Thursday, December 29, 2011

One Word 2012

     Chris G., Compassion's Blog and Social Media Manager, has a unique approach to making a New Year's Resolution. You know, those promises and goals you set at this time of year but never seem to keep. I encourage you to read what Chris has to say here.

     In  a nutshell you should pick a word that will be your focus or theme for the year. It should be a word that will stretch you, guide you and grow you in your Christian walk. It should take you to a greater spiritual maturity. In choosing your word I think there are three main factors that must be considered. First, pray and ask God for the word. Let him lead you to the word that will be your direction in the coming year. Secondly, I encourage you to share your word. Keeping promises and achieving goals is only obtainable when you can be held accountable. Finally, choose to truly live out the word. Make it your daily focus and commit to reviewing your progress. 

      My word for 2012 is "Still". Webster's defines it as: devoid of or abstaining from motion, uttering no sounds, calm or tranquil. I did turn to God for what my word should be. I had no sooner prayed and I was smacked with what it should be. I truly believe God has a sense of humor and at this appointed time he knew what I would be needing.  Those that know me realize I am a Type-A personality who goes all out. i am constantly on the move-maybe not always physically but certainly in my thoughts. My mind never seems to slow down. I am a planner and an organizer. As soon as I begin to wake in the morning my brain kicks into gear and I am off to the races. Things to do! People to see! It is like a whirlwind. So, this year, I am going to try and be "still". I need to take the time to slow down and spend some quality time with friends and family. I need to be quiet and listen to the words (needs) of others. I need to to quietly listen for His words and whispers. Most of all I need to find that peace and tranquility of relaxing and enjoying life. This is not going to be an easy word for me to live out. I will ask others to hold me accountable. I am going to place reminders at home and at work. Each day I will pray to choose to live out that word. 

     I admit it will be a challenge to stay focused on this through out the year. However it will be my goal. Throughout the year I hope to keep you updated on my progress. Now how about you? Will you pick one word to focus on this year? Will you try to make a difference in your own life? I pray that you do and wish you blessings on a great new year! <><

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gifts of Compassion

Gifts of Compassion

      If you are anything like me there always seems to be that one last minute gift that you still need to buy right before Christmas. Typically it is for that one person who is the hardest to buy for. You have put it off and are still stuck with an idea with just days left. What to do?

      Allow me to offer a suggestion- Why not take a look at the Gifts of Compassion catalog. This unique Christmas catalog offers a variety of gifts that will meet real needs and can really make a difference. After all, isn't that what Christmas is truly about, making a difference? God sent His son to save us and make a difference in our lives. That is the Christmas Story. 

       How it works is very easy. Follow the link and take a look at the gifts. They range in price from $5.00 to $325.00. They range in variety from bibles to livestock to playgrounds. All of the gifts meet real needs and are life changing. Choose a gift in honor of "that hard to buy for person". Then once the purchase is complete you can choose from a variety of greeting cards that can be sent to your honoree. These cards can be mailed to them, printed out and given to them or even included in an email. How simple is that? It sure beats fighting the crowds in a mall. The best part of this is that it gets others involved in the ministry of Compassion. Who knows what seeds can be planted when you start with a gift like this? 

        This year my wife and I decided to start a new family tradition by buying a gift on behalf of our family. This June we traveled to Honduras to see our sponsored children. One of them, Jorge, has a pet chicken. Therefore we decided our gift should be a chicken. We will purchase it and then take the greeting card and hang it on our Christmas tree as a reminder. We will continue this each year. 

         This Christmas season whether you need a gift, want to start a tradition or just want to pass the word along about this opportunity I encourage you to visit the link and begin to make a difference. 


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Time to Dream

We just got off the Disney Dream after a nice week on board. We actually did back to back cruises. We did a four day and then a three day. Thanks to the Disney Vacation Club and our points it is rather easy to do this. Considering outside costs of airfare, parking, dog care, etc it makes more sense to stay a week then to do a short term cruise. Also with our points it is more affordable. We actually ended up booking another cruise for December of 2012 on the Disney Fantasy. The Fantasy is currently under construction and will launch in March of 2012. It will be the sister ship to the Dream just as the Wonder and Magic are sister ships.
The one thing I love about Disney is they know how to do it right. Every little touch is important and as always the Guest is always number one. We took an artistic tour of the ship and it was so neat to see how little elements go into storytelling. Case in point is the rugs throughout the ship. They are actually color coded based on your location in the ship. Thematic elements of one area flow into another so there really is no rude interruption to your senses. Disney ships are designed to be classic in appearance and in all elements of a guest's experience. They are so not the floating milk containers that many other cruise ships are.
   The one cool thing about the trip was seeing the transformation of the ship (within an hour) from no decorations to Holiday decor. Between  the two cruises we had to clear customs so we went off the ship for about an hour. In that time a team from the parks transformed the ship. As we were getting off the ship the beginning touches were starting. Shortly after we got back on it was done. Total Disney magic. We did not know it was going to happen and it made the second half of the cruise just a little more special. I posted many pictures on my Facebook page but leave you with this special one of the Christmas tree in the atrium.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later...

.... I sit here reflecting back on the past ten years. That one day in September changed so many things. I am really not sure that even now it has truly sunk in how that one morning forever changed us. I was teaching pre-school then and watched in horror at the initial news report. I had just gotten my white chocolate mocha and reported to work when the news reports began. I watched in horror as a second plane went into the other tower. Then I watched as the towers went down. I think of all of the images that is the one that disturbs me the most. First it seems so inconceivable that a structure like that could just disintegrate. Second I can not imagine what it must have been like being trapped there and to realize that everything was about to end. Even as a Christian with hope I cannot imagine what I would have been thinking.

    I think we learned how fragile life really is. Things can change at any moment. I think we also realized how important relationships are. I saw heroes that day- there in New York, in Washington and on a plane in the air above Pennsylvania. We changed in so many ways. The way we react in certain situations, the way we travel, the things we no longer take for granted are all changed. Things have changed for both better and worse. I am sure that we all could spend hours documenting the changes and how we have been impacted.

    Personally ten years ago I was starting out in a new marriage. I had two children that were not even ten years old and are now in college. The home we now live in is smaller and in a different location. I have a totally different job. The amazing thing is that ten years ago I did not even know what Compassion International was. Those that know me realize how important Compassion is in my life. It is truly the one thing that defines me and the one thing that my wife and I truly embrace together as a mission. I would like to think that perhaps the impact of what I had seen on 9/11 and how we reacted to it softened my heart a little to prepare me for my ministry.

  It is my prayer that today, a decade later, we take a moment to pray for those that were lost, those that were left behind and those that struggled to make a difference in those following hours and days. I pray that we realize how fragile life can be and that we do not ever take others for granted. We can be a light in the darkness. I pray that you make relationships count...things can change in a minute....Blessings. <><

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reflections on Jorge

Our sponsored Jorge is a wild man! That is all I can say. Our favorite saying from the time we first saw his child packet (and boy was he pitiful looking) is "He's soooo cute". When we met him back in 2009 he was all over the water park. I mean all over the park! He is all boy and does not slow down. We were a little surprised when we met his this time. He was a little quiet and shy to warm up. However once he did he was a blessing. He was so excited to show us his chickens. He literally just ran after his rooster and caught it. He was so proud of us he took us to his public school as show and tell. He wanted us to meet his classmates and teacher. We were thrilled to hear that he is a good student and works hard. Looking at his report cards and evaluations he is right at the top of his class. We are so proud! For our fun day we went to an interactive child museum. Good Choice! He had a blast and we all had a ton of fun. We used to think of our daughter Stephanie (far right in picture) as a boy-she was a tomboy growing up. She bonded with him right from the start. Outside of the child museum they had several races and they were totally two of a kind.
It was rough seeing their home and neighborhood. It is in a very unsafe urban area. They are close to the project but really after dark it is not safe. Their home is basically one room tacked onto the back of a family members home. Everything is crammed in and a family of five live in a space no bigger than my family room. Elsy, Jorge's mom, is having some health issues. She was having a biopsy the week after we were there so we   keep her in prayer. Her one son also was in the hospital with a blood disease. He is not a Compassion child so expenses are tough for them in that situation. Please keep them all in prayer. We look forward to going back in two years and seeing how he has grown.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jeyelly and Sofia- Reflections on Sisters

We got to visit Jeyelly and Sofia on our second visitation day. I actually had been at this project in 2007. It was one of the projects on our tour that year. Interestingly enough God had ordained that we be there on that day. You see it was child registration day and the children were having their pictures taken for those child packets. I had been tossing a football around all morning with this cute little girl. I found out later she was registering at the project and quickly became her sponsor. Karen and Jeyelly's mom spent the day at the water park talking. Her mom shared quite a lot with us that we kept in prayer . I have not met Sofia until this trip. In January 2009 Jeyelly wrote to us that her sister was now in the project. Again another God moment. She could be assigned to any of Compassion's international partners. Pulling some strings I found out she was in the United States system but her packet was assigned out to Compassion Sunday events. If she did not get a sponsor by the end of May I could sponsor her. When we went back to Honduras in 2009 I debated about having her come to the visitation day but did not want to Compassion to have that cost for something that might not happen. Two weeks later we became her sponsors and I knew I would meet her this year on our visit.
 We arrived at the project in the midst of chaos. There was a medical mission team going on at the project and the streets were packed. Seems that this project is very well used. We did have a surprise as we ran into a friend from our previous two trips with Compassion. Abraham used to be on the Compassion staff but had left to pursue his ministry ambitions. He was there helping the medical team with translation. Pretty cool to run into him and get to say hello.  We spent most of the morning at the girl's home. They had moved from where they lived before and their home was very sad. Located at the top of a hill ( you actually have to climb a winding stone/dirt stairway) it is literally tacked on to the back of another house. There is one bedroom separated from the main room/kitchen area. You could look through the floorboards and see the ground down below. They had decorated it nice though. The two sisters took the time showing Courtney and Stephanie all our letters and pictures. I know Jeyelly bonded with Steph and Courtney bonded with Sofia. For fun we went to to this arcade type place in the mall that had games and rides. We also took along their younger sister to join us. Turns out she is also in the project and is sponsored by someone else.
 We are covering the family with prayer. Their living conditions are certainly not the best especially in bad weather. Their father seems to be living elsewhere. Marleny, their mom, seems not to be in the best place right now faith wise. She does have a job now at the supermarket but I know that staff at the project are mentoring her to keep her involved and rooted in her faith. We would have liked to have spent more time with them. The day went by so quickly. We will return, God willing, in 2013 to attend Jeyelly's Quinceanera. In the meantime we will be writing and praying faithfully.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Linda~Reflections on a Princess

How can I really begin to reflect on the one person that has impacted me more than anyone else in this world? The girl on the left is Linda the day we first met her in 2007. Just that look of love that she had when talking to Karen and I broke my heart. I understood the love that she had for us was unconditional. It is the same love that Christ has for us. It was that love that showed me how important the ministry of Compassion was. The one thing I remember from that trip was her telling me that her father had died, she considered me like a father and she wanted me to be there for her 15th birthday. I also remember how nice she dressed just out of respect for us. Totally blew my mind. Fast forward two years to 2009. There she is again on the right with a big smile and looking even more beautiful. We shared a day of memories. Two things especially stood out. She had brought all our letters with her to show us how important we were in her life. The other was talking to her mother and understanding the role we were playing in her life. We were making a difference and her mother considered us  as Linda's other set of parents. What an honor!
 Finally this year- as promised we were there for her 15th birthday celebration. When she came out of her home my breath was taken away. Only two years has passed but she has grown into a most beautiful young woman. The smile is still there but now she has an air of confidence about her. I have no doubt she will succeed and will be going to the University. She has good grades in school, helps to teach Sunday School and is active on the Worship Team at her church. Thankfully her home was better than I could have hoped. Located in the city it is stone and well secured. It is not what we are used to but it is better than some of the others. There are so many little things she did to make us feel special: 1) Things we had given her prior were on display in her home, 2) Karen had crocheted her a blanket two years ago-Linda in turn crocheted her a purse this year. Knowing my love for things Disney our gifts were in a Mickey Mouse gift bag and she gave me a special winter hat because it reminded her of Goofy. Not sure if this was good or not. 
3) Finally I happened to notice that on the invitations to her party she used the Disney Font. Seriously this was her party and it was about her and she took the time to think of something that thoughtful. This is the type of girl Linda is. There is just so much appreciation for us that it really causes me to think. There is the adage that "your first is always the most special". Taking this to sponsorship I guess this is true. Linda will always be my princess and will have impacted me in ways that I may never understand. There are many children that have been sponsored at events and concerts because I have told my story of Linda. She does not realize it yet but she has already made a difference in the Kingdom. Call it a ripple effect. It is my dream that she applies for the Leadership Development Program in Honduras in a couple of years and is accepted. She wants to be a doctor and we will be there to continue our sponsorship if God is willing. That is my prayer- will you please join me in it? Blessings <><  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reflections Part 1-Back in Tegucigalpa

It has been several days since we have returned from Honduras. Amazingly enough I have not suffered the let down I was afraid was coming. Rather I seem to have a better sense of urgency regarding my ministry. In order to better assimilate this experience I am going to spend several days reflecting on the visit and offering some of my insights. This trip has been in the planning since 2007 when Linda asked me to be there for her celebration. When we visited in 2009 I reaffirmed my promise. For the past two years we knew we were coming back. It was our dream to be able to visit each of our children's homes and projects. Having been on two other sponsor trips we did not have this opportunity. My ministry has credibility as I am able to tell potential sponsors about what I have seen and witnessed when visiting other homes and projects and how effective Compassion is in the field. However there was an emptiness as I really did not know how my own sponsored children lived or what their surroundings were like. This trip would provide that information and closure.
First and foremost it was great to be able to go back to Tegucigalpa. This is the capital of Honduras and where we first visited in 2007. It is where all four of our sponsored children live! Tegus ( affectionately nicknamed) and Honduras are very much in our hearts. We get Yahoo updates regarding current news, we follow the weather and we pray very much for the city. Having followed the earthquake after the last trip, the overthrow of the President ~ his recent return from exile and even watching the Honduran soccer team  we feel a connection to this city. It felt good to return. It never seems to amaze me how many American fast food places there are on every corner. Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Burger King, and even Denny's are all there. Driving is an experience unto itself. We drove around with our Host but it is still an amazing experience. There are no rules. People turn left from the right, they weave among other cars and the intersections are a big game of "Chicken". Whoever has the most nerve goes first. You really have to see it to believe it.
Arriving in Tegucigalpa via airplane you have to make this incredible left turn through a mountain pass and then touchdown quickly before the runway ends. Pilots are specially trained to make this landing. I remember our first trip and how everyone applauded when we landed. Apparently that is the custom as again applause broke out and we knew we were back. Next up: Reflections on Linda. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Honduras 2011 / Day 5-Quinceanera for Linda

Four years ago I was asked to be at Linda's Quinceanera and tonight I fulfilled that promise. She had wanted me there because she considered me like a father. Four years ago we did not know what that would entail. I did promise though to be there no matter what. Two years ago I again told her I would be there. Just let me know where and when. Interestingly enough a few months ago we began making our plans to return to Honduras and visit each of our children's homes/projects. In trying to figure out what to do about the Quinceanera we found out that we could host it. Being an advocate all of this time it really did not dawn on me that this was the logical thing to do. We are talking about a child in poverty. Resources are minimal. Even at the project they do not have a budget to allow parties like this on a continual basis. We readily decided on a budget for the party and the rest was left up to the Compassion project.
Tonight we all gathered at a restaurant in the city. An area was sectioned off and we had the party for Linda. She arrived at the restaurant in a lovely purple and black outfit capped off with a pair of black Converse with purple laces. Linda has always dressed nice when I have met her but she is a "tennis shoe" type of girl. This only seemed fitting. Introductions were given and then the ceremony began. The host offered a few opening words and a prayer. Then Karen and I were told to remove her sneakers as a symbol of her transitioning from child to young woman. We then replaced the shoes with high heels to mark her becoming that young woman. Her mother then spoke and placed a ring on Linda's finger. Each of us had a turn to speak to Linda and I got to go first. The easiest thing to say was how she changed my life and now directed my ministry. No matter how many children we sponsor now or in the future Linda will always be "my princess". Around the room everyone said what they wanted to say. Dinner was next followed by the birthday cake. Sadly we all were so stuffed that we really did not eat the cake. It will be shared tomorrow at the project. Goodbyes were long and tearful with lots of hugs.
Amazingly enough right now I am still riding a "high"- I kept my promise and I know Linda was happy to have the party that she wanted. I am sure that in the days ahead there will be that let down feeling for me. After anticipating something for so long it is hard to really realize it is over. It has been an amazing week back here in Honduras and I am sure I will be blogging about that shortly- Until then thanks for being a part of my journey! Blessings.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Honduras 2011 / Day 4-Visiting Jorge

Today was our day to visit Project 205 and to see Jorge. The center is located just a little way from where Linda's project is in  Comayaguela. However it is in a much poorer area and is very heartbreaking. The project is basically a two story unit. Though not appearing much on the outside it is a totally different story inside. The project is filled with an excellent staff and full of outgoing and loving children. We had no sooner set foot in the project and we were overwhelmed by hugs. I mean seriously it was like piranhas attacking! We were being hugged to death. We got to again see Jorge's records and were pleased to learn that he is an excellent student in school. In fact his family got a government scholarship to help pay for some of his books and such. He wanted us to go to his public school and meet his teacher. We were going to be his "show and tell" for the day. His teacher loved having us there and told us what a great student Jorge was. This was even after the fact that we started a small riot with children when we took pictures. If you have ever been on a mission trip or to another country like this you know how kids love to have their pictures taken. 
Next stop was Jorge's home. This was a heart breaker. We really can't decide who is worse off- Jeyelly or Jorge. This home was basically one room tacked onto another home. There was a small room to cook in but the other room was basically just two beds (for seven people) and a sofa. The yard was dirt and had a coop for chickens. Very sad!   
The fun part of the day we went to Pizza Hut for lunch and then to the Chiminike Child Museum. This was a great place with interactive exhibits for kids. Needless to say Jorge and our kids had a blast. The day ran longer than planned which was fine by us. Several prayer requests on this visit: 1) Jorge's older brother is in the hospital with a blood disease. He is not a Compassion child so expenses are hard on the family. 2) His younger brother is just getting over chicken pox. 3) Elsy, Jorge's mom has another lump in her breast and needs a biopsy. Previously she had one that was benign. Please just keep this family in prayer.
Tomorrow is a fun shopping day for us in the morning/afternoon. Tomorrow night is the reason we are here- we celebrate Linda's Quinceanera. <>< 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Honduras 2011 / Day 3-Visiting Jelley and Sofia

Today we returned to a project we first visited in 2007. When we were there back then it was actually a registration day and we met and sponsored Jeyelly on the spot. Two years later we were able to sponsor her sister Sofia. We had never met her but today we got that chance. We arrived at project 259 in the midst of chaos. There was a medical mission team based there and the entire neighborhood was in the streets for exams and tests. We were able to tour the project again and review the records. A fellow Compassion friend of mine (Jane) has a child there. We were able to track her down and also get some pictures taken to send to Jane. One surprise we had was seeing another friend, Abraham, who used to work with Compassion. He was there working as a translator with the medical team. In all of Honduras we got to run into him again at the first project we had ever visited with him. God is funny at times.
After that we went to visit their home. It is located high up on a hillside. It was very hard to imagine. A winding path up to what could barely be considered a home. In fact it was basically two rooms that were attached to the outside of another home. It is hard to describe but you could see through the floor to the ground below. One bedroom shared by four people and very little space. Yet it was a home. They fixed us cheese and tortillas. We gave them some gifts we had brought. Jeyelly and Sofia showed us the letters and pictures we had sent them. We prayed for them.
We then headed off to the mall for an afternoon of fun. We had lunch at a hamburger kiosk and then went to an amusement park type place in the mall.  The girls had a blast on bumper cars, a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel and playing games. Sofia bonded with Courtney and Jeyelly had a blast with Stephanie. There is a third daughter (Julianna) who is six years old and is also in the project. She is sponsored by someone else but we took her with us and she hung out with me and had a day of fun also.
Our evening was capped off by seeing Gaby O Elvir again. We took her out for a birthday dinner and just had a great time reminiscing. Tomorrow we get to see our 4th sponsored child here-Jorge. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Honduras 2011 / Day 2-Visiting Linda

How do you describe a day that you have anticipated for the past four years in just a blog? Really I don't think you can. We met up with our hosts Scarlet and her daughter Goldie right at 9am. Goldie was actually one of our translators in 2009 so it was awesome to see her again! Off to Linda's project. It is located in Comayaguela (sister city to Tegucigalpa) and is truly the poorest of the two cities. We were in a very destitute urban area. However her project and church is a light in the darkness. We saw the classrooms, the church and got to review Linda's records. She hopes to be a pediatrician one day and by the look of her grades she is on her way.
One sad note is that one of the teenagers in the project (and a friend of Linda's) passed away over the weekend after a long illness. Though it was great seeing the project their was an air of sadness hanging over the visit.
      Next stop was Linda's home. She was nervously waiting for us and it was great just seeing where she lives after all these years. Now when we vision her home and pray for her we have a clear picture of her environment. One good thing is that it was "comfortable". It was certainly not what we are used to but it could have been much worse. God is good in all things. We did find out that she is active in church especially as part of the worship team. Also we found out that she recently got a boyfriend ( I think she was a little embarrassed  that we found out about that). She is learning guitar and likes to play. For the final part of the day we went to the mall for lunch (Pizza!) and shopping. Karen and I decided to do something special for her birthday so we took her to a music store and got her a good guitar to practice and play on. She was surprised and for us it was a blessing to give her the encouragement. I pray that she continues to use her talent for God's glory. Linda enjoyed finally meeting Courtney and Stephanie and we can't wait to host her Quinceanera on Thursday night. We prayed together before leaving and there were not a lot of tears as we know we see each other in three days time. (Oh! and our luggage showed up) Blessings <><

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Honduras 2011 / Day 1

Quick weekend as we left early Saturday afternoon, checked in the Microtel Inn (where we are leaving our car), had dinner and then chilled in the room. Stephanie was tired from Senior Week, Courtney was dealing with her sprained wrist and Karen and I were just a ball of nervous energy. We did manage to hit the bed and grab a few hours sleep before getting up at 3am to head to the airport. Good thing we got there when we did as American Airlines was not open yet and the line quickly grew at the counters. Flight was delayed by about 40 minutes for some reason. We got to Miami fine and made our connection after grabbing some quick food. It was only 10am but we had already been going 7 hours. We dozed on both flights but not that much. Made it into Tegucigalpa about 1pm our time / 11 am Honduran time. We made it quickly through customs only to find 3 of our bags decided not to make the trip down with us. Gladly Courtney and Steph had their bag. Karen and I did not and the gifts we bought for our kids are missing. American Airlines says that everything will arrive tomorrow. Three times we have come to Honduras with American Airlines. Twice they have ripped or broken our luggage and this time they just left it behind. It is too funny to get angry about. We were met at the airport by a dear friend Gaby. She was one of our translators in 2009. She came on her own to make sure we got to the hotel safely. Her birthday is Monday and we are going to take her to dinner on Tuesday. It was great just to see a friendly face. After getting settled we headed out for some sightseeing and dinner. We went to the park to show our girls the statue of Jesus that overlooks the city and of course I had to have our first official dinner at Pollo Campero-best chicken ever! We also grabbed some essentials (like clean clothes) at Walmart. We are really feeling and looking out of place here. We are not part of a tour group or mission team and we get quite the looks as we are obviously tourists. Tonight we are relaxing in the room and getting ready for our first visitation day. Praying for a very special day with Linda.  <><

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Day Before The Day Before

We are officially two days away from arriving in Honduras. The time is quickly coming and we are not even totally packed. The gifts for the families are bought and packed but that is about it. Not that I am not focused, but rather I think I am a little scared and waiting for something to bring everything to a halt. This trip has been in our thoughts for four years now. I made the promise in 2007 to Linda to be there this year. I reaffirmed that promise when I saw her in 2009. Since earlier this year we have been making arrangements and waiting for all the pieces to fall into place. It is almost time and I am waiting for Satan's attack. Today Courtney had an accident at work and sprained her wrist. It could have been worse but I am not surprised. We are waiting on Steph to return from Senior week on time and in one piece tomorrow. God willing we will leave for Philly on Saturday afternoon in preparation for our early morning flight to Miami and then on to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Please keep us in prayer for a safe and blessed trip. Pray that everything will go as planned and Linda will have an awesome Quinceanera celebration. In addition I am asking that you cover the Indonesia Advocate Tour (leaves today) in prayer as well as the Nicaragua Sponsor Tour which leaves next Thursday.  I will be posting as often as I can about our trip along with links to pictures on Facebook. Blessings.....

Monday, June 6, 2011


Graduation 2011
My step-daughter just graduated from high school and my daughter just finished her Freshman year of college. Seriously- where did the past two decades go to? I think these must be the same thoughts that every parent must have. It seems one day we are teaching them to ride a bike or helping them with homework then the next we are sitting teary eyed at a graduation ceremony. Frankly I am amazed at how fast the years have flown by. It really does just seem like yesterday. I look at both of them and think back on what I was doing when I was their age. Seriously- that is one scary thought. I pretty much had free rein and enjoyed every moment I could. The drinking age was lower then and we had the world at our fingertips. We took advantage of every opportunity. Thankfully I know both of my kids have good heads on their shoulders and have a strong Christian background. That is not to say I know they are perfect. I know they have done their own wild things and will make their own choices. That is part of growing up. There will be lessons to be learned and they may not all be good. I can only pray that they remain true to the way they have been brought up. 
Seriously-I have to say I am proud of both of them. Each of them having two sets of parents and values cannot be easy. Yet they stayed true to their course and have both become fine young ladies. Both have the world ahead of them and I know will do well in their studies as they prepare for the future. Both are travelling with us to Honduras and it is my prayer that they see a larger world view and grow from that experience. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Keeping the Promise

Well four years ago I made a promise. I had just met Linda (our first sponsored child in Honduras) and had my eyes and heart opened. She told me how her father had died and she thought of me as her father ( no pressure there). She asked if I would come to her QuinceaƱera. This is a celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday. It is special as it marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. I promised I would be there- just let me know when it would be in 2011. 

Transition ahead four years and it is now the time. Actually Linda's birthday is tomorrow on 6/6! Over the past few months in conjunction with Compassion we have planned and organized the trip. Both of our daughters (Courtney and Stephanie) will be going along with Karen and I. Next Sunday we will be in Honduras as friends watch our house and pets. This is not a sponsor tour so we had to do a lot of planning on our own. God has been with us throughout the planning. 

We had to first submit the request and then get the OK from the country office in Honduras. We were not sure if we should go ahead and reserve flights and hotel or just go ahead in faith. We missed the possibility of flying out of Baltimore on one package but then in faith we went ahead and booked a package through American Airlines. We fly from Philly to Miami to Tegucigalpa. We got an excellent rate on the flights and the hotel. Next we had to wait on the itinerary from Honduras. Those that know me, understand how not knowing  until twelve days out was excruciating to my peace of mind. Numerous emails to friends that had gone through this were comforting though. On June 1st we got the final OK and the itinerary and everything was approved. God was great even in this aspect. 

To keep it simple we fly into Honduras in a week. We have Sunday to relax and prepare our hearts and minds. On Monday we get to go to Linda's project and see her home.  Then we will spend the day at a mall and have lunch and fun. Tuesday we go to Jeyelly and Sophia's home and project. Another day of fun and shopping there. On Wednesday we see Jorge at his home and project and then go to a museum with him. 
Thursday during the day we will sight see and then that night will be the big event. We are actually hosting the QuinceaƱera for Linda that night. The promise will have been kept! The first time I met her she and I were both in tears. I can only imagine what this is going to be like. 

I will be keeping the blog current and posting pictures on Facebook- feel free to follow the journey with me!
Keep us in prayer for safe travel and everything to go as planned. Blessings. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

World Malaria Day

Yesterday (April 25th) was World Malaria Day. A day to raise awareness about this deadly but preventable issue. Did you know:

Every 45 seconds a child dies of malaria
85% of malaria deaths are children under the age of 5
This is a preventable disease, it is as simple as providing a mosquito net


So why are we not doing anything more when we are so capable? Compassion has its own site where you can get facts, order resources and make a donation. Do you realize that for $10 you can provide an insecticide treated net that can save a life?

Check it out...make a difference and lets try to end this by 2015.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I originally wrote this article in September of 2009 for a friend's site. Figured I would reshare!
"Every child you encounter is a divine appointment."
Wess Stafford, President, Compassion International
For those of you that do not know Dr. Wess Stafford is the CEO of Compassion International. I have not met the man but consider him one of my heroes. I look forward to meeting and hearing him speak in person when I attend the National Advocates Conference in Colorado next week. He is a humble man that is more comfortable sitting on the floor with some sponsored children rather than in a boardroom. His quote above I believe should be burned on our hearts.
Obviously as an Area Coordinator for Compassion I look at every child packet as an opportunity to change two lives. The first is obviously the child's. Sponsorship will give them a chance that they might not have had before. However a sponsor's life will also be changed as they begin to build that relationship. Those that know my testimony know how true this is. Sponsorship changes everyone involved. What more of a divine appointment could there be from God?
But what about our roles as parents? Are not our children also divine appointments? Of course they are. They are a blessing given to us from Him. It is our calling to make a difference in our child's life. It is our calling to teach, nurture, love and care for them as He cares for us. We should raise them in a way that would glorify our maker. It is our words and actions that grow to be part of our children. If we honestly do not look at our role as parents as a divine appointment then we are missing the boat. We are actually short changing our roles as parents. How much better it is to take that approach ( that our children are divine appointments) and make everything we do reflect that adage.
Every ministry of the church is important but I cannot begin to stress the importance of Children's Ministry. They are our future and lifeblood of the church. Without the next generation there will be no church. Obviously this ministry is not for everyone but if this is your calling again I beseech you to approach your work with children as a divine appointment. Look at those precious children and realize that you areMaking A Difference in their lives. You have the opportunity to mold them to be great Christian men and women. 
Even in the secular world this adage works. Non-Christians may not accept the "divine appointment" part but if they realize that children are a gift and not a burden and approach their relationships with kids with an attitude similar to this we could go so far in making the difference in children's lives. Things such as abuse, self-esteem issues, depression and all of the other things that seem to be the norm in society now would be diminished.
In closing I encourage you to spread the thought that children are a divine appointment. I encourage you to pray that this will become a view that is spread by many. I encourage you to hold this thought close to your heart and to make a difference in each child's life that you touch.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Returning to Honduras 2011 Version

    Those of you that know me understand that my journey with Compassion began in 2007 when I met my first sponsored child Linda. (See: Original Story ) I looked into her eyes and my heart was broken. I understood we could make a difference! I became an advocate and the focus of my life changed because of this one little girl. Back then she made a special request of me. She told me that she had no father and she thought of me as "her father". Talk about an honor. She asked me to attend her Quinceanera when she turned fifteen. For those that are not familiar with this occasion it is similar to our "Sweet Sixteen. It marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood. I promised I would do my best to be there. 

     We returned to Honduras in 2009 to visit then our 3 sponsored children Linda, Jeyelly, and Jorge. Number four was to come shortly after the return from that trip. We knew Jeyelly's sister (Sofia) was available for sponsorship but we would not be able to sponsor her until the end of May. I debated having Compassion bring her to the meeting day but did not want to get either of our hopes up. Therefore we kept it a secret until it could actually happen. I took the time to sit down with Linda and tried to tell her (through a translator) how important she was in my life and how she had changed my focus. She was just as responsible as me for getting other children sponsored. I promised I would be back for the Quinceanera.

      So here we are in 2011. Linda's birthday is June 6th. We have begun the process with Compassion to make an individual trip back to Honduras. As of right now our plans are to go down June 12 - June 17th. Courtney and Stephanie will be going with us. Our hope is that each day we can visit one of our sponsored children's home, project and spend a fun day with them. On the final day we will host and have the Quinceanera for Linda. We are waiting on the approval and details from the Compassion office in Honduras. In the meantime we are checking airfares and hotels. American Airlines seems to have a good package. Please keep us in prayer that all is approved and that things begin to come together. I will continue to update this site with all the details and of course the journey! Blessings....


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Making a Difference~One Champion at a Time

I want to take a moment and encourage you to read the following post:
This is truly a story of a champion, the story of a ministry that works, and an opportunity for you to make a difference. Emilda needs about $20,000 to get to the Special Olympics and WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN! I took the time to make my donation. I encourage you to do the same. One step at a time makes a difference. Already we are almost half way to the goal. Make a donation (see the link below), spread the it on Facebook, Twitter, and wherever you need to. Lets get it done!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tribute to Haiti~ Our Way ( With a push from God)

It will be one year tomorrow that a devastating earthquake shook Haiti and brought about devastation that we can only begin to imagine. I can remember sitting home last year watching everything unfold. If you search the archives of this blog from January last year you can see where I was posting links from Compassion regarding events that were going on. I worked a Youth Event this time last year and the kids raised $350 for Haiti relief. It was a horrible time for a country already ravished by poverty. I think the one thing that affected me most was hearing that one of Compassion's employees was missing in the rubble of the Hotel Montana. Dan Woolley along with David Hanes (photographer) had gone to Haiti to produce a documentary about Compassion's Child Survial Program. They had just returned to the hotel when the earthquake struck. Dan was buried but was rescued. David sadly was killed. I had just met Dan in November of 2009 at a Compassion conference. Dan's incredible story and testimony is told in his book "Unshaken" which I have been reading. If you go to Compassion's blog there are some excellent articles this week regarding the anniversary of the earthquake. With all of this in my head Haiti has been on my heart for the past week. In reading Dan's book I can only begin to imagine the nightmare the entire scenario must have been. Compassion just this week began releasing child packets again for Haiti. All of this has been weighing on my heart. Call it a nudge from God. 

Those that know Karen and I know that all of our sponsored children are from Honduras. We made a decision several years ago to focus on that country and that is where our heart was. Fast forward to today. Compassion, in several forms, encouraged potential sponsors to select a child from Haiti. Karen and I talked about this. Could we afford another? Did we want to change our focus and sponsor a child from Haiti?  God was now pushing but we needed something to confirm our decision.  I had said we could give this sponsorship as a gift to each other for our ten year anniversary next month. I partially said it in jest...but lo and of the children on the page was born on 2/10-OUR ANNIVERSARY. Case closed- God wins. 

So we now have our 5th child and this one is a girl from Haiti. Her name is Chris-flaure Faudoas and she will turn 5 on our 10 year anniversary which means she was born on our 5th anniversary. Talk about signs!!!!  We do this in honor of Dan, in memory of David and in celebration of our anniversary. God is Good!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Compassion Street Team

Compassion has this really cool thing going right now. It is called the Compassion Street Team. Its purpose is to spread the word and get the message out there! Basically you can sign up and then complete certain "orders" in order to earn points/rewards. It is fun and obviously serves several purposes. One: We get to be creative and challenged. Two: We publish certain things to our network which spreads the message. Three: Compassion's ministry gets further exposure and we are active in that work. One of the recent tasks was to create a movie. I must admit that this is my first attempt and it is very rough. In fact I had a hard time figuring out how to upload it. The finish process is sound....not award winning...but it was fun and might lead me to create other things to further my ministry. Enjoy...feel free to comment but be nice. ;)