Long Overdue Update
Since our last update was in November, this will be a long update. To be honest, the latter part of 2010 and the first part of 2011 has been a mixed bag of good and bad. One of the highlights of the last few months is that New Life has been chosen by the San Damiano Foundation as the subject for their upcoming full length feature film documentary. The working title for the film is "Beauty from Ashes...Search for a New Life in Nicaragua". Back in March, Dina Demetrius, the producer, and a professional film crew followed us filming our interactions with the Nicaraguan people. They are coming back in June to shoot more footage and historical background on Nicaragua. We are excited about the posibilities for this film. Not just for New Life but for the San Damiano Foundation and their vision, to harness the power of film to make known the plight of the poor. Below is one of the trailers for the film.
The Nutrition Center & Orphanage
On the good side, we've seen God's hand work mightily on behalf of the children that we love and care for. Many of the children that were in our orphanage have been adopted to loving families and homes. Some of these children have been with us since birth. While we are very attached to the children God places in our care, we know His perfect plan is for these children to be in loving families where they will be loved and cherished and given every opportunity that this life can afford them. We thank God for the time we have with them and the opportunity He has given us to sew His seeds and demonstrate His love in very practical ways. A number of children have also been placed into foster care, mostly with North American missionary families. This government has taken some very positive steps toward getting children placed into homes with families and that's a good thing.
Relief & Development: Cristo Rey
The ministry in Cristo Rey has grown dramatically over the last year. Since we've began we've served approximately 84,000 meals feeding on average 175 children per day. These families live in extreme poverty and for most of these children it's the only meal they have opportunity to eat each day. Another aspect of our ministry is building homes for families living in tents made from black plastic and tree limbs. To date we've built 43 homes in Cristo Rey. When you can bless a family with any one of the basic necessities of life; food, shelter and water, it is life giving and life changing. These families are so grateful and overwhelmed with God's goodness that we've seen that the majority of them make first time decisions and re-dedications to Christ. We've also been buying beds for some of the families there. To be honest I've lost count of how many we've bought but I know it's quite a lot. We are also noticing a disturbing trend taking place in Cristo Rey. As the dump in Managua is being closed and the families living there are being relocated to Cristo Rey, we are noticing the dump in Cristo Rey is growing by leaps and bounds, meaning that the people that live in Cristo rye will be going back to the only source of income they know - picking through the garbage for food and anything of value. Please pray for the people of Cristo Rey and that the Lord will give us wisdom as we go forward with ministry there, because the needs are great and the opportunities are many.
A lot to tell about our family. Our family is quite large now - Tim, Chis, Brad, Abram, Jacob, Jennifer, Lola, Mercedes and Gabriela. If you had told me when I was younger that I would one day have a family of nine, I would have laughed at you. I guess the Lord is having the last laugh because now I wouldn't have it any other way. Brad owns and operates a small business in Bluffton, SC. Abram has just finished his sophomore year in college in south Florida. Jacob is graduating high school and leaves in a month for South Carolina School of Leadership. After a year there he will begin university. Jennifer, the oldest of our four adopted girls is just finishing the seventh grade. Lola, our six year old became a US citizen last year. Mercedes and Gabriela are two sisters that we adopted. Both of the children have fetal-alcohol syndrome but both are doing quite well. Mercedes, our three year old is finally starting to put two and three words together. Gabriela at one and a half seems to be overcoming a lot of her issues with physical therapy.
On May fifth our family celebrated our ninth year in Nicaragua. I can hardly believe we are in our tenth year here now. We have lived here these nine years in very good health but last year we took some hits. In August, Jacob got hemorrhagic Dengue Fever and was hospitalized for some time. This is the type of Dengue that kills so many people world-wide. Praise God, he made a full recovery without any long lasting effects. A couple of weeks later I got Dengue. This all happened about the time the flooding began. Chris was in the States and I was too sick to get out of bed and do anything about it. My hemoglobin levels dropped to a dangerously low point. One more point drop and they would have admitted me to the hospital as well. A week or so later, Gabriela got Dengue as well. Her's was a relatively mild case and she recovered fine. Nine years living in Nicaragua and we never had Malaria or Dengue. Now, three of us had it within two months of each other. Then in March, Chris started having episodes where her blood pressure would spike then bottom out. This progressed to the point where she was having severe dizzy spells and eventually she started having heart attack symptoms and passing out. We rushed her to the emergency room and they admitted her to the I.C.U. Over the next several days they ran a battery of tests and told us that she had a heart arrhythmia and a blocked artery and that she would eventually need a pacemaker and a stint or possibly open heart surgery. Needless to say, our world was turned upside down. They wanted to do the procedures here in Nicaragua but we thought it would be better to send here home to South Carolina for what was coming next. When she got there her condition worsened. She was admitted to the hospital and seen by a top cardiologist in Spartanburg. He agreed there seemed to be a blockage, probably in the back of the heart. She was covered in prayer by so many people. Thank you everyone, God was listening. She came out of the heart-cath with the doctor saying her arteries were fine. He then called in a gastroenterologist, long story short, after many tests he found three ulcers, which had nothing to do with the heart symptoms.They said she musthave had a virus around her heart that caused periocarditis, an infection and swelling in the lining around the heart, but it was gone. No more blood pressure problems, heart-attack symptoms or arrhythmias and her liver enzymes are slowly returning to normal. Praise God, we are thanking Him for the outcome. It could have been so much worse. However; this did have a devastating effect on us financially. We had over $7000 dollars of medical bills in Nicaragua. It came at a bad time when we are struggling to make budget anyway.
As I said earlier these last few months have been a mixed bag. A lot of non-profits saw their donations fall off drastically last year. We've experienced that ourselves. We are probably operating on less funding now than we did when the stock market crashed at the end of 2008. But praise God we are still here. Many of the non-profits have had to close and many missionary families are leaving Nicaragua for lack of funding. But in all of this, God has been sufficient for New Life. He knows what we need and we are trusting Him! I really want to thank all of you who have stood by us over the years. Those who have come and worked beside us to accomplish the vision; those who pray for us and hold our arms up when we become weary and those who have given financially. Your faithfulness and encouragement has kept us going. Chris and I know our shortcomings, particularly in the area of communicating with you, and yet, you remain faithful. You are not focused on our shortcomings, your focus and giving is as unto the Lord, and He will greatly reward you. It's easy for me to say that, but it's so very true. There are some changes coming in the next few months that will give Chris and I the freedom to travel and speak and communicate more effectively.We are very excited and positive about the future and the vision the Lord has given us for the people of Nicaragua. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and may God pour out His abundant peace and blessings on you and your families.
Finally, if you have tried to communicate with us over the last few weeks and we haven't responded please be patient. I got overwhelmed while Chris was away trying to keep up with everything that Daddy, Mommy and ministry required. Chris has been home for a few days now and we are trying to get caught up. Thanks for your patience!