Monday, September 26, 2011

more than a trip to mcDonalds

have you ever been to new york city? if so, do you remember the first time you stood in times square and found yourself in awe as you looked around at all the buildings, lights, and billboards?

now imagine what that same experience would be like if you grew up in a small farm town, and this was your first time to ever leave home.

now times that by 100.

that must have been what it was like for our rhinos the other night. we traveled into guatemala city to play against a high profile futbol academy with 4 outdoor-fields with synthetic grass, in a lighted staduim-style atmosphere surrounded by giant billboards on all 4 sides. then (after a tie and a win)..... we took them to mcDonalds.

we confirmed, for every single one of them, it was their first time to guatemala city. this fact is amazing, because from our village of buena vista (which means "good view"), the sights of guatemala city are all these kids have seen since they were born. but from buena vista, the city is a distant, far-away place that they will likely never visit...

each sight captured their attention. the bus ride was shockingly quiet...because they were all glued to the windows, anxious to take everything in. when we entered the stadium, it was easy to sense their mixed emotions of excitement and nervousness. they all must have used the bathroom 3 times before we played.

but it was the trip to mcDonalds that i will never forget (link to short video below). as i sat back and watched these boys enjoy a happy meal and play in the playplace - something most of us consider completely normal - i couldn't stop my eyes from watering. my mind kept drifting back to their village, and their living conditions. the thought of their families... and how they were doing something in this very moment that none of their parents had done in their whole lives.

as we ate, my wife and i sat there speechless, just taking it in. surrounded by people (ourselves included) who completely take for granted a mcDonalds meal, God was giving 15 boys from the poor village of Buena Vista a moment that would forever be lodged in their memory.

as if the moment wasn't special enough, most of the boys saved half of their meal so that they could take it home and share it with their families. the next day at bvsa, they all told us that their parents said to thank us.

i feel blessed to be a part of something groundbreaking that God is doing in this place. not that it has anything to do with traveling to the "big city" or eating at mcDonalds... but in the process of all that is happening, generational chains of poverty are going to be broken, and brighter futures await.

quick thank you to lindsey - a 24yr old girl who is visiting - for sponsoring the 15 happy meals.

check out this short video from our trip to mcDonalds!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

SEEDS: baseball, wrestling, school, girls, and soccer

this afternoon our property was littered with neighborhood boys. there were a few rhinos (members of the academy), but most were other neighborhood kids who live nearby. one of which is a known antagonist of our program, who constantly heckles me and our boys. he was standing outside the gate so i invited him in. i have made the mistake in the past of engaging his comments and spouting back at him... so today i had the opportunity to try another approach... invite him in to hang out and play some ball.

there were no breakthroughs, but we had a good time. my daughter brooke accidentally drilled him in the mouth with a baseball, which i thought was pretty funny. being about 15-16 years old, he was clearly embarrassed, so he laughed it off as well...

at one point me and a few of the older boys found ourselves sitting up on the balcony hanging out as the others played below. he (the antagonist) was up there with us. we all talked about school, girls, and soccer. again, no breakthroughs... but maybe some foundation laid for the future.

one thing i know is that God's promises are true. we are called to love the poor in the name of Jesus. i know that if i do that for these boys, it will not return void. i believe that every seed planted in His name will eventually return fruit, even if we never see it for ourselves. today, a few "seeds" took the shape of teaching kids to throw a baseball, play football, wrestling in the grass, and hanging out on the balcony talking about school, girls, and soccer...

we should all take advantage of our moments to plant seeds. the opportunities are all around us, all day long...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

blessed by the moreau's... again...

recently we were visited (again) by the moreau family from lake city, FL. do you have people in your life that simply leave you speechless because of how generous they are? thankfully we have several... and the moreau's are certainly one of them.

they have come to guatemala every 3 months for the last couple years. they have blessed countless guatemalan families with houses, kitchens, stoves, and water projects. they sponsor the education for several local kids, and bless widows with new roofs and kitchens. they have fed more families than i can possibly count.

in addition to all of that, they bless us. not only with needs and finances, but with love and encouragement. their friendship is real... its the kind that encourages you when you need it, shares truth when necessary, and always leaves you wanting to be a better person.

while the moreau's have given thousands of dollars and countless hours to directly help the poor in their time of need, they also have a tendency for blessing our ministry in "behind the scene" ways that don't have as much emotion, or feel-good involved. they buy ministry vehicles, lawn mowers, car parts and paint. these are the things that are difficult for "missionaries" to keep up with or ask for because of the awkward nature of the expenses.

think about it... someone donates $100, feeling led to bless the poor... and we reply with something like "wow, this was amazing timing because we really need a new tailgate for the ministry truck!" don't exactly walk away feeling warm and fuzzy, right?

but thankfully the moreau's (and others) know that these things keep us here, working more efficiently, allowing us to keep the ministry efforts alive... all of which are focused on blessing and serving the poor in the name of jesus christ.

during their las trip, we celebrated a weight room that the moreau's donated for the boys academy. even though they have no desire for recognition, we had a little plaque made to show our thanks... not just for the weight room, but for the unwavering support and friendship.

having great friends makes me want to be a better friend to others.

thanks moreau's.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

wonderful & dark... more on robinson

finally got a chance to meet robin's mom. is it possible to describe our time together as wonderful and dark?

robin's mom is precious. she shared her struggles and fears with us. since her husband died, she has been in survival mode. raising 5 kids, working from 4am to 8pm. paying for her oldest who is studying to be a mechanic, and prepared to pay for her next oldest to continue his studies as well. she grinds away every day, just to keep them afloat.

recently she received death threats from someone that apparently knows her. they would follow her and her family (knew what they were wearing that day, etc) and said that if they didnt pay them a certain amount of money they would kill her and her son. this type of extortion is common here. but to bring it upon a widowed woman fighting for the survival of her family infuriates me. sadly, the longer we live here, digging in, the more of this unheard of darkness we see (or hear about) in many of the people.

robin's mom told us that she pretty much "stays" scared. says she cant sleep some nights.

on this day we had brought her a giant food basket with approximately a month's worth of food. we also had friends visiting who after hearing her story offered to pay for the oldest boys schooling for 2012. her response was simply: "God hasn't forgotten me."

james 1:27 says that true religion is caring for widows and orphans in their distress. i would say "distress" would define the last decade of this particular widow's life. God, help me practice religion that is pure and faultless.... help my family be a blessing to this woman and her family.