Tuesday, September 28, 2010

14 crazy years


today kerrie and i celebrate 14 years married, 19 years together.

this is one amazing woman. she loved me even when i was a partying goof-ball in high school and college. she stayed with me when i lost my way and got caught up in the chase of a big career. despite those tough times, unfaithfulness, arrogance, etc (long list), she stayed with me. she prayed. she was faithful.

her prayers were answered when i finally broke and gave it all to Jesus. now i am arguably more out-of-my-mind than i've ever been... and there she is. not just along for the ride, but the encourager, supporter, and leader.

she is my faithful wife. my cheerleader. a crazy faith-seeker, a wonderful mom, a wonderful woman.

better than anything, she loves Jesus more than anyone i know. her love for the Lord and commitment to spending time with Him challenges me.

its been a wild 14 years that i wouldn't trade for the world.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

boys academy update

here's a short video update of where things are on the building of the boys academy facility! for more info go to www.bvboys.com

Thursday, September 23, 2010

true missionaries


several weeks back while our friends where here from indy metro, we visited the family of a jose - a boy who attends the local art school that indy metro is partnered with.

as we hung out and asked a lot of questions, we learned that the jose's older sister violeta (18) and his mother matilde have always dreamed of learning to cook. violeta in particular shared how she never finished school, and she feared never being able to do anything with her life.

with the support of indy metro, as well as our friends the moreau's who donated a new stove and baking supplies, God has birthed a baking school. perhaps what made it happen is the passion to help others that pours out of our friends carlos & thelma lopez.

carlos & thelma run a local art school. the time and energy they put into the school does not earn them a living. in fact, they probably lose money on it. yet it takes up more than 50% of their time. so why do it? because they love their community. they love these kids and want to see them grow. they want them to know christ. they are true servants.

the baking school was their brainchild. once they heard about violeta and matilde's dreams, and saw that they had our support, indy metro, and the moreau family, they came up with an idea that could help even more people.

they contacted a friend of theirs, a local housewife named antonietta who is a graduate of culinary school. they spoke with violeta and matilde, as well as 3 other women who they knew had families that were struggling to make ends meet. they developed a program, and launched a baking school.

the dream? to teach local women a trade that can allow them to sell pastries, work in bread stores, or even in restaurants. when they graduate from the one-year program, they will help them find work, and a new group of students will begin. (pictured to the right: thelma & antonietta in the back, the 5 students in the front.)

once again, no material or financial gain for the lopez family. just the joy that comes from giving, and the peace that comes with helping others.

they are missionaries to their own people. shouldn't we all be?

Monday, September 20, 2010

juliana & manuel... and romulo


we celebrated home #36 yesterday, definitely the sweetest so far.

juliana & manuel. the "least of these" without a doubt. both in their 70's, they have no one. no family helping out, no kids taking care of them. their life a constant state of exploitation as they hop around from borrowed home to home, living in tin shacks or worse, in exchange for watching over people's farms or animals.

manuel is blind. he walks a muddy path every day - about 2 miles - to catch a bus to antigua where he begs on street corners for money. juliana stays home and watches over the land owner's property so they can live in a dump, rent free.

spiritual giants, they are known for ability to heal the sick. people speak of them as the ones who sing out their thanks to God all night long... praying and shouting out songs of joy.

when we have come bearing gifts of food, they just fall to their knees praising God for answering their prayers. (story here in other blog)

yesterday we moved them into their new home that was donated by our friends kat and milan. a nice, safe, warm, block home with 2 rooms. no strings attached. their own front door that locks and a window in each room. also donated by our friends at "church on the way", they have a new kitchen, bathroom, bed, and chicken coup.

at the ceremony, me and romulo shared a little bit. this home was extremely special for romulo as he had told me about this couple and his desire to help them several months ago. he's been excited for this day to come for a long time.

before we gave them the keys, i asked if there was anything they'd like to share. their response was as all of ours should be...

they immediately shouted out praise to the heavens, thanking God for being their provider... for never forgetting them and never letting them go... for hearing their prayers.

they sang, jumped, shouted, and cried. they yelled to the top of their lungs "thank you daddy (gracias papito), you love us so much!!!"

they didn't want to stop singing worship songs. manuel even apologized for his singing voice, but just couldn't stop. even through his off-key, loud, stuttering, elderly voice, it was as beautiful and pure as worship can be.

at one point as they prayed and sang i saw romulo crying. my tough guy foreman - the field general of the construction crew who barks out his orders and is no doubt rough around the edges... crying tears of joy as sees, feels, experiences Jesus.

today driving around with romulo he was literally beaming with joy. he thanked me at least 5 times for letting him be a part of the ministries here in guatemala. what God is doing through the 12x12 ministry is changing his life.

romulo is leading a crew that is building a wall around the future boy's academy site. today, as i shared the vision of the academy with the entire construction crew, romulo emotionally shared to all who were present, "right now i want to give thanks to God. he is doing many things here in guatemala, and using our friends from the U.S. to help. it is an honor to be a part of his work. if this ministry helps the boys of buena vista one fraction of how it has helped these 12x12 families, i will give my hands and my heart to it completely. now lets get to work."

kerrie and i looked at each other and smiled, enjoying the depth and beauty of the moment. (romulo is not known for showing his guys his soft side!)

i pray that tonight as juliana and manuel lay in bed, their hearts are full with thankfulness, peace and contentment.

i know ours and romulo's are.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

not going to be easy

i should have expected it. its what the enemy does when God is working... he slips in and tries to discourage.

if you've read my last few blogs, you already know that we have been amazed at all God is doing to build this boys academy. its been life changing for me personally to watch him at work in this. a thrill ride of sorts, just pure awesome to be a part of.

i decided to meet with the men's committee of buena vista, just to share a little bit about what we're doing, and answer some of the questions floating around lately. just the simple fact that there's a huge front loader on the property working has been "the" thing to talk about out there. plus, i wanted to ask their blessing on our moving out there and becoming neighbors.

so... as mynor and i explained a surface level version of the idea, the leader of the committee asked to share a few thoughts. he wanted to make sure we understood that they don't want anyone trying to change the "traditions" and "customs" of their boys.

he said "we believe in our customs. we believe the men have a place in our culture, and the women have their place. we want to make sure it stays that way."

it seems that some of the things we have already shared with the boys has reached the men of the community. maybe some of the teachings about respect and love for women has gotten out and has been taken as a threat of some kind. it was obvious that this was the case... as we did not discuss or imply anything like that in this meeting.

it's not going to be easy. the task of changing generations of a twisted mentality will not come without a struggle. we must have resolve. we must balance truth with grace well. we must pray.

the message of freedom, grace, and love was a threat to the culture over 2,000 years ago, and it still is today.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

surrender


recently i have been enjoying one of those insanely obvious seasons when you know you are part of something that God is doing. there's no other explanation.

not long ago God led us to take a faith step and commit to the Boys Academy vision. pictured to the right are some BV boys playing on the property where the future academy will be. (more info on that here if interested.) after freaking out for a minute, we told God we were in.

we committed. we'll transition our family further out - into the town of Buena Vista. we'll commit however many years it takes to see through a generation of boys to adulthood, and see what God does with that. our kids will likely graduate high school in guatemala.

we bought land (another cool story), met with builders, and broke ground. despite every ounce of practicality in me, we plunged in. my flesh kept crying out, "wait, we need to think about this more... we need to raise funds, go slow, talk to everyone we know...etc, etc."

but God had no time for that. He brought Mynor & Walda, our guatemalan friends who share the passion and are leaving their careers to help. He brought the land to our front door (as well as the funds), and brought us a contractor and architect. we drew up blue prints. we've been dreaming and talking a lot about how it can work. most of all, praying.

we shared the entire vision with the lead contractor and architect. they were excited, especially after visiting Buena Vista and meeting the boys. after we told the contractor "we don't really have the money for this... but we believe God is going to provide it", he shook my hand and said "then lets do this."

so... the machinery is on site and the builders are working. we still haven't made one phone call to raise funds.

since then: a few different groups have contacted us. ALL of them i barely knew, if knew at all. ALL of them i never would have considered contacting. ALL of them, unsolicited, interested in building this facility and making this vision become a reality. ALL of them with giant hearts leaping out of their chests... longing to help people, and heavily drawn to the idea of breaking generational chains of poverty.

in each case, some special people helped connect the dots. people who knew what we are trying to do here and immediately thought of that someone who might connect with the vision. these special friends are the facilitators that make things happen by being in tune with the spirit of God.

God thank you for continuing to amaze! Please etch these moments into my heart and brain so deeply that i never forget them. let them encourage me to continue a life of surrender and letting go. i want to live by faith every day. use all of this, use me, use all of us, to bring glory to yourself.

Monday, September 6, 2010

amazing story of faith, obedience, and healing

Our friends the Moreau’s are in town and we were all hanging with Esbin’s family last night... After hanging out for about an hour, having a great conversation, Felix (Esbin’s dad) told us that about a week ago God woke him up to a dream/vision that Kerrie was sick in bed. He said she was too sick to get up, and God told him to get up and pray for her.

So he woke up his wife Petronila, and they got on their knees and prayed for Kerrie. He prayed that God would touch her body and heal her right then.

What Felix did not know was that Kerrie was very sick. Many of you who are reading this already know that she has been sick for about 2 months. She has been miserable. Unable to eat, and some days unable to get out of bed. She has lost 10 lbs (which is a lot when its 10% of your body weight).

We counted back the days to see if they matched up.

Kerrie had felt a knot move around in her stomach. She told me that something physically touched her and when it stopped she immediately felt healed. She has shared this with several friends and family. Even though she said it seems crazy, she believed God touched her body and healed her.

Come to find out, this was the same day/moment that God woke up Felix and he prayed for her.

We follow such an awesome God.

I have to say, living here in Guatemala, being surrounded by the poor... the ones who need Jesus... who are desperate for Him each day... who pray daily for their food... who aren’t distracted by all the nonsense... It is here that I see God do amazing things. I see prayers answered daily. I see people healed. I witness unspeakable and inspiring acts of faith. I see the Holy Spirit at work.

God help us remove all the distractions and depend on you like so many of our friends here do. Lead us, guide us, use us. We are yours, Jesus! O praise your name! Thank you for healing my precious wife! Thank you for using Felix. Thank you for his obedience and faith.