Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ruben and my trash

Not including the neighborhood kids asking for our kids to come out and play, we average about 10 to 15 knocks on our door a day. Most of them are locals who have heard about the home building ministry and want us to consider them for a new home. Others ask for food, shoes, clothes, or other things. Many of these are friends – people we know – and others we are meeting for the first time.

But a couple days ago we had a different knock. At first glance it seemed normal enough… a group of young kids either asking for something or wanting to see if Jake could come out and play.

“We were wanting to know if we could have your trash,” said Ruben, a kid that I had chatted with several times out in the streets. I remembered it was trash day, so my guess was that this kid was asking to take out our trash and fishing for small tip.

“Are you wanting to take out our trash and earn a little money?”, I asked him. He looked at his friends and smiled, as if that sounded great…but I could tell that’s not what he meant. He said, “actually we were wanting to go through your trash and see if we could find some food.”

I looked into his eyes and I swear in that moment I saw my son Jake looking back at me. I thought of sending my kids out to ask for trash in hope that they could bring home some scraps of food. I saw my own girls walking around hungry, rummaging through the neighbors trash.

Then I thought of the days, perhaps weeks worth, of food that is sitting in our pantry. The amount of food that spoils because we don’t eat it in time. Those items in the back of the fridge that we forget about until cleaning it out every few weeks.

As I considered what to do, my flesh voiced it’s concern. “Our door cannot become a place to come and receive constant handouts… If all we are to the people is a Santa Clause of sorts, we will never develop true relation

Thankfully the penetrating truth of God’s word came through louder than the voice of my sinful body.

“Love your neighbor as yourself…” (Mark 12:30)

I am called to love Ruben as if he were my own son. To love him and care for him to the same degree that I love and care for myself. Honestly, that seems absurd. How am I supposed to do that? What does it look like?

Maybe God was trying to teach me what it looks like by making me see my own son when I saw Ruben.

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:15-17)
ships… As soon as the word gets out that we hand out food and/or money, we’re going to get bombarded…”

poverty struggles...

in general, the men in my town are not good men. it is common, even considered normal, to beat your wife and kids. there is little, if any, affection shown from husband to wife. it makes me sad. even the men that i have become friends with... they do not treat their wives with respect. i am praying about how to help. i spend hours counseling and praying with them. so far nothing has changed. every glimmer of light soon gets swallowed by a dark cloud.

i know things don't change overnight, especially problems as deeply rooted as these... where generations of example can be a very tough cycle to break. i pray for patience and a constant desire to help. without good men, does any family, church, community, business, really have a chance?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

dominos

today i was thinking about how crazy it really was how the 12x12 love project started.  not only the 12x12 project, but the other chains of events that have taken place as a result.  

in a way it's a story of obedience.  it's as if god has a row of dominos waiting to be knocked down - one after another - but the first one has to be a difficult step of faith.

as our family was obeying god's call to guatemala, a pastor from journey church in jacksonville was obeying god's call to give away the money they had saved for a new building.  then my buddy obeyed god leading him to introduce me to his pastor before we left for guatemala...

a month later, having arrived here, i hear from the pastor and he asks if they can send us resources to build 12 houses in 12 months.  the 12x12 love project is born!

and now...  the families who were in our home church in jacksonville (who we felt terrible leaving), are deeply connected with the community at journey church, who are deeply connected with us in guatemala.  wow.

i can't help but think this is just the first few dominos...


Saturday, June 20, 2009

leftovers of leftovers

spencer took a recent mission team to a nearby restaurant that i love. he brought me all the leftover meat that the team had - 4 carry-out boxes! last night my family ate various steaks, chicken, ribs and sausages for dinner... and still had 2 carry-out boxes of leftovers remaining.

tonight, trey and i walked to the home of some friends and offered them the remaining meat. they were elated. this is a family that lives on dirt floors, struggles to make ends meet, and sometimes goes without anything to eat at all.

for so many people, leftovers of leftovers is a huge blessing...

Friday, June 19, 2009

jake's cumpleanos

today was jake's birthday. we had a party at the teamhouse - guate style! we had dueling power ranger pinatas swinging on ropes at each other (all birthdays in guatemala have pinatas and fireworks). lots of neighborhood kids and 12x12 families were there, and all the kids got a chance to smash the pinatas blindfolded. we all enjoyed pastries and coke... and jorge (employee from the 12x12 project) surprised everyone with a firecracker display.

after the party jake opened some gifts at home. spencer, trey, and amy were here, and jake had some gifts from family in the US that had been sent down.

he had a great day. i can't believe he is 8 years old.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

sergio

today i met a kid named sergio outside a little shopping center in san lucas. we hung out for 15 minutes or so while i waited to get my truck washed. he lives in santiago. his dad recently died, his mom ran off with another man (and lives in another city), and he was left with his grandma. sergio gets up every morning at 5:30 and walks to this busy pubic area. he shines shoes from 6am to 7pm.

every day
.

he charges Q3 (35 cents) per shine and he told me he averages about 5 shines per day.

sergio is 12 yrs old. my daughter madi's age. he is working for a living - long, hard days. such a sweet kid and cute personality. where will he be in 5 years? 10? 20?

god, please take care of this child of yours. protect him from the future that the statistics say is inevetible. give him a passion for you that leads him to overcome the odds.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

paying for bomberos

a friend (who will remain unnamed) stopped by this morning at 7:45. we have been friends with her for a while. for several months her husband has been beating her and the kids, stealing all of their food, and finding his comfort getting intoxicated in the street. he came by to tell me her husband has been home for 8 days - sober - and is very sick. despite hearing of his sickness, i was thrilled to hear he was home and sober... as we have prayed with him and for him so many times.

she wanted to call an ambulance to come pick up her husband and get him help, but can't afford it. she tried all of her family and only raised 10 quetzales (about $1.20). she wasn't sure how much an ambulance cost, but thought it was les than Q100 ($13). i explained to her how many people come to our house asking for money every day... and how the flood gates could open up if we become known as a cash window. so i told her to call the ambulance and see if they will come by our house and we'll see what we can do. she was so excited...

20 minutes later the "bomberos" were knocking at the door, with her husband in the ambulance. i reached inside and took his hand, told him i loved him and we'd be praying for him. we paid the ambulance Q60 and they pulled away.

waiting to see how things went at the hospital...

Monday, June 15, 2009

neighborhood kids

one of many knocks on our door today was a few kid's from up the street asking for our trash. my first thought was that it is monday (trash day), so they are probably asking if they can take out our trash for us in exchange for a few quetzales. i was ready to oblige... when they said "we want to dig through it to see if there is any food."