Thursday, March 4, 2010

Uno Mos Birthday!

The last in my series of birthdays we celebrated in February is that of our sweet Cristina. For those who don't know Cristina, you can click here and here to read previous posts on her that have some silly videos of her and describe our relationship and history with her in detail. This Feb we celebrated her 16th birthday! Sadly we could not celebrate with her as she in in Guatemala and we can't just fly down there, but we were celebrating with her in spirit for sure. I know several of you have been to Guatemala with us and have met her yourselves and can attest to what an amazing girl she truly is but for those of you who haven't met her words can't describe just how great she is. I thank God literally everyday for putting her in our lives and using us to minister to her. I know we have taught her a lot and helped her but I personally have learned so much from this girl. She is so wise beyond her years. I have to admit when I first met her I would never have guessed at the dramatic turn around she has made! She was always just as sweet as could be with us from the start but as I spent time with her I realized she got in fights a lot with her peers and spent a lot of time in punishment. She was hurting so bad, her little heart was just in pieces and she acted out a lot as a result. I would go looking for her after we finished working only to find out she had punched someone and was having to sit out from everything. Her grades were horrible b/c she had just arrived at Casa and never been in school before so it was a struggle and big adjustment to learn how to study. We had written letters back and forth for almost 2 years before we finally met her and I remember the night after spending our first day with her Sam teased me and said.. well you did it! You've managed to find someone a girl just like Hannah all the way in Guatemala! ha ha!

In all honesty, I was even a little shocked myself at how God had yet again hooked me up with a little girl who had SO MUCH POTENTIAL yet was being held back by all the junk from her past and issues she was dealing with. I remember thinking, I am seeing a pattern here God! One is difficult enough, now 2?? I trusted Him with it all though and boy am I ever glad I did. I remember praying so hard that night in the good ol' Gringo dorm. I just kept asking God to use me b/c I was not ok with her past defining her future. "Not her Lord, she is so special. Use her God. Turn her ashes to beauty, use her awful past to glorify you, please God help me to help her. Guide me and give me wisdom with each situation we encounter with her, let my arms be your arms that hug her. Let her see that each tear I wipe away is really you, loving on her. Fill both of our hearts with lots of good memories bathed in love. Help me to love her as best I can so she can truly see her see her real beauty and importance on this earth. Whisper dreams and goals into her heart. Please begin to work on her future husband's heart too Lord. Please give her a strong Godly man who will care for her and love her forever. Most importantly, Lord please use her to advance your kingdom. Please give her a mighty role to play in winning people over for you. Please put people in her path to point her towards you so that she will one day come to know you and want a relationship with you. More than anything Lord I beg you to please soften her heart so she will give her life to you one day." My prayers for her didn't obviously stop that night, I continued to pray each day for her year after year. Each letter we get from her is like gold to us. God has just grown our relationship more than I ever hoped for in my wildest dreams. He has changed her, from the inside out. She is not only a strong growing Christian living her life out for Him but she feels called to full time ministry and wants to be a missionary! Isn't our God amazing??? She has had a serious difficult time at Casa for some of the choices she has made for God. Sure it is a Christian children's home but...she still lives with 500 other kids and teens! Being a teen ager is hard but it is even more difficult when you don't have parents to help walk you through and when you share a dorm with 40 or 50 other girls your age who tease you and mock you b/c you are different. I am really proud of her for the decisions she has made and I was yet again, blown away by her when we saw her in August. We both skipped out of something (shhh... don't tell, he he) so we could just sit and chat and we talked for 2 1/2 hours with no interruptions, which is hard to do in a place like that. At one point I had a tear roll down my cheek and Cristina said "oh Teri, you sad? What is matter? I say wrong thing?" and I just smiled and grabbed her in a big hug and said "nope, I am just so proud of you and so happy to be sitting here with you, is all". I told her I am actually more than proud but I don't have a word for that so we created the word "muimuchoistoproud" ha ha. So silly. I have talked with Mike (the director at Casa) a few times about getting her some good devotion books and mentoring, etc. I feel like I bug him but I just can't help it, the mama bear in me comes out and I just want to be sure she has plenty of resources to guide her. He thankfully has been so wonderful and helpful with it all, very receptive which is good.

Please pray for our girl, 16 is hard and you feel stuck between a woman and a girl. Emotions are all over the place and it can be a rough age. I know she is struggling now in some way. God has placed her so heavy on my heart each and every day. I dream about her every night. I haven't had a letter in over 2 months so I am not sure what is going on but please pray for God to keep her strong in her faith, to take away any doubts or insecurities she may have about herself. Pray for her relationship with her boyfriend, that God would continue to grow them closer to each other through their relationship with Him, pray for her education that she will continue to study hard and seek help with the things that are difficult (particularly math, it is as if she inherited my poor math gene and we aren't even related!) and lastly, please pray for her new dorm situation. Please pray for her family, she has an older sister at Casa and several other siblings somewhere but they have never visited the girls there. Cristina seeks out the kids at Casa who speek Catchiqual (sp?), a Mayan dialect that her family spoke, so she can be fresh on her language skills for when she finds them so she can share how God changed her life. Pray that one day she can be reunited with them if it is God's will. Carolyn (her old dorm parent) messaged me that Cristina left Esperanza Abajo and asked to go to Doncelles (the next dorm up) for a particular reason but she and I both think it was really something related to a disagreement with a friend or something. Pray that she will adjust well and find a good strong Christian friend in that dorm. She has had problems relating to the other girls b/c she doesn't get in to all the silly gossipy typical stuff so they exclude her and make fun of her. Lastly, please pray that anytime she feels lonely or thinks of leaving Casa that God will remind her of how many people here in the states love her and that He would fill that emptiness in her heart and keep her goals and dreams in mind. I pray she will stay at Casa and finish her education, it is so important.

Thank you for praying for our girl! It means the world to us and it is really all we can do from here, other than write to her, so lets flood those gates of Heaven on her behalf!

I included a couple videos from our last trip. I had no idea she and Sam made these, so it was fun surprise when we got home. It was getting dark outside so is a little difficult to see. The first video is him prepping her on who to talk to.. his family and mine. She knows all of our family so well from pictures so when he says.. "Say hi to my mom and dad" she responds with "and your sister sarah..awwww!" I can't wait to show her pics from Sarah's wedding, she was so excited that Sarah was getting married and asked that we bring Brennan to meet her. Ha ha! I will include translation at the bottom, after the videos b/c she was too shy to do in English so she said.. you have Gloria tell you what I say, yes?

I love him even more because he loves her so much!
We always bring videos of our friends and family for her but this year it was of Sammy actually talking to her in Spanish which she loved and some of him dancing and singing for her. We had some of Gloria and her kids again speaking to her in Spanish and she loved seeing "mi Gloria" as she calls her. The other girl in the pic is Julissa who I have nicknamed JJ and we love her so much too. JJ is one of the many kids there who are forever in our hearts.
Look at us now... we have all grown so much from that first day all those many years ago! God is so freaking cool!

Here are the videos she and Sam made together. I share them not to "toot our own horn", please don't interpret it as that but rather to encourage you to either begin sponsoring a child (children) or if you already do then to write them letters each month to build your relationship with them. It really can make ALL the difference in their lives, you can be the person to show them God's love and to show them they have value and matter to you. Show them that someone cares about them and wants to know them and be a part of their lives.

Video 1 Translation:
Hi, I am so happy to have you and Sam here with me. I am feeling so happy inside because you are here and I can be with you too. I am so proud of the work you do and the words you have said to me. I am so happy to be able to talk to you here and because of what you have told me I can continue and grow stronger with God. Phillipians 4:13 is true for me as you . Gloria I pray for you everyday sometimes I forget but I try to pray for you each day too. I pray everyday for Sam, Teri, and Samuelito and I pray for Samuelito to continue to learn more Spanish everyday, so he can learn more and more Spanish. I love you so much and I love your family too. Sam, Sue, Sarah, and your Mom and Dad (Richard that is you!) too. Everyone in your family I love. Oh, now I spoke English and Spanish in this that is silly

Video 2 Translation:
Teri, everyday I am going to pray for you wherever you go. You are a wonderful compassionate sponsor I love you so much, too much too much. I hope you have prosperity and I pray for Sam to get a good job soon. I know he will and I know God will provide a good one for you I believe it. Gloria thank you for always helping us with words and to speak to each other, thank you for your gifts for my necklace and clothes. Thank you all of you thank you so much for everything.