I really fell off the edge of the earth regarding this blog. I will come back, once the world slows down a little. In the meantime, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get prayer updates, and also, check out Brennan's Blog. Brennan has made a 6 month commitment to serve the least of these, and started a blog a while ago. He can fill you in on some of the stuff happening in our neck of the world at
This just came out over the international press
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/07/23/guatemala.babies.ap/?iref=hpmostpopIt is the final vindication for Ana Escobar, who we met back in October, as she searched for her stolen baby among the children in our home. (see blog)
She never gave up in the face of public ridicule and official indifference.
We are so happy for Ana. In an understatement, she called it a miracle. Nothing less. And she had stormed heaven's gates, pleading for a miracle for a full year, even as she wandered the streets and the web of hogares in search of her daughter. The final breakthrough occurred during a time of prayer and fasting. The press called it a hunger strike. I guess you could call it that when we stop eating till God hears us.
Ana represents a number of women, many of whom will never regain their child. Unless more miracles occur.
Justice, sadly happens in spite of the system here, rather than because of it.
Let's pray and fast for further miracles here. We need many more before we can say that there is justice in Guatemala.
I finally got a hold of a picture...well worth a thousand words of the two of them 8 years later.
So I was encouraged by an article in today’s paper.
Here is the link
but the point was that many of the young men and women in the training program for the next generation of Police have the attitude to protect and serve. There is a long way to go, but there is reason for encouragement. One reason is our friend, Albert Mendoza, who is a veteran cop from
Why post this today? Shouldn’t I be talking about something of eternal significance that is being remembered all over the world? Well, this is what the true resurrection Sunday celebration is all about: a newness and change in a country and it’s institutions towards justice and life. Compassion instead of self interest is a reflection of our servant savior. As I said, the Police were not thought of very highly in the past. “Lazy bullies” was often their well earned reputation. The article stated that many wonder why young people would go into a profession that had that rep in the past.. The answer from the recruits interviewed included serving their society, and people in need. The training and rigor back up that more altruistic sentiment. Pray for the PNC!
Now you may return to your previously scheduled Easter Egg Hunt.
Opened up the paper, and there on the headliner, is the title of my favorite movie. "The good, the bad, and the ugly". and, yup, there is my picture in the proper order. sheesh
The blurb next to the ugly old guy speaks of the threats, and "ugly" is presumably referring to the judicial system....
The threats do not worry us, we have been in hotter situations
Finally...you know you are in Guatemala when...
The sign is from a supermarket trying to counter Walmart's encroachment, and states: "We're Guatemalans..." in slang. But you know by the men putting it up that they are not in the land of OSHA!
Alicia has worked for us for about a year. Her appearance can be disconcerting due to the intensity of her expression and bone structure reminiscent of Native American warriors. She came to work when her husband developed a disabling disease, and she had to start supporting the family. She lives in the poorest part of the Ghetto known as Peronia. She has always been a hard worker, but really blossomed as an important part of our children’s care as she understood that part of her job is to play with the children. It is fun to see her play with the children intensely, then look embarrassed when another adult appears.
Jose as Winston Churchill
Helvin has his own intensely cute way of looking
Victoria and Carlitos just goofing around
You may remember that last fall, our home was subjected to a forced extraction of 15 children who had been placed under our care. As an apparent tactic to force us to stand aside as the children under our care were improperly removed, an order for our arrest, and 6 month restriction on our ability to leave the country, were included in the action.
The children were part of 46 children who were removed from a home in
We certainly didn’t need the headache that came with receiving children in a very publicized case, but received the children as we do all: with their welfare as our first priority. That has been our attitude throughout the proceedings.
A little background: When a wrongdoing is suspected involving a child, the first concern is that the child is safe, and then that the situation is investigated. So the children are placed in temporary custody with us (or one of the homes similar to ours). This custody changes only when a definitive resolution is written by the presiding children’s court judge. In 95% of the cases, it is written at the end of a final audience, which follows a preliminary audience that is convened to “determine the facts”. The average time for this double audience process is about a year. The 5% is when the facts of the case are so apparent to all concerned, that the judge makes a definitive decision with the agreement of all involved.
So it was with dismay back in October, that we read the resolution of the children’s court judge after the preliminary hearing, stating paradoxically that no investigation had occurred, and that the cases were free of anomalies. We, as well as the rest of the world, had watched the CNN report that had investigated only one case of the 46. There were questions raised. We had also wondered about dubious parts of the paperwork we, as custodians of the children, were privy to. We felt strongly that in the best interests of the children, and of their future adoptive parents, an honest investigation needed be part of the exoneration. We did not understand the motivation of the judge to short circuit due process. We found out later that the Ministerio Publico, the organization tasked with the investigation of cases such as this, had been frustrated in their attempts to attain pertinent paperwork and identities of the people involved. We learned that information we had, as parties to the care and protection of the children, had been withheld from the investigators. Later, as the MP tried to verify the children’s identities once and for all, and allow the children with clear records join their adoptive parents, this same judge attempted to block them again and again.
So as we read the resolution, we had a crisis of values. We truly believed that the majority of the children would be better off in the homes of the adoptive families waiting for a speedy resolution. But we knew in our guts that there were anomalies. We had also met one of the mothers who was searching for her stolen child, and evidence pointed towards adoptions syndicates. That was heart rending.
So we appealed the ruling. The judge responded by ordering our arrest. Later, after correcting that “grave error” (her words) she then indicted Shyrel in the Adult court system for “disobedience” for not responding to the resolution that we had appealed. This accusation was acted upon, and we appeared before the proper judge and presented our case. THAT IS HOW YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO RESPOND WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF A CRIME YOU DO NOT THINK YOU COMMITTED. Shyrel was exonerated. A resolution under appeal cannot be acted upon until the appeal is resolved.
Because of these extreme actions against us by the judge, we asked for an “Antejuicio” which is a request for a repeal of the immunity enjoyed by sitting judges. The idea is that this action strips officials of impunity in their actions. They become like the rest of us: subject to the law.
While the judicial actions AGAINST us came about with lightning speed, our appeal, and antejuicio seemed to have been shelved. Finally, the appeal was heard on the 20th of February. We received the resolution of the appeal hearing last Friday,
So, what, you ask, does all this have to do with us today? Well, we went to the Supreme Court as the appellate ruling had been issued. There we were interviewed, and explained the above…and the fact that we continue to receive threats.
February, as we all exited the “sala de apelaciones” (appeals court) , the owner of Casa Quivira, sensing, I am sure, the loss of the judicial battle, spoke of getting us. That seemed to jive with cars and people acting oddly in front of our home after the children had left which had reminded us of activity prior to the children’s leaving. We had ascribed it to residual paranoia. We also had received a warning that our bank accounts in the
So our desire today was to try to press upon the Supreme Court that 1) The majority of decisions in courts throughout the land have agreed we have acted properly, and those opposed to us have not. 2) We continue to receive threats from persons connected with this case and judge. 3) Please protect us by removing the protection of one who has demonstrated a will to do us harm.
The bottom line of this legal battle is that we want to continue doing what we came here 11 years ago to do: care for children at risk, and collaborate with all of good will who would do the same.
Meanwhile, the fate of the children involved in this tragic unraveling of deception and lawless behavior is not clear. That is the sad part. These children, who we came to love while in our home, should have been on their way to their new adoptive parents, after verification of what was advertised as a legitimate enterprise. But the investigation was resisted from the beginning. It is now clear why. The real shame is that many of the mothers who had supposedly given their children over to be adopted cannot be found. That makes it hard to verify and allow the child to leave! Other cases involve switched identities. Laws were broken.
In a perfect world, the guilty would be punished, and the innocent allowed to move on with their lives. That would be the
Hands of Hope Medical Missions. Changed lives
So let me get this straight. This Christian Medical missions organization keeps inviting non-Christians to come along on their trips? About 10 years ago, they invited (horror of horrors) a nurse in the middle of a divorce, who had not crossed a church threshold in ages, who was a bit pushy to boot.
Of course, the worst case scenario happened. A baby who had been brought to their medical clinic, pretty malnourished, and very sick, had stopped breathing while her mother waited patiently in line. This hard headed but soft hearted nurse was told that a baby was dying. “Oh no she’s not!” was her obviously non-calvinistic reply. The baby, although not dead, was breathing at a rate of 3 – 4 respirations a minute. That’s pretty much as dead as you can get this side of the mortuary. The nurse started CPR, and kept it up for about 12 hours, as they navigated to a national hospital, then tried unsuccessfully to turn the baby over, then used the hospital facilities to sustain, and save the life of the baby.
OK, those who do not believe in miracles may say there was not one here. Effort, and compassion, and what not. But those of us who enjoy seeing the miraculous can log a bunch. The fact that this particular hard headed nurse was at this particular needy village when the particular dear mother brought this particular very needy child, because people had orchestrated this trip in the name of Jesus to bring life to the poor of this all may have been a coincidence. I don’t think so. Neither does the nurse. It shook her to the bones. Changed her life forever. She now leads the communion service that is the traditional last rite of the team’s 3 yearly visits to
Every step of this journey could have been halted by the reasonable observations that there was too much going on in her own life, that there were other people who could minister to these people, that the baby was gone, that the national hospital didn’t have the wherewithal to help the dying baby…and any of those would have resulted in one more baby dying, and one more divorced woman leading a life of at best, quiet desperation.
But because that is not what happened…we got to witness this week, Trina visit Teresa, who is now 8 years old, and healthy as can be, and doing well in school. AND we got to participate in Jessica’s baptism. Jessica is Trina’s 20 year old daughter who had been severely hurt by the divorce, and had lived destructively for 8 years as she felt it was her fault.
People come on these trips to change lives….hee hee
"Poor, conflict-ridden countries may be condemned to arrested development for years, if not decades… These are countries with significant weaknesses and have the potential to exhibit fragility and whose performance fall within the bottom quintile in at least one of the four core areas of state function or in the second quintile in at least two core areas.
They include …
"The weakest states by region are: …
"They defined it thus: “countries that lack the essential capacity and/or will to fulfill four sets of critical government responsibilities: fostering an environment conducive to sustainable and equitable economic growth; establishing and maintaining legitimate, transparent, and accountable political institutions; securing their populations from violent conflict and controlling their territory; and meeting the basic human needs of their population.”
Part of me wants to deny these reports. The part of me that feels Guatemalan, and has an emotional bond to my adopted homeland. But part of me wants to shout: “of course!!!”
He had just “preached” a 10 minute sermon prior to taking up the offering, basically saying that if people gave to the offering, God would bless and multiply. He pretty much said this divine alchemy would only work if they gave all they had. Then the after the offering prayer was all about “Us” giving to “you, oh Lord, and we pray that you use it all for your glory”.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for people giving to the Lord’s work, and that God would use it well, and even that he bless folks who focus on giving rather than receiving. But I am starting to get leery of pastors who seem to be manipulating folks and their relationship to God, to get funds to work with. Admittedly, we need money to do God’s work. And much of God’s work on this earth is funded by the free will offerings of His people. But we step out on a slippery slope when we start to encourage people ot give to a fund that we have sole control of.
This pastor, for example, in his prayer, ignored the fact that he was going to be the person making the decisions of how this money was to be spent. A prayer along the lines of “Help us and guide us as we administer your providence”, although kind of pretentious, would have set better with me. Somehow, it just seemed like deception to not acknowledge that He ( the pastor ) would be handling the funds.
One of the things I find so refreshing about the bible, as opposed to other sacred scriptures, is that it covers instructions for all of the types of folks who walk the earth. For instance, to the unsaved, it says pretty clearly: “Repent, and be converted” And to the saved, it says pretty clearly : “Repent, my beloved, and be converted”. But the instructions for the Levites, those who were to handle the offerings of God’s people were right there, to be heard and then read by all of the people. There was an incredible built in accountability regarding the operations of the leaders and servants of the people of God.
Unfortunately, we humans, tend to follow the smoke and mirrors of other sacred texts, rather than the straight forwardness of the bible. The bible is so not natural…leaders being servants ... dying to one’s own desires, and thereby getting the desires of your heart ... first being last. I understand why we have allowed Christian traditions to evolve…as we seek to make it manageable. But that is why we need to come to the active living word of God and allow it to change us, rather than trying to make it conform to our understanding. Our understanding is what got us into trouble in the first place!
Maybe this is coming out as I try to write our yearly report…and reflect on how un professional we are…I hope I am not being anti organized, simply anti slick. OK, thanks for listening to my ramble…your reward is this cute group of kids and one of our new workers, Sarita, who obviously fits right in!
Too often, we have been dealing with causes and effects that then cause further effects in vicious cycles, of injustice, poverty, crime, and abuses. Every once in a while, we get a glimpse of the supernatural reverse.
Josh and I translated for a medical mission this week run by our friends at Hands of Hope in the departments of Solola and Quiche. It is good to see Americans who sacrificially come here to help, and even better to see the young Guatemalans who volunteer with this group, and then of course best of all to see people who have no other resource cured and blessed. The Gospel is all over the trip, with living examples of Philippians 2 and Matthew 25 sheep types feeding, visiting and healing the least of these. I will probably write about more of this group, but today wanted to focus on the Blessed Cycle in which Christina is … well, sort of the middle.
Christina was discovered by the HoH team about 8 years ago. She could not walk, due to Spina Bifida. The Crazy Christians who head up HoH had invited Anita and T.K., a Hindu couple who are physicians, to come with them on that trip. This couple, proving themselves as crazy as their Christian brethren, determined to bring Christina to the states, where she lived with them for the better part of a year, and underwent surgery that allowed her to progress to the point where she now walks, using crutches, quite dexterously.
The Love that flowed through these Christians to these Hindus to this Quiche Indian girl is the first part of a blessed cycle. Christina’s return to
Christina came with us and translated with me at one of the locations in which we ministered. She is not merely a symbol of love investments and a good cause. She is a great communicator, and tireless worker, and yet another reflection of the best in humanity: the image of God incarnate.
Enough blubbery! Here are some photos!
Aurgh! Tech demons are blocking the photos of Christina (well, with help from my thumb and having the wrong setting when photo-ing) here are some photos of the tirp, and will try to exorcise these demons later.
Me in my favorite environment
This is a work of art or what?
It was nice getting to spend time with them.
Aaron is kind of like a pied Piper of art…and has spent time in the past encouraging kids in children’s homes in Guatemala to put pencil, pen, paint or watercolors to paper and tell their story. So, of course, when he came by here, we had an impromptu session, and really good results.
That’s about how I feel about Guatemala’s recent Government changes, as the various needs remain, and we watch the maneuverings by interested parties, as the new players get in position.
Some folks have asked me if Adoptions will continue, and that is the big question. It seems like there are indications that the new government has made some arrangements with the present group of lawyers who have controlled Adoptions these last few years, and there is talk of modifying the law that was passed in a shotgun wedding type fashion last December.
The definitive answer is “who knows?” But we are continuing to hope that we will be able to find families for the children who need a family. Good news is that Selvin and Lupita are on their way to a great family who are experienced “Adopters” and POSSIBLY Herlinda also.
Meanwhile, it is a great time to try to encourage the local churches to get more involved with Orphan programs, and my desire is to see church based Foster care and Day care centers spring up around the country. Of course, I want someone else to do it, and so ask you to join with us and pray to the Lord of the harvest for MORE workers, Guatemalans and Americans!
Here is Selvin with hie new Glasses in class
I certainly don’t understand prayer. I don’t understand my wife, either. But I depend on and enjoy each more than I can explain.
A wise friend wrote this, giving me a glimmer of insight, and I want to share it with you:
"Prayer is about the process, not the end product. In focused prayer, ego falls away; self goes unnoticed; time seems non-existent; worries leave us. All that matters is God. All that matters is being in the living flow of God's beautiful presence. "
(Peter Panagore http://www.dailydevotions.com/)
And, as we come into that relationship with Him, he does things!
We cannot express how much we appreciate the prayers of God's children on our behalf.
In poor little Esmeralda’s case, her mother’s absence was a problem while she lived, and then after she died. We literally only have the judge’s order that placed her in our home as official paperwork. We had been asking for a clarification of her birth certificate since she arrived at our home. It never arrived. So, as far as some of the paperwork is concerned, she will be filed away as “Feminino X X” and with part of it, “Esmeralda, approximately 4 months old, with possible last name of Tomin Guarac”. So we were grateful for the help provided by our funeral director. It was sadly ironic that he had lost his one year old daughter last week, and we buried Esmeralda not far from her.
On the flower box on her burial niche it says “Esmeralda Our jewel is now an angel"
Clothed in a sweater and long pants, she looked like many another child walking around on the streets of Guatemala. . But under the dirty clothes, were stitches covered by a bandage on her leg, and she arrived with prescriptions for pain and infections due to the burns on her arm and chest. Head to toe, she has old scars and recent injuries.
All day, as we interacted with her, whether feeding, or bathing, or simply speaking with her, the pain was clear. A vacant smile, quick attentiveness, and worried pause before answering questions … all indicative of abuse. All day, our presence was followed by wide eyes. It seems like she is evaluating each adult as we draw near. She is trying to take in the foreign environment where children were playing, and laughing, and rambunctious…and adults hugged, and fed and helped instead of hurt.
Each time we asked who did this, she answered “mi mama…es porque…” giving a reason for each burn or bruise. At the end of the day, she declared to the girls in her bedroom that she never wanted to leave us. So many mixed emotions swirl in all of us as we care for her external and internal wounds. Hearts welling with love for this timid child, and broken by the pain recorded on her little body. Outrage. Glad she is with us. Pity. More anger as each new sense of the pain she has endured surfaces. It is good that our job is not to judge, or even understand what agonies were in a mother to make her do this. Like Shyrel said to Nicolasa, the caretaker who finally succumbed to a flood of tears as she rebandaged this little girl: “This is why we are here”
So, off to the Dr. and more prescriptions, and further exams. But the hope for her well being lies in more than what modern medicine can bring. So please pray for Gladys. And please pray for us. Your prayers and God’s Grace are the remedy.
BUT I do have one good ending to report! A little boy came to us who had been in the final stages of his adoption to a young American couple. He became sick, and either his lawyer or his caretakers made the bonehead decision to take him to the national hospital, where there had recently been an uproar about children and adoptions. So the spooked social workers mandated him to the Children’s court judge, precipitating his arrival at our home for temporary care. This also took him completely off the radar of the poor prospective parents. We are told nothing about the situation of the children who come to us, and didn’t know what had happened until the adoptive parents finally were told where their child was. It all wrapped up in the first hearing, when the judge could plainly see all was on the up and up, and gave the child to his parents. We will always feel attached to him, and are happy he will be with this family!