Friday, April 29, 2011

Casa Shalom in the Evangel

Check out a great article on Casa Shalom, found on page 12 of Evangel magazine!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A (not so) small miracle

You may have noticed that we haven't posted in awhile, but after reading this post, you'll understand why! We are happy to tell you about a miracle the Lord has done in the lives of our family this weekend.

As some of you may know, Josh and I were expecting our first baby, Sophia, on June 1. We had planned on giving birth to her in Guatemala, and were under the care of a good physician and had already chosen a good hospital for the birth. This Easter, we had planned on making one last trip to the United States before the baby's birth, in order to spend time with Jessica's parents who live in Florida. The trip was supposed to last only 10 days, after which we were supposed to return to Guatemala in plenty of time for the birth. But God had other plans for us and our baby!

Last week, after arriving in Florida, I began having some severe upper abdominal and back pain which I knew weren't just normal pregnancy symptoms. So, on Good Friday, through a rapid series of God-ordained happenings, we met with a local obstetrician that that specializes in high-risk pregnancy. After thorough testing, he diagnosed me with HELLP syndrome, a rare but serious variation of pre-eclampsia that causes the mother's liver to shut down and the placenta to malfunction. Because of this, baby Sophia wasn't receiving the nutrition she needed and was considered severely growth-restricted.

A short while later, the doctor decided that an emergency c-section was needed both for my sake and for the sake of Sophie. I was completely put under general anesthesia and Sophie entered our world at 7:54 pm on Good Friday, weighing in at 3 pounds, 10 ounces and measuring 16.5 inches. She was 34 weeks along, placing her in the preemie category. Sophie's current home is the neo-natal intensive care unit, where she will remain for several weeks until she is able to come home with us.

The Lord's hand was upon us in so many ways during this process. After my surgery, my doctor informed my family and I that the only treatment for HELLP syndrome is delivery, and that without delivering the baby, I would have survived only another 24 hours. My liver was in such bad condition that I was at great risk of spontaneous bleeds and complete liver failure. God's timing couldn't have been more perfect - if we had remained in Guatemala and not taken this trip to the United States as planned, I probably would not have received the quick diagnosis and top-quality care needed to save my life and the life of our baby. We saw this trip as a short Easter vacation, but God knew that this trip would be life-saving for both of us.

Little Sophie has a long way to go, but she's strong and is doing well. We are so grateful for everyone's notes of encouragement, phone calls, comments and prayers. We wish we could respond to everyone personally, but we want to use this note to thank you! Please keep up your prayers for Sophie, her mommy and daddy, and her proud grandparents!

When are we returning to Guatemala? That is still up in the air! Please keep our return plans in your prayers, as you pray for baby Sophia. In the coming weeks, Josh will probably have to do some long-distance "commuting" between Florida and Guatemala, in order to continue our work as directors. But, day-to-day, Casa Shalom is being run by our administrators in our absence, and is in good hands. Our supposedly 10-day trip will turn out to be much longer, but were are immensely grateful to be under the care of an almighty and all-knowing God!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Egg hunt!

We just celebrated the 3rd annual Easter Egg hunt at Casa Shalom! In the morning, the big kids enjoyed a hunt, and in the afternoon, the babies and toddlers participated in their own special egg hunt. Enjoy the photos from Easter 2011.




Raquel and Maria



Walter and Jason




Josue David

The babies and toddlers show off their goodies!

Candelaria enjoys her marshmallows and sucker from her Easter eggs.

All the Casa Shalom children with the team from Myakka City Church of God, the team that helped coordinate the egg hunt.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yesterday, we received the team from Myakka City Church of God in Myakka City, Florida! We look forward to working with the men and women of this team on many projects around the orphanage this week. Please keep the team in your prayers as they minister to the kids of Casa Shalom!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Adoption in Guatemala

We at Casa Shalom field many questions from families looking to adopt Guatemalan children. We often find it hard to explain Guatemala's complicated and broken adoption system which is governed by the CNA, a government organization that enforces a system of seemingly senseless laws. Take a moment to read this adoption story from the Freed family. The Freeds are missionary friends of ours who help run Orphan Resources International, a non-profit group that provides food and supplies to Casa Shalom and over 40 other orphanages in Guatemala. The story will break your heart and hopefully lead to you pray for Guatemala's adoption system. See the story at the link below:

Shyanne's Story

Friday, April 1, 2011

A new partnership for clean water

Casa Shalom is proud to announce that we have officially partnered with Healing Waters International to help provide pure drinking water for the nearby village, named La Embaulada, which has just over 500 residents. Just like in nearly every part of Guatemala, the water that comes out the faucets in La Embaulada is contaminated with parasites and bacteria, making it unsafe to drink without boiling first.
We are proud to have partnered with Healing Waters International, a Christian organization that works to provide clean, low-cost drinking water in Latin America, along with spreading the healing message of Jesus Christ! We at Casa Shalom will be selling 5-gallon jugs of purified water to the local community for just under $1/each. We pray the Lord blesses this new partnership and enables us to reach many members of La Embaulada! In the photo above, ladies from La Embaulada line up to receive a free 5-gallon jug full of purified water!

Prior to giving away free water, Healing Waters held a short church service for the local children and their mothers.

An interview with a 56-year-old woman who was born in La Embaulada, has lived there her entire life, and has never had regular access to purified water.

Giving away free water to the principal of the village school, for use in the school.