Saturday, September 23, 2017

welcome back Aldo

what an amazing experience to finally have Aldo rejoin us in the academy.

it was only 4 months ago when Aldo lost an arm and a leg in a tragic accident - an event that truly rocked our Rhino family and our entire village.  but through it all we've seen God do some incredible things.  he has brought Aldo's family closer together, brought much love and support their way from friends all over the world, and allowed an entire village to witness the love a father has for his son.

the love of a father is not a common experience in our village.

which is why it was such a blessing to have Aldo and his dad Leonardo join us for some home games this week, and even stay for a BBQ afterwards with all the Rhinos.  Leonardo even brought 50 pieces of corn from his own land for all of us as a gift!  it was a great night of laughs, worship, and prayer.

please continue to pray for Aldo.  he has another surgery scheduled in the next couple weeks on his right hand.  and we are waiting for his amputated leg to heal a little bot more before we start getting him up on his new prosthetic leg.



Thursday, September 14, 2017

digging out roots, and introducing the foster's

we are excited to announce the arrival of the foster family to the BVSA team!  jeremy and maria, and their 2 boys alek and jackson, come from their faith communities of trinity fitness and crosswater church in jacksonville, FL.

the long version of this story is so good....  but i'm going to simplify it here.  come see us in guatemala or honduras, and we'll give you the long version over a cup of leiva's coffee :)

HOUSE IN BOXES
earlier this year, almost immediately after the unfortunate circumstances that transpired at our academy in honduras, i received a call from a close friend.  anthony widener, who worked with us in guatemala for a year with his wife denea, was trying to catch his breath and was notably excited.

he proceeded to tell me that he and his wife had just left the home of some friends of theirs, the fosters.  they were packing their house and all of their belongings were in boxes.  when anthony asked what was up, the foster's simply replied "God told us to sell our house and pack up our things -  he's going to call us to something else and he wants us to be ready."  they continued to explain that they were temporarily moving in with friends until God gave further instructions.

i knew i liked these peeps already!

just a couple of days earlier, i had gone to visit my friend cesar.  (if you don't already know who cesar is, read my post from a few days ago.)  i had gone to cesar's house to fill him in on what had happened in honduras.  i was sad and kind of emotional as i explained it all.  with tears in his eyes but a smile on his face, cesar clinched his right hand (the only part of his body he can still move), and said with conviction, "brock, i am so sorry, and i will be praying for their family.  but remember, God is the one who started a church in travesia, honduras, and he did so because travesia needs Jesus!  no human sin is capable of taking down his church, or stopping his plans.  lets start praying NOW for the people who God will send to travesia.  the rhinos there need their church.  lets pray!"

he then prayed - in a way that only cesar can do - for God to bring new missionaries to travesia.  his prayers came across as strangely confident that God had already called someone.  even though we had come to cesar's house dreading having to share the sad news, mynor and i walked out of his house excited and full of energy.  (kind of par for the course after a visit with cesar!)

so here we were, two days later, and anthony was telling me the story of the fosters packing their bags, selling their home, and moving in with friends, because they "heard God tell them to be ready." they hadn't known about honduras.  had never heard of the village of travesia!

THE VISIT
if i've learned anything over the years, its not to mess around when God speaks that clearly!  so only a matter of weeks later, we picked up the fosters at the guatemala airport.  they were wide-eyed and maybe a little naive.  but they were humble and willing.  and they had come.

the next morning around 4:00AM we left guatemala for honduras.  the long, difficult drive was actually a great time to get to know each other.  of course, for me, mynor, jason, and axel, we have done this trip over a dozen times.  so when we arrived in travesia there was nothing new or spectacular.  but for the foster's, i'm sure their hearts were racing.

we spent the first day cleaning the property.  the grass and weeds were like a jungle, and the house was filthy.  it was a long, arduous, sweaty day - especially considering the 8 hour drive to start it off!  after dinner, we were all exhausted and sitting around the kitchen table, when i asked jeremy and maria how they were feeling.  without hesitating, maria responded, "i'm sorry but I don't feel good here. this place seems dark. i just don't feel it. this place has a bad vibe."  i was a little taken aback by her directness, but at the same time appreciated the honesty.  

i decided to not only acknowledge her observation, but to reinforce it.  i shared with them about the darkness in the village, and the stronghold that the enemy has in travesia.  i told them that anyone who is willing to move here to work in this academy better be called by God, because its going to be a brutal job.  without a clear calling - and dependance on the power of the holy spirit - no human strength would be capable of drumming up the endurance to see it through.

thats how the night ended.  it felt like wind that had been pushing the sails over the last weeks had subsided, and left behind a disappointing stillness.  even the excitement that started this trip had been swallowed up by the "dark vibe."


NEW MERCIES EVERY MORNING (Lamentations 3:22-23)
the next morning we were taking a needed break from cutting the grass.  me, mynor, jason, jeremy, and our local travesia friends peter and milton, were looking out over the field that separates the house from the academy.  i mentioned how i always wanted to cut down the massive tree that sits right in the middle of the property.  even though it's beautiful, i always felt that removing it would open up so many possibilities for soccer training.  without it, the property basically accommodates a full soccer field.

i explained how the previous missionaries had insisted on keeping it.  they had told me that the locals considered it a sin to cut down that class of tree, and they felt it was best to not upset the culture.  but peter and milton said that they had never heard that before, and that there is no issue whatsoever with cutting down trees.

i asked peter what it would take to cut it down, and he responded, "one phone call."  i then gave him the go ahead to call his friend... and one hour later we all stood watching the massive tree fall to the ground.  it was quite surreal.

later that day we got together on the back porch to pray.  we were all praying over the village of travesia, the potential calling over the foster family, and the future Rhinos.  

then maria began to pray.  she kept talking about the tree.  she told God that as she watched that tree fall down, she felt like it represented something powerful.  she prayed, "God just like that tree that came down - i ask that you would take down the bondage over this place.  take this darkness and dig out by the roots, just like that tree."


THE MESSENGER
as we were still praying, milton came to the patio and got my attention.  wondering why he would interrupt us, i went to see what he needed, thinking it must be an emergency.  he told me he was sorry, but a very influential man in the community was at the door and asking to speak with us.  he said this is one of the community leaders, highly respected, and he felt we shouldn't keep him waiting...

we wrapped up our prayer about five minutes later and went out to speak with the man.  me, mynor, jason, axel, jeremy and milton were there.  here's my recollection of what he said:

"hi my name is marcio, and i just wanted to come by to tell you something.  we know that the previous family is no longer here.  we don't know exactly what happened, and that doesn't matter now.  but i was so excited to see some activity on the property today.  and when i saw that big tree come down, i knew i had to come speak with you."

we immediately felt Gods presence!  he continued...

"i want you to know that there may be a lot of people in this village that are against you.  but i am not one of them.  i am with you.  i am for you.   you see, there are evil demons in this community and they have been here for generations.  they are deeply rooted beneath the surface,  just like the roots of that tree.  and just like that tree was dug out, these demons need to be dug out." 

we immediately froze in the presence of the holy spirit.  i was in shock.

he looked around at all of us and said, "but digging them out wont be easy - they've been here for generations!  so we're going to need your help."  then, he made eye contact with jeremy.  looking directly at him, and pointing at him, he switched to english, and said "we need YOU".

it was so clear and direct, it almost felt impossible.  like maybe it was a dream?

then marcio switched back to spanish and said "that's all I came to say."  he shook all of our hands and gave some general departure niceties.  then he shook jeremy's hand, switched to english again, and said "i really hope to see you here soon."

if it were written in the sky it would have been less clear.  it was an amazing and outrageous example of God's faithfulness.  when we step out in faith and obey our Father, he shows us the way.  the more radical our obedience, the more clearly he speaks.

and thats exactly what was happening with the fosters.  God had told them to sell their home, pack up all their gear, move in with friends, and be ready.  instead of talking themselves out of it, convincing themselves of a more responsible alternative - they just did it.  and their obedience unlocked the blessing of hearing God's voice in a truly miraculous way.

when this happens, our faith in God increases tenfold.  we see Him as a keeper of his promises.  we long for more of Him.  we become willing to follow Him anywhere!

later on, i was thinking about how there were 3 americans standing there with marcio - yet he knew jeremy was the only one who didn't speak spanish?  why were his words to jeremy so specific and direct?  as if the exact reference to the tree, the roots being dug out, wasn't enough!  

the only explanation, is that God had sent the fosters a messenger.   


OBEDIENCE
i remember telling my wife as i laid in bed that night, "how could they possibly say no after that?!  now its just a question of obedience."

a couple days later we were back in guatemala, hanging out together.  we were talking about our expectations for BVSA missionaries, and i was of course talking in hypotheticals, i.e., "if you were to come, blah, blah, blah...."  maria finally said, "brock you can stop saying that.  how can we not come after what happened with marcio!"  

BVSA honduras team:  jason, jeremy, axel, and maria
since then, things have been moving fast!  the fosters have announced their plans to friends and family, shared with their church communities of trinity and crosswater, resigned from the current jobs, and booked one-way tickets for october 4th!  

they will be spending oct-dec in a missionary training program with us at BVSA guatemala, and if God allows, we'll be re-opening BVSA honduras in early 2018.

the widener's, who have been spiritual mentors to the fosters over the years, describe them as humble and teachable. knowing that God has used people like that throughout history, we're confident they'll be a great fit for us at BVSA!

you can read more about the foster's HERE, and learn how to support their family and/or the honduras academy.

please praise God with us, and join us in welcoming the foster's to the Rhino family!  



Monday, September 11, 2017

@BVSARhinos

i've blogged before, and been honest with anyone who has ever asked me, how i feel about social media.

i believe it can be a bottomless pit of self-love, self-gratification, and need for other's approval.  it can also be a fantasy world that allows you to be somebody you wish you really were.  for many, its an addiction that consumes every free second of their life.  (hint: if you hate sitting on the toilet without your phone, you might have a problem.)

so why in the world are we announcing a social media page for the BVSA Rhinos?

good question!

i've been convinced by some people i respect, that a social media outlet for BVSA would:

1- help keep the Rhino family of supporters and prayer-warriors better connected.

2- publicly celebrate all that God is doing through the Rhinos and the BVSA missionaries.

3- help towards keeping stories of God, faith, love, miracles, and hope, front-and-center in the world of social media.

simply put, i was convinced that more frequent "pings" that point to God's work through BVSA and the lives of the Rhinos can lead to healthier relationships with our supporters...  more prayers and support for the boys, missionaries, and academies...  and most importantly, more glory given to God

so... i can't believe i'm about to say this...

you can follow us on instagram at @BVSARhinos

i don't even know if i said that right.

*please note that i will not be the one managing the page :)


Saturday, September 9, 2017

one more year of life for cesar

"gracias a Dios por un año mas de vida."

that phrase gets repeated so much at birthdays in our village that it basically loses its meaning.  it simply means "we thank God for one more year of life."  at birthday parties where several people stand up to speak, the phrase literally gets repeated by every single person.

it just comes across as meaningless to me when you hear it over and over again.

with one exception:  when it's cesar's birthday!

for cesar, "one more year of life" is truly something to celebrate.  "one more year of life" is nothing short of miraculous.

this man continues to defy the odds and astonish doctors.  by the world's standards (even top medical experts), the last 10+ years are a pure mystery.  how can this man continue living - year after year - if his spine has fused completely together and all of his bodily systems have shut down?   

only God gives and takes life.  even though every one of cesar's breaths is a medical miracle, God is keeping cesar alive for his purposes.  cesar shines God's glory like no one i've ever met before.

if christians are like tools in God's toolbox, cesar must be the old faithful tool that works every time.

if we're plays in God's playbook, cesar must be his go-to play at clutch time. 

the man is truly amazing.

last month we were visiting cesar with some friends who were visiting from jacksonville.  one of the visitors mentioned to cesar that he had been reading colossians, and asked cesar what his favorite passage in colossians was.  cesar replied "probably chapter 2"... and proceeded to recite the entire chapter with fire and passion!

last week at his birthday party, the boys who were with us were telling cesar that we are studying psalm 91 together.  cesar shared with them how much psalm 91 has meant to him over the years, and with great emotion recited the entire psalm!

i can't even tell you how many times this has happened over the years...

cesar garcia is truly a man after God's heart.  more in tune with the holy spirit than anyone i have ever met or ever even heard of.  

prays differently than anyone i've ever known.  

sings more beautifully and honestly than anyone i've ever known.

loves more deeply than anyone i've ever known.

and despite being paralyzed from the neck down for the last 12 years, he is more alive than anyone i've ever known.

in cesar's case, "gracias a Dios por un año mas de vida" is certainly no routine birthday phrase.  for cesar, and everyone who knows him, "one more year of life" is truly a blessing beyond measure.