HIS Hands and Feet in Guatemala 2015, Part Two

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Our week at Hope of Life always begins with a tour of the facilities and an overview of the ministries. It is amazing how much change has occurred in a year!

 The Elder Home

IMG_6880The Senior Adults are receiving hand massages and some are having their nails painted by visiting mission teams. We see lots of walkers and wheelchairs, but many more smiles. The Seniors want to shake our hands and welcome us to Hope of Life. Some of these Seniors were abandoned by their families because of the severity of poverty. Others were found near death high up in the mountains, unable to care for themselves by finding food and water.
IMG_0412Now these precious souls have a family caring for them, they have activities to keep them alert, they are nourished, and necessary medications are provided for them.

Kelley’s Place

Kelley’s Place is the home for special needs children. Many of these children were so malnourished when they were discovered that they have suffered permanent damage to their development. Again, we experience

IMG_0433lots of smiles and eagerness to have someone to hold them and play with them.

Maria lies in her crib. She does not respond at first to our attention. After a few  minutes of rubbing her arms and saying her name over and over, she turns toward the sound of her name … and soon she smiles!

We are told children who look to be four or five years old are actually twelve years old or older. The malnutrition from earlier years has caused them to be small, but progress is being made. The children respond to us as we visIMG_0483it. They smile. They reach for us. They want to play!

 

The Hospital

The hospital is where the rescued babies are brought to receive medical attention. It is also the place where families can come for medical care. The children are nourished back to health. Some moms come with the children, but IMG_0492many moms cannot leave their other children so the rescued children stay at Hope of Life alone. These eventually will either be reunited with their family and go back home, or will stay at Hope of Life. Until age three, these precious children are cared for at the hospital. It doesn’t feel like a hospital when you enter the rooms; the children are happy and eager to play!

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We meet 13-month-old Katherine who wants to be held and hugged. When it’s time for us to leave, she cries. Finally, she relaxes in Sandra’s arms and goes to sleep. Mission accomplished!

We meet Jamie who also wants to be held, and Oscar who was always on-the-go and wanted to play – play – play!

Some volunteers have made numerous trips to Hope of Life, and look forward to seeing their “babies” again. Some GFBC members are presently sponsoring these children and helping to provide for their care.

These children are just like our American kids … They want someone to hold them and play with them. The nannies in the hospital are AMAZING! They feed, bathe, diaper, and care for the needs of the children. They seldom sit down, and if they are seated it is with children in their laps! The mission trip volunteers are extra hands to love on these children.

In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”  I think Jesus smiles when He sees the love being offered to His children at Hope of Life.

Thank You, Father, for allowing me to hold a child this week. Thank you for the hugs, the smiles, the love given, and the pure love given back to me by the children. Teach us in America to recognize what is really important to You … to love You our God, and to love others …. to take care of the widows and the orphans.

Jesus said, “The most important command is this: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” ~ Mark 12:30-31
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. ~ James 1:27
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HIS Hands and Feet in Guatemala 2015, Part One

Twenty-three GFBC members spent last week serving at Hope of Life in Zacapa, Guatemala. What a joy it is to share with you some of the people we met during the week! FaithStories will focus this week on the beautiful faces of the men, women, and children of Guatemala.

Our first night in Guatemala, we enjoyed a fiesta with delicious foods as well as singing and dancing from the children of the orphanage. A special treat was music from Jose, the first child rescued by Carlos and Cheryl over twenty-five years ago. When rescued, Jose was given food, clothing, medical care and a place to live. But more than that, Jose received unconditional love, and he was introduced to our loving Father. He was no longer without a family because he recognized himself as part of the family of God. Today Jose is a handsome young adult who sings for the glory of God. He is an excellent photographer. He encourages the children who come into Hope of Life, telling his story of being rescued and finding love at Hope of Life. He participates in journeys to rescue other children, documenting the events with his photography. What an amazing God we have who takes the brokenness of this world and makes beauty from the ashes! Jose is an example of the beauty of God’s redeeming love.

As I listened to the beautiful children sing and dance during fiesta, my mind wondered about their story. Is there a “before” picture of swollen malnourished bellies, yellowing hair from parasites as a result of drinking contaminated water, and skin stretched tight over bony arms and legs. As these girls and boys dance, I see well-developed self-esteem in each. They hold their heads up high and make eye contact with the audience. They smile when the applause breaks out. They meticulously perform the dance routines, singing words of praise to our Heavenly Father. Their costumes are top-notch, colorful, and fit each child perfectly. These children are cared for with excellence. They are truly loved and they know it. It beams on their faces!

Dear Father, please continue to bless Hope of Life as well as the many employees … Those who cook and clean, the nannies, the moms and dads, the interpreters, those who administer the Child Sponsorship program, those in administration and leadership … bless them and provide their every need. Give the leadership wisdom to make godly decisions. Bless the volunteers that come to work on mission trips. Be with the children and let them know Your love for them. Thank You, Lord, for allowing GFBC to be a part of Your work in Guatemala. Amen.
For I was hungry, and you fed me.
I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.
I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.
I was naked, and you gave me clothing.
I was sick, and you cared for me…
I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these
my brothers and sisters,

You were doing it unto me! ~ JESUS in Matthew 25: 35-40