23 October 2010

My Maria.

‎Be persuaded, timid soul, that He has loved you too much to cease loving you. ~Archbishop Fenelon

My Maria

She’s 12 years old, and she has just moved to a new home. For the first time in a long time, she feels freedom.

Maria has a smile that lights up the world around her. She is talkative and loves to dance. Though she’s new to her community, she is making friends quickly. She is a blur of movement and activity – until it’s time to be hugged. It’s a new thing to her, but she is already a master at it. Her hugs defy her size. They are big and powerful, and they linger a while.

Chances are, you wouldn’t consider her new home a beautiful place. In fact, Courtney and I heard a speaker once liken orphanages to Hell. But for children like Maria, an orphanage can be a little more like Heaven.

Her father was an abusive man. As part of his ritual, he forced Maria to drink alcohol daily. Thankfully, someone noticed. Someone notified authorities. Now, Maria lives at Hogar Solidario, under the care of a wonderful Christ-loving woman named Evita. She is now drinking in love and acceptance, and she is thriving.

Maria is a great photographer.

I received the precious gift of those lingering hugs from Maria on Thursday. We laughed together, and I taught her how to use the camera on my phone to capture the moments. We danced. She played with my hair. And we hugged some more.

She asked when she would see me again; I promised to send photos and a letter to her so we could see each other every day. And I promised to pray for her every day – because I know what it feels like to be abused. And I know what it feels like to be healed. I’ll also pray she’ll be surrounded by both women and men who show her Godly love. And I’ll pray to return to Hogar Solidario, so we can dance again.

Maria was with me yesterday as we purchased a microwave and stock pots for Cerecaif. She was with me as I jotted down all notes to tell the team when they arrive from the US. This morning, she was with me as I awoke to the sunshine peering over the mountains. I close my eyes and see her smile, and if I try very hard, I can feel those sweet arms wrap around my neck.

Gosh, I am craving one of those hugs right now.



21 October 2010


There is a particular beauty in the descent.

It starts high above the clouds. There’s a calm, steady repose to the soaring.

Volcanoes peeking through the clouds in Guatemala.
Then, it happens. The sensation of descent. Of being lowered to a destination
far better than the sky can offer.

It’s hard not to cry.

Because it’s the first descent of many.

Descents to joy. To pain. To a hunger and a filling. A descent into the very arms of God.

Strange that descent should look just like elevation. Then again, Christ has been there – is still there. He knows what it is like to soar, and to intentionally descend. The joy, the pain, the offering of b
etter. He knows it all. Perhaps that’s why it feels so natural, and the expectation of seeing Christ in the faces of the poor and orphaned is so strong.

For He, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to His prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped Himself of all privilege by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born a mortal man. And having become man, He humbled Himself… Phil.2:5

Courtney and I now sit, breathing in the afternoon like it was the finest of perfumes. Birds are singing and a bell rings in the distance. The countryside is full of color and the sky hangs heavy overhead. We’re ready for the next descent.

You can read visit our blog, wordpainters.com, to learn more about our passion for the discarded.

19 October 2010


In less than 24 hours, Courtney and I will be on a plane headed to a land we love. If you’ve read my blog before, you know there’s something precious in the smell of dirt and diesel – it’s a fragrance that says “life is abundantly less – and more – than it seems.”

I’m working on our team playlists right now. Yes, there will be a classic ’80s list (because “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Livin’ on a Prayer” should be sung loudly by everyone), and there will be a list of songs we’ll sing (albeit poorly) with the orphans – songs like “Sapo Sapo” and “Open the Eyes.” But the list that I love the most is the list of songs that become anthems for the moment – songs that become embossed with the images of faces and places, become mixed with the sound of laughter and weeping and whispered prayers.

Here’s one of the songs that will be on that playlist. As you listen to it, pray for all the “beautiful things” He is crafting even now – pray each orphan will understand their beauty and worth in Him. And pray for us, that we’ll fully understand it in our own lives as well.