Monthly Archives: June 2011

No news is Good News….

Yup, Im tearful again…. but not for the reasons that you think…. This time it is a joy so deep and so total that it has brought tears to my eyes.  I want you to go back, back with me to a time a few months ago when I wrote my blog entry “Twinkle, Twinkle, little star..” .  If you haven’t read it, then please go do so now if you have time, if not I will tell you it was by far the hardest thing I have ever written.  It was about a misunderstanding of epic proportions that was caused both by a language barrier and by humanness.  Estuardo was my boy.  My figurehead… he, for me, encompassed everything “Guatemala”.  He was the first boy I met at the Hospital and he changed my life forever.  He was so severely malnourished that his 17 year old body looked like that of an 8 year old, he was mentally challenged and unable to move, communicate etc etc.  All he could do was stare at the time I met him.  He shattered my heart.  He became a symbol to me of everything that was wrong and broken in this world.  And after being back in Canada for several months and not hearing any news on him, we returned to Guatemala.  I was thrilled to be back and looking forward to seeing “my boy”…. But my boy was “home”…. Home is quite the word…. it means different things, in different contexts.  This time it meant quite simply, as Mario put it…. dead.  The pain was intense, severe and overwhelming for me.  But looking back upon old journals, videos and my blog I know that “home” means quite simply…. ‘with Jesus’.   That IS the Good News!

The day I learned of Estuardo’s passing, my family and Rachel (a beautiful, then 15yr old girl from the youth group I lead) met another incredible young boy by the name of Marcos Cruz Cruz, nicknamed Marquito (little Marcos).  This boy touched us all but especially Rachel.  It was an emotional day for us all… I was crying with sorrow over Estuardo and we saw this little body in a crib.  The sight of Marquito is shocking to say the least.  I am putting a picture at the end of this post, but I must warn you, it is not easy to look at.  But I feel I need you to see with your own eyes… so you can understand with your heart.  Marquito captured our hearts…. but especially the heart of that amazing 15year old girl, Rachel….  Marquito is Rachel’s, Estuardo.  We all have an “Estuardo”… whether it be in Guatemala or Canada, or anywhere…. You know, the one person that touches us so deeply inside of ourselves that it basically turns our world upside down.  Some people have been fortunate enough to meet their Estuardo… some are still looking…. I feel very blessed to have found mine and sometimes when I get down or overwhelmed by things I can almost feel him cheering me on from Heaven!

Upon returning home, Rachel immediately went into action trying to raise money for a series of major operations that Marquito is in desperate need of.  You see, he is blind, has a very severe case of cleft palate and a myriad of internal problems.  She began selling homemade wallets and then decided to have a fundraiser, instead of a sweet 16 birthday party!  No gifts, just money raised for this precious 3yr old boy (who looks perhaps 9 months old), halfway across the world.  The rest of my youth group girls rallied around Rachel and her cause, as did the rest of the youth from our Church.  It was a beautiful thing to watch unfold and I have to say I am so proud of my girls, quite frankly they rock and I am so honoured to be their leader.  Rachel raised over $2000.00 toward the operations!  And was ready to wire the money immediately, but I hadn’t heard news from Guatemala yet on his condition so I called.  Fernando translating for me broke the news from Hermana Mercedes as gently as he could…. Marquito was gravely ill.  And the doctors were continuing to assess the worth and chance for success  on Marquito.  No operations right now.  I prepared myself to tell Rachel….

The reality of serving at a malnutrition hospital in Guatemala is they rehabilitate children… but sometimes the children are too far gone to be rehabilitated and they die.  Our humanity mourns for them but we continue to move forward.  I once a few months ago had someone remark to me after seeing pictures of Marquito, “You are seriously going to raise money and spend it on him?  If I donate, my money will go to that?  Why? He has no shot at a normal life.  Not to sound brutal but wouldn’t the money be better spent on someone with a better chance at a future?”   Im not sure if that is a common question…. or maybe its a common ‘thought’, that one feels so shameful thinking that its not often expressed.  Believe me, I understand that question.  My answer is simply, yes, we are going to spend the money on this child, and every other child like him that is put before us.  God made Marquito, and he is beautiful because of God.  It is not for us to decide whether his purpose on this earth is less worthy than that of another child.  Marquito laughs, cry’s and feels just like every other person on this planet.  What if this was your child?  Would you ask the same question?  He is a shining star, still on this earth just like Estuardo is a shining star now in Heaven and we are going to do what God commissioned us to do, help.  End of story!

The bottom line is that after months of praying, hoping, wishing and praying more we got a special letter from Hermana Mercedes last night that has me all teary, ever since reading it…. It’s about Marquito’s condition…. He is on medication right now to prepare him for his first surgery!!!!  Praise God, its going to happen… He is going to get the surgeries he needs.  The outcome is unknown, as is Marquito’s future… that is up to God…. whats up to us, our partners, and the people who inhabit this planet is to see that we give the Marquito’s, Estuardo’s, and all the others like them the same chance as we have to shine.  This is where the money we raise goes, every penny, and we will never apologize for that, in fact we will shout it from the rooftops if we think it can help save one little precious child….. Who know’s what their purpose is on this planet… it’s not for us to say, and its certainly not for us to pick and choose who we help… All we do is help and for us its a big part of the Good News!

My shining star Estuardo.... Godspeed little one...

Precious little Marquito

Hurry up…. and wait…..

Our family & Hermana Mercedes, Hermana Veronica & Elmer at the Hospital Infantil Padre Pedro

Our family with the Hermana's enjoying dinner at Senor Chico, Senora Vilma & Fernando's home

Our family & Rachel serving in the mountains, having a blast with the kids!

Our group in Texas- The CTEN staff missionaries and other missionaries serving all over the world!

Greetings everyone!  It’s been a while and I’ve missed writing my blog.. mainly because I miss being in Guatemala and that is normally when I write.  I have decided,  since our ministry in Guatemala evolved into a full time ministry (even though we are not physically there full time…. yet) I am going to write… yes, even from Canada!  Having Fernando and his parents Senor Chico and Senora Vilma working in Guatemala on our behalf with the Hermana’s has been a gift from God.  We are able to run our ministry from here, via skype, email, phone etc., and they are on the ground serving tirelessly in Guatemala in partnership with us and our ministry!

Lots of things have been falling into place for us lately.  I have returned to University to get my degree in Nutritional Medicine.  Eventually I want to focus on pediatric malnutrition and allergies.  If you have been following my blog, you may remember a post around 16 months ago that totally reflected this desire.  Now here I am doing it, finally!  I have wanted this, long before Guatemala… 16 years ago when my son Zack was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies…. and now I see how this was all part of a plan formulated long ago.  Something I never understood the ‘why’ of is so clear to me now.  Well, I never was much for believing in coincidences anyway…. =)

The most exciting news is….. We have been accepted into Commission to Every Nation (CTEN).  A non-profit organization that helps independent missionaries, with unique visions to be just that, independent missionaries with unique visions!  Through CTEN we will get support… through prayer, tax receipts for donors, availability to set up one time and monthly recurring donations, personal support, ministry support, connections with other missionaries…. well you get the idea… they SUPPORT us in every way imaginable and for that we are thankful.  We recently spent a few days in Texas at the CTEN headquarters for some training/orientation.  The experience was beyond words.  I was at a point in my life where I was becoming overwhelmed and disheartened with our mission… it all seemed so beyond the scope of what we, a mere family, could do.  The wonderful missionaries at CTEN renewed my spirit and my faith that “if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us… and if our God is with us, then what could stand against…”.  Geoff and I left CTEN, re-energized and on fire again… sadly it was a quality we had begun to lack due to so many obstacles we simply could not get past.

Finally we understand that it is God’s job to do a vast majority of our ministry, especially when it comes to working in people’s hearts.  As a wonderful missionary Wes Peterson from CTEN, put it, our job is to Tell People & to Love People.  So simple and yet something that Geoff and I, being guilty of pride, never really understood.  We thought that God had put a desire on our hearts and it was up to us to do everything.  And sadly we thought we could do everything, and were struggling like you couldn’t imagine.  How crazy… and thinking about it, its no wonder we were disheartened and feeling overwhelmed… We can never do God’s job!

There is so much still up in the air in our lives.  We plan to go to Guatemala for 4-5 months this winter.  The Hermana’s and Fernando’s family have invited us for Christmas.  We will be definitely going, we wouldn’t miss that for the world.  If it was up to me (and Geoff), I know we would go and not come back to Canada.  However, things seem to be strangely out of place and it seems to us right now that its not the right time yet.  It is what we want but all the signs point to us going for 5 months, coming back and being patient.  Its as though God is saying, “the time is not yet… be patient….”.   Patience is a virtue, but unfortunately its not one that is high on my strengths list.  I am impatient… I am a do-er… not a wait-er.  But I am learning…. slowly <sigh>.  The not knowing is the hardest part for me.  We don’t know when we will be led to live in Guatemala full time… we don’t know whats to become of our lives and our business here…. we don’t know how our fundraising efforts will turn out…. we don’t know much, and being in a sort of not-knowing limbo is personally quite frustrating for me at times. To be blunt, I am freaking out at times.   Besides being impatient, I am a control freak.  I need to know things, even little things.  As a matter of fact I drive Geoff nutty because I need to know exactly what time he will be home on a certain day.  Even when it really doesn’t matter, I just simply need to know.  Once again, I am learning…. slowly <sigh>…

One thing I do know is that working for CTEN is the perfect fit for us.  The benefits to our vision will be immense.  I am so excited for the future and despite myself and my shortcomings, I am actually finding myself enjoying the excitement of not knowing what wonderful thing God is going to surprise us with next!

I have used the word vision a ton in this blog…. I guess it might be wise to let you know what that is.  It’s basically a statement that has been changed and formed over the past year.  What we hope to accomplish… the mission that has been placed in our hearts so to speak.  If you’ve read the previous blogs you will see it… subtly shining through each post until finally,  we have been able to put it into words in one statement:

Our vision is two-fold.  To help abolish malnourishment beginning in the Jutiapa & Jalapa regions through agricultural education & training AND to help educate and empower the next generation of youth & young adults in Canada to develop their hearts and minds for service in developing countries.

There it is… in a nice neat few lines…. seems simple enough.  After all, Geoff is able to fix, repair, build etc to get the hospital up to par.  I am studying nutrition… and we both are heavily involved in youth and young adult ministry here in Canada…. Simple.  And yet, with just our family it is impossible to achieve.  We need God, and we need CTEN, and we need supporters (financial, prayer, volunteers etc).  Ordinary people can achieve the extraordinary when they partner together.  There is great strength in numbers!!!

So yes, we will be asking people for financial support… Either a special gift or especially a recurring monthly partnership.  If we happen to ask, and it is not on your heart to donate, that is totally ok.  Prayer is the most important part so we simply ask that you pray for us, our ministry, the people of Guatemala and other missionaries and the people they serve around the world.  Volunteering is crucial too.  Without people on the ground working, it is all for nothing.  Fundraising is key but it is not easy and is for us, the hardest part.  It seems to feel as though you are bugging people.  But as we heard someone say recently, “Everything we have belongs to God anyway, so its ok to ask people to give some back to Him.  He will lead them and their hearts to do what He wants them to do and if its not with you and your ministry that is totally fine, He has other plans for them”.   What a great inspiration this was to us.  Now we feel we can ask people and know that it’s in God’s hands, not ours.  We will however work tirelessly to try and raise volunteers and money to help see the vision we have on our hearts come to fruition.  We feel it is our obligation and one of the many facets of what we have to do to see His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven….

Check us out at :  http://www.ctenc.ca/ritadoppenberg/

Email me for further information at:  ritadoppenberg@cten.org

Dios los Bendiga