Friendships

During my time with the Lord this morning, I reflected on relationships in ministry.  Unity in a church, ministries like Casa, in marriages and families is important… yet we know that there will always be problems.  Friendships help ease the burden and provide strength.  Friends may not always agree, but we can pray for one another.

I know that I need to be a better friend.  I know that I am not the only one hurting in this world; just look around and all of us can see it.  The world is broken and there is only one person who can fix it.  Jesus.  He doesn’t just glue us back together but He makes everything “new.”

While we are living for the Lord, we will be tested.  A testing of our faith.  During these times of testing, the important question is not, “How can I get out of this?” but “What can I get out of this?”

We cannot overcome our adversities, our problems, our worries with our own strength but with His.  How?  With Him.  With those He places in our lives.  With faith and trust.  “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Exams are this week, so the boys are studying.  I always tell the boys that their grades will reflect their study habits.  I tell them not to just “look” at the notes but study, memorize and study some more.  They know their weakest area from their last grades so they need to put more time in that area.  Of course, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” so they spent time outside and exercising their body and not their mind afterward.

One of our newest boys didn’t do too well on his quiz so he had to redo it in the dorm and make corrections.  He had never gone to school before coming to Casa, so all this “studying” was foreign to him. He cried, had a tantrum, found excuse after excuse for not doing his work. Finally, after a lot of encouragement, he settled in on a bench away from all distractions and completed his work. Bless him.

It’s been eight years ago today that the Lord moved us to Guatemala.  These past eight years have been the most difficult, heart wrenching, mind-blowing, blessed years of our lives!  We have been blessed beyond measure by His faithfulness, grace, and pure love!  How can we not love Him!?

All His,

Lee and Candy

 

Do we make God a first priority or a last resort?

This morning, I read a quote by David Alan Campbell, “All the horrible things going on in the world should inspire us to tell more people about Jesus, clearly He is needed.”  We can take it a step further and say, “All the horrible things going on in the world should wake us up and believe in Jesus, clearly He is needed.”

Sometimes people can get so comfortable in their lives that they have no desire for salvation. They live their lives without thinking of the eternal consequences.  I know we can get comfortable in the mission field.  When we do, then we get complacent.  I remember talking to Mike about the difficulties that I have been having and he said, “It is to be expected.  You will be persecuted for your faith.”

Turn on the television, read the paper or just talk to others and we see and hear things that will bother us.  What do we do?  Shake our heads and say… “Senseless killings…” or do we pray?  Jesus was beat, scourged, spit on and crucified.  Senseless killing?  Yet, when we understand who He is and what He has done for all of us, then we need to pray to our Father in heaven and ask, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  They don’t know because they don’t know Him. Do we make God a first priority or a last resort?

Here it is no different.  Guatemala has its share of corruption and violence, so when children go home, it causes concern.  If you are reading this, and you plan on coming to minister with our children, we ask you to witness and disciple our children.  Ice cream and pizza are nice, but the gospel is better.  Pray with our children, have devotionals and bible studies.  Clearly He is needed.

Flory knocked on our door and said, “The first washer is not working.”  Our other washer is not working either, so losing this one obviously hurts.  One deep sigh later, I removed the cover and checked the discharge valve.  You never know what you are going to find… I found a glow stick bracelet.  It prevented the automatic valve from shutting and it caused continuous draining.  After removing the stick, Praise the Lord, the washer began working.

A Texas team is here to serve.  It is good to work side by side with the teams.  I asked them if they would like to do devotionals with the boys and they said, “Yes!”  We want our boys to be ministered with His word and when a team comes to share, it is a double blessing.  How beautiful are their feet!!!

All His,

Lee and Candy

Do not be afraid.

Everyday I get a Spanish “Word of the Day” in my inbox. Today’s word is “temer,” which means “to fear.”  I sat back and looked at that word.  Temer.  What do we fear?  Is it our future?  Is it a problem?  Failing?  Whatever it is, our Lord says, “Do Not Be Afraid.”  Before His betrayal, Jesus told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Isn’t that comforting?  Knowing that Jesus knows what we need as we continue to speak the truth and live for Him.  Peace.  What peace?  Shootings in Las Vegas, diseases, divorce, abandonment… the list goes on.  Who do we believe and trust?  Jesus.  He gives us peace not with the world but peace between God and us.  The world gives us peace that is temporary but our Lord gives us peace that is eternal.

Paulo Coelho said, “Stress, anxiety and depression are caused when we are living to please others.”  Who are we pleasing?  When we live to please the Lord, then we look at things differently and are comforted knowing that He is with us through our times of struggle.  There will be storms, deaths, diseases and failures in our lives yet Jesus said, “Do Not Be Afraid.”

King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be obedient to him and worship his idol, but they had the peace of God and said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Even if He does not… Trusting and believing in our Lord does not mean that we won’t be burned in the fire; it is that He will be with us in the fire.

We say, “It’s impossible!”  Jesus says, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

We say, “I can’t do it!”  God’s word says, ” I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

We say, “I can’t forgive myself!”  Jesus says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

We are asked, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?”  The answer?  “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

Do Not Be Afraid!!!

Raining hard now.  All I need now is an umbrella and I can be “Singing in the rain!”  Yeah… that will be a sight to see.

One of our boys has a court hearing today.  As we walked back to the dorm, I looked at him and said, “A few more years and you will be handsome like me.  Of course, there is no hope for your older brother.”  He smiled and agreed with me.  He got ready to go to the office, and I gave him a wristband and prayed with him.  How much our boys have grown in the time period that they have been with us!  His will be done.

All His,

Lee and Candy

 

Who are we?

Yesterday, I was watching Kung Fu Panda 2 with our little one and a soothsayer said to Po, “Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are.  It is the rest of your story, who you choose to be. So, who are you, Panda?”  I looked at her and said, “Did you hear that?  All of us need to think about that.  Your story, my story may not have been the best beginning but that does not define who we are.  You are a child of God, His daughter, His princess.  Don’t let anyone tell you any different.”

Thinking about my past and the past of the children at Casa, may not have a happy beginning, but that doesn’t define who we are.  Who am I?

We are children of God.  John 1:12-13, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” God placed each of us here for a purpose.  His purpose.  To believe in Him.  To know Him.

We are loved.  1 John 3:1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”  We are His children and He loves us.  He takes care of us, teaches us, provides for us and disciplines us.  As His children we need to be obedient and choose Him.  Like Joshua, we need to renew “our covenant” with God and serve Him.  We are obedient because we are loved.

We are forgiven.  Our Lord’s greatest act of love was when He was dying on the cross and He forgave.  Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…'”  We sin because we are sinners, we are forgiven because we are loved.  We do things without thinking about consequences yet Jesus knew the consequences of His sacrifice.  Forgiveness.

We are chosen.  We weren’t chosen because of our past or our testimony but because we are His. 1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

We have a purpose.  We cannot walk around like we have no purpose when we are chosen, are forgiven, are loved, are His.  Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Our hope and future does not come from man.  Jesus said, “I do not accept praise from men, but I know you.  I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.  I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.  How can you believe if you accept the praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God.”  We cannot live for the world or the wishes of men but live for the Lord only.  We know our beginning, what is the rest of our story?

Two of our boys had a court hearing today.  I walked over to the school and sat there on the curb waiting for them.  The youngest came and sat next to me, smiling.  I asked him how he was doing and he said, “Fine.  I just want to be with you.”  I can only smile and thank the Lord for allowing us to be a part of our boys’ lives.  The older one came and we went back to the dorm and they changed out of their uniform.  I gave them each a wristband, hugged and prayed with them.  Protection and His will be done.  He is worthy.  In the afternoon we were informed that the boys went home.

When children go home, sometimes our first reaction is to ask, “Why?”  If you read Mike’s journal than you know that the government desires for all the children to return home and to close all the homes in Guatemala.  Nothing wrong with that if the children are returning to a safe and healthy environment.  When I caught myself asking “Why?” the first thing that popped into my head was “The Blindside”.  Michael Oher wrote a paper on the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”  He wrote, “‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’  Was there a man dismay’d?  Not tho’ the soldier knew Someone had blunder’d;  Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die, Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.”

Did someone make a mistake?  We can question why this decision was made, yet, “Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do & die”  Our responsibility is to do His will.  To teach the children all about the Lord…Who He is, what He has done and what He will do.  Our Lord gives us a promise.  Psalm 23, “… Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me…”  He is with us.  We need to trust in the Lord and have no fear.

All His,

Lee and Candy

Bird Nest Soup?

Thinking about the time here at Casa, one thing that is important as a dorm parent is unity amongst the leadership in the dorm.  When Candy and I first started, there was rebellion and difficult times as we sought to make changes.  It wasn’t easy.  It was definitely different than coming for one week as a team member.  Yet, we were determined to be obedient and serve our Lord.  The first thing that was needed was leadership amongst the boys.  Everyone had to be unified in God’s purpose.  Prayer, His word and obedience.  Many older boys (helpers) walked through, and out the door, yet could not walk with us.  There have been a select few, who continued walking with us, and they were strong leaders in the dorm.

Unity is important.  Paul talked about divisions amongst the church because there was no unity.  Who did the people follow?  We didn’t want the leaders to follow us; we wanted them to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Paul wrote, “One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.'”  We cannot be divided.  When we are unified in mind and thought about what our Lord desires then we will be strong as a dorm.

What does the Lord desire?  That HIS will be done.  Paul said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”  Prayer, His word and obedience.  God’s purpose for us has never changed.  Preach the gospel.  Paul wrote, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'”

When leadership in the dorm is not unified in Christ, there will be divisions.  The same goes for families, churches and ministries.  We are one body, we have one purpose.  His.

A group called La Colina came and blessed the younger children at Casa…storytelling, fun and games.  We’re grateful the Lord sent them.

Two of our boys had a court hearing today.  I gave them both a wristband with our life verse on it.  Romans 8:28.  I told them that if it is God’s will that they return home, then I wanted them to know that we love them and most importantly, God loves them and has a plan for them. We got to the office and I prayed over them and hugged them.  As I walked away, I looked back and they were staring at the wristband.  His plans, His love, His children.

Walt and I removed a bird nest that was right above the tables where our boys eat in the blue building.  No birds, no eggs.  Now, no nest.  I offered the kitchen ladies the nest so they could make “Bird Nest Soup” but they declined.  I guess it’s just not a delicacy here.

All His,

Lee and Candy

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