Wednesday, March 30, 2016

3 rhinos need support for work study program

we've got 3 young men that need a little help.

oscar, marvin, and dennilson have all been with us ever since we opened the academy doors in 2011.  we've been through more than you can imagine with these three, and in the process been able to watch them grow into young men.  they've been a challenge for sure, but we keep praying for big things, and continue to have high hopes.

marvin wants to be a mechanic, oscar a computer graphic designer, and dennislon an auto mechanic
all 3 finished their tercero basico year (9th grade) last year and did not earn scholarships to continue in the high school program the school offers.  after several meetings and discussions with the boys and as a team, we came up with a plan.

its a work study program that will allow them to go to a technical trade school in San Lucas, and earn a certificate that will help them look for work in their field.  we've used this school for several years with other boys and have a good relationship with them.  they even offered us a significantly discounted rate.

marvin and dennilson chose "auto-mechanic", and oscar chose "computer graphic design".

the program we came up with requires them to work 3 mornings a week (volunteer work at another local ministry) in order to earn their tuition and travel expenses.  its a 1-year program and they will finish with a certificate/diploma for the completed training.

the total for the year is $550 per kid.  that includes tuition, class materials, bus fare and snack.

if anyone is interested in supporting this effort, please let us know!  you can donate here, or just shoot me an email to discuss :)

thanks for helping!


Monday, March 28, 2016

easter sunday

happy resurrection day! 

hope yours was special and meaningful.

ours was quiet, but really good.  we spent the morning hanging out as a family.  we listened to a john piper talk about the resurrection as it relates to our putting our own sin to death (romans 6).  led to some great family conversation...

later we had the rhinos over for some worship.  we talked about the weight of sin, and how the horrific murder and death of jesus led to the resurrection... and the end of sin and death for christians.  we watched a powerful video set to the music of a spanish speaking artist that depicted the crucifixion and resurrection.

one thing the boys struggle with - and it stems from the bondage of christian legalism in the village - is that the depth of their sin never gets dealt with.  they work hard to fix the exterior and "present themselves well", but in the end they are left with guilt and shame.  the local church teaches that if you are doing bad things, you aren't welcome in the church.  "get it fixed and come back when you are clean" is the message from the pulpit to the sinner.

over time, this fake and empty attempt at christian living fades away and is replaced by and "all or none" approach to sin.  meaning, when jose finally realizes he can't stop sinning, he throws in the towel on the whole thing.  he may as well indulge in every sin under the sun since he knows he'll never be perfect. 

what this leads to, and we've seen it over and over again through the years, is a nonsensical rotation of "who's in the church and who's not" at any given time.  those who are "in" are judgmental while hiding their own sin issues.  those who are "out" are the ones who (often times) got caught in their sin, were exposed and consumed by the village gossip.  because of the message being preached in the local church, they no longer feel "worthy" of coming, so they give up on their faith.

its a dark and evil cycle that directly contradicts the message of forgiveness and freedom.  a direct attack against the true meaning of the cross. 

so...  we teach.  with words and actions, we try to teach.  every day.  week after week.  month after month.  year after year...

it is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.  we believe there is no other way.

at one point during the john piper talk he talked about how the church often misses it bigtime by not going deep.  teachings can so often stay surface, leaving everyone feeling good.  but paul, in his missionary journeys and church planting efforts, never stayed surface.  he showed up in ephesus, for example, and camped out for 18 months... 6 days a week, 5 hours a day, teaching.  he taught about the deepest things imaginable.  his love and teaching was so extreme that it asked people to look at the deepest corners of their own heart and examine their sin.  and then the best part... how to be free.

i am encouraged by God's word to keep pushing and keep fighting!  dig deep and avoid no topic and avoid no conversation.  the more delicate the topic, the more necessary it is to go there.

for us in the context of our village in rural guatemala, that means one thing.  what does it mean in your environment?


happy resurrection day.  christ suffered, died, and rose again so that we may have freedom!  he asks us to join in his sufferings so that we may know resurrection as well.  what an honor...

“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:10-11

Sunday, March 27, 2016

bvsa honduras and paul's knee

its been an eventful week or so leading up to "semana santa".

it started with a visit to bvsa honduras to see the davis family and axel.  mynor and i, along with my girls took a bus this time (probably not doing that again).  we were also blessed to have some friends join us this time - dave, vic, and paul.

it was great to spend some time in the village of Travesia.  we were able to show the guys the property where the new academy will be, and most importantly just spend some time in the village with the people.  it was also a special opportunity to encourage the davis family and axel.

we are really excited to see what God has planned for bvsa honduras!  we know that He led us to the village of travesia.  we know that it is a broken place.  sexual sin and HIV are rampant.  fathers are absent.  poverty is extreme.  while ministry has already begun (the davis' and axel have been there for over a year) soon, we'll start raising funds to build the academy facilities.

while we were there, paul (davis) was playing in a basketball tournament for the local team.  he was already playing with a sore knee.  he took a ball on the post and spun around... only to hear a "pop" in his knee and hit the ground hard.

about 15 minutes later we were in the local hospital (don't think your typical emergency room) being told that there's nothing they can do as they have no MRI machines.  the closest one is in san pedro sula - over an hour away.

before we headed that way, we called to make sure... and were told they don't use the MRI machines on the weekend.  (it was saturday night.)  all we could do was laugh.  well, not paul... he was in too much pain :)

monday mornings MRI showed a completely ruptured patella tendon.  because of our relationship with dr. chew in guatemala - a close friend who is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in the knee - paul was on a flight late monday night to guatemala.

tuesday morning the diagnosis was confirmed and just a few hours later paul was having major knee surgery.  we are thankful for many prayers that were answered, including overnight reduction in swelling that made the fast surgery possible, as well as financial provision for the operation.

praise God - surgery went well, and paul is here with us recovering.  i know he'd love to be with his wife and girls for easter, but its been good to have him here.  we're just thankful for Gods purposes, even when we don't understand them...  and thankful to be able to help in a small way.

Monday, March 14, 2016

teen night

saturday night was our first "noche de jovenes" (teen night) in the gym.  this was in large part one of our rhino julio's idea, and has been in the works for months now.

during devotions with the older boys, we've been discussing sexual sin for a long time.  as we break it down, there are 2 angles in going after that particular sin.  the first is simply loving Jesus better.  more time with him, in worship, in our bibles, sharing with other christians, praying, etc.  as we do that, we naturally want to sin less as we take on the nature of Christ. 

the 2nd angle is more practical. they are steps towards obedience and safeguards against our weaknesses.  examples include anti-porn software on phones, not being alone with girlfriends, not watching TV past 10pm when inappropriate garbage is on, etc.  the list goes on. 

but one thing julio kept mentioning is that, in our village, there is simply nothing for young people to do.  he is convinced that teen pregnancy and promiscuity is a direct result of that.  the more i thought about it, the more i realized how true it was.

this isn't suburban america.  boys dont go to girls homes to sit with the family (nor vice versa) and watch TV.  there's no fast-food restaurant to hang out at... no movie theaters... no rec centers, parks, bowling alleys, or skating rinks.  (i might have just dated myself with skating rinks.)

point being, there is literally nowhere for young people to hang out.  so what do they do?  they find dark street corner or a cozy place in the woods and - well, you know.

sadly, the result is children having children.  and its a cycle that has been repeating itself in BV for as long as BV has been around.

so... i began asking julio leading questions.  "you've identified the problem, now start thinking about solutions..."  and from that, the idea of teen night in the gym was born.

we opened the gym saturday night with very little advance notice.  the boys shared it at school the day before, but that was it.  maybe 30-40 kids came throughout the night.  we had ping pong, basketball, and board games.

oh, and some dancing.  but that was just from my son.  as hard as jake tried, no one from our shy, easily embarrassed, dont-do-anything-that-draws-attention-to-yourself, Buena Vista culture bothered to join in.

oh well.  baby steps!

overall, i thought it was great.  we're going to keep opening the gym every saturday and see what happens.  walda said it best in an email to our team the day before the event.  "God is in this place and i'm praying everyone who comes in will feel Him."

thats my prayer too.  and also that kids will start coming here instead of to the woods and the dark street corners.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

raising boys

raising 32 boys in poor rural guatemala is just insane.

-one's family is desperate for help, literally has no food.
-another got a beat-down from his dad for intervening when he was drunk and beating his mom.
-most (of the older boys) fight against drinking, smoking, and pornography.
-one is being called vulgar names by his friends because he's trying to stop drinking with them.
-one pulled out his privates to a bunch of girls on the street.
-4 are all-out fist-fighting each other.
-another is being pressured by his dad to quit school and rhinos so he can work.
-one is repeatedly crying because of his insecurities.
-many are dealing with extremely tough situations at home and asking for help.
-2 quit the rhinos.

and that's just from this past week!
robin, pato, and jake - robin's 10th and 11th birthdays

if you are wondering...  yes, it was a very normal week :)

but as insane as it is, raising 32 boys is also pretty awesome.

i love them all, but there is something special about robin, pato, and milton.  clearly, that "something special" has to do with the fact that they have practically lived with us day-in and day-out for the last 5 years.

along with eli, they are my son jake's best friends.  but they are more than friends- they are brothers.  that's why his room is equipped with 2 sets of bunk beds!

we treat and love all 32 rhinos are like our own, but most of them go back to their homes at the end of the day.  that's where these 3 are different.  robin, pato and milton usually just stay.  and its been that way for years.

they wash dishes, take out trash, and clean up after dinner.  when we go out to run errands or out to eat, they come along.  like any teenagers, they love to eat!  they help themselves to the pantry and fridge, and we love that.  they wrestle, argue, play xbox, and stay up until 2am playing soccer.  they treat luciana (our 3yr old) her like their own little sister.

we've been through so much with them.  they are family.  we love and trust them fully.

along the way, all 3 have given their lives to jesus.  we've never asked them to or pressured them in any way.  i believe they have seen what a faith-led family looks like, and they simply long for it. they have seen a family and marriage centered on jesus - and its so vastly different than what they have experienced in their own homes - that they just won't settle for anything less.

milton, jake, robin, pato - robin's 15th birthday
regarding that, milton has been really interesting.  he's a thinker.  he has told me many times over the years that he thinks about God a lot, but just doesn't buy-in completely.  i've always told him i respect that.  i've encouraged him to take his time with it all and consider the cost of following jesus.

meanwhile i've prayed for him like crazy.  "please God draw this kid to yourself!"

recently he came up to me after practice and asked if he could join the tuesday night bible study group.  "of course you can.  why, what's up?"

"i'm ready.  i've been reading my bible.  i think about what i learn in our devotions all the time. i can't stop thinking about it.  i need to change.  i want to follow jesus."

there's just nothing as good as these moments.  they make the list at the top of this page worth every second.

raising 32 boys in guatemala is just insane.