Friday, October 24, 2014

What Hope brings...



She climbed into the van with her baby boy clutched to her chest. Her eyes wide open, wondering if she could trust these people she had only met yesterday, and worried about the answers she was about to receive. She knew her son was sick, she just didn’t know how sick. 

That was a year ago on October 23. 


Stefany was the first teenager we received at Village of Hope, and I have to be honest- we were scared. Everyone had warned us- telling us to stick with little kids because they were easier. The second day she was there, we woke up really early to go with Stefany and her son Angel to the hospital. I sat with her for 12 hours that day outside of the intensive care unit, and we talked. She was just like any other 16 year old. She liked listening to One Direction and watching TV. She wanted to be an attorney when she grows up, and she loves eating pizza with her friends. 


The more we talked and she shared her story, the more I saw her scars and just how deep they were. She told me about her childhood and the abuse that had become normal. Expected. Taught. She shared with me how she felt unwanted, and that she looked everywhere- anywhere- for love. Those same abusive qualities that she had grown up with- she found in a boy. She didn’t know what love meant anymore. She told me about finding out that her baby growing inside of her had trisomy13, and how everyone told her that she should have an abortion, but she chose life. 

On November 19, 2013, at just 5 months old, Angel passed away.



I hugged her as she received the news. I will never forget the sound of her sobbing. We walked side by side into the morgue, where she hugged her baby boy for the last time. Her strength amazed me. I held her as her son was laid to rest- something no mom should ever have to go through. 


For several months after that, Stefany struggled, feeling like she had no purpose. There were times when she would cut herself out of desperation, or she would run off and hide, saying she wanted to escape. Sometimes I wondered if things would ever change, and I worried if we really could make a difference, knowing that time was the limit.

But, sometimes, in order to heal, you just need someone who will pick you up when you’ve hit rock bottom and be there to point you to the Rock. 

So I would find her, and we would talk. I told her that God had a plan for her life. I told her about the opportunity God had given her, but it was up to her to take advantage of it- to use the gifts He had given her. We talked about boys and finding the right one. One who treats you like a princess. We talked about love. We talked about second chances. We talked about forgiveness.


In February 2014, Stefany gave her life to Christ and was later baptized. She now has hope and purpose. She has learned how to put others before herself, and her joy is unexplainable. She loves using her talents of singing and dancing for the Lord, and she tells everyone of what He did in her.  Stefany radiates His love. 



Stefany will soon be 18, which means she will be given the freedom to decide what happens and where she goes. Last week we talked about her thoughts and her decisions. We had both been praying hard about it. She cried as she told me how she had come to Village of Hope with Angel and was now facing leaving without him.  We assured her that she was always welcome here, that no matter what she has a family and that we love her. She told me that she will never forget the lessons she learned, and the relationships she made, that if she leaves the first things she will do are to find a church and enroll in school, and she promised me that she wouldn’t settle for less than what she deserves in any relationship. I knew she was torn. She shared how much she would miss Village of Hope if she leaves, but that she misses her mom while she’s here. We prayed the same thing we had since the beginning- that God’s will be done. I stand confident knowing that Stefany had been given all the tools she needs. She knows what is safe, she knows what is right, and she has people that will love her and support her no matter what. I know that God is using her for great things. 


A lot can happen when someone is willing to walk with you and show you truth. A lot can happen when someone believes in you and patiently and lovingly lets you heal.



That’s where I fit in at Village of Hope. I’ve been provided a unique experience that enables me to understand both the American and the Guatemalan culture. The past three years that I have served in Guatemala I’ve seen more pain than most people do in a lifetime, and I have been privileged to walk alongside many on the road to healing. I have wept with those who weep and I have mourned with those who mourn, but mostly, I have loved. And I have seen tremendous healing come through love.


After graduating high school, I prayed a lot about what I was supposed to do. Most of my friends were walking across their college campus for the first time; I was walking across the mission field. I was already doing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life- using my life to point others to Christ.  So I am staying in Guatemala to continue serving and walking alongside the least, the lost, and the lonely. They may be in a crisis, but I believe that crisis’s can refine life. In the midst of the crisis you discover who you are and what you live for if only you have someone to help you make it through.
So now it time to step out as an adult missionary. My role will be as a crisis counselor-ministering to Guatemalan and American youth- to show them the One who carries them through the storm.

As I continue on this journey, I would love for you to partner with me. 

To make a donation go to: http://www.cten.org/addisynblock/

Friday, October 17, 2014

There’s something really special about a kid who has come full circle, a kid who was once the one being helped, but is now helping others. I can’t help but feel that way when I am around these precious kiddos. Their hearts amaze me. They had everything against them, every reason to hurt and to hurt others. If anyone had an excuse it was them. But that’s not who they are. 

They see others and they have compassion. 


They look for the outcasts and they include them. 


They identify the desperate and give them hope. 

 

They notice the poor and they share what they have. 

  

They recognize the hurting and show them love. 


That’s who they are, and I couldn’t be more proud. 





Thursday, August 21, 2014

That's what friends do.

This is my friend Alisia.


 (Photo courtesy of her big sister who wants to be a photographer.)

Alisia and her 3 older siblings live in Chixolis where we deliver food each week. Whenever the see the 15 passenger vans drive through they run outside yelling my name. I yell back for them, and they latch onto my side proudly trailing the group throughout their village.

Alicia and her siblings are being raised by their widowed grandmother in a simple house with no electricity and one shared bed. They have been abandoned and are normally cared for by whatever neighbor is around because their grandmother is old and has bad vision.

But they are my friends now.


Every week we bring them extra cookies along with their weekly food basket and every week they take me around introducing me to new friends and teaching me about the plants they grow. I teach them new English words and encourage them to be whatever God wants them to be. They tell me about their favorites ice cream and warn me about how to avoid the dogs. We laugh together as we walk hand in hand and take funny pictures, pausing to pray for a neighbor or a friend.

Last week before we said good-bye they told me that I'm no longer a gringa- a foreigner. They told me that I may be lighter than them, but they accept me as one of them.

That's what friends do. 



Friday, June 20, 2014

Love changes everything.

"I know it was wrong, but I just wanted someone to love me. My mom and dad never did."



I sat at a table across from her looking into her eyes. She was so young, but so tired and worn. I could see the pain wearing on her tiny body. How could anyone have tried to hurt her?

Some things don't make sense to me. I don't think I will ever understand why someone would abuse a child in this way, but its not my job to know. Its not my job to sit around asking questions. Its my job to act and to change things. 

We can't make a difference in the life of everyone, but for one- her life was changed because she has found the Father who will always love her, more than she will ever know.

When Michel first came to Village of Hope she told me that her mom went to church, but that she didn't want to turn out like her mom did. She didn't want anything to do with Jesus. 

Last week, Michel was baptized. 

Love changes everything.
 
 
"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty." - Mother Teresa

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Worth the Wait.

So many people want to settle into something that has already been established.

It the easy thing to do.

To just magically appear into the pre-cleared out promised land.

To move into the house that's already built and furnished.

To serve at the ministry that is already started and supported.

To marry the man that already has his careers and life plans figured out.

To preach to the congregation that is already there.

To work at the company that is already running.

None of those are bad things.

In fact, they're all really good.

But lately, God's been teaching me that some things are worth the effort, and sometimes the rewards are so much bigger if you wait, and work for them, and build with them.

So many times throughout the bible and especially in the old testament we can see examples of times when God promised something, yet for a long time, nothing seemed to be happening.

Its so easy to give up during those times, doubting ourselves and doubting God.

"Surely I must have make a mistake."

"Maybe God didn't really tell me that."

"God must have shut that door."

"Did He forget about me?"

Waiting is hard, especially for someone like me who doesn't have much patience. 

God easily could have brought the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land in a matter of minutes, but 40 years of waiting and praying made it so much more valuable when the goal was finally reached.

Joseph was sold into slavery and imprisoned for 13 years. God easily could sent him to the King immediately, but those 13 years were used to prepare him and teach him. Because of the wait, his story is so much more amazing. The wait made it so much more valuable. 

It could have been so much easier for my family to serve at a ministry that was already founded and funded, but being at Village of Hope since the very start and being a part and seeing it come together makes it so much more rewarding when we see lives changed. Because we know where we come from.

Some things might are easy to give up on, but if you stick through with it. It will be so much more valuable in the end.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Small things.

Some days I'm floating on clouds. I can't believe I get to live this life, yet other days I just want to go back to being comfortable. I'm not sure those feeling will ever go away- no matter how long I live here- but through all of the hard times I have seen God move mountains.



Lately, we have been attacked at every angle, and that excites me. It excites me because I know that every time Satan starts moving, God moves more. Its been hard and many times I have thought about giving up, but I won't quit. I know what lies ahead for me. I know who wins. So I celebrate the small victories like when Yesenia starts calling her houseparents mommy and daddy



and when Andres gets his first tooth



when Carlos learns to forgive

when Jessica realizes she never has to be alone



when Michel hears her baby's heart beat for the first time

when Vilma learns to write her name



when Stefany gets up the courage to dance for the Lord

when Griselda takes communion



and when Kimberly understands that she is valuable. 

The Holy Spirit is working here and lives are being changed, even when it hurts- not all at once, but through the small things. So I choose to praise Him.


Monday, March 17, 2014


“We must know that we have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. We have been created in order to love and to be loved.” -Mother Teresa