Tag Archives: Wrecked

I’m Going Back to Guatemala! Want to Come?

At the beginning of February, I traveled to Guatemala with an amazing team of strangers-turned-friends under the leadership of author Jeff Goins on a vision trip based on his book, Wrecked, that could only have been planned and orchestrated by God.

Those few short days in Guatemala left me emptied of myself and forever changed.

I came away with a deeper understanding of what it means to be a small part of God’s bigger story by simply being available and humbly learning from and loving on His people.

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Two months later, I’m still processing and learning what it means to live fully and love well in each moment while being confronted with a sort of uncomfortable tension that won’t let me sit complacently doing my own thing, fulfilling my own selfish desires, because more than anything my heart longs to live for the Lord and to serve where and how He leads.

But even all of that seems rather unimportant. Because none of this is about me at all.

It’s about Christ. It’s about His love for His people. It’s about His beautiful and glorious redemption.

When I left Guatemala, I didn’t know if I would ever have the opportunity to go back. But not long after we returned, one of my new friends-who-feels-more-like-family, Alene, began to share that God was speaking to her about taking a team back to Guatemala.

Specifically back to Guatemala City to serve with Potter’s House and in the community of Treasures surrounding the dump.

So, I’m going back to Guatemala with her team October 9-13th, 2013!!

And you’re invited, too!

Watch this video to get a glimpse of our trip in February…

Is God speaking to your heart to go and serve with us in Guatemala City?

Find out more details and information HERE and HERE.

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Christ Makes All Things New

I don’t know how to fully express all that still runs through my mind and heart as I recall and reflect on the time we spent in and around the Guatemala City dump.

I don’t really even know where to begin. But every time I think back to that day, Marlon’s powerful testimony and truth-filled words still echo clearly …

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As our vans pulled into the vicinity of the dump on the morning of our second day in Guatemala, the first sense immediately affected was smell.

Oh, the smell.

But that would soon become of minor importance as we learned that 11,000 people – 6,500 of them children – live near and work in the dump each day.

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I couldn’t imagine a life where getting up in the morning and going to work meant looking through the trash, searching through each new heap left by the seemingly endless stream of dump trucks, in hopes of making dollars a day to provide the most basic needs for my family.

The surrounding community calls those who live this reality “scavengers”, a term filled with negative and judgmental connotations, but Potter’s House – the ministry with which we partnered to serve that day – knows them as “treasures” because they, too, are human beings, God’s highest creation.

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Marlon is one of those treasures.

We stood on a cliff overlooking the busy dump as this now 20-year-old with a 9-month-old baby of his own resolutely recounted through a translator from Potter’s House his story of a difficult and heartbreaking background filled with drugs, abuse, violence, life on the streets, and even a pact with the Devil.

But then at some point in the middle of the story, beautiful and overwhelming redemption.

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Following his father’s tragic and violent death, Marlon began working in the dump at the age of 6 to provide for his mother and siblings. He ran away for a time during his teenage years, but came back to continue providing for his family and now openly and unashamedly speaks of the hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

When asked how we could pray for him, he most selflessly, humbly, and genuinely declined, pointing down at the dump and saying, “No, don’t pray for me. Pray for my friends working down there. I will be ok, but they can’t change this life without Christ. He’s the only way.”

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Marlon has a dream for a different life, a dream that includes preaching the message of hope and trust in Christ to a full stadium.

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Yet even from the difficult and dangerous life he currently leads as he continues to work in the dump for now, he still proclaims with boldness, directness, and assurance that this life is borrowed and Christ makes all things new.

And in those moments, I caught another glimpse of the Lord’s compassion and love for His people. Seeing with His eyes. Feeling with His heart.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)

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To read more about Potter’s House, the Guatemala City dump, and Marlon’s story, check out these posts from my teammates / friends:

The Most Inspiring 20-Something I’ve Ever Met – Jeff Goins

The Shocking Tale of a Brother and Sister – Alene Snodgrass

A Life You Can’t Imagine – Susan Stilwell

That Child is MY Child

On that Sunday afternoon after attending church in Antigua, just prior to receiving the challenge to use $5 however the Lord would lead, we were sent out on our first ministry assignment: to spend an hour walking around the city (in pairs) and observing our surroundings while quietly praying that the Lord would allow us to see through His eyes.

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My partner and I headed to the crowded and colorful market – in many ways the center of the city and its culture.

As a videographer great at both seeing and telling a story, he was completely in his element, but although I love the Charleston market and something about the Plaka district in Athens forever captured my soul, without my camera in hand, I was completely overstimulated and out of mine.

Although honestly somewhat skeptical of the assignment at hand, I was genuinely seeking the Lord and at least halfway expecting Him to open my eyes to some profound theological truth or insight. Because that was the whole purpose, right? No pressure.

But when we paused for a moment not long after entering the outskirts of the market, the Lord allowed me to watch a seemingly everyday sort of scene unfold in one of the clothing shops. Two women, a toddler, and a baby in a walker who appeared to be about 10 months old were all crowded into an incredibly small square space full of merchandise. The shop was a step up from the ground, so every time the baby walked close to the edge, one of the women (his mother, I presume) pulled him back, so he wouldn’t fall.

Beginning to feel introspective and without even realizing that the Lord was answering my prayer to see through His eyes, I heard the Lord say in one of those it’s-so-clear-it’s-almost-audible sort of ways:

“This is not about your desire to have a child someday,

This is not about your desire to adopt a child someday,

This is not even about that mother’s child that you’re watching so closely,

This is about knowing that child is MY child.”

Seeing with His compassionate eyes. Loving with His overwhelming heart. Longing for His Kingdom growth. Over and over again.

He is the faithful Father.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…”

Romans 8:15-16 (ESV)

The Night I Rejected Jesus … and the Day I Was Redeemed

It was about 10pm on a Friday night in mid-November. I was driving home from a worship ministries retreat where I had just spent the better part of 4 hours worshiping and rehearsing and where I would be returning early the next morning to do more of the same.

For some unknown reason, I chose to drive home through town rather than taking the interstate.

As I slowed to a stop at a rather rough intersection, I saw him standing on the street corner with a sign asking for money.

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I justified the heck out of why I shouldn’t give…

I was a female by myself, and it was late (there were other cars),
I never give money to homeless people like this (so what?),
I might not have small bills in my purse (I did),
The light would change quickly (it didn’t).

But although I clearly sensed the Lord telling me to give that man money and trust Him with whatever happened after that, I flat-out told God “no”.

After what felt like an eternity, the light eventually did change, but I drove home under the heavy weight of conviction: I had just rejected Jesus on that street corner.

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Fast forward to a Sunday afternoon on the busy streets of Antigua, Guatemala. Our team had just been challenged to spend an hour walking around and observing our surroundings while quietly praying that the Lord would allow us to see through His eyes.

He did.

We were then given another challenge: to take $5 and spend a couple hours walking around the city listening for how the Lord would lead us to use the money. No rules. Just to listen and obey.

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As my partner and I began to walk around, I sensed that I was just supposed to give the money away. That was certainly uncomfortable, and meeting a physical need certainly seemed more practical, but this time, I was ready to listen.

After about an hour of walking, we came to a crowded place in the sidewalk. I was a few steps ahead of my partner, and I literally had to come to a complete stop to allow several people to pass in front of me.

When the sidewalk cleared, I noticed a homeless man sitting against the wall, with his hat beside him, playing an instrument.  He was taking up most of the sidewalk (hence the lack of space), so as I stepped past him, my shoe touched the bottom of his. In that moment, I just knew. The $5 was for this man. It didn’t matter how he would use it, I was simply to be obedient and give.

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As I walked away, I recalled the night I rejected Jesus on that street corner in Charlotte, and I knew that on this day, I had just been redeemed on a street corner in Antigua.

Such a simple moment.

But such beautiful and undeserved redemption that could only be orchestrated by a loving and faithful and gracious God.

He is so good.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:40 (ESV)

His Children

As we entered the gate of the ministry site late Monday afternoon after multiple physically, spiritually, and emotionally draining encounters earlier in the day, I didn’t know what I had left to give.

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So after touring the facilities on the grounds of the home/orphanage for children who came from a difficult background, I sat down on the grass to watch the basketball and soccer games forming on the front lawn. Beginning to feel guilty for not participating more, I glanced around hoping to spot an opportunity to engage with at least a few of the children. Even, maybe especially, from my place of emptiness and lack.

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As I was taking a few photos of both games (because at least I could do that…), I briefly considered whether I should just join in one of them. Some of our other team members were already playing, and it seemed rather unimportant at that moment that sports aren’t really my thing. Uh, at all. But the kids likely wouldn’t care that I wasn’t any good, and the whole point of all this was to be uncomfortable for the Kingdom, right?

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But at the moment that thought crossed my mind, Oliver, who walks with a cane, came and sat down in the grass a few feet away from me.

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Timid at first, but showing some interest in my camera, I took a photo of him and then showed him his face on the display.

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He didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Spanish, but somehow we communicated from there and it was clear he wanted to look through the viewfinder. Still a little uncertain of it all, he let me hold the camera, but moved it around until he found his image and simply said “Si” when he wanted me to press the shutter button to take the photo. We looked at it together, I praised and encouraged him for his shot (it really was good!), and he literally beamed with how proud he was.

It was just precious. And totally melted me.

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As he warmed up even more and we took more photos together, he started telling me the names of the kids in the photos he was taking and telling me about them. Again, I don’t know how we had this conversation (other than attributing the whole thing to the power of the Holy Spirit!), but I knew what he was saying … even when I didn’t. He eventually pointed out his brother to me, Anthony, who joined us in the grass with bubbles shortly thereafter.

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Anthony warmed up to the camera much faster than Oliver and was quickly holding it himself, walking around, and taking photos of absolutely everything.

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I became a bit of a mediator at that point, making sure the boys were sharing the camera and taking turns … Oliver even counted Anthony’s photos at one point (he counted to thirty something, which was far outside of my Spanish counting abilities … I think he passed my knowledge at twelve) to prove it was his turn again. So cute.

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And I loved every minute of it, not minding one bit that they were all over the place with that camera. I’m careful with my camera, but it honestly never really occurred to me to be concerned about it. It was just a camera. The risk of it breaking seemed so small and insignificant compared to this moment that I would never be able to get back.

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As the boys and I reviewed the photos together again and again, as I raved over them, and as they both expressed how proud they were of their work, I couldn’t help but think that these were (and still are) my favorite images from the entire trip. They saw things in a way that I couldn’t. And Anthony had a great eye!

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It was such a simple moment, really, but I saw through their eyes that day.

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In the midst of circumstances that could easily seem broken and hopeless, I saw overwhelming joy and perfect peace in the faces and smiles and photos of those two boys, of those children, His children.

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*except for the first & last, all photos in this post were taken by oliver & anthony*

Heading to Guatemala

Two days from now (on Saturday), I will be heading to Guatemala on a short mission/vision trip with a team of about 20 strangers-soon-to-be-friends through Adventures in Missions and co-led by author/blogger, Jeff Goins, as a sort of extension of his book “Wrecked” that was published last year.

Heading to Guatemala

We’ll be serving in various settings as we walk in the midst of poverty for a few days (from February 2-6) with the anticipation of our hearts being wrecked, or broken, for the sake of the Kingdom/Gospel.

I’m slightly terrified and so crazy excited all at the same time.

Afraid of being changed, but more afraid of not being changed (yeah, even I know that’s hard to make sense of…), the fears are mostly irrational and not worth the time, so I’m humbly choosing to allow them to be swallowed up by the excitement of it all.

I’ve been on several mission trips and I’ve been on a couple of international trips, but this trip is new. It’s both. It’s different.

I truthfully don’t know exactly what to expect from this trip. Except to hope that I would better know, see, and feel the heart of God. And that my heart would align with His.

I would so appreciate your prayers, friends…

that we would serve as a unified team,
that the center and focus of all that we do would be Christ and His Kingdom,
that God would move greatly in our midst,
that God’s love for His people would be evident,
that God would move me out of myself and out of the way,
that I would be fully present in each moment and opportunity,
that my eyes and heart would be open (and selfishly hoping for a photographic eye to boot…),
that I would be keenly aware that none of this is about me … because it’s just not,
and mostly that Christ’s name would be proclaimed and exalted!

Thank you to those who have already prayed for, with, and over me in preparation for this trip. You have each been such a blessing!

I’m not expecting to have much (if any) internet access while in Guatemala, but I look forward to sharing how we see the Lord work during our time there as I’m able and certainly upon my return.

Grace & Peace!