Tuesday, January 25, 2011

jordy as myself

a couple months ago, i posted a blog about rosibel. unfortunately, her story is not uncommon in rural guatemala - or any area of extreme poverty for that matter.

jordy (pictured here between 2 of his buddies) is 13 years old. we have known jordy for a while - he is a student in our dear friends carlos & thelma's local art school. while i have hung out with jordy several times, yesterday i learned a little bit more about his life.

not long ago, his now 8 year old brother got sick. he was falling down a lot and "losing his mind", as jordy described it. his mom started taking him to doctors to see what was wrong. doctor after doctor, all they were told was that he was "sick in the head" and "mentally not there." my best guess based on how he described the symptoms, is that jordy's brother has some kind of mental retardation.

with no father in the picture (he left them some time ago), jordy's mom had to pick up a second job to start chipping away at doctor bills. she now leaves home at 2:30 in the morning to catch a bus to guatemala city and prepare her fruit/vegetable stand for the early morning crowd. additionally, jordy had to drop out of school and pick up a full time job - just to help them get by.

perhaps the saddest part of the story is that while mom and jordy work all day, the 8 year old brother is home taking care of jordy's 4 year old brother.

when i asked jordy if his brother is capable of taking care of his littlest brother, he said "not really, but they just sit in the house so its not a big deal."

these are the realities of extreme poverty. medical diagnosis' and health care are atrocious. wages are pitiful. husbands and fathers are so often non existent. there is no easy answer, especially when these situations are everywhere you turn.

what do we do? us as missionaries on the ground, and you as concerned/willing friends back in the states? resources always help, and are necessary in order to get things done, but what else?

the best answer i can find in scripture is to join them in their suffering. jesus did this for us, and he calls us to do the same for them. the simplest and greatest commandment of all is full of depth to apply here:

"love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself."

if we are willing to think honestly about the phrase "as yourself", i think we find the answers, as hard as they may be to accept and carry out. if we are to love jordy and his family as much as we love ourselves, what do we do?

love God fully and love others as ourselves. jesus said all of the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. maybe we are over-complicating things.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

carly & cruz

i became an uncle again - twice - in the last week! my sister jacki, with husband matt, had a new baby girl named carly... and then mark & gina had a new baby boy here in guatemala - named cruz.

too far away to have been there to see carly, i have enjoyed IMMENSELY all the photos of my new baby niece. she is precious. cruz, on the other hand, i was able to see, hold, and kiss on, just hours after he entered the world.

trying not to get all cliche here... but i am still just amazed at the process of child birth. how life starts, how it grows, and how it develops. how the heart matures and becomes capable of choices, emotions, and free will. its an incredible design that can only point to one amazing creator.

as i praise God for carly and cruz, i pray for them to grow into radical jesus lovers and followers. i pray for their parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and uncles & aunts who lead and influence them. i pray that they will realize they only have 1 purpose in this life - to glorify God and make him known in all they do. everything else is empty without this central purpose!

God, mold these 2 precious babies into sold out followers of you!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Have a happy (challenging) and prosperous (sacrificial) new year!!

as we hung out last night around the fire pit with mark and gina, we were talking about how we always wish others a happy new year. in fact, most new-year's cards, songs, and notes reference a “happy, prosperous new year.”

i’m usually not one to over analyze or sweat the small stuff… after all it’s just a traditional phrase that most say without really thinking about it. but the more we talked about it the more I started thinking how crazy it is, at least from a biblical standpoint.

Jesus called us to give our lives away in order to gain life. he taught that real joy and growth comes through sacrifice and suffering. he taught that this life is too short to live for ourselves… seeking earthly happiness, prosperity, and personal gain.

personally I can say that giving up worldly pursuits for eternal ones has brought a greater joy than I could have ever imagined. while by no means I consider myself a martyr, I am learning that the real “happiness” comes through generosity, giving, loving others, and ultimately through sacrifice.

as we sat there around the fire I caught my self strangely staring into it for a while (we all do that when sitting around a fire, right?). i thought about the passage in isaiah that talks about being refined through the fire of affliction – and how i should apply that to my hopes/dreams for the upcoming year.

if God gives you a prosperous 2011, may you use it to bless others who are less fortunate. and if He brings happiness your way in 2011, may it come refined by fire - through challenges and even suffering.

may your 2011 be full of service, generosity, sacrifice and love.

Have a Sacrificial and Challenging New Year!!