Monday, January 31, 2011

Big Changes...

So our family's lives have had some huge changes in the past week. I wrote about Dora a few weeks ago that we'd hoped to have come live with us and study ( ) but her parents wouldn't permit it. We still grieve that she is not given the opportunity to further her education but are having to accept their decision.

Back in December we also spoke with another set of parents from Cumbre del Gramal, another mountain community where school is only offered till 6th grade. It's an hour-and-a-half walk into town so coming to school after 6th grade is nearly impossible. These parents have five children, and the oldest two are daughters, Nohemi and Roxanna) who are 13 and 14. One graduated from 6th grade this past November and the other a year earlier. They were very interested in the opportunity for their daughters to go to school here but didn't think they could allow them to because they had three younger children who the oldest two help care for. We just had decided that what we saw as a ministry possibility must not be in God's plans. That all changed a week ago on Sunday. :)

That Sunday morning the girls' parents came to church here and said that they'd like to take us up on our offer. Note that this is one day before the first day of school and our home had not been made ready for this so we did have a few slight moments of panic. But the parents said that the family had all had a bad case of the flu and the girls had been sick for about a week and wouldn't be able to come to school till probably Wednesday, which would give us two days to get things ready for them.

We spent Monday and Tuesday removing things from a small bedroom that had been our home office and moving them into our bedroom. In that home office was also a large wardrobe where Monte and I kept our clothes. It's too large to negotiate the turn into our bedroom so it would stay there for the girls to use and Monte and I went and found an open hanging rack to use as a wardrobe in our bedroom. We purchased a set of bunk beds and the girls' room was basically ready.

They came to school Thursday for the first day but because they'd been sick and were weak, Mom chose for them to go home on Thursday night and then over the weekend and came today with their few clothes and ready to spend the week with us. They will come on Mondays and go to school during the week and live with us and on Fridays they will return home to their family.

On Thursday when they came to school we took them to lunch first and decided to go with pizza. The girls had never heard of pizza. Their mom had heard of it but never eaten it. Their main diet consist of tortillas, beans, and rice. We are going to try to take it slow these first few days in introducing them to new foods but they are in for lots of surprises, I'm sure. Their home has no electricity and no indoor plumbing. When I told them about our microwave today at lunch, they'd never heard of one. They've never heard of spaghetti or peanut butter. (Hard to imagine, right?)

So our family is now going to be speaking a lot more Spanish at home and the girls are on a fast track to learn English. We're excited about the opportunities that the girls are going to have and they seem to be very happy with their new environment and the opportunities as well.

Monte's Aunt Pat sent a big bag full of stuffed animals down here in January for us to share with the kids in the area. Ruth and Nathan took in the bag of them and had the girls each pick one for themselves and one for each of their siblings. They loved going through them. Nohemi is on the left and Roxana is on the right in this picture.

Please be in prayer for our family and for the girls as we embark on this exciting adventure.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bad news/Good news...

Last week I wrote about our ladies' class and the ladies who stepped up and helped take food to a lady in the community who was very sick and in a bad condition financially. I wrote that her name was Cecilia but we later found out it is Ercilia. Last week on Tuesday I went with Jose and some of the sisters here to go visit her and found her in very bad shape. We prayed with her and her family. She
had cancer in her stomach/abdomen and had fallen and injured her back about 6 months ago and consequently had terrible swelling in one leg and couldn't walk. Due to the cancer she was having problems taking in any food and when she did she had problems keeping it down. She was staying with her daughter-in-law who said they could use a wheelchair and a portable toilet. The next day my family (including Monte's parents who are visiting us) went with Jose and took her both items. (We also took a wheelchair to a man recuperating after a back injury who was in need of one and lived very close--just to explain why you see two in the pic.)

I spent last night not far outside of San Salvador after our family had to travel to San Sal to renew our visas yesterday. Jose called me this morning to let me know that Ercilia died early this morning. That is the bad news I mentioned in the title. The good news is that he told me that yesterday they got word that Ercilia was in very bad condition and he went with about four of the sisters from here and they visited the family and prayed with them.
Today he took some of them to return to see how they could minister to and help the family through this difficult time. The sisters here have not really reached out cooperatively to the community in the past and are getting a sense of how they can serve in times like this and are stepping up to the challenge. I was really proud of them when Jose called me to let me know about yesterday's and today's events. My pride and happiness for the sisters in doing what they did was of course tempered by the sadness for Ercilia's family. Here is a picture we took of some of her family when we delivered the wheelchair last week. She had several children and although several are grown, three of them are still at home. The two boys on the left are her two youngest babies, who are now left as orphans and will be somehow cared for by their older siblings. (The lady in the white shirt is Ercilia's sister and the other lady in the dark shirt is her daughter-in-law and those are her children on the right) Please be in prayer for Ercilia's family, particularly her small children, as they face the days ahead. Also please be in prayer for the ladies' group here as we work to minister to them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"There are no words"

Today we had the pleasure of making another trip to Chuntrun.

This time Monte's parents were able to go with us, as they are here for ten days to visit us and to work with us. Today Jesus had a Bible study scheduled in the home of Maria and Natividad and I loved getting to visit with them in their home.

When we visit Chuntrun, we get to enjoy the immense beauty of God's creation that often leaves me speechless. But here's an image from today's Bible study that I thought you might enjoy. I do love it when a chicken wanders in to the study.

Jesus did a great job of teaching the class and Monte, Carlos, and Josue each led songs. At the end, Jesus led a song that I have only learned in the past week but that really affects me when I sing it. It's called "Hay Momentos" and the words to the first verse are: "Hay momentos que las palabras no alcanzan para decirte lo que siento por ti mi buen Jesus." Translated literally to English, they mean: "There are moments that the words do not reach to tell you what I feel for you my good one Jesus." How powerful and so true!

On a day like today when I sit in a home of two sweet sisters while we worship God together and share God's word with their neighbors and family is truly a moment when "there are no words." God is good and has blessed us tremendously. I look forward to worshipping Him again tomorrow with our church family in La Palma and then tomorrow night in Ocotepeque.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ladies' Class...

I wanted to take a minute to let you know about some exciting changes in the ladies' classes here. As of January, Jose has turned over the responsibility for these classes to me and Friday was the first class of the new year. One of things I talked to the ladies about is serving the community and suggested that we try to find ways to do this together once or twice a month. I asked for ideas on how to do this and at first they didn't have any.

So I mentioned that the clinic up the street has a maternity home where pregnant women who live in hard-to-reach rural areas can come for the final weeks of their pregnancy. I suggested maybe sometimes we could take food or baby items to the ladies there and visit with them. The ladies said they liked that idea so I wrote it down and asked them for suggestions again.

This time, Deyci spoke up. She said she knows of a lady whose husband recently died and the lady has cancer and has several children (she thinks three) and really could use some help. I asked what she thought she needed and she immediately said, "Food." She then said also clothes for the children, but probably mostly right now could use some food. I wanted to run with this idea (strike while the iron is hot and all...) so I asked if anyone was available to help with this plan this weekend. Felicita spoke up and said, "God has blessed me. I can bring a pound of rice and a pound of sugar." And then Deyce said, "God has blessed me, too. I can bring some pasta and some rice and some soap...I'm sure they need soap, too." I told them I'd bring some food, too, and we set a time for 3:00 today to meet up and go take the food items. (I brought a flat of eggs and some beans, in case you're interested.)

We met today and took the food with the plan of praying with Cecilia, the mom, while we were there. Unfortunately, she wasn't home, but two of her young boys were, and her brother-in-law was there watching them. We left the items with him and told him we were from the church and we'd like to come back and visit later. He seemed very grateful and the boys seemed excited about the food. We're going to try to go back on Tuesday and visit with Cecilia.

But what I want to point out is that these women who took the food with me today are not in good financial situations themselves. Most of us in the United States would consider them to be poor. But these are beautiful women who love God and realize that there's so much more to blessings than how much material goods we accumulate. The fact that they could answer, "God has blessed me..." and then go on to say what they could contribute was so powerful for me to witness. What a lesson we can learn from their generosity.

Please be in prayer for the ladies here as we endeavor to find more ways to serve God and also for Cecilia as we try to reach out to her and her family and help them.