My Name Is Delmi

My friend Dick Rutgers wrote this "story" a while back, and I finally figured out how to post it.  Gave me a lot to think about concerning why I choose certain people to "serve" while I walk right by others.  Pretty convicting. . .
[PowerPoint presention: Click arrow @ bottom of slide to continue]

Follow You

When I first heard this song, I knew I had to do "something" with it to try to explain my call to Guatemala.  This is my first attempt at a video, but wanted to share it with you.  If nothing else, please go away from here realizing that I am not leaving to serve a massive void of people, but individuals God has privileged me to meet and know personally.  There is a story behind each picture you see.  If you're curious, just ask me--I have no favorite topic than those I'm called to walk with in Guatemala!

Hermano Pedro & Chimaltenango

April 3-4, 2010

Today I’m gonna take a lesson from my friend Dick Rutgers, and borrow Brianna’s entry for the last two days. You can see the heart of the young people on this team through her words, more than anything I could say about them:

I meant to write this yesterday but time passed away from me!! It seems like that happens a lot here, one minute I am waking up and the next it is time for bed. Even though the time passes quickly though my days are full of love, adventure and LOTS OF FUN!! I am so sad that tomorrow is our last day with the kids and in Antigua at all. I really do love it here. Me and Laura are planning on coming back for the summer or at least part of the summer next year and we can't wait! The kids at Hermano Pedro truly have found their places in my heart (just like I guessed) They are all so different and have their own personalities yet they are all so much a like in many ways. They all need love and affection. They LOVE attention! It seriously amazes me that just by walking up to a kid and smiling at them brightens their faces. They smile and giggle sometimes and though most of them are non-verbal they even respond if not in words in their own ways.

This is a picture of Arianna! She is probably one of my favorite kids at Hermano Pedro her smile brightens my day and she smiles a lot! It makes me feel really guilty sometimes though. After the first time I held Arianna I was thinking to my self of how selfish I am and how ungrateful I am. How many days do I get irritable or cranky because I am hungry or because I am tired or because I have to work. These kids work everyday. Staying alive is work for them. They sit in their chairs and in their beds by themselves for most of the day. The nurses are great but they are so short staffed that it is hard to give all the kids the attention and affection they deserve.

As I think about what I will take away most from the trip it is this... I have so much to be grateful for and so much to praise the Lord for! I hope that is something I won't lose after I am home for a little bit. I also hope other people can learn from what I learned too. There is so much more that has gone on the past couple days! I had planned on blogging close to everyday but time seriously does fly!

The first day we were at Hermano Pedro we only brought ourselves. The second day we brought bubbles and puzzles. The kids are so much more fun when they don't have all that stuff. They love the bubbles and the toys but all they truly want is to be loved on and held. Picking a kid up is like the perfect icing on a cake. This picture is a picture of Elmer. He and his brother are both at Hermano Pedro. They are for sure the favorites of the nurses and pretty much have free reign of the place. They are so independent but even still they love to give hugs and Mayno (Elmer's brother) will give us kisses on the cheek. It is so cute!

We also went to Chimaltenango which is where Dick Rutgers live. He has kind of been our driver all week. He is one of the nicest guys I have ever met! He has such a heart for the kids and for Jesus. He even has like foster kids in a way from the neighborhood he lives in that stay at his house and when they don't have school they come on trips with him to Hermano Pedro and to do wheel chair distributions. It is so awesome! Last night we went and met some of his "kids" and played soccer with them and just hung out with them. It was so awesome. Though they aren't handicapped like the kids at Hermano Pedro they still needed love and when we were with them they also lit right up! It was so fun to get to minster to kids in such need of love.

Dick was telling us that of the twenty or so kids on the soccer court only 2 of them come from homes with 2 parents (a mom and a dad) a few of them are being raised by their 24 year old brother and the rest may have just one parent and most of which are abusive. That is something that makes me sick to my stomach. Abuse is just kind of accepted down here. Though it is not okay nothing is done about it. It makes me so sad that kids are punished and beaten and it is okay.

There is so much more I could tell you about the trip but I feel like blogging doesn't do it much justice! When I get back you will just have to come and talk to me about it!! Keep praying for the team. Though we only have one day so much can still be accomplished. Also be praying about more teams to come and for Pat's move.

April 6--Hermano Pedro and Back to the Coast

After their full night's sleep, Brianna, Cameron and Laura were up early this morning and were pleasantly surprised by Mari's delicious pancakes for breakfast. They were pretty hungry after missing supper last night! We left about 8:30 to pick up Momma at Casa de Fe, and stopped at one of my favorite cafes to get her some breakfast.

Julio's mom once again reminded me of how difficult life is for many women in Guatemala. She is a very quiet, timid lady, who is so unassuming that I had to go back to the door of the cafĂ© to bring her in, as she wasn’t sure she was supposed to be coming in with the rest of us. Just the experience of ordering was overwhelming to this lady, and I quickly learned to anticipate what she might like to eat, and offer her two or three meals to choose from. This morning, as the kids were playing with the baby while Momma ate her pancakes, I finally saw her smile for the first time. Brianna had put her sunglasses on little Maria, and Momma actually laughed. It is so evident the joy in which she takes in her children, and I grieve at how little opportunity she has to really enjoy them.

I realized what an honor it was just to bring a little happiness into this dear woman's life. To care for her, who seldom has time or energy to care for herself while caring for her family. I could see her gradually relax and warm up to us as she ate and the "children" played. I feel I've made a new friend in this woman, whose life is so different than mine, but who shares a mother's heart with me. I am so often awestruck at how accepting the Guatemalan women, even in the villages, are of me as they welcome me into their homes, families and lives. They are truly gracious and loving, and, though I may be going to them with the intention of ministering to them, I always leave more blessed that they are by their quiet examples of strength and love for their families.

Mom went up to see Julio and we played with the kids at Hermano Pedro. We'd brought a variety of balls today, and I was pleased to see that we had some way almost all of the children could participate if we went to them individually. For the first time today I saw Heidi make a deliberate and purposeful movement as she played with a punch ball. Nothing could be as cute, however, as Ervin leading Brianna around by a ball on an elastic band which was attached to her wrist. He was crawling as she walked behind him, and it was clear who was in charge (and it wasn't Brianna!).

Since Dick still wasn't feeling well, he asked if I could ride with him as he took Momma home. The group wanted to stay at Hermano Pedro, rather than making another 4-5 hour hot trip to the coast, and I hesitantly agreed to go without them. I knew Hermano Pedro was an extremely safe place to leave them, and that they were all responsible young adults, but I felt a little bit like a mother abandoning her babes as we walked out the door. (When I arrived home after them, they told me they'd only gotten a "little" lost riding the "chicken bus" home.  April Fool! a few days late. Really, they took a tuk-tuk.)

We made the trip down in what seemed like no time at all. This drive gave Dick and me some time to catch up with each other, as the last few months have been so busy for both of us that we’ve seldom talked or even emailed. We were soon dropping off Mom, and, because I was the "woman" had the privilege of receiving her hugs and kisses of gratitude. It make any discomfort or inconvenience of the trip well worth it.

Before leaving town, Dick and I stopped for some pop at the corner "store." We had to drink it there, as it was in returnable bottles, and as we sat Dick shared some of his concerns about his "kids." We talked especially about some of the girls, discussing ways I may be able to support them when I move down. Once again, I was struck by how deeply Dick cares for these kids—how they truly are HIS kids in every sense of the word. And, once again, I thanked God for the nurturing heart of this bachelor who instinctively knows more about parenting than many of the parents with whom I work. The kids are fortunate to have him, and he’s just as fortunate that they are in his life. As he talks about them growing up with a degree of sadness in his voice, it sounds like someone preparing for “empty nest syndrome.’ I know, however, that Dick’s home will never be empty as long as there is a kid anywhere in the area who needs some love and attention.

April 5--A Trip to the Coast

Today we went with Dick Rutgers out to one of the villages near the coast to pick up Julio's mom to visit him in the malnutrition ward of Hermano Pedro. I've been to this part of the country before, but was interested to see what Laura, Brianna and Cameron would think of the experience.

Much of the drive is on highway, though the highway experience in Guatemala is much different from the US. I think Dick only has about 2 new cracks in his dashboard from where I grabbed on when things got exciting. The back roads, however, continue to be my favorite (especially since I'm not the one driving) and I loved it as we drove past miles and miles of sugar cane, seldom meeting another vehicle.

On our way we stopped at the clinic at La Gomera to visit Dr. Jose. He is a Cuban doctor who came to Guatemala as part of a government program and fell in love with the people and stayed, even though he has not been able to bring his own family from Cuba. He sees about 70 patients on most days, but always takes time to visit when we come. In fact, I think he is just as patient and relax with every person he sees. He runs his clinic on a "shoe-string" (a very THIN shoe-string) but gives quality care to all who need it. Dr. Jose has a great deal of respect for Dick and the work he does (Dick feels the same about him), and took time to lecture Dick on making sure he is taking care of himself as he does his ministry. The doctor mentioned he could use a new sphygmomanometer (blood pressure device) and shared that he was totally out of vitamins for his patients. Vine International provides many of his vitamins, but he said he never has enough given the number of children he sees. Considering the great need we saw, his requests were incredibly simple.

Our next stop was the grocery store where Dick bought food to take to two of the families for whom Bethel Ministries has built new homes. Each of these families receives a food donation monthly through a sponsor working with Bethel Ministries. This month, we had the privilege of delivering the food ourselves. Both families live in extreme poverty, and the new homes (which would be considered nothing more than a garden shed to us in the States) dramatically improve their life-style. The food was warmly received by each family and it was humbling to have the small gift of basic food staples be so greatly appreciated. The difference this food makes to these folks is incredible, especially when you consider it costs not much more than what we would spend to take our families out to eat at a fast food restaurant. How much we take for granted.

Rosa's Old House


Rosa's New House

We did visit for a while with Julio's family before leaving to return to Antigua. I discovered that not only did she have a seven month old daughter, Maria (who is too cute for words),  three of the children running around her yard were her grandchildren! They are with her much of the time due to the poor conditions in their own home.

Julio has returned recently to the malnutrition ward at Hermano Pedro after a short trial time at home, during which he lost a significant amount of weight. He quickly has regained weight, and Dick has many concerns about what will happen the next time he returns home. I talked with Momma about her plans for Julio, and she seems determined to bring him home again. You can see in her eyes how much she cares for him and misses him. What is uncertain is if she will be able to provide sufficient care for Julio to stay alive and well if he comes home again. Dick promises, though, that Julio’s condition will be closely monitored, and support will be provided to make sure he continues to stay well.

On the way back to Antigua, the young folks seemed unusually quiet. While they were worn out from the trip and the heat, they had much more on their minds. They had just experienced first- hand what it means to be poor, and now the “poor” had names and faces for them to take home in their hearts. This is hard for me, and I’ve been here so often before. I’m really proud of how they handled this experience. They faced overwhelming feelings during this trip, but this never interfered with their ability to reach out with compassion to those we visited.

Hermano Pedro was our first stop in Antigua. We got Momma registered to spend the night at Casa de Fe (a free hostel run by Faith in Action for parents of children receiving care at Hermano Pedro), and then took her up to see Julio. My teenagers didn’t mind a bit that Maria could not go into malnutrition, and they would have to “sacrifice” their time to watch her. The kids downstairs in the ward at Hermano Pedro really seemed to enjoy having a baby around for a while, and were remarkably gentle with her.

After dropping Momma off at Casa de Fe, we walked the short distance home. Dick suddenly didn’t either look or feel very well, and we decided we would take care of getting Momma back to Hermano Pedro in the morning. I think maybe our kids didn’t feel so well, either, though they were just experiencing the side effects of staying up WAY too late at night. They crashed immediately after returning home, and Mari and I weren’t able to wake them even for dinner. I do have some cute pictures of this, but value Cameron, Laura and Brianna’s friendship too much to post them!  Then, again, why not!

Mari and I were able to spend a nice, quiet evening eating supper by ourselves in the kitchen and just catching up on each other’s lives. As we chatted it seemed any stress from the day faded away, and I went to bed completely relaxed. I look forward to many more of these evenings with her after I moved down in June.

Guatemala April 1-2, 2010

Killing time in the Houston Airport (April 1, 2010)

Seldom have I enjoyed a trip as much as I did this trip down to Guatemala with Brianna, Cameron and Laura. The three of them knew each other pretty well before this trip, but they have really embraced this “mature” woman as part of their group. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in an airport as I did in Dallas with them.

We had a long lay over, and went “exploring” the airport. (Never has this happened when I’m with grown-ups.”) We found what has to be the world’s longest escalator, and, of course had to see what was at the top. We discovered the tram which ran around the airport. Well, what do you do when you have hours to kill? Ride in circles around an airport, of course!

We made our time on the tram a learning experience, however. We now know that it is not wise to jump on a moving tram, however, it is possible to run on one. It seems easier, however, to run in the direction opposite the moving of the train. Some of you science types might even understand this, but not me. Anyway, I really wanted to make the experience educational for the kids, and I think we’re off to a good start. Only problem is I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to travel with adults again!

Arrival in Guatemala and Day One (April 1-2, 2010)

Our plane landed in Guatemala City about 15 minutes early, and we made it through immigration and customs in record time. (Yes, Ron, all our bags arrived despite the “curse of the Beauchamps.”) Actually, customs may be a bit of an overstatement for one young lady in a uniform who collects a paper from you, without really looking at it. Each returning Guatemalan citizen had their bags thoroughly checked, while we “foreigners” were casually waved through. A great welcome, if you ask me.

For the rest of this posting, I’m going to copy the email I sent to the kids’ parents after our first day “on the job:

          Hi, parents,
Your kids don't know I'm writing this, but I just wanted to tell you how amazing they were this morning at the orphanage. As I sit here thinking about it, I'm tearing up for about the tenth time today. I can't begin to put into words how proud I am of them. The compassion of Jesus was clear in everything they said and did. I've seen many adults hold back out of fear or awkwardness, but not your kids.

Many of the kids were outside when we arrived at Hermano Pedro, as they were going to watch the procession that went in front of the orphanage. Of course, the challenging kids were left inside. So we went inside. We wanted to take some of them out, but the charge nurse was worried about how the kids would act (the orphanage kids, not yours!) so we stayed and played with them in the garden area. I wish you could have been here to see our crew as they cuddled, carried, fed, played with, pushed and loved on Ervin (who used to have the nickname "Monster"), Delmi, Samuel, and Estuardo. There was nothing that put them off, or made them uncomfortable. I think Cameron gets the "above and beyond" award for today, because when Ervin's pants (all of them) fell to the floor, he scooped him up and carried him to his bed to be changed without flinching. I feel like I got to watch Jesus washing feet today through Brianna, Laura, and Cameron.

Cameron, Brianna and Laura
I want to thank you for sharing your kids with me on this trip. They are blessing my heart more than they'll ever know, and I can't imagine just how much they are blessing the kids with their unconditional and unrestrained love. They humble me.
On a practical note, we arrived in Guatemala City a few minutes ahead of schedule, with all our bags (Ron, never underestimate the power of missions to get things where they need to be!) I think Dick might have wished we'd lost a few, but with a little juggling and some brute force we got them all into the Land Cruiser and headed off for Antigua. There was almost no traffic in Guate City--and this never happens. In about 30 minutes we found out why--everyone was trying to get into Antigua. The road to town was a parking lot as cars were stopped to pay "parking fees" for entering the city, half the roads were closed because of preparations for the processions, and the ones that weren't were jam packed with vehicles going every which way. Using his famous Guatemalan driving techniques, Dick got us into town, but then we were concerned we wouldn't be able to drive directly to the house. Finally we got on a road I recognized, I finally got my bearings (it was dark!) and we made it to the door of the house without problems.
We had a "snack" when we arrived, and visited with the family for a bit. The girls are surviving. Believe it or not, this morning they both tasted refried black beans, and decided they liked them. The fish they had for lunch was a bit more of a challenge. Tonight we went out for pizza.
We'll it's late, and though we're all sitting around visiting, I think I'll call it a night. A great day. Pat

Ervin called me by name!

I know I’ve written before about good if felt to be recognized by some of the more “able” kids at Hermano Pedro. Today, I feel like I’ve experienced one of those “kisses from God” that are just too clear to miss.

Ervin, you see, is pretty much non-verbal, though through gestures he can definitely make his wants known to anyone who will listen. He is considered quite a challenge by the staff at the orphanage, having previously earned himself the nickname of “Monster.” Of course, he’s one of my favorites, because he has spunk. Lately, though, my friend Dick has said Ervin’s medications keep him a little bit “doped up.” When I walked into the ward, I saw he was right.

Many of the kids were outside to watch the procession that was to go by in front of the orphanage. Ervin, of course, was left inside with the “difficult” kids. So, we went in to be with the kids who were not allowed outside. I introduced Brianna, Laura and Cameron to each of the kids I knew, and asked them to find one child to pour love into today. It seemed each was drawn to one who usually doesn’t get much attention.

I am so incredibly proud of these young people. They dove into playing with the kids without any hesitation. They seemed to intuitively know what each child wanted and needed, and responded immediately. And Samuel, Ervin, Delmi and Estuardo blossomed with just a little bit of one to one attention.

At one point, I thought I heard Ervin call my name. I looked at Brianna who was playing with him, and she confirmed he really had said, “Pat.” He’s called me “momma” in the past, but never my name. I felt so special, almost honored, to be recognized. And I realized why each child blossomed. If I, who have skills, friends, family, freedom feel my heart race at Ervin acknowledgement of me, how much more important is it for each of these precious children to know they are seen, valued, and loved. It takes so little to do this, but brings so much in return.