Thursday, February 25, 2010

Answers to Prayer

Dear Family and Friends,

This month has been exciting and stretching in many ways. I am so happy to report that Julia was finally discharged from the hospital and she spent her first two weeks of recuperation out at the Villa. The children loved having her there and they took turns serving her and she prayed for them. Mutual blessings! Julia is getting stronger every day and it looks as though she will be strong enough to preach at the conference in Miami that was scheduled before she went into crisis. While Julia was in the AIDS hospital, God used her to help her doctor grow in the area of prophetic ministry. Her doctor (Varinia) is a dear friend of mine and one of my disciples. Varinia has been ministering on the AIDS ward for several years and has seen quite a few of her patients healed from AIDS. While Julia was in the hospital, God knit their hearts together for ministry and so Varinia will accompany Julia to the conference in Miami. God's ways are so perfect!

On February 15th, we initiated the school year at Jericho Christian School. We had been praying diligently about increasing the number of students at the school because during one of our weeks of fasting and prayer we sensed God encouraging us to ask Him for 60 students. We had been ministering to about 30 children in the school previously. We prayed for students of His choosing who would benefit from a stable environment and a solid Christian education. We prayed for children who were at risk to enter gangs, prostitution, and / or the world of addictions. God faithfully answered our prayers with not only 60 students, but by the time it was said and done, 80 children were signed up to receive education and ministry through Jericho. It was amazing to watch God lead us to the children of His choosing. There are so many in need ..... we had to have His direction.

It was a very exciting and stretching first day! We specifically wanted to EMPHASIZE two areas of outreach ..... The "Early Learning Center" for ages 0-3 years and the Jr and Sr High School. Our Canadian staff member, Jaime, (photo at right) Seemed the perfect fit for the little ones and she speaks English to them during their time with us to jumpstart them in that language. Elvia ((photo below) Had a burden for the youth so she is heading up the Jr. High and High School. Several of the students have already given their lives to Christ under her leadership, thanks be to God. We have big dreams for these young lives and know that God is going to do miracles!

As a result of our desire to be faithful to God's dictate to reach out to the next generation, my household has increased. It's not something I actually planned ahead of time. I certainly would not have Increased our size by three all at once but God's ways are not our ways and certainly this venture falls into that category. Julio is 13 years old, is in the 5th grade, and is Maryln's younger brother. He is a quiet sort and extremely helpful like his big sister. Julio lived out at the Villa last year after he was removed from his home where he had gotten involved in unhealthy activities with his neighbors. He did super well at the Villa and we sensed that it was time for him to join our family in Teguz. We are all thrilled with this. Yoly (pronounced (Jo-lie) is 14 years old and she comes from Marlyn's neighborhood. She has a difficult family situation (gangs, addictions) but she is very motivated to study. Her Mother wanted her to quit school to care for her two year old half-sister, but when I heard about Jericho School Yoly from Marlyn, she begged her mother to let her come and live with us so that she could attend Faith Christian High School Jericho. In the short time she has lived with us, she lost one of her cousins ,who lived in her home, to gang violence. The third child, Dariana, is 6 years old, and her family was displaced by hurricane Mitch back in 1998 so they live in a settlement way outside the city. Dariana's mother is Isabella's Aunt, so she found out about our school during her visits to see Isabella (my youngest child). The school attracted her and she asked if Dariana could stay with us during the week since they live too far to come on a daily basis. Dariana is quite spirited and already on her first day with us she socked a boy who was looking at women under the dressing room stalls at the department store where Marlyn was buying school clothes for the kids. I think we are going to have our hands full!

Katie Hutjens from DePere, Wisconsin Jericho joined the family on Feb. 4. Katie grew up in a church that supported me so she grew up praying weekly for someone named Betsy Hake. Several years ago at the urging of a friend, she decided it was time to finally lay eyes on her church's missionary and to find out more about the ministry. As the Lord would have it, she came to Honduras when I was on the healing adventure in NYC and so she ended up living in my home and helping to care for my children but we never met. When Katie returned last summer, God made it clear to her that she needed to serve at JM for a longer period of time. Katie will be with us for at least two years, and we are thrilled to have Katie. She is full of energy and joy and the children just flock to her. She is teaching English at the Villa and is in charge of the boys which can be very challenging at times. Katie has a blog which you can access from this site. She has a fresh way of describing life at the Villa and we are all enjoying watching God use her to bless the children. Katie is truly an answer to prayer.

And that brings me to Fofo (Rodolfo). He is Elvia's brother-in-law and he is God's answer to our prayer for a father figure for the children living at the Villa. Fofo visited Jericho in December with his wife, Miriam, and the children started calling him Papi Fofo. Try saying that 10 times without stopping! Not only did the children take a liking to Fofo but Hae Young sensed that he could be of great help to her, especially with the boys. God began working in Fofo's heart and he understood God was calling him to help at the Villa. He is a retired merchant marine who worked as a chef so the kids love it when he gets in the kitchen. Miriam works for Continental Airlines, hence Fofo can fly whenver he desires. Fofo and Hae came up with a plan. He would come once a month and stay for a week. We thank God for Fofo and the way he has taken very seriously this call to provide paternity for our children at the Villa.

Please pray for the Jericho family, especially for the teachers, staff, volunteers, students and new, as we all adjust to the changes that growth brings. Pray that God will continue to provide for all our needs.

With love always,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

On Mirna's Passing

It was one of the worst ways to die. She was alone in a teaching hospital in a developing country, in a coma after being hit by a car. Her family members had no idea what had happened to her since she went out late one evening and never came home. They didn’t go looking for her until three days had passed since she would often disappear on drinking binges. They found her in the morgue with one arm morbidly bent out of shape since the doctors didn’t bother to cast it. It was not the way her two daughters had envisioned God answering their prayers. Ever since she abandoned them at the Jericho Villa Rehab Center in January of 2008, Genesis and Vanessa had prayed for their mother Mirna. Mirna came to Jericho through an invitation from her sister-in- law, Indira. This is what Mirna shared with us when she came to Jericho.

Little by little, my eyes were being opened. I could see that I was not doing anything good. I wanted to change because I was hungry and cold, and wasn’t sleeping well on the streets. We were getting sick from sleeping on the floor in an abandoned apartment without electricity or water. The girls cried in fear at night, and I started to pray to God. I asked him to help me and my girls. Indira, my sister in Christ, found me and invited me to a church called “Oasis of Love” and the next day Indira brought me to Jericho Ministries to pray for me and my daughters. There I found people who belong to Jesus and who help prostitutes and the addicted in need of God. I felt that my life was worthless. Picturing myself on the streets without food or a home, I decided to make the effort to take a step forward. I realized that I didn’t want my children to become like me. I didn’t want them to live the painful and horrible life that I had led, bound up by the devil. But, Jesus loves us and wants to forgive us for all our sins. I ask my Lord to give me the strength to keep going forward with help of my sisters at Jericho Ministries.

Mirna entered Jericho when Genesis was 6 and Vanesa 8 (Mirna is 2nd from left with Vani and Genny Penny in front of her in the photo)but within a month of starting the program, the lies of the enemy seemed more real to her than the Truth. She decided one morning to abandon not only this new venture but her two daughters as well. Once she made her decision to leave she walked quickly down the mile long dirt road to the bus knowing that her daughters were in a place where they had a roof over their heads, food to eat and love to spare. But being abandoned by your mother is not an easy thing to digest, no matter what your age is. These two young girls, already having suffered tremendous abuse because of their mother’s lack of mothering, would now suffer being left behind. It took some time but little by little they adjusted to life at the Villa. Hae Young was their new “Oma” (Mother in Korean) and Tia (Aunt) Elvia would often invite them to stay with her in town on the weekends. They began to grow stronger as did their prayers for their mother’s true conversion to Jesus. They envisioned her back with them at the Villa, living happily together, learning to live in the ways of God. Sadly it was not to be.

Mirna came back to Jericho a week before she died to take advantage of a medical brigade that we offer once a year to the women on the streets. She assured me that she was going to change her ways and enter the program at the Villa “soon”. She hugged her daughters close and both girls had such hopeful looks on their faces. No one could have known that she was actually hugging them goodbye. I read a bumper sticker once that said, “Life is fragile, handle with prayer.” Life truly is fragile. We do not have any idea when we will go onto glory land or to the abyss, depending upon our decisions in the here and now. That’s why the Scriptures say, “Today is the day of salvation.” We can only be sure about the right now. I don’t know if someone out there needs to read this but I am sensing I need to write it. It’s not a politically correct thing these days to talk about being eternally separated from God (hell). But it is a reality. It can and does happen. We need Jesus, not only to live a life of power and love in the here and now but for the not yet. He is our blessed assurance of life eternal. Do you have that assurance? Are you living for Him in the here and now and trusting Him for the not yet? If not, the remedy is very simple. Not “easy”, but truly “simple”. You merely have to submit your life to Jesus and allow Him to take control. Much easier said than done but it is the truth.

We took the girls into my office to tell them the news. We had already decided that Vanessa and Genesis would now live with Elvia and her husband Tony since they would need more attention. A bond had occurred between this couple and the girls from their earlier weekend visits. As I spoke out their worst nightmare, both girls visibly crumbled, one onto my lap and the other onto Elvia’s lap. I don’t know how long we stayed there just rocking them as they sobbed and sobbed. We anointed them with oil and prayed for Jesus to bind up their broken hearts and restore their broken dreams. There was no explaining why this had happened. We tried mostly to thank God that He knew way beforehand that these little ones would need a safe place where they could receive love and learn to trust again. We prayed for Him to fill the emptiness that only He can fill when someone so dear has been lost.

I thought about the girl’s prayers for their mother. God answered in a different way, a way that made no sense to any of us. But then I remembered something Mirna had said. She had breathed this almost like a prayer, “ I realized that I didn’t want my children to become like me. I didn’t want them to live the painful and horrible life that I had led, bound up by the devil.” Perhaps this was God’s way of answering the prayers of the mother for her children. I don’t know….honestly there are so many things that He does that I do not totally understand. I just know that I trust Him even when His ways are not mine. Especially when His ways are not mine.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Julia's Healing

The call came in the middle of the afternoon. Excited would be putting it mildly for how Julia felt about this day. Over the weekend the doctors had decided that they would discharge her from the hospital. She was so ready to leave her hospital corner (she had shared a room with six others for over a month) to go out to the Villa. But it was not to be. At least not today. Elvia got the news first and came flying up to my office to get me. Somehow in the span of one day Julia had taken a turn for the worst and her potassium level (high or low, I do not know) was affecting the rhythm of her heart. So off we went to the hospital to see how we might help.

She was in the “intensive care unit” of the AIDS wing (actually there is no ICU on the AIDS wing, it’s just one bed where they keep patients that need intensive care until they can get them transport)and I could just barely see her through the crack in the curtains surrounding her bed. She was sitting upright with heart monitoring wires hanging from her chest. She was conscious and motioned for us to come to her so I just went right into the tiny curtained off area. Elvia hung back because unlike me she actually heard the warnings in Spanish that were being flung our way. No one was supposed to visit her since each visit seemed to send her heart into even more of a flutter. I don’t know how long I stood there before I realized that were yelling at me to get out of there.

The doctors seemed terribly worried and they decided she needed to go to the government teaching hospital since there would be no doctor on call until the next morning. This was not good news. No one wants to go to Hospital Escuela because it is understaffed, understocked, and overpopulated. Often when there aren't enough beds, patients are placed in the hallways and left there for hours. Sometimes they die in those hallways. But there was no other choice. Julia would have to go. There was a flutter of activity to get her ready but suddenly they hit an impasse. There was no nurse to accompany her in the hospital van. Suddenly Julia’s doctor realized that Elvia, doctor that she is, could substitute for the nurse they needed.

Meanwhile, I remembered the verses that God had given to us regarding Julia’s diagnosis….they were still taped to the wall. I went and pulled Luke 7:1-10 off the wall and put it with the discharge papers that were in Elvia’s hand. We needed to be reminded in the middle of the crisis that God had already spoken the outcome. This might seem silly to some, to make such a fuss over a Scripture, but if there is one thing I learned from my healing adventure, it is that faith moves the hand of God. He loves it when we move in the realm of faith, when we trust what He has to say despite the circumstances. “For without faith it is impossible to please God.”

They wheeled Julia to the van and carefully moved her into the vehicle while I ran to our KIA long bed pickup truck. Adrenaline was definitely flowing as I jumped into the pick up to try and follow the rapidly moving “ambulance”. The van swerved to and fro through all kinds of side roads at a speed that caused poor Julia to lose her entire lunch all over her hospital gown. It was hard to keep up but somehow I swerved at the same pace with the van so that I arrived at the hospital just in time to see the guards close the gate tightly behind it. I quickly found a spot to park and flew across the street while breathing this prayer, “God, please make me invisible!” There is tight security at the public hospital and to get in you have to have a special slip of paper that is given to one or two members of the patient’s family. I walked right past the guards at the gate which was now open again to admit another ambulance. No one said a word. The driver of Julia’s van saw me and motioned me towards the glass doors that I had to enter to find Julia. The guards there did not notice me either and I easily found Elvia and Julia in the emergency room.

The emergency room cubicle was tiny, just barely big enough to fit two gurneys with room for one person to move in between them. Several interns showed up and one gruffly asked me what I was doing there. Thinking that he was clearly getting ready to kick me out, I sheepishly said, “I am with her”, pointing to Julia now trembling on the sheetless, pillowless steel gurney. To my surprise he said, “OK, hold these papers”. They were the same admission papers that we had brought with us including the Scripture diagnosis. I smiled broadly and took the papers from his hands. The minutes ticked by and there was much coming and going in the emergency room but no one seemed interested in Julia. When the interns did pop their heads in to ask why we were there, as they discovered her diagnosis the reaction was always the same. They stated flatly, “Oh, HIV positive,” then they turned quickly on their heels to look for a more desirable diagnosis. One intern even said under his breath, “I wonder why they brought her here!” Julia just quietly took it all in. When I asked her how she was doing, she looked at me wryly and said, “God is birthing more patience in me.”

By now her sister had brought a blanket and a small pillow, thanks be to God. Eventually they kicked us all out of the tiny room and still Julia hadn’t received any medical attention. I began to wonder, too, why God had allowed us to come to this place which was so much worse than the AIDS hospital. The sense of helplessness was overwhelming. Out in the waiting room, Julia’s mother began to weep. The Lord reminded me that He was in control so I asked the family if I could pray with them. We made a little circle by the entrance of the hospital holding hands and began to implore the Doctor of doctor’s for help. “Oh God”, I prayed, “please send Your angels to help Julia.” Not more than 2 minutes passed when I looked up and saw a young intern walking by and I recognized him. Isaac had been a translator for a dear friend of mine (Dr. Ken Holden) who is a pediatric neurologist from Charleston and comes biannually to do medical brigades. Isaac showed up at my door one quiet afternoon just over a year and a half ago with a huge bunch of lilies that Dr. Ken and his wife had instructed him to buy for me. I was home alone, still sporting a rather pregnant looking middle and mustard yellow eyes, both results of my liver not quite behaving normally. What I remember most about meeting Isaac was that my dog Carl almost killed me as I tottered to open the gate for Isaac. Carl, a rather largish dog was his very excitable self and when I received the flowers, he jumped up and nearly knocked me over. But I digress. Isaac looked weary but when I tapped him lightly on the shoulder he turned and a look of amazement came over his face. “Oh Betsy, it’s you! You look so different! What are you doing here?” I proceeded to tell him the whole story of Julia. He assured me that he would help us and a sense of peace washed over me as he related that he would be “on call” all night. Isaac was our angel from God. He not only escorted me back into the emergency room to be with Julia, but he somehow located an EKG machine and began placing the leads on her chest. I steadied the machine as he moistened a wad of used paper with alcohol since there was no cotton available in the hospital. It was a makeshift operation at best but I didn’t care, I was just so relieved that Isaac was helping Julia and her famliy get the needed information on the status of Julia’s heart. By God’s grace, it was almost back to normal. All three of us in that tiny cubicle breathed a sigh of relief.

Julia finally was released from the ER in the wee hours of the morning. Isaac visited her off and on during the night and made sure she got the attention she needed. She hadn’t slept much but her pulse had stabilized and the emergency was over. God heard our prayers and used a young intern named Isaac to make them a reality. I bless that boy, Isaac. He reminds me of another Isaac whom God used to increase the faith of a man. Abraham’s Isaac. Isaac is seen by many Christians as a prototype of Jesus. Our Isaac was definitely a prototype of Jesus to us. I praise God for the way he stepped in to help when no one else even seemed to care. There’s a song I love that is in Spanish and the chorus goes like this: This is the reason I love You, this is the reason I praise, You gave me love when no one else loved me at all.” That’s our Jesus, for you. Stepping in and caring when no one else wants to care. I like that in Him. He is full of stubborn, refusing to give up,miraculous, healing love. Thank you, Beloved Jesus, for your persistent, healing love for Julia. And thank you for using Isaac to remind us of Your amazing care for the lost and lonely, the rejected and dejected.

Thank you so much for praying!

Until the next blog I remain,

your Betsy