About Me

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Abingdon, Md, United States
Director of Operations & Sponsorship Engagement for Remember the Children,Serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for Compassion International in Md, Va and DC. Avid Disney lover (OK- I am a kid at heart!) but my focus is reaching out to the lost and least of these. My heart belongs to our sponsored children in Romania, Honduras and now Tanzania!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas 2009......Today is a day when we spend time with family and friends. We eat scrumptious meals and we open presents. I am sure we all remember the anticipation of this day....running down the stairs to see the gifts that were left. This Christmas season has been a little bit off kilter as it seems a lot has gone on to take our focus away from where it should be. I got laid off in October, Karen's mom had emergency surgery two weeks ago, we have had a furnace go up and unexpected car expenses. My job at Best Buy is fun but not a lot of hours. However each of those events has had a hidden blessing behind them. My lay off has enabled me to accomplish a lot around the house that really needed to be done. Problems with the furnace were easily handled as I was at home. The car repairs occurred when I had Karen's car...I was local and the problem was easily resolved. ( OK so the new furnace and car starter expenses we could have done without). Karen's mom is now home and healthier just in time for Christmas. I may not have had a lot of hours at Best Buy but I had a great discount which will make this Christmas a little better for all. These thoughts brought me to two things I wanted to discuss....
1) Even when things seem so bleak and frustrating we have so much. I am still blessed to have a great family, a home and food on the table. How can I begin to complain when I look at others and they have so little. In visiting Honduras I saw poverty first hand but did not really hear complaints.....only gratitude. Here something goes wrong and I begin to grumble. My focus needs to be where my heart is. Today I know that there are 3 families in Honduras that are praying for me and are thankful for my sponsorship. They may not have presents to open like my kids do but I think that they are happy and joyful. Today my prayer for them is that they might know that we love them and wish them the best Christmas ever. We also co-sponsor an LDP student with a group of others and a CSP~I pray that today they begin to understand the true meaning of Christmas.
2) Which brings me to my second point. Christmas is about the greatest gift we could ever recieve. God came in the flesh to redeem us and to save us. He came wrapped as a baby in order to enter into our world. His gift to us is so simple....if we accept it we are truly saved for all of eternity. John 3:16 makes it ever so clear. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that who so ever believes in Him shall not perish but will have eternal life. Of all the gifts today will you take the time to unwrap the one that matters the most????
Blessings and Merry Christmas!
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is up with the enemy?

Wow- I have not posted for almost 3 weeks. Is this anyway to run a blog? I apologize. As you know I have been laid off for about a month and have been focused on trying to get things together and stay focused on finding a job. We are fine financially as my job really just needs to pay for groceries and odds & ends. We still have so much when others have so little. I think this is God's way of making me rely more on him and to really see the big picture.
The funny thing was my biggest concern when I got laid off was how it would impact my ministry with Compassion. I was able to work events and take time off with out any big problem. This will probably change with a new job. I am also fortunate in that I did get some seasonal employment with Best Buy in sales~ I enjoy retail so it should be a blast and maybe lead to something permanent. ( I covet your prayers for that over the next two months!)
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Anyway enough about me....lets talk about the enemy. I am sure that Compassion must be doing something big and annoying to Satan right about now. ( See my next post for something that I am sure is really bugging him) Before my lay off I knew of two friends and fellow advocates (Steve and Glenn) that have been unemployed for over a year. No matter what though they have stayed focused on the ministry. One of my Facebook friends (Janet) and a fellow AC has been unemployed and frustrated at every job interview. Just when it seems a job is close it falls apart. Yet she stays focused. Recently another Area Coordinator (Amber) lost her job- she is strong in her faith and knows God will provide. I am blessed to know God is in control but must admit that last night I got totally frustrated. This weekend I have an AC retreat in Philly ~ it is an event that I have looked forward to but from the day of the layoff I had a feeling something would happen. Satan did not fail me. Last night I found out I had to attend a special training on Saturday and cannot get out of it. If I want the job I have to be there. Totally bummed out...why won't Satan just leave me alone for a little??? Anyway I will go to the retreat Friday night, come home for the sales training and then head back. I will miss a lot of the meeting but will still have the fellowship and encouragement.
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So there are a lot of us in leadership roles right now that are under attack. Keep us in prayer but above all I think we know that God is in control and will provide. We are focused on the goal and no matter what is up with Satan we will not be deterred.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mountains & Valleys (Part 3)

So we left the conference on Sunday. The morning session was awesome with Tony Beltran speaking and validating our ministry. Tony is from the Dominican and is a former sponsored child and is now in graduate work at Moody. Everything he spoke about showed how important this ministry was. Before leaving we got to visit Cathy Taggart. She lives in Colorado and works for Compassion. She was one of the co-leaders on our original trip to Honduras in 2007. She came to the resort for breakfast and we were able to catch some time with her before grabbing the shuttle to come home. A whirlwind tour but a mountain top experience.
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Well on the other side of every mountain is a valley. I found that out for sure within 5 days of returning home. On Friday at the end of the work week I was laid off due to the economy. I blogged about this on a friends site so I will not really repeat myself. I will say that the enemy loves to do this. When I went to the Dominican in 2005 on a short term mission trip and returned home I found myself without a job in less than a month. Amazing the game that Satan loves to play. Last time it took about two months but a Christian brother offered me a job and I was content there until now. So the job hunting begins in earnest. I know He has something better planned for me. My worst fear when I was told was how this would impact my ministry. I have had great hours in order to promote Compassion. Anything new could switch this up. However God is faithful and I know he is in control. I had a presentation last weekend and the entire church prayed for me ( and I had 1 sponsorship), I have a Jeremy Camp concert this weekend and a Compassion Sunday event that several of my advocates have planned and I assisting with. Next week Karen and I will be going to work the Michael W Smith concert in Salisbury. I may be down but am not defeated.....the ministry will continue. I have my own church and many prayer partners lifting my situation to The Father. It will turn out- in the meantime keep me in your prayers. Not just for the job situation but that I will be even more effective in my ministry.
Thanks and Blessings!!! <><

Monday, October 12, 2009

At the Foot of the Mountain (Pt 2)

The conference got underway on Friday night. We had a great initial session with worship and of course our keynote speaker Wess Stafford. Wess showed via video his presentation at Willow's Leadership Summit. He shared how his abuse and torment as a child led to his effectiveness in the ministry. He spoke and challenged us on how we could leverage our pasts to be better advocates. Not many dry eyes when he was done speaking. What an incredible man! Afterwards we attended a dessert social for previous advocate/sponsor tours. A great group from our Honduras tour in May attended the conference and we had an awesome time of fellowship with them. It was great seeing them all again. Speaking of fellowship it is incredible to connect with so many Christians that share the same passion. This was like a taste of heaven. __________________________________________________ Saturday was a day of meetings and breakout sessions. Each keynote session had some great speakers and worship. I attended a great coaching workshop which presented many ideas to make me more effective as an Area Coordinator. The meals were incredible. (Buffet!) and I must admit to eating too much. Saturday night after the last speaker we had a Worship concert. I did not attend as after a full day of meetings and jet lag I was beat. Karen went and totally enjoyed it. On a closing note to this entry I will just close with the fact that it was great seeing so many people and making new friendships. There were quite a few people that I only casually knew or had connected with via Facebook- it was great meeting them in person!!! Also some of the Compassion Staff I finally got to meet in person rather than through email- it was great..... ________ Part 3 coming..... <><

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Colorado Springs- National Advocate Conference (Pt 1)

As you are aware last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Compassion's National Advocate Conference in Colorado Springs. It was a great time of fellowship, worship and learning. I will spend the next several posts blogging about some of the sights and events. We arrived on Thursday around mid-day and got settled in. We actually went a day early so we would not feel as rushed. The conference was held at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort ( see my other blog for some great shots of the surroundings)- this was an upscale resort right at the base of the Rockies. It was so beautiful! Several of us gathered for dinner and fellowship and then we made it an early night.
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The next morning we went to Compassion's headquarters which is the subject of today's blog. Let me say that it is a beautiful building that is focused on the children. All of us attending the conference were looking forward to meeting Wess Stafford (President/CEO of Compassion). He was the keynote speaker on Friday night. However we had no sooner arrived at the headquarters for our tour when in walked Wes. Let me tell you that he is the most amazing and humble person I have ever met. He took the time to visit with us and to join us in pictures. He spent time with us like we were the most important people in the world. It was amazing and a blessing. The tour was incredible and very interesting. We saw all aspects of Compassion and its workings. I am now more convinced than ever that this is the ministry for me. More to follow.....<><

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Colorado Springs Here We Come!!!

Well tomorrow is the big day! Karen and I head to Colorado Springs for Compassion's National Advocate Conference. To say we are excited is probably an understatement. This will be our first time at an event like this. From what we hear these are "not to be missed meetings". A gathering of like minded Christians coming together for worship, teaching, learning and fellowship. _____________ We are actually heading out a day early to get settled in. We will be staying at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort which looks awesome. On Friday we will get to tour Compassion International's headquarters before the conference starts. We are looking forward to seeing some old friends and some new!!! We will also be attending a reunion of our Honduras tour so it will be great to reconnect with those friends as well. I will be taking a special Leadership Track seminar which I am looking forward to. So we are heading out....my next post will be pictures (on both blogs) and a full report! Blessings <><

Monday, September 21, 2009

Frustration to Realization

As an advocate we have our ups and downs and our highs and our lows. Having a ministry such as Compassion can have so many rewards. However we are aligining ourselves with God's wishes and as a result we often become a thorn in the enemies side. He loves to poke at us and attack us in many different ways. As long as we can remember what a mighty God we serve we can stay on course. This came home to me this weekend. Let me tell you my journey from frustration to realization. ___________________________ Friday night I was to work a table for 1oth Avenue North. The venue was quite a drive from my house but I was looking forward to hearing their presentation and encouraging some sponsorships. Karen has her own ministry at church on Friday nights so I was on my own. I do know that one of my team members was going to be there also. Anyway I got to the site and found our contact. Bad News! They were not going to be presenting Compassion. It appears that the church they were performing at was doing this concert as a fundraiser for a similar type mission. They did not want to detract from that and as a result- no table. Needless to say I was frustrated and headed home. _________________________ Move forward to Saturday. I had a table at a church yard sale. I had child packets, child survival packets and was asking for donations for Bite Back. I went there knowing that more than likely not a lot was going to happen. This was your typical yard sale that is hosted by a church as an outreach. Very secular and people looking for bargains. However I have said I will go anywhere and try anything to further the ministry. I did start the day in prayer asking God to be glorified through my actions. As expected no one really wanted to sponsor a child but I did engage in some interesting conversations and did some networking. Amazingly enough through donations of a dollar here and a dollar there we raised $32 for Bite Back. Not a great amount but better than nothing. My morning was worth wile from my viewpoint. _____________ Sunday morning- (remember my last post about the door opening?) after the first service I was in the Children's Ministry area when I was approached by my pastor. He told me he wanted to get together after the first of the year and discuss doing a Compassion Sunday! Woot! Right now we have the new building campaign and then we will have Operation Christmas Child as a church. However in the new year I will have the opportunity to sit down, discuss and do a Compassion Sunday at my home church (God willing)- Realization! No matter how bleak or frustrated we can be ( and this goes for both my efforts to present Compassion at my church and how the weekend started ) God is in control and has a plan. No matter how we are attacked and frustrated by the enemy He will be glorified through our action.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Did the door just open a bit?

As an advocate for Compassion we look for those opportunities to share our message. We have that fire that burns within us to tell others about sponsorship and to encourage them to make a difference in a child's life. Compassion has an annual event that is called Compassion Sunday. Usually this is held in April on a set date and churches throughout the United States on this date present the message of Compassion. This year over 18,000 children were sponsored through this event and the number keeps growing. A Compassion Sunday can actually be held anytime throughout the year.
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I have spoken at several churches but never my own. Part of that is my fault as I have not really pushed the matter as hard as I could or should. Let's face it we don't want to make waves in our own home. But is that being true to our ministry? Everyone at my church knows I am the Compassion guy. I have told my story at a Men's Breakfast, I have shared my testimony with my small group ( yes I did get a sponsorship there ) and I have this blog which I know is , by some of my church friends. However I have not done a Compassion Sunday there. Recently I have started to reach out more. I still do not have a go but my Pastor did say before church one day to keep after it- Compassion is important. Perhaps the door just unlocked a little.
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Yesterday we started a new building campaign and our topic of study is the book of Nehemiah. Our pastor mentioned that all great causes start with a Holy Discontent as told by Bill Hybels (pastor of Willow Creek). Something stirs within us and calls us to action. This is where it gets interesting. He mentioned World Vision. How the founder of that organization saw children in poverty and felt the need to do something. Now do not get me wrong World Vision is a great organization but I am sitting there thinking...."Hello? Did I do something wrong", I mean I represent Compassion and you know that is my passion. You are going to tell me about World Vision??? He did mention a couple of other things that began with a Holy Discontent and I sat there stunned. Almost thought it was going to be time to find a new church. :) Then he wrapped up that part of the message with the story of Compassion. He even went as far as to mention me as an Area Coordinator and that sponsorship was important to me. Redemption!!! We laughed about it after the service but perhaps the door has opened even more.
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This topic of study would be perfect for a Compassion Sunday but the church's focus is on a new building campaign. That is important right now as we break ground for a new building and more members. I can understand the church not wanting to impead that funding at this point. However I think that perhaps God is giving me an opening down the road for an event and in the meantime there are other opportunities to explore such as discussing the ministry with small groups and maybe even Mops. All I can ask is for your prayers. God Bless!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Feeling Blue.....

Today I got letters from two of my sponsored children in Honduras. I have been anxiously waiting on hearing from them since our return from our visit in May. I am still waiting on that first letter from Sophia as we did not sponsor her until we had gotten back. I mean everyday I am checking the mailbox for that envelope that says "A letter from your Sponsored Child"- if you are a sponsor you know how exciting that is. Well anyway we got two letters. One from Jorge which was written the week before we visited and one from Jeyelly written on her birthday about 2 weeks after our return. It was short and sweet and thanking us for her gifts. The one from Jorge also thanked us for his birthday gifts. It was pretty cool hearing how they were looking forward to meeting us. I am just a little blue this evening because both of those letters got me to thinking. Usually the turn around on letters from Honduras is just shy of two months. These were actually about 3 months. That got me to thinking about the situation down there. The week after we left there was the earthquake and the aftershocks. Then we had the whole political situation which is not resolved yet. So I sit here wondering how their lives have been impacted. Not just Linda, Jelley, Jorge and Sophia but their families, the workers at the Compassion Country office, and the translators. I am sure things are hectic and just a little messed up. So tonight I offer up a prayer for all of my friends and "second family" down there in Honduras. Know that I am praying and thinking of you. I pray that as I write this you all are doing OK- I pray that your lives are blessed and know that we love you. Blessings!!! <><

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Scariest Thing in the World.....

This is perhaps the scariest thing in the world. It is known to cause adults to veer away in terror. Just the simple act of placing it on a table can create a "no fly zone". People will willingly ( so I have been told) walk into a wall rather than face looking at this. Seriously I could hire a drop dead gorgeous model to hold this and she would be totally ignored. You all may be laughing thinking I jest but I humbly present to you ...."A CHILD PACKET!!!!" ____________________________ For those familiar with Compassion this is the primary vehicle used to get children sponsored. It contains information about Compassion, a booklet about letter writing and gifts, a coded form to begin sponsorship and of course that adorable picture and biography. Certainly nothing to be scared of - at least I don't think so. I find the kids interesting. Each of them stand at their local project getting a picture taken. Often they are wearing their best outfit. Sometimes in a very poor area they may share an outfit just to look presentable. You can tell the ones that may have never seen a camera. They stand there looking scared and unsure. Imagine all their hopes of a future are placed in this one packet. The hope that maybe a sponsor would find them "desirable" and want to sponsor them. __________________ I will agree that these can be scary. After all there is the fact that you could actually look into those eyes and want to make a commitment. Then that commitment could lead to letter writing and building a relationship. Then maybe one day you may even want to go visit that child and see the difference you have made. What then????? You could have your world turned upside down. It happened to me...it was scary...but guess what? I am a better person for it. As far as the child. I have the original pictures of all of my children...the ones from that child packet. I also have updated photos and pictures from visiting them. Guess what? That look of uncertainty has been replace by a smile of hope. That my friends is the scariest thing- a simple investment can change a life (actually two of them)-It is amazing how God works. __________ I invite you to get over that fear- do not be afraid- rather reach out and make a difference. Copy and paste the link from below in your web browser to get started or click on the link on my blog...either way you can begin to get over that fear. http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/default.htm?referer=72414

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Watermelon Heads and Purple Doors

Painting by Compassion Artist Eric Timm (Purple Door 2009)-photo by Steve Bradney
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Today I had the opportunity to work the Purple Door Festival at Ski Roundtop. This is a Christian Alternative Music and Arts Festival geared at teens and young adults. Not my usual cup of tea but we thought it would be worth a Saturday out at the Compassion booth. I am now home, pleasantly surprised and a fan. OK- not completely sold on the music but the day was incredible and when I left we had 19 sponsorships. This primarily from teens and young adults just starting out. This from an alternative audience that really you think from first impressions just "wouldn't get it". I had heard from several people that is is a "different crowd", very noisy and "out there". Ok- that is where I get the title of this post from. There were two girls walking around with cleaned out watermelons ( cut in half) on thier heads. They actually looked like skater helmets as they even had chin straps but they were watermelons. Also there were the kids carrying around a large purple door that they were getting people to sign as a reminder. I mean this is Ski Rountop...hills and all....and they were carrying a large door around all day. Not the norm!!!!!
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Yet you know something...I guess it really was not the norm....we had this audience that willingly sponsored children without a lot of thought. That is one of the things I will say about teen events and teen audiences. They get it!!! They understand the need and try to do something without a lot of questions. Adults will frequently ask a lot of questions about Compassion and its minsitry- the teens are more concerned about how to swing the payment. Not a lot of thought about doing it but rather how can they do it. Got to love it. The sponsorships today were really not from presentations ( I did get to speak on one of the stages) but more from people just seeing the booth and stopping by. Their hearts were speaking to them. I did get to network with some fellow advocates and may have the opportunity to speak to two church youth groups from talking to their youth leaders. How cool is that.....
Today I was blessed...I will go back next year.
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Live at the Harford County Farm Fair (Prayer Request)

So here I am...The Harford County Farm Fair. I am in a vendor tent with a space for Compassion International. July 30th-Aug 2nd. Not really sure how this will pan out. I have often said I would go anywhere or try anything to promote the ministry of Compassion. I like doing booths and presenting the ministry this way. Sure it is money out of my pocket for the table space but it is fun to meet people and engage them. You just never know...I have done the Eastern Christian Convention and two years in a row and averaged about 2 sponsorships each year. Networking was good though. I have done church booths at festivals and again results vary. This is different...this is a secular event. No opportunity to present- just the opportunity to engage people. I am not really sure how this will pan out. I do have childpackets (20) for potential sponsors. I have CSP packets (10 ) for sponsorship. I am also soliciting donations for Bite Back and the Global Food Crisis funds. I hopefully have something for everyone. This was a kind of last minute idea. The cutoff for vendors was just about up when I had the idea. However it seemed to be God's plan as there was a space available and it is right in the middle of one of the tents. Instead of just having a table with a front display - I actually have 3 sides to use and catch people walking on either side. Not too bad for last minute. I also seem to have caught the eye of Satan. Interestingly enough my order for materials (though confirmed) somehow disappeared. God put it on my heart to check on it Monday and luckily we discovered it had not been placed so there was still time to get everything here from Colorado by Thursday. I know that Satan will tempt me with frustration, tiredness and lack of energy over four days. This is where I need you all to come in.

I would like to request prayer. Pray that through this God will be glorified. He has me here for a reason and I pray that I might be effective in presenting this ministry. Pray that hearts will be moved and changed. No matter the results pray that his hand will be involved in this....God Bless and Thank You! <><

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Letters from the Heart

I actually contributed this to a friends blog earlier today that I try to regularly contribute to. Usually I do not post the same information on sites but I really felt this one is worth sharing:

Part of child sponsorship is writing letters to your sponsored child.Sponsorship actually changes two lives- the child's and the sponsors. I know I can't wait to open every letter that one of my sponsored children sends me. Each day I hope to get a letter. I can imagine it is the same way for them. I tell many sponsors it is not the $38 that counts but rather the relationship that you are building. A sponsored child does not understand the monetary amount- that is what enables them to be in the program and provides for them. What makes a difference in their lives is that connection that is built through letter writing. Hearing from their sponsors shows that we care and love them unconditionally. When I saw Linda in May she brought every letter I had written to show me that she had saved them. Having been on two Sponsor Tours to Honduras I cannot tell you how many children have come up to me and said "Will you tell my sponsor to write to me?" I don't know their sponsor and this breaks my heart.

When I am talking to a potential sponsor I make sure that this fact is clearly made known. To release a child from poverty is not just about $$$$ but about giving hope through encouragement and sharing. Compassion does have a correspondence program in which people who understand the importance of letter writing will write to those children who do not have sponsors that write letters. I have included with permission an excellent slide show of some photographs of children with their letters. Look at how much they care.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/compassioninternational/sets/72157621403573298/show/

If you are interested in sponsoring a child and making a difference let me know.....it really does impact two lives.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I hope you now understand....

Compassion Friday from brian crow on Vimeo.

In case there is any doubt of why Compassion is my Ministry, why I am a child advocate and why I am proud to be an Area Coordinator. There is no greater blessing then to know you can make a difference. $38/month is pocket change when compared to the impact it truly has. Blessings....... <><

Monday, July 6, 2009

Still Praying for Honduras

It has been about a week now of political unrest in Honduras. The last report I had from Compassion is that the Country office is closed and the 75 projects in the Capitol are closed. This is where all four of my children are. There is a curfew from sundown to sunrise. Things are getting more and more volatile each day. Yesterday someone was killed. Yesterday the exiled president attempted a return but the military blocked the runway at the airport so he could not land. I am not sure what is right and what is wrong. I know that when we were down there in May we were told that the political system was corrupt. I understand the exiled President was attempting a referendum to end term limits and both the legislature and congress were trying to block. Hence the action to exile him and place a temporary President. The interesting part is that the current (acting) President has no desire to run for President. He just wants to hold things together until November when elections are scheduled. This does not seem to be a coup to put someone in power but rather to remove someone who was trying to abuse the system. I question why our government is backing the exiled President and why other countries are not in favor of this solution. Of course on the "world stage" often none of us really understand all the political manuverings.
Which brings me to today. I am not sure why but my heart is extremely heavy for Honduras and the situation. Honduras is one of the poorest Central American countries and this is not helping the situation. Other countries are withdrawing support and Honduras is suffering. I can only imagine the impact this is having on Linda, Jeyelly, Jorge & Sophia. I personally cannot imagine this going on in my city and yet here is my "other family" and there is nothing I can do. I made friends in Honduras in May. Oscar, Dani, Gaby, Abraham...just to name a few...and I sit here wondering if they are OK and what is happening in their lives. Amazing that I can sit here on a laptop and chat with friends. I can go on Facebook and see what people are up to. Yet I am stuck right now just watching news reports and praying. How I wish I could grab my cellphone and call and just let them know they are in my prayers. I think frustration is the word of the day for me.
Yet I know God is in control. Everything is in His hands....my life verse is Ephesians 6:10.... Be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. I need to hold that close to my heart right now. I need to believe that now more than ever. My heart is in Honduras and I wish I was there right now just to comfort and hug my second family. Tonight I will look at the full moon and the stars and pray for a peaceful resolution. A resolution that will come quickly. I also will pray that they know I am with them in spirit and am thinking about them.
Will you join me in prayer????? Blessings! <><

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Advisory: Political Unrest in Honduras

Advisory: Political Unrest in Honduras Shared via AddThis Please Pray for peaceful resolution as well as the safety of all the children, their families, the workers and the projects.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Salt and Light

Verse 1 You make me want to be like You Your holiness I will pursue I want the heart of Jesus Show me the meaning of Your grace I want to give the world a taste Of the love of Jesus Chorus 1 Make me salt make me light Let Your holy fire ignite Reveal Your glory in my life I am not ashamed to lift up Your holy name Make me salt make me light Misc 1(BRIDGE) Set me as a city on a hill A lamp upon a stand Mold me in Your image The work of Your hand CCLI Song No. 3470093© 2002 Integrity's Hosanna! Music Jan L'Ecuyer John L'Ecuyer We sang this song in church today and it got me really thinking. Besides having a great rhythm and bass track it words are such a calling. As Christians we are called to be salt and light to the world. We are to be set apart and to make a difference. Others looking at us should see that difference in us and should be intrigued. It should be obvious that we have been called out. I think about the past week. I had an awesome week sharing VBS with other Christians. All of us gathered for a sole purpose of bringing the gospel to children. Creation 2009 was held this week and many Compassion advocates went to work shifts at the festival for child sponsorship. They had an awesome chance to encourage others, fellowship with others and to promote the ministry of Compassion. I spent yesterday at River Valley Ranch yesterday with another advocate promoting Compassion. Our results were not great but we had an incredible day with others worshipping and sharing our ministry. My step-daughter just got back from a week in the Dominican sharing the gospel with others and of course being with an incredible group of Christian kids and adults. These are the "Holy Fire" moments from the song that should ignite us into action. I can only imagine these as a taste of what Heaven will be like for us. However if we just hold these moments within us they lose their luster. If we take these moments and use them as "kindling" for something greater how much more powerful can we stand out and make a difference for the Kingdom. Each of us has our own ministry and gifts to be used for the Kingdom. Pushing them to the side does no one any good-Especially not the Kingdom. It is my prayer this week that you closely look at the words in the song-meditate on them- think about what they are really saying. They are a calling to something greater...whatever your focus, whatever your ministry this week, wherever you may be.....Do not be ashamed-Give the world a taste- BE SALT AND LIGHT!!!!!! Blessings <><

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Holy Land Adventure- Rome (Paul and The Underground Church)

This week is VBS week at Fork Christian Church. We are doing Group's Holy Land Adventure. It is based in Rome and it is around 60AD. We have a marketplace with vendor shops, live animals (donkey, dogs, chickens, birds) and a food cart. Basically the story centers around Paul ( who is under house arrest) and The Underground Church. The children are learning from Paul about God's gift of love (salvation), that it is eternal and it is worth sharing. I am playing the role of Paul for the week for the elementary grades. It is a blast. I am chained to a Roman Guard while under house arrest. The children have been great. They bring me food from the marketplace (Cheese and water). One even drew me a picture of the "fish"-the secret Christian symbol. The cool thing is that my guard is getting to know Christ and by the end of the week will become a Christian. The kids don't realize it but they are playing a big role in this. We have tweaked the scripts a little so they are showing him compassion and praying for him. All in all it has been an amazing week so far.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Just thought I would go a little off track and say Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there. I am blessed to have both a wonderful daughter and step-daughter. Both are great teenagers and make me proud to be a part of their lives. They are teenagers so time with them is sometimes far and few but I am proud of the young ladies they have become. ___________ On the other side of the coin I have four special children in Honduras. I am not their father but I know I am playing an important part in their lives and development. It is Karen's and my hope that they will grow to become Christian leaders in their community. The first time I met Linda ( whose father is deceased) she told me she "thought" of me as her father and wanted me there for her Quinceañera in 2011. I will honor that wish as if she was my daughter. ________________ Finally I wish that we all remember that we have a Father in heaven that cares more than we could ever know. He loves us and wants to call us His own even more than we could say that about our own children. His love for us is so deep and wonderful. On this Fathers day I can only hope and pray that as Fathers we can show the same type of love and understanding that He has shown to us. God Bless and Happy Father's Day!!!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Celebrating Compassion/ Changing Two Lives

Last Friday Compassion celebrated the fact that 1,000,000 children are concurrently being sponsored. This is a milestone and an awesome testimony to the ministry. I have told my story many times and yet it is not unique. Sponsorship impacts both the child and the sponsor. Lives are transformed and changed as only God can do. I stand in awe on when I hear stories of how sponsors are now broken. I stand in awe at events when I see the joy in the eyes of sponsors as they pick up a packet ( and the best is yet to come and they don't even know it). I am totally amazed on sponsor tours watching the transformation that takes place when child and sponsor meet. It is just a taste of what Heaven will be like.

This video was show last Friday at Compassion. I apologize to all the advocates and sponsors that have already seen it on Facebook or Youtube. However this blog would not be complete without including it here. Compassion employees sharing the words of sponsors...it is well worth watching over and over. It is my prayer that if you are not sponsoring a child maybe now you will understand the call. If you feel inclined there is a link at the top right of this blog that will take you right to Compassion's website where you can find that special child.

God Bless!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

$38 or $32- It's really a matter of what God can do!

Recently Compassion announced that the cost of sponsoring a child would be going from $32 monthly to $38 a month. A increase of $6.00! Of course as has been the case with all of the sponsorship increases it is optional. You can opt out if you wish. When we first started sponsoring Linda in 2004 the cost was $28 a month. I think it was within four months we got a letter advising the cost would be $4.00 more if we opted in. I think my first thought back then was one of surprise...what had I gotten myself into? Was this going to be the typical thing -increases every once in awhile. This was not what I was told. OF COURSE BACK THEN I DID NOT UNDERSTAND. Regardless we opted in. No big deal and not worth getting upset about.

Five years later, two sponsor tours later and being an Advocate I understand the entire picture. Take a look at this girl. She is a child at one of the projects we visited. I am not sure if she is new, scared or what. However what I see in her eyes is the lack of hope and options. The families at that project basically lived in barely standing homes on land they did not own. They could be evicted at any time. Average family income was probably less than $3.00 a day. They would be lucky to have a complete meal for the family.
Currently we sit here in tough economic times. I think many of us know of people who have been laid off, fired or had positions eliminated. Things are certainly not easy. Yet even at these bad times can we even imagine what the impact has been on these developing countries? What is tough for us in magnifed many times over for these people. The global food crisis was truly a crisis before it even hit our media. The purchasing price of our dollar has diminished greatly in these countries. It has been declining since 2005.
Frankly I am suprised that it took this long to decide on an increase. Frankly I am suprised it is only $6.00. I realize that much thought and prayer went into this decision. It was not made lightly. Those already sponsoring will more than likely understand and will gladly accept the increase. The overall impact will be on the new sponsorships. People that were on the fence at $32 are going to be even farther when $38 is mentioned. However it is still ONLY $1.25 a day to make the difference in a life of a child.
Having seen that the model works, that Compassion is making a difference I cannot begin to put a price on that. In fact we sponsored our 4th child (Sophia) knowing full well the increase was coming. Compassion is my ministry and now my calling is to explain to those potential new sponsors that it is not the amount that matters but rather what God can do with the amount. There is obviously a tangible reason for the increase- there is a need. However what is far more important is the difference it will make in the lives of these children. Through God all things are made possible.
<><

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Beth Crosby is an independent music artist with Compassion. She was part of my family group in Honduras and I count her as a very special friend. This is her video that she put together. I sat here with tears in my eyes remembering what we had seen, what we had done and what we had learned. It was special seeing it through another's eyes. If you are interested, her webpage is: http://www.bethcrosby.com In the meantime sit back and be blessed! <><

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Altar and The Door

The title song from the Casting Crown's album "The Altar and The Door" has an interesting theme:
Lord, this time I'll make it right, here at the altar I lay my life
Your kingdom come but my will was done, my heart is broken as I... (Chorus)Cry, like so many times before
But my eyes are dry before I leave the floor, oh Lord
I try but this time, Jesus, how can I be sure I will not lose my follow through
Between the altar and the door
Here at the altar, oh my world so black and white
How could I ever falter
What You've shown me to be right
How many times do we come before God with the best intentions and then leave that spot and go back "into the world". Somewhere between the altar and the door we lose our holiness and revert back to our usual ways. This is something I struggle with each and every day. I have the best intentions, I want to be Christ-like and yet when I take my eyes off the goal it is so easy to slip up. In church, with my Christian friends everything is clear- black and white. Yet later things fade to gray and it is so easy to slip.
Mark Hall, the writer of the song, best explains it as getting the things we know are right in our head- into our hands, our feet, our actions.
It is not easy- it is what our journey really is about. We will always be walking that distance between the altar and the door. It is my prayer that each time we get up from the altar we take a little more of Christ with us. As we journey down that path to the door we gather more and more- we don't falter but keep our eyes on the prize.
Being part of a growing church, a great small group, and having my ministry focus being Compassion I know that is helping me each and every step.
<><

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Divided Loyalty! A Lighter View Today

Ok- It is Saturday night and I am sitting in the family room watching a Soccer Match between the US and Honduras. It is a World Cup qualifying match for 2010. First off I am not really into soccer but this intrigued me. I know that soccer is an important sport in Honduras whereas in the United States we seem to be more interested in baseball, football or basketball depending on the season. I know that I attempted to play some soccer against some of the kids in 2007 while visiting Honduras. I quickly learned that this was not a great idea. I mean these kids are born with moves I can only dream of. Their ball handling and skills were fantastic. This time I did not even bother but watched some of my fellow travellers make the same mistake. LOL! Anyway soccer is THE sport in Honduras so I thought this match would be fun to watch. Not to mention it is being played at Soldier field in Chicago. I have my Honduran soccer jersey that I bought as a souvenir in 2007 and am rooting for Honduras. I am American all the way- it is just a funny thing that for over the past two years Honduras has played an important role in my life. I pray daily for our sponsored children and their families there. I pray for the Compassion workers there and I do pray for the Country.When you are talking about praying and thinking about something over 1000 times it becomes a part of you. Seeing the Honduran flag, seeing pictures or even the word in print brings good thoughts. When I said I left my heart in Honduras that is pretty much true. Our conscious decision was to sponsor all of our children in Honduras and we hold that country dear. We got back from Honduras on Sunday May 24th- I hung up a Honduras flag from my deck without realizing that the 25th was Memorial Day. My bad! My neighbors probably think I am a little strange but really I think in my heart it was a statement....I wanted that Memorial Day to be a little reminder of what I had seen and to remember what my ministry was. I had seen plenty of heartbreaking things in the past week. Anyway the match started- Soldier Field is Blue and White----seems more like a home match for Honduras. Game tied at the half. I am rooting for Honduras....I hope they qualify. It really means more down there. After all we have our Superbowl and World Series.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Viva La Vida-Coldplay

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own
I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"
One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt, and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
Once you go there was never, never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in.
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn't believe what I'd become
Revolutionaries Wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world.

I am not really a fan of alternative music not do I know a lot about Coldplay. However I recently heard this song and it has haunted me. It speaks to me about what I once was and what I now am. I have been watching on Facebook as a lot of my fellow tour mates are now sharing the ministry of Compassion. Having met the children, seen the poverty and realized the hope we can bring there is no other calling. Once we lived for ourselves...we ruled our own little worlds. We were puppets on a string. Now we are called- we are the voices for "the least of these".

I worked an event last night for Compassion and tonight I had dinner with another advocate (Thanks Teresa!)-I enjoy sharing with anyone who will listen the difference that this ministry makes. I love telling of the difference I have seen in the eyes of my own sponsored children. My dreams and hopes are now about them.
Living the Life is no longer about what I want but more about what I can do. Things that mattered seem so silly now. My heart was broken in 2007 but it is still broken-I like it that way. We have pictures everywhere in the house to remind us of what our ministry is. I have a wife that has a heart for the children and is so supportive. She should be an advocate also.
My prayer tonight is that those reading this will understand my heart and understand the calling that we all have.
God Bless!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sofía Nicole Aguilar García (HO-259-0311)

I sort of feel like a proud father....LOL! We just sponsored our 4th child in Honduras. This one is a little special. I will explain in a moment. Our first sponsored child is Linda. I have shared my story about her many times and she will always be "my girl". I honestly hope she gets into LDP one day. She was a packet on the table and looked "spunky"- that was honestly the reason we chose her over any other one. Little did I know that God had a plan for my life through that packet. Honestly something melts inside of me when I see her picture. Jeyelly is my "other girl". I met her in Honduras while visiting a project in 2007. I just happened to be tossing a football around with her in the morning. God again had a plan- it happened to be registration day at the project ( sponsors usually do not see this )- she was at the project to register and have her picture taken for the child packet. When I found out she was available I sponsored her on the spot. After all we already were building a relationship. Jorge is Karen's special child- mention the name Jorge and she will reply: "He's so cute"! I was working a WRBS radio-thon for Compassion. He happened to be on the web page and she wanted to sponsor him- he looked so sad....he became number three. Three is a good number. Every time we have wondered if we could afford to do this and stretch the budget. Besides sponsorship we like to send individual and family gifts so multiply this by three and you can see our concerns. But every time we have been blessed and God has provided.
So what about #4???? Sofia...this is a child we have pursued for about two months. In December Jeyelly mentioned in a letter that her sister was enrolled in the project. We have a photograph from 2007 of Sophia but that is it. She is two years younger than Jeyelly. We got the letter in March and knew we wanted to sponsor her if she was available. It would be cool to have siblings. The thing is we did not know her child number or anything else. I called Compassion. They showed that Jeyelly had a sister but were not sure if she was registered. Without that child number it is hard to find a child within the system. Also she could be registered to Compassion Canada, Australia or any of the other partner countries. Ayax is from the Honduras Country office for Compassion-he handles sponsor ministries and is my friend on Facebook. Through the magic of technology he got me her child number. Right away I called Compassion. Miracles of Miracles- she is in the US system BUT she was assigned out for a Compassion Sunday Event. This is a major program in the United States where churches are encouraged to present Compassion and sponsorships on April 26th. Over 1000 churches participate. She was out there somewhere. She would either be sponsored or would be placed back in the database on 5/29/09. All we could do for a month and a half is wait. We would have loved to have sponsored her right away and then gotten to see her when we visited Honduras. However God's plans and timing are not ours. Compassion knew of my wishes and if she was available she would become one of my children. Last Friday came- I called and was told she was not sponsored. She would be released into the database at 5pm est at which time she would be assigned to us. True to their word I got the call and we now sponsor Sophia. We have to wait for a few days for her to show up on our account and then I should be able to post a picture here. It will be about 2 weeks before we even get her child packet. It will probably be two months before she even knows we pulled this off with God's blessings. We had told Jeyelly last week in Honduras that we were trying to sponsor her sister. It has all worked out the way God planned...we are excited and feel blessed.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Witnessing-Always being prepared

A couple of days ago I posted about how one of the highlights of my trip to Honduras was the fact that our bus driver became a Christian on our next to last night. Earlier in the week Abraham (our Country Office leader) mentioned that Umberto was watching us, that he was not a Christian and was seeking. I know we all prayed for him throughout the week. However only one of us (Phillip) was bold enough to approach and witness to Umberto. This got me thinking....how often does God place someone in our path and we fail to follow through with the Great Commission? Often we leave it for others or just kind of half hearted give it a casual mention. I am thankful for Phillip-God placed it on his heart and he made the effort. As a result Umberto became our brother.
This goes for our role as Advocates also. We are called to speak for the children. Are we prepared? When the opportunity presents itself do we speak up-do we have a child packet available? Do we give 100%? Our ministry is a calling. It is not something that we just do casually. It is not just about working events, placing brochures or staffing a table. Rather it imaking a difference in a child's life. Each time we speak or each packet we hold a child is represented. Our goal should be nothing less than doing everything we can to insure sponsorship of that child.
I know in both instances I can be better prepared and more bold. It is my prayer that God uses me and grows me. This is what I yearn for over the next few months.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Prayer for Honduras

Today I got to work and found out that Honduras and the surrounding areas had suffered a 7.1 earthquake. It was centered just north of the coast in the Caribbean. As of right now 6 deaths have been reported and many homes have been toppled. The incredible thing right now is how this hits home. The quake was felt throughout Honduras including Tegucigalpa where my sponsored children are. Hardest hit were the areas of San Pedro Sula and the coast-both of which is where we were last week. I believe that the bridge that was destroyed was one that we travelled over. A man had a heart attack in Tela which is where we were last Friday night. Today most of us were Facebook bound-talking to each other and expressing our prayers. We did hear in from two of our translators via Facebook (they are in Tegucigalpa) that everyone is OK but quite shaken (no pun intended). Reports from Compassion indicate that none of our children were affected but that is not yet confirmed.
Honduras is not known for earthquakes. I can only imagine the fears that Linda, Jeyelly and Jorge must have felt. I only wish there was some way to contact them and let them know we are thinking about them. Most of all I wish we could hug them and let them know we care. Also I can't help but to think about all of those people, children, project workers that we met last week. I can only hope and pray that they are all ok and that any problems that did occur will be quickly resolved.
To those that are following this blog I ask you to lift your prayers to God- it is He that is in control. In a country already racked with poverty I can only imagine what a disaster like this can do to the economy. Reports have stated factories were being closed due to damage. What are those workers to do without compensation? Here in the States we have the ability to quickly make repairs and bring aid. I am not sure how this will play out there. I do know that God has a plan and all things will be accomplished in his way and timing.
As I hear more I will post updates- in the meantime just offer your prayers!!!
God Bless <>< 5/29/09- Compassion reports that no sponsored children or projects were affected. :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Get on the Bus- Forget about Us?

This is my last glimpse of Linda as she steps on the bus and heads away from the waterpark. Tears are in all of our eyes, mine, hers, other sponsors, other children. It is an emotional experience meeting your sponsored child and then having to say goodbye. For some this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For others they know they will be back. We promised in 2007 that we would return in 2009 and we did. We know we will go back in 2011. I made a promise that I would be there for her Quinceanera and I plan on honoring that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinceañera
The question often arises regarding the cost of these tours. Couldn't the money we are spending be used for a better purpose in the ministry. We advocate for children, couldn't the money we just spent be used to sponsor even more children. Does our visit even make a difference? I tell all of my story of meeting Linda in 2007 and then becoming an advocate. My story is not much different than that of all sponsors and advocates. Even after this trip I could see the difference in many of the eyes of those that went. Hearts were broken and lives had been changed. But what about the kids???
I can only imagine the thoughts that go through their heads. Though I cannot know their thoughts I can see it in their eyes. What was once an abstract thought "Is my sponsor for real?" now has become a reality. A face now belongs to those letters. A hug now belongs to those prayers. In speaking with the parents and project directors that came on visitation day- they voice the thanks that the sponsorship is not in vain. It is making a difference and giving hope. A visit like this is the "cement" that joins the two of us together.
In 2007 I did not see Linda until they called her name. This time she was right at the front of the line- with a great big smile she waved at me and two years melted away. I started to choke up right then and there. Jeyelly bolted for us as soon as she saw us. Jorge is only six and I don't think he understands but I know his Mom does. I could see it in her smile and hug.
The key to sponsorship is not really the dollars but the relationship. Those children need to be reaffirmed and blessed both by our letters and if possible by our visits. Not everyone can afford to visit but they can write. I have seen the importance of the letters. The children cherish them and hold them dear. It is their link to their sponsors. It is one of the most important agents of change in their lives.
When Linda stepped on the bus I know neither of us are forgetting about each other. We have a relationship even across the miles and the language barrier. Letters and prayers will flow back and forth from Maryland to Honduras until we see each other again. I have a job ahead of me the next two years. My goal is to make sure she does everything she can to get into the Leadership Development Program. I am about to become her biggest motivator and cheerleader.
Less you think I was wrong about the letters....Linda brought hers to the park with her. Every letter and photo she had brought to show me. I know I am not forgotten.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day 7 & 8- Living the Life, Saving & Rest

As the tour draws to close I leave a big part of my heart here in Honduras. I love my wife, my kids, my friends BUT there is an extended family here in Honduras that will always have a special place in my heart. Karen and I made a conscience decision ( we felt God calling us in this direction) to sponsor all our children here. This is one of the poorest countries in Central America with about 87% of the population living under the poverty line. Our daily prayers are of course for Linda, Jeyelly, and Jorge, their families, the projects they attend. We also hold in prayer the Country office as they further the mininstry of Compassion here in Honduras. We have been without internet for a little over a day as we headed north for a day of relaxation on the Carribean. I has a touch of the 'bug" Friday which I think was more from being emotionally tired and partially dehydrated. All is well now! Friday was an awesome day regardless. We spent the morning at another project toward the north. Instead of doing VBS we actually broke into several small groups and went to different family homes to live their life for a few hours. The home we visited was up a very steep dirt hill. Only walkable-no way a car could manuever this road. The home was basically a one room home without any electricity. We were to help them prepare lunch. The cooking area was a stone slab outside. We prepared the fire, cut the vegetables and meat, and made the broth. What a humbling experience. It is one thing to be told about poverty, it is another to see it and even more to live it. I will be the first to say that the experience was not long enough as we easily could walk back down that road and get on the bus and head to the resort. We could leave but they could not. They had no options. That may have been a low point emotionally but God is always good. We had to have an experience to bring us back up. All week we have been driving on two buses. The drivers of these buses are not Compassion staff but contract labor. They do a lot of work for Compassion but are not necessarily Christians. Umberto was the driver of our bus. After a week of watching us, much prayer on our part and a few well spoken words by team members he accepted Christ last night. What a great way to bring our tour to a close. Today was really just a day to unwind and process all this. We have a short turnaround as we must be up at 4am to head to the airport. I will write more in the upcoming days about this experience. I thank you all for joining in with me. God Bless!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Falling in Love all over again!

Today was child visitation day! This was the day two years ago that changed my life forever. Those that know me and know my story understand the impact that meeting my sponsored child meant and how Compassion became my focus. I can never really put into words what a day like this is truly like. The emotional highs and lows are hard to describe. The doubts and fears that I had two years ago were not present. It was more like nervous anticipation about the entire day. We would be seeing Linda and Jeyelly for the second time and meeting Jorge for the first time. We actually arrived this time after the children. They were all lined up in front of the park as we got off the buses. It was pretty neat seeing sponsors looking for children and children looking for sponsors. Of course we had to stay in our groups but there were lots of pointing and waving. Toward the front I saw her. Linda! This time she was wearing a denim cap and looked like a teenager but was as beautiful as the last time. As soon as I saw her my eyes watered up and I fell in love one more time. Two years and we were back! As we waited Jeyelly saw us and true to her personality she broke ranks and ran to us and gave us big hugs. The last time we just happened to sponsor her when we visited her project. I am not sure at that time she understood what sponsorship meant. Now two years later she clearly understood and was so excited we had come back. Now we looked around but did not see Jorge. Anyways it was time to move into the park. Once we got in Sponsors were on one side and the children and their family members on the other. I happened to look over and Linda, Jeyelly & Jorge all were standing together. Not sure how they found each other or even knew Jorge but there they all were together. Names were called and we all were reunited. Oscar from the Country staff would be our interpreter. I cannot begin to tell you about the whole day. I am sure over the next weeks I will post various thoughts that come to mind. At this point I will just tell you some interesting tidbits- those little God Moments.
Linda and Jeyelly immediately bonded. They were like best friends! Hanging and having fun together.
Jorge was shy at first but then blossomed into that typical six year old. He was all over the place and all we could do was laugh. He was hard to keep up with and thankfully his Mom handles him well.
I happened to have a pair of goofy glasses in my backpack from VBS- I will post a funny picture on my sister blog (Link to the right)-they were a great icebreaker AND many Sponsors now have pictures of their children looking goofy. :)
I had talked to Compassion about getting a birthday cake and having a little celebration if possible. Linda and Jeyelly celebrate their birthdays the first week of June and Jorge had his on Compassion Sunday. Well food can't be taken into the park but at 2pm we told our group we had to do a special photo. We went out of the park and suprised them with a tailgate birthda party in the parking lot. We had a large cake and soda and sang Happy Birthday in English and Spanish. It was a great moment and Compassion made it possible. We also were able to call back home and let Courtney and Stephanie say hello to the girls.
Karen crocheted a lot of hair scrunchies that we have been giving out at the projects. Turns out Linda knows crochet as well as her mother. She asked Karen to show her how to do these and now maybe this "craft" will be another source of income for them.
Of course all good things must end...after giving our children their gifts (that we had brought) goodbyes, hugs, and tears were shared and the day was quickly over. Right now it is still too hard to express our feelings but I will in the future. I just know there is no doubt that we will be back again!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Broken Hearts and Growing Dreams-Day 5

Today was an incredible day. Already our hearts are being prepared (one way or another) for meeting our sponsored children tomorrow. Today our team visited a project on the Carribean. When you think Carribean you think resorts...however poverty still exists in the Northern part of Honduras. This center ( Jehovah Jireh) has been around awhile and they are well established. Their pastor has a heart for the children. We ran a VBS, served the children lunch and viewed the record keeping process at this project. At the end of the day my family did two home visits. This is what I am going to blog about today.
I know that our hearts are going to be torn tomorrow when we meet our "children"- it was a major impact last time. However I was not prepared for today. God showed up big time and broke our hearts but at the same time showed that dreams can grow bigger than we could hope when He is in control.
Visit 1- This was just a great testimony to the work of Compassion and its partner church. We visited a home with a single mom and 2 children. She had dropped out of school at an early age and was living in this area that we visited. She attended the church and her oldest boy was entered into the project. Somewhere in there ( sometimes translations are not really clear but the point came across) she wanted to be able to help her son in school. She went back to school and graduated. She became a tutor/worker at the project and even attended college classes and got a degree in Elementary Education. Her boy is now 12 years old and is attending the project as well as her younger daughter. Three months ago she retired from the project, got a loan and opened her own business. Several blocks from the project/church is a gray building that now houses her bakery. How awesome is that? Not just a change in a child but an entire family.
Visit 2- Our next visit was with an older couple and their younger daughter (11 years old). It started as a typical visit with us asking some general questions. Then the mother said that Carolina had a interesting story. Turns out that these are not the girls parents, not even her relatives. When Carolina was 5 years old her parents split up. The mother left and the father was still in the area but not really involved. Carolina wandered the streets and neighborhood. This "mother" often gave her food and showed her love however Carolina had no hope. They offered her a place to stay but Carolina never stayed. One night they heard a knock on the door and there stood Carolina in tears. She said she wanted their love and wanted to be there. They took her in. They talked to the father who let them have guardianship. Not sure how that really transpired but regardless God placed this little girl into their hands. They have raised her, made sure she went to school and attends the project. She has a loving sponsor who regularly writes her. She now has hope and we stood their in tears. Beth sang to her, we told her she was a child of God and now had us praying for her and we circled her with prayer! Walking back to the bus all of us were pretty much silent. Our hearts had been broken but we saw the dreams and hope in her eyes. GOD IS GOOD!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day 4- Work Day!

Today was our workday at one of the projects. We were supposed to return to the same project we visited yesterday-however Karen and I switched to the other team for the day which I will explain shortly. We went to a different project that was in a very poor area. One portion of the homes are close to a river that in a few months will be in danger of being flooded out during the rainy season. Very sad! We arrived at the project and a group of us visited with the director and saw all the recordkeeping that is done. We were able to see a child file which was very interesting. We got to see how the information is obtained for child packets. We got to see performance areas for the children. We also got to see the accounting books for the project. Just further evidence that Compassion is commited to integrity from top to bottom.

Our work project for the day was basically creating a garden area for the project. Next to the building was a lot filled with rocks, trash and all kinds of foliage. We spent the entire time removing the trash, digging down and removing all of the rocks and then finally grading the area as best as we could. The rocks had to be taken by wheelbarrow out of the area. Apparently the lot was used as a dumping ground prior so we found loads of garbage that needed to be cleaned out. While we worked several of the group also played with some of the kids and kept them entertained with a parachute.

Well the reason we switched teams is such a "God Thing". We ate breakfast with Richard and his daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth sponsors 3 children and her father had come on the trip with her. He does not sponsor any but at breakfast was talking with me about sponsoring an older child. Karen and I shared our story with him and I knew he would be sponsoring one by the end of the week. It was just going to happen. As we loaded the buses Sean (our tour leader) asked for 3 volunteers to switch teams as two people from the other team wanted to go to this project and possibly sponsor a child. As soon as we heard that one of the people was Richard we were off the bus gladly. It was such a God Thing as we got to see the record keeping (which our original team did not) and that would be beneficial in my ministry. Also for the simple fact that Richard did sponsor a 10 year old boy. He actually got to work along side of the boy during their work day and then ended up meeting the boy's mother and sponsored him!!! As icing on the cake- the boys best friend was sponsored by Elizabeth. Good is Good!!!!! Dinner was such a Central American Experience- we ate at Applebees! LOL......

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 3- VBS, Home Visits & More

Today was our first real ministry day. We broke into two groups and visited two different child development centers. The one that I visited has only been open a year but already had 300 children enrolled. It is in a very poor area of San Pedro Sula. We did worship, drama and arts & crafts with the children. There was lots of loving being poured out from both sides. A really neat thing that Compassion had today was the availability of child packets for children at that project. At the conclusion of every sponsor tour is the chance to take some packages and find sponsors for unsponsored children. Well this was neat because we would be able to take packets and match them with the actual child. Can you imagine being able to talk to a potential sponsor that you met "this child" and you have hugged them and you have photographs to show. How cool is that! Talk about easy marketing...you could even give them a letter of thanks from the child before they even sponsored.....WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In the afternoon we did some home visits. My group visited two homes in order to speak to the families and hear about the impact Compassion has made in their lives. These are always emotional visits when you truly experience the poverty right there in front of you. The one thing that really struck me today was the fact that the homes we visited were in an area where the families do not own or rent the land. In all honesty they are there until they are forced to move. The city owns the land and can force them off at any time. As Beth Crosby mentioned tonight they have no anchor. Poverty is bad enough but can you imagine not even knowing if tomorrow you may not even have what you currently have?
In the evening we had a meeting and dinner with some of the staff from the Country office. We got to hear a lot about the ins & outs of the Compassion programs and had the opportunity to ask questions and pray for the staff.
Tomorrow we return right back to the same project to do some mission work for them. It should be a hard work day but rewarding.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Worship, Malls and More- Day 2

What an incredible worship service we experienced this morning at a partner church in San Pedro Sula. The church was located at one of the projects but really was up to date with a great worship area. They had a full praise band and we rocked out to Forever, Open the Eyes of my Heart, I Could Sing of Your Love Forever and some others all in Spanish. This church has birthed 60 other churches in Central America. Their pastor was incredible as he spoke at length regarding the Parable of the Seeds being sown. At the altar call quite a few people came up and answered the call. It was a great experience to worship with brothers and sisters from Honduras!
After lunch several of us walked across the street (an adventure in itself) to the local Mall. It was a small mall but interesting to see the American influence. Holy Cow- can you believe we traveled all the way to Honduras to see this?
We spent some of the afternoon on a tour of the city and then had an early dinner (which lasted forever) and then made it an early night. Tomorrow we begin our actual ministry at the projects. I want to close this day by sharing some pictures of a church we visited while taking the tour. This is not a Compassion church however it is the largest church in Honduras with seating for 15,000 at a service. This building was incredible and the fact that they are still building speaks of the strength of the church here in Honduras. Check out these pictures:
Blessings!

Day 1- The Adventure Begins

From all across the U.S. a group of us have gathered in Miami to begin our Tour. Most all are sponsors, some are Advocates, and we even have a couple of Area Coordinators. Some have been here before and for some this is their first time. All of us have different gifts that we are bringing to this team. We have those that love to worship, those that love to teach, those that are gifted in crafts but the one thing we all have in common is the love of children. As I write this first part we are in the air on our way to San Pedro Sula where we will be based. Most of us had some time to bond before the flight as we waited for the group to gather. The really unique thing about this trip is many of us have connected for several weeks on Yahoo and Facebook. We have been talking, joking and planning before we even met. We have been praying for each other. As we gathered at the gate and recognized each other it was more of a reunion or discovering of long lost friends. Soon the plane will be landing and through the miracle of time zones a two hour flight will be about 20 minutes. We will clear customs, get our luggage, and meet our Country staff. We will be taken to the hotel and dinner. ************************** It is almost midnight Honduras time….2 am est. We have been up for about 21 hours…still running with a lot of energy but better get some sleep…tomorrow is our first full day here. It was great seeing some of the Country Staff from two years ago. Great to know they are still ministering to the children. Blessings!

Friday, May 15, 2009

T-MINUS 1 DAY AND COUNTING

We are one day to go until we fly to Miami and then to Honduras. We are scurrying around and trying to take care of those last minute details. Don’t really know if we will get any sleep tonight but will certainly try. I figured today would be a good day to give some “back-story” on this trip. As I said we knew we were going to be going back. We patiently watched the Compassion website for notification. Late last summer the tour popped up. Lo and behold it was April 4th-April 11th. Spring Break for our daughters! They could go with us. We paid our deposits and all of us were excited. We booked airfare for all of us to Miami. We were gung-ho and ready!!!!

Bump #1- Whoops….seems no body realized that the tour was schedule for Easter week. Honduras would be basically shut down. It would have to be rescheduled for May 16th to 23rd. Major disappointment- the girls would not be able to go. (We were not going to pull them out of school that close to the end of the year)- Deposits were refunded for them but airline tickets (for the girls) were a loss. We had bought non-refundable/non-transferable tickets. So unless we stick them on a plane to somewhere and back we are out those tickets. We had to pay an exchange fee for ours.

Bump #2- We are notified by Compassion that apparently our return flight from Honduras to Miami on 5/23 is cancelled. We will not fly out until 5/24. Good news in that we now have an extra day. Bad news in that we now have to change our return flight from Miami home. There is another exchange fee. Compassion graciously reimburses us for that problem.

AT THIS POINT I CAN ONLY THINK THAT GOD MUST HAVE BIG THINGS IN STORE SINCE SATAN IS REALLY TRYING TO MESS UP THIS TRIP.

God Moment #1- I had thought I would just kind of sit back this time and “help” – that is not take on a leadership role. Seemed like a good decision since I was on my second trip and there would be first timers that would be excited to be involved. (Just as I was in 2007). We told Sean (our Tour Leader) that we would serve wherever needed. Well last Friday I found out I would be in charge of the Bible Lesson/Drama portion of VBS. Those of you that know me are probably laughing as this is what I love to do in Children’s Ministry. Leave it to God to put me where I belong (even if I try to hide). The only problem was finding a suitable/culturally relevant type drama to do. Through a series of “God Moments” I connected with Jenny at Mountain Christian Church. She had just returned from a mission trip to the Dominican AND had written a great puppet skit that would work perfectly for our program. Graciously she shared it with us. THANKS JENNY!!!!!!!

God Moment #2- Compassion sets up a Yahoo message board so we can get to know each other and communicate prior to the trip. The big difference since the last time is the advent of Facebook. Most of us have accounts so we have REALLY gotten to connect, encourage, Pray and know each other. Tomorrow when we actually meet in Miami it will be like meeting long lost friends. Can’t wait!

Well time to get things together….the journey is about to begin! Keep us in prayer!