My favorite verb in Spanish is Esperar. Esperar means to wait. It also means to hope. To me, esperar means hopeful waiting.
Waiting is hard. Waiting can mean suffering. 13 years ago, a 2 year old boy was found wandering the streets. Social Services sent Jose David to us as an orphan. For years, as he grew up with no one at visiting day, no family to call his own, he fell into a depression, feeling unloved. Waiting can mean hope. When he was 13, a young couple, Ashlee and Ryan Graham came to LAMB on a mission trip. When they mentioned they wanted to adopt, I introduced them to Jose David. It was love at first sight! They immediately began the adoption process!
Where the love story began in 2014…
Recreating the scene 2016
Waiting can mean heartbreak. Soon after Jose David met the Grahams, Social Services gave us a phone number that led to his birth mother! Jose David was overjoyed. “Amanda, will you call my mother and give her directions to visiting day on Saturday?” That Friday, we learned that the mother had been beaten up by her boyfriend and had run off. Jose David was stricken when he realized he would spend yet another visiting day alone.
Waiting can mean doubt. Ashlee and Ryan were working hard on the US side to move the adoption along. On the Honduran side, a year passed with no progress at all. Jose David all but gave up. Twice now, it seemed, he was within reach of having a family, only to lose it.
Waiting can mean frustration. Finally, earlier this year, things started to move in Honduras. The birth mother agreed to sign over her parental rights but had lost her national id card. Our social worker, Oneyda, drove 2 hours to take her to the registrar but… the mother wasn’t home. When Oneyda returned a few days later she was there. At the registrar the forms were filled out…but there was no toner in the printer. A week later, Oneyda picked the mother up, and drove her to the Tegucigalpa registrar. Yes, they had toner! But, they didn’t have the paper to print it. Finally, on the third try, she did get her id. Waiting can mean God’s hand at work. Ryan and Ashlee finally got the first court appointment. But… Ashlee called me from the airport, “Ryan’s passport expires 1 day before our return! They won’t let him on the airplane. What should we do?” I told her to get on the plane (I couldn’t bear telling Jose David that no one was coming.) I also told Ryan that there are express passport companies that will give him a new passport that day. A few minutes after Ashlee took off, Ryan called back, “I called Passport Express. They told me they were booked solid for 2 weeks…(my heart sank) but someone had just called to cancel. I have my new passport!” (My heart soared with joy and thanksgiving to our merciful Lord.) Waiting can mean growing closer. When Ashlee arrived, she and Jose David were both nervous. They hadn’t seen each other since the first meeting. To break the tension, I stuck a name tag on him labeled, “Jose David Graham.” The next day, Ashlee and Ryan took him clothes shopping. I noticed he had folded over the edges of the name tag and had it in his pocket. Every once in awhile I would see him glance at it. Later that day, he asked Ryan and Ashlee, “Is it ok if I call you my parents?” They answered, “We would love that!” Jose David stepped away for a moment to compose himself privately and came back grinning. It was on this trip he took on the new name, JD.
His new family in Pennsylvania was growing closer too. For his birthday, his extended family made a video. “Hi, JD! I am your grandmother.” “Happy birthday, JD, I am your cousin” and so on.
His little brother and sisters were excited to have a big brother too!
Waiting can mean fear. As time dragged on, again stuck in Honduran bureaucracy, I was consumed with fear that the adoption wouldn’t go through. I filled our prayer wall with prayers. I showed Jose David a positive face but inside I was falling apart. His 16th birthday was fast approaching which would have ended his hopes for a family.
So, what is hopeful waiting? It is soldiering through all the challenges of waiting… with faith, believing that God will provide the family JD had prayed for all his life. Sometimes that faith is an act of will. Repeating with conviction that God WILL provide, despite evidence to the contrary. It is knowing, that somehow, someday all will be well. It is remembering all the miracles God has delivered and asking, “Why would He stop now?”
At LAMB, we have seen over and over during hopeful waiting that God is faithful. On December 9th, JD Graham stepped off the airplane and into his new family’s arms!
As Paul wrote to the Romans: For in hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
So, we wait patiently, expectantly, hopefully for His provision, for His redemption, for His love for us. All of us. Each of us. Amen. Signing the final adoption papers and celebrating JD Graham‘s first birthday!
JD Graham and his parents!
Celebrating JD Graham’s first birthday!
Traveling to his new home and taking his first flight
Happy Advent to you! We’re grateful for this season in the church year of anticipation, hope, and repentance.
For both Nate and me, Agape Year has been a great teacher for hopeful anticipation. Five years ago, Nate and I met on St. Nicholas Day and shared a call to mission. One year ago, we accepted the call to start and direct Agape Year from the Anglican Global Mission Partners. Often we stand in wonder of how God has heard our prayers. Often we are caught in dismay, knowing it is only through His grace we are sustained. His grace has kept us while we are developing partners and the program and living our daily life of full-time work and child rearing. This year we’ve seen God bring His vision into greater formation and anticipate seeing it more fully fleshed out this year. So, we enter this season undergirded with grace and walking in faith.
In faith, we are accepting applications for Fall of 2017 to be our first cohort. (agapeyear.org/apply). Please pass along this application to 18-21 year olds you think God may be leading to participate.
We welcomed Anne Elisabeth, 9lbs 22inches, to our family on October 31. She taught us a lot about anticipation, as she was 10 days past her due date. She’s lovely and well loved by her brother and parents.
We visited the D.C./Baltimore area in September to meet with potential partners for Agape Year. It was a great time of encouragement and engagement. One refrain we heard was how Agape Year is an answer to prayer for youth, parents, and youth directors! Thanks be to God!
We were able to participate in our parish retreat and grow in relationship with our church family and other missionaries our church supports. We were also able to meet with Archbishop Foley Beach to share the vision of Agape Year.
We enjoyed having lunch with Bishop Jim and Mother Shari Hobby, and were encouraged by their excitement for Agape Year and its potential for shaping future church leaders.
As 2016 draws to a close, we are incredibly grateful for the support and care our community has offered us. We look forward with great expectation to what 2017 will hold for us and for Agape Year.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
This has been a good and busy year. Please, as we end this year when there is much uncertainty in the world, join me in heeding the Prince of Peace. The angels announced Jesus with the Christmas message – Fear not, Jesus is coming. Jesus has come and dwelt among us. His perfect love casts out fear. We seek during these times to make Jesus present as we serve others near and far.
I visited Peru five times in 2016 and am planning more visits in 2017. These trips accomplished much. Thank you for being part of what God has been doing there through these trips and conversations. Polly was able to join me in November when we served at the Cathedral in Lima over two weeks.
In Puente Piedra, Santisima Cruz church now has a roof. A building for water purification at Colegio San Mateo was installed – equipment coming in 2017. The VBS at Colegio San Mateo in July was an amazing success, and we are returning in February to train leaders for another VBS in late June.
I have assisted at the Cathedral several times as they are still searching for a new English speaking rector. We are developing plans for a complete rebuild of two schools and celebrating the new high school in Arequipa – St. Mark’s Anglican school. I also visited partners, congregations and bishops in the USA several times this year so as to keep them abreast of developments in Peru.
Goals for 2017
In 2017 we are resolved to do all that we can to support Bishop Jorge Aguilar in his priorities: Evangelism and Disciple-making. Under a new initiative, the Anglican Church in Peru will teach and train clergy and lay people to grow the Church and make effective disciples. They will be aided by the Anglican Province of South America and Peru’s partner dioceses, congregations and individuals. I will be coming alongside to encourage and participate.
I must rebuild my funds with SAMS-USA so as further to travel to Peru in 2017. Peru is where God has been leading me, using me and continues to call me.
Have a wonderful Christmas as we greet the Prince of peace. Polly and I wish you every blessing, peace and joy.
The Diocese of Toliara in Madagascar has recently opened a Women’s Center, where they are teaching women skills like sewing, jewelry making, and culinary arts skills. Patsy McGregor a SAMS Missionary in Toliara is excited to announce that at the Women’s Center they will be making sanitary napkins for the Days for Girls organization. Jacky Lowe will also be serving in Madagascar at the Women’s Center. Learn more about Days for Girls from the Program Director, Libby Daghlian :
With over 600 Chapters and Teams, 167 emerging Micro-Enterprises, 3 Centers, and 100+ countries reached, it’s fair to say that we have a lot of diversity here at Days for Girls! But we are all exactly the same in one respect: our drive to reach Every Girl. Everywhere. Period. We know it might sound like an insurmountable goal, but anyone who is part of Days for Girls knows that the dignity of girls and women to understand their bodies and choose products they trust and love is worth fighting for! That’s what keeps us bent over sewing machines for hours on end. It’s what keeps us clipping coupons looking for the best fabric deals. It’s what keeps us on our emails coordinating last minute details late at night. Because dignity can’t wait!
If you’ve ever been part of a Days for Girls distribution, then you probably know that that feeling you get when you see what you’ve been working towards. The unbridled smile of a girl who can attend school now without fear of embarrassment. The relief of a mother who won’t have to worry about spending money she doesn’t have on something as simple as a pad. The song and laughter that erupts as girls hold onto something beautiful and unique, made just for them. That’s why we do what we do!
And yet, if you’ve been part of a Days for Girls distribution, you probably also know that feeling of nagging disappointment and discontent when you see the faces of the girls who did not receive DfG Kits. She might be the little sister who stopped by to see what was happening. She might be the mother who dropped by to check on her daughter. She might be the teacher who watches over the students. Whether we see them or not, they’re there – the girls and women who did not receive a DfG Kit during a distribution.
We can plan as much as possible. We can try to keep the sessions closed off from the rest of the community. We can make plans to come back again next year. But this is the constant reality we face within the world of donations. Our supply is pretty impressive, but the need is even greater. That is why we are investing in sustainable sales points within the communities that we reach to complement our donated DfG Kits. Because we know that we won’t be able to reach every single girl with a free, donated DfG Kit. But we can reach her with access, education, and awareness. We can empower her to take charge of her menstrual hygiene and invest in her very own DfG Kit, whether that’s through making her own or purchasing one through the Enterprise Model.
Now, this might seem difficult, if not impossible, in some of the communities that we work in. But we have seen the impossible happen!
We have seen this in Democratic Republic of Congo. In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, our Micro-Enterprise is selling – yes, selling – DfG Kits to local women. This area faces recurring conflict from rebels, is troubled by drastic rainy seasons, and works with a depressed economy. Yet, through education and creative marketing of kit components, women are actually saving their small income and investing their money in DfG Kits!
We have seen this in Karamoja. Karamoja is one of the most economically depressed areas of Uganda and a high percentage of boys and girls have never attended school. We were funded to train girls to make their own DfG Kits, but we did not have funding for underwear. Initially we feared the girls would not be able to use the DfG Kits because we assumed they could never afford underwear. To our amazement, when we returned six months later, we talked to girls who had saved up small amounts of money to purchase their own underwear. Boy, were they proud! Not only that, they had taught their other friends to hand sew their own kits! We were floored.
We have seen the impossible become possible all around the world through education, investment in sustainable solutions, and valuing the voices of the girls and women we serve. We cannot allow ourselves to be discouraged by the disappointed faces, but rather motivated for new ways to include and empower those individuals!
So, how can we do this? Here are a few tips:
Connect with a Center or Micro-Enterprise in the area where you will be distributing so that you can pass along their contact information to anyone who does not get a DfG Kit
Emphasize the value of the DfG Kit, so that women will be encouraged to purchase them in the future, rather than always viewing them as free goods
Be intentional with your demographic: if you only have 25 Kits to distribute, try to find a natural group of 25. Maybe there are 25 nurses in a particular Center, or 25 girls in a certain club at school. People will understand when the parameters for donation are made clear in the first place.
Encourage resourcefulness and don’t shy away from those sad faces. If girls approach you wanting free DfG Kits but you have totally run out, encourage her to make her own. It might not be as fun as a free item, but it can help to meet her needs.
We didn’t say it would be easy to reach Every Girl, Everywhere. But we know it will be worth it!
Your support has allowed the following projects to go forward in 2016. Thank you.
1. Good Shepherd Church, Santa Maria, El Paraíso. In July of this year we consecrated the church as a culmination of a ten year mission project. For more information, click here. 3. Zamorano Diocesan Retreat Center, Zamorano, District of Francisco Morazàn. Last year we finished the schematic master design for the retreat center. But because the funds are currently limited, we decided to build the cafeteria first. We will be starting the foundations shortly.
Cafeteria with a view toward the chapel beyond.
4. St. John’s Bilingual School, Siguatepeque, Comayagua. After a long delay, again because of lack of funds, we finally have been able to go forward with the cafeteria roof. This is the first building designed for cooling by natural ventilation. There is no air conditioning. The roof is insulated and large windows open to the cool breezes outside.
Future Cafeteria of St. John’s Bilingual School in Siguatepeque. It will be temporarily used as classrooms until the rest of the school is finished.
5. Taffy Hospice, Corinto, Puerto Cortes. This hospice is being redesigned to make it more friendly to guests. Bishop Allen is considering using the building as a halfway house for Hondurans deported from the U.S. It will help them resettle again in Honduras.
Taffy Hospice Front Porch.
6. Emmanuel Church, Roatàn, Bay Islands. This year after losing our rafters at sea to pirates, we finally managed to get the roof up. (Yes, to pirates. It still happens. Click here for the story.)
A evening service at the Church of Emmanuel.
7. St. John’s Bilingual School Athletic Field and Playground. Puerto Cortes, Cortes. Still in schematic phase, we are planning an Athletic Field in an empty lot, which we own next to the school.
One proposed design for the Athletic Field. The playground is in back.
THE MINISTRY OF PRESENCE
1. Outreach to the community of Cerro de Hula, District of Francisco Morazàn. After becoming friends with the building cleaning lady, Santito Cruz, I realized how poor she was. She earns about $120 a month and has the responsibility of feeding, clothing and educating four children. She invited me to meet her family, which I did. I have started to find ways to help her and the community.
Santito’s house in Cerro de Hula.
2. Scholarships for children in Cerro de Hula, Rincon de Dolores, Las Cruces, Copan Ruinas. For the last three years I have been providing scholarships through the Ministry of Presence. Right now, we are supporting twelve kids with the extra costs and fees required to attend school.
Genesis, a scholarship recipient, shows off her backback and school supplies.
3. Medical assistance. Since no one has health insurance, a medical crisis can be serious and even fatal. The Ministry of Presence has helped people buy asthma respirators, blood thinning medicine and other items. It has also assisted with doctor’s bills. 4. Economic development. The Ministry of Presence has helped a young woman in Copan Ruinas start Stylos Copan, a women’s clothing shop, which now has been running successfully for one year. 5. Loans. Although people are poor, they are also proud. The watchman at the office is poorly paid. Accordingly, he borrows from the Ministry of Presence at no interest and faithfully pays it back on payday. He is one of several people that we are helping.