Feb 16

Look for MY love

Eve M. Harrell, Identify Team Member

“Innocence on the face of a sleeping child is so very sweet. When my children were babies I would spend hours watching them as they breathed in and out, enjoying the sweet murmurs as they dreamed. Oh my, I am so very thankful for God’s Love in the eyes of my children. My greatest prayer is that all mothers know this blessing.

As a young girl, I went to a Baptist Church. We had a revolving door of missionaries in and out sharing stories of children in need, families suffering along with beautiful stories of grace as God moved in the hearts of those they served. All very touching but there was this little voice inside of me that would always cry to God, “Please don’t ask me to be a missionary, please don’t ask me to be a missionary … “

When the call came for me to go on a mission trip, I found it amusing considering my background. But there is just something about watching your children grow up that places a tug on your heart for those who may be in need. My Pastor said something that marked me that year, “We are all called to go, the question is, will you answer the call?”

I said YES.

My first trip to Haiti in 2013 proved to be one of the most marking experiences of my life. I watched the Hand of God move in a way that I had never witnessed before. Stories written on our hearts included God’s love and grace intertwined within the knowledge that WE did very little, the truth is that the blessings were ours as the community reached out to serve us. God moved through us all.

In November of 2016, God served to mark me once more when He called me to GO.

I wish I could tell you that age had dismantled my fear over mission work; on the contrary, my ole’ nemesis was working overtime as he threatened my peace in the days leading up to my “YES.” But then God would remind me to “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

The Lord is with me WHEREVER I go!!! Once again my heart would choose obedience as I joined with 3 kindred spirits and we made our journey to the beautiful country of Guatemala.

In Central America, Guatemala has many neighbors including Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Winning the designation of “most populated state in Central America,” Guatemala is booming with a population of around 15.8 million. This became very apparent as we entered Guatemala City and saw the scores of people on buses, in automobiles and courageously crossing roads where cars have the right-of-way.

If you were to peer into my journal from that week, you would recognize the Father’s fingerprints interspersed with the delight of a daughter’s heart finding His little blessings along the way….”

For the full story, please visit the Identify website here: http://www.identifythemission.org/single-post/look-for-my-love

Feb 16

CAFO, Christian Alliance for Orphans, Summit 2017

Feb 15

The best laid plans of mice and men

timothy martiny with babySometimes, things don’t go as planned. Despite our best efforts, despite our good intentions, despite the fact that we may have even done things correctly. They…just…don’t…turn…out.

Missionaries are the same as regular people, like you. We want to do well. We all want there to be fruit from our labors. We want those that we give our lives in service to, to appreciate our efforts and, even more so, we want the work we do for them to impact their lives for the better.

Yet it doesn’t always turn out the way that we had hoped. Sometimes the things we have taught are ignored; sometimes the truths we share are forgotten; sometimes, yes, sometimes people just want to do things their own way.

And when they do so, how are we called to respond and react? Sharie and I were faced with one such situation recently.

“Hannah” (name changed for privacy), one of the girls we had worked with for years, decided to leave the orphanage about two years ago. She was of age, had finished her studies, and a relative offered to get her a place to stay. The directive staff at the orphanage was opposed to the decision and did their best to encourage her to stay, but, despite their best efforts she chose to leave.

For a while, other than an occasional photo on Facebook, where she seemed to be doing well, we didn’t see or hear much from her. After about a year we felt led to reach out to her and it turned out her life was not as rosy as she would have had people believe. She had gotten a short term job, squandered her money, and, after ending up homeless and hungry, was staying with a friend, .

We immediately had her over to our house to pray, counsel, and encourage her. Over the course of a few months we got her a place to stay as well as a job, she did well, until she didn’t. At some point she became familiar and ungrateful with her situation and ended up losing both her job and housing.

After that, she went off the radar and we didn’t hear anything until one of the other girls we work with told us why; she had gotten pregnant.

Finding out that news was difficult. I was both frustrated with her and discouraged with myself. Where had I gone wrong? In what way had I failed her? Was there anything I could have done to avert this outcome?

I spent a lot of time in prayer, searching my heart. We love the “kids” we work with; we want the best for them. We know how hard it is for them to make their way in life as it is, much more so as single mother.

There were times when I cried, wishing I had done better. Wishing I had more to give her, wishing somehow, someway, that I could have done…something.

Sharie and I have been serving in Guatemala for 13 years, we have six children, yet, at times, due to the bonds forged over many years serving these children, it seems like we have more.

Julia, our oldest daugther is 17 years old. Even though we understand from a theoretical point of view that she is becoming an adult, is her own person and needs to make her own choices, we are finding the practical application of accepting that hard to deal with.

Realizing that our job is to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4, and trusting that if we “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6, is a hard to do when it finally comes time to letting go of them.

Yet it is a lesson we are learning.

We kept in contact with H., and when she had her daughter, we called her up to congratulate her. Even though the circumstances through which this came about are not ideal, we still believe in celebrating every life as the beautiful gift of God, which it is, something precious to be treasured and appreciated.

Sharie spent many hours in phone calls and messaging with her on Facebook, letting her know we loved her, cared for her and were happy that God had blessed her with a beautiful, healthy daughter.

We found someone who was traveling out to the small town where she was staying and prepared a gift package of baby clothes, toys, and necessities.

The reality of what our relationship is to these girls whom we have spent a lifetime pouring into, struck home the other day when she told Sharie that we were the only people to call her to see how she was doing, congratulate her pray with her.

It was at that moment that I got a greater sense of clarity, “The best-laid plans of mice and men, go oft awry”. We can plan, strategize and do our best to help these girls make the best of their lives, yet ultimately, they will go their own way, do their own thing, and have to learn from their mistakes.

Our job is not to make their decisions FOR them, but to BE there for them, a constant in their lives, so that when they fail, they will fail forward. When they fall, they will have someone to pick them up, and when they feel that no one cares for them or loves them, we will be there, just as our heavenly Father is for us.

We recently arranged for Hannah to come visit us. We celebrated her birthday and got to see her beautiful baby girl. We had cake and presents but, most importantly, we prayed for her and the responsibility she has as a mother to this child.

When I took her home that night, she thanked me for being there for her, for not judging her, for not condemning her, for caring for her and not giving up on her even though she knows she made some choices that we might disagree with. As we hugged and said goodbye I told her we love her because God loves her with an everlasting love and that He is always there for her, no matter what.

This is a story written by Timothy Martiny, a missionary serving in Guatemala, to read the original post on his website and find out more about the mission work he does, click here: http://www.missionarytim.com/the-best-laid-plans-of-mice-and-men/

Feb 14

Then and Now

Graduation of students at the orphanage fundaninosAt the end of this school year we attended the school graduation ceremony at the orphanage Fundaninos. In Guatemala there are certain years that tradition mandates are celebrated with a graduation ceremony, when students complete “Prepa” (the grade before 1st grade), 6th grade, and 9th grade.

Standing there looking at the students receiving their diplomas, I couldn’t help but be struck by how far some of them had come.

We have been serving at Fundaninos for eight years. Yet I remember like yesterday the first day I drove out there to setup our, very limited, computer lab. I remember the first English classes and computer classes when some of these students were too shy to even speak up, and didn’t know how to place their hands the keyboards as they had never touched a computer before.

I remember the look of awe on their faces as the letters they punched on the keys translated into words on the screen, and how happy they were when they finished their typing class and got to play an educational computer game.

I remember the first day Evelyn, Joselyn and Stacy came into the English class and the smiles on their faces when I invited them to have a seat and participate in language learning games.

I remember how much all the kids enjoyed it when I divided the classroom into two groups, often boys vs. girls, and had them compete to see who could get the most correct answers as that group would get to go in for computer classes first.

I remember when Chupete told me that he was bored in English class because he knew all the answers, and how he loved it when I asked him to man the computer instead.

Students in our first carpentry classes

I remember when I appointed Fatima as my assistant, and she would help me when I got stuck with Spanish words and oversee the students in the computer classroom.

I remember when I told them if they memorized enough verses, they would get their own Bible, and how each and every one of them did just that.

I also remember how the kids loved showing up to classes, whether because they liked me, or liked the bananas and nut I would bring for snack at the end of the class, I don’t know, but it didn’t matter, they were there.

A friend of mine reminds me how on his first mission so long ago, I went out and played soccer in cowboy boots with the kids, it was probably more due to the fact that they were the only pair of shoes I had at the time and not a desire to be a “cool” cowboy soccer player.

I remember the first time we had all the girls over to our house for youth group, and how though I didn’t really know what we were going to do, I knew that inviting them over, bringing them into our house, and giving them community was important.

All these memories, and more, came to mind as I saw student after student, that I had poured my life, heart and soul into, get up, stand tall, and receive their diploma. To see how far they had come, and that I have been blessed to walk alongside them through the ups and downs, joys and sorrows. To celebrate birthdays, Christmases, and well…life, with them, has been a wonderful experience.

Evelyn learning to typeA fellow missionary told me recently how he was jealous that I was blessed to get to see my students grow up, make their way in the world, and lead fruitful lives. I thought about it for a minute, and then thought back on the 14 years we have been in Guatemala being faithful to the scriptural calling to serve the orphaned, fatherless and vulnerable I told him that yes, we were blessed to see fruit in our ministry, but that that blessing required obedience, years of diligently serving those that God led us to, often in places where no one could see.

Being True rue to our mission to love each and every life that God put in front of us, to serve them and help them get to the next step, whatever that was. Believing that if we were faithful to plant a seed in someone’s heart, water and tend to a soul, trusting that someone, someday, would get to see the fruit. Confident that the conviction that God had given us to serve was more important than the passion we might or might not feel in the moment, that somehow enabled us to carry on long enough in ministry. So at long last to see the fruits of our labors is an amazing gift, and while we don’t deserve it, feel so very blessed to have.

As I saw the students file away off stage with their diplomas, and I looked at all those sitting in the audience, I couldn’t help but feel excited at how I might look back, 14 years from now, and think back on all the new memories I will have.

For original article and to find our more about the missionary work of Timothy Martiny and Sharie Martiny, a missionary couple serving in Guatemala. Visit their website: http://www.missionarytim.com/then-and-now/

Feb 12

EMPOWERING WOMEN THROUGH BUSINESS AS MISSION

cafe du monde Guatemala

Our journey in orphan care over 14 years has been a fun and interesting one. We started out as a ministry initially focused on evangelism to orphaned and vulnerable children. Like all missionaries, the heart of all we did was related to our desire to share the “Good News” with those we were called to serve. Over time, as we worked and learned; we saw that in order to properly serve them, we had to meet their physical needs, and as well prepare them for life. Our programs expanded to include educational, vocational programs of computer, woodworking, engineering, and culinary arts classes.

The students were hungry to learn, they enjoyed the classes and did well in them. Yet, one thing we saw time and time again, was students struggled to find decent jobs.

Guatemala, like most less developed countries, has high unemployment, and we found our students continually competing for work from people who were better connected, trained and had more flexibility in their work hours and transportation. That, coupled with the learning curve for children who have spent most of their lives somewhat isolated growing up in an orphanage and lack the family and social support structure that most others have, led us to consider creating employment options for the long term residents of the children’s home we work with.

Our objective was to create a business that tied in with our existing vocational training programs and provided a safe place to work, in a healthy work environment with patient bosses that will help them develop their job skills.

To view the full article visit: http://www.missionarytim.com/empowering-women-through-business-as-mission/

 

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