Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iglesia Cristiana de Casa Hogar Douglas

I made this slideshow of the remodeling work we just completed at the church at Casa Hogar Douglas. This project is probably the project I have been most excited about in over 2 years. I believe we are making a difference in eternity for the 80 kids that call this place home! There is nothing better than to worship our Heavenly Father together with kids!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Casa Hogar Douglas Christian Church - Then and Now

Our favorite song we sing in the Douglas church is "Te Doy Gloria." In English it is "I Give You Glory."  Check out the photos of 6 months ago compared to today and you might understand why this song has become one of our favorites.

One of our first worship services

Inside the church today.

When we started


Monday, June 15, 2009

Caregiver Party

Today, I was with an American group working at Casa Hogar Douglas. At 4 in the afternoon, we let all the caregivers from the children's home have a couple of free hours. While the group helped take care of the 70+ kids in the children's home, these ladies went to our house and had a little free time together. They were joined by Rosa, Maru, Kathy, Kelly and Betty from our Back2Back staff. It was just a couple of hours break for them, but you can tell by the photo that they had a great time! As we serve the kids from this home, we want to lift up the workers that care for them 24/7.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Back2Back is shoulder to shoulder in Rio 3

This is a picture of Betty and Olga walking shoulder to shoulder in Rio 3. The term we use in English "back to back" is translated "shoulder to shoulder" in Spanish. It is the idea of supporting one another. 
In the poverty filled community that we call Rio 3, Back2Back supports Olga as she ministers to hundreds of children there. It is a hard job to look after the many needs of so many kids. Most of the children live with families that make less than $2.50 per day. That, along with the fact that many women are not very educated and have 4, 5 or 6 kids to care for, means that many children are not properly cared for. When we are there, I feel the heavy burden of caring for the physical and spiritual needs of these kids. Olga experiences this burden almost every day as she tries to feed hundreds of hungry children. 
Betty and Olga have developed a special relationship as they have worked together this past year. We have not always been able to help Olga with all of the needs that she has. But, she knows that we will do all that we can to "stand in the gap" for her ministry and these kids. Her husband, drives a cab to support their family. Their life is a very humble life of service for the Lord. We sometimes take the 2 of them out to breakfast just to fellowship and talk about needs that they have. They are, like many of you, more than ministry partners. They are family that we stand "shoulder to shoulder" and "back to back" with as we serve God.
The picture of Betty and Olga, is how we feel about our relationship with you, our supporters. We feel lifted up by your love, prayers and financial support. We could not be here without you.
Betty and I want to thank you for all you do for us. We are all God's children. Brothers and sisters serving Back2Back!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Abundant Talent in the church at Casa Hogar Douglas

One of our goals with the church we have at Casa Hogar Douglas is to use the talents of the youth in our worship services. We have so much talent in the young people we serve. As they desire to use their talents to serve God, we want to help them. Some of our teens can sing or play musical instruments and they have, or soon will be using their talents in our worship services. We ask the older children from the children's home to read scripture or usher almost every week. A group of our high school and college students practiced and performed a very moving drama a few weeks ago. It was their idea! And, the picture above is 3 year old Diego. He is the nephew of Beto, one of our worship leaders. Last week, he showed us that he is not long away from helping us on the drums! I'm not kidding. You can't hardly see him behind the drums in the photo but he's very good for 3!
The point is, we want all of the kids to use their talents for the Lord. We believe we have many talents and that the young people's interest will grow as they are permitted to use them. The kids feel like this is "their church." They are very proud when American groups come to visit each week. I never have to worry about cleaning the church. The kids from the children's home sweep, mop, wash the windows and set up the chairs before each service. Without fail. A few of the boys even volunteered to help with the remodeling as we have been working on the building. Whatever their talent or ability is, they are using them to serve the Lord. It has been a very cool thing to watch them grow and be excited about their church!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Shelter - Refugio

The month of June is the beginning of a new "season" for us. It is an intense 2 months of American groups arriving on Saturdays and serving alongside of us for 6 days. This year, 700 people will travel here to assist us in serving the orphan child during June and July. Our theme this year is "Shelter" or in Spanish, "Refugio." We will be studying Psalm 91, Isaiah 58 and other scriptures, each week as we reflect on how God "shelters" us. As we have prepared for this time, we have discovered that "God's shelter" for us is MUCH MORE than what we have thought in the past. It is much more than a house or a roof over our head.
For me personally, I am one who likes to live "out in the open" or "free". But I also realize that I am in constant need of "God's shelter" in my life. I have already come to love the words of Psalm 91, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." 

I am absolutely certain He will find you!

A True Story Father John Powell, professor at Loyola University in Chicago , writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class


Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith.


That was the day I first saw Tommy.  My eyes and my mind both blinked. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders.


It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long.  I guess it was just coming into fashion then.  I know in my mind that it isn't what's on your head but what's in it that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped.  I immediately filed Tommy under 'S' for strange.... very strange.


Tommy turned out to be the 'atheist in residence' in my Theology of Faith course.  He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God.  We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.


When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a cynical tone, 'Do you think I'll ever find God?'


I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. 'No!'  I said very emphatically.  'Why not,' he responded, 'I thought that was the product you were pushing.'


I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then called out, 'Tommy!  I don't think you'll ever find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!'  He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.


I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line -- He will find you!  At least I thought it was clever.  Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was duly grateful.


Then a sad report came.  I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer.  Before I could search him out, he came to see me.  When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy.  But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.  'Tommy, I've thought about you so often; I hear you are sick,' I blurted out.


'Oh, yes, very sick.  I have cancer in both lungs.  It's a matter of weeks.'


'Can you talk about it, Tom?' I asked.


'Sure, what would you like to know?' he replied.


'What's it like to be only twenty-four and dying?'


'Well, it could be worse.'


'Like what?'


'Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze,seducing women, and making money are the real biggies in life.'


I began to look through my mental file cabinet under 'S' where I had filed Tommy as strange.  (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.)


'But what I really came to see you about,' Tom said, 'is something you said to me on the last day of class.'  (He remembered!)  He continued, 'I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, 'No!' which surprised me.  Then you said, 'But He will find you.'  I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time.


(My clever line. He thought about that a lot!)


'But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, that's when I got serious about locating God.  And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven.  But God did not come out.  In fact, nothing happened.  Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success?  You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying.  And then you quit 'Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit.


I decided that I didn't really care about God, about an after life, or anything like that.  I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable.  I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: 'The essential sadness is to go through life without loving.  But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.''


'So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad.  He was reading the newspaper when I approached him.




'Yes, what?' he asked without lowering the newspaper.


'Dad, I would like to talk with you.'


'Well, talk.'


'I mean.  It's really important.'


The newspaper came down three slow inches.  'What is it?'


'Dad, I love you, I just wanted you to know that.'  Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him.  'The newspaper fluttered to the floor.  Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before.  He cried and he hugged me.  We talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning.  It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me.'


'It was easier with my mother and little brother.  They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other.   We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years.


'I was only sorry about one thing --- that I had waited so long.  Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.'


Then, one day I turned around and God was there.  He didn't come to me when I pleaded with Him.  I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, 'C'mon, jump through.  C'mon, I'll give you three days, three weeks.''


'Apparently God does things in His own way and at His own hour.  But the important thing is that He was there.  He found me!


You were right.  He found me even after I stopped looking for Him'


'Tommy,' I practically gasped, 'I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize.


To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make Him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love.  You know, the Apostle John said that.  He said: 'God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.'


Tom, could I ask you a favor?  You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain.  But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now.  Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me?  If I told them the same thing it wouldn't be half as effective as if you were to tell it'


'Oooh. I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm ready for your class.'


'Tom, think about it.  If and when you are ready, give me a call.'


In a few days Tom called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me.  So we scheduled a date.


However, he never made it.  He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class.  Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed.  He made the great step from faith into vision.


He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined.


Before he died, we talked one last time.


'I'm not going to make it to your class,' he said.


'I know, Tom.'


'Will you tell them for me?  Will you ... tell the whole world for me?'


'I will, Tom.  I'll tell them.  I'll do my best.'


So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read this simple story about God's love, thank you for listening.  And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven --- I told them, Tommy, as best I could.


With thanks,

Rev. John Powell, Professor, Loyola University , Chicago