Friday, December 25, 2015

christmas 2015

merry christmas! 

last night at midnight, fireworks lit up the guatemala sky.  (if you haven't seen this before, it is simply breathtaking.  imagine practically every home in guatemala lighting fireworks... then imagine the view from our academy in the mountains, which overlooks all of guatemala city and the surrounding areas!)

we had quite the fireworks show ourselves here at bvsa.  after our annual viewing of Elf, the younger Rhinos ran around our property lighting firecrackers, sparklers, and bottle rockets.  then, at 12:00am, we lit up the sky for all of the village to enjoy.  afterwards, i was struck by a similar thought that i've had every christmas since living here.  that here we are in a tiny little third-world country in central america, where, because of the birth of Jesus Christ, the whole country explodes into a light show - 2,000 plus years later.

on a larger scale, practically the entire world celebrates, pauses, or at a minimum takes notice, of the birth of Jesus Christ.  some 2.5 billion believe He came as God to save us.  others think its nonsense.  some even go out of their way to kill His followers.  as i write this, i'm in guatemala watching country music singers sing songs like "come let us adore him" and "what child is this" on ABC.  even in the liberal day and age we're in, you couldn't avoid hearing about jesus (at least in western civilization) if you tried. 

without question, Jesus is the most polarizing person to have ever lived.

he was 2000 years ago, and he still is today.

for some of us, he's worth living and dying for.  we believe in eternal salvation, therefore we give up our earthly lives for the sake of others - for his glory - knowing that eternity awaits. 

but there are still many who don't know him, haven't heard of him, or haven't experienced his love.  therefore, we leave our comforts and families, we go to foreign places and learn new languages, we celebrate holidays alone, we leave careers and worldly dreams behind, we look stupid in the eyes of many, and we welcome laughs and criticism... so that others who are physically and spiritually suffering can KNOW HIM...  and have the joy and peace that we have.  it's just to good to keep to ourselves.

today we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  it was a joy to watch my kids today.  especially my 3 year old luciana, who is still innocent towards the whole idea of "receiving gifts" on christmas.  for her, today was Jesus' birthday.  nothing else.  and she loved every minute of it.  there was a constant singing of "feliz cumpleanos a jesus" in our house all day long...

we're planning on giving some gifts (and opening those that people gave) on new years day this year.  we typically do christmas gifts and have no problem with it at all, so long as it stays simple.  but we're trying a new idea this year so that christmas day could have no other focus.  especially for luci.  its hard for a 3yr old to celebrate Jesus' birthday when you have your own pile of gifts to focus on!

anyway...  sorry for the christmas ramble. 

-----------

how crazy is it that the prophet Isaiah wrote this about 700 years before the birth of Jesus!

7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.   9:6 ...For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.


 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Allan

Allan.

just saying his name brings a smile to the face of all of us that know him.

this kid has brought more joy to my life (and a little angst too) over the last few years than almost anyone.  he just has a way of lifting up the room... bringing life to the party, so to speak.

he's always been the funny kid, full of life and lots of fun.  but here's the thing:  he's become a man.  and while he's still a joy to be around, he is maturing into a young man who knows when to joke, and when its time to get real.

early this year, allan came to faith in Jesus.  a genuine transformation began taking place in front of our eyes!  what was once obligatory daily devotions, became an intentional desire to listen and change.  even our tuesday night bible study became something more for him - a time to go deeper, study more, and commit to better lead his teammates.

Allan the "life of the party" became Allan the leader.  and the best part is that he is still the life of the party!  one of the problems in our little village is that, traditionally, when someone comes to faith, they become robotic.  they go to church, stay out of the streets, outwardly doing and saying all the right things.  but it is lifeless and unattractive.

Allan is learning the difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus.  he is learning that his personality was created by his Maker... that he doesn't have to become a serious religious-type in order to follow Jesus.  instead, he is allowing his unique personality to be exactly what God is using.

man, i love this kid.  completely on his own, he recently partnered with his sister (unheard of here) and another local woman to do a fundraiser so that underprivileged and malnourished kids can get some healthy food and christmas present.  on his own.  we literally knew nothing about it until he had already done it.  he even encouraged the Rhinos to each donate Q10 (about $1.30) each to the cause.  every single Rhino participated.  that speaks to his leadership and influence.  again, he did this without us even knowing.

the last couple months, he has been doing "vacation camps" for the kids of the village.  using the bvsa gym, he runs soccer camps every morning from 8am to 12pm for the local kids.  he and Wilmer even do a daily devotion with them.  all of this without any help from us.

these are the things that make my heart skip a beat.  we are watching before our own eyes the vision of BVSA become a reality.  6 years ago, before there was any boys academy, i wrote the following, which can now be found on our website: 

"We believe that God wants to raise up a group of young men to be loving husbands and fathers, respected leaders, and godly men, who can break cycles of abuse – and absence of biblical family values – related to poverty in the village of Buena Vista, Guatemala."

Allan is an example of this vision becoming a reality.   i have no doubt that this young man will be a loving husband and father.  something different that this village has never seen before!

and at only 19yrs old, he is already becoming a godly man and a respected leader.



Sunday, December 13, 2015

close call with kitty

the doorbell rang last night late.  it was christian's mom.  christian (better known as "kitty") was at home struggling with a stomach ache.  she said he was in a lot of pain, and was asking for some help.

i assumed it was something normal like parasites, amoebas, or an intestinal infection.  all normal stuff around here.  but i asked dr. carlos if he could go check on him.  immediately after seeing him, feeling his stomach, and asking a few questions, dr. carlos said to get him to the hospital - fast.

dr. carlos has never been an over-reactor.  i asked paul if he wanted to come along (their family is in town) and within 30 minutes or so we arrived at the national hospital in antigua.  tests were taken, and by 1:30 am kitty was in surgery having his appendix removed.

apparently kitty had been struggling with stomach pain for over a week.  he had mentioned to me at the academy that he had a stomach ache a couple days ago, but it didn't seem out of the ordinary.  it didn't keep him from practicing and doing normal activities.  little did i know his appendix was inflamed and likely to burst at any time.

couple things worth mentioning here:

1- i'm so thankful that salomé (kitty's mom) knocked on our door for help.
2- so thankful for dr. carlos and his uncanny ability to diagnose things fast.
3- i am amazed at how tough this 11yr old kid is.  from what i have heard, the pain from an inflamed appendix is excruciating.  its just amazing how people here, even kids, fight through physical pain.

we're praising God for all of the above!  in talking to dr. carlos tonight, kitty's appendix could have burst at any moment.  if it had, he could have easily died.  i just can't fathom that.  it is moments like these when i find myself praising God for the privilege it is to live here, and simply be available to help the people of our village.