Saturday, June 27, 2009

Finding HOPE. Showing LOVE.

Finding HOPE. Showing LOVE. That is what I named the Guatemala picture album on Facebook. I felt as though those 4 simple words summed up the theme of my week there.

When we go and follow God's heart for the unsaved, the needy, the widow, and the orphan we are fulfilling His call on our lives. James 1:27a says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress...." Our pastor did a sermon about this verse and he described religion as "the outward expression of what is in our hearts." Does our brokeness over the orphan and widow move us to GO and SERVE and LOVE??
It is hard to hold these precious children in your arms and know what their circumstances are. It is hard for me to smile and laugh with them when my heart is breaking in two. Yet everytime I find HOPE. Through the injustice, the tears, the pain, our God is a God of HOPE. I have to trust in His plan for each precious child and search for the glimmers of hope in each one. This is a lesson that has been really hard for me to learn, but one that God really impressed on me this trip. TRUSTING HIM for HOPE for these kids.
On Sunday, we went to a fantastic church up at Eagle's Nest. The pastor spoke straight out of the Bible, and it was evident that He had spent much time preparing for the message. They welcomed us with OPEN arms and could not have been more hospitable and inviting to our group. We felt bad seating 27 people down around their small group of 20!! We more than doubled their church service! He spoke from Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." He talked about how we should ALWAYS be witnesses to what God has done in our lives. We should constantly be proclaiming His faithfulness to us. This was a fabulous way to start out our week, being reminded that we are here to proclaim the Gospel there in Guatemala, and then to go home and share with our families.

We did some reallly hard work while we were there!! Real manual labor- lugging buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets and buckets (you get the idea) of gravel and dirt down this slippery hill. Despite our sore muscles and aching feet, most of us actually enjoyed it! It felt good to do hard work, and serve the orphanage. When we thought we couldn't lift another bucket or wheelbarrow, we would encourage eachother with the verse from Hebrews 12, "let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." God had called us to do this work and we would persevere until it was done!!
I had to look for HOPE again when we left the orphanage Friday morning. I had already said goodbye to Claudia Thursday night, and purposely avoided the orphanage doors and windows, thinking that maybe I could climb into the bus without seeing her again. I had taken her outside that night and talked with her, but I don't think either of us really "got it" emotionally. Well... we walked up the steps to wait for the bus and out of the doors of the orphanage come the big girls. My sweet Claudia came running into my arms and I completely lost it. In front of the entire team I cried for my girl. My heart was absolutely breaking at the thought of saying good-bye to this precious child. As usual, it takes awhile to get everyone loaded up, and one of my roomates ran to grab her camara (she is an excellent photographer) and took some awesome pics of Claudia and I. We had about 20 minutes together and she only left my arms once to go and get the sweets the mamas were handing out. Those 20 minutes were a gift from God. I am so thankful I had that. As we traveled back to Guatemala City I had lots of time to think, and I kept quoting to myself my life verse, Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope." I BELIEVE this to be true for Claudia. I do not know what is in store for her little life. I do not know if I will ever kiss her cheeks again or hear her precious giggle. But I KNOW that my God has a plan for her life and I KNOW that He has already used her to change my heart!!

All in all, it was an incredible week. Unforgettable memories, lessons, and stories. Thank you Jesus for helping me find HOPE when I was there. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to show Your LOVE to these people.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back in the US

Well I am back in the US. My heart is broken, and I am an emotional mess. But I come back more in love with Jesus, more broken for the orphans, more in love with Guatemala, and desiring a deeper relationship with the Lord. I am not ready to jump back into life, into work, and into the daily routines. I just want to grieve over the millions of children without homes. Their deep, empty eyes haunt my heart. The lost and broken people of this world. Their futures send chills down me.

Spencer, a friend of mine, gave me a sermon to listen to while we were in Guatemala. It was by John Piper (a fabulous pastor/speaker by the way, who has released all of his sermons and you can download them for FREE!). Anyway, it was about how the Lord places holy ambitions in our hearts. The sermon struck me right at home and reminded me again of how this burden and brokeness in my heart was placed there by the Father. There are times I wish that I'd never gone to Guatemala, never met Claudia. Yet- IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE! I would not be this girl if I hadn't experienced those things. I would not be clinging to my Savior if my eyes had not been opened. I would not be in love with the sweetest 6 yr-old who lives in Guatemala. My room would not be covered in Scripture and pictures of the orphans. I love the story that God is weaving, despite the fact that it is heart-breaking, painful, emotional, and challenging.

Psalm 146
1 Praise the LORD. [a]
Praise the LORD, O my soul.

2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.

4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,

6 the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
the LORD, who remains faithful forever.

7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,

8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.

9 The LORD watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Desire

My prayer journal today:

Father as I go on this trip I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity. I am blown away by your goodness to me.

Please open my eyes to see as you see. As I look around at your creation in Guatemala, may I see the beauty of You displayed everywhere. I pray that I would see every person as a unique being created by You and loved by You. I pray that I would be quick to see those in need, quick to see opportunities to minister.

Please guard my mouth, that every word would be pleasing to You. May words of encouragement flow from my lips this week, lifting my team members up and declaring Your name. I pray that You would bring quick recall for my Spanish so I can effectively communicate the gospel to the people there.

Please use my hands to further your kingdom and be a blessing. I cannot wait to hug these children, and extend warm handshakes to the Guatemalan people.

I commit this trip, my heart, my all to you- may it bring You glory!


I am leaving to go back to Guatemala.

I have experienced an outpouring of God's grace on my heart. I was feeling uneasy, scared, doubtful, guilty, unprepared, unequipped, incapable, and tired. There was a spiritual battle raging and I could feel it. I kept praying, "Lord, please quiet my heart. You have said in Your Word, "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." After battling these thoughts and feelings for the past day, I finally feel at peace, and even excited to embark on this journey.

The last I heard, Claudia will be there- praise God! I have no idea if she knows that she's being transferred. My goal is just to show her and all the others as much love as I possibly can. I'm also hoping to go and find that family we helped in March. I'm bring a picture of her and am praying the Lord will provide someone who knows her and can take us to her house.

Thank you all for your prayers! I will post when I get back next week!!



Thursday, June 4, 2009

Catch Up

I did not want my blog to be a twice-a-month explanation of why i don't have time to blog. Rather, I would love to do more frequent posts with more consistency than a summary of my day haha. BUT at the moment that's just not going to happen. Maybe tommorow. Or this weekend. Or next week.

But for a quick rundown of my life until I actually get into a schedule...

My best friend Milly graduated last weekend. It was so much fun to see her graduate and share in her exciting weekend. I cannot express how grateful I am for the gift of her friendship. She will be going to Guatemala and I am so excited to go on this adventure with my friend!

Guatemala is in NINE days. 200 hours away. Craziness. I face a bundle of emotions as I approach this trip. I go from absolute elation that I'm going home to the country of my heart. I get so excited thinking about holding the precious children, giving them the love and attention they so desperately crave. I can't wait to share in this experience with some of my closest friends, as well as get to know the other team members better. And, I will get to see Claudia. Then there are moments when I think that I can't bear to go back. I am so burdened for these children and these people that it hurts to go and see them. I don't know how I'll ever say goodbye to Claudia this time, knowing that it will probably be the last, since she's moving to the other orphanage. Yet- I am so in love with Jesus, burning with passion for the orphans and Guatemala, that I can't imagine NOT going. So, here I am. 9 days away from traveling. Praying that the Lord would continue preparing my heart for what He will teach me.

I'm slowly getting into my work schedule. Babysitting on Mondays and then working at the Dr. office on Tues, Wed, and Thurs. It has been alot harder getting used to working this much than I thought it would be. By the time I get home, it's usually 6:30, then eat dinner, and the evening is nearly over!! All you working mamas, I ADMIRE YOU! I'm 17 and I feel like I can't stay on top of my life! So, I'm falling into a schedule, and I know that it will get easier with every week.

I've gotten into an excercise routine the past couple of weeks and it is GREAT! I am doing Jillian Michaels 30-day shred video right now. It is only 20 minutes a day- PERFECT! And it's a fantastic workout. There's 3 levels of difficulty, so it gets harder as you move on and build endurance. I just didn't have time or energy to drive 20 minutes to the gym, work out for 1/2 hour, and drive 20 minutes back. Then shower. That would be my whole night. So, this is my compromise, and I'm still getting a workout and excercising. I highly recommend this excercise program!

My daddy has been working at an emergency room several states away since early Sunday morning. I MISS HIM!! He will be back Saturday and we're all excited to have him home. Thank you Dad for working so hard for our family! We can't wait to have you back!! :) I love you!

And... as far as the adoption... things are on hold until my dad gets home. I'll post when there's more news!

Hope you all have a great weekend!