Before and After

Before-

Last week we were in Mexico. As I prepared for the trip I wrote….

I’ve spent every summer in Mexico since 1998 except the summer of 2000; the year when Genesis was born. But this summer, I’m not looking forward to being there. It took a lot of effort, prayers, godly counsel and muscle to get our family of 6 along with two of our dogs to the states and now after being here 2 months, I must return South of the Border. As far as I can remember, this is the first time since September of 2004 that I have not wanted to return.

I remember traveling with Rodney and 3 of the girls. Zion was only 8 weeks old and I did not want to return to Mexico. Life there was difficult, we didn’t know the language, we didn’t have many friends, the house we were renting was moldy. In fact, there was a time when Rodney, Trin and I all had mold growing under our fingernails. We were poor, felt alone and life was tough.

After spending a few extra days at the boarder wrestling with our negative feelings and with God, we decided to return to Mexico. We didn’t want to spend our lives wondering what God would have done through us had we only been faithful.

Over the years the hardships and struggles only served to strengthen our faith and deepen our relationship with each other and our Lord.

This week as I struggled, once again, with my feelings of not wanting to return to Mexico, I read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It didn’t take long for me to adjust my attitude. I have so many things to be thankful for. And now after all these years I can look back with thankfulness at all that God has accomplished in spite of the difficulties that we faced.

After-

Fast Forward to the end of our trip…..

Lord-I thank you for this trip! I did not want to come, but I’m glad I did. You have blessed us and loved on us while we were here. Thank you to our friends LeAnna and Jerry who have blessed us with their “little house”. Staying here has given us privacy and precious downtime we both desperately need. While here we have gotten to visit friends and loved ones, we have shared laughs and tears. Thank you, Lord, that we were here to be able to comfort our friend Lucinda as L.C. passed into glory. Thanks that I got to sing once again with my friends, who I’ve missed, in the LCBC Choir. Thanks for Hope House! Annel and Ismael are doing a FANTASTIC job, much better than Rodney and I could do at this point. They are standing on our shoulders and advancing God’s Kingdom and changing lives. Investing 15 1/2 years in her life was worth it! Thank you that she and Ismael embrace the vision You Father gave us for Hope House and they are not only maintaining in our absence, but thriving. This trip has reassured me that we are exactly where we need to be, doing exactly what we need to be doing. It has brought much healing to my weary heart. Thank you for blessing me with peace that YOU have got this under control. Thank you for encouraging me to rest in You.

Thought-

There are times when life is difficult and there are times when we just imagine that life will be difficult. I know that God has a plan and purpose in each of them. I pray that God gives us the wisdom to know the difference and to be thankful for both seasons.

Our Bittersweet Calling

Working with abused and neglected boys is a bitter sweet calling. There are some boys who are grateful to have been rescued from the hell which they were living in and yet there are far more who are bitter, angry and ungrateful, acting as if they have been snatched from a loving family and home. It is a truth of our work that only those who have experienced will truly understand.

There is a hardness which comes after having suffered abuse or having lived on the streets. I think it comes with self preservation. Even the littlest ones have learned all to well the “tricks of the trade”. They have learned to manipulate with tears as they lie behind your back, or worse yet, lie to your face. Even the most enduring, sweet soul can be caught on camera sneaking money from the office change box or overheard telling someone that you hit them or don’t feed them. My husband has been spit on, bitten, punched, lied to, lied about and taken advantage of more times than I can count. And yet he faithfully works on their behalf, with the hope that they could come to know Christ and breaking this vicious cycle of abuse.

From the time I was little I had a heart for the underprivileged. Growing up, I volunteered at soup kitchens, food banks and homeless shelters. In highschool I led work teams at a local rehab shelter and organized food & clothing drives. I have worked with the deaf and handicapped. I taught special education and excelled at reaching pre-teen boys with behavioral issues. But nothing adequately prepared me for this!

I often say that this work is not for the faint at heart and that you certainly need to be “called” to do this. It is difficult to keep perspective when you live day in and day out with these blemished souls. It is also very humbling to give your life for the welfare of those who rarely appreciate you, who often think you are against them or who will turn on you in an instant.

And yet when all is said and done, I know that these guys have a great opportunity to know Christ as Savior and be set free from the hurts of their past. I know that because we are here, they have loving arms to hold them, a safe place to sleep tonight, clothes to wear, food to eat, the opportunity for an education and medical care. I know that because we are here they have hope for a better future & hope for eternity. And that makes the bittersweet, seem just a little bit sweeter.

Batten Down the Hatches

This time of year rainy season is coming to an end. That is not to say there is no rain, but instead that the rains have changed. Normally rainy season is characterized by bright sunny days which are refreshed with nightly rains. By morning all the clouds have disappeared and shortly after daybreak all the puddles have evaporated. But this time of year, when the grey clouds cover the sky and the steady rain pours for days on end, it can only mean two things………..tropical storm or hurricane.

A friend told me yesterday that according to the weather forecast we are due for 10 more days of rain. So I decided to inquire online for more details. What I saw surprised me……in fact I don’t think we have ever experienced this type of storm. There is a hurricane in the Gulf and a tropical storm in the Pacific both converging together in a swirling motion over Guadalajara.

Having received more than 2.5 inches of rain in the last two days there is no need to point out that the sky is dark and water is everywhere. Dirt roads have turned into giant mud traps and weather that recently felt like spring now is too cold to be mistaken for anything other than hurricane season. And although we are 4 hours inland off the west coast and many more from the east coast, it seems each year the storms get a little worse.

Not only is everything outside wet, but after having throughly soaked through the cement buildings the water begins to make its way inside. At our house we have a delicate waterfall in the corner of our dining room. At Hope House it started as a small steady drip in one of our out buildings, but now is more like a small water fountain trickling in the upstairs hallway of the main house.

Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done to stop the leaks, at least not at the moment. All the cement must be completely dry before repairs can be made. So for now we “batten down the hatches” to weather this storm. But be assured that as soon as the sun comes out and dries the cement we will need to patch and seal all the leaky buildings, before the next “wave” hits.

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Living Hope

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(Luis turned 18 in May, he and I are pictured above. The photo was taken the night he graduated from YWAM’s Discipleship Training School.)

Luis is the first boy living at Hope House to turn 18 while in our care. This is so very significant because many boys his age become desperate as they near this monumental event and decide to leave and pursue life on their own. Not Luis, when that sensation came, instead, he determined to dig in and persevere. Instead of running away, Luis dedicated his life to God’s service and entered a discipleship program with a local ministry and is now serving God by working at Hope House! We couldn’t be more proud of him!

Luis, suffering great physical hardships because of the neglect he endured as a young boy, is mostly deaf, has extremely poor vision and a severe speech impediment, and yet those who know Luis are captivated by his giant smile and amazed with his thankful attitude. Luis is a shining example of God’s goodness and grace.

Beginning life so unlikely to succeed, Luis brings to reality this statement of the Apostle Paul: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…”
1 Corinthians 1:27

We are so proud of Luis for his accomplishments and for the man of God he is becoming. God literally took him out of a hopeless situation and gave him Hope for a better future. Now he is a living example of that Hope to the younger generation of boys at Hope House.

ETERNALLY GRATEFUL

(It seems in the business of summer, hosting teams and travel I have failed to post a few blogs about Hope House. Please forgive me!)

There are certain milestones in a ministry which signify faithfulness and endurance. Celebrating five years of existence is one of those milestones. We are pleased to announce, on June 20, 2013 Hope House turns FIVE.

We are so excited about this birthday! As Hope House turns FIVE we celebrate more than just an institution completing another year of existence, we celebrate FIVE years of boys being placed in a loving home and learning to break the cycle of abuse and neglect; FIVE years of boys accepting Jesus into their hearts and allowing his love to heal them and then grow into hopes and dreams for a better future.

This birthday we want to say “THANK YOU!”
“THANK YOU” to a God for his faithfulness, protection, provision and guidance.
“THANK YOU” to the many workers, missionaries & volunteers who labor daily to make Hope House a reality.
“THANK YOU” to so many of You, who through your financial and prayer support are helping us “Give Hope to Those who have None.”

We are eternally grateful and so are the boys whose lives have been forever changed!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOPE HOUSE!

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Thanksgiving

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Tears filled his eyes as he contemplated my question…”What would you like us to pray about today?”

In July we began a weekly prayer meeting at Hope House. Each Friday a group gathers in the dining hall for an hour to pray for the Hope House. We ask God to be our center, our focus and that we would lift Him up in everything we do, we ask him to bless our home and ministry that he would give up wisdom to raise these boys for His glory and of course we ask him for salvation for our boys and unsaved staff. About a month ago we decided to extend that prayer time to include individual prayer time for the boys.

Their eagerness to receive prayer is amazing. When asked who wants prayer, hands shoot up all over the room. One by one we begin praying. Rodrigo wanted to be first, he wanted to forgive his father. Jonathan Ulesis also felt the need to forgive his father. Some prayed for direction, many prayed for their Moms and family. Christian, Ricardo, and Uriel all accepted Jesus as their Savior.

This week Christian returned for prayer. He stood before me and hesitated when I asked him what he wanted to pray about. I watched as his eyes turned red and began to fill with tears. Being concerned that there was a problem, I asked him if he wanted the other boys to leave in order to have a little privacy. He quickly regained his composure and said, “no”. Then he began, “I want to thank God for bringing me here, for giving me a home and a family, food to eat, a bed to sleep in and clothes to wear.” Honestly, I am not sure what more he said because by this time I too, was crying.

Later that day I was reminded of a time 8 years ago when we were ready to “throw in the towel”. We sat in a budget hotel at the Mexican/American border, three kids, low on money, encouragement and support. Rodney and I seriously discussed our future as missionaries and what life would look like if we just walked away. Fortunately we are both pretty stubborn and we just couldn’t come to terms with one question. “What if?…..” What if we stay? What will God do if we hang in there? And we were haunted with the idea of never knowing the answer to what the future might hold. So we decided to load up our truck and 15-passenger van, the three girls, Zion six-weeks, Trinity two-years old and Genesis four-years old and make the two day drive to Ixtlahuacan de Los Membrillos and see what The Lord had in store for us. It took every ounce of willpower we had that day to cross the Mexican border and return to a dream of a home for abused and abandoned children.

And so today, along with Christian and many more grateful boys, I am thankful! I am thankful for a faithful God who has turned a dream into a reality. I am thankful that we decided to press on that day eight years ago,thankful for the hundreds of boys who have had the opportunity to hear about Jesus, thankful for the 100s who have accepted Jesus in their hearts, thankful for the opportunity and privilege to be a part of these boys lives, thankful for helping to give them a safe home, a family, food, clothes, a bed, an education and medical care and thankful for those of you who help make Hope House a reality. Happy Thanksgiving!