Villa Esperanza

Villa Esperanza

About Me - trying to live a life that is as full as it can possibly be - loving God & loving others

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Friends.....or Foes?

One of the saddest conversations I have ever had in my life took place today.

As I came in to the complex where I live, one of my older neighbours was kind of stuck on the steps. I asked him if he was ok, and then we began a very long conversation. It turns out that No, he is far from ok.

Without going into too many details, this older man is getting sick. He is from the US and is here alone. He has been here 7 years and the only friends he has are other older men, who sit on the beach drinking each day. Their conversation is almost exclusively focused on the Girls that they pay for sex and the Dates that they take them on. (Sosua is one of the top 5 sex tourism destinations in the world, although, thankfully, this is changing!)

My neighbour is no longer a welcome part of their group as he has no more stories to share, as he is too sick to go on Dates now. The  guys that he has been hanging around with for 7 years have dropped him and are not prepared to help him. They have told him that he is a burden and they are sick of him.

He doesnt have family.

He doesnt have church. He doesnt have God. He is literally alone. He cried several times during the conversation. I tried to help him problem solve some of the difficulties he is facing, and I will do what I can to help him. I dont think I have ever seen someone so desperate.

It has led me to think about relationships. What my friendships are based on, what I would be prepared to do for those around me, what would be too hard - for this guy, his friends seem far from being true friends. I know that there are 2 sides to every story, and I dont mean this in judgement of them - but if your social world is built on sin and damaging other people it is fairly unlikely that you will find big-hearted friends there. People who gather to discuss their conquests of women living in poverty are probably unlikely to be the selfless support that you might one day need.

I also find it terribly sad that for the last 7 years that is all that my neighbour has been focusing on. That in a country surrounded by poverty and people needing opportunities, that he hasnt ever gone beyond his own wants and desires and stepped out to help others. It is all just very sad.

I know I always say this, but Jesus told us that the important things in life were to love God and to love those around us. That if we learn to love others we will expereience His JOY. That is what so many people seem to be seeking after, happiness and acceptance and joy. Sadly for so many of us, we look in the wrong places. We think loneliness can be cured by sex, or alcohol or any number of things. We are created to love and to be in community with others and with God.

But its not all over for my neighbour. He needs help -  in almost every way imaginable. Physical, emotional and spiritual. I have no idea what the long term looks like for him. There are no elderly care homes here for him to go too.... and he refuses to go back to the States.

The decisions that we make, about how to spend our time, who to spend it with, and what we invest our lives, our minds and our money in - they are important decisions. Important for today and for eternity. It does matter. Take it seriously.

Living here is a funny old thing really. You spend your days working with Haitian and Dominican people, and you spend your evenings with people from Canada, the States, Europe.... its a mixed up little community of people! Im off to my church prayer meeting now - I will be praying for my neighbour, and for wisdom for him, compassion from his friends and for wisdom for those of us around him who are wanting to love him in the way God calls us too - but who -if IM honest- are also slightly nervous to get involved!

Sorry this isnt my usual chipper tale of wonders, but this is the reality of life too....

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

God knows the details!

I haven't written a blog post since the end of June! I knew it had been a while, but I had no idea it was that long!! There is a good reason though - I've been really busy!

Throughout the summer I get to host and facilitate the mission teams from the UK that come with Mission Direct. They come out for 2 weeks each, to build homes for the poor and undertake any other mission tasks that we have for them! The team members dont know each other before they get on the plane, and so it is always an interesting and exciting experience! Getting to know new people in a new culture and getting involved in new tasks - Such Fun as Miranda would say!

So this summer has been busy and fast and now its over! Im left with fond memories, new friends, a lot of laundry and some achy muscles! Im also left with a reminder that we are all different and we all have a story. Spending 2 weeks with people in a fairly intense, communal living, life sharing type of way is a good way to get to know people! Im often humbled by the stories of other peoples lives, and Im often challenged and encouraged by other peoples testimonies of what God has done in their lives. I've enjoyed seeing people stepping out of their comfort zones, daring to live, giving new things a try - even including seeing an older team member jump from the side into a swimming pool for the first time in her whole life!

There is one story that I really want to share with you all - the story of Chorlo. See my lst blog post for an introduction to Chorlo's story.

Chorlo had a shunt put into his brain in June this year. I had 2 weeks notice to raise the money for the private operation. I put a post on facebook and within  a few days I was totally blown away by the answers to prayer that came in! Generous and amazing people sent in money for a man they had never met, and I truly believe that it was a Miracle.
The surgery took place and Chorlo made a great recovery.

So for a few weeks I have been aware that I had received too much money for his surgery. People had been so amazingly kind, that almost twice the amount I needed came in. I had $8042us dollars. His operation cost $4096 dollars in the end. So, I had decided that this week - once the last team left - I would email everyone and explain the situation. I was planning on asking everyone if they would be ok with me holding the money here for the next medical emergency/ Honestly, I was about to send that email.

Last Sunday I got a call to say Chorlo was really, really sick. I agreed to cover his hospital bill so sent him to the private clinic again. He ended up needing surgery to remove his shunt because his abdomen and intestines had become barbed and 'stuck' together following a parasite. The catheter from the shunt was now contaminated and the whole thing had to be removed. He had surgery to Unstick his intestines and to remove the shunt. The surgery went well and he is back home already!

Guess how much that all came too?

Yup,. you are quite right. $3946 dollars. EXACTLY. And there would not of been time to fundraise for that, and that my friends is my BIG ENCOURAGEMENT! That God knew ahead of time the need, put it on peoples hearts to give, and then the details all came together so perfectly. Miracles do happen, if you open your eyes you will see them!

So, thank you all once again for giving - to those of you that were here and came to donate your blood too - another miracle. Chorlo needed 4 pints of blood when I had keen volunteers here, more than willing to donate their blood for another. I donated too, it is so amazing to know who your blood is going too - kinda freaky too though!

I love it when you get to see the details all coming together like this, dont you? I know Chorlo's story is unusual, and Im amazed at how it developed! Im reassured that God does see the details, He does provide. He uses us all to be a part of the story too - isnt that amazing.  'May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave  us ETERNAL ENCOURAGEMENT and good HOPE, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.' 2 Thess 2 v16-17.

Please keep Chorlo in your prayers, for continued recovery and that the hydrocephalus doesnt come back.

Thanks for reading, I wont leave it so long next time - promise!