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

Fleas are a blessing.

As I sit here, I think about the upcoming day, what needs to be done and everything that is going on in our lives, and then…worry starts to creep in and settle.  Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.”  I have never been in the position that she and her family were in, and I don’t know if I would have the strength and courage to survive.  She and her family are a true testimony of faith and trust in the Lord.  When we can be thankful for fleas, then we truly understand who He is.

When we are having a bad day or things aren’t going the way we desire, then we need to think, “Who are we trusting?”   Our Lord taught His disciples that they need to think differently.  Lust is adultery, hate is murder.  Why?  Because everything begins somewhere.  It all starts in our heart.  Trust begins in the heart.  God’s word says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can flesh do to me?”

“In God I trust”… It’s written on every US bill and coin.  Coins that we carry around while we are in the States, and have near to us.  A symbol that He is near to us, and we just need to trust in Him and Him alone.  Jesus taught about worrying.  He said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

What do we need to do?  Jesus gives us the answer, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Seek Him first.  Prayer.  When worry starts to creep into our lives, we need to pray.  God’s word says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”   Corrie was in His word daily.  She prayed, trusted in Him and the He provided.  The fleas in our lives, the worries, can be looked as a nuisance but in reality they’re there for a purpose.  His purpose.  Thank God for fleas.

The school had their “Civic Act” this morning.  They sang the National Anthem, recited the pledge and a class did a program.  Today, the teachers of kindergarten talked about Day of the Child, Day of Non Violence and eating good food like fruit and vegetables for their health.  I looked over at Billy, the school director, and asked, “Is today Day of Non Violence?”  He laughed and said, “Yes, so you need to hug your boys.”  Afterward, the class danced to a song.  It was cute.  Can a guy say that?  I guess a Dad can get away with it.  It was a good program. 🙂

Our boys got their haircut this weekend, and the clippers died just short of 8 boys.  This morning, I took apart the clippers, cleaned and put them back together.  It purred like a kitten when I turned it on. Hopefully, it won’t cut like a wild cat.  When the boys saw me at school, they rubbed their heads and said, “Just like you, except for the gray hair.”  All I could do was shake my head.

All His,

Lee and Candy

 

Day of the Child

October 1st is Day of the Child in Guatemala, but since it falls on Sunday, it is celebrated today, here at Casa.  I hugged the boys before they went to school and praised them for their good behavior at school.  Today a local school with 175 students, shared their time and love with the children and teachers here.   Yesterday, a different school group came and shared their time with the upper grades in Aleluya.  The former school director of Casa works at that school, and it was good to see him.  We’re grateful God sent them.

Yesterday I read “Good Words For Today” by Ray Pritchard who quoted Edgar Guest, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.  The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear, Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear; And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds, For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.”  One day, I would like for our children to go out and minister to others on “Day of the Child” instead of being ministered to.  To see them put their faith, hope and love into action is what everybody needs.

Billy brought one of our boys to me.  Seems there was a difference in the story in what happened at the school.  Billy just wanted the truth.  We have had problems with the truth lately, so it gets frustrating at times.  I said, “We just want the truth.  Remember the story I told all of you about the boy who cried wolf?  The boy cried wolf and the people came to his rescue but found out it was just a lie.  The boy laughed and thought it was funny.  He kept on doing it with the same result until one day, there really was a wolf and when he cried for help, nobody came because they believed it was just another lie.  Is that what you want?  God’s word says ‘A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.’  When people hear your name, do you want them to think, ‘Liar?’  You can continue to tell us lies but one day you will stand before God and you will not be able to lie and you will be held accountable or you can confess, repent and tell the truth so our relationship with you can be restored, but most importantly, your relationship with the Lord.   It is up to you?”  As he sat there, he told Billy and me the truth.  He was guilty.  Thank You, Lord!  Thank You, Holy Spirit!  Thank You, Jesus!

All His,

Lee and Candy

Change

The school gives out daily Reports of Poor Behavior, and as I reviewed the lists, I wasn’t happy.  I saw problems that the children in all the dorms, including our boys, cause at school, the disrespect, the bad behavior and knew that these problems needed to be addressed.  As the boys sat in the sala, I read every single incident.  I didn’t say who or what dorm did it, but the look on their faces revealed a lot.  Problems like disrespect to other children, refusing to be obedient to the teacher, bad attitude, hitting others, refusing to work in class, etc.

After I read all the reports for this week, I looked at the boys and said, “The problems that you heard me read are not problems just here at Casa, these are problems worldwide.  Parents in the United States, Mexico, China, India and all the other countries are battling the same issues we are.  Who is to blame?  The blame is yours, ours, the staff, sponsors, groups that come here, your family and the government.  All of us have a part in this problem.

“I will start with Candy and me.  God sent us here to love you and take care of you.  We desired to provide what you need to succeed in life.  What is wrong with that?  Like many parents, sometimes we do too much.  Soon, what we do becomes an entitlement and then becomes ungratefulness.  Ungratefulness is a sin and if it is not taken care of, like yeast, it will grow and spread.  It spreads throughout the dorm and then to the school and to others.

“Sometimes the staff is to blame.  Why?  Because sometimes we treat you differently than the way God desires us to treat you.  We can look at you as ‘unfortunate children’ living in a children’s home, but how we should look at you is the same way that all of us are looked at…sinners in need of a Savior.  This is God’s home and when we don’t discipline, it becomes a sign of ungratefulness.

“Sometimes sponsors and groups are to blame.  Why?  They want to pamper and give you things because they love you.  Yet, in time, when sponsors and teams come, what sometimes may be your attitude?  Do you think, ‘Thank you Lord for sending them,’ or is your attitude, ‘What are they going to do for us?.’  It becomes ungratefulness.

“Sometimes your family is to blame.  Why?  In some situations, some parents don’t want to be parents. These are the ones who are satisfied with others taking care of their children. This becomes ungratefulness.

“Sometimes the government is to blame.  Why?  Sometimes, some of the people are very critical. Instead of seeing God’s hand in the home, it becomes ungratefulness.

“The blame is yours.  Why?  Because you know what is right, yet you do not desire to do it.  You are ungrateful for the opportunity the Lord has given you.  Your teachers are here to love you and teach you so you can be successful and change yourselves and break the cycle in Guatemala.

As I was talking to the boys, it started to rain.  I looked outside and said, “Whenever it rains, I see the blessings and curses of God.  When it rains, how many times do we thank God for giving us a roof over our heads, to protect us from the rain and wind?  The rain is God’s gift of life…life to the plants, animals and us.  Yet it is a reminder of His curse.  It reminds me of the flood, when God opened up the gates of heaven and flooded the earth, killing mankind because of the sin that filled the world.  Yet after the storm, He gave us a promise.  What was it?”  The boys said, “A rainbow.”  He promised that He would not kill by flood again.  God is Holy.  Sin cannot be with Him yet He desires for all of us to be with Him.

“You are taught what the Lord desires, yet even if you weren’t, there is no excuse because He has revealed Himself to all of us.  Romans 1:18-20, ‘The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.’

“What are you grateful for?”  I asked each boy and they shared one thing that they are grateful for.  I shared, too.  “I am grateful that God loves me so much that He sent His One and Only Son to die for the forgiveness of my sins and I can be with Him.  I am grateful that one day He will wipe away all my tears.  I am grateful for Candy, a godly woman who loves me and forgives me.  I am grateful for our children, grandchildren and sons-in-law, who are a gift from God.  I am grateful for all of you.  God has blessed us with the opportunity to share our lives with you and take care of you.  I am grateful for the staff who have sacrificed their time to take care of all the children.  I am grateful for Mike and Dottie, for their love and spiritual leadership to the children and staff here at Casa.  I am grateful to the sponsors and the teams that God has sent here to bless all of us.  I am grateful to those that God has used to provide and pray for Candy and me.  I am grateful to God for allowing us to serve Him here at Casa.

“We need to change.  Candy and me, you, and those who come to Casa… but it begins in the heart.  It is and will always be a heart issue.  Our hearts reveal who we are and only when we desire to trust, to believe and repent will there be a change.  Change is good.  God is good.  He is good all the time, and all the time He is good.  Do you want a change?”

I wiped the slate clean, and we began anew. How we love Him!

All His,

Lee and Candy

Love

There is a phrase…”Distance makes a heart grow fonder.”  I can honestly tell you that when God is in the middle of your relationship, “Distance makes a love grow stronger.”  It is during times of separation that you realize who and what is important in your life.

I have heard that, “Missing someone is a part of loving them.  If you are never apart, you’ll never know how strong your love is.”  This love is only because of God.  He is love and He has given us a gift of love…a love that grows everyday and fills our once empty heart.  He has given us “Faith, Hope and Love.  But the greatest of these is Love.”  Without love, we are nothing.  “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

What is love?  Jesus loves us so much that He will wipe away our tears even after He was left hanging on the cross for our sins.  That is love, and He will always be the example of the love our Father in heaven has for us.  When we study the life of Jesus, we understand what love is.  “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Love is a relationship…a husband and wife, parent and child, teacher and student, coach and player, shepherd and flock, boss and employee, dorm parent and children.  When we love as much as our Lord loves us, we know what love is and our relationship grows.

Love is not by birth, it is quality time spent with those in our lives.  When we spend time with a son/daughter by birth or by adoption, it shows how much we love them.  As a parent, the best gift we can give our children is our presence in their lives.

Love is sacrifice.  When we place others ahead of us, we love.  Love is not selfish, it is selfless.  God loves us so much; He gave His One and Only Son for the forgiveness of sins so we can restore our relationship with Him and be with Him.

Love is forgiveness.  Even the hardest hearts can be broken with love.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  We forgive because we are forgiven.

Distance makes a love grow stronger.  Every time Candy and I are separated, a sadness fills my heart yet it is never empty because of our love for each other.  When Jesus left His disciples, He gave them a promise and filled them with His love, the love of the Holy Spirit.  The promise?  He would return.  Faith, Hope and Love.  Until He returns, our Faith, our Hope and our Love grows stronger.  It is no different with Candy and me.

We celebrated a birthday today.  No, I didn’t forget this time.  He turned thirteen today.  He has a younger brother here, and it is wonderful to see them together, playing and loving each other.  He had an “all you can eat” hot dog meal, yet we have learned that four seems to be the limit. The dorm was filled with the smell of cupcakes.  His sister reminded me of his birthday every time she saw me at the school, and I reminded her that she would get a cupcake and her eyes lit up.

We bless because we are blessed.  We forgive because we are forgiven.  We love because we are loved.  We live because He lives.  Love never fails.

All His,

Lee and Candy

 

Forgiveness

It happened again!!!  I forgot to celebrate the birthday of one of the boys.  I can only imagine how he felt as we celebrated other birthdays but not his.  Ugh! He didn’t say anything to me that it was his birthday.  I walked over to the school and apologized to him and told him that we will be celebrating TODAY.  He had a slight grin.  He will have a special meal consisting of hot dogs, chips and a drink, cupcakes and a bag of candy at night and he will give his sisters a cupcake at dinner to celebrate his birthday.  Afterward, I double checked the list to make sure I didn’t miss anyone else.

When you come and visit, you will notice a few new cement ramps around Casa.  Felipe and his workers are making it easier for those in wheelchairs to get around.  We are blessed with a godly worker like Felipe and his desire to serve.  Thank You, Lord.

My quote for the day is by Fred Luter, “Once you have been reconciled to God, you have no problem with being reconciled with others.”  Isn’t that the truth?  This morning was an example.  I found out that one of our boys wasn’t honest with us about an incident that took place, so I went over to the school to talk with him.  We had a good conversation, but I wanted him to understand how much it hurt us when he wasn’t truthful.  I told him, “God placed us here to love you, take care of you, teach you, protect you and to discipline you.  We are family and you have to remember, family isn’t just by birth, it is by how much quality time we spend with each other everyday.”  Before I left, he apologized and we hugged and I said, “I forgive you.”  Isn’t this the way God desires us to love and forgive each other?  We love because He first loved us and we forgive because we are forgiven.  He is worthy!

All His,

Lee and Candy

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