Saturday, July 31, 2010

no more suffering for Esbin

even though i spent several hours looking at his lifeless body, i know that he is far from dead.

today around 2:00pm, my buddy esbin took his last breath. also at 2:00, he got up and ran for the first time in over 7 years.

those of us left behind... we all cried. but not him. he is finally free from suffering. he is finally out of the bed that he's been in for what seems like forever. he is finally running, jumping, and playing soccer. his dreams have finally come true.

my kids and i just finished sharing together, and we were imagining esbin playing soccer with Jesus. my son jake said he pictured esbin shooting penalty kicks while Jesus played goalie.

surely esbin is happier now than i've ever seen him, happier than anyone has ever seen him.

today i am cherishing the last conversations we had. in the last few weeks we have talked much deeper about Jesus, about grace, love, and faith.

we talked in depth about his illness. big questions of "why me?" and "why do people have to suffer?". i told him God is using his sickness to glorify Himself... and that he must be an amazing kid for God to have so much confidence in him to use him in such a mighty way. kerrie and i both came away from those conversations believing that esbin "got it."

i also think he finally understood that he didn't have to hang on any longer.

his mom told me that this morning esbin told her he was going to die. she said "don't say that" but he said it again. a couple hours later he started to struggle breathing. normally, this is when we would get the call and we'd be there within minutes with Dr. Carlos to go through the routine of stabilization.

but this time esbin cried out to God "please take me home." his mom admittedly didn't want to hear that, but again esbin cried out "God, if you want me, please take me today. I don't want this anymore." minutes later he fell asleep for the last time.

we were in the village with a mission team working on a project. we received word and rushed up to the house.

a few hours later, we watched a father come home from work to find his son dead.

after 20 minutes of weeping and shouting - he finally cried out "thank you Jesus... receive my son... take care of my boy..."

as things calmed down, we were able to have some wonderful and sweet conversations with esbin's family. they thanked us over and over for the support over the last couple years. his dad said "we can never repay you for what you've done." our response, on behalf of ourselves as well as all of you who have gotten to know him, was that esbin has helped us far more than we could have ever helped him.

i was told that esbin's last words, as he looked at his mom, were "tell brock to take care of you."

no worries little buddy. i'll take care of your mom. but you have to score one against Jesus for me...

i miss you.

As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth. And the disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he may be born blind?" Jesus answered them, "it was not that this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God may be displayed in him." John 9:1-3

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

the truth is: there are tough days

i think i started blogging regularly in 2005. i love to journal, and i use blogging as a way to "log" experiences, feelings, things that i am going through and things that i am learning. i see great value in being able to go back and read them - seeing God's hand in everything that i go through.

i do like that it is also a way for people to follow things that happen here in guatemala, but the thought that people are reading them is not the motivator.

however, i almost didn't write this one simply for that reason.

it crosses my mind at times that i don't want my bloggings to make it seem like i am struggling. i don't want people to read them and ever say "boy, they are really sacrificing." i dont want to come across as having the "poor me's". so sometimes after tough days or frustrating/challenging experiences, i will write about those in a different hand-written journal.

but why? if i am to answer honestly... its because i am concerned with what people think. i don't want people to feel sorry for us. for some reason i don't fully understand, my pride doesn't want to hear friends/family say "i am sorry that happened", or even "hang in there." i think its because i am a problem solver, so i just prefer fixing it and going on. or, if it's not "fixable", i want to put it to rest, forget about it, and start over the next day.

God is teaching me that this is not always a good thing. we were created for community. i need encouragement, edification, opinions/thoughts from others, wisdom, counsel. maybe it's someone who has been through a similar situation that can shed some light, or maybe its the person who sarcastically responds "quit complaining."

i am accepting (with God's grace and patience) the fact that i prefer facing tough times alone for other reasons as well. simply put, i always want people to think we are doing great, that the ministry is thriving, and that every day is productive and amazing.

i am working on it. step one... writing this blog.

the last couple weeks have been strange and hard. many people in this community that i love have seemed darker and upset. lots of dirty looks. i am having to confront guys in the street who are messing with my daughters. drunks (who are normally "happy drunks") have been aggressive and belligerent with us. various people in the village we work have blasted me about how bad we are because of how often we "help others but not them."

one couple recently told kerrie and i that all we do is trap the poor by helping them. she said "maybe they don't all understand but we do." the same couple, mind you, has asked us repeatedly for a new house. we have explained to them before that we don't feel their need for a home compares to the needs of many others.

these types of things have been sprinkled into our lives ever since we moved here. but the last few weeks seems to have been full of them. crime issues have heightened a bit. there is a different mood. i pray it passes.

is missionary work supposed to be hard like this? i think the answer is a clear "yes." serving is hard. unfortunately, for every one that we help, several others are jealous if not angry. part of the deal i guess.

i pray for a steady mind and a pure heart. i struggle. the next guy who gives the up-down stare at my 13 yr old daughter might receive a broken nose. maybe that wouldn't be very missionary like, but that's where i am...

thanks for listening.

Monday, July 12, 2010

my cool kids

give a dad a minute to brag...

this weekend the kids had their first soccer games in a new league they are playing in, in antigua.

madi and brooke haven't played on an organized team since we moved here almost 2 years ago... this after playing softball, basketball and soccer year round when we lived in the states! needless to say they have missed it, but until recently we haven't found any leagues for girls.

anyway, mark & gina's spanish teacher julio found a women's league, and they just had their first game. they are the youngest on the team (most are 20's and 30's). their team won, and they had a blast. madi played midfield and brooke fullback, and they played awesome! they are so excited for the season ahead...

jake also started in a league of boys his age, since the league he was playing in here in magdalena has boys from 6-16 on the same team! they won their first game 5-1 and jake had 3 goals and 2 assists. but even better, i was so proud to see him play so aggressive, flying around the field at 100% the whole game. i am amazed at how good he has gotten at soccer, b/c before we came to guatemala all he wanted to do was basketball and baseball. kerrie was laughing at me as i jumped up and down cheering!

so proud of my kids. not just for playing great soccer games, but for the awesome transition and adjustment they have made.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

statistics on boys/dads

on the plane back from our family reunion in south florida, i was reading a magazine article on absence of fathers. maybe the #s struck me harder since my heart is softer in this area as we pray and prepare to begin an academy for boys.

boys without fathers in the home are:

- 5 times more likely to commit crimes
- 5 times more likely to end up living in poverty
- 9 times more likely to drop out of school
- 20 times more likely to end up in prison

the data is equally as alarming for girls without fathers. girls without fathers in the home are:

- twice as likely to have sex at a young age
- 7 times as likely to get pregnant as an adolescent

the data only supports what we have already felt and seen. that is why we believe that saving the boys saves everything. if a boy can grow up hearing about and seeing Jesus, surrounded by good men who love God, love & respect their wives, and live with integrity... he can lead his family, and his community in a different direction. the cycle can be broken, and future generations will be changed.

while our mission will be to the boys of Buena Vista, Guatemala, the trend is the same no matter where you are. boys need men. they need love. they need example. they need Jesus.