Are you … Steve?

It was an odd, slightly hesitant salutation. I was speaking with one o f the pastors of the many churches on our street, and a woman approached and asked that. I said Yes, I’m Steve, and she explained that she is the new teacher in the school, for Gabby, Diana, Herlinda and Shirley. She gushed about how much she enjoyed our children and what a wonderful work we have. I then realized she had hesitated in asking my name, as she checked herself, because she keeps hearing about “Papa Steve” and I guess didn’t want to use that moniker. She went on to embarrass me by saying I must be a loving person, because the children obviously love me so much.

Diana, Shirley and Herlinda ready for school

I get embarrassed in those situations because it isn’t true. The children love me a lot, due to, I think, the wonderful home they live in and the wonderful way they were hard wired to love the big people in their lives. So, really, that compliment needs to go to Shyrel, for the beauty of the home and the hard work and love that maintains it, and to their heavenly father, for the beauty of these little creations, and the redeeming love that is at work here.

They really are loving and beautiful, and I receive comments like the teacher’s regularly. People notice, I think, the special joy these children have. I am amazed regularly, myself, how happy the children are. Ours really is a happy home. There really is a lot of Joy. And a lot of patience and love. There is a remarkable amount of kindness too, between the workers and the children, and between children. And they are pretty well behaved when out and about in our neighborhood.

Selvin and Bryan helping out front

Those attributes, though, aren’t fruit of our labor, although it takes a lot of work. Galatians 5:22 shows a different source of this fruit: the Holy Spirit. How does that fruit come to be? I believe that that is where our prayer partners come in. One of the strengths of our lives is the prayer covering our friends have provided since we first came to Guatemala. We can’t thank them enough.

PRAYER WORKS, I am here to testify. If you would like to receive prayer requests and updates that we don’t publish publicly, please e-mail me, and ask to be put on the list.

Bryan and Angel practicing what I mean

Not all our neighbors are happy to see a big group of cute albeit lively children, and as we played with the children in the new house Sunday evening, a neighbor came out on his balcony and and threw insults and comments about having a day care business in his neighborhood. Being deaf, I didn’t hear him, but Shyrel told me later. She took the brunt of his tirade, and took it as she does most suffering, very stoically, but I am sure it stung her. One wants to respond in these situations. Then as I went in to close up the house, she told the kids that this neighbor needed a blessing, and so she had the children all say in chorus “ God Bless you” as they left. A powerful response, and one, I have to admit, I wouldn’t have thought of.


You can go east or west…

But home is best

My mother used to have a plaque on our wall that said that. All my growing up, looking over the next fence or next horizon, it didn’t move me much. But this last Thursday, as I arrived again in Guatemala, I must now agree.

It was a great trip, with many good meetings and fellowships, and I really appreciate the kind hearted Americans who hosted and helped, and took time to hear me.

BUT…It’s good to be home! Friday was quite a day. This place is busy! Apart from my focus on getting the new house ready to use, I was impressed that there is a lot of activity here. Shyrel says she missed my help, but I think she was just being kind, as this is a well oiled machine, with a special touch of love. Having been away, maybe it is more clear to me to see love's effect rub off on the women who work with us. The combination of joy and diligence with which they care for the children is amazing. As we have grown, Shyrel has delegated various tasks that she had in the past perfomed herself, and it is encouraging for me to see our women do things well…and Shyrel right there as it all works like that clock. The routine is important, and the kindness with which it is maintained make for a flock of very contented babies.

Friday saw school, therapies, hospital visits, legal communications, then also the arrival of electricity at the new house. Oh yeah, lots of hugs and shouts and cards for the returning prodigal Papa. Shyrel was glad to turn over the finishing touches of the new house to me, and I finished up the painting inside by electric lights Friday night and Saturday. Teams, and friends had helped paint during March, so that we have new paint on all interior walls, and ceilings! We might get some help on the exterior walls from visitors in the next few months.

Friends who remember our move into the present house might remember our water woes back in August and September. This new house has a double cistern, and the water pump, after a few prayers and tech checking worked! Hallelujah! To celebrate, we had a water party over there on Sunday. We will finish cleaning and organizing and move a group of children over there this coming Saturday.

It was good to see our new additions, also; Dora,
who is Letty’s sister, and Estuardo, who got a beautiful lip thanks to the Surgeons of Faith in Practice. They got dressed up cutely for Letty’s Birthday which was Friday, but celebrated with a cake on Sunday.

Saturday too was full! Shyrel had promised Zoo visit, which was fun and followed by lunch at Pollo Campero. It was mainly a celebration of good grades at school. We received the first round of grades in March. Surprisingly good grades!

Letty and Michelle and Giraffes

Jose knows how to enjoy Pollo!

With an Ice Cream chaser, of course!


The life of Victoria Maria might best explain it.

She was born the fifth of November, 2006, very premature and very tiny. Victoria had many problems, and she was admitted to the National Hospital in Antigua on December 21st, three days before Christmas. Then her mother quietly slipped out of the picture, abandoning this weak, sick child.

Her mother is known to us only as a shadow of a name on a copy of a hospital form. We don’t know the mother’s story, but we know the story of women who have done similar things. In a society where rape is not a reported crime, maybe she was a victim of that heinous act. Maybe she was seduced by one of the millions of prowling peacocks in this macho country, looking to prove their manhood by impregnating, but not marrying a young woman, before moving on to the next conquest. Perhaps she had a husband, and has many more children. But the husband has left her and moved in with another woman, and her hard work to support and care for her children caused the premature birth. At this point, wondering too much only wastes our energy and tears, so we can only commend the mother to God, and look after Victoria.

Victoria lived in the National Hospital until February 12, when she was brought to our home by the Guatemalan equivalent to the Attorney’s General office. She was so weak, and so tiny. At 3 ½ months she weighed less than 4 pounds. The attorney said she had hydrocephaly, but we have since proved that diagnosis wrong: she has a cute little head, but her body is so tiny, the head could seem large in relation. She had respiratory issues, and apnea, a not clear condition that causes the child to stop breathing periodically, terrifying the caregiver. One cannot prove this, but I think they brought her to us so that she would not die in the hospital. In other words, you might say we were presented with a dead baby crying, instead of a dead man walking.

As we have seen over and over again in our journey with Jesus, Men and Demons deal in destruction and death; but Jesus turns destroyed lives into abundant ones, and converts death itself into life. Through God’s grace and the prayers of the saints, Shyrel was able to bring this precious little girl through to a proper diagnosis and treatment and care so that she is truly, a month after arriving in our home, a new creature. She has doubled in weight, and instead of lethargic and skeletal, is vibrant and active. So very precious.

It is fitting, this Easter season, to reflect on the redeeming, restoring and even resurrection power of our Lord. This is the time, when we can be assured that through every suffering moment, he is there with us. With proven empathy and power, he can make something beautiful out of each life. No matter how frail, or sick, or marginalized, Jesus brings new life. He is Life. He is Love.

For every Victoria saved there are so many who do not make it to our door. We want to be able to receive the children in need and plan on expanding as quickly as we can while maintaining a high level of quality in the care of these children. Won’t you consider how you might join with us as we join our Lord in redeeming precious lives? Each new arrival means more costs, and more prayers needed!

Thanks so much! Shyrel, and Steve and all the children of Amor del Niño.


That’s a fact, Jack!

I just read an article in which the writer made the statement:

“Evolution is a scientific fact”.

I was a bit surprised. I had always thought that even proponents of Evolution held that although they believe it is fact, it is unprovable, and therefore a Hypothesis, or Theory, scientifically. The writer of the article went on to say that today’s scientific fact might be disproved tomorrow.


That seems to undermine the meaning of “fact” in my dictionary.

I think I see where he was coming from. In the propaganda barrage against “intelligent design”, the major hurdle has been in placing scientific credulity on the description of events that happened up to 100 million years ago. The very distance makes that idea rather fantastic. We humans have a history of trying to use reason to discredit the miraculous. In the case of Evolution, it seems that to avoid the presence of a creator, we have had to jump to incredible lengths to explain … “creation”. And we end up playing fast and loose with definitions of words like scientific and fact. The alternative is unsettling to say the least, for people enamored with self determination.

In this season of remembrance, this reminded me of the guards at Jesus’ tomb, who constructed a crazy and self incriminating story, rather than agree with the Centurion, who simply stated: “Surely this man was the Son of God.”

We work hard at avoiding inconvenient truth. It must be human nature. Rather than using the God given reasoning abilities to get to know him better, many use that gift to avoid knowing Him at all.

But even as I want to think myself superior (being, after all, on the right side in this God vs No God controversy), I have to admit that I misuse my reasoning all the time. I grew up studying the bible extensively and intensively, and my reason at last brought me to the point of saying that if there was a God, he did not like me, and had hidden himself from my perception.

The only reason that I know Him today, is that I finally, at the end of myself, (much like the thief on the cross) said “I give up! Please, if you want a relationship with me, speak to me.” He did, and the rest is history. My history. A happy, rich story filled with joy, and anguish, and drama and comedy, and purpose, and failings, and a lot of love. One might call it an abundant life. When I relied on reasoning, I was pretty miserable. When I submitted my reasoning to his intervention, I found reality. I mean it: Reality.

Scientifically Proven Reality.

I can say with more integrity than the author of that article, that the Gospel is a scientific fact. I saw evidence to suggest it, then tested it, then verified the results. These are things that no evolutionist can reasonably claim to have done. My life is proof of the Gospel.

Still, nothing to feel superior about! Apart from His proof, His gracious revelation, I would still be stuck with my reasoning. But even now, my reasoning can make a mess, by still doing everything it can to avoid inconvenient truths. The truth is, I have not kept up my part of the eternal bargain I entered into when He offered to save me. Like loving my neighbor as much as I love myself. Like forgiving from the heart. Much less loving my enemies. The truth is I can’t. I want to alter the meaning of words. “What do you mean by LOVE?" " Who is my neighbor?“

How about you? Do you take the words of Jesus at face value? Or do you avoid those that are inconvenient?

So, I am glad the gospel is a fact. Not based on my perception, or reasoning, but based on the factual act of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of mankind. He gave himself freely, as a ransom for many, that first “Good Friday” so many years ago. Indeed, it does seem too good to be true. The hope of the Resurrection is celebrated (in odd ways, admittedly, with baskets and bunnies and brightly colored eggs) on Easter Sunday. But we can celebrate it every day we wake up and remember why He came, and why we are here.

In that hope, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me, and live the abundant life he intended, in spite of myself! And Heaven starts today, for those who want it!

Example of Heaven:
This is Victoria. She lives with us. Tomorrow I will tell you about Victoria's resurrection.

You can test this theory by coming and visiting us at Amor del Niño. Or find your own slice of Heaven. It's everywhjere, for those who have eyes ot see!



I am almost home!

And look what’s waiting for me! That's my children out at Lake Amatitlan for an Easterweek picnic.

Then there's Shirley, Gabby and Diana.......part of the anticipated welcoming committee.

But most of all....
My wife of 14 years ( as of March 26) who never ceases to amaze me.

I have been traveling and visiting around the great country, and have really appreciated the kindness and fellowship I have received from so many wonderful old and new friends. This trip more than any other ( maybe it is my eyes changing, rather than the people my eyes saw) I saw the body of Christ, spread across the country, and across denominational and cultural lines. I am encouraged to see and hear more words and actions that weren’t part of the Church landscape just a little while ago. Folks responding to Jesus’ sacrifice we celebrate the weekend by sacrificially helping their neighbors, their countrymen, and then people in other countries.

I love this country, and I love my brothers and sisters that live here. We are doing many things better than any other country in the history of the world. Let’s keep focusing on the betterment, and being even better ourselves, as we take a moment and consider that God sent the VERY BEST when he sent Jesus to Calvary. What happened on that God forsaken hill near Jerusalem to that God forsaken Savior that Friday so many years ago is worthy of our best response. ONWARD AND UPWARD!

I was directed to the following link by one of my favorite blogs, and if you stay with me till I figure out how to put links on the side of this page, I will include that blog. But in the mean time, I am cyber plagiarizing, I guess. I thought the Ad Council’s campaign was pretty good, and poignant and worth linking. It’s about “almost giving”.

I do that around the house. I continually almost did the dishes, and almost picked up my dirty clothes before Shyrel got around to it.

Shyrel can testify that I say “almost” out of context a lot. I use it to say “ I almost did that” rather than the correct way, as in “I am almost finished with this trip.”


I am so glad that Jesus didn’t almost save, but rather, saved to the uttermost. I am sad that many of us, his followers, almost do what he said to therefore do.