Now I lay me down to sleep…

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

– Matthew 25:40

This verse continues to drive me, almost haunts me.

Am I doing everything that we can here in Belize to reach out and love on the least of these?

Recently, Amy and I have started to pick up and take home one mom of one of the students in Madeline’s class.  She lives just as far as us and walks every day with her 2 week old and 13 month old.  I say this NOT to show you all “look at what we are doing” But for you to join us in praying for our hearts and minds to recognize these opportunities SOONER!

On to the title of this blog, everyone is familiar with the soft prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep

 I pray the Lord my soul to keep….

Some of us say it to our own kids or kids we baby sit.  Some may even had it said to them by their own parents.  But here’s a question. Have you ever stopped to think about for a moment?  Where I am laying down this child?  For most of us, it’s a comfortable bed, where we rest peacefully at night.

It’s no news to anyone that many children all over the world don’t have a bed to call their own.  What may be news to some is that in Belize it is no different.  It is estimated that over 1/2 of the children in Belize have no bed to call their own.  Many sleep on a dirt floor covered with a light blanket.  The privileged ones sleep wrapped up in hammocks or on the egg-crate foam many of us had on our beds in college to make the SOFTER.

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I was speaking to one of my good friends early this summer and he was getting ready to finish at the University.  At the same time, he needed to move out of where he was living and go back to live with family closer to the school.  I asked him (knowing how he grew up) where are you going to sleep?  He answered “back on the floor with a sheet.”  My heart broke and I realized what a luxury  a bed can be.

When Tony, Jeff, Bob and I were planning our mission trips to Belize through Praying Pelican Missions, we got the idea through consult with Pastor Henry in Sandhill to build bunk beds for every child in the village.

It was one of the largest blessings of my life to see the joy in the kids’ eyes as they looked at the team cutting, nailing, decorating, their bed….their bed.  For many of them the only response was laughter. For some of them, sharing everything they owned (clothes included) is just part of life.  Here they were getting something of their very own.

For the parents it meant finally getting time away from the kids, getting kids out of their bed (if they had one) and feeling safe and secure about where their kids were sleeping at night.

Off the floor

Away from the dirt, the scorpions, tarantulas, etc.

For 250 USD, we were able to build 1 bunk bed set complete with mattress, sheets, and pillows and bring a HUGE blessing of joy to a family.

Tony's wife, Kathy, and team member Justin delivering one of the 8 sets of Bunk beds.

Tony’s wife, Kathy, and team member Justin delivering one of the 8 sets of Bunk beds.

As Tony and Jeff continue to come back to Sandhill year after year, one day it is my prayer that every child in that village has a bed to call their own.  I desire the joy in that picture to be in every home in Sandhill.

I got to thinking, honestly, why does this only happen in Sandhill?  Why can’t we share this idea with our other teams?  Tony, Jeff and I have the supply list, the blue prints, and the estimate.

SO my prayer is this coming year that more of our teams adopt a village and make it their ambition to do for the least of these as if they were doing for the King of King, living out Matthew 25:40.

What if kids all over Belize were able lay their head down to sleep in their own bed?

Praises / Prayer Requests:

  • Get Away Weekend:  Amy and I (with Elijah) are heading to Placencia this weekend.  Pray that it is a great time for us to rest, refresh, rejuvenate.  Pray that Madeline and Jojo are well-behaved for Ms. Jen, our gracious babysitter
  • Upcoming Trip:  I am leading a trip starting next weekend.  The team has a very dynamic school ministry focused around “stop the violence”  I am super excited about the impact this could have on the older elementary school children.  Pray that the school ministry touches the students and changes lives.
  • Alone Time For Amy:  We are realizing that Amy needs some alone time (daily) and extended alone time (weekly).  Pray that we are creative in creating this time for her to rest and refresh.
  • Fundraising:  We are starting on the fundraising kick for 2014.  We will be contacting our monthly supporters about continuing next year and looking to on-board additional one time supporters.  Pray that God will pave our way and place us with men and women of generosity.

Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for loving and supporting us.  We are so blessed to have all of you in our life.  we look forward to sharing with you about Placencia when we return!  We pray you all have a blessed weekend!

Clowns, Mimes, puppets OH MY

Thank you for praying! Thank you for petitioning the Lord, interceding on behalf of Pastor Ed, Koinonia Oasis Ministries.  Thank you for praying on behalf of the kids of Belize.

Amy and I got to participate in Children’s Ministry training this weekend.  Here are the stats:

  • 3 countries represented: Mexico, Belize, El Salvador
  • 63 churches
  • 160 participants
  • Over 7000 kids represented

It was a HUGE blessing to be part of a group of people willing to do whatever it takes, to PROUDLY act like a FOOL for GOD, to draw children to Jesus.

We were not without attack from the Enemy.  Spiritual Warfare was alive and well.

  • Pastor Ed’s wife, Dyna, and son Jonathan were very ill the whole weekend
  • One of Pastor Ed’s teachers was ill was well.
  • Pastor Ed himself was sick
  • The only means of transportation, Pastor Ed’s van, was down for the whole training

Yes Satan and his demons were on the move against what the Lord was doing with these FOOLS FOR CHRIST.  But the thing about God is that Our God is Great, Our God is Stronger and He prevailed.  He has the victory and He had the Victory this past weekend!

Saturday and Sunday was filled with instruction, practices, really a practicum of sorts.  During the last session on Sunday afternoon, we all dressed as either a mime or clown or had our puppets and marched through the streets of a village to the local park.  It was something out of a movie as you saw clowns and mimes coming from each direction through the streets, descending on the basketball court in the center of the park.

Then we sang songs, danced dances, did skits, did tricks, and shared Jesus with about 50 kids plus parents.

At the end of the time we offered an invitation and 6 kids from the village, 6 kids who peeped out of their windows to see people acting like fools for God, 6 curious kids, prayed to receive CHRIST!! God is so good!

Thank you for praying!  Thank you for being part of those children meeting the Lord!  Thank you for loving us!  Here are some pictures from the weekend!

Rob came to deliver the key note address to the training.  I am so blessed to have him as a boss!

Rob came to deliver the key note address to the training. I am so blessed to have him as a boss!

Some of the kids listening to the stories

Some of the kids listening to the stories

more pictures of the kids

more pictures of the kids

Everyone all dressed up and ready to go!

Everyone all dressed up and ready to go!

with two of Pastor Ed's team

with two of Pastor Ed’s team

A powerful family for God!

A powerful family for God!

The kids were great on Sunday. They played all morning with scrap wood and coke bottle caps

The kids were great on Sunday. They played all morning with scrap wood and coke bottle caps

I LOVE the concentration

I LOVE the concentration

Here they come.  It's like Field of Dreams

Here they come. It’s like Field of Dreams

Everyone before we dressed up

Everyone before we dressed up

A great show!

A great show!

 

 

Special Prayer Request – Oct 11-13 Weekend

I will write a more complete update after the weekend.  However, I wanted y’all to be in prayer for something very particular this weekend.

This weekend, our ministry partner and friend, Pastor Ed Perez and his team are hosting their 8th Children’s Ministry Conference.  They host this conference 3 to 4 times per year specifically to engage and equip pastors and leaders in Belize to minister to children in their local village.  It began in 2011 with a conference where 8 churches were represented.

This weekend there are 65 churches currently registered for the training.  Conservatively estimating an average of 100 kids per church that’s over 6000 children all over Belize that are being blessed by this ministry.

This weekend Amy and I are reaching way back to our Kid City days at Hope Community Church and are teaching children’s song choreography to all the attendees.  We are stoked to be able to contribute a small part to help engage the children of Belize on their level.  Plus, how awesome is it going to be to hear “Oh Happy Day” and “Jesus You are My Best Friend” all over Belize?1?

In addition to that, I get the opportunity to sit down with approximately 65 pastors and hear about their ministry, their heart, and their needs.  Many of the pastors I already know so it is a reunion with some friends.  Others I have never met and I get the chance to listen, encourage and pray for them.  What an honor!

An example from yesterday:

Pastor Ed and I drove to the Guatemala border to pick up two pastors representing over 165 churches in El Salvador.  These pastors heard about his training and road non-stop 12+ hours on a bus, and slept in a bus terminal overnight to attend Pastor Ed’s training.  Their desire is to replicate the training they observe here in El Salvador.  I was able to sit and hear the struggles of El Salvador, stories of street kids and crime.  I heard stories of drugs and I heard stories of their churches.  Those were stories of rescue and redemption.  I heard how they are going to apply what they learn at Pastor Ed’s training to the street kids all around El Salvador.  I was humbled.

As you are doing your thing this weekend, including watching college football, take a moment and pray for us.  Pray for…

  • 75 churches to attend Pastor Ed’s training
  • Our family as we are gone from home all day on Saturday and Sunday.  Pray specifically for the kids to behave and for Amy to have low anxiety.
  • My conversations with pastors.  Pray that I can listen authentically and shut my mouth.  Pray that the Lord gives me wisdom and discernment on how to encourage them.
  • Pastor Ed and his family and ministry team.  Pray for super natural strength over the weekend and pray that Monday begins a long and well-deserved week of rest.

Pastor Ed’s ministry has a slogan or really a vision they operate by: “Changing Belize one child at a time.”  As Pastor Ed and I have talked, I was encouraging him to change it to “Changing Central America one child at a time.”  El Salvador is the first step.  Guatemala next year….then who knows?  Praise God for the doors he is opening and the man of God that is leading a team to answer when God knocks!  Our family is truly blessed to partner with Pastor Ed in ministry but more importantly call him a friend.

Pastor Ed and a VBS character at one of the 3 VBS his church did this year!

Pastor Ed and a VBS character at one of the 3 VBS his church did this year!

With our the El Salvadorian pastor's back after picking them up from the border

With our the El Salvadorian pastor’s back after picking them up from the border

 And for the family and close friends who desire to see pics of our family. Here are Amy and the kids doing Halloween crafts on Saturday.  It was AWESOME!!
Decorating paper plate pumpkins!

Decorating paper plate pumpkins!

After decorating his hand-print bats

After decorating his hand-print bats

Look mommy messy hands

Look mommy messy hands

A lifelong learner

So I like to consider myself a life-long learner.  I do enjoy reading and developing new skills.  By no means am I an Andy (who takes learning to new heights as he “masters” them).  His mastery is something to behold as he purchases top-of-the line equipment or more correctly purchases materials to make top of the line equipment.

No I like to learn by reading new books or trying to change my hand-writing style or learning to play basketball left-handed.  A life-long learner for sure.

There are some things that I have come to accept as “nothing I can do about it.”  Take learning the guitar as an example.  I love the guitar.  I love the sound of the guitar.  I love listening to the guitar and vocals in particular in worship as co-workers of mine play it (mainly Lorelee, Buda, or Ashley Rocke).  I in fact would love to play the guitar.  I have a guitar.  I have tried to play it.  I can even read music. Just at this time in my life, learning to the play the guitar….well “nothing I can do about it.”

One of my favorite things to learn about is …. Belize.  And this time of year is my primary learning season.  Over the last few weeks God has opened my eyes to the needs all over Belize.  I was at a crossroads.  I can respond as I learn the needs of this wonderful country OR I could look into a Pastor’s eye and say “nothing I can do about it”

And more importantly THE LORD has “learned me” in what I can do to equip our Praying Pelican Mission teams to meet these needs.  Over the next couple of weeks, I would like to highlight some of those needs here and the opportunities our teams have to meet them.  Here is where I was convicted and how the Lord spoke to me:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40

Clean Drinking Water

I know we have all seen the pictures of distended bellies and orange hair on young children.  Those pictures are only from Africa or another “3rd world country.”  I thought to myself surely that problem of clean drinking water isn’t here in Belize.  I mean this is a developing country, only 350K people in total population.  But there I was last week listening to Pastor Elizabeth in the Cayo district telling me about a community her church serves…Boiton.

Boiton, a community of 60 families.  A community where there is no electricity or running water.  A community where elderly, parents, kids, everyone, drinks from the stream.  A stream that’s dirty with ….well you can imagine with what.

When I asked the Pastor what the number one problem was for her community, she immediately with tears in her eyes told me malnutrition for the children of Boiton.  When I asked her what specifically the problem with malnutrition, she mentioned me to “the water is dirty.”  When I pressed more, she then let me know about children, young children drinking this river water.  I was shocked.  Distended bellies here in Belize?!?

As Pastor Ed and I left, my mind immediately went to fresh-water drinking wells (ya know the kind you drill in the ground).  Surely that would work.  Or large scale purification systems.  I went on Facebook and asked around about slick water purification systems and you all responded (thank you by the way).

I saw Pastor Ed the Saturday after our visit and counseled with him.  What can we do?  He said often the best answers are the simplest.  He said we don’t have to make the situation PERFECT, we just need to improve it.

Rain water.  Many many people here in Belize drink rain water.  For $115 USD, we can provide one family with a 120 gallon rain barrel.  Another 50 USD for lumber for stand, some screening, and funnel from the gutters to the top.  That’s approximately 150 USD per family for a life change of collecting rain water.

150 USD could potentially change the course of a Boiton family’s life.

So what?  If there’s one Boiton in Belize; there has to be another one.

As these needs come up, I feel compelled to show that they are real.  I am spending time now developing a ministries options handbook for our teams that serve in Belize.  The ministry options would surround the following:

  • Meeting real concrete physical needs in a sustainable way: – Serving the least of these
    •  Food – chicken coups, gardening,
    • Clean Drinking Water
    • School Fees
  • Ministerial Training – equipping for the works of the saints
    • Worship Leading
    • Youth Ministry
    • Evangelism, etc
  • Vocational Training – teach a man to fish
    • Trade Training
    • Computer literacy
    • English as a second language
    • Literacy for English and Spanish speakers

More to come on each category at least for sure.  But for now I continue to desire to serve the least of these and equip our teams to serve the least of these because when they do they are serving the Lord.   As I learn…more to come.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the community of Boiton.  Pray for good health and for the team that is serving there this spring.
  • Sickness in our home – We have recovered from the stomach bug.  Now Madeline has croup that then has turned into a bacterial infection!  Pray for healing!
  • Parental Patience – Jojo’s favorite word is NO.  Pray for me and Amy.
  • Pastor Ed’s Training – Next week P. Ed and his team are leading a children’s ministry training for 70+ churches representing approximately 10,000 kids across Belize and Central America.  Pray for logistics.  Pray for rest for Pastor Ed and his team after this is complete.

Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you for your love.  Thank you for your support.  We look forward to sharing with you more needs of Belize and specifically how the Lord is leading us to help get those needs met!  These are exciting time and the best is yet to come!

Amy and I were teaching some of P. Ed's children's ministry workers dance moves

Amy and I were teaching some of P. Ed’s children’s ministry workers dance moves

Worshiping with P. Ed's children's ministry team

Worshiping with P. Ed’s children’s ministry team

Madeline's mommy always has the best crafts

Madeline’s mommy always has the best crafts

Little man is 2 months old!

Little man is 2 months old!

Family picture! (someone had to take the picture)

Family picture! (someone had to take the picture)