tapped out and let someone else handle the situation. However, I knew that I might be the only one in the house that was able to deal with Luvin not out of anger, frustration, or irritation but instead out of love, sadness, and pain. So I stayed. I wrapped tightly my arms around his flailing body and whispered I love yous and other words of affirmation in his ears. I let him know how much I wanted him to live there and what a good boy I knew he was. I spoke words of prayer over him and lifted his name to the heavens numerous times. I begged the Lord on his behalf and shouted at the Devil for his hand in the situation. No matter how many tears he shed, what bad words came from that little ones mouth, (there were many) how many bite marks or bruises he gave me, or how many things he threatened to throw at me there was no part of me that felt anger toward this child. Instead I felt sympathy. Anger is all he has ever known. Running and fighting are the only two qualities that have ever been instilled in him or modeled for him. The thing that struck me the most was the fact that he didn’t want to hurt me. In my attempt to not inflict pain on him or show him more anger/violence than he has already been shown I left myself open numerous times. He had ample opportunity to hit me, throw things at me, kick me, etc. and he didn’t. He would raise something above his head (a chair for instance) as if to throw it at me but would allow me to walk slowly up to him and grab it from his hands. Furthermore, he would act like he was about to step on my very bare toes but would stomp just inches from them. The only times he truly hit me was when he was trying to escape my hold. It was as if in his blinding rage something in his brain kept reminding him that he truly didn’t want to be doing what he was doing but had little control. Finally, after 2 hours he was wearing down and ready to talk with Jen when she arrived. It was then that I found my time to escape. I allowed Jen and Karen to step into the role that I had been playing for so long and sought refuge in the confines of 4 walls, a soft pillow, and my quiet prayers to the Lord. Once there I allowed myself to sob through the scenes that had just occurred. However, I wasn’t crying because of the pain that had been inflicted upon me or the insults that had been hurled at me. Instead I cried for the pain that I had seen welling up within those big brown eyes. I cried for the hardened heart that had stood before me fists raised. I cried for the past that had created such a tough little boy. I WILL NOT give up on this little one. Call him my project. Call him mission. Call him whatever you want but I will not quit. See no matter how many times he hit me or how many attempts he made at hurting me I could never see anything but a little boy cowering in a corner as someone beat the tar out of him. That image was what kept any chance of anger at bay and allowed me to deal with him not out of frustration but out of arms of love. There have been moments before and after the “incident” that I’ve glimpsed the boy within this anger captive body. Just tonight as I sat here blogging about him he sought me out. He came to porch and without a word wrapped those ever so strong arms around my neck and with every ounce of his proven strength squeezed the stuffing out of me. Then with his arms snug around me he whispered… “I’m sorry. I really do want to live here.” There is a little boy in there fighting just as big of a battle to get out as the battle we fought today. So I ask that you would please be praying for this little one. Pray that he would be softened and that the boy within will be able to find a way to break through the bondage. Again today I was reminded of the quote that I would consider the mission statement for my life….. “In a contagious world, we learn to keep our distance. If we get too close to those who are suffering we might get infected by their pain. It may not be convenient or comfortable. But only when you get close enough to catch their hurt will they be close enough to catch your love." - John Ortberg I don’t want to keep my distant for fear of getting hit or getting lice. I don’t want to tuck tail and run for fear that I’ll get to close. I want to stay. I want to wrap my arms around them knowing that I could be inflicted by their pain but also that somewhere in the midst of that closeness they might be touched by my love.

And then there were 16

So many stories to share with you all but not enough words in the English language to do them justice. However, in an attempt to once again connect you with this place, my heart, and God’s sense of humor I will attempt to find some way to express the events of the past 72 hours. As you know we met with the judge on Monday about the Brian and Rudy situation. You also know that we were to pick them up today. Well the part of the story that I didn’t mention before was this…. While we were sitting in the Judge’s office waiting for the mom to come in she mentioned that she had a 12 year old boy upstairs named Luvin that had no place to go. He has a past of bad bad physical abuse and had run away from home. He had been placed in another home but his mother had come and taken him out. After running away a second time he was living on the street. They had brought him in and were trying to find a placement for him. After mentioning if he was upstairs (with a sneaky little grin on her face) she says “would you like to see him.” We said we would meet with him. As the judge left the room to go get the little one Jen looks over at me and says “wanna take home 3?” With a grin I answered that maybe it was the reason God had placed us there and allowed the Bryan and Rudy situation to take so long. Well in walked Luvin with his scarred up body, scared little smile, and freckled face. After talking to him for a few minutes it was official…we were putting him in our truck and taking him home. From there you know how the rest of our day…went to the mom’s house, got the paperwork signed, and set up plans to return on Wednesday for Bryan and Rudy. Let’s just say that the first 48 hours with Luvin was a bit of a challenge. At 12 years of age he is 2 years older than our almost 10 year old oldest child. He out powered, out intimidated, and out mouthed every child that we have. His attitude was one of a child who had been through a lot and had learned to harden himself from the world. We found out that the home he used to live in was the one and only Jimmy Hughes orphanage and that he had cousins living there. He was very adamant about the fact that he wanted to be back there and did not enjoy staying with us. He also did little to hide the fact that he would indeed run away if we didn’t allow him to return to Jimmy. Like I said….the first few hours were a bit of a challenge! We tried everything we could to satisfy him. We were nice. We called Jimmy to see if he could go there. We tried appeasing him in every way we could think of. However, nothing seemed to be working. So yesterday when Jen headed into the city to pick up Bryan and Rudy from the judge she took Luvin back ready to admit defeat. We could not put our children at risk. We could not take the risk of him running away while he was our responsibility. So we all stood in the driveway waving goodbye with almost a sigh of relief escaping our mouths as we watched the gates close behind them. For the time we were back to having just 10 children. We went about our day as usual…Colby and I even managed to sneak a nap in somewhere between our morning shift and when Jen was to be home. We had just gotten up and was on the back porch doing our devotions when Karen walked up. I’ll never forget the next few moments as long as I live. She slowed when she reached us and then with a look of pure apprehension on her face says “Jen called me and she’s bringing home 6.” Completely clueless and hoping she didn’t mean what I thought she meant I replied “6 …what exactly?” Of course her answer was “6 new kids” why wouldn’t Jen be bringing home 6 new kids. Astonished I was like what the heck…6…really. To my surprise (as well as all of yours I’m sure) I of all people was speechless for a few moments. As I sat trying to wrap my mind around what 6 new children would mean for this place I couldn’t find words to explain all the emotions whirling within my head. We talked for a few minutes about what needed to be done before I did the only thing I knew to do…I went back to my bible/journal and sought comfort in the one place that comfort was going to be possible in those first moments when every worst case scenario was playing out in my head. 30 minutes later I heard that ever familiar beep signaling that Jen was home and it was go time. Have I mentioned that we had lost electricity sometime in the midst of all of this and still didn’t have it back? So yes Jen was walking into our dark home with 6 new children and no way of shedding light onto an already dark situation. I met Jen at the door to find that only 3 of the 6 children were with her. The other 3 were coming later. It was a welcome surprise to be able to relish in the fact that at long last Bryan and Rudy were walking through our front door and into my arms! After hugging the stuffing out of them I turned with tears in my eyes to Colby, did my happy dance, and threw my arms around her while continually saying “there here” “there really here!” Gone were thoughts of having 6 new children as I simply enjoyed the feel of those sweet sweet boys within my embrace. I can remember thinking only one thing… God is good. Even as I turned to the third child…the one and only Luvin I was sincere when I said “I’m glad you’re back.” At that moment nothing was going to rain on my parade and I was ready to take on the world so what was one defiant and hard child. Unable to place him anywhere else and after a day of bonding with Jen, Bryan, and Rudy he had somehow found his way back to Casa. I stood staring at him, thinking of what his return could mean for all of us, and trying to figure out how I felt about it all when it hit me. He was just returning to any orphanage he was returning to Casa de Esperanza…House of Hope. The one thing we are founded on and stand behind is the simple fact that we might be able to provide a sense of hope and security in the lives of children who have none. With the dawning of this realization came the crashing reality that Luvin was no different than any one of our other children. He had a battered past that left little room for a hopeful future. He needed what we could provide…love, hope, security, and so much more. So yes he was back and we were going to make the most of it. We brought those three in and got them settled just in time for our next 3 to be dropped off. They are a family of 3. 2 girls and 1 boy. Danile age 4, Pamela age 10, and Fitto age 8. Again remember we have no electricity. I can’t imagine how scary it must be to have to walk into a new place full of new faces when you are that age. Let alone walking in when there is no electric. Feeling the need to explain her decision Jen sat down at the table with me and says “look you would have done the same thing.” J Good opener huh..I mean she knows me and we both knew it was true. She then goes on to explain that while sitting in the judges office the judge once again used her famous line and said “I’ve got 3 kids upstairs that need to be placed. Want to meet them?” She knows Jen almost as well as Jen knows me. She then gave the kicker. The kids were there because their mother had just been taken away for exploiting them. They were not only homeless but very much in need of some intense lovin! So she was right I would have done the same thing. The judge brought them in and within a matter of seconds the decision had been made. We were to become a house of 16. I might mention that they are ADORABLE. Their little faces hold this mixture of fear, torture, and desperation. They long to be held in a way that leads to nothing more than a tug on the heart strings. They long to have someone reach out to them and love them in a way they have never experienced. They long for safety and a promise that they never again have to be used as a meaningless tool of pleasure. I long to give them all that and more. I’ve been reminded time and time again why we are here. God is good….has a sense of humor for sure…but He is faithful. There are still moments when I stand back and think….oh gosh…there are 16 children here. However, when I see little Danile’s face light up as she comes running into my arms or feel Bryan’s hand in mine as he cuddles up next to me I’m reminded that it is all worth it.
Can I just say...Bryan and Rudy are FINALLY sitting at our table eating breakfast. I like that! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Brian and Rudy

First let me apologize for the lack of blogging lately. Between heading home for two weeks and then making the trip back I’ve been incredibly busy. However, I promise to get back in the swing of things. SO…keep looking at my blog for new posts. As for this blog it will be chalk full of a story that still has the power to bring me to my knees. I was once again reminded of what an awesome God we serve. You all know the amazing God story about Brian and Rudy. So you also know that it has been WEEKS since that all went down and we have been anxiously waiting our chance to get them. Well Jen, Colby, Gina, and I went to the Judges office today to meet with the boys’ mother and…they are officially ours. We pick them up tomorrow! The next part of this story I’m stealing straight from Jen’s blog simply because I can’t do justice to what she must have been feeling. “Please know that I write these next words humbled to my knees because I don't deserve this, it is merely God's favor for reasons that I'll never know, but I got to meet their mother today. I watched this beautiful 29 year old woman walk in who has 6 children and lives a life of desperation but who was as warm and tender as anyone I've met. When she walked into the room and I told her my name was Jennifer she hugged the stuffin's out of me. Then with tears in her eyes, she said, you're HER. In the next several minutes she explained to me that for the last year her boys had been telling her about me and how I wanted to help them but she was scared and didn't know who I was or what they were talking about. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said if I would have known it was a children's home, I would have let them come a long time ago. We needed help. She told me that Brian asked her if she would give him a wallet so that he could keep the note that I gave him with my name and phone number on it because he didn't want to lose it. He kept walking around saying, isn't it pretty handwriting mom, isn't it pretty?! The judge told me that a children's home wanted Rudy and Brian to come live there, but I didn't know anything about the people. She said I wanted to come today and make sure that Casa de Esperanza was run by the person that my little boys fell in love with and when you told me your name was Jennifer I knew it was you. Ok so tears...yet again!! It's not that there's anything extraordinary about me, it's just that God gave me the opportunity to connect with these two little hearts and when I had no clue He was working and all seemed hopeless, there He was, preparing the way, being who He is, and allowing this flawed girl to somehow for some reason hold out hope for two little boys.” When the meeting was over we headed to the house that our new boys had once called home in an attempt to see where they come from. Honduras as a whole has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. However, no matter what people say you never get used to it. You never get used to looking into the face of a hungry child. You never get used to seeing a house made of cardboard. Your never get used to seeing people hurt and dying all around you. I was reminded of this fact as I was once again humbled by the home that stood before me. Their home was tucked up against mountain …literally underneath the home of another person. They had a sheet for a door, one dresser, a mattress on the floor, and all of life’s possessions crammed into a 10x10 “house.” The mom has 6 children total and her eyes held the pain of a momma who was having to hand over two pieces of her heart. As she looked deep into Jen’s eyes and said “I wish there were some other way…” I felt part of my heart breaking for her. What would it feel like to love your child enough to know in your head that they would be better off without you and but have to work so hard to convince your heart of the same thing. So even as well will be bringing the boys home with us tomorrow there is part of me that wishes there were some other way. I wish that things could be different and that we could live in a world where situations like this didn’t have to exist.

The special times

After 2 weeks at home I was ready to get back to my children. Don't get me wrong the goodbyes were just as hard as ever and there are still moments when I want to tuck tail and run. However, being back great and as always has been full of sweet sweet moments. Moments that others would view as nothing but to me are some of the most precious moments in life! I was amazed at how much my little ones had changed in the 2 weeks I was gone. How long the girl's hair had gotten, the amount of teeth the kids had lost, or even how tall Antonio had gotten. They change so fast! It was a good reminder that I need to be cherishing every moment of their young lives that I have with them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Devil's attacks

My time at home was bitter sweet. I loved being back with those that I love and enjoyed the familiar way of life. I loved being back in the land of bathtubs, starbucks, cable t.v., easy and cheap cell phone service, home cooking, and let’s face it simply being able to speak my own language. However, with the luxuries came a price: leaving my children behind. I learned what it meant to separate my heart and leave part of it behind. Furthermore, I spent my two weeks at home in inner turmoil and under the hand of a torturous devil. The Devil did his best to throw every road block at me he could and add insult to injury at every opportunity. You all know how the beginning of my trip started. I spent an entire day in the airport when I needed to be going to appointments, finals, and meetings. I lost an entire evening with people whom I was only going to be with for 2 days. Furthermore, because I lost those precious hours and missed the important meetings I was forced to reschedule new times to take care of the things that I needed to take care of. Since I missed Thursday I was only left with Friday to get things accomplished at school and was booked that entire day. Therefore, I had to pick another day to drive back to Canton (2 hours) to take exams and meet with professors. Meaning I had to spend yet another day away from my family and friends. Wednesday morning I got up early to make the drive. A little over half way there I noticed that lights had lit up on my dash but I had no idea what they meant. I called my dad but being an hour and a half from home the best I could do was keep driving and hope for the best. Long story short my car made it to the school but died in the parking lot. I was able to get it jumped and prayed my way to a dealership in Akron where they worked on it all that day and part of the next. The original plan had been to spend all day Thursday with my mom. She had taken the day off of work. I had a doctor appointment and then we were going to do a little shopping. Well seeing as how I had to wait for my car to be fixed I finally made it home in time for a late dinner Thursday night. $510 and a missed day with mom later and my car was fixed! Not too much to pay right....! Remember how in my past post I mentioned that all I had to do for the fund raiser was make a power point and give a talk...well I may not have actually had the power point done. Jen and I had started it before I left but she was going to finish it and send it to me. After some problems on her end and my discovery that I didn't even have power point on my computer I finally came to the realization at 8 on Thursday that I had nothing to show the following evening. As I was faced with this fact and forced to come up with a solution I ended up heading to Belpre. Some of my new friends from there stepped up and offered any assistance they could. They saw my desperation and quickly scrambled around to find the best solution. However, that best solution came in the form of a brand new power point that took until almost 2 a.m. to finish. 2 of those new friends stayed with me the entire time and actually did the entire presentation for me. Problem solved I got back into the car that I had spent all day in driving first home from Canton and then to Belpre. Might I remind you that this is the same car that we just put $510 worth of work into that same day. It was a ridiculously foggy night and the hour drive turned into more of an hour and a half drive as I drove 30 down the river road. I was about 3 minutes from home when all of a sudden out of the fog stands this deer. Directly in front of my car just waiting for her next victim. I swerved (yes I know you aren't supposed to do this but it is instinctive) and would have made it around her had she not moved...but of course she did. Just as I got beside her she took off and ran right into the side of my car leaving a couple of nice looking dents. I was able to drive the car home and simply climbed into bed ready to forget about the entire long and exhausting day. I had been robbed yet again of a night with my parents and was feeling very worn down. Even though my last 5 days of break went by without catastrophe I went through many moments of extreme turmoil. I spent one evening shedding my share of tears for the year. I said one of my harder goodbyes and then cried my way through the rest of the night. It wasn’t just because of the goodbye but the reminder of the goodbyes that were to come. Not to mention the fact that the devil had seen his opening and was using it to manipulate/influence the situation. He had seen the raw/hurting part of my heart and was rubbing salt into the wound. For the first time in my life I could literally feel the devil reach inside of me and wrap his hand around that open part of my heart and begin to squeeze with all his might. I have never felt a stronger fight of good and evil going on within me. I could hear the devil’s taunting voice saying “what kind of a God asks you to walk away from those you love” or “you don’t have to go back” or “you don’t have the money to be doing this you should stay and work this summer.” He could see the tender spots of my heart and was doing his best to hit every nerve. I felt like the entire time I was home I was sitting in a court room where it was my heart, soul, and body on trial. God was playing the part of the defense and the Devil was the prosecutor. The devil was there asking all the difficult questions. He was there doing his best to lead the witness. He was there to badger, abuse, and manipulate. However, the most amazing part of this new trial feel of life was watching God step in after each of the Devil’s attacks and give HIS rebuttal. There was definitely a fight going on but God had it all under control. I may have spent an extra day in the airport but God ended the day by putting me on a plane beside a women with whom I could share my Honduras experience. A women with whom I exchanged information with. A women whose brother was having surgery in Canton the next day and was planning to take a taxi from the Cleveland airport to Canton to meet up with her family. How very much like God to place a women beside me on the plane that was in need of a ride to the exact place I was headed. I may have missed out on a day of finals but my time with her was worth it. Even though it meant I had to spend a day in Akron with a broken down car it gave me little other option than to sit back and relax. I spent 24 hours with friends who have become very near and dear to my heart. So even as I drove home bummed at the fact that I had missed the day with my mom and spent a ton on repairs for my car, I had taken a break from the crazy schedule I had been leading and allowed myself to enjoy my time at home. Little did I know that the very moment I was driving home my father was walking through the door with a profit sharing check for $503. They had received them the Friday before but my dad had been off that day and they had forgotten to tell him until the next Thursday…the same day I had written a check for $510 for my car.. It was also the same day that my mom decided to take the following Monday off so that we wouldn’t have to miss our day out together. God’s answer couldn’t have come much quickly or clearly. Sure that same night I had to go to Belpre to make a power point but again God provided the answer in the form of new friends who were ready to rise to the need placed before them. I have no great answer for how God fixed the fact that I hit a deep on the way home from making that very power point. However, I can say that the last deer I hit totaled my car and sent me to the emergency room. It puts the whole two small dents thing into perspective and reminds us that it could have been much worse. Though my time at home was plagued with struggles and pain I could hear God reminding me that he had been teaching me lessons the last 4 months that would prepare me for the road ahead. I learned some valuable lessons while home but the one that kept repeating itself over and over in each situation was God’s faithfulness. It was as if He kept whispering in my ear that if I were just to trust Him life the situation would seem so much more bearable. It will never be easy to live here or there. My heart will forever live in two places. However, I feel like this trip taught me that though it won’t ever get be easier if I keep my eyes on the Lord the transition will be much smoother and a lot less painful.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Katty

Katty has been sick the past few days. My momma's heart can't handle that. It started Thursday and has continued. She was kind of out of it Thursday evening and fell asleep early. They didn't think much of it and just put her to bed. Well she woke up around 9:30 screaming and asking for me. I of course went over to get her and as soon as I picked her up could tell she had a fever. She was burning up. After getting meds in her I put her in my bed and lay down with her for a bit. However, about 15 minutes after I left her she woke screaming for me and this time when I went to her she ended up throwing up everywhere! Let’s just say that when I had doubts about my abilities as a mother and people told me it was different when it was your own child...they were right. I didn't think twice about scooping her up and cuddling her or carrying her puke covered self to the shower. As I got her cleaned up and dressed Colby stripped the bed and cleaned up the mess. What a good welcome for Colbs on her second night here! She didn’t even complain. She simply got the job done while I took care of the other stuff that needed done. We will just chalk it up as good practice for both of us!
Together we put new sheets on the bed and got new blankets before singing her back to sleep. This time she slept for about 25 minutes before waking up puking....oh yes all over the new sheets, blankets, and clothing. Only this time she had attempted to get to the trash can I had “ingeniously” put beside the bed. Like I really expected a 3 year old to realize she was about to puke and get herself to the trash can in time! I mean seriously someone really should put out a handbook for situations like this! For all of the parents reading this you can imagine the situation from there. It most certainly was all over the floor, rug, books, etc. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the term “blowing chunks!” As we went through the motions once again I was praying that she didn't have anything else left in that little stomach!:) Needless to say it was a long night of little sleep for me. She then spent all day yesterday sick. Her fever got to about 103.4 and I was a basket case. However, she is much better now! Thank you Jesus...let’s see if I can get a full night’s sleep tonight and it will all be good.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Small town living

As you all know I recently spent 2 weeks back home visiting people and finishing up my semester at college. Another big reason for my visit home was to spend a little time fund raising so that I could return to this great place. However, with my busy schedule and the endless list of people to visit I was unsure of just how I was going to find time to plan or prepare for any kind of a fundraiser. I need not have worried ...by the time I stepped off the plane on the 26th a spaghetti dinner/silent auction was being planned. All I needed to do was show up with a power point and something to talk about. As I began sharing this fact with some of my "big city" friends they were amazed that people were not only planning the entire event but were also donating all the food, supplies, auctioning goods, etc. They were shocked that people would do so much for me and expect nothing in return. I've had many moments in life where I've sat back and thanked the heavens that I was born into a small town. However, I'm never reminded enough of how lucky and blessed I truly am. I showed up at the church (were the dinner was being held) to find 5-10 ladies already there preparing the food, setting up tables, and making sure everything was ready. Those ladies had organized, planned, and prepared until they were certain the evening would go off without a problem. They spent an entire evening in service for me. I was struck yet again at how many people in my life spend time serving and ministering to me. Yet I'm the one that gets the glory and praise because I'm the one going/doing/"serving." I would never be where I am today without their love, guidance, and assistance along the way. The night did indeed go off without a hitch and as we opened the doors I watched people pour in just to get the chance to ask me questions or hear about what I was doing. They walked in ready to love me with their warm embrace, their genuine listening ear, and yes even their checkbook. They each found a way to express the love that can only be found within small town living. So to all of you small town folks that showed up ready to love me .....I want to say thanks. You have taught me so much throughout life and continue to do so as you mirror to me just what support looks like.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Getting Home!

SOOO....I'M HOME!!!! Some of you may have known I would be flying home for a few days while others of you may be sitting there thinking ...."WHAT." For those of you thinking "what" don't worry you are not alone there were lots of people who had no idea I was coming in. I had the pleasure of showing up at Malone Thursday night and shocking everyone on campus. There have been screams, laughs, and tears that will last a lifetime in my memories. I have especially enjoyed walking across campus and watching people lift their hands to wave hello seconds before it hits them that seeing me isn't a natural thing. It is then that the screams come and the bone crushing hugs happen. It may have taken me 2 hours to eat lunch in the cafeteria on Friday because I was interrupted so many times. However, it hasn't been all good surprises. It just may have taken me 2 full days to finally make it home. I was scheduled to fly out early afternoon on Wednesday. However, the plane that we were supposed to fly out on was an hour and a half late causing me to miss my connecting flight home. That was of course the last flight out for the night. Therefore, I had to stay overnight at a hotel in Miami until I could get on a plane to fly out the next morning. Trying to keep a good attitude about the whole situation I got some dinner, got on the shuttle and headed for my hotel. I awoke early the next morning with plenty of time to take my first bath in months and head to the airport. However, when I tried to use the shuttle to go back to the airport I found out that I was supposed to call them 24 hours in advance and so ended up having to take a taxi. (That cost me $59.60!!!) I arrived at the airport Thursday morning and headed through security to get to my gate. Upon my arrival I found that F 34 was quite empty considering the flight was supposed to be boarding in 10 minutes. Therefore, I decided to go check the board to see if my flight was late. Of course it wasn't late that had simply CANCELED IT!!! I headed for the front desk to see what was going on and was told they would put me on a later flight that would get me to New York after my connecting flight. I was once again going to be stranded in a state overnight! The lady at the counter seemed to not understand why I was having a problem with this fact. No matter how hard I prayed I couldn't seem to manage to stay completely calm as she continued to be rude. I managed to ignore most of her comments until she finally threw in the kicker of the day. Let’s just mention that I have tears in my eyes and a look of desperation on my face at this point. In an attempt to stay calm I told the lady that I was sorry and I understood that it wasn't her fault. However, after being gone for 4 months I was only supposed to be home for 14 days and now it was going to look more like 12. She looks at me and in her best patronizing voice says "well lets look at it this way ma'am. 50 years ago this didn't all exist and it would have taken you more than 14 days to travel from Honduras to Ohio. Therefore, I think you should be thankful for technology and the fact that it allows you to have the 12 days you will have at home!" After a second of prayer I ever so "kindly but firmly" said "well thankfully I'm only 21 and wasn't around 50 years ago. SOO I get to take advantage of present day technology and was giving people like her a job. Therefore, she should probably get on her computer and find me a flight into anywhere in Ohio." I was done being picky I just wanted in the state. About that time my father called to say he had found me a flight with Continental that flew out at 11:30 and went straight to Cleveland. It was better than I could have hoped for. I was told to head to the Continental desk and they would print my ticket out. However, when I got there they told me that the lady at the American Airlines desk hadn’t done something right in the computer and I had to go back to her and get her to fix it. By the time I RAN all the way across the airport, got the lady to fix the problem, and ran back to Continental’s desk I only had 22 minutes to get my ticket and get to my gate. Lets just say that I was bawling as the reality that I was going to miss the flight began to sink in. Well the 20 + people in front of me took pity on my tears and let me go ahead of them all…and you know what…I STILL MISSED THE FLIGHT. So at this point I have already cancelled the other ticket and was now holding a ticket in my hand for a flight that had just taken off. So I headed back to American to get my old ticket back. I got the old ticket and reached my gate just in time to watch the plane take off. Back to the American desk I went. By this point they were growing tired of seeing my face! They informed me that the only thing they had to offer me was a flight into NY and then a flight out of NY the next morning. I wasn’t about to stay at another hotel so my dad found me yet another flight with yet another airline. (United Airways) There was a flight leaving at 12:40. I made it to their desk, got my new ticket, and headed for the gate. There was plenty of time to get there in time ….given that I didn’t get pulled out for a random check at the security point. Oh of course yes that is what happened! I walked up and the man motions for me to follow him. He took me off to the side into a room where another man unpacked my carry on and purse. He then wiped both bags and ME down with a cloth. He waved his little wand thingy all over and asked me all kinds of questions. He then says “ok all done” as he walks away leaving all of my stuff lying out on the table for me to repack. The whole process took me 20 minutes and by the time I got done I had missed..oh yes…my 4th flight in 24 hours. I called my dad sobbing to inform him I would need just one more flight! He got me on a 1:50 flight with United Airways and guess what…I made it!!! I got my ticket and made it to the gate in time to actually board this time. I flew from there to Philadelphia and managed to make it to my next gate with plenty of time to even grab a sandwich! As I sat waiting for my next plane to board the lady came on to announce that “there would be a bit of delay as there were maintenance problems with the plane.” I called my mother to inform her that I was starting to fear for the lives of those flying with me because my luck had been “great” all day! An hour later we finally boarded and I was finally on my way home. I arrived 24 hours after I was supposed to have flown in….but I made it!