Monday, September 28, 2009

13 years married to this amazing woman

today marks 13 years that kerrie and i have been married - and 18 since we started dating.

what a wild ride we have been on. because of God's grace (and kerrie's patience and loyalty), we stand together after many difficult years, more in love than we have ever been.

check this out: when we first got married, we didn't have much of anything. we had no money, we were working and going to school, barely making ends meet. but these were some of our happiest times. before long, we had everything. i had a great job, we had lot's of money, cool cars, a boat, nice house, exotic vacations, etc, etc... and it's during these years that our marriage struggled. and now... back to having nothing (this time by choice!), trying to live for others instead of ourselves, and we're happier - and closer - than we have ever been!

i am so thankful for this amazing woman. she is my rock, my accountability, my soul mate, and my best friend. she keeps me pointed towards the truth.

she is a lot of kind & sweet, mixed with a dose of raw & feisty.

she is the embodiment of honesty.

she loves jesus like no one i've ever met.

she is beautiful.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

what esbin is teaching me

Just about everyone who has visited us or been on a mission trip to Guatemala has met Esbin. He’s the 10 year old disabled kid that 6 months ago could barely move. He is undiagnosed, and has been bedridden for the last 3 years. Today Guicho and I spent the day with Esbin, and his sister Mildred, in Guatemala City visiting doctors.

The Doctor

Guicho’s dad is a friend with the most well known brain surgeon in Guatemala, who made time to examine Esbin this morning. He asked detailed questions about Esbin’s history, then he did a complete physical exam.

Unconvinced, he called a friend who is a neurologist, who immediately came over and examined Esbin as well. I was shocked at how much love and concern these two men (clearly among the top in their field) seemed to have for Esbin. Together with the neurologist, we talked through what they believe to be their diagnosis and how we could best attempt to rehabilitate. But before any diagnosis could be official, we would have to have several tests done.

So the Doc called another specialist and requested an exam. The specialist said he could take us next week, and the Doc explained our situation and pleaded to see us immediately. They obliged, and scheduled us for later the same day. When we left his office to head to the next appointment, he refused payment, saying “I am so thankful for the way you are helping my people and the children in Guatemala. We are going to get Esbin well, and you will never receive a bill from me.”

During the next appointment, Esbin had all of his nerves tested for response time. Little needles stuck throughout his body while getting zapped with an electric charge. He cried and yelled for his mom. This was difficult for all of us. When we were leaving, the receptionist said “normally this tests cost Q3,000, but the doctor called and said to only charge you half - that he was paying for the other half.”

The Day

In between appointments we had lunch at Pollo Campero, a famous fast food chicken place in Guatemala. (We asked the kids earlier if they could eat anywhere in the world where would it be.) So today became their first time in a car, in a mall, and to Pollo Campero. Needless to say they were overwhelmed as they looked around at everything. It was sweet though…especially as Mildred (13 yrs) stood in amazement as the people came up and down the “moving stairs.” She would touch the top step with her foot and quickly pull it back, wondering how it disappeared. Finally, Guicho took her for an up and down just for fun…

We still have some blood tests to do next week, then we’ll return to the main doctor for a complete diagnosis. From there we’ll form a rehabilitation plan likely to include dental work, nutrition, and therapy. (The neurologist said Esbin’s teeth are so bad that it would be impossible to begin a nutrition plan until he has major work done.)

From what Guicho and I gathered during all of the meetings, Esbin has something similar to Gilliam Barre Syndrome. Basically after getting sick, the immune system attacks the nervous system and begins a process of attrition to the entire body. While this is a disease that is normally able to be rehabilitated back to health, what sets Esbin’s case apart is the 3 years of living in a vegetative state following the onset of the problem.

The Difficulty

What I have wrestled with is the whole 3 years of nothing stage. I watch Esbin’s mom, his sister, and family. They seem like good, honest people. They obviously love him dearly. Initially I was frustrated with them and partially blamed them for not doing anything. How could they just let this kid lie in bed, wasting away into nothing for 3 years!

But over the last year I have gotten to know them, their community, their culture, and their lifestyle. Sadly, until someone else intervened with suggestions and offers to help, this is what happens in extreme poverty. Esbin’s family cannot afford to eat every day, much less pay for bus fares, doctor’s appointments or medicines. They lack the education & sophistication to read – much less figure out how to call and make appointments, study symptoms or diagnose a condition. Mom and dad have to be gone all day just to try to provide enough for the family to eat, which makes it impossible for a physical therapy program, special diet, or any type of regular exercise.

The reality is, Esbin’s parents didn’t have any idea what was happening with their son. And if that’s not sad enough, they didn’t have any way to try to figure it out or try to help him. They didn’t know where to start. All they know each day is the challenge that is before them: work long days in hopes to eat that day, figure out how to carry Esbin back and forth to the bathroom, try to maintain a home and a family, and do it all over again the next day.

So I continue to wrestle. Why do I have so much? I always say I know the answer… “God blesses some so that they can help others.” But then I wonder why did he bless me to help them, and not them to help me? Why for me is eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner a given? Not even a thought? When for them one meal a day is a prayer and a hope? Why do I get the liberties of all-you-can-eat 24 hrs a day, warm home and bed, car, computer, tv, restaurants, desserts, travel, and entertainment… while families like Esbin’s suffer and just long to get through another day?

I don’t know. (And please don’t email me any textbook theological answers!) One thing I do believe is that God wants me in this place. He wants me to wrestle, to ask the questions, to cry and to hurt. I believe he wants me to feel the guilt – along with the joy – that comes as I seek about these things.

The longer I live as a Christian, the more I learn that there are no simple answers to many questions of the faith. There is only a journey. A journey that requires our willingness to jump in blind, letting go of everything we thought we knew, and just take a walk with Jesus.

what Esbin is teaching me

please shoot over to the dSg blog for a recent experience...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

bball league

yesterday we kicked off our first full sports league. we'll practice and play games every friday afternoon for the next couple months. for me, this was a special day. it has been something that has been on my heart ever since we were called to guatemala.

something about being on a sports team opens up up your heart. there is something unique about the environment that helps you rely on your coach, trust your teammates, and grow together.

and in areas of poverty, where many of the kids are on their own all day long without much attention from parents (even less from dad), this is an opportunity for these kids to learn about relationships, love, grace, and respect. a chance for them to learn about Jesus.

today i felt a special peace. i am so excited about the league. this is where i am supposed to be...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

sweep the leg


last week we had a friend visit who has more karate credentials than i can begin to list. he runs a bunch of karate schools in the US and is apparently one of those "experts in everything combative" types.

he asked if he could do a demonstration in Buena Vista... so he came up and showed them some skills, broke some boards, and hung out with the kids. We had a great time and more importantly the kids had a blast. Thanks for coming Dave!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

surgery update

stefani's surgery went great!! she was in the hospital for less than a full day, and is home and recovering well. we'll know soon the results from a biopsy on the "tumor", but for now all has been removed and she is healthy and happy. thank you to the people who donated the funds to make this special girl's life so much better. just to think she was suffering every day from the pain of this thing, and now is free from it!! praise god!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

pray for stefani

stefani (see blogs below) heads to the hospital tomorrow morning for her surgery. she'll be there all day before we get an update. please join us in prayer for her!

Monday, September 7, 2009

tired

it has been a great last few days, and tonight i am spent. you know that feeling when you're not necessarily "sleepy" but you're just physically & mentally exhausted?

in the last few days we have had some visitors here who have been so generous. their heart for the poor, this community, our ministry, and our families has left us feeling overwhelmed. while they were here, we packed so many things into a short amount of time. this morning, after getting the kids to school, grabbing quick workout and meeting them for breakfast, we took them to the airport and guicho and i stayed in the city to run some needed errands.

after getting home around 5 we received a call from a family that is here visiting (to consider returning as missionaries) asking us to meet them for dinner in antigua...

finally home around 8:45, a friend is waiting at the door. drunk, broken, and crying, he needs a someone to talk to. we hang out outside the door for the next 30 minutes or so. i prayed for him and tried to share some truth, but i think he was too smashed to hear anything...

i am so very thankful for all god is doing, and praising him for having the energy to try to keep up. but tonight, i am beat. tomorrow is a new day!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

SP

to protect his identity because i know he doesn't want any credit, i will call him SP (which is the initials for a nickname he earned by the buena vista kids).

SP and his wife recently visited and poured their generosity on us and our community. in a short amount of time, they have blessed 2 local families with new homes, donated 2 chicken coup businesses, purchased a truck for our ministry, provided a handicapped kid with 10 weeks of physical therapy, gave cash donations and work tools to various dS and 12x12 staff, and felt led to support one of the dS families on a monthly basis.

i am at a loss for words!!!!!!

i almost didn't blog this for fear of embarrassing SP and his wife, but i just had to share it - and say MUCHAS GRACIAS - one more time. to god be the glory!!

love you guys.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

our new community of believers


last night god blessed us with a sweet deepStream community gathering, and reminded us of that wonderful feeling of gathering in homes to worship, hang out, have fun, learn from god's word, pray, plan, and dream...

together with the salazar's and schmidt's, we had a fruitful wednesday night "dS" gathering. (we had started the wednesday nights with amy and the salazar's, but the arrival of the schmidt crew almost doubled us!) the evening included a great meal, lots of worship, prayer, some great talk time with the kids, and an adult discussion of galatians 3 that trailed off into many different directions...

there is something so refreshing and even exhilarating about this type of church gathering. the intimacy is intense. it is personal. you can't hide, no slipping in & slipping out. everyone has a voice. we are equally qualified to edify, encourage, teach, listen, suggest, share, and learn. struggles, worries, challenges and needs are laid out on the table - bringing about the opportunity to provide for each other in real and tangible ways. the bond that is created in these environments is strong.

just think of the early church of the new testament, following the death & resurrection of jesus...

devoted to teaching and fellowship... praying and breaking bread in homes... providing for each others needs... having all in common... of one heart and soul, with no belongings the called "their own"... (acts 2 & 4)

this is a sweet picture of the fellowship of believers, and one that i am so thankful god has given us the privilege to be a part of so quickly after moving to a third world country! i am excited about whoever else god may be bringing to multiply our community here in guatemala...