Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I wonder when the time will come when I will be able to write briefly about a mission trip in just one blog post or if the time will ever come when I get back from a mission trip and never write about it at all? For now I can't see this ever getting "old" or ever becoming mundane enough for me to stop writing about it. I don't ever see this becoming just another job or something I dread or something not worth talking about. I'm sorry for such long back to back posts, but I'm really trying to get all of this out while it's still fresh in my mind and as quickly as possible because starting tomorrow I am back at it again...working on details for the December trip, trying to figure things out for 2010, preparing to speak twice in a week in early November...including on Orphan Sunday and every thing else that goes along with all of this.

I wasn't going to write a post like this, but what the heck. I'm sitting here tonight with Casting Crowns "Until the Whole World Hears" blaring in my ears and really missing the women that I didn't know before the trip (with the exception of one), but that are now friends. Readjusting after a mission trip isn't easy for me. I wonder if that is something that will ever change, too?

Someone asked me today how I think the trip went overall and if I am happy with the way things went. I was thrilled to be able to answer the question the way I did.

Overall, I think the trip was incredible. For a first mission trip with multiple things taking place, I honestly do not think it could have gone much better. There were some kinks and a few bumps in the road, but nothing that was too bad to deal with and whatever couldn't be fixed, we worked around it. I am so happy with the way most things went. In the end, we did what we went to Guatemala to do this time.

Throughout the trip, I kept being reminded of two things and what I felt every time that these came to my heart is probably what I will remember most from the trip (other than simply being there and serving)...

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations..." Ephesians 3: 20-21


"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another..." Hebrews 10: 23 - 25

It was Ephesians 3: 20 - 21 that I thought about as I stood crying in the middle of the road in Pueblo Nuevo last Tuesday morning. I was so nervous about all that was about to take place. I had no idea how we had gotten to that point and no idea how we were going to work through it. What was I doing? Was I really standing in the middle of a village in Guatemala about to watch our first actual project take place? I have never wanted to try to turn villages like Pueblo Nuevo into something comparable to the way we live in the U.S. The lives they live ARE their lives. They know no other way. They do not want mansions, SUVS, TVS that take up entire walls and purses that cost the equivalent of a house note..because many of them do not even know all of that exists. We aren't there for that. What we are there for is to make sure that they have what they need to survive, to make sure that their children do not become orphans and if they do, that they are cared for, to help them find ways to support their families so that we do not always need to be there and to make sure that education becomes a priority. We are there to love them and to give more of ourselves than we will ever receive back. And we are there to make sure that they have the hope that can only be found in Christ. Some have said that I want to do too much...that we can't do orphan care AND orphan prevention...that we can't do humanitarian aid AND actual missions work...that we can't "help them all". I have spent too much of the last year being discouraged by the opinions of others. They are right. We cannot do it all. I am constantly overwhelmed by all that I know our family has to do not just in Guatemala, but others countries around the world. We can't do this. But I know and have always known just what He reminded me of last week. He can do more than all we ask or imagine. For some reason He has chosen to use our family for His glory in Guatemala and wherever else He sends us. I don't understand it...I never will. But if he chooses to use us to show others that He can do it all...that when He calls you to something, He will make sure His work is done...so be it. To Him be the glory. So as I stood there wondering how we are supposed to do all of this and how to do it gracefully, I had to let it all go. Again. Because I can do nothing...we can do nothing. It isn't about us and we certainly do not deserve the credit for any thing that takes place. He is the one doing more than we could ask for or imagine. During this trip, He did do it all...during this trip, He used each of us as humanitarians AND missionaries for orphans AND other vulnerable children and families. He amazes me. Because His hand is all over this, we have no reason to fear or wonder how anything will get done.

But even before all of that and through the days that followed, I was reminded constantly of Hebrews 10: 23-25. Our team, to put it mildly, rocked! There were times when I stopped what I was doing just to stand back and watch them work. Every one of them was there for a reason and every one of them served their purpose for the week, I'm sure. We may have seen Jesus in the eyes of every child we met last week, but I am certain that every child that looked into the eyes of these women also saw Him. From them there were no complaints, no hesitation, no negativity and not one harsh word spoken (that I heard, anyway) about any of the others. There was only constant encouragement to every other person on our team and to those around us. They were quick to spur each other and me on toward love and good deeds. Never did I expect to see and receive such encouragement from a team of women that had never met before and I am so, so blessed to have been able to spend this time with each of them. I am not sure of much, but I am sure that this team came together perfectly because of Him. These women are LIVING IT and I am so encouraged by the works that they did and the words that they spoke last week. I just have to say it....I love y'all! :)

I'm kind of sad that this trip is over. Everyone knows that leaving Guatemala is more than difficult for me. But I will be back in Guatemala in just 7 weeks and with all that has to be done before then, I am sure the time will pass quickly. The countdown begins now... :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Life & Peace Ministries

From long before the beginning of AAB, we knew that we have a two (or three) fold calling...to care for orphans AND vulnerable children and families that are at risk of becoming orphans or leaving their children as orphans. I have always said that we have to do both, but can rush neither of them. For more than a year I have looked for, researched and talked to I have no idea how many people about orphanages in Guatemala that need or want to partner with an outside organization to provide orphan care. There are many orphanages in Guatemala and around the world that need assistance, but finding the right one...not the one(s) WE chose, but the one(s) HE chose for us, was quite the task and honestly, there have been times that I thought we may never work in any orphanage in Guatemala. No matter how much I love orphans and want to provide orphan care, I knew that we could not rush into this, just as we have been and are working slowly to establish ourselves in Pueblo Nuevo.

After hearing about New Life & Peace Ministries and their children's home, Rehoboth Children's Home in Parramos, I had a feeling that this may be where we needed to be in providing orphan care. (Note: This ministry does not have a website and is not the one that appears in a google search for Rehoboth or New Life & Peace.) We spent our last day in Guatemala at Rehoboth and each member of our team was blessed by the directors, staff and especially the children that call it home. During our time there, we learned more about Victor and Chici, received the history on each child, replaced their expired vitamins with enough new vitamins to get each child in the home through at least the next 6 months, played with children and just learned more about all that Rehoboth is. Victor and Chici founded New Life & Peace Ministries in 1992. Each came from difficult backgrounds. Before taking over Rehoboth, they opened residential Christian centers for alcoholics, drug addicts and prostitutes in both Guatemala and Nicaragua. Victor, along with another missionary, started a church in Antigua in 1994 and it has since become what is called a mission's church, which we attended the Sunday we were in Guatemala. Victor continues to serve as pastor of this church.

The Barbella's took over the children's home years ago after learning that the home was about to be closed. Rehoboth, once a boy's home, but now a home for all children, is home to children that have been severely abused and neglected. Each child has his or her own story and each one bears physical and/or the emotional scars that come with abuse. Some of these children do not have living parents, others have parents that simply do not care and will never see them again. But at Rehoboth, they have found the love of Jesus Christ because of the love that has been given to them by the Barbella's and others working at Rehoboth.

We are excited about getting to know the Barbella's and the children they love so much. Our first goals are to help them create a website and obtain sponsors for the children at Rehoboth. We will be at Rehoboth in December to throw a Christmas party for the children there...this is something that has never been done there before...and to bring supplies that we have been told are needed, such as shoes and school supplies and hopefully the good news that more of their children have been sponsored. We love the vision the Barbella's have of building a home for those 18 years of age and older that need more time with them before leaving Rehoboth and we pray that we are able to help with this vision in some way.

I will post more details about New Life & Peace Ministries and Rehoboth Children's Home soon, but for now, you can learn more about them by watching the video below.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pueblo Nuevo

I guess I should admit it now. As much as I intend to blog every evening of a mission trip, I don't think it's ever going to happen. Ever. We're home and here I am, with a doozy of a blog post whirling around in my mind, thinking of writing it in an exhausted state (which could cause it to be better or completely horrible) and wanting to get it over with because that trip, as awesome as it was, is done and I have to get ready for the next one that is just 7 weeks away. If you are looking only for pictures, skip all of this and wait for the next couple of posts. Uploading them is taking a while tonight, so I'll do it after I get the rest of them from Dana (our photographer).

Day 1 is already out of the way. So...

Monday we visited Cerro de la Cruz (the cross). It was the perfect day for it. Standing above Antigua, with my favorite view of Agua as clear as could be and a very busy Fuego before me was breath taking. I had been there before. I had taken that gasp and felt that moment of awe before. I stood there..half of me wanting to silently cry because I was so totally overwhelmed by Him, half wanting to stand on the little cement "wall" and shout at the top of my lungs how great He is. That afternoon we traveled outside of Antigua to Santiago Zamaro, a small village that sits near the base of Fuego. After learning a little about the village, I decided to travel there and meet some families that live there in case we are able to start working in another village sooner than we think. Each family we met was so warm and friendly. There are needs that need to be met in Santiago Zamaro, as there are all over Guatemala. This village is not our main focus right now, but we will be returning occasionally. As early as December we will likely spend a day distributing much needed items that we have more than enough of.

Tuesday. I fell in love. Completely and totally in love. With the people of Pueblo Nuevo. The very moment that I had been waiting for came and went early that morning. It was the first day of our dental clinic. Since June (since December actually, but especially since June) I have been praying for some kind of confirmation. June's trip did not end with me being thrilled about working in this village that we believed God had called us to. There were times when I was convinced that we were far from where we were supposed to be for the silliest and pettiest of reasons. So I prayed for confirmation...I needed to know. Should we stay in Pueblo Nuevo indefinitely or pull out before even beginning?

I was excited as we made our way to Pueblo Nuevo, but nervous. Things moved quickly once we got there and before I knew it people were lined up down the road in front of the house we would be spending the next 2 days in, just waiting to add their name to the list for dental care. One of our first patients was a little girl. Terrified, she climbed into the chair. Tears ran down her face as she waited for the dentist to begin her exam. On the filthy floor beside her, I sat on my knees, held her hand and tried to comfort her as the dentist examined her teeth. Even I could see that the chances of saving most of her front bottom teeth would be slim. Through the injections she cried harder and squeezed my hands. As each of her bottom teeth (four total) were pulled, she flinched and cried harder. She left. I walked out of the building and around the corner. When I was far out of sight of our team and the large crowd that had gathered outside, I burst into tears. This was it. I never thought that the first AAB project would be a dental clinic, but God did..He knew when Kasey signed up that it would automatically become that. I never would have thought to plan a dental clinic, but He did. He knew that because of this clinic, pain would cease, trust would begin and people that had never heard His name before would hear it while they waited. Just as with our son's referral, with the sight of one child, I fell in love not with the thought of working in Pueblo Nuevo, not with idea of doing any thing at all, but with the people that were waiting outside of that door...with the hands that I would hold during the next 2 days...with the children that I would pray for as they cried...with the moms that have been abandoned and the dads that are unable to provide. No doubt. Pueblo Nuevo is where He sent us and where He wants us to stay, no matter what.

So, for two days dentists and nurses worked tirelessly to see as many patients as possible. People came and went. Emergencies were treated and many left only after every last cavity they had was filled. Most of them will not have any dental problems for a long time. But as the minutes passed on Wednesday, my panic rose. We were going to have to turn people away. A lot of people. Some people waited for 2 days to see a dentist. Some for a day and a half. We stopped taking names at 110 people because we knew we would not be able to see more. Even after we stopped taking names, people would wait with the hope that we may be able to add them to the list later in the day. With the number of dentists that we had and their patent's needs, we were only able to see 80. Our team is so sweet to say that 80 is a lot...that that's 80 less people with serious dental issues...80 less people in pain...80 more people that know we were there to help, not to hurt them and 80 more people that are beginning to trust us and most importantly, each one was ministered to. I know they are right. Kasey, our dentist, and the S4H dentists did an amazing job! I am so proud of Kasey, the dentist that traveled with AAB. Her compassion, heart for missions and love of God is obvious. I am certain that she, along with the nurses (Claire and C.), our photographer (Dana) and Kori touched more lives during this trip than we will ever know. 80 patients in 2 days, especially with the severity of many of their cases, is a lot. But we still had to turn people away. That hurts. No matter how many days we would have run the clinic, people would have come...some of them had already walked from other villages after hearing about us. We could probably run a clinic every day and still see patients all day every day, but still. We will never be able to help every person we see, but I doubt that this part will ever get easier.

We visited with many families that live in Pueblo Nuevo Thursday morning and distributed the remainder of toothbrushes and toothpaste, vitamins (LOTS of prenatal vitamins were distributed), etc. We did this (toured the village) during our June trip, but this time was much different. I didn't want to meet just a couple of families. I wanted to get deep into Pueblo Nuevo and meet as many families as possible and that is exactly what we did. I am sure that I am not the only one that will say that the Lord speaks so clearly when you are walking through the mountains of a Central American village. After meeting several families and visiting homes that I had been to before, we began walking to another part of the village. The part that no one ever goes to, other than those that live there and the pastor and his wife. Some of the families there are "forgotten", or at least they want to be. Because they are the poorest of the poor, without toilets that are hidden behind pieces of plastic or even running water, because they have so much less than those that have nothing, they have been shunned by many in the village and by one of the churches there. Because of this they trust no one, believe in nothing and are certain of only thing...that if there is a God, He certainly does not love them.

How my heart rejoiced as the AAB team showed them love, spoke of God's love and lived it openly and compassionately. Hearing the words "God loves you", no matter how many times they are told (and God knows we are telling them), may never hit home for them, but seeing His love is a different story. There are so many ways to minister to people that have no hope and I LOVE that the team of women that walked with me through the mountains of Pueblo Nuevo that day found the best way to minister to every single person we came into contact with not just that day, but every day we were in Guatemala.

That evening we spent time with children that have forever stolen my heart. All of the children that usually attend the children's ministry were there and I was so, so happy to see that many of the children that had never heard about the children's ministry until that week and even some of the children that we first met earlier that day during our walk through the mountains, came to hear the Bible story and participate in craft time. We served dinner to all of the children, passed out protein bars and much wanted Mardi Gras beads (which may have been more of a hit than even the protein bars even though they are so hungry). So many of the kids hugged me as they left. I began to cry an uncontrollable cry as I hugged one of the little girls that first grabbed my attention in June and who had become so attached to me over the last couple of days. We said good-bye to Pueblo Nuevo and unlike the last trip, I left without a question in my mind. The Lord used those 3 days to blow my heart wide open for the people of Pueblo Nuevo and we are not hesitating to follow through with what He is calling us to there. Leaving Pueblo Nuevo was so hard for me this time and I imagine that as long as I continue to have to leave, it will only get harder. At times like these, I have to force myself to remember that His timing is perfect.

Next post...how He worked out the year long question...."What orphanage/children's home?"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day 1

There is a breeze blowing and a chill in the air. In the distance I hear a dog barking and because Tuesday is holiday, someone is beginning the celebration early with fireworks. People are scattered around the house after a busy day either talking to their loved ones or sleeping. And I am here...feeling the need to blog, wanting to blog, but not being sure of what it is I want to say.

We made it to Guatemala yesterday. From the time the morning started, the Lord was clearly already working. I love those times when it is so easy to see His hand at work.

The two of us that did not actually have seats on the second leg of the journey and that had been praying we would be given seats received them. Because of that, our entire team arrived within minutes of each other. Both flights, with the exception of a few scares on one of them, went well.

We have all been praying about customs which has become hard to get through with many supplies. All bags have been being sent through xray machines, items (especially medication and medical supplies) aren't being allowed to be brought into the country and are being confiscated...items that we have a lot of. Not one of our bags was x-rayed...NOT ONE. And I was the ONLY person to even be stopped by customs. He searched 2 of my bags, saw all that I had and let me through without even charging me a tax. I walked out of the airport wanting to scream praises because this was such a God thing.

One of the girl's bags is lost. It holds some supplies, but mostly her personal items. She is here now with a couple of outfits and not much else. Not one time has she complained about this. Not once! I am in Guatemala with 5 women that are blowing me away and we haven't even done anything yet. Without hesitation I can say that this is the best possible group that could have been on this trip. There is no way that there could be a better group and I cannot wait to see them at work this week. They are such a blessing already...more than they will ever know...
I keep saying to Kori (an AAB board member and childhood friend) how happy I am to be here with this group...how at peace I feel just because they are making this so easy. Each one of us are different, but because we all love the Lord, are here for His purpose and genuinely want to do whatever we can to reach out to those in need, we are all exactly the same. I don't know why I ever worried about how women that have never met and some never even spoken to would get along. It could not be going any better than this.

We attended church with our friends at Servants 4 Him this morning. What a wonderful experience that was! During their praise and worship, as I stood there unable to sing because I speak so little Spanish, I was overcome by the thought of how people that are so different...living in different parts of the world, dealing with different life circumstances...are exactly the same. And I love that that was part of our conversation over dinner tonight because we were all feeling the same thing. It doesn't matter that we worshipped in a small church this morning. That we sat in plastic chairs instead of pews. It doesn't matter that we could not sing because we can't speak Spanish because we knew that even without our voices, he can read our hearts. It doesn't matter that the people that sat all around us have never and will never know what our lives are like...and we will never truly know theirs. What matters is that no matter how we live or what we do, we each have struggles. What matters is that because we are followers of Christ, every person in that room today are our brothers and sisters. What matters is Him.

Kori and I traveled to Parramos to meet with the pastor/children's ministry leader and his wife this afternoon. To some of the questions I have had, I received answers and I am so thankful for receiving such clarity today, along with unexpected opening doors.

Tonight we organized supplies, counted out vitamins and began really preparing for the dental/medical clinic that begins Tuesday in Pueblo Nuevo. I knew that the team had collected a lot of supplies, but I had no idea how much until I saw it all. Again, there is nothing I can say except what a blessing these women are.

Tomorrow was originally scheduled to be our "free day", but plans changed and instead we will have a free morning and go to the cross. Tomorrow afternoon we will be visiting a Mayan village outside of Antigua. There is a possibility of establishing an AAB program there and I am so excited about what tomorrow holds.

And all of that was in just over 24 hours.

June's trip was such a learning lesson for me and forced me to remember some things. Plans change quickly sometimes. God's way is always right. That none of this is about us. That what you think isn't always what is. That no matter what you want, if it isn't His will, it isn't going to work. And that when He calls you to something, you will go through obstacles...there will be difficulties...and there will be times when it would be easier to give up than to keep going, but He will always clear your path and make a way.

This trip is so much easier because some of the difficulties we faced earlier on and I am even more thankful now for the trials we have experienced. Of course there will always be difficulties...they never seem to end...but tonight, as I sit in the place that still feels most like home to me because I know that this is where I am supposed to be, I rejoice in knowing that He is here...He is great...and He is at work.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Raw Confessions

My friend, Max (Lucado). He really gets me.

I am certain that he writes some things just for my benefit even though he has no idea that I am alive. Call it what you want. I choose NOT to call it obsession :)

Anyway, today I read this and it really slapped me across the face.

"Accept the goodness of Jesus Christ. Abandon your own works and accept His. Abandon your own decency and accept His. Stand before God in His name, not yours."

I could cry right now. My emotions are definitely at the surface tonight. Why? Because I have such little faith. Yeah...I have my moments of having more faith than I knew a person could have, but most of the time I have such little faith that it is embarrassing. It really disgusts me.

I do not care much about "my own works" and "my own decency". Honestly, I would rather be invisible when it comes to being given credit for any thing good...whether it is helping an older woman find her car in a parking lot, feeding a child that hasn't eaten in days or spending the day cuddling with my own child because he just needs one on one time with his mom. Recognition is not something that makes me all giddy inside...and public recognition? That is something that I can hardly handle at all. What really got me was, "Stand before God in His name, not yours."

That is what I have a problem with and I have just about let it take over my entire life in the last 3 days.

I do not want to leave my son to travel to Guatemala. I do not want to be away from my husband for even a week. I am afraid. I can't do this. What was I thinking?

But it isn't about me. It never has been. It never will be. I am not here to be glorified, but to glorify. I am not here to live for myself, but to live for Him. I am standing before God and desperately trying to let go of my name so that I can stand in His. This fear is almost paralyzing. It is so easy to follow Him into wide open spaces when not much is going on in life, but it isn't so easy when you are facing new things, waves of panic and uncertainty.

This is all so simple really. It's just a mission trip and God willing, I will be back in a week. It isn't a trip around the world to "save" every orphan alive. It isn't something to make a big deal about. But it is the real start of one of my life long dreams and my passion come to life. It is the beginning of a call to return to Guatemala to serve vulnerable children, at risk families and orphans. And I am TERRIFIED because all I can think about is the fact that I have to leave my family. There are underlying issues here....I think I need therapy...and to pray A LOT more. ;)

I'm not sure why I am feeling the need to air my rawness to blog land tonight. I'm sure the awesome women traveling with me will probably land in Guatemala in a couple of days thinking I'm a real nutcase. I should probably consider being more private with this stuff...but what good would that be to other people leading mission trips that appear to be rock solid, but are really just as weak as I am?

His name. Not mine. His strength. His grace. I am covered.

Excited and praying against the fear.

Standing...trembling, but standing.

In His name.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Voice of Adventure

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" Psalm 27:1

"Jesus says the options are clear. On one side there is the voice of safety. You can build a fire in the hearth, stay inside and stay warm and dry for what you don't try, right? You can't fall if you don't take a stand, right? You can't lose your balance if you never climb, right? So don't try it. Take the safe route.

Or you can hear the voice of adventure - God's adventure. Instead of building a fire in your hearth, build a fire in your heart. Follow God's impulses. Adopt the child. Move overseas. Teach the class. Change careers. Run for office. Make a difference. Sure it isn't safe, but what is?"

(Max Lucado - Grace for the Moment - morning & evening edition)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Give Me Details...."

A few days ago one of my sweet friends called to remind me of how quickly our next trip is approaching (we leave THIS SATURDAY....whoa!!) and to ask me what she can be praying specifically about. Then she quickly changed her mind to say, "Never mind. Don't tell me what you think I should be praying about. Tell me what YOU are praying for this trip. Give me details and don't leave any thing out, no matter how long the list is. "

Sweet, sweet friend. I love and adore those people that forget about their own lives for the briefest moment just to remember and sincerely pray for others. It is so easy to say, "I'm praying for you..." and never give a second thought to that person, but to go repeatedly to the Throne on another's behalf? Amazing. I am so grateful for those that are praying about this trip and that are constantly supporting us through prayer. We are also thankful for each of the people that are traveling next week and for those around them that are praying, as well.

I guess since Saturday is so close, it would be a good idea to post the same list I gave my friend here. People that are around us already know what we are praying for, but you can never have enough people praying. Thanks to everyone that has called, sent emails, written notes of encouragement, etc. to let us know that you are thinking of us and praying. You all mean so much to us!

Okay....so here is the LONG list (because I am any thing but short and to the point...lol) of my prayers for this trip:

- Two of our team members have been sick....one of them has been seriously ill over the last 2 weeks. Both are excited about the trip and have no plans to cancel. We are praying that they are fully recovered by Saturday. For the one that has been VERY sick, we are praying that she will not only be fully recovered, but will have no recurrence of symptoms while we are in Guatemala which would mean the likelihood of an emergency return to the U.S. As always, we are praying for the health of all team members while we are in Guatemala.

- We are praying for everyone's safe travel and for the safe arrival of all of luggage which contains supplies that we are counting on for this trip. Of course, we also praying for our safety throughout the week and for our safe return to the U.S.

- Some of us have family members that are very concerned about us traveling to Guatemala. We pray that the Lord will give them peace about what we are doing and remind them that He is our greatest protection. For those of us with children, we pray that we also will have peace about being away from them and that God will somehow comfort our kids while we are away.

- Customs has become a nightmare for many missions teams in Guatemala. Because we are each loaded down with supplies, we are praying that their eyes will be closed to us. We need to make it through customs without having to pay an enormous amount in taxes or having items confiscated. Our supplies include medication and medical supplies along with all of the vitamins that will be used to start the vitamin program. We also have a few items that will left for the December trip. Having to pay a lot in taxes or having any of these items confiscated would make things very difficult.

- The Servants 4 Him team is working with us to provide dental clinics. Without their help, we would be unable to provide this service for the people of Parramos and Pueblo Nuevo. As always, we are praying for their ministry and team, their needs and their health.

- We are praying that not only will God touch lives through us and our work in Guatemala, but that our eyes will be opened and our lives will be changed during our time there.

- We have a very clear vision of what our first long term community stabilizing project is to be in Guatemala. As we have said all along, before beginning such a project we must begin building trusting relationships within the community by doing smaller projects such as the ones we will be doing next week and in December, in order for any of this to be a success. We are praying for answers to some very serious questions over the next 2 trips and that trust will begin to grow between us and the people we are working with in Pueblo Nuevo.

- Next week we will be spending time in an orphanage that we may begin parterning with on orphan care projects. We have been praying all along about how AAB is to provide orphan care and have taken this part of the organization very slowly. I believe that the possibility of working with this orphanage on big orphan care projects is great and we are praying about ways that we may be able to best serve the children and the orphanage directors should we discover that this is, indeed, where God wants us to begin providing orphan care.

- Above all else, we pray that His will, no matter what that is, be done during this trip. We are praying that our hearts remain open to Him and that regardless of what He calls us to do, we will follow Him completely.

Saturday. Just 6 sleeps (or for me, 5 sleeps because I certainly will not be able to close my eyes Friday night) and I will be landing in Guatemala again. When we left Guatemala in June, I was unsure about so many things, but I am returning with certainty and an excitement that is uncontainable. I am nervous, but I am sure that this, AAB's first actual mission trip, is the beginning of something that I could never imagine.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Philadelphia Baptist Church

Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville, LA recently collected three large boxes of supplies to be distributed in Guatemala during our next two trips, thanks to the organization of one family with big hearts for the children of Guatemala. When I say that these boxes were full supplies, I am not exaggerating. Toy, shoes, medical and hygiene items, school supplies, Bible story books and socks filled the boxes.

If you know me personally, you know that I get pretty excited about each box of supplies that arrives. Sometimes I get so excited that I can't stop smiling and laughing...other times I end up crying while looking through everything. Friday night happened to be one of the times I ended up in a puddle on the floor. Why? Because of tiny pairs of scissors. We are collecting so many different kinds of supplies that getting the exact number of our "goal" for each type of item is difficult. I knew collecting so many types of items would be hard, but decided to go through with it. Remember the sock situation? No, socks aren't absolute necessities, but we still wanted to be able to provide them. Thank GOD for the nearly 800 pairs of socks that we have received in the last week that are now packed and ready to arrive in Guatemala!

OK...back to the scissors. School supplies, in my opinion, are necessary. So many kids are unable to attend school in Guatemala and so often those that are able to attend do not have the supplies they need to further their education. Distributing school supplies in December, along with our distribution of shoes, socks, toys and most importantly food baskets and Spanish Bible story books, was something that I felt very strongly about. It wasn't looking good. Two weeks ago, school supplies started rolling in...crayons, pencils, markers, colored pencils, construction paper...you name it, we got it...except scissors. We have the pencil boxes that are being stuffed with pencils, erasers, etc. and we needed scissors to put in each box. I was getting ready to pack them without scissors. Sure enough, we now have an entire box of tiny animal scissors (seriously...these are the cutest scissors ever!) that will be added to each pencil box next week. Of course, I was a blubbering mess (at least I was home alone...Danny surely would have laughed at the sight of me crying into a box overflowing with scissors) when the thought came to mind, "How can anyone say that God doesn't care about the little things?" Yeah...I told you...I was a sight! :)

Thank you to Philadelphia Baptist Church and to the family that organized this drive for Guatemala!

**I want to quickly say that we are also incredibly grateful and blessed by each individual family that is sending supplies for Guatemala. I do not feel comfortable listing many names on a public blog which is why I only publicly thank groups that hold supply drives, but each individual that donates items means as much to us and the children of Guatemala as larger groups. THANK YOU!!**

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Sock it to 'Em" Drive

The Beta Club of North Pike High School in Summit, MS recently held a drive to collect new socks and shoes to be distributed by AAB during our December mission trip. They titled their drive "Sock it to 'Em". Fitting, don't ya think? I am currently sorting through hundreds of pairs of socks that will travel with us in October and be held until we return in December.

No one knows that for weeks I had been secretly stressing about the fact that we had collected very few socks to be distributed with shoes in Dec. I so wanted to be able to give each person that received shoes socks to go along with them, but with only a handful of socks that hope was going down the drain. I had no idea until a few days ago that this drive had even taken place. Now...no worries whatsoever about socks and so thankful for perfect provision!

Thank you NPHS Beta Club and anyone else that participated in the drive!!