I sort of laughed last summer when Dwayne told me the first day in Guatemala, "Shannon, you are brown on the inside." And as the trip unfolded I realized, God had been preparing me for such a place. I loved the diversity of growing up in South Texas. I loved the smells and European style of my time in Argentina one summer. It is special to me that Phil and I really met at Mexican orphanage, while on a mission trip in college. I love bright colors and hearing prayers in Spanish. And since coming back, I have felt a tug on my own heart to return.
It's a hard thing to explain really...It's not the sandy beaches or the great spa (usual lures for me), rather a longing to be a part of something transforming, see my friends and remember the lessons I learned last July. I am so thankful to Phil for nudging me on to go, though I managed to think of every reason why I should not. I'm grateful for the freedom he has given me. The truth is, he knows my heart (though sometimes out of stubbornness I hate to admit it). Through his own journeys this past year to see John Eldredge, baseball in Omaha, etc...He realizes that time like this is precious and refreshing. So, he will be watching kids while I'm away and I'm sure they will have great fun with him playing Mr. Mom. After all, Addie did learn to eat chicken off the bone and give greasy fives while I was away on a trip! I never think of stuff that fun!!
I remember last year having terrible anxiety about leaving Ryan and Addie. It was hard, but we talked everyday on the phone and that made it much easier. Also, after loving on so many kids (Dulce, the "lost boys" and others) I realized...God sent me there to be a mom for kids that don't get love from their own. Also, God used it to remind me that my own children need my love more than anything else this world and WE ARE BLESSED!
Last year, we were privileged to help Tita (the woman who started the only school in La Limonada) open another school deeper within the ghetto on "the other side." It had been a prayer and a dream of hers for years. I can tell you, as a mom, there is nothing more exciting that seeing bellies fed and little brown eyes opened through education. Anyway, we will continue to help with that school this trip, facilitate a dentistry clinic and visit the soup kitchen (where I met 'sweet' Dulce). We will also be encouraging others in a wonderful ministry called Celebrate Recovery (CR). It is a faith based 12 step program that is just plain amazing and has taken off like wildfire since the March team visited.
If you are the prayin' kind...Will you please pray for me, my trip and the wonderful team going?
-For Phil, that God would give him energy, strength & wisdom to care for Ryan & Addie.
-Safety for Phil, Ryan and Addie
-Peace for my heart while I'm away from my precious family
-Physical safety & protection for our team
-That our team could be God's loving hands...building, feeding, hugging the poor & forgotten
-That the team would work well together
-That my heart would be open to ALL the lessons God has for me on this trip
THANK YOU and Lots of Love!
My sweet Phil with 2 of the 3 boys abandoned by their mother 'the lost boys' When he saw their house with Tita, he said, "We have to do something to help."
Dulce means "sweet" in Spanish and I couldn't think of a better name for this precious girl. She was at the soup kitchen with her mom and brother. I would have taken her home in a heartbeat! Her mom was very high when they were there and she was just starved for love and attention. I pray for her often and am taking a little bag for her in case I see her this trip. My friend Becky said she was there at the kitchen in March.
*more pictures from last year's trip.... http://picasaweb.google.com/philswope/Guatemala2008JulySwope