Saturday, December 31, 2011

Milagros and her family need prayers and help

while christmas eve was one of the most fun days i've enjoyed in quite some time with friends and family, it was just the opposite for our friend Milagros and her family. you may remember Milagros... i have blogged about her in the past. we helped her through a tough time a couple years ago when she needed some serious medical attention.

on christmas eve, her husband was robbed and murdered - shot 5 times in the chest.

we walked to the village of Tablon today with the Schmidt's, and a team visiting from memphis, to visit Milagros and her family. together we were able to give her a donation to help off-set some costs they have incurred (burial, morgue, etc). but the needs for this family are just beginning.

PLEASE read more at mark & gina's blog, watch the video mark posted, consider helping out, and most importantly pray for Milagros and her precious family.

"true religion... to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." James 1:27

Sunday, December 25, 2011

the gift of friends

hope you are having a great christmas!

our last couple weeks have been memorable to say the least. we have our dear friends the harmons in town and we have tried to pack as much into 10 days as possible! in addition to quick overnight trips to mynor's coffee plantation and monterico beach, we have had end of season tournaments, ceremonies, and christmas parties for the 30 boys currently in the boy's academy... we have given out dozens of christmas gift "food baskets" to people in need... and yesterday we had the privilege of sharing the news to 21 families that they would be receiving a new home soon thanks the "home for christmas" campaign through the 12x12 love project! finally, last night we had a big christmas party with all of the deepStream families serving together here in guatemala.

for us this christmas we feel especially blessed that the deepStream family in guatemala continues to grow. last night (christmas eve) amidst games, laughs, and fun, it was easy to be thankful for this blessing. while many christmas gifts are temporal, the gift of christian family is eternal. serving together, living, journeying, working, laughing together... are gifts that will never grow old.

we love you all. we miss you all. we appreciate so much your friendship, support, and prayers.

feliz navidad!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Doña Juana

our family has become close with Doña Juana. she doesn't know her age (probably 70-80). she doesn't know any of her living relatives. she is in late stages of cancer, it is literally eating away her flesh (she doesn't have a nose). she lives in the home of one of the families we have built a home for through the 12x12 Love Project, in exchange for watching their kids while they work.

Juana cried hard today as we visited. Kerrie gave her a pair of "fuzzy crocs" to warm her feet, and a nice warm under armour sweater. denea gave her a food basket full of food and goodies from the students of "converge on campus".

she cried, quoted scripture, and shared her heart. most memorable was her quote from matthew 25 when she said "the bible says that what you have done for the least of these, you have done for Jesus... today you have done something very special for Jesus."

it struck me later that night that i have always read matthew 25 from the perspective that i am the one being commanded to love and help the poor... and that Doña Juana reads the same passage from the perspective that she is the poor.

it is a simple yet incredible fact, that in moment such as these - taking care of people that are in need - the scriptures are being fulfilled, lives are being changed, and Jesus himself is receiving the glory.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

worse than a widow

that is what she said... "i am worse than a widow."

she didn't say it in a way that wanted attention, or hoped for any response. she was just saying how she felt.

i have blogged about enrique before. one of our rhinos, he is a precious kid with an unimaginably difficult life. his dad is an abusive alcoholic and his mom works ridiculous hours to take care of the family.

his mom has never asked us for anything. in fact, the only times she has ever walked up to the academy is when we host parent meetings. hesitant and embarrassed, she knocked at the door tonight.

she apologized for the "bother." was clearly nervous. i tried my best to put her at ease. she began to share...

they are completely broke, in debt, and desperate. they have no food. they owe money to the tienda, who has been allowing them to buy food on an "tab" to be paid later. on her last trip to the tienda, they told her they couldn't allow it to continue.

enrique wants to continue studying next year, but there is no way they can afford it. (the only costs are the uniform and school supplies).

that's when she said it. "my husband... all he does is drink. he takes the money i earn for the family, and uses it to get drunk every single day. what am i supposed to do? i work long hours to take care of my children, but he steals the money i earn. he is hurting us. i believe that i am worse off than a widow."

my eyes filled with tears. i asked her what all she owed, and told her we would share her need and do all we can.

enrique will be here tomorrow, like always, for class and practice. he will have his typical sweet smile on his face. this week, his team is walking through the village, giving out food and cookies to their neighbors. knowing enrique, he will do this with joy in his heart, despite the overwhelming needs in his own home.


if anyone feels led to help enrique's mom, please send me an email at or you can donate through our website here. here are their current needs:

- $270 to the local tienda for their last 3 months for food.
- $75 to cover all costs for the 2012 school year
- any additional donations will be used to buy food for their family

Thursday, December 1, 2011

opportunities in sufferings

a few weeks ago we were elated (a little shocked, but elated!) to find out that kerrie was pregnant. we shared the news with a few people, and began to really get excited about the thought of having another baby. needless to say, our kids were bouncing off the walls ecstatic (i was too!). a few nights ago, kerrie started bleeding and cramping, and sensed that something was wrong. at a doctor's office monday morning, we confirmed that she had miscarried. as if the bad news wasn't enough, this miserable day had just begun. following a couple hours of tears, letting the kids know, and making some arrangements, kerrie had to have an uncomfortable procedure to clean out the remaining placenta... and after 7 hours in a hospital came a bill that we couldn't afford.

very strange to experience such joy followed by such sadness....

we've had a few days to take it in, share as a family, pray, and think. while i consider myself a faith-led person, i have tendencies to be a practical thinker... so i kept trying to figure out why God was taking us through this trial. what can i learn, and how can i grow through this? i wondered if this experience was to help us, especially kerrie, better relate to the many local women who miscarry or lose their newborns. i also wondered if God allowed kerrie's body to reject the pregnancy because it knew something was wrong.

while either or both of those scenarios could be true, in my own quiet time with the Lord i was able to reach a different conclusion. phillipians 4 is so good. most christians know the reference to the "peace of God that transcends all understanding." but guess what allows us to know this amazing peace? its when we rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, and we are thankful in ALL situations - including the toughest ones. immediately following this verse, paul shares how he has learned to be content in all circumstances... wonderful and miserable.

i have realized that i dont need to know Gods reasons why, as long as i am willing to seek him and grow. strangely, this tragedy has helped our family know God a little bit better. it has helped us strive for contentedness and peace in a tough circumstance. it has made us a little bit more dependent on Him. that alone makes it totally worth it.

over the last 10 years or so of taking God's word seriously, the very biblical idea of joy in suffering has been a mysterious concept that we've been pursuing. honestly, i don't feel like we suffer much at all. in fact, when i compare "where we live", "what we do", and "what we're sacrificing" to the examples given in the bible, i always feel like total B team! i have a friend named Cesar who puts me in my place in this department as well - taking joy in suffering to another level.

but i am learning something. situations such as the one we recently experienced are actually "opportunities". they are opportunities to suffer with joy in a way that can bring glory to our Lord Jesus. they are opportunities that help us prepare for greater sufferings that may come our way. and they are chances for us to gain the Lord's trust in permitting us to suffer for his glory time and time again...

my prayers this week have been riskier than normal (if that even makes sense with an all knowing God!). i am praying for God to trust me with greater suffering. i love God's word... it saved my life! so i am clinging to the constant and mysterious strand throughout scripture where God uses sufferings to glorify himself. all of the saints, the biblical heroes, suffered. they considered it joy to be counted worthy. they realized that their Savior is glorified best through their sufferings.

From Romans 5, The Message:
There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!