It is hard to believe that it has been a month since our family returned from Haiti. Thank you for all the prayers. Zion and Moriah did well with the traveling and our full scheduled while we were there. I felt so blessed to be able to show Zion and Moriah the CRP Campus and it was exciting to see the campus with all the buildings complete and the Homes full of energetic children.
As I sat through the Church Dedication Service with the LSM Staff and the children and parents from all 18 LSM Homes of Hope I was amazed how God brought so many people together to Glorify His Name. The Campus may have our family’s name on it but it exists because the body of Christ in Haiti and in the United States came together to offer their time, talents and resources. As I reflected on the part Zach and I had in making the campus a reality, I was humbled by the fact that our names are even on it because most of the work was done by other people. I praise God that when each of us does the small part God asks us to do amazing work can be done for His Kingdom.
Please continue to pray for the CRP Campus as the most difficult work nurturing, loving, and teaching children remains. Pray that the parents will be given wisdom beyond their human ability to speak truth into the lives of these precious children.
Now for some pictures:
Choir of Homes of Hope Children singing during the dedication service
CRP Church Decorated for the Dedication Service
Zion with the boys who live in the Mt. Zion Home of Hope
Classroom at the CRP School
Moriah with some of her new friends
Jenny with some of the boys who live in the Ezekiel Home of Hope.
Moriah walked/ran all around campus with the other girls.
Zion was busy playing, but he did stop for a few pictures.
Our Team: Rick, Jen, Doug, Moriah, Jenny, Mike, Carmon, Danny, and Zion
The fact that it has been almost five years since Zach was diagnosed with cancer is hard to wrap my mind around. At times it feels like not very long ago and at other times it feels like a life-time ago. The story God has been writing through my life is not what I would have written, but I rest in the fact that it is His story. As I listened to the song Glory and Honor on the Home CD today I was again reminded “Worthy is the Lamb.” Yes the journey has been hard but because my Savior took this journey with me I will look back on it and praise God that His Son is Worthy of any suffering I am asked to go through on this earth.
On Friday Zion, Moriah, and I are scheduled to travel to Haiti. As we prepare attend the CRP Church and Campus Dedication on Sunday I find myself with mixed emotions. There is no doubt in my mind that this campus is evidence of God’s amazing work and for that I rejoice. I look forward to introducing Zion and Moriah to the children who have a home and a future because of the work that God did through Zach’s life. I look forward praising God with the families from all 18 LSM Homes of Hope as we celebrate the fact that another church is open to nurture believers and to point the lost to Jesus.
Although I can find many things to celebrate, another part of me grieves because for me this campus represents the pain and loss my children and I have experienced over the last five years of our lives. How am I going to I explain to Zion and Moriah that we can celebrate at the same time we are sad? How do I speak words of comfort and hope to 72 children whose journey to the CRP Campus has been equally if not more painful than my own? The reality is that as humans we can not begin to understand or explain all the reasons suffering exists on this earth. Instead of trying to figure it all out we must look to Jesus our Savior and Redeemer, trusting that His promises are true.
Please join me in praying that the Dedication Service can glorify our Great God. Pray for safety for all of us who are traveling to the Campus. Pray that this weekend can be a time of encouragement for the parents and staff who are faithfully caring for the needs of the children who live in the Homes of Hope.
I will leave you with verses from Isaiah 40 that someone shared with me this week.
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon theLord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31
…What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.-Mark 11:24b
When you pray, BELIEVE. Believe that prayer changes things. Believe that Jesus is interceding on your behalf. Believe that God is at work in the situation. Believe that God is using you to pray for requests that He will answer to glorify Himself. Believe that your prayer will be answered in some way and in some time
“The idea that everything would happen exactly as it does regardless of whether we pray or not is a specter that haunts the minds of many who sincerely profess belief in God. It makes prayer psychologically impossible, replacing it with dead ritual at best.”
From Prepare to Die and Then Live-Devotion for March 9th.
This devotion caused me to ask myself if I really BELIEVE in the power of prayer? For me believing seems easier when I get an quick answer. The times when I am discouraged and pray for help and then a few hours later realize that God answered my prayer and my day is going better than expected. When I pray for words to speak to someone and the words come. When I pray for someone to talk to and the phone rings.
Do I still BELIEVE when answers do not come right away or in the way I expect? Do I struggle when answers do not come after days, months, years? Do I still believe when God says “no” or shuts a door? Do keep praying for people I love who continue to turn their backs on Christ year after year? Do I still believe when instead of fixing a hard situation in my life God chooses to gives me grace face that situation day after day?
If someone else could observe the amount of time I spend in prayer each day would they know I BELIEVE in the power of prayer? Would the content of my prayers reflect an attitude of belief? Would they see that I notice when God answers my prayers and that I respond with prayers of thanks?
These thoughts are convicting to me. I do BELIEVE in prayer, but I know that some days I do not take the time to pray like I should. I am always humbled when someone tells me they pray for me on a daily basis, because I am very aware that I am hesitant to tell someone else the same. I know that over the last few years I have been held up by the prayers of those who faithfully pray for me every week and even every day.
Who does God want me to pray for on a regular basis? Who is God asking you to bring before His throne? Satan wants us to be overwhelmed by the number people we could pray for. He wants us to give up because we can not possibly pray for everyone we know on a daily basis. Satan wants us to stop praying when our prayers are not answered in our time frame or in the way that we expect. Our Great God asks us to have the faith to KEEP PRAYING AND KEEP BELIEVING
I must apologize for my lack of updates during my trip to Haiti. My trip did not go as we had planned because I got sick with in 24 hours of arriving and didn’t start feeling better until after I returned to the U.S. While I was sitting at the Port-au-Prince Airport waiting for my flight home I found myself asking God why He would allow me to travel to Haiti just to miss out on most of the activities that I had come to participate in? I could not come up with a good answer, so I started reading one of the books I brought with me and came across the following quote that reminded me that “why” really was not the question I should be asking.
“Learning not to ask “Why me? but rather, “What am I supposed to learn at this junction of life that will make me a better person and draw me closer to God?” We shouldn’t pout, asking God to get us out of the circumstances. Instead of crying, “Lord, get me out of here!” we should instead be praying, “Lord, why have you brought me here?” (Karen Ehman, Let It Go, p. 53)
I have been back from my trip for over a week now and I haven’t figured out what God wants me to learn from being sick, but I trust He had a purpose and that He will continue to draw me closer to Him.
When I think about my trip three pictures stand out in my mind. The first is of 24 children laying on cement floors in two small rooms all sleeping, completely exhausted from the nine hour trip that brought them from their home community to Les Cayes. As I looked at the precious children I wondered if they realized that soon they would be sleeping in their own beds, eating three meals a day, attending school, and benefiting from the love of a mother and father.
The second picture is of 24 children coloring pictures in the hospital waiting room as they waited for their medical exams. In this room I saw the great potential these children have. Their sweet smiles, their brave faces after having blood drawn for their medical tests, and their desire to please my sister, Joy, and I with their coloring abilities brought me great joy as I reflected on the fact that I had the honor of being part in giving them the gift of a family.
The third picture is one I actually didn’t see. Since I was sick I experienced the dedication of the Daniel and Esther Homes of Hope from a mattress in a second floor room with a window to the church. Hearing the children who live at the CRP Campus sing was enough to bring tears to my eyes. These amazing children that I watched arrive at the CRP Campus in April and December of 2012 singing praises to God in loud excited voices as part of a service to welcome 24 more children to the CRP family. Our dream of having 72 children living on the CRP Campus is now a reality. God is so good. Thank you for your part providing these children with a home and a family. Please continue to pray for these new children as they adjust to their new family.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Matthew 5:14
As I consider the Cancer Redemption Campus today, Matthew 5:14 came to mind. People traveling in the area of the CRP Campus cannot miss seeing it. It stands out from the air and the gate at the entrance catches the attention of those traveling on the road. The location of the campus dedicated to God’s service is higher than that of the witch doctor’s home just a short distance away. On Sundays the gate opens to the public so the church can offer a place of worship for the community.
The CRP Campus is a physical picture of how our lives should be. It is not part of God’s plan for us to keep our faith hidden from those around us. God wants us to share our faith so that people “may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16). These verses are convicting to me. They make me wonder how long it takes for someone I meet for the first time to realize that I am a follower of Christ. Is there anyone I have met more than once that doesn’t know that I am a Christian? Do I take advantage of the routine question: “How are you?” by giving an answer that communicates my faith in a genuine way?
My prayer is that I can continue to reflect on these questions as I go through the next few days. My desire is with God’s help to shine brightly for Christ.
On Sunday I am scheduled to fly on four different planes and spend time in five different airports. My full travel schedule will not allow for me to attend a church service, but my desire is to have a heart of worship. Throughout my day I will have a lot of chances to meet new people and share my faith if I keep my eyes open for opportunities instead of focusing on what ever books or activities I bring along to occupy my time.
The travel sounds exhausting, but I am really excited about my final destination: HAITI. My last trip was two years ago this month and so much has changed. There are two more homes on the CRP Campus, there is a Church/School, and the children in first four CRP Homes of Hope have had two years to adjust to their families. I cannot wait to feel their arms around me and hear their excited voices. I am most excited about the special gift that I get to be part of giving. If all goes as planned 24 precious children will be given the gift that children need most: THE GIFT OF A LOVING CHRISTIAN FAMILY. Yes, construction is complete, godly parents have been found, and children are anxiously waiting to move to their new homes. In someways the opening of the Daniel and Esther Homes of Hope will be a celebration, but in other ways it will be a time of grieving. These children have lost so much. They have lost parents, they have lost safety, they have been abused and neglected, they have experienced trauma that most of us can not even imagine, and they have no reason to believe that their new homes will be a better place for them. They will be scared and vulnerable. I will likely see tears in their eyes. Moving day is the beginning of a long process for their new parents to share Jesus’s love and bring healing into their lives. Please join me in praying this “City on a Hill” can be a place of refuge for these children.
P.S. Check the CRP website often next week as I plan to post pictures and updates from Haiti.
I was blessed to attend a conference over the weekend focused on parenting Adopted Children. One of the presenters Jon Bergeron (www.hopefororphans.com) spoke about having the right goals as we parent children who have experienced trauma, loss, neglect, and abuse (and really all children).
The 4 goals he suggested are:
1-Complete whole child healing. Addressing a child’s spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional healing, while remembering that none of us will be completely healed until we get to heaven.
2-That our children be adopted into God’s family. Showing our children the same grace and forgiveness that Jesus shows us as He deals with the broken parts of who we are.
3-Attachment to us as parents and more importantly the ability to develop a relationship with God.
4-Success for our children as defined by God’s Word, not our culture’s definition of success. Giving our children the tools they need to use the talents God has given them to serve our Heavenly Father. The end result being that one day God can say to them “Well done, Good and Faithful Servant.”
These goals are a good reminder to me as I think about parenting my own children. It is humbling to realize that as parents we will make many mistakes and how desperately we need God to fill in the gaps where we fail our children.
Please join me in praying for the four couples who are currently parenting children at the Cancer Redemption Campus and for the two couples who will be joining them soon as parents of the Daniel and Esther Homes of Hope. Becoming the parents of 12 children who have experienced great trauma is a huge undertaking that these couples can not succeed at without a great amount of wisdom from our God.
Building continues at the CRP Campus. Our original goal was to open the Daniel and Esther Homes of Hope over the summer, but focus shifted to finishing the Church/School building when it was decided to host the 2014 Vacation Bible School at the campus. The LSM Staff in Haiti worked countless hours to prepare the building and campus to for the over 300 people who spent five days learning about Jesus, renewing friendships, eating, and sleeping. Can you imagine hosting a sleepover for that many people over a period of that many days? It was a huge task. VBS was a blessing to all who attended and the CRP Campus proved to be a wonderful location for the event. To read about VBS check out the LSM blog: https://loving-shepherd.org/blog/.
With VBS over the construction workers are making progress on the Daniel and Esther Homes of Hope. While LSM’s Vice President Doug Isch was in Haiti last week he had the opportunity to participate in the interview of a godly Christian couple who we hope will become the parents of one of these Homes. Pastor Wilfred and Jan Gutwein are starting the difficult process of visiting churches in impoverished communities to identify children most in need of a home and a family. Please pray that God will direct the staff to the children He wants to live at the CRP Campus and that He will provide another couple to parent these children. Lord-willing we plan to move children into the Daniel and Esther Homes of Hope in December of 2014.