Friday, April 30, 2010

dSg teams

now that the dust is settling from the teams-hosting shake up, God is beginning to show us some direction with regards to hosting groups. (we still need help personnel-wise... but we're certain he's got that under control too!)

God has initiated so many wonderful ministries here. the 12x12 love project construction ministry, the playground and community center, the chicken micro businesses, sports programs, kitchen-stove-bathroom projects, and of course the regular medical emergency situations that we take on.

in addition, we have been so blessed to be joined in purpose with a handful of churches and families who support what we are doing. selfless folks who don't seek mission trips for their own purposes, but who genuinely come to serve and pour themselves out. thankfully, these groups love and support our ministry, and simply want to come help out with what God has already begun.

that approach has shaped our philosophy as we continue to host occasional mission teams. not to mention, it sure takes the edge off... we don't have to go through hoops to make it a "great week" for anyone. we don't have to over-do the catering. no need to over-think or over-plan. just allow friends to come down and serve the poor and take part in what God is doing.

with this approach, the Holy Spirit has complete freedom to lead. so long as we're listening, we can anticipate that He has something incredible for each team, whether we see it coming or not.

basically we can approach each team not as if we are going to plan out a great mission trip experience for them - but rather that God has entrusted us to seek His will for this group, and to give an opportunity to meet the needs of the poor.

before our last team, i read the following "vision statement" as related to dSg teams:

"you are here to serve the poor. this is an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to some people whose needs are far greater than our own, perhaps greater than anything you've ever seen. this week is not about "us" or "our experience", but rather it is about them. it's about serving them, and God can do to us whatever He wants to. we are not aiming to give you a great week here. that may not be what God has for you! we will simply give you the opportunity to meet the needs of the poor, to hear the voice of Jesus through the poor, and leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit."

thank you God for leading us regarding how to approach teams. thank you for being so far ahead of us always! we are so thankful for our family of teams who support us, and seek to come serve the beautiful people of guatemala. and we can't wait to see what else you have in store!

pictured to the right: children in Buena Vista saying goodbye to the Watershed Charlotte team.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Juan Miguel

its been a couple weeks since my last blog. hard to find time to sit and reflect when so much happens so fast. right now i sit here amazed at it all, and want to share just one quick story.

we had some friends visiting from watershed charlotte, and we were hanging out in the village of Buena Vista with some locals. a woman who is the local midwife for the town yelled my name and i walked over. she was in a panic. she explained that she was delivering a baby (in someone's home) and there were serious complications. "come now" she yelled... so we went.

when we got there, Marina was lying in the bed. she was dilated 10 cm, and had been in hard labor for a couple hours, but contractions had stopped. she was drifting in and out of consciousness. our doctors who were with us told us immediately that she needed to get to a hospital.

for most people who live in Buena Vista, this is not possible. this is a village where people earn a few dollars a day (if they have work). catching a bus to the hospital is hard enough, but the bigger challenges are the actual money it takes to have the baby, or the education to even know what to do or where to go. in extreme poverty when these things happen, it is considered "their time" and someone simply dies.

to sum up what was a CRAZY next couple of hours... we rushed Marina, along with her husband and mom, to a hospital in Antigua. through the help of some great friends who i called along the way, we were able to contact the hospital from the car and they were ready when we arrived.

as i drove like a maniac to the hospital, the docs in the van were fully prepared to deliver the baby in the car. they tried to get Marina to push several times, for fear that it may already be too late, but she couldn't do it as she was barely awake.

when we arrived, John, the emergency paramedic from charlotte, was yelling out all of the vitals to bring them up to speed. with no time to waste, John was given some scrubs and he went into the ER with the local doctors. the local OB doctor did a quick exam and decided to try one time to induce the labor and have the baby naturally before going to an emergency C-section.

we all waited with the husband and mother, looking through a small square window into a hallway in the ER... after just a few minutes, John came around the corner holding a crying baby up in the air. we erupted into shouts of joy and praise to God.

they named him "Juan Miguel"... "Juan" after the gringo EMT who delivered him, and "Miguel" after his father.

since then i have done all of the "what ifs" and the one thing i know for certain is that God had us there in that moment to fulfill His will for that mother and baby to live.

one thing about these "mission trips" that people take here is that it gives them a week without cell phones, TV, email, facebook, twitter, and all of the other distractions. it allows time for constant prayer and seeking. time for reflection and time for discussion. time to ask God to lead us and use us.

He sooo desires that we seek Him, follow Him, and make ourselves fully available for Him to use. and it is truly incredible what He does with us when we do.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

grace and worth

the last few days we have been talking a lot as a family about grace. we've been sharing with our kids about Jesus' death, what it means, why it happened, etc. and really the word grace sums it all up. he bore the bloody punishment, flogging, beating and brutal death that i deserve. that all of us deserve. to think God gave up his own son to receive all of that in my place... that is grace.

i have also been thinking about what grace means as we measure what we are worth. what are we worth to God for him to do this for us? what value would something have to have in order for me to give up my son jake - to be beaten and crucified - in its place.

think about "value" from a business standpoint. certain things have more value than others. for example, a new porsche is worth more than a beat up work truck. now think of everyone you know. do some seem like new porsche's, and others like old beaters?

but to God, there is no one with greater value than another. mine and your value is exactly the same as the malnourished guatemalan child, his skin covered in scabies, and his bloodstream carrying the sexually transmitted diseases passed down from his parents. with arguably no hope for his life, his value is no different than mine. to the one who created him, he is worth the same as those who are considered the most powerful people in the world: presidents, billionaires, businessmen, and entertainers.

that is grace.

the more i grow in Christ, the more i want to know grace.

~to ignore to the poor is to not understand grace.
~to look differently at other races is to not understand grace.
~to be overly patriotic to the point of arrogance is to not understand grace.
~to consider myself better than anyone else is to not understand grace.

sometimes i forget that my "good fortune" has nothing to do with me, but is only by His grace.

as we continue to gladly receive His grace, we should be being changed by His grace, and learning to extend it to others the way He does to us.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph 2:4-7