Monday, January 31, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Left to right: Lolis (13), Angie (17), Martha (12), me (34), Ruth (5), Ana (4), Diana (16), Jocelin (8) and Martita (15)
Along those lines, I have been reading the book "Bringing Up Girls" by Dr. James Dobson. This morning I read a chapter that contained information that I already knew, but was faced with once again. Following, in italics, are quotes from the book: "Bringing Up Girls" and my responses.
"Your children's successes or failures in many of life's endeavors will depend on the quality of the relationships you share during their childhood years. Indeed, how they navigate the storms of adolescence will be influenced directly by the security of that bond. It is very important for parents to know that the first three years of life are vital to everything that will come later."
Dear Lord, have mercy! Of eight daughters, I have only had one in the womb and one other since birth! The others joined are family at ages 7, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 13! How do you prepare for adolescence when you never had a childhood together?!
"There are 'critical periods' during a child's early years when certain opportunities for learning must be grabbed or forever lost."
This may explain why school can be such a challenge at times and why unique educational programs are needed for each of our children!
"Infants are highly vulnerable and easily wounded by anxiety, fear and confusion. Children who are subjected to prolonged periods of emotional trauma experience surges of stress hormones, principally cortisol, that flood through their immature brains, causing irreversible neurological damage. In extreme cases involving abuse or neglect, an individual may eventually lose his or her ability to "feel" for others, which has implications for violence in days to come. There are tragic cases on record of toddlers who have stood alone in cribs for hours, hungry, sick and scared. Some of them have even grown up to be cold-blooded killers who murder strangers just for the thrill of watching them die."
Oh, Father in heaven, have mercy, Lord, have mercy on my children who have lived through these and similar experiences! My girls, Jesus, your girls! I cannot share names, they will each tell their story when they are ready, but I want to share just some of what our girls have lived through:
- watch her birth father murder her birth mother in front of her 6 year old eyes!
- accompany their birth mother to purchase drugs
- share one egg cooked over an alcohol burner (like a small candle) as that day's food
- grow up with no mother at all, since her mother died upon giving birth to her, due to domestic violence wounds inflicted by the birth father
- survive her step-mother attempting to murder her by hanging her in a noose from a tree
- have a loving and healthy mother on a Sunday afternoon and watch her be buried on Thursday of that same week
- be abandoned repeatedly by their birth mother
- be handed over by her birth relatives at age 12 to form a marriage relationship with an older boy
Our little Ana is living proof of this! Her birth mother openly rejected her from the time she was in the womb and, despite the fact that Ana is only 4 years old and that we have had her since teh day she was born, she has emotional challenges that are not present in our birth daughter Ruth, who was loved from the time of conception. She has a very hard time receiving compliments, calls herself "ugly", gets angry easily and rejects affection much more frequently.
Wow! This is all true and I agree with the research presented in this book and Dr. Dobson's conclusions. So, that means that we are now in the business of defying modern psychology through the power of Jesus Christ! He is REAL! He created each one of these precious girls and not a one of them was an accident! His word tells us that "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2 Corinthians 4:7). These are the most beautiful jars of clay that I have ever seen and the power to transform them into priceless vessels does not come from them, nor from us as their parents, but from ALMIGHTY God!
"When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved? Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25-26)
I felt just like the disciples as I read the chapter in "Bringing Up Girls" this morning: "Who then can be saved? Who can be restored?" But Jesus tells me: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." It is true! Man tells us that these girls cannot be restored, but with God all things are possible and it is happening right before our eyes!
Praise the Lord for being God of the impossible; our God of all hope; the God who makes all things new!
My dad shared the following verse with me several years ago as his prayer for our children, and it continues to be our cry to the Lord!
"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten." Joel 2:25
I invite to continue with us on this journey of redemption: pray diligently, give as the Lord leads and come and watch the miracle yourself!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Daniel and I in our first picture together - July 2009 - mother and son!
Daniel's first ecosonogram at the military hospital here in Mexico City in August 2009.
With that information we began the process of first getting the necessary paperwork signed by his biological mother in the state of Veracruz in order to allow us to proceed with medical care and get a Daniel a passport in order to make travel outside of Mexico possible.
Daniel (back row on right with the tall Canadian missionary) with the his birth mother (in blue), her new husband (white t-shirt) and the missionaries who took him in before he joined our family. This picture was taken last August when we went to get his passport.
With those steps accomplished, we have spent the last six months sending Daniel’s medical records to hospitals and doctors in the United States, searching with the hope of finding a hospital willing to do Daniel’s operation pro-bono. As we were turned down by hospital after hospital, due to the severity of Daniel’s defects, we began to search only for a pediatric cardiologist in the U.S. willing to see Daniel personally and give us a more specific diagnosis and discuss possible treatment options with us.
Praise the Lord that He has provided such a doctor! A pediatric cardiologist in Toledo, OH has offered to see Daniel, do the necessary noninvasive procedures, as well as the heart catherization!
So, we have now begun the process to apply for a medical visa for Daniel so that he can travel to the U.S. Hence, the answer to one prayer request, needing a doctor willing to see Daniel, has led to another request, that Daniel’s medical visa be granted.
Then, if Daniel is a candidate for surgery, we are still in need of a hospital willing to provide the operation. The same week that we received news about the Toledo doctor, a surgeon from a children’s hospital in Texas called, after having reviewed Daniel’s records, and shared about a program at their hospital that provides surgery for underprivileged children! He is personally willing to take Daniel’s application to the CEO!
The overriding prayer request here is for the Lord to clearly show us His will for Daniel and our family. We visited the pediatric cardiologist here in Mexico City once again today for another ecosonogram requested by a hospital in Pennsylvania (a door that has not yet shut). Daniel’s health situation remains the same as at his last ecosonogram. However, we discussed the possibility with the doctor of Daniel being operated on at the military hospital here in Mexico. The cost for his operation and hospitalization would probably run more like $10,000 U.S. dollars here, rather than $300,000 dollars for the surgery, no hospitalization costs included, in the U.S.! Of course, the quality of care, level of expertise and compassion is not the same, hence our desire to take Daniel to the U.S.
So, here is the summary of the plan and options:
1) 1) Apply for Daniel’s medical visa to take him to the U.S., see the doctor in the U.S., have the heart catherization and send the results to Texas to apply to the surgery program there. (This option also requires Victor’s green card to be renewed, which expires this month – another prayer request!)
2) 2) Send the requested medical records to a hospital in Pennsylvania, although they have already said they cannot provide the surgery pro-bono, so this appears to be a door that is closing.
3) 3) Have Daniel see, or be operated on, by a team of volunteer U.S. doctors with a volunteer medical organization that is scheduled to be in Merida, Mexico this summer. They are currently going over Daniel’s medical records in order to explore the possibility of this option.
IUIf options 1-3 do not work, then....
One of my favorite pictures of Daniel and I!
We have been seeking out and praying for the doors to open to Daniel’s care in the U.S. for so long, but now that they are opening the decision still does not seem so black and white. U.S. care is so much superior to medical care and expertise in Mexico that we would prefer Daniel to be treated in the U.S., but the finances in order to make that happen are a HUGE consideration. His care would have to be free of charge, and that still leaves travel costs and means a lot of time for Daniel and I to be away from the family here in Mexico. Surgery in Mexico is a possibility. This surgery is performed here and would be MUCH cheaper and would keep Daniel and I closer to home, but the level of expertise and care is not he same.
So, our final conclusion? We do what is next! God gives us enough light for the next step we must take. Each day has enough worries of its own without trying to think of all the different possibilities for the future. So, what is next? We will continue the visa application process, pray without ceasing and trust the Lord to show us, step by step, what is His best for Daniel and our family! Thank you for your diligent prayers in this area, and don’t forget to praise Him for the prayers He has answered thus far: Daniel’s continued strength and a U.S. doctor willing to see Daniel and do the heart cath, as well as the doctor in Texas willing to go to bat for Daniel.
Last minute update: Victor and I will be going to the U.S. Embassy tomorrow (Thursday) in order to renew his green card. I talked to them this morning and they said all we had to do was to go to the U.S. Embassy with his green card and they can renew it there - pray it is that simple!
Here is a bonus picture for you!
Pick a title of your own choosing:
Mujeres Moradas (Purple women in Spanish)
Since we hadn't been to church in 4 weeks due to Hepatitis A, our older girls got excited about getting all dressed up again and, on Saturday night, decided to all where purple outfits the next day. I caught wind of their plan and was even invited to join in! So, of course, we dressed Ana and Ruth in purple too! When I saw this picture on my computer today, I was overwhelmed at the beauty of my 8 precious young ladies and the incredible privilege and responsibility of raising them up to be women of God!
Friday, January 14, 2011
Whenever a group is coming to Mexico, they always want to know about the critters here. We usually tell them that there aren't many critters around Refuge Ranch unless you really go looking for them (besides the three German Shepherds that the Zaragoza's own).
Now take a trip back to Indiana. When we were at my grandma and grandpa Sell's house, I had an encounter with the "2nd kind." Everybody was up late because we had just finished watching tv. I decided to check my facebook real quick, so I went to bed around 10:45 in Grandma and Grandpa's spare room, which had been added on to the house. I was in bed, and I started hearing a skittering sound to my left on the floor. At first I just ignored it, but whatever it was kept making noise, so I couldn't get to sleep. I found if I yelled something, (in a whisper voice because everyone else was sleeping.) the "whatever it was" would shut up. That went on around 4 to 5 times, and it was getting annoying because I would just be starting to nod off when the "whatever it was" would start making noise again.
Now this is where it started to get interesting. I was lying on the bed ever so peacefully when the "whatever it was" jumped on top of me, so I just flung it off into the dark room. Then I tried to go back to sleep. Then it happened again, and I once more sent it on a magical journey towards the other side of the room. At this point, I thought, "Ok, this thing cannot possibly be stupid enough to try that again!" so I tried to go back to sleep. But of course the "whatever it was" had no sense whatsoever and jumped on me again. This time I wrapped it up with my blanket, threw it on the floor, grabbed my glasses, and turned on the light. By the time I had done all that, the "whatever it was" had escaped the blankets and was somewhere on top of the piano. I thought I would catch it, toss it outside, and be done with it so I could go to sleep. I went and got a cup and prepared to capture it. I got ready, lifted a bunch of stuff off the piano and saw a surprise. The "whatever it was" was a squirrel! I grabbed the cup I had taken from the kitchen and put it on top of him, but I wasn't fast enough. He got his head out, and then he escaped from my little prison. Then I upgraded to a much bigger container and prepared to get him. But after a couple attempts, I heard Grandpa getting up to go to the bathroom so I went and got him. We just shut the door and left the squirrel in that room. I slept on the couch and finally fell asleep around 12:00. The next morning Grandpa got the squirrel with the broom, so that squirrel won't mess with anyone anymore!
I thought this was such a funny story that Aaron needed to share it. People always seem to worry about the critters here in Mexico, but we had to go home to Indiana to find a critter story worth sharing! It reminds me of the scripture (Yes, even squirrel stories can bring scripture to mind for me!), "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."-Proverbs 16:9. Aaron probably had plans of a good night's sleep that night, climbing into bed and dreaming sweet dreams...instead God gave him a squirrel to deal with! What kinks has God thrown into your plans lately? What obstacles has He put into your path? Or should I say opportunities? It all depends on how you look at it. God wants us to look at it the way He would, and do what He would do in each situation. I'm sure that night Aaron's plans didn't turn out exactly as planned, but he sure had a great story to share with the rest of us the next morning, and boy, did we laugh...and I'm betting God was laughing too!
I didn't take this picture because I was sleeping peacefully in my bed,
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
As many of you know, our adventure began on Thursday, December 16th when Victor and I had planned on doing our family Christmas shopping. I did not feel well that day and so we decided to stay home - maybe a 24 flu or the beginning of a cold? By Monday I had been diagnosed with Hepatitis A, Bronchitis and a blood test revealed low levels of just about everything - sodium, iron, potassium, good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, etc. The doctor ordered a month long of basically bed rest.
The first week was miserable - I didn't mind being in bed because I didn't have the energy to do anything except be in bed. Watching TV even took too much energy! The second week I began feeling like a human being again, but stayed in bed all day, everyday. The third week I began to get out of bed, join the family for some meals and get more things done in bed - computer work, reading, etc. I am finishing up the fourth week and about back to normal. I am doing a lot of my normal activities, but am not back to getting up early in the morning like I enjoy doing, and am taking the afternoons a bit slower with a nap to help build up my strength for the evening and bedtime routine. Angie was diagnosed with Hepatitis A a few days after me. She started our rougher than I did and even required an IV to rehydrate her. After that, she followed my basic recuperation schedule, just a few days behind me, although her strength came back a bit faster than mine. Then Martita got sick, but it appears to have been Bronchitis and she is back to normal now, too! So, praise the Lord - I believe everybody is healthy now! Victor did an amazing job being a nurse to the three of us and keeping the rest of the household and ministry coordinated and running! We thank the Lord for our staff that enabled the kids to have clean clothes, a clean house and continue to attend school!
So, last Friday Victor and I set out on our Christmas shopping adventure! Can I make a recommendation? Don't ever try to Christmas shop for 12 children in one day in Mexico after both Christmas and Three Kings' Day have passed! (Three Kings' Day is the traditional day to give gifts here in Mexico and is celebrated on January 6.) Our first stop was the Christian bookstore in downtown Mexico City. That is the closest Christian bookstore of any substance - a "simple", two and a half hour drive - hence we very rarely go more than twice a year! After an hour and a half there and lunch at a great Chinese place in downtown Mexico City we started heading back out of the city to hit WalMart and Sams, looking for the kids' gifts. Needless to say, there were NO sales and most of the items the kids had asked for were sold out! So, we bought some items, saved money to buy other items when they are restocked in future months and went home to order other items from U.S. stores for Grandpa and Grandma to bring along during their visit in February. Hence, the Christmas that finally happened, well, it nearly happened, almost happened and isn't over yet!
Besides all the weirdness of Christmas this year, it was one of our best years in terms of attitudes on Christmas days. I have mentioned before that celebrations are always an interesting experience at our home: some of the kids are super excited, some don't know how to react because they did not grow up celebrating anything, others would prefer to hide - but this year they all came down to the living room with smiles on their faces (despite several having to get sprinkled with cold water to get them out of bed before the youngest kids mounted a mutiny!) and enjoyed watching others open their gifts!
Martita, age 15, opening her first cell phone! I cannot explain to you the joy I felt in my heart to watch Martita enjoy Christmas! The night before she said: "I am going to be the first one up tomorrow!" This from our daughter who, on her first Christmas with us, just three years ago, hid away in her room while we decorated the tree! This year she helped Victor cut the Christmas tree! These are outer signs, real fruit, of the restoration that the Lord has worked, and continues to work, in her heart and life! Praise God and thank you for being a part of this process!
Ana was told to close her eyes as her gift was brought in from outside. She was so obedient!
"Here I go!"
Jocelin excited about one of her presents! This is Christmas #2 for Jocelin without her mother, Pati, who passed away in August of 2009. She now calls Victor "Papa" when referring to him in front of me and she calls me "Mama" to others and when she draws me pictures! Another praise to our Almighty Father!
Thanks for joining us for Christmas!
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
It was very important to meet the contractor so he could take us to one of the suppliers he uses. He and the store clerks were very good to work with and patient as we worked out a material list from English to Spanish.
Larry double checking the list
Larry and I were both impressed with the electrical supply store. They had almost everything we will need to hook up the buildings to the transformer (Usually it takes trips to multiple stores to find everything you need!). When we got back to the Ranch, Larry went over the list and came up with a plan that should work.
Even though this was a very short trip, Larry at least got an introduction to all the folks here at Refuge Ranch. Danny was especially fond of him and enjoyed being held every chance he got.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Following is the Fishers of Men schedule for the 2011 Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusades. These are what we call "foreign" crusades, as they are crusades held outside of Mexico City. We also hold one or two day "local" crusades throughout the Metropolitan Mexico City, but that schedule has not yet been confirmed.
Anybody who feels led of the Lord is welcome to participate in a crusade. We need doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, physician's assistants, children's workers and general volunteers to help with numerous different tasks, including set up, tear down and in the kitchen. So, if the Lord is calling you are more than welcome, no matter your gifts and abilities!
For most of the crusades, it is best for volunteers to fly into Mexico City and then travel with the rest of the crusade team by van to the crusade location. However, there are several crusades for which it is easier to fly into a different airport that is located nearer the crusade site. So, if you are interested in participating on a specific crusade, please let us know by writing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. We do ask for a donation of $45 per night to help cover ground transportation costs, food and other crusade expenses.
We ask for your prayers as we begin to carry out these crusades: that the Lord would be glorified; that many would come to a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ; that the local pastors and missionaries would be encouraged by the crusade team; and safety for the crusade volunteers.
We know that: "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails." (Proverbs 19:21). So, these are the plans that we have felt led to make, but we pray that the Lord's purposes be the ones that prevail, because His purposes are good and perfect!
2011 Evangelistic Medical Mission Crusade Schedule
Nayarit and Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
El Carrizal, Guerrero
Villages on the border of Oaxaca and Veracruz
Tuxpan and Copándaro, Michoacán
El Chilar, Oaxaca
San José and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Guerrero