Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sobering News

I wanted to ask you to be praying for Casa de Amor ["House of Love" in Spanish] in Bolivia. I know some of you have heard me mention this orphanage because it is just so dear to my heart. My friend Jennifer Thompson has worked so hard to give these homeless children of Bolivia a truly safe home, and God has blessed her efforts in so many ways. Casa de Amor now has three sites, with about 40 children total. While I have never actually been able to go there to work with them, I have loved Casa de Amor since it was first started about 4 years ago; in fact, I have been praying for a long time that God would let me go to Bolivia and work with them. Hopefully I will be able to do that once I graduate from nursing school. I know that they have a great need for people with medical knowledge to help care for all the children they have with medical issues.

Right before Christmas, Casa de Amor accepted a new baby to the Baby Home, not knowing that he had chicken pox. Unfortunately, chicken pox is extremely contagious and the children have all gradually become sick with it, with each one becoming sicker than the previous one. Friday morning, one of the youngest babies in the Baby Home, 4 month old Gabriela, passed away due to complications from the chicken pox virus. Her twin brother is still fighting chicken pox pneumonia, another complication of the chicken pox. I am crying as I write this. I have loved looking at Gabriela's pictures and seeing her with her brother and the other babies of Casa de Amor. I wish I could have known her. Please pray for all these children and also for their caregivers. I know that they are all grieving, but they are still also trying to make sure that they don't lose any more of these precious children. Please also pray for all of the children of Bolivia, thousands of whom still live on the streets.

Monday, January 12, 2009


zOver the past few years I have volunteered with Hope Extreme, an amazing organization run by my friend Tara. They offer tutoring and outreach to urban children in Houma, a town about an hour from where I live. My best friend Amber's heart is totally devoted to Hope Extreme, and I was introduced to it through her. This past semester I went every Tuesday to tutor for a few hours. Getting to know the kids has been such a blessing! They are so special, each and every one of them.

On December 22, one of the kids that was very special to Hope Extreme passed away suddenly. The funeral service was one of the saddest and yet most joyful I have ever been to. Although he was young, Jaquan didn't waste his life. He lived for his Lord, and left an example for everyone who knew him. Please keep his family and Hope Extreme in your prayers; as you can imagine, it has been extremely hard on everyone involved. Please pray also that the impact he had will continue to linger, even stronger through his death. We are praying that all the kids who knew him will realize the brevity of life, and how important it is to not waste one minute. Your next breath is not guaranteed. Not one person knows how long he/she has left on this earth.

Here is what Tara wrote about Jaquan:
The Psalmist writes "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me..." In earthly terms our human shadows are caused by a greater light that displays but a vague glimpse of our earthly image. In this passage the psalmist is aware that the shadow of death is also caused by a greater source, the all encompassing light of God shining in such a way that we are to know that "his rod and staff will comfort us."

This past month that shadow passed over Hope Extreme. Sixteen-year-old Jaquan Veal, who had been with Hope Extreme since our beginning, passed away on December 22. About twenty kids were here at the center the night we learned of his passing; as you can imagine, life here has not been the same.

We have mourned. We have doubted. We have cried. We have remembered that God is the God of second chances. Jaquan had a heart transplant almost three years ago which at the time left him blind and partially paralyzed. God gave Jaquan his life back, his sight back, and his body back and we were so thankful. Jaquan knew that his life was but a fleeting breath and dedicated it to the God who saved him. Jaquan often said that he received two hearts...a physical one, but more importantly a spiritual one, the latter which is eternal.

Though our tragedy is great, through Jaquan's life - and through those who came closer to God as a result of his death - there is greater triumph. And that is how we chose to ring in the New Year, in God's Almighty Triumph.

Jaquan and Amber

Thursday, January 1, 2009

"Life, I Love Thee"

The past few months, I've been reading The Journals of Jim Elliot. I love this book. Reading of Jim Elliot's struggles and victories have helped me so much in my own Christian walk. Yesterday as I was reading, I ran across a journal entry that was very convicting to me. I don't like life a lot of times. I really struggle with finding joy in a lot of it. I want to "live to the hilt every situation", as he says elsewhere, but I don't find myself doing that often enough.

On December 24, 1951 (only 4 years before his death), Jim Elliot wrote:

"Only I know that my own life is full. It is time to die, for I have had all a young man can have--at least all this young man can have. If there were no further issue from my training, it would be well--the training has been good and to the glory of God. I am ready to meet Jesus. Failure means nothing now, only that it taught me life. Success is meaningless, only that it gave me further experience for using the great gift of God--Life. And Life, I love thee, not because thou art long, or because thou hast done great things for me, but simply because I have thee from God. This writing is part of thee, and I am glad to write; not that there is any purpose in it for others--it is simply part of Life, and Life I have come to love."

Oh God, I pray that I will be able to enjoy life so fully someday!!