Friday, January 30, 2009

Bringing Helen Home

I guess you could call me a seasoned missionary which is why what happened on Wednesday of this week took me totally by surprise. I have seen many, many children who are living lives that are beyond my imagination and I don’t mean in a good sense. After awhile you become less affected by the horrors which is not exactly a good thing … it’s just the way one survives. Elvia peeked around the door and said I would not believe what had just happened. I could tell she was emotional about something and I thought perhaps she had just smashed up one of our vehicles. I was not even close. She told me that while she was at INHFA (a governmental holding tank for abused and abandoned children) getting some paperwork for a couple of our children, one of the placement officers asked her if we had room for a 10 year old child named Helen. Her mother had addiction problems including prostitution and Helen had been in INHFA for almost a year, waiting to be placed in a center. When Elvia asked why they hadn’t placed her, the officer said there was no room in any of the orphanages. No room in the inn, so to speak. Elvia asked the placement officer if she could bring Helen to my office so that I could meet her. It only took one look at Helen for the tears to start flowing down my cheeks. I can’t really explain it fully ... it was like two strong emotions came colliding together in my heart and then came rushing through my tear ducts. The first was an overwhelming sadness. Whatever had happened to Helen in her days at INHFA must have caused her much pain. Her face was covered in it. The other emotion was pure joy that God had sent Helen to us. I hugged Helen in my weepy state and she also began to cry. It was a reunion of sorts. A mother who has never actually given physical birth to anyone welcoming home a lost child whose mother abandoned her emotionally and physically a long, long ago. We are all so thrilled to welcome Helen into our home and into our hearts and into Jesus, the One who gives her a future and a hope that does not disappoint.

Friday also brought more unexpected blessings. Our dear missionary friend Evelyn Klinger had stored her possessions out at the Villa while she was on furlough and due to some unexpected changes in her life, she needed to come back and deal with those stored goods. While she was with us, she told us of two little boys she had met through another missionary friend who were practically living on the streets. “Could we take them in at the Villa?” she asked. Frankly there is no way that I can tell you that these two little boys fit into our main mission statement … to reach out to prostitutes and their children. Their Mom was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty and their Dad was a deceased gang member. Their grandmother was their only caretaker and she was barely able to do that. They were begging on the streets and (we would learn later) doing many other things too heartbreaking to speak of to earn money for their daily bread. Daniel was 8 and his brother Noe was 7. Perhaps they didn’t fit into our main mission but it certainly seemed that they fit into God’s main mission of rescuing the lost and brokenhearted. We agreed to a meeting with the boys and their grandmamma so that we could pray about how to help. The whole meeting challenged our Jericho House staff. The boys were like wild little monkeys, running to and fro, stuffing anything they could get their hands on into their dirty pants pockets. They were small and smelly and reckless and so in need of love. The grandmother agreed that she could not control them and that they spent most of their days on the streets but she did not want to give them up. I discovered why pretty quickly. Noe kept asking me for money and food. It occurred to me that she needed the money they brought in daily. So we prayed like this: “Lord, if you want us to have Daniel and Noe, please change the grandmother’s heart and open the doors at the court so that we can get custody.” God totally moved. On Friday morning the grandmother brought both boys to us and gave her permission for us to raise them. Elvia took them all to the court to get legal custody. The judge initially told her it would take some time since they wanted to do a home study to see if everyone was telling the truth. It was lunchtime and both boys exhibited the same behavior in the court setting as they had at Jericho and when one of them started to try and climb up one of the windows, the judge said in desperation, “Ok, just take them!” So, we did!

That afternoon found us on our way to the Villa in the van with Helen, Daniel and Noe. Elvia sat in the back to try and keep the boys calm. I’ll never forget seeing Noe melt into complete peace as Elvia cradled him in her arms and sang a song over him. I could just make out his little hand gently holding onto the clip in her hair as I caught a glimpse of them in the rear view mirror. At the Villa, Ely and Dwight were the epitome of the word welcome. They embraced all three children and led them to the dining area where a special tort awaited them. It had been prepared by Ely and our Jericho children. Each child took turns sharing words of welcome and shared their testimonies about how God had touched them. One little one shared how he had been locked in a room by his mother. He remembered exactly what his grandmother had brought him to eat when she opened the door two days later. He completed the story by sharing how he now slept with Jesus and was no longer afraid. Ely and Dwight spent the weekend praying for deliverance for these three new family members. God used Ely to help them divulge the many atrocities that had been committed against them so that healing could begin. We thank God for the way He is using Ely and Dwight to deliver these treasures of God and to help them grow into strong citizens of the Kingdom. It is truly a work of the Holy Spirit.

And there is more but I think that’s enough for now. I can barely keep up with all that God is speaking and teaching me right now. It’s like trying to catch all the seeds from a dried dandelion after someone blows it into the wind. Please do keep Helen (now part of the JM family in my household) and Noe and Daniel (part of the JM family at the Villa) in your prayers.

I love each of you!                                         Helen and Susannah new best friends


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Happy New Year to you all!

What a blessing to know that each year, each day, each hour, each moment, we can begin afresh in Jesus. That comforts me….even if I had a bad morning, or a bad day or a bad week or even a bad year…..I can begin again in Him with a fresh slate, sins forgiven. We can begin again. He truly makes all things new.

We prayed in the New Year with the same plan we used last year (Hermano Roque, a general in the Honduran military, would lead us in prayer for several hours). Last year there were four of us, including Roque, and we prayed for three hours. This year 17 people showed up including my little Susana who begged me to be a part of it [see photo above]. We prayed for 5 hours! To be very honest, I really was lagging in the latter part of the prayer time … everything in me wanted to bolt for home (think warm bed) but I have learned that God most often reserves the best wine for last and so I asked God for strength to stay the course. And sure enough, there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was totally worth the wait. We danced and laughed and heard from God in a powerful way. These are some of the things God spoke to our hearts.

We sense His specific mandate to Jericho to continue to reach out to those trapped in prostitution but to focus specifically on their children (the second generation) this year. He told us this would be a year of much harvest, both in the spiritual and physical realm. We also need to move forward with making the Jericho Villa self-sustainable and the Lord once again sent Christopher Miller (back right in photo) from St. Mark’s in Geneva, Illinois on Dec. 31st to help us make a master plan for the placement of buildings, reservoirs, crops, and animal pens. The Lord spoke to me personally and challenged me to share about His miracle healing in my life in whatever way possible. I think this means traveling to visit many of you and getting the “healing adventure” written down on paper!

Chris stayed out at the Villa with the precious children God has placed in our care. I was able to join them for most of Chris’s visit and do the hiking required to make decisions for the master plan. As we were working on the master plan, it became evident that we also needed the help of a landscape architect. I went home one evening during Chris’s visit to find an e-mail from my dear friend Dorothy Washington asking if I still needed the help of her sister-in-law who is a landscape architect! We had talked about that possibility over a year ago and she was wondering if we still needed help! God’s timing is so perfect. She and Christine will be coming in February, God willing. We are so thankful for God’s provision! Chris also drew the sketches for the chapel that will be built on a bluff that has an amazing view of God’s workmanship. We praise God for the way that He has given us an architect with such a heart to serve Him. Chris comes and works tirelessly, sharing our dreams for and the burdens of caring for these young lives being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And finally I wanted to share with you about the lastest test results! Elvia and I went to the lab to see how my liver enzymes were doing. The lab technicians have been following this miracle with great interest and when they took my blood this time, both of them were touched by the Holy Spirit and decided to accept Christ into their lives! In the afternoon we picked up the lab results. The total bilirubin, for the first time in over 10 months, was NORMAL! You may remember how it went down by halves … 20 then 9 then 4.5 then 2.2 and now it is under 1! Praise God who keeps His promises! Please continue to pray for total healing as my feet are still quite painful to walk on and there is still a bulge where no bulge should be.