There are so many things to say in this one letter that I am clueless as to how to begin…so many sentiments that need to be expressed adequately that will surely end up lacking. Always a daunting task, knowing you owe so much and have so little to offer. All the more reason to love a God who takes the little you offer and turns it into something amazing…so I’ll just ask Him to do that here and trust that His sufficiency will hover over these words.
Karen and I came as a team to the children’s home in the fall of 2005. We started the journey in the spring and summer with funds and plans being made and so every year at that time we take a look at where we are and our desire to continue our work here. It was the commitment that we made when we began that we would commit a year at a time and would always have the option to do something else if that’s what we felt God was leading us to do. In October of this year, we will have been here in the country for 3 years.
Allow me to say that it has been 3 of the very best years of my life. 3 of the most difficult, 3 of the most heart wearying, 3 of the most grueling emotionally, but 3 of the most growing changing fulfilling passionate years of my whole life. I have learned to love from a place deeper than I knew existed. I’ve prayed through sobs of desperation now unlike anything I had experienced before. I’ve cuddled up so tight with some little souls, that I’m not sure where my heartbeat ends and theirs begins, our hearts have just kinda become one in so many ways. I’ve combed lice, cleaned vomit, wiped up poo poo from the floor, all things that I could never have done before, my stomach is weaker than weak. I’ve also learned the “I love you more” game, the mountain of kisses game, the herbie – every color in the world game. Above all else, I have been taught through grace and patience how to be a mommy. These kiddo’s will always hold the most precious of spaces within my heart because among them God grew a momma heart that will hold them so tightly for the rest of my days.
For the past several months though the staff here and the IRC board have known that I will be transitioning from my full time role here at Casa. That certainly doesn’t mean that I will be walking away from their lives. I will come to visit and do anything I can to help if and when it is needed. I just feel called to a different form of ministry in the country at this point in the journey.
Every year when we bring teams down we spend our week visiting the hospital and the state run orphange that you’ve read about before on here and the mountain villages where people are sick and hungry. We spend time among the people and it is one of my very favorite things to do. I feel called out there among them. So, I want to schedule my days, weeks, and months to include more of that. I have an opportunity to go and spend a few hours a week with the teenage girls at Casitas Kennedy (the state run orphanage) who never get to leave there because the children’s homes don’t want to take them because they are too old and have too much baggage. So I will be starting a program next month to go in and invest in their lives for a few hours a week to remind them that they can “beat the system” and that they are worth it. I am way excited about that.
I will be spending a day a week visiting the hospital and especially helping with the babies with hydrocephaly. Attempting to start a program for the mothers who have just miscarried where they recieve a “prayer shawl” reminding them that we will be praying in their time of tremendous loss while they recuperate in a large hospital room where their beds rest right beside mothers who have delivered perfectly healthy babies who are crying and cooing right next to them.
I will spend days of my week on the mountains finding families who need help and attempting to find ways to meet that need more consistently than a few weeks out of the year. Adopt a family programs possibly or food drive through sacrifice, etc.
Have plans to work with the street kiddo’s who haven’t been taken in and cleaned up yet and who may never be who need the love of Christ as much as any of them. We’re looking at ways to safely feed them a couple times a week and share some time with them and build relationships.
I want to spend some time in some of the private high schools setting up service learning programs. Some of the rich kids here in the country have no idea the “other side” exists and so merging the two is incredibly important for everyone. There is so much potential as we all know when we ignite passion within young people.
New things are happening, plans are being formed, God is giving my heart passion for things to come and I am excited for all that is yet to be.
Three of the biggest FOR ABSOLUTE SURE things that I’ll be involved in are…
1) providing a “haven” for 3 guys who have grown so near and dear to my heart. They are like my little brothers and they have sooo much potential to be men of God with some help and guidance. They live near the Casa property now and ever since we have come to this country God has put them in our lives and I have heard Him whisper over and over again, “help them.” So they’ll be coming to live in a house that I rent in the city that will become my “ministry house.” It will never be mine, it’s all God’s anyway, and He will show me what to use it for and when. I will begin by putting in 3 bunks for these guys and allowing them to call this place home. I will also open it up to folks who are wanting to come and minister here on a longer term basis so that they can have a home to serve out of.
2) and I am supremely excited about this…for the past year and a half or so you’ve read some things and certainly heard me talk about my little Larios family. I love them so much. They have gone above and beyond to serve me and people that God brings into my life that need help and I have watched from a distance at moments the way they live their lives. I am humbled beyond my ability to say so. Mami and Papi Larios started an organization twenty some years ago called Cadena de Amor (Chain of Love) to help children get back and forth to the States for medical treatment that they couldn’t receive here. Essentially without help they would not make it. So Cadena arranges for their visas, finds a hospital that will donate their care, secures an escort for the child and sometimes their family, arranges their transportation and gets them to the States and back for treatment. In the past 20 years or so they have helped more than 8,000 children. They get no fanfare, there is no hype, they just set their hearts and minds to serve and help and it is beautiful. For so long they have done so much of the work without much adequate help. They both have private clinics, Mami is a dentist and Papi an orthopedic surgeon, but they both donate the first hours of their days to this volunteer effort. They wake at 6 to pray together, spend until about 12 doing volunteer work, then go to their clinics everyday from 1 until 8 or 9 at night. Lives lived well and I am grateful and honored to be invited to be a part of what they are doing to serve people. So I will be joining the “Chain of Love” team to help in whatever ways God allows me to do so.
3) And equally as exciting, a new ministry will begin working in Honduras, which also includes some dear people to my heart. My friend Steve Jeffers and some other folks have felt called to come and invest in life in Honduras and help the suffering as well. They have asked me to be their on the ground coordinator for what they will begin here and we are dreaming together of what that will look like. Steve’s ministry is called International Agape Missions and he has done mission work in various countries, including Indonesia and others, and is a member of the disaster relief team that is called upon when disasters happen all over the world. He is a man of faith and he chases after God’s heart and I am overjoyed to be able to work with he and his team.
Transition is always bittersweet. Excitement for the future and sorrow at leaving these sweet kiddo’s to pursue it. Trust me when I say that if I didn’t know this was of God I would never have been able to leave them and walk away. It still is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done and I know it is from Him. It’s difficult to leave something you’ve poured so much of your heart and soul into.
I would certainly appreciate your prayers for the next couple of months as we all transition. Please pray that for all the ways that Satan would like to wreak havoc that he will be stunted in every attempt. Pray that God will use us all in the ways He most wants to use us and that we will listen to His voice alone and follow His example.
Above all else please pray for the kiddo’s here at Casa. Pray that they will be protected by His almighty hands and cradled in His arms of love as things change for them.
He is faithful.
Thank each of you so much for the ways you have encouraged and supported both me and this project. I pray you will continue to support this project and this girl as things look a bit different but this hearts goal continues to remain the same.
Called into his kingdom and compelled by love to live there. My hearts desire is still and prayerfully will always be to love others into His arms in any way He gives me to do so.
Blessings on all of you. Continue to seek His face. Much love.