Friday, October 31, 2008

Update on Padre Pablo

As you recall, a few weeks ago I asked everyone to pray for Padre Pablo after he had fallen and broken his femur and his hip. Pablo is 60 years old or so, although I thought he was a lot older than that.

Well, the good news is that he was able to get surgery and he is in recovery back here in Antigua and has started physical therapy. It was quite a ride, though!!

video

First of all, you will recall that he fell off his bike and originally went to the public hospital where he was not helped. He checked himself out and went home, where he was in immense pain for 3 days. Finally, one of his room mates, Miguel, helped him to return to another hospital - a private one called Hermano Pedro. This hospital was not really set up to help him much, but because he had spent so much time volunteering there, they agreed to help him until he could get home for the surgery he needed.

Well, that was quite an ordeal! Being a British citizen, he could have free healthcare back in England, but he didn't have the money to get there. Plus, due to his injuries (remember - we're dealing with a broken hip and a broken femur here!!), he would need an attendant to accompany him and take care of him. There is a guy here, Chaz, who was able to do so - but that is another whole long side story.

Basically, it boiled down to this...Pablo did not want to return to England - he wanted to stay here. The people in England did not want to help him financially, so he was going to have to put everything on his credit card, which would have been several thousand dollars. The public hospital here wouldn't take him back after they realized the extent of his injuries and Hermano Pedro was not equipped to handle his care.

Finally we decided to try to take him to a hospital in Guatemala City, which we were able to do. They did not have the surgical equipment there that was necessary, so we had to go to another hospital and pick it up for them (I know - crazy, huh?? This only happens in Guatemala!! Haha). We dropped him off there and there was no room available for 2-3 days, so we was on a gurney in the hallway!

He was finally given a room with about 20 other people, all very sick and in pain. A huge ministry opportunity!! People were bleeding, urinating and defecating and the smell was horrible. His heart was not strong enough to withstand the surgery, so he just lay there for days waiting. No tv, no books, no curtains over the windows. I cannot imagine how demoralizing it would be. Finally, a heart specialist happened to be in the hospital, so they went ahead with the surgery, with the heart surgeon on standby in case he was needed.

The surgery went really well. A few days later one of the pastors here, Jeff Mills, went to visit him and the hospital told him he would need to take Pablo back to Hermano Pedro!! In his tiny little car!! Just after his major surgery!! Again...it happens here!

So, Pedro was taken back to Hermano Pedro here in Antigua and has started physical therapy. I understand it is going well and he is starting to get up and around. All in all, I think it worked out well for him - despite the insane conditions and length of time - because his heart is really here in Guatemala and with his *adopted* son Luis. Sometimes we don't know why God is allowing these kinds of things, but in His good plan and timing we will find out.

Thanks for your prayers for Pablo!! I know he appreciates it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Peligroso!

Sometimes we can get to a place where we feel lulled into a sense of well-being and safety, and we believe that everything is sunshine and daisies.

Other times, the evil around us rears its ugly head and we begin to feel that darkness lurks at every turn.

Lately we've been inundated with stories of rapes, attacks and robberies. I can feel the enemy of fear crouching at my door, wanting to engulf me in terror. Fear is an old enemy, and one I know well. It was my constant companion from my late teens until my mid-30's. I am so thankful that the Lord has delivered me from this overwhelming, all-consuming fear!

In the past two weeks there has been a rise of violent attacks, particularly against women. Almost daily we are hearing about something that has happened to people we know. This past Friday night, one of the girls here on the base was taking a tuk-tuk home at about 7 pm when the driver pulled a gun on her. She began screaming and then jumped out of the tuk-tuk and ran into traffic waving her arms. As the tuk-tuk turned around she fled into the bushes and hid, calling some friends from her cell. Thank you Jesus that she had the wherewithal to do what she did and that God was with her and helped her get away safely!

As you can imagine, this has caused us all to have our guard up, and even to be jumpy and suspicious. We don't want fear to rule us, yet we want to be safe and use wisdom.

I don't want to spawn fear, but I do want you to be aware of what has been going on so you can be praying for us and for the people here...

- in the past month another coffee shop has been robbed 3 times by gunmen who come in and steal the customers computers, purses and backpacks. No one has been hurt, thankfully.

- 10 days ago two girls were accosted by 3 men and raped.

- another girl was attacked from behind, but was able to fend off her attacker by screaming and using pepper spray; however, her keys (which were in her other hand) were stolen.

- yesterday a couple was walking down a street in the morning when a man stepped in front of them and blocked their path, while another man came up behind them. They stood up to the men and were able to get past safely.

These are some of the stories from just recently - as I said, there seems to be a spike in this kind of activity, at least from my perspective. Of course, one story seems to beget other stories until that is all people are talking about, so it is important not to let it get too big in our minds. As one woman reminded me today - we serve a Big God!

Please pray for us that God will give us wisdom and discernment. Please pray for our safety, and the safety of the other women and staff here. Please pray that the coffee shop would be invisible to those who might want to cause harm. Please pray for the safety of our belongings that they would not be stolen. Please pray that if violence does rise up against us that God would show us the way out and give us the strength to act. Please pray for us to be in the peace of God and that fear would not overtake us.

Thank you for your prayers - they are powerful weapons against the schemes of the enemy!!! This is the time of year that the enemy wants to come out and cause chaos and confusion...but we can stand against this in the powerful name of Jesus under whom all demons must flee! We must remember that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:12).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Profound Love

I just finished reading "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller. Wow. It's a great book and I highly recommend it, especially for those who are part of the Post-Modern generation or who are interested in trying to understand what this generation is all about.

The book is an easy read, very conversational. It is basically like the guy's testimony and different things he learns about all the aspects of his Christian spirituality. You will relate to it, and even more so, will be caused to think through things and consider your own perspectives. It's great!!

In one chapter, he is discussing love and what it really is. He is talking about a short play he was writing at the time about the life of a man, and the man is married. In the play, the man and his wife lose a child to a car accident and they are really struggling in their marriage as a result. One night the man kneels down by his wife and whispers the following to her....(I hope I'm not plagiarizing!! I give all credit for the following excerpt to Donald Miller and his book, Blue Like Jazz...)...so, okay, here it is....

What great gravity is this that drew my soul toward yours? What great force, that though I went falsely, went kicking, went disguising myself to earn your love, also disguised, to earn your keeping, your resting, your staying, your will fleshed into mine, rasped by a slowly revealed truth, the barter of my soul, the sould that I fear, the soul that I loathe, the soul that: if you will love, I will love. I will redeem you, if you will redeem me? Is this our purpose, you and I together to pacify each other, to lead each other toward the lie that we are good, that we are noble, that we need not redemption, save the one that you and I invented of our own clay?

I am not scared of you, my love, I am scared of me.

I went looking, I wrote out a list, I drew an image, I bled a poem of you. You were pretty, and my friends believed I was worthy of you. You were clever, but I was smarter, perhaps the only one smarter, the only one able to lead you. You see, love, I did not love you, I loved me. And you were only a tool that I used to fix myself, to fool myself, to redeem myself. And though I have taught you to lay your lily hand in mine, I walk alone, for I cannot talk to you, lest you talk it back to me, lest I believe that I am not wothy, not deserving, not redeemed.

I want desperately for you to be my friend. But you are not my friend; you have slid up warmly to the man I wanted to be, the man I pretended to be, and I was your Jesus and, you were mine. Should I show you who I am, we may crumble. I am not scared of you, my love, I am scared of me.

I want to be known and loved anyway. Can you do this? I trust by your easy breathing that you are human like me, that you are fallen like me, that you are lonely, like me. My love, do I know you? What is this great gravity that pulls us so painfully toward each other? Why do we not connect? Will we be forever in fleshing this out? And how will we with words, narrow words, come into the knowing of each other? Is this God's way of meriting grace, of teaching us of the labyrinth of His love for us, teaching us, in degrees, that which He is sacrificing to join ourselves to Him? Or better yet, has He formed our being fractional so that we might conclude one great hope, plodding and sighing and breathing into one another in such a great push that we might break through into the known and being loved, only to cave into a greater perdition and fall down at His throne still begging for our acceptance? Begging for our completion?

We were fools to believe that we would redeem each other.

Were I some sleeping Adam, to wake and find you resting at my rib, to share these things that God has done, to walk you through the garden, to counsel your timid steps, your bewildered eye, your heart so slow to love, so careful to love, so sheepish that I stepped up my aim and became a man. Is this what God intended? That though He made you from my rib, it is you who is making me, humbling me, destroying me, and in so doing revealing Him.

Will we be in ashes before we are one?

What great gravity is this that drew my heart toward yours? What great force collapsed my orbit, my lonesome state? What is this that wants in me the want in you? Don't we go at eacher with yielded eyes, with cumbered hands and feet, with clunky tongues? This deed is unattainable! We cannot know each other!

I am quitting this thing, but not what you think. I am not going away.

I will give you this, my love, and I will not bargain or barter any longer. I will love you, as sure as He has loved me. I will discover what I can discover and though you remain a mystery, save God's own knowledge, what I disclose of you I will keep in the warmest chamber of my heart, the very chamber where God has stowed Himself in me. And I will do this to my death, and to death it may bring me.

I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again.

God risked Himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together, we will learn to love, and perhaps then, and only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.
- Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller. pgs. 148-150.

Wow. Isn't that amazing? This book really had me thinking and this particular section just pierced my heart. Even though I am not married, it caused me to think of how I love those around me - particularly those closest to me, like Sierra.

I found that I fall so short and that I want to love like this talks about - to truly love selflessly instead of loving to fulfill my own needs. It is a daily - hourly - journey, and against the very grain of who I am.

I know this is long, but I do hope you received as much out of this passage as I did. Let's work together and encourage one another toward this profound, God-breathed love!!

Deep Thoughts

The other day Sierra and I were riding into town on a Chicken Bus (you'll recall those from a previous post - always a fun adventure!!). The bus was crowded, so we weren't able to sit next to each other...in fact, we were both the 3rd person to sit down in the seat built for two...nothing to make feel a little awkward like only having one cheek on the seat!! Ha!! Okay, well I guess that falls under TMI - sorry! I regress!

So, back to the subject...well, I was a few seats behind Sierra and took note of her hair-do, which was basically just up in a half-bun. You know what that is...right?? So I was looking at her half-bun and her red hair and it sort of struck me how different she looked from the Guatemalans sitting all around her. They all have very dark brown to black hair, and they LOVE gel here!! Their hair is always slicked back and very put-together looking. She looked like a regular, casual teen dressed in a t-shirt and jeans with her casual hair do. The people around her were more formal looking, not to mention darker-skinned and haired.

Suddenly the thought occured to me that although we are here in Guatemala, we could never pass for Guatemalan. Now, I know that sounds basic and obvious, but hear me out...

The Bible tells us that we should be IN the world, but not OF the world. I've always wondered what the meant, exactly, and how we live that out day-to-day. I've kind of struggled with being judgmental of the world, or overly sympathetic with the world or isolated from the world...but haven't quite figured out how to be IN it, but not OF it. Y'know?

So, I don't quite understand all the ramifications of my little epiphany, but I kinda started to think how we're here and we clearly are different (aha point # 1), and yet we try hard to respect and honor the people here (aha point # 2). No matter how long we were to stay here or how well we were to learn the language and the culture, we still would not completely understand every nuance, and therefore could never actually *be* Guatemalan (aha point # 3).

I dunno...maybe I'm just philosophizing, but the whole interaction struck a chord in me that there is some deeper truth working itself out in me regarding this whole idea. I guess only time will tell!! Let me know if you have any insight!

Yummy!

Well, it's a cold and rainy day here in Antigua. I like the sound of the rain pounding down on the roofs here. I think it's relaxing, and it makes me feel all domestic for some reason.

Across the street is a little restaraunt called Cherisimos - the lady who runs it is from El Salvador and is as cute as can be. I often go there for the "almuerzo del dia" - the lunch of the day. It is 20 Q (quetzales is the money here), which is a bit under $3.00. For this I get whatever the daily special is. Usually there is some kind of meat, rice, salad, tortillas and juice. Not bad, huh? Well, today the special was this delicious tomato soup with shredded beef and potatoes in it, along with rice, tortillas and a yummy juice that I think was pineapple and jamaica mixed together or something. The soup was so great, that I think I am going to try to make it at home!

So with all of these domestic feelings going on, I've been looking up recipes on-line. I want to try to make homemade pesto and homemade tomato-basil soup and apple bread. Yumm!!! It sounds so fall-ish and mom-ish, doesn't it??

Speaking of tomato-basil soup!! If you ever happen to be in Santa Rosa, CA and are on 4th St., you have GOT to check out Checkers Restaraunt...it's across from the Cantina, about 1/2 block from the mall. They have the MOST amazing tomato-basil soup!! And their garlic mashed potatoes are sooo yummy, too!! So, there ya have it - my recommendation!

Enjoy your beautiful fall days - it's my favorite time of year!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Movie Night!

Dayna with Gladys and her baby sisters at Kids Club...


Last Saturday at Kids Club we told all the kids that we would be having a movie night for them and their families. All of the kids were really excited. We handed out flyers to advertise that we would be watching "The Cross & The Switchblade" in Spanish and there would be popcorn and refreshments.

Alicia, Sierra and Bailey doing puppets at Kids Club...


An hour before the movie was scheduled to start, we had over 25 people waiting outside. Sierra went out and played soccer with the kids while a few of us were inside popping up bag after bag of popcorn. We popped it up the old fashioned way - in a big pot with oil. I forgot how GOOD that was!! We filled up 100 bags of popcorn to hand out, and made 5 gallons of juice.



By the time we started the movie, we had over 100 people crowding into our small carport and patio area to find a seat for the movie. We had a few ice-breaker activities and then got started.

"The Cross & The Switchblade" is a movie from the 1970's - remember Pat Boone and Eric Estrada? They are the (very young looking) stars of the movie. Pat plays a pastor who is trying to reach out to the notorious NY gangs and Eric is a lead gang member who hates the pastor. There are many fight scenes (the teen boys seemed most drawn to those...go figure!) and in the end Nicky Cruz (Estrada) realizes the vanity of all he's done and turns to the Lord.



People seemed to really enjoy it - even the kids, of which there were about 80 of them!! We had to stop the movie 1/2 way through for some stretching and moving activities because the kids got a little restless, but they settled down again after we gave them an opportunity to move around.



After the movie we explained the gospel message to everyone using the "evangi-cube", which is this box thing that folds different ways to expose different pictures that explain the complete gospel message. People seemed to respond well, and we all prayed together at the end. Finally, everyone lined up for their popcorn and juice before leaving. We ran out of popcorn!

There was one little boy of about 6 or so who was being a real stinker. He was sitting in the back by me and just wouldn't listen. He continually talked and played and when I would tell him to be quiet he would just look at me and then turn around and disobey. I told him he would have to sit by his mother if he didn't listen. He didn't, so I told him to go to his mom. He said "no!" - all the other boys started laughing. I took his hand to take him and he braced himself against the wall and refused to come, so I picked him up and made him come with me up to the front by the mom's. After the movie when we were giving the gospel message, he was running and yelling and again wouldn't listen to us. I took him firmly by the hand and told him he would sit by the wall quietly until I said or he would receive no popcorn. Finally he obeyed and stood quietly, even though the other boys were making fun of him for getting in trouble.

After he had stood there for about 10 minutes quietly (while we were explaining the evangi-cube), I went over and brought him to the line for popcorn. I was able to explain to him that when we are obedient and do what is asked of us, that we receive blessings and rewards. With that I was able to reward him by letting him be first in line for popcorn. I think he really got the message and seemed genuinel proud of himself that he had done something good.

Some might say I was too easy on him, but I think he probably doesn't get much reinforcement to have good behavior. And besides, how often does God give us blessing when what we deserve is punishment? For me, it was the connection that made my night!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Club de Niños

Two weeks ago we started a Kids Club for the children in the neighborhood. We're doing it on Saturday mornings and we have about 60-80 kids show up for songs, Bible stories and verse memorization, art, soccer, movies and sometimes we even have a little snack.


The kids love it and it's been a lot of fun. This last weekend, about 7 of the kids stayed after and hung out with me and Sierra. We picked green oranges off the tree - which they ate readily - and swung on the swingset and rode their bikes around the courtyard. Sierra played soccer with them outside in the street and after awhile we all went for a walk through the town to see all the goings-on from the big celebration of Saint Michael (more on that later).


As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words - so without any further ado, here you go!


Dayle, Marianne and I praying before we start the Club de Niños

Jonatan and several other kids waiting to enter for Club de Niños.



Sitting patiently and waiting for the story to start.


Art time - the kids LOVE coloring pages!



Showing off their coloring.



We learned about how Mary poured out her perfume on Jesus - after the kids colored their pages, we sprayed them with perfume.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Counting Our Blessings

The smell can be overwhelming - the odor of humanity, unbathed and dirty. Babies wearing diapers that are too full. Clothes that are tattered and unwashed. Shoes that barely cover the feet with holes exposing blackened, dirty toes.

Such is the norm when dealing with those who know nothing beyond the extreme poverty into which they've been born.

It takes only the slightest of efforts to see behind the dirty faces and runny noses - to glimpse the humanity hiding behind giant smiles full of rotting teeth. The hearts that long to be loved, the spirits that long to laugh.

How is it that God has blessed us to be born into a country where even the poor have access to adequate health care, the food they need, financial and housing programs? We have so much, and yet we live blissfully unaware of the suffering of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Some even think they deserve all they have, more so than others - that somehow it is their right to be so blessed.

I challenge you today to consider all that the Lord has done for you! For He is good and His mercies endure forever...let's remember to focus on those things as we lift up others throughout the world.