Wednesday, December 26, 2012

please help (iris' story)

iris is in her mid twenties with 2 kids.  not long ago, she felt some numbness in her right arm. 

unlike you and me, she couldn't afford to go to a doctor just to make sure it was nothing serious.  she doesn't have any friends, relatives (or friends of relatives) who are doctors to give a call.

before long, it she was completely bedridden, unable to move the entire right side of her body. 

we didn't know about it.  nobody did.  tucked away in a small impoverished village in guatemala, a young mom lays in her bed all day while her husband goes to work and her kids play on the floor.

it got worse.  the paralysis spread, and she began to lose her eyesight.  finally, her grandmother had to do something.  she had to tell somebody.  she had to go find help.

when we answered our door, with tears in her eyes, her first words were "please help."

what a humbling honor it is to receive a visit from someone in desperation.  to know that God entrusts us (allows us) to be his hands and feet, in divine moments sent by him and for him so that we can be him.  almost seems too amazing to be real.

iris had been told by someone that she needed an spinal operation so we were expecting as much.  after some initial testing, it looks as if her spine is fine, and that the injury could be a build up of fluid in the brain.  it is still early, so please pray with us as we begin the process with her, and praise God with us for those who are helping us help her.

unfortunately people like iris are suffering everywhere.  as the hands and feet of Christ, let us be sensitive, aware, and available.  please Lord, dont let us get too busy or distracted (even doing good things) and forget that our primary and simple job as your followers is to love and care for people.

Monday, December 24, 2012

celebrating christmas

tonight and tomorrow, all over the world, christians and non-christians alike celebrate.  some celebrate the "holidays."  some celebrate santa claus, saint nicholas, kris kringle, etc.  some celebrate by simply getting together as families and exchanging gifts.  different cultures have different twists on how they do it.

but all over the world, there are some that celebrate the birth of a baby boy believed to be the son of God.  that he was conceived divinely through a young virgin girl - sent to share the good news, live a sinless life, and save mankind by dying on a cross in order to deliver people from their sins so that they may live eternally. 

from purely an intellectual standpoint, it all sounds crazy.  the idea of jesus sounds just as crazy as that of santa claus!  but to believe, to know him, to trust him - defies knowledge.  paul wrote in 1 corinthians 1:

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”  Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."
i personally love that the story of jesus - the story that i believe with every ounce of my being - seems too crazy to be believable.  i couldn't imagine putting my faith into anything that makes practical sense, or that is easily understandable.  then it wouldn't really be faith, would it? 

i also love that the seemingly crazy story of the birth of jesus christ is what causes practically the whole world to celebrate on this day, whether they know why or not.

tonight, while fireworks erupt all over guatemala, and millions celebrate all over the world, i remember a baby that was born in obscurity over 2,000 years ago.  a baby sent from an all-powerful God that could have chosen a more "prestigious" entrance into mankind if he wanted to.  but he came poor and humbly - to be one of us, so that we could relate with him.

he lived, died, and rose again - so that i could live forever.  and for anyone else who chooses. 

christmas represents an amazing, magical, supernatural event.  may we all celebrate, and may we all believe!

feliz navidad

all of us at the boys academy wishing our supporters a merry christmas!

click here for a quick video from us and all of the boys!

we love you all and appreciate your support so much.  thanks for all that you do for us.

feliz navidad!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

end of the world

the original mayan calendar suggests that tomorrow, dec 21, 2012 will be the end of the world.   living in the mayan culture of guatemala, there are many people who believe this, or are at least a little nervous about it.  it's been the talk of the boys in the academy all week...

for anyone who believes this to be true, please feel free to leave behind your savings, retirement account balances, etc, to a good cause by clicking here!

Friday, December 14, 2012

mr. burns

there's a guy in our village that the locals call "seƱor burns" - after the character "mr. burns" on the simpsons.  innocently enough, the guy does resemble mr. burns (pictured to the right).

but even innocent jokes can hurt.

mariano is a loner.  he is not from buena vista.  he moved here to live with his brother.  he says that the violence in the city got too intense, and his brother always told him that buena vista was a quiet, friendly village.

while mariano might describe BV as quiet, i dont think he would call it friendly.

we've been friends with mariano practically since we moved here almost 5 years ago.  no doubt he's unique... but we've always liked him.  he's quirky, but also pretty interesting and quite friendly.

it wasn't until recently that i realized how mean the people in the village are to him.

the topic came up in devotion time with the varsity boys yesterday.  mariano had stopped by to ask me to taste some of the pastries he had baked, as he's trying to start a business selling bread and cakes in the local market.  some of the boys had noticed that he stopped by, and i overheard some of the jokes...

as we discussed it freely, the boys shared about how rude, bad, and different mariano is.  "different" because he looks funny.  "rude" because when you greet him when passing him on the street he responds short and quietly.  and "bad" because he smokes cigarettes openly.

the conversation became what i am imagining will be the first of many.  we touched on judging others without knowing their personal stories.  we talked about how jesus loved on the down-and-outs and the marginalized.  we talked about how words hurt - how the things that people yell at mariano as he walks down the street could lead him towards depression and sadness.

every year since my kids were little, kerrie and i have challenged them to keep an eye out for students at school that are different, or left out.  their job?  to reach out, talk to them, learn about them, and make friends.  over the years, some of their closest friends were the otherwise "unpopular".  as they have gotten older, our hope is that it has become completely natural for them to avoid measuring people by their exterior and get to know people for who they are inside.

so i challenged the boys to reach out to mariano.  say hello, shake his hand, or ask him how he's doing.  find out something about his life.  who knows, they might just find out that he's not so bad, rude, or even different.

i'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

my luci

Luciana Andrea meets Cesar
luci andrea is 10 days old today.  its been a great first week- she is precious, calm, and beautiful!  (not to say our sleeping patterns haven't been "tweaked" a little bit!) 

kerrie is doing great.  all the kids are helping out a ton.  LA is definitely not lacking attention!
here's quick video link from luciana andrea's first week home...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

already learning from Luciana Andrea

Luciana Andrea Johnson was born at 1:00am this morning, December 2, 2012.  She weighed 6lbs, 4oz.  Kerrie is doing great.  She was amazing...  and Luciana is precious!!

We arrived at the hospital (small clinic) in Antigua around 10:30pm last night.  We had been calling our doctor since before 9pm but he was not answering his phone.  An empty clinic greeted us, with only a security guard to let us in.  But not until we moved our car over 2 spaces in the empty lot since the front one needed to be left open for "emergencies".  Apparently "woman having baby" didn't qualify.

There seemed to be no one around.  Finally a young intern-looking nurse guy led us to a room and told us to wait.  After about 5-10 minutes, I started walking around the place looking for someone to help us.  Kerrie was having strong contractions about every 3 minutes at this point, and I was slightly frustrated that no one was interested.

I finally found a nurse, and explained that my wife was going into labor, and no one was helping us.  She put us in another room and said a doctor would arrive shortly.  You guessed it, a few minutes later, in comes the nurse kid...

I'm sure my eyebrows crinkled up as i immediately asked, "how old are you?"  I could tell by his reaction that he thought my direct question was rude.  He didn't even answer.  So I continued, "you're too young to be a doctor - how old are you?"  He said he was 26 and just finished medical school.  Oh boy, going to be a long night...

After that, our nurses came in and gave Kerrie and IV.  They were sweet, but made me nervous!  I didn't want to judge... but they just didn't seem "qualified."  One nurse timed the solution drops with her own watch, while another looked on from a distance as if she was watching all of this for the first time.

Doctor-boy came back in and took a plastic-glove exam as i cringed and prayed for God to supernaturally warp his credentials ahead 10 years (in which case he would still be the youngest OBGYN by another 10 years that I had ever met).

As I paced the floor and cussed our doctor and his so-called "emergency cell phone number" that he had given us, Kerrie made a comment to me that made my world stand still.  "Babe, calm down.  It's not like our trust is in doctors."

Up until this point, she had been the one worried about the doctor, the clinic, and "delivery day" in general.  I had been the solid one, assuring her that it would all work out.  Man, how quickly that had changed...

Her words hit me somewhere deep.  Here she is, managing intense labor contractions in a small, guatemalan clinic, where we have every reason in the world to be "concerned" - and she exudes peace and confidence.  Not in herself.  Certainly not in me.  But in Jesus.

It was exactly as we had prayed just an hour or so earlier as we left the house.  Together with the Davis fam, we asked God to comfort Kerrie, and to give her peace.  In the hour to follow, as I was getting more and more frazzled, God was answering that very prayer.

From that point, everything changed.  The women who up until that point I had been calling our "indigenous nurses" suddenly became uniquely qualified.  The young doctor proved himself to be capable and knowledgeable.  I became an encourager and supporter to Kerrie instead of a pessimistic complainer.

Our doc soon showed up, apologizing that he had been called into an emergency surgery at another hospital.  I prayed silently to myself, "God forgive me for, among other things, cussing this good man."

Before we knew it, Luciana Andrea joined our family in the same way that Madi, Brooke, and Jake had before. Sure, I can probably count 50 differences throughout the process.  But none were the fault of the nurses or doctors.  

Traditions, customs, and resources easily explain why this delivery was so different then the past ones.  Interestingly, and as it typically does, the situation also exposed to us the unnecessary excess that we had grown accustomed to in the USA as well.  

But we praise God for where we are today.  What a journey we have been on so far.  Each step forcing us to trust more and more in Jesus, and less and less in ourselves.  

Thank you for praying for Kerrie and for Luciana Andrea.  We witnessed God answering your prayers.