Thursday, November 24, 2011

happy thanksgiving

happy thanksgiving everyone!

we had a great one. spent the morning handing out food baskets to 14 families. they were donated from a family in the U.S. what this family does is donate food baskets to families in need, then for christmas gifts for their own friends & family, they send out a picture of the guatemalan family who received the basket. the christmas card says "this family in need received a basket of food in your name."

how beautiful is that? we've been talking a lot lately about using the christmas season as a time to rebel against the machine of consumerism and instead help those who are suffering around the world. i think this example of doing just that is awesome.

the only thing i wish is that the families receiving the cards & photos could be there when we give the food. to see the faces, hear the stories, and receive the hugs. our morning was full of special moments and it was quite obvious that God used these baskets to help some people in very specifically tough situations. one of which is Maria (pictured here), a single mom struggling to take care of her 5 children.

after that, we got together on this beautiful sunny day with the steeds, leivas, schmidts, and bunsos. mark's brother matt and his family are also in town, and their friend rodri as well. we enjoyed a meal, soccer, football, and hanging out together.

pretty close to a perfect day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

girls share about cesar

blogging from savannah, GA... we are here for "Faith Promise", a week celebrating the mission work done around the world that is supported by savannah christian church. i was blessed to have a chance to share our story, and about the Rhinos, at their main campus last night. i am thankful and humbled to have had that opportunity.

and my daughters madi (14) and brooke (13) had a chance to share about Cesar with over 400 students at "blitz"! blitz is the middle school youth group at scc who partnered with another family to build Cesar's family a new home last year.

the girls were also asked 1-what is school like in Guatemala? 2-why did your family move to Guatemala? 3-what do you miss about America? and 4-what can you share with the students about following Jesus? we (kerie and i) weren't able to be there b/c we were sharing at other campuses, but everyone told us they did a great job! so proud of them...

having a great time here. feeling loved and encouraged. nice to have a time to reflect, praise God, and thank people. missing our Rhinos, buena vista, and our guate fam.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

for cesar, defying the odds is normal

late sunday afternoon we got a call from andrea that cesar was worsening. she said she had never seen him like this before. he was throwing up, wincing in pain, and unable to sleep. when we got there, he seemed to be slipping in and out of consciousness, his eyes opening for only a moment before nodding off again.

if you have visited us before, you probably met cesar. without going into great detail, i can confidently say that he is the most amazing person that i have ever met. 7 years ago he was given a few days to live - his spine is fusing together and his body is withering away due to an unstoppable degenerative disease.

he fights on... confined to his bed, he shouts out praise songs, gives glory to Jesus, and clings to scripture for his strength. he knows more scripture by memory than you can possibly imagine. it keeps him full of joy and hope. it keeps him going. from his bedside, his faith convicts and challenges all who meet him. often times, it leads people to their eternal salvation.

on this day it seemed to be the end. at one point he said, "this is it, i cant take it anymore." one by one, we all knelt at his bed and said our goodbyes. even his relatives came through, saying what seemed to be their final words.

he faintly quoted scripture. when he would open his eyes, clearly longing for strength to even speak, he would repeat over and over "God is good, and he'll always be good." somehow, as he struggled to stay with us, he began shouting worship songs.

it would be appropriate to say that we could't believe what we were seeing. but because i have been around this man and his family for the last couple years, it simply felt normal. with cesar, he makes radical faith seem normal.

the image that is stuck in my mind is when his little girl joselyn (7) laid on his chest sobbing as he stroked her head and told her that it would all be ok, that he would always be with her, and that God would take care of her.

today at 7:15am my phone rang. when i saw "cesar & andrea" on the caller ID, my heart sank, assuming he had passed away. but she said she was calling b/c cesar wanted her to tell us all thank you, that he was feeling a little better. he said that as all the kids (johnsons, schmidts, bunsos, steeds) came by his bed with words, prayers, and tears, he felt as if angels surrounded him with comfort. andrea said he really just wanted to say thank you to all the gringo kids.

cesar, andrea and their family are fighters. their love for Jesus, for others, and for life itself, is nothing short of incredible. cesar is still in a lot of pain and not sleeping. please join us in prayer for them during this difficult time.