Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Bonus Blessing Day!

It’s bonus day today.

Friday of the mission trip in Guatemala, I gave the devotional.  God had placed on my heart the concept of the 'ripple effect'.  How everything we do has an effect on others, so let's do good things.  I handed out these rippled-looking tchotchkes as reminders.

Today, while I was sorting through photos and thoughts of Guatemala, there was a knock at the door. I don’t open the door to strangers when I am home alone. I didn’t recognize the vehicle or even the face until I had fully opened the door. I was shocked at myself for opening the door, but even more shocked that he was standing there.

In invited him in and over the course of about 45 minutes, apologies were made for 20 years of hurts, bitterness and anger, and hearts were healed.

God has been working in his life and he stepped out in obedience today, even though he was nervous. Ripples created by others had touched him.

Thank you, God, for this bonus blessing today.

If you are feeling nudged to apologize to someone, please step out in obedience. I have had an issue on my heart for several weeks now, and because this one person followed through today, I realize that I need to do the same.


Guatemala ~ Armando, Mi Amor

On Thursday, I had been assigned the job of helping paint the ceiling in one of the boys’ rooms at Cerecaif. Adriana had drawn stars, the moon, a rocket ship and the star of the show, an astronaut. So we began painting the celestial oasis.

Sitting on the corner of a bottom bunk, flipping through the pages of a tiny New Testament, was Armando. At first, he seemed shy and didn’t really want to engage in any kind of communication. I knew nothing about Armando, but quickly realized that there was something very special about him. In between painting stars, I would peek around the corner of the bunk bed to see Armando looking at me. We began a game of peek-a-boo. Armando giggled. My heart jumped. Then I giggled. Then I’m pretty sure he was laughing at my silly attempts to make him laugh. I could not get enough of the sweet sound. If I waited too long in between peek-a-boos, Armando would stand and look over the top bunk at me. Then I would giggle, which made him giggle.

Armando never spoke a single word to me, but my heart heard him loud and clear.

Friday afternoon brought the 7th anniversary party for Cerecaif. After a wonderful program by the children, there was delicious food and cake. The children were lined up at the cake table. Armando, with his empty cake plate, looked lost and a little distressed at all of the party chaos. I made my way to the front of the line to get him a piece of cake. Then another.  Shhh…that will be our little secret. While the other kids played with balloons, dance and sang, and enjoyed having their photo taken, Armando sat quietly observing the activities. Occasionally I would catch him looking at me. My heart heard him saying, “Please laugh with me.” I tried to distract him from the chaos with our special game of peek-a-boo.

My heart was already hurting for the goodbyes I would soon have to say. I fought back tears and kept playing, trying to spend as much time as I could with Armando.

It was time. The tears flowed as I hugged new little friends. I wanted desperately to hug Armando, but I knew that is not how he receives love. Having special attention paid to him through smiles and laughter and a silly game of peek-a-boo in a world where he is often forgotten, is how he receives love. And so with one more peek-a-boo, I blew a kiss to Armando and whispered “Te amo.”

My prayer is that when I get back to visit Armando, we will be able to pick up where we left off. And that in the meantime, when he is alone in his room or in the midst of chaos, he will remember our shared giggles.

Thank you, God, that Armando shared his joy with me.

This is what laughing will sound like in Heaven.

Armando is 14 years old. He is autistic. He has been at Cerecaif since 2004. He enjoys turning the pages in books, cake, looking at Matchbox cars, and laughing. Please pray that he will continue to receive love through the special attention that he needs.

Thanks to the generous donations made by friends and family, Armando will be sponsored for the next year.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Could Choose Not To Move, But I Refuse.

It’s Guatemala Eve. Finally.

For more than 5 months, I have been anticipating this part of the journey. The travel to Guatemala and the time spent in Guatemala. When I signed up for this trip, I could not wait until I saw what God did IN Guatemala. “What amazing things will you show me, God? How will you use me in the lives of these sweet angels?“ Well, let me just tell you…I haven’t left the USA yet, and God has already done some amazing things. I never imagined so much would be done BEFORE the trip.

I knew, pretty much instantly, that I was supposed to go on this mission trip. That whole “God spoke to me” thing happened, in my heart. The more mature I become spiritually, the better I hear Him. And the easier it is for me to obey. I sat on the idea of participating in this mission trip for a couple of days before I approached Jim. “My friend Ronne is leading a mission trip to Guatemala to work with orphans. I think I’m supposed to go.” I began asking my prayer warriors for help. God answered, “Go.”

I struggled, briefly, with the thought of soliciting help (my independent stubbornness).
I sent out letters asking for mission trip contributions and prayers. The response was overwhelming. One thing I have learned during this journey…people WANT to help. I have cried at the kindness and generosity of my friends and family.

There were times when I wondered how the financial end was going to come together. God answered, “I’ll take care of it.” In addition to the contributions, opportunities to earn extra money came for both me and Jim. Extra photography work for me. Extra part-time jobs for Jim. I even received an unexpected refund check from overpaying for an MRI last year. We will be able to buy a microwave for one of the orphanages, buy extra food and supplies AND sponsor a sweet angel for an entire year, thanks to the donations.

Several people contributed supplies. In fact, my suitcases (I have to bring 2) are so heavy, loaded with supplies, that I’m wondering if I’ll be able to manage them at baggage claim. This is a wonderful ‘problem’ to have. Yes?

I have asked for prayers all along this journey. My friends and family have been so supportive, offering up prayers every time I ask. This is where my peace comes from. I’ve struggled with distractions. Prayers fixed them. I’ve doubted my abilities. Prayers fixed that too.

What I’ve learned so far:
It’s OK to ask for help. By asking for help, we are able to do SO MUCH MORE!
How to receive help (which, for me, is equally as difficult as asking).
Leaning heavily on God. He has worked all of this out…every little detail.
What peace feels like. Regarding this trip, I have no reservations. No real concerns.
People are kind and generous. They want to help.
Prayer works and God shows up!

My husband has been so amazing during this journey. Thank you, my love, for working so hard to make this happen.

To everyone who has contributed money, supplies, prayers and support: ‘Thank you’ will never be enough to express my sincere gratitude to you. You have blessed me abundantly. I will pour those blessings out on the forgotten in Guatemala.

"I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me to do myself.  I could choose not to move, but I refuse."

If God is talking to you, whispering gently or giving you big 'in your face' signs, listen to him.  I dare you to move.