Sunday, July 29, 2012

encouragements from the parents meeting

jhoni, cheeks, salome, milton, denilson
tonight we had a parents meeting at the boy's academy.  for me, it was our first parent meetings to get overwhelming positive remarks from the parents.  its been over a year now and i am beginning to feel like we are beginning to build some trust with the parents.  it was so encouraging.

i wrote down some of their comments as they spoke - check this out!!

pato & josue's mom:  "i want you to know that we think of you like our own family.  when pato and josue are up here, we know that they are learning good things, and we know that they are safe.  if it weren't for the academy, i know they would be on the street.  they love being rhinos and they love being here.  thank you for treating them like your own family."

guicho's dad:  "the opportunity you are giving my son is amazing.  i want you to know that i support you 100% and i will continue encouraging my son to give his all for you.  a lot of us need our boys to work to help support the family, but i will never make guicho work so that he can continue in the academy.  thank you for all you are doing for my son."

vielman's (cheeks) mom:  (with huge tears in her eyes) "i was sitting there watching the slide show of all the places you have taken my son, and i just want to say thank you.  there is no way in the world we could ever take him to the beach, to an amusement park, or a professional soccer game.  thank you for loving him and caring enough to take them outside of our village to see things."

marvin's mom:  "my son has changed since being here.  he is learning how to be kind, love his brothers and sisters.  his grades have gone way up and he says its because of the help he gets at the "Rhinos".  he talks to us more and is more respectful around the house.  i know that what you are doing is changing him. thank you and i praise God for you and your work."

alex & luver's dad:  "if it weren't for this academy i dont know if my sons would still be here. they have had opportunities, but they want to be Rhinos.  thank you for caring for them and for teaching them God's Word.  they have a much better chance of having a good life now."

juan's dad:  "the support we feel for our son from you guys is incredible.  he is growing up with a chance that i never got.  thank you for helping change his life.  he loves it here and tells about you guys all the time.  you are making a huge impact in his life, i just dont have the words to describe it."

jhoni's mom:  "jhoni is a totally different kid.  he is respectful at home, helps us out more, and obeys.  he cares about school now.  he tells us what he is learning about the bible. we are so thankful to God and you all for this opportunity.  thank you, we will always support you and we will never make jhoni go to work because we want him to stay in the academy. we feel like this has given him a real chance to succeed."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

recent blessings

years ago, i realized that blessings often come in the form of challenges, suffering, purging, and giving things up.  so i stopped calling material stuff that makes life easier "blessings".  so many times, i think we end up realizing that these "blessings" are so often just the opposite!

however....  we have received a couple material blessings lately that i want to share.

first, we had a husband/wife visiting us for a few days, and during their visit they kept seeing the boys get injured on the concrete field we have in the gymnasium.  oscar cut his head wide open, and a few others took hard falls.  (a normal thing here!)  then the same couple went with us to watch the Rhinos play in guatemala city - at a complex where the fields are made of synthetic grass.

after returning home, they could not stop thinking about the boys.  after praying about it together, they felt led to donate a synthetic grass project for the boy's academy gym!  a couple months later, the project was completed and today the boys are enjoying their new field!

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secondly, we have had a recent run of car trouble.  our sweet little 97 4-runner has been great to us for 3 years ever since we bought it, but lately its been one thing after another.  every time we seem to get it fixed, something else fails.

i was sharing about it with somebody recently, and shared that my biggest concern was that, because of the boy's academy schedule, kerrie drives alone 2-3 times per week to pick up the kids from school.  her being broken down on the side of the road in guatemala all by herself would not be a good thing.

anyway, it was one of several comments after being asked "how can we pray for you guys?".  but similar to the grass field, the guy began praying about it with his wife.  they soon contacted us and said they had been wanting to help our family out in a tangible way, and that they believed God wanted them to buy us an upgraded car!

so after a few weeks of shopping around with Mynor...  we were able to purchase a 2007 hyundai SUV!  its a perfect car for where we live in the beautiful Buena Vista mountains - a stick shift, 4x4, turbo-diesel with a 4 cyl engine.  we feel spoiled, but i have to say it is a relief to feel a little safer on the road.

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God knows our every need.  he is faithful.  like cesar always says, we must praise Him always, during the good and the bad, because he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

so i dont want to forget to praise him, thank him, and thank those that he used to help us with these 2 wonderful "blessings"!!  THANK YOU!!!!!

alex & integrity

alex has been with us since day one.  been through a lot with this kid in the last couple years. he is 16 years old and super handsome.  we nicknamed him "pastor" because of how he prays - deep, sincere, and looooong prayers.

but we've had plenty of challenges with alex as well.  i've described him many times as a kid at a crossroad, who could choose one way or the other.

recently alex stole a cell phone from a pair of jeans that was sitting next to the team bench during an away game.  he was on the bench at the time while the game was in progress. 

the owner of the jeans and phone contacted us the next day to say that he suspected his phone was stolen during the game.  he asked if we could question the boys, so we did.

long story short, we learned it was alex.  after being called out on it, alex did confess and admit what he did.

we were discouraged.  ironically, we had just finished a 2 week study on integrity.  the study went through 3 points to being a man of integrity:

1- a man of integrity always demands the truth
2 - a man of integrity puts the needs of others above the needs of themselves
3 - a man of integrity seeks to honor God with his decisions

needless to say, alex's choice lacked integrity on all 3 points.

we had a long talk with him.  we invited the man who had his phone stolen so that alex could apologize to his face.  we had alex apologize to his teammates. 

after all that, i had a personal conversation with alex where i told him that i love him but that i am disappointed.  i told him that i can no longer trust him.  i looked into his eyes and said "alex, i do not trust you, my wife cannot trust you.  you have proven time and time again that you will steal from people.  that means you will steal from me, from the academy, from my home.  i love you, but i no longer trust you."

i thought it was an appropriate conversation for a 16 year old.  he was pretty stone faced, and that was that.  mynor and i were left discouraged.  you cant help but wonder "are they just not getting it?  are we wasting our time?"

2 days later we held a going away party at the academy for the widener family.  after the party, alex asked me if i would talk to him in private.  with tears in his eyes, he said "brock, i just want to say thank you."  i asked "for what?"  "for being honest with me. no one has ever spoken to me like that before.  i want you to be able to trust me.  i want to have integrity.  i don't know why i took that phone, and i am sorry.  i want to be a man of integrity."

it was a special moment!!  small steps.  small encouragements.  one thing i have learned as a parent is that your kids can't learn unless they make mistakes.  they can "know" what's right, but its when they mess up that everything they have learned starts to make sense.

i have high hopes for alex.  God has big plans for him.  i pray for him, that the next time he is tempted to steal, lie, etc...  that he hears the whisper of the holy spirit and makes a decision of integrity.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

cesar update

the way that he hangs on is incredible.

he hasn't opened his eyes in almost a month, hasn't eaten (only by IV), cant shave (hurts too much), winces in pain every few minutes, is losing weight, and his skin is more yellow every time i see him.

yet he claims God's goodness louder and prouder than he ever has.

we visited him with the rhinos recently. we thought it would be a blessing to him, as much as he asks about the rhinos, and prays for the rhinos.  he was slipping in and out of consciousness.  each of the boys prayed for him.  it was one of the sweetest things i've ever experienced.

after each one finished their prayers, i would thank them by name, just in case cesar was hearing them.  when they finished, he started speaking to them - by name - encouraging them one at a time.

the experienced deeply impacted several of the boys. they ask about cesar every day, and pray for him before they eat at the training table.

then this week we visited again with a team from river city church.  the first thing i told cesar when we arrived was that we were coming to pray for him... that he didn't need to feel any pressure to "preach" or share in any way...  just to relax and take it easy.

he chuckled at me... with his eyes shut and his long beard, looking as frail as ever, he somehow laughed at me and said "brock, i appreciate your concern, i know you say that because you love me...  but i want to be preaching God's goodness with my last breath."

he went on to share the most powerful message of hope that i had ever heard him share.  people wept as he spoke.  he sang songs to God, and shouted in pain at the same time.  as we sang a couple worship songs he wept uncontrollably. 

as we prepared to leave, he reminded us how Jesus prayed in the garden.  he asked the Father to take his cup of suffering - but only if it was His will.  in the end, Jesus said "let your will be done, no matter what I have to do, I want your will."

with a smile on his face, clinching and pumping his right fist (the last member of his body that he can move), he shared how proud he is to suffer for a God that is glorified in the suffering.  he recounted numerous stories of people accepting Jesus at his bedside, one that just happened the day before.  he wept as he told the story.

"how could i cry out for healing if my suffering is bringing Him glory?"

he hangs on.  his faith is unshakable.  most amazing thing i've ever seen.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

bvsa daily chapel time

mynor, anthony, and brock with the boys before a game
a couple months ago, we initiated a daily "chapel" time into the daily schedule at the boy's academy.  we decided that a short, daily approach made the most sense.  its been great so far. we're trying to stay focused on a topic for at least a week, teaching straight from the bible.  we've spent a week on trust, fear, respect, and integrity.  we also did a week of testimonies that ended up being very special.

the boys are hearing stories from the bible for the first time, learning about david & goliath, daniel, joseph, and jesus.  most (if not all) of them had never heard the most common bible stories.

we know that God's word never returns void...  so now that we have been up and running for more than a year, gained trust and built relationships with the boys, we are beginning this specific attempt to plant seeds of God's word in their hearts on a regular basis.

we're not expecting any miracles right out of the gate...  but please pray with us that the seeds take root and eventually initiate deep change, genuine salvations, and become building blocks to create godly men of integrity.