Thursday, September 6, 2007

Family Camp 2007

For the 3rd year now, our family has spent Labor Day Weekend at Camp Bethel in Wise, Virginia. Camp Directors Jeff and Susan Rolen along with all of Camp Bethel's wonderful staff do everything they can to provide families with 3 days of precious time together. Forever friendships are forged, adventure abounds and fantastic food is feasted upon. We, as always, had a wonderful time and the kids are already counting the days until next year. Thanks Jeff, Susan and the gang for working so hard to provide our family with the opportunity to refuel, reconnect and refresh.

For more infomation about Camp Bethel and their many ministries to kids, families and their community, visit their website:

Here are some pictures from this year's Family Camp Weekend:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Update on Baby Paola

I recieved news recently that baby Paola died the week after we left Guatemala. I have such mixed emotions about this. I will never understand, this side of heaven, God's purpose for sending her here to live as an orphan and suffer from poor health for 3 months, only to bring her back home.

On the other hand, I am so thankful that He sent our team when He did. There were a few of us that felt led to give her special attention, the kind of earthly love that she may not ever have had a chance to experience. And, because we were there and loved her, there are now people mourning her loss, who have pictures of her and feel pangs of sadness when we look at them.

I am so happy that she is with her Father now. It warms my heart to think about Jesus holding her in his arms. And, I'm so relieved to know that she finally has a home...our only true home and the one we will all share some day!

The Martyr's Song
-By Todd Agnew

Sing! O son of Zion! Shout! O child of mine!
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind!
I’ve been waiting to dance with you in fields full of colors you’ve never seen.
And I’ve been waiting to show you beauty you never dreamed
That’s always been in you.
And I’ve been waiting...
To see you tremble as you’re embraced
By a world saturated with My love.
And I’ve been waiting for The Day
When at last I get to say, “My child, you are finally home.”
Sing! O son of Zion! Shout! O child of mine!
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind, for you are finally home!
I’ve been waiting to watch you realize what all your longing was for.
I’ve been waiting to show you the thread of grace
that ran through all your pain. And I’ve been waiting...
to let you drink the water of which your greatest joy on earth
Was just a taste.
I’ve been waiting for the day when at last I get to say,“My child, you are finally home.”
Sing! O son of Zion! Shout! O child of mine!
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind!
Sing! O daughter of Zion. Cry out! O child of mine!
Dance with all the strength that you can find...for you are finally home!
Every tear you cried dried in the palm of My hand.
Every lonely hour was by my side.
And every loved one lost, every river crossed—
Every moment, every hour was pointing to This Day...
I’ve been longing for This day!
I’ve been waiting to dance with you in fields full of colors you’ve never seen.
And I’ve been waiting to show you beauty you never dreamed
That’s always been in you. And I’ve been waiting...
To see you tremble as you’re embraced
By a world saturated with My love.
And I’ve been waiting for The Day
When at last I get to say, “My child, you are finally home.”
Sing! O son of Zion! Shout! O child of mine!
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind!
Sing! O daughter of Zion. Cry out! O child of mine!
Dance with all the strength that you can find...
for you are finally home!...
for you are finally home!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Please Pray for Baby Paola. I met this baby girl at the orphanage in Guatemala. Doctors don't know why, but she is severly malnourished. I found out today that she is back in the hospital and may not survive. I pray that she is not alone and that there are loving people surrounding her. My greatest fear is that she will suffer and die alone in a hospital. I am trusting God, the Father to the Fatherless, to provide this baby with love, comfort and protection.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Guatemala Slide Show

Home Again!

The last few days of our trip were perhaps the most fun, but also the most emotionally draining. On Thursday, we took a boat ride across Lake Atitlan to the village of Santiago Panabaj. This area has seen more than it's share of heartache. In the late 80's through 1990 there was a civil war and many of the locals were slaughtered in the fighting. Then, in 2005, Hurricane Stan devastated much of Mexico and Central America. The heavy rain caused two massive mudslides in Panabaj, killing over 250 people instantly and completely destroying most of the houses and buildings in one of the villages. Here you can see two half-buried front doors that were once attached to houses.

Here are images from the now-abandoned school and hospital buildings. You can see the mud line.

This field was once filled with houses. They were instantly destroyed and swept away by the mud, water and rocks. You can see the trough made my the mud as it poured into the area. 250 people were killed here, only 150 bodies have been recovered. This area is now considered a mass grave.
The people that were not killed in the mudslide were left homeless. The Guatemalan government along with several relief agencies built a village of temporary housing units made from 2 x 4's and nylon sheeting. Unfortunately, almost 2 years later, people are still living there because they have nowhere else to go. Sewage is backing up, disease is spreading and the area is rodent infested. The area has been classified as high-risk due to the possibility of more landslides, so the government will not build permanent housing for the people here. Other options are being considered, but no real action is being taken, so the people are left living in these horrible conditions. We were not permitted to enter the temporal housing area because it would give the people false hope that we were there to help or give them things. But here are some pictures of the area from a distance.

This little girl and her brother live in the temporal housing area. She joined our group while we were standing outside the village and followed us around during our entire tour of the area. She very quietly asked us for money. We were instructed not to give money to anyone, because word would spread among the villagers and future tour groups might be surrounded by people looking for money, which could turn into a dangerous situation. It was very difficult not to answer the request of this child for money. Some of our team members held her hand as we walked along. If nothing else, we could show her love.

This is an elderly man who walked the long road from the village with the help of a cane. He is carrying a large load of firewood on his back. As he got closer I could see that he was smiling.

A Mennoniote Missions group has helped a group of women from this area build a better life by forming a co-op. They work together to build houses, grow food and raise poultry. They also make exquisite beaded jewelry which they sell to folks like us who come to tour the area. It is an effective project which operates on a "Teach a Man to Fish" philosophy. Here, a woman from the co-op makes jewelry as her child watches.

After our tour of this area, we ate lunch and then took a WILD boat ride across a now stormy lake. It was lots of fun and I wasn't nervous until the boat's captain told us all to lean to one side!

That afternoon we visited Solomon's Porch, a Christian Cofee house in Panajachel. Panajachel is a "touristy" area with a large population of young European visitors. Marijuana is legal in Guatemala, one of the reasons that so many people flock here. This "hippie" population is primarily who Solomon's Porch is attempting to reach.

That night we all ate at the beautiful Hotel Atitlan. It is quite luxurious and was a lovely experience; however, more than once I felt conflicted as I ate a gourmet meal knowing that people nearby would go to bed hungry. The extremes of wealth and poverty are hard to reconcile.

Jose and his wife Blanci joined us for dinner. Jose works at Vinya and Bianci is the Principal of the Christian school we visited earlier in the week. I felt an instant bond with these two lovely people. They are both bright reflections of God's light in Solola. I hope we will meet again someday.

Friday we said goodbye to the kids at Eagle's Nest, a very emotional time. Then we rode to Antigua, a very old and beautiful city. We ate at McDonalds which was a great taste of home. It was the nicest McD's I've ever seen! It had fountains, artwork and a carefully landscaped garden. And, yes, there was a Play Place. Here is a fountain in the McDonalds. Look at the golden arches carved in the marble!

After Antigua, we continued on to Guatemala City where we visited another Children's home called Hannah's Hope. They have done an excellent job creating a home for the children until they are matched up with their forever families.

Early Saturday we left Guatemala, and Praise God, after a lengthly layover in Dallas, the team arrived back home safely as our plane touched down in Greensboro at 12:35 AM on July 1. I spent most of my first day back sleeping... I was EXHAUSTED! It was a wonderful trip, but it's great to be back home with my family. I'm also really enjoying the simple things, like drinks with ice, flushing my toilet paper (a big no-no in Guatemala), and not having to use bottled water to brush my teeth.

I'm still processing everything from the trip, but I can say for sure that God used this trip to open the eyes of my heart to see him in new ways. I learned that words are unnecessary for worship. I learned that our understanding of fairness and justice is entirely different from God's. I learned that true joy is found in living in each moment and trusting God with right now. Worrying about the next moment or lamenting over the previous one is consuming, unproductive and a joyless way to live. I also discovered the importance of serving His servants. It's important to remember that those who minister to others also need ministering to. Finally, I learned that God's work will get done with or without me. It is an act of love when He calls me to be a part of His work. In doing so I am given the opportunity to see Him in new ways and to grow closer to Him.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More From Guatemala

Today is the 6th day of our trip. Yesterday was a fun day. We started with a tour of an organization called Vinya. Part of what they do is to create audio versions of the bible in a variety of languages so that people in surrounding areas can hear the Word of God in their language or dialect. They also make videos for kids using finger puppets. Here is a picture of the recording studio. God has blessed them with a state-of-the-art facility.
Yesterday afternoon we visited a Compassion International host site at the same church where we worshipped on Sunday. Our team gave a presentation including the mime team's version of "I Can Only Imagine." There was not a dry eye among us when the children joined in and did the movements along with the team.

Then, we handed out brand new backpacks and candy to the kids. They were so excited and thankful.

Today, half of our team watched the children from the home while the other half worked hard giving the home a thorough spring cleaning. I was on the babysitting crew so I got to love babies all day long. Here are some of their sweet faces.

Yesterday, as I was taking in all of the sights from our van window, I thought about what a gift from God this trip has been . He must really love me to have provided me with this opportunity.
Stay tuned...more to come (with pictures!)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hola from Guatemala!

Here I am in Solola, Guatemala on a mission trip with Caroline's Promise. So far the trip has been WONDERFUL! The people are beautiful and very friendly. The food is "muy delicioso". And, our location at Eagle's Nest Children's Home is wonderful. The views of lake Atitlan and the 6 volcanoes that surround it are nothing less than breathtaking. Notice the last picture, you can
see the volcano glowing and the smoke rising from it.


We have worked hard at the Eagle's Nest property painting and cleaning. We've had a couple of long work days, but it's an honor to be a small part of making this a better place for these beautiful children and the people who care for them. Here is Lisa Holbrook (the founder of Caroline's Promise and me hard at work.

We've spent a lot of time working with children, both here at the home and at a couple of area schools. The kids here are so sweet and excited to meet new people. They are all very interested in my blonde hair, something they don't see very often. Last night a local church came and did a program with the kids here at Eagle's Nest. We got out the face painting supplies and discovered that the kids had WAY more fun painting our faces rather than us painting theirs. Here I am with the artist who decorated my face, plus some other face painting scenes.

God has been at work in amazing ways on this trip. Yesterday, we went to church. The service and music was completely in Spanish, but I learned that worship transcends language differences. It was a time of real closeness to God and fellowship with other believers. I even had the opportunity to share a testimony (with the help of a translator). I briefly spoke about how we all serve a God who provides. I talked about how God made it possible for me to go on this trip when, by my own means, it would have been impossible. I also said that I still didn't know the specific purpose God had for me in Guatemala, but I know that he has one, just like he has a purpose for each of our lives. I asked the congregation to pray that I would understand God's purpose for me and I said I would pray that God would show each of them his purpose in their lives. The congregation was very receptive to my message and it was a moment I will always treasure.
I also had the opportunity to speak to some of the women who work here at the children's home. My message for them was about how important they are to so many people. I explained how their work is important to the children, the birth parents, the adoptive parents and, most importantly, to God. Susan and Laura, two of our team members who have adopted children to Guatemala also spoke to the women. We thanked them for their hard work. I told them that Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes a child such as this in my name, also welcomes me." I added that when we do things for the needy, we are doing things for Jesus. I said that each one of the children they care for is a little Jesus. They laughed when I went on to say, "A little, crying, pooping, vomiting Jesus, but still...a little Jesus."

Please keep praying for the safety, health and work of our team. God Bless!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Going to Guatemala

On Thursday, June 21, I leave for a 10 day mission trip to Solola Guatemala. I should be able to provide daily updates so check back often!

About Me

My photo
I have three extremely cute kids-Andrew is 14, Carley is 12 and Laura is 9. My husband, Alton, is a delivery driver by day with dreams of one day publishing his own comic book. Yes, he is a geek, but I love him anyway. I have been working at WBFJ since September 2004 when God threw me out of the boat I was riding in and set me on a new and wonderful course. I love co-hosting the morning show, although the lack of sleep does make me a bit loopy at times.