Monday, December 30, 2013

Hold Me Accountable (to my resolutions)

     Here we are coming to the end of another year. I am not sure where 2013 went but it really has flown by. We are a day away from starting out a brand new year. As usual it is time to set those resolutions that we quickly break. I laugh out loud at this because each and every one of us are guilty of setting those goals and then being discouraged as they fall by the wayside.

      I am going to do something here and ask for accountability. I am placing three goals here in writing on my blog. I challenge anyone that comes across this post anytime during the year to ask me how I am doing and am I continuing in my resolutions. I am keeping it simple and setting three goals that I wish to work on this coming year. God, Family and Self are the three areas that I am addressing.

     The first, I am most excited about as it will be the focus of the first eight months of this year. My church is doing the study "The Story"- the entire church from children to adults will be aligned at the same time studying the same lessons. It is my resolution to remain true to this study as well as committing to a deeper quiet time with God. This year in addition to meditating on my readings in "Our Daily Bread" I am going to be doing a daily meditation from an "Experiencing God" devotional. I hope to grow closer to God and find better direction in my life with all three of these.

       Secondly I want to be a better husband and father to my family. I obviously am not perfect and would like to concentrate on making my actions count for more. I need to watch the tongue and let things go. I want to continue to grow the relationship Karen and I have. I know God has things planned for the two of us and I want to be more in tune with that calling.

        Finally there is the matter of self. I am now middle aged and need to pay better attention to my health. Already I have started this journey by getting a physical (which I put off for too long) and need to work on getting back into shape. I can stand to lose 20-30 pounds and of course need to get back to the gym. This starts with the New Year. I am committed to this.

      All three of these are probably your typical resolutions but it is my plan to make them a reality. I am going to start out gently with baby steps. I will do my quiet time each day without fail. I will watch my words and think before I speak. Finally I will commit to going to the gym a minimum of 3 times a week for at least 30-45 minutes. I can grow from there. All I ask is that you hold me accountable. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Wishes

   It has been a little over a week since I have returned home from Romania. My heart is still filled with many mixed emotions and I know God is working on my heart. My ministry is and always will be with Compassion International. I believe in their mission of releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name. I have seen the difference that sponsorship makes in the children's lives. In the past two years I have been blessed to travel to Mexico with Southern Mexico Missions, traveled to Honduras to see my sponsored children and then partnering with Remember the Children in Romania to deliver Christmas boxes of Hope. Each of these trips, though different, are similar in that we brought smiles to children. That perhaps is the greatest gift of all.

     With an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education I know the importance of reaching out to children in their early stages of development in order to make a difference. Giving hope and helping them reach their potential should be every adults focus. This is my wish for this Christmas. As we prepare to sit down in our comfort with our families I pray that we take a minute and remember those that 'have not". Offer a prayer, sponsor a child, make a contribution to some fund that will assist those less fortunate. This year reach out an make a difference. Please!

     My specific prayer this Christmas that I will offer up this Christmas Eve will be for each of my sponsored children. May they know the potential they have and continue to strive for that. I will pray for Southern Mexico Missions that they will continue to reach the unchurched and spread the Good News. I will pray for the continued growth of the Christian church in Romania. I specifically  lift up the new friends I have there and pray that they will continue to be encouraged. Finally I ask prayer for direction in my calling. I would love to be 100% working for God and I know what He has placed in my heart. I pray for openings if this be His will. Please join with me in prayer. Blessings <><

Friday, December 6, 2013

Remembering Romania~ Part 2 (Hearts of Gold)

  • Today our week begins to come to an end. So many amazing memories and stories to tell. I know one thing though. As usual I am coming away more blessed than when I entered this amazing country. I have been touched by the welcomes we have received, the hugs and the smiles. Several amazing moments are standing our for me right now:
  • In all of the churches we visited the children had taken the time to prepare a song for us in English. As bad as our attempts to speak Romanian have been they were amazing in singing to us in English. Funny thing is often we would try to say something to them in their language and they would respond in English. 
  • Going into the schools to celebrate Christmas and tell the Christmas story. Again each of the schools had prepared a presentation for us. Can't do that back in the United States. 
  • Sitting in a church in a remote village when the pastor walked in and up to me and said "Chuck, how are you?" Standing there with my mouth open he explained he had "friended" me on Facebook. Amazing how much smaller the world has become but equally cool because I now have friends overseas. I have added several friends including including Pastor Danny (who we are partnering with here) so that we can pray and make a difference together. 
  • Going to a church that was dead three years ago and walked in to 175 children clapping and cheering for us as if we were celebrities. Talk about a humbling experience. 
We have had several members get sick, I had my phone stolen and we are exhausted but overall I would say our hearts have been poured into. As we begin our journey back to the States I leave a piece of my heart here as well as new friendships.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Gypsy Village

    Back in Maryland when this trip was planned it was placed on our leader's (Dawn) heart to adopt a gypsy village. This village would be one of our primary focuses. It was for this village that we set aside some of our shoeboxes and brought coats for the children. I must admit that visiting this village comes with mixed emotions. The gypsies here are shunned by others. They are probably the poorest of the poor and where our hearts should be most broken. We were also warned though to keep our valuables close at hand. A simple hug could result in something lost. After all, they are gypsies and will use what they can to survive. Sadly as a Christian that fear convicted me and hurt my heart.
     We arrived there and were heartily greeted.  There were only a minimal amount of children. We did our candy cane story, gave out some candy, danced in the street and played some games. It was muddy and dirty but our hearts were filled. We decided we would come back later when their were more children and promised to do so. We visited another church for about two hours before heading back to the village. When we returned the children ran and gathered around us. The chief of the village came and helped organize the distribution of our boxes, coats and shoes. I need to add that Tony ( a member of our team) brought along boxes of sunglasses and crocs to be handed out. They proved to be a blessing. Distribution was organized chaos as some wanted more than what we could offer but the chief kept things in control. On a negative note we think we saw some of the things that we provided being resold on the street as soon as we gave them out. That is the way of life here and I can only imagine that there was a greater need for the money rather than the coat or shoes. God is in control and we can't let disappointment get in the way of His plans.
      Speaking of plans, Danny (the pastor), also has this village on his heart. He lives nearby and is active in this community to bring the gypsies to Christ. Sadly many years ago the Word was brought here but no one followed through. Danny has vowed to change that and is working hard here. Other local churches will not welcome the gypsies into their places of worship. It is part of Danny's plan to build a church here in the village. It will cost 20-25 thousand USD but it can be done. Danny's wife would also like to see an after-school care for the children as part of this plan. I know this can be done with help and prayer and we are excited to be a part of this and watch it unfold.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Remembering Romania ~ Part 1 (Here We Are)

So here I am in Romania. A trip that has been anticipated for almost all of this year. I knew about the trip before it was announced and was really not sure if it be on my agenda. However once it was announced I knew it was the kind of trip that I just had to go on. We would be delivering "Boxes of Hope" through Remember the Children. What an awesome way to begin the Christmas season by bringing boxes filled with toys, candy and essentials to children who may not otherwise get a gift. It would also be an opportunity to spread the "Good News" to those that need to hear the message.

     We left on Friday morning (11/29) and traveled for close to 26-28 hours. We went from Baltimore to New York to Paris to Budapest and then drove over into Romania. This was perhaps the part I dreaded most. Just being idle for that long period of time is really not my thing. I did not really sleep during that period but overall I survived.

      So we are now in Romania. We have had food beyond belief. I will be coming home heavier then when I left. Our hosts make sure we have plenty and we have to eat what is given. I officially had Hungarian Goulash and some other neat stuff. We worshiped on Sunday in two churches. The first was just a little church with few members. Those that attend are shunned by neighbors because they are going to a Christian church and not an Orthodox one. Still they remain strong. The second church was larger and I shared my testimony. It was a blessing. We worked in the warehouse unpacking the large boxes and going through the Christmas boxes. We needed to make sure that there were no inappropriate items and each box had at least the minimum that should be in each. I did find my own box which is cool. Hopefully I can hand deliver it to someone.  <><

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pre-Trip Thanksgiving

    Less than 24 hours until I and a team of eleven head to Romania. It has been an interesting two weeks preparing. I know the enemy is always lurking around and ready to pounce. I have had some doubts and concerns. I have had some health issues over the past two weeks. Even at work I seemed to have some issues. Things did not seem to be lining up the way I would want as I got ready for this journey. In reality I know it was just Satan trying to take my mind away from what needed to be done and forcing me to focus on things that should not matter. Now as I sit here and prepare for a Thanksgiving meal all has come in line just as God has planned. Everything is done. Everything is packed. Health is good. Even work turned out well as I began my vacation.
    On this Thanksgiving 2014 I have much to be thankful for. Family that is loving and supportive. Friends that have financially and prayerfully supported me. I have my health and many blessings. No matter what I know that I am being watched over and guided by my God. All I ask now is that as we journey to Romania keep us in prayer. Pray that His will be done. I know we are embarking on an adventure of a lifetime. To be able to hand a child a Christmas shoebox (packed with love) and to be able to share the true meaning of Christmas with others and within the team will be amazing. This is both my Thanksgiving and Christmas. <><

Monday, November 25, 2013

So I am just a little lucky!

     I do not know if it is good or bad- but I tend to win things. That is not to say that I spend money on lottery tickets or the mega millions. I just tend to enter things for free and sometimes get very lucky. Growing up I would be the one walking down the street and would find a dollar bill. I could check the coin return on a vending machine and find change. Such is my life. Our local newspaper (Sunpapers) has a reader reward system. If you are a subscriber you can enter contests to win movie passes, concert tickets and other stuff. I enter everything I can there (after all it is free) and we have won our share of tickets to movies and other cool stuff. If you don't enter you will not win is the way I figure it. To be honest I don't win more often than I do win in the scheme of things.          
  However I must say that in August I rolled the dice and came up pretty big.  My wife, daughter and I decided one afternoon to attend the Belair Bar-B-Que bash. Lots of vendors and of course good food. This was not my idea to go but my daughters. One of the vendors there was having a raffle for Raven's season tickets. Big spender that I am I bought three tickets for $5.00. This is their big fund raiser and had been running since April. I did not even give a second thought about winning. So that night my daughter headed back down to college. She had just left and I was getting ready for bed when the phone rang. My heart dropped as I thought she had just had an accident. No~instead it was the Raven's Roost informing me I had won the season tickets. I mean really now??? So pretty cool. I have a set of season tickets to watch the Baltimore Ravens this year. But it gets even better! I entered to win a dinner cruise on a boat called the Raven. This was hosted by the Sunpapers and we won a night out with a bunch of others. It was a great night out in the harbor and their was an fundraiser auction held on board. One of the fundraisers for the night was a 50-50 drawing. I bought an arms length of tickets for $20.00 but of course did not win the money. Instead I won a Ravens winter jacket valued at about $100.00.
          I must admit at this point I am a little embarrassed. I post things on Facebook and here I had won the dinner cruise and now I won a jacket. People just look at me and shake their heads. I did have someone even want to rub my head for good luck. LOL! In the great scheme of things maybe I am luckier than others but for right now I will just enjoy my season at the stadium. Next year it will be someone else turn.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Welcome Back!

    Where have I been? Seriously it has been almost four months since I have added anything to this journal. As I get older time seems to fly by without stopping. My last post was about fundraising for my mission trip to Romania. I am now only about 25 days away from leaving with the team. It has been way to long. I have tons of ideas. Inspirations, updates and just plain musings but every time I planned on sitting down and writing something else came along to prevent that from happening. 

    Well enough of that! It is time to get back to some basics and this journal will be part of that. I am making a conscious effort to post at least once or twice a week. In addition I am planning on spending some more time in my devotional reading in order to grow my Christian walk. I encourage you to hold me accountable. Karen and I attended an Experiencing God seminar several weekends ago and I found some great material to delve into there. Maybe down the road I can share some of that.

     I am going to close this out today with a Romania update. I will be writing from there at the end of this month. I am part of a team of ten from Fork Christian Church. We are partnering with with Remember The Children (see prior post) in order to bring Christmas shoe boxes and hope to the children in Oradea.  I actually was able to have my entire trip funded through sponsorships. I feel truly blessed as I had two very special donations come my way. One was from a couple at my church who also sponsor children through Compassion. They know my heart. The other was from someone who I only casually know through Facebook and had met on a Disney cruise. She went to my Go Fund Me page and made a substantial gift. I was blown away my her generosity but then that is how God works. I am thankful for all of my other sponsors who helped me out and made this trip possible. Our church also held a fundraiser at Texas Roadhouse which helped the entire team out. In fact Fork came through in several ways. We have probably close to 250 shoe boxes that are on their way over to Romania already. Along with those boxes are some winter coats that we bought for the children. During our summer Vacation Bible School the children at Fork raised over $900 in mission money that we put toward buying those coats. What a blessing!
    Please keep myself and the entire team in prayer this month as we begin our final preparations toward departure on November 29th. Keep in prayer also all of families that will be staying behind to take care of things there. Without their support either we would not be going. Take Care!



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

We interrupt this blog for a quick commercial !

See this picture? It caught my eye when I was looking for a good picture for my Romania trip. There was something about her smile that spoke of hope. You can see something in her eyes despite her surroundings. I fell in love with that picture and have adopted it. If you look on the right side of this page you can see an advertisement with her for my fundraising page. In an act of self promotion I am writing about that page and I take a moment to apologize for that. Those that know me realize that I would not  usually stoop to doing this. I am the last to seek attention and get embarrassed when people start praising or talking about the work I do. I actually got quite uncomfortable with some of the accolades that were being said about Karen and I at Jeyelly's Quinceanera in Honduras. We went there and did it because it was the right thing to do for her not because we were "special sponsors".

       Anyway what about the "gofundme" link? I have been invited to be part of a team that will be going to Romania this November 29th-December 7th with my church. A group of eleven of us will be partnering with Remember the Children to deliver Christmas shoeboxes for the poor and needy. This is a trip that is right up my alley. My calling to speak for the "least of these" as well as my love for children makes this the ideal mission trip. Originally my wife and I were planning on taking some time to go to Disney this season to see the decorations for the holiday. When this trip presented itself she knew it was something I had to do and she fully supported me. We can always do the Disney thing but how often (especially during the Christmas season) could I have the opportunity to hand a child a present, tell the Christmas story and bring hope? It will bring the meaning of Christmas a lot closer to my heart this year.

     Part of a mission trip is seeking both prayer and financial support. We are expected to raise a good portion of the $2100 that it will take for the trip. Asking for help is something I do not like to do. PERIOD. It is not part of my make-up. I do not mind asking for prayer and I hope that many will join us in praying for my team, the mission, the journey and the message we will bring to those children. In faith I paid my deposit and I have sent out over fifty letters to friends, co-workers and employers asking them to partner with me. I decided to try an online fundraising page to reach out to others that I may not closely know but may be willing to help in someway. Social media has changed the way we do things so I have set up this page. Some people cannot go on trips and wish to support others with a gift. If you feel led then please go to the site and donate whatever you are led to. I assure you that all of the funding will go directly to this trip. If by God's grace I exceed this goal or even the amount needed for the trip the remainder will go to help any of my teammates that may fall short of their goal. All of us have decided that any extras beyond that will be given to Remember the Children for their work in Romania.

      In conclusion I seek both your prayer and financial support. However you are led I thank you for any partnership. You can count on me blogging about my trip and the experience! Blessings.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Looking Back at Honduras 2013

A week ago we were in Honduras and it was our fourth visit to this country. We have going every two years since 2007 and we have been blessed each and every time. From the first time when we met Linda and changed our hearts to last week when we saw new and old friends it has been a remarkable journey. I have gone from sponsor to advocate to area coordinator to volunteer coordinator for a ministry that is now my calling. If you have been following my trip on this blog I thank you and just wanted to wrap up my adventure with a few last reflections (in random order):

1) The descent into Honduras is the only flight that I have ever been on that no matter what everyone claps upon landing. Dropping down over the mountain onto a short runway is a miracle in itself. Google it!
2) Breakfast in Honduras with beans and plantains is to die for. Well worth the return trip.
3) The Marriott Hotel in Tegucigalpa is beyond compare. The staff and service are second to none. 
4) Project 259 (Jeyelly/Sofia's project) is filled with truly special people. Warm, welcoming and full of love for the children. What they did for Jeyelly's Quinceanera was amazing and will always be a special memory. 
5) Project 204 (Linda's project) runs a close second. The pastor has prayed for us twice and they always are welcoming. Our next sponsored child is going to have to come from this project  when Linda graduates out. 
6) Jorge may be our first Leadership Development student. I am not discounting Linda or Kellyn getting in but Jorge has so much leadership potential. 
7) Meeting Kellyn was a blessing. She is our correspondant child and we don't really know her since we have only been writing for less than a year. She welcomed us with open arms and we had a blast with her. 
8) Jeyelly's Quinceanera was beyond my expectations. Very traditional and she looked beautiful. She is quiet and reserved but beamed with joy on her day. Sofia made sure we were looked out for we look forward to hosting her Quinceanera in 3 years. This family needs our prayers as the father is more or less out of the picture and the mom is struggling. She does seem more positive than two years ago but needs encouraging to stay true to God and to go to church.
9) Amazingly I think our sponsorship of Linda has impacted her mom (Reina) even more so. When we met her in 2007 she was withdrawn and seemed older/frailer. Now she seems more outgoing, younger and is in fact very active in the church. 
10) Last but not least~our sponsorship of Linda is drawing to a close. Two years ago I was worried about her focus and heart. This trip resolved all of my concerns. Looking at her "My Plan for Tomorrow" she has strong dreams and goals. She wants to enter the Leadership Development Program and be a pediatrician. She has matured and grown through our sponsorship. Having met her four times our relationship has grown and grown through the years yet she always amazes me. She welcomed us with t-shirts that she had made for us. She sang and played the guitar for us. Finally that last look as she said goodbye was filled with as much love as the first time we met her and she broke into tears. We have been more than blessed by our sponsorship of her. 

So we hope to return in 2016 ( 3 years from now) to host Sofia's party. This is the longest we will have been away but we will see what God has in store. Changes are coming. Linda will no longer be in Compassion's child sponsorship program. This may have been the last time we actually get to see her though I know we both plan on staying in touch. I pray that when we return we will connect someway. Hopefully she will be in the Leadership Program. Kellyn will have graduated out also. We will continue to be write to her until then and keep her in our prayers. Jeyelly will just be graduating out in 2016 but if we are hosting Sofia's party we should get to see her too. It is amazing to think how much the face of our sponsorships will be changing. It will be a whole new adventure (maybe we will have some new children to meet). Someone commented about the cost of these trips and our sponsorships. Yes-we have invested a lot of time and money into this endeavor. However I know the blessings we have received have far outweighed the cost for us. Each letter and trip has proven this. Then I look at the other side of the equation at the difference I have seen in each of our children. To seem them grow with hope and to see the smiles on their faces then I know the cost can never truly matter. We have blessed each other far beyond any material costs. It has been way more than worth it!!!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Honduras 2013-Day 5 (The Quinceanera)

   Today marked our last full day in Honduras. It was also our day to host Jeyelly's Quinceanera. A celebration that marks her transition from being a child to that of a young woman. Her birthday was actually on June 2nd but today would be her special day! This would be our second Quinceanera as hosting Linda's in 2011 was the purpose of that trip. Linda's was a very small simple affair held at a local restaurant. We had the ceremony and a nice dinner with just her family, friends and workers from the project. Here is the story from that special day.

    The party would be in the afternoon so we had the morning free. We went over to the mall to find a special gift for Jeyelly's party. We were thinking a cross or heart necklace. We went from store to store and then found a perfect necklace (we hoped)- it was a special "15" specifically for a celebration like this. We still had time to go to the pool and relax a little prior to the celebration.

      We arrived at the project and then went over with the director to the community center where the Quinceanera was to be held. Children were playing soccer next door but the building itself was decorated inside and out. Pink and white streamers, confetti and balloons adorned the place.
The tables were decorated with special centerpieces. There was even a DJ. All of this was done by the project and their staff. See why I love Compassion! Everything was beyond perfect and more than I could imagine when I gave them our budget. Sofia ( Jeyelly's sister and one of our other sponsored children) came over and gave us a big hug. Jeyelly was actually behind some of the workers (so we would not see her) and then stepped out.
Here was the girl I had spent the morning with in 2007 tossing around an American football. She looked simply beautiful and stunning. She does not smile a lot or talk a lot but today she was beaming. After awhile we sat in our seats while the ceremony began. There was a procession into the building with her Quinceanera court and then she made her entrance and took a seat center stage. The pastor prayed and gave a meditation the our part of the ceremony came. Our part was removing her "kids shoes" and placing high heels on her feet. This marked the transition to being a young woman. They asked us to say a few words (to be honest I am not sure what I said) but I made Jeyelly cry with my sentiments. After this we had a nice meal prepared by the center and enjoyed the birthday cake. We took some remaining pictures and had to say our goodbyes. It was a special day for a special girl. I know she was happy, her mother was beyond happy and we were truly blessed. We kept being told how special we were but in reality I don't think we are. Sure we do things like this, we visit our sponsored children and we write but isn't that what we are called to do for the "least of these". The Bible tells us to care for the widows and the orphans. If we are special for doing what God tells us to do then so be it. However I am just content to have found my calling and my ministry. God Bless.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Honduras 2013~Day 4 (How do you really say goodbye?)

     How do you say goodbye for perhaps for the last time to someone that has impacted your life so much? I sit here with tears in my eyes as I write this knowing that our last hug may have to last forever. Everyone who knows my testimony knows that this girl, Linda, changed our lives forever. Meeting her in 2007 impacted my ministry with Compassion. I would not be as active in my volunteer role, I would not have made three more visits  back to Honduras and Karen and I would certainly be focused on something else. Instead I daily embrace my role as a sponsor and as an advocate on behalf of "the least of these".
      Today was our visit with Linda. We met her at her project with big hugs and smiles. Her mom (Reina) once again welcomed us as family. The amazing part of this was that six years ago when we met Reina she seemed older and frailer. I swear she is looking stronger and younger as we have partnered with her over these years. Anyway at the project Linda's pastor prayed for us. The staff welcomed us back with open arms. We looked at Linda's file and saw her plans and dreams for the future. She will graduate from the project next year and as part of her final year she has to outline her goals and dreams. One thing we were thrilled about is she is hoping to enter Compassion's Leadership Development Program. She will have to apply and be accepted but that will be our prayer focus for her over the next year. It has been two years since our last visit and she has grown up so much. It was amazing listening to a young woman tell us of her dreams, how much we have meant to her and just hearing about her life. I changed in 2007 when I looked in her eyes and saw the difference we were making. Today I heard it in her words and actions!
       We went to her home where she presented us with two t-shirts that she had made for each of us. They each said how much she loved us and had a picture of her playing the guitar. This was the guitar we bought for her Quinceanera present in 2011. We were not sure at that time if it was the right thing and perhaps we had gone overboard. Needless to say this proved how much it meant to her.

If there was any further doubt she then played a song on the guitar and sang for us. It was an amazing moment. (Glad I recorded it). She also had made a poster for us but never got it finished. 
We went to lunch at Popeye's for some chicken and then we were to go bowling. However the bowling alley had closed down so we ended up at City Mall and going to the amusement arcade. I do not think it mattered what we did as long as we were together. In late afternoon our day had to come to an end. Reina spent the ride back telling us how much we have meant to her and her daughter. How she prayed daily for us and only hoped the best for us. She thanked us so much for being a part of her daughters life for the past nine years. <tears start here> Finally we had to say our goodbyes. I have no doubt that we will be back again to Honduras but Linda will no longer be in the program. We will have to make special plans to see her at that point. I did make a promise that if she makes it into the Leadership program we would be back to celebrate. We do plan to sign a release when she graduates out of the project so we can stay in touch outside of Compassion. So we stood there taking a final picture and giving her a last hug and kiss. As we drove away I can only pray the best for her in this last year. She is special, remarkable and I know she will be making a difference in her church and community. She is a blessing!!!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Honduras 2013~ Day 3 (Building a relationship)

     Today was the day that we visited Compassion Project 205. It was our visit day with Jorge and Kellyn. This would be our third time to see Jorge but our first time ever meeting Kellyn. We are not her financial sponsors but her correspondant sponsors. For some reason her sponsor does not want to write but we have stepped into the gap. We started writing her just about a year ago. The relationship is really quite new and  we have only exchanged a few letters back and forth.  I was not really sure how we would be received. We arrived at the project and were greeted quite warmly by her. She is a beautiful young woman and has high hopes to be an engineer. She has been sponsored since she was five years old and is very active at the project. She recently moved into a new home which we got to visit. Her mom and siblings were also welcoming though I think they were a little nervous around us. By the end of the day they had warmed up and there were tears when we had to say our goodbyes. It will be easier now to write her since we have met her. I know she hopes to enter Compassion's Leadership Development Program so we will be praying and encouraging her toward that.
     Jorge was a little late getting to the project as he had a test at school that he could not miss. We were a little concerned if we were going to be able to see his mother Elsy. She has been waiting for surgery to remove a small mass in her breast. She has had this issue before and has been in our prayers. She was able to be there and it was great to be able to pray with her for healing. Jorge obviously has grown over the past two years but is still active and a ball of fire. He was full of questions about where we lived (thank you Google maps) and how did we get here.
       Our day was lunch at Pizza Hut and a trip to the zoo. It is a small zoo but the families had a great time. Jorge had me taking picture after picture of the animals. Kellyn too seemed to be having a blast taking pictures of all of the sights.
Goodbyes are never easy. Jorge wanted to know when we would be back again. He was a little bummed that we did not bring our daughters. Our plan is probably in three years this time around instead of the two that we have been doing. If that is the case, then, this would be the only time we would get to see Kellyn. (She will have graduated out of the program) Realizing that we were a little sad but then again there are many sponsors that never get to meet their sponsored child so this was a blessing. God is in control and she knows we will be writing! Tonight is a big soccer match between Hondura and the United States. The city has gone crazy and we will be watching it  at the hotel 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Honduras 2013~Day 1 and Day 2

So here we go! Our 4th visit back to Honduras to visit our sponsored children. Trip 1 in 2007 was a sponsor tour to Tegucigalpa and was our introduction to Compassion. It was the trip that changed my life and my focus. Trip 2, in 2009, was again a sponsor tour with Compassion to San Pedro Sula. I had become an advocate and an Area Coordinator with Compassion and this tour just reinforced my advocacy.  Trip number 3 was in 2011 and was a personal visit (with our daughters) back to Tegucigalpa to keep our promise to be at Linda's Quinceanera. Now it is 2013 and we are back in Tegucigalpa to host Jeyelly's Quinceanera and see the kids one more time. God has been with us so far. We thought we would only be allowed three days here with Compassion but were granted all four. We worried about our luggage getting here. In 2011 several of our suitcases were left behind including the gifts for the kids. We did get them a day later but it was stressful. This year we had the idea to carry on everything but one suitcase with clothes. Seemed like a great idea until Atlanta when we ended up having to take two of our carry ons and check them due to lack of space in the overheads. We got into Tegucigalpa and could find two of the suitcases but one was missing. THE ONE WITH THE GIFTS! I mean it actually was funny at that point. Luckily it had just fallen off the belt and we found it. Lastly on our original trip we stayed at the Marriott hotel. We love it, staff was great and the rooms excellent. In 2011 I could not book it for the family as part of our package. This time I got it and we are thrilled to be back here. Staff is still excellent, room is great and we have our favorite breakfast buffet to enjoy! We made it here fine and are ready for the next five days. God is Good!
Our first full day was our visitation with Jeyelly and Sofia. We were picked up by Scarlett (our host) right at 9am. She was our host in 2011 and her daughters were our translators in 2009. Needless to say lots of welcoming hugs. We went to the kid's project and had a tour. We are very familiar with this center as we visited there in 2007 when I first sponsored Jeyelly. At that time we spent a day with Compassion painting the classrooms. We visited it again in 2011 on our personal visit. It was good to go back and see what had stayed the same and what had changed. Speaking of changes Jeyelly's family has moved. Their home before was not that great. It had two rooms but was tacked onto another home and actually was not in great shape. They have moved into a one room home but it is nicer and safer. The picture above is of the family in their home. Their mom, Marleny, seems happier this time around. She and her husband have been estranged since I have known them but she seems more at peace with that right now. We are praying for her though as her church attendance is sporadic and this of course affects Jeyelly and Sofia. We are here for Jeyelly's Quinceanera which will be later in the week. Today we went to the new City Mall for lunch (KFC) and to play in the amusement/arcade area. It was a good time and nice fellowship. I have mixed feelings regarding today's visit. Similar to Linda in 2011; Jeyelly is now fifteen and her outlook has changed. She still attends the project and her grades are good but she is a typical girl that has reached that milestone. She notices boys and does not feel studying is that important. My earnest prayer at this point is that she will stay focused and grounded. There is not a lot I can do other than pray and I shall! Sofia too is growing up so fast. She turns twelve on Wednesday and is growing into quite a beautiful girl. It was a good time but I must admit my heart is a little heavy with some of the changes. Hugs all around as we left but we will be back for her party on Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

This Time for Jeyelly!

In 2007 we made our first Sponsor Tour to Honduras. We were going to meet our first sponsored child Linda. On the third day of the trip we visited a project in order to do a Vacation Bible School program. In one of those "God moments" it also happened to be the day that new children were being registered for the project. We had the opportunity to see their pictures being taken for their sponsorship packets. We actually got to see a big part of the process with parents lined up to register and the children all nervous in anticipation. I spent most of that morning in the street tossing an (American) football back and forth with an adorable eight year old girl. We could not really speak to each other but we did have smiles and great time just playing catch. Around lunch time I found out that she was one of the new children being registered. I know Karen and I talked but it was pretty much a done deal. We were going to sponsor her right then and there. The paperwork that was being sent to Compassion would show us as her sponsors from that moment on. I am not sure if she really understood what was happening. Some children wait quite awhile to hear that they have a sponsor. Jeyelly showed up to register and some crazy American sponsored her right then and there. I know her mom was thrilled and Karen spent quite awhile with the mom talking and learning all about the family circumstances. This itself was unique because most of the time the information in child packets is very general and here we got to find out a lot of detail. So instead of going to Honduras to visit our first sponsored child we ended up spending time with two children. God is good!

      So here we are over six years later. We have grown into this ministry so much it is a major part of our lives. Jeyelly has just turned 15! We have gotten to see her grow over these years and have visited her in 2009 and 2011. I know we have been blessed by being her sponsors. I had promised Linda that we would be there in 2011 for her special Quinceanera and that promise was kept. I never made that promise to Jeyelly but I knew we had to be back this year to host hers. So here we are about four days from our 4th visit to Honduras. This time is is Jeyelly's turn. We again will visit all of our children there but the last day will be the Quinceanera for her. It is my prayer that this day will be special for her and that she has a great time. We are looking forward to sharing it with her. By the way if there is any doubt that Compassion's program works take a look at her picture on her registration day. Some hope and a small smile. Here she is now as she becomes a young woman:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Wordle

Wordle: Compassion-Honduras
This is my Wordle that I designed, printed and framed for my kids in Honduras. Thanks to Ada Sanchez for the help with translations.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Honduras 2013 (Part 2)-Two Weeks Out

     It has been awhile since I have posted and it is time to get the focus back on. Before I go much further I want to remind you of Part One of this series. This is the month that we take the trip and we are now two weeks out. I plan to blog about the journey once again. This entire blog started back in 2009 when we went on our second sponsor tour/trip to Honduras. It has evolved and changed over time but it is still really about Compassion. Those that know me realize that this is a major part of Karen's and my life. We sponsor together, we pray together for the children, we work events together and our home reflects the love we have for this ministry.

     So we are headed out in two weeks. Last week we got our itinerary. In the last post I had asked for prayer as arrangements had been made in Country but we were waiting to hear from Compassion. Like last time we planned on arriving on a Sunday, spending a day with each family and then hoping to have the Quinceanera party on Thursday before flying out on Friday. That worked well and allowed us to have special time at each site. It even gave us a partial day before the party to do some tourist stuff. Prayers must have been coming. We were told that there was now a new policy that visits were limited to three days. This would mean doubling up one of the families with another and squeezing the party in also. Our flights and all are set/paid for so we would have an extra day. If that was to be the case we would find some special excursion to do on the final day. We did ask for an exception and I must say prayers were answered. Our itinerary came and it is perfect. We got all four days. We will start with Jeyelly and Sofia which is perfect because we want to end with the party for Jeyelly. That day we get to do shopping and play in an arcade with them. Day two we will see Jorge and Kellyn (our correspondant child) and visit the zoo. Day 3 will be our visit with Linda. This will be a perfect last visit because it many ways it will be out "last visit" with her. Next year she will graduate out of the program and she is our reason for this entire ministry. We began it with her and it was our first meeting with her that changed our lives. Not sure how this goodbye will go. It will not be easy. The final day we have some time to sightsee before hosting the Quinceanera. Everything turned out perfect!
      Our trip is almost here and we have been buying/making gifts to take along. We are creating our packing list and getting things together. The time is coming quickly and we are preparing. Journey along with us and keep us in your prayers for safe travel (let the luggage make it this time with us) and an awesome trip. Blessings <><

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


This sketch was done several years ago at a Youth Conference. It is performed to Lifehouse's song "Everything". It is a great message and I really wanted to share it here on my blog. If you have not seen it please enjoy it. If you have seen it before then maybe the message will touch you again. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Samuel Orlando~A Life Changed!

Friday night Karen and I worked a Mark Shutlz, Aaron Shust and Jonny Diaz concert that was presented by Compassion. Twenty six children were sponsored and Fifty-two lives have been changed. It was an awesome night but perhaps the best part was the presentation. Aaron Shust presented the video that is included here and then Samuel Orlando came out to speak about his changed life. Nothing makes a bigger impact than a formerly sponsored child offering his testimony regarding how sponsorship changed their lives. The cool thing was getting to hang and talk to Samuel at the table. We have actually met his brother, Tony Beltran who is also a formerly sponsored child. Talk about a small world! But then again isn't that how God works?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Children of God

As mentioned in my previous post my church (Fork Christian Church) had an Orphan Sunday a week ago. Part of my participation in this event was having a table for Compassion. In addition there were several videos presented before, during and after the service. One video was several of us that have adoption/orphan/sponsorship stories giving our testimony. Of course my portion in that was telling the story of meeting my sponsored child and how it has impacted my life. Another video was four families that have adopted children into their lives and the difference it has made. The final video is the one posted here. It is a re-creation of Third Day's "Children of God" video. Being adopted myself I was proud to be a part of it. Of course as you watch remember we are all children of God. We have all been adopted by him and he is our loving father. Enjoy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Compassion Works!

Research Shows: Child Sponsorship Through Compassion Works

Yesterday I had a Compassion Sunday at my home church~Fork Christian Church. It was tied into what was called Orphan Sunday. My children's pastor Dawn Willig preached on the plight of orphans and how we are called to act. The overall sermon covered adoptions, fostering, and sponsorships. There was a call to action in which one of the points was of course visiting the Compassion table and sponsoring a child. Dawn gave a great message and an awesome testimony regarding her testimony with Compassion. Overall we had somewhere between 19-21 children sponsored. About half of the packets I had on hand. One of the questions I fielded (and often hear) is "Does this really work?" Interestingly enough on Compassion's blog today was an answer to that question. I have shared that post above and encourage you to read and listen. If you are an advocate it will help you answer the question. If you are a sponsor you can be assured that your sponsorship works. If you are looking at Compassion and possibly sponsoring you can see how important this ministry is. The facts are there. It does not state that we are the best or the one to choose. It simply shows how effective Compassion's child sponsorship program is. <><

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Four Christians...

Last week at church we had a message on loving. Specifically we were discussing 1John 3:16. Part of the message was this story. It involves four Christians and is worth reflecting on. (Credit to Rob Kastens-Mountain Christian Church)

This is the story of four Christians whose names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. The world was filled with bitterness and strife. Everybody was asked to count the cost, deny themselves, and love other the way Jesus loved them. Everybody was asked to do their part. But Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Now Anybody could have done it...but the person that ended up doing it was Nobody. Everybody then blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. Then there was the need for someone to check on the progress of loving the world like Jesus. And Somebody was asked. But Somebody was angry because Anybody could have done it just as well. After all, it was really Everybody's job. In the end , the task was given to Nobody and Nobody did a fine job. On and on this went. Whenever something was to be done, Nobody could always be counted on. Nobody loved their family. Nobody loved their neighbors. Nobody showed kindness to their enemy. Nobody cared for the poor. Nobody loved liked Jesus.
At the same time, Somebody was quick to criticize Everybody, pointing out their shortcomings. But Nobody said anything in response even though Somebody was just as guilty. Finally the day came when Somebody abandoned love altogether and took Anybody and and Everybody with him. And the only person that was left to love others was Nobody.
Think about it, then think about it again. I want to be someone who loves like Jesus~ what about you????

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kings and Queens

I got a phone call from Karen one night on the way home. She asked me "is Audio Adrenaline a Compassion band ..if not they should be, turn on the radio and listen to this song......"

I must admit she may be right. Of course Compassion isn't the only organization to seek to release children from poverty. However I am proud to say they do it in the name of Jesus!

                                                                     "Kings & Queens"                                 
                                                                      -by Audio Adrenaline

Little hands, shoeless feet, lonely eyes looking back at me
Will we leave behind the innocent too brief
On their own, on the run when their lives have only begun
These could be our daughters and our sons
And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated
Every child has a dream to belong and be loved

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty 
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout your name in victory
When we love when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these

Break our hearts once again
Help us to remember when
We were only children hoping for a friend
Won’t you look around these are the lives that the world has forgotten
Waiting for doors of our hearts and our homes to open


If not us who will be like Jesus
To the least of these
If not us tell me who will be like Jesus
Like Jesus to the least of these

Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free shout your name in victory
We will love we will love the least of these
We will love the least of these
We will love the least of these
We will love the least of these
We will love the least of these 
We will love the least of these

I do want to note that Audio Adrenaline has their own group that they founded to care for orphans in Haiti. It started in 2004 and this song (from their new album) is an effort to raise more capital funds. I encourage you to check out their project at their site: Hands and Feet Project .

Monday, March 4, 2013


       I must admit to being convicted yesterday in church. There are times when God speaks so directly to you that you know you are wrong and have to confess it. Now before you all think that I did something morally wrong it is nothing like that. Without going into much detail I will say over the past few years I have harbored an anger over things and toward people at a church I used to attend. I still feel that some of the issues are valid but that is really not up to me to determine. I need to let it go and give to God. That church and the church I currently attend are both working to further the kingdom. My resentment and anger does nothing to further the Great Commission. It only serves to allow Satan to have a foothold in my life. Yesterday's message was from 1 John 3:16. That verse states "this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for other brothers and sisters. The entire message was about Jesus' self-sacrificing love and that this same love should characterize the lives of his followers.
      In a nutshell Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us...(Matthew 5:44). If we are to love our enemies then how much more should we love those that we just disagree with??  Hello! Defining moment! I can easily say I love my enemies but yet I have harbored ill feelings toward others. That thought hit me like a hammer and I sat there stunned. The teacher giving this message was one of the pastors at the other church and some of my misgivings were directed at that leadership. Here God was using them to open my eyes. I know that at moments like that God is laughing. He is looking down and saying "See what I just did, I want you to think about that." And I cannot help but to smile. In fact I turned to Karen (who knows my thoughts) and I just chuckled. She knew what was happening. But then God does not stop there. I had a great conversation with that Pastor regarding Compassion-in fact he mentioned Compassion in his message (loving the poor) and even referred a potential sponsor to me after the service. This was certainly not something that he needed to do. He could have easily directed the person to the website but instead chose to have them speak to me directly. God proved to me that my anger and resentment was a sin. He convicted me and proved to me that it was only serving to hurt me and to stop my growth. I am so blessed when things like this happen. I have nothing to apologize to anyone about as this was all internal to me. However I do have to offer praises for having my eyes opened and having what I like to call a "God-Smack". <><

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Honduras 2013 (Part 1)-The Planning Begins

     Those familiar with our story and journey with Compassion know it all began on a sponsor tour with Compassion International in 2007. This was a tour to learn about their ministry and to meet our sponsored child. We had been sponsoring for about 2.5 years and in meeting our child our focus and our lives changed. I do not really need to rehash that story but we fell in love with Compassion and Honduras. Yes, it is a third world country with all of the problems associated with poverty. Yet we found a people that embraced us and made us realize that we could make a difference. Since that time a day does not go by that we do not pray for the country and the friends we have made.

     We went back in 2009 on another sponsor tour. At this time we were sponsoring three children in Honduras and our friend list was increasing. Of course we had our sponsored children to pray for, their families, the Country staff of Compassion (amazing people) and the translators we had met. At this time I was getting more active on Facebook so it is neat to be able to connect with friends long after a trip and many miles away. That tour still encouraged us and brought us even deeper into our ministry. I was now an Area Coordinator (volunteer) for Compassion and we had an opportunity to see other sponsor's lives changed in the same way ours did two years prior.

      We returned again in 2011. This trip was different though. It was an individual trip to keep a promise I had made in 2007 to our first sponsored child Linda. She had asked me to be at her Quinceanera when she celebrated it in June. This is the celebration that marks a young lady's transition from childhood to womanhood. On a sponsor tour everything is planned and organized by Compassion. On an individual trip we would handling everything ourselves except for when we would actually be meeting with our children. Then we would have a Compassion host and translator with us.  We would be taking our children Courtney and Stephanie with us-sort of a family vacation in a different part of the world. We went for 6 days/5 nights and got to visit each of our sponsored children individually. At this point we were sponsoring 4 children in Honduras. Each day we got to gather with the families, attend the projects and have a fun filled day with each of them. The last day we went sightseeing and then that night hosted the Quinceanera for Linda. It was a promise kept and an experience I will never forget. We had our shares of "bumps" with lost luggage and trying to speak a language we really do not know. However the trip was a blessing and an encouragement. We made some special new friends with our hosts as well as being able to connect with one of our former translators.

     So we are now preparing for Honduras 2013. It is planned as an identical trip to our 2011 journey except it will just be Karen and myself. We are going back to see our children again. We still sponsor four and are a correspondent sponsor for another. Linda will be graduating from the program next year so this will probably be the last chance we get to see her. This is the girl that changed my life so it is going to be hard when it is time to say goodbye. We are also going to be hosting another Quinceanera but this time for Jeyelly. We have booked the flights and hotel and at this point are waiting as the countdown begins. We had a minor bump in that the itinerary I originally planned had jumped in price. We were able to make some adjustments and get back to what we had originally budgeted. We are 111 days out from the trip and now are seeking prayers. Our request has been sent to Compassion for what we would like to do. Please pray for approval and that everything will be coordinated well. Pray for our preparations and planning. We are looking forward to this trip and invite you to be prayer partners with us and to follow along with us on this blog. Blessings!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I was driving home this evening and this song came on the radio. Never mind that I have heard it many times before or let alone the fact that it is by one of my favorite groups (Mercy Me). Their song "Here with Me" became my life-song when I was in the Dominican in 2005. So tonight as I left work this song began playing and I was totally captured in the moment. I could not even tell you the group as I was almost in tears listening to the words. Take a moment and listen to it. Listen to the words very carefully and I mean truly let them speak to your heart.
Their are so many times that we are hurt or feel inadequate. We feel lost, and sometimes feel we cannot go on. But we need to remember that we were made for a purpose. We are His. He claimed us as His long before we even existed. That is what is so cool. No matter what we have done. No matter what we think. WE ARE HIS!!!!  "We are treasured and we are sacred in His eyes". I love those words. I love the fact that He is so madly in love with us that he was willing to die for us. We are Beautiful!!!!!
So I have no idea why this impacted me so tonight. I had no intention of blogging this evening. However I guess God spoke to me and there is someone out there that needs to hear these words. I  have been called to publish this and share on to Twitter and Facebook. I know right now it is something I needed to hear. I know that I am also going to share the words in my next letters to my Compassion children. I certainly know they need to hear it over and over. I am actually going to change my profile photo on Facebook to the heart. I think for awhile I need to mediate on this.
God Bless....and yes we are all beautiful in His Eyes. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

! 2013 !

Well this blog is approaching it's fourth birthday. I originally started it right before our second trip to Honduras. I had recently become an Area Coordinator for Compassion and wanted this blog to chronicle my passion and my journey. We have had over 5000 views and I have written over 145 posts so far. In the blogger world that is really insignificant. I have changed the layout and also the focus as this has progressed through the years. Occasionally I ignore it and then in other times I go on writing spurts. I guess that is just the way I roll. As we enter in 2013 I am looking forward to pouring more of myself into this blog. I will always continue to share Compassion~God has given me this ministry and focus. I will also continue to chronicle various aspects of my life and the direction I am headed in. At the beginning of every year we look forward with hope and anticipation to what is coming. I do not know what this year will bring but I invite you to follow along in this adventure. On the horizon I will be going to Nashville in February for a Compassion Conference. All of the Volunteer Coordinators will be meeting to "ReNew". Also we are looking to return to Honduras (for the fourth time) in June to visit our kids again. Please keep this in prayer. Blessings <><