Monday, June 29, 2009

Rock the Block 2009

Last week our family worked with our small group to lead a Rock the Block Backyard Bible Club. We averaged about 8 children a day. What a blessing it was!

First, we were able to clearly present the Gospel message every day and show that God wins over everything. The material, God Always Wins, from Children Desiring God is excellent...I highly recommend it. We used this same curriculum in Arizona last year so it was easy to pick it back up.

Second, working with our small group every day was such a blessing from the Lord. It was Biblical community right here at home. What an honor and privilege it is to share life with each of these families!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Memories of the dump...

This is the outside of The Tabitha House located in the dump area of Guatemala City. These children who are literally rescued from the dump daily have this view of garbage on the street.
A view of the dump where over 10,000 people live.
A mom who raises her children in the dump.
Houses are built on and around the dump with a maze of sidewalks and stairs that do not connect one area to another.
Houses in the dump are made from any scrap material available especially wood, tin and plastic.

An online friend recently asked me to share more about our time in the dump of Guatemala City. It is with a heavy heart, tear-filled eyes and lasting memories that I pen this post.

On Sunday afternoon our team gathered at the Baptist Seminary of Guatemala to discuss the ministry opportunities for the next day. Option 1: teach and lead children/preschool programs at The Tabitha House. It is located in the dump area and provides Christian training and childcare for women who are trying to escape a life of prostitution as well as their children. Option 2: Go into the dump, hand out food, and pray with families. Both places are in a dangerous section of town and we are forewarned of this many times. The dump is extremely dangerous Carol says and we don't need to take it lightly. She goes into details of the dangers involved. We pray and determine who God wants to go where. For the first day, none of the children with us (7 of them) will go into the dump. The adults will tread there first.

The dump group gathers on the steps outside of our room to pray. As we sit around, I look into the faces of JT, Susan, Leslie, Patty and Greg, and I see God's faithfulness. I see a group looking to Him alone for life. We fear not where He sends us. I pray that God will give each person a sense of peace and that He will show Himself in mighty ways.

On Monday morning God directs our group to the dump. We walk up and down stairs through mazes that ironically wind themselves through tin houses held together by a few nails. I see houses with no floors and some with see-through walls. Some even have no roofs. Many don't have water or electricity. If they do have the privilege of electricity, one or two light bulbs hang from the ceiling with exposed wires. Banners that we see at ballgames are the walls of some shacks. Children walk through the dirt with no shoes over piles of garbage. Mothers pick lice out of their daughters' hair and groups of men smoke pot outside of their homes. My heart aches for the hopelessness I see in their eyes and in their homes.

God directs our paths to the homes of women who are striving to seek God in their daily lives. I find myself wondering if my home...the comfort of furniture, electricity, running water....the support of family and friends....if THOSE things make it EASIER for me to trust God. Would I trust Him if I lived here? Would you?

The second day of our dump visits sees a new group going into the homes. Our group consists of Kathy, Rich, Patty, Brooke, Erica and Amanda. I'm excited about what God is going to do today. I'm a little more de-sensitized to the surroundings as I spent the entire day on Monday in the dump. Or so I thought. As we enter the first house, I see a mom who seems astonished that we are visiting her. She reveals that her life has been hopeless lately and she has been asking God to send her an angel. She says that God told her He would send people to her. We came. She thanked us for being the angels that God sent. Tears form in my eyes and I wipe them away. Surely, she is just mistaken. We are not worthy. We are not angels. But, the tears won't stop. I'm a counselor...I can handle these things....I doesn't work. I'm overwhelmed that God chooses to use us to minister to this woman in need.

Then, Carol tells us about the next place we are going to visit. It is just our group as she has asked everyone else to step outside. She tells us details of a family where the children are being abused. I ask the typical abuse questions to determine the level and extent of abuse. The facts are vivid and paint a picture of children in the midst of a horrifying situation. I cry out to the Father on behalf of the children...why? The group looses all sense of dignity as we cry together and as a family of believers. We call out to God for the children and beg for their release from this situation. We know that we cannot physically go on without God sustaining us. We are emotionally and physically spent at 10:00 in the morning. We cannot walk another step without God directing our path. We refuse to move until He moves.

He moves us, and we move on to see the family. God shows His mercy and grace as He reigns on high. We are overwhelmed by His love and grateful for the way He showed Himself to us. He alone is worthy to be praised. He is a loving God with a heart for the nations. He uses us to make His ways known on the earth and His salvation among the nations.

This is only a glimpse of the Father's work in Guatemala City. I can easily forget what I saw and experienced there. I pray that God reminds me daily of the sights, the sounds...more importantly, the people there. God is good, and His love endures forever.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


For the past three months, we have been watching every penny that goes in an out of our house. With the economy we have taken a new and detailed look at our budgeting/spending process. We know what is "enough" for our family...the bare minimum to live and what we need to live on each month. Sometimes, that "enough" is less than we anticipate.

So, we are combining all trips over 5 miles into one trip...errands, visits, appointments, etc.....cutting coupons (lots of them!), and not eating out. One website that has helped me tremendously has been I check it out weekly to find the best deals at CVS, Walgreens and Publix. I cut the coupons that they suggest (or print them) and save at least 50% on our groceries.

Just three weeks ago, the girls and I went to Publix. We bought $151 worth of groceries for just $65. It was amazing!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A House Full....

For the past five days, we have had a house full of staff and summer interns. On Saturday, the summer interns for the ministry, Autumn, Holly, Brittney and Michael, arrived. In addition, Karen Katchuk, our staff liason from Kentucky, and her daughter Morgan flew in. So, we had 12 people gathered around the dinner table. What a joy!

What a blessing to host our friends and family for several days. It was pure joy to hear and see....

  • Autumn strumming her guitar while Holly sang a song that Autumn wrote.
  • Hearing Holly and Heather sing worship songs upstairs.
  • The laughter coming from Jett as Morgan chased him around the house.
  • Michael teaching Madison how to play chess.
  • Karen braiding Madison's hair for the day.
  • Autumn trying to figure out which one was the dryer!
  • Brittney and Holly laughing endlessly.
  • Kaitlyn wanting to take Morgan to her 6th grade small group.
  • Having a row full of people we love at church.
  • Giggles, laughter and other untold noises late into the night.
I am a content woman in the Lord knowing that I am blessed beyond degree. I love you all!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

JT and Sheryl with our friend, Pastor Morales at New Jerusalen.

The Spice Girls (Patty, Brooke, Susan, Leslie, Erica and Amanda) with Jett!

The girls - Madison, Caroline, Haleigh, Savannah, Kaitlyn and Hannah.

Kaitlyn painting in the Tabitha House, a refuge for children in the dump.

Jett stood before a crowd of people at New Jerusalen on Sunday morning and quoted Psalm 23. He was a part of ministering to the same people group from which he came....oh, how God works!

(This same post was published on our ministry blog: with the exception of the remarks about Jett.)

Over the past eight weeks, our small group has been re-studying Experiencing God. We are all at similar stages of life, and we are learning so much this time around. God is showing us Himself in ways that we have never seen. We are absolutely amazed.

Most of our small group was able to travel to Guatemala together. What a time of biblical community this was for us. We were joined by Susan, Brooke, Amanda, Leslie and Erica from Brook Hills. It was a beautiful time of fellowship for all of us. We laughed together, cried together (often) and learned together. What a true picture of the church.

My mind still does not comprehend all that we saw in the dump in Guatemala City. Houses with no floors, walls made up of old plastic banners, no running water, no electricity, hazards be honest, I wouldn't let a dog run around in there. It was unhealthy, unsafe and full of people dying to hear about Jesus.

I was brought to my knees by stories of children abused in ways that I cannot repeat. At one point, our group had to re-group. We were all in tears and could not go on. We were beyond the breaking point and literally couldn't take another step without God doing a work. He did it, and we continued. I am so thankful for His divine grace, love and comfort. He reminded me of the need for tears shed on behalf of innocent children. He reminded me of the need for tears in a place that needs Him.

There are many more lessons but it's difficult to verbalize them all. I am still in shock and humbled by His mercy.

We were so blessed that Jett did extremely well! When we were on our way to Guatemala, he said "I am so excited!" Of course, I asked him, "Jett, why are you SO excited?" With a smile that will melt your heart, he exclaimed, "Because you're not going to leave me there!" Oh, the faith of a little child and his trust in us as his parents. It made me proud!

Jett received so much love while we there, and his name was the first one everyone remembered. I'm afraid he was spoiled by the kitchen crew, and they loved it! He ate more than we have seen him eat in a long time, and we were all surprised by his capacity. How can a 38 lb boy eat 3-5 lbs at each meal and not gain a pound?

We are so grateful for your prayers that sustained us. We are just thankful.