Tag Archives: Hope

Anticipation…one of my favorite feelings…

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I love this time of year! But not for the reasons you might expect. It’s not for the lights, the music or Santa…for me it’s the Anticipation! You see, I love that feeling! If Christmas were up to me…I would never open a gift…I would just leave it there…all wrapped up so I could look at it and wonder what was inside. I wouldn’t shake it or gently peel off the tape from the wrapping paper…I would just look at it…and that would make me happy.

Well, it’s Christmas time here in Antigua, Guatemala and the churches are celebrating Advent, which means “coming” in Latin. Each Sunday leading up to Christmas, the streets are filled with people, bands and processions carrying statues of Mary, Jesus and various Angels. They shoot off fireworks in front of the procession as well as after it passes.

The anticipation of the birth of Christ and the celebrations that are to come in just a few weeks cannot be ignored. I catch myself being both joyous and humbled as the crowds of people pass by my door in celebration that God came thru with His promise.

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Thinking about the fact that 400 years passed between the promise of the coming Lord (Malachi 3:1) and the news of His arrival (Matthew) humbles me on several levels. First of all…that’s a long time to wait… and secondly…it’s a long time to hold hope. I’m not sure I could have done it. But as always…God was true to His word.

So, as I think about “Anticipation” being one my favorite feelings, I begin to wonder where that feeling originates. I believe it originates with “Hope.” This may not be the correct definition, but this is what I believe. I believe Hope is the belief that something is good is coming and Anticipation is the feeling that is caused by Hope.

We don’t hear too much about Hope these days. Maybe it’s because many of us feel like we are in control of our life and circumstances and we feel like we don’t need it. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Everyone needs Hope! I love this quote:

“Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”           – unknown

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I believe it!

I have been working here in Guatemala for several years and living here for almost two. During that time, I’ve been involved in training pastors and business people, working in medical clinics and building stoves. All of that has been wonderful and I think we have made a positive impact on the community to some degree. But what I think has made the greatest difference is just being here… and lovin’ on people.

I think that just lovin’ on people gives them Hope. Hope that they are ok and that they will be ok. I think it provides a spark where Faith can grow. Faith that might lead them to do something that will improve their life, Faith that tomorrow might be better than today. Faith that God has not…and will not…abandoned them.

Yep, I think Hope is the spark to everything that is good. We need it…and we need more of us dishing it out to others in massive proportions.

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So my prayer for all of us this Christmas season is to make a concerted effort to “love on people.” Anybody you can, wherever you can. Love on them with a smile, a pat on the back, a “good morning” or a “thank you.” Everytime you pass by that man or woman ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, drop some of your spare change in the bucket…not necessarily for them…but for you.

Everyone you can…wherever you can.

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Give Hope this season…it costs you nothing…but its affect never goes unappreciated…or unnoticed.

Merry Christmas.

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Unrealized Dreams

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As I write this, I am sitting in Costa Rica on a mandatory “visa run” as they call it. I have to leave Guatemala every three months until I can apply for and get my work visa.

Anyway, learned a very important lesson yesterday that I only realized today as I wrote in my journal. The owner of the hotel told me about a hike that I should take where you walk up to an abandoned restaurant that was started and never completed and overlooks the entire coast and Jaco Beach. The hike would require me to walk about 5 miles from the hotel before I even reached the base of the trail. I had nothing but time…and decided to give it a try.

I left the hotel yesterday about 8:30am and headed down the hill to the main road that would lead me into the north side of Jaco Beach. I then turned south and continued through the center of town, walking by shops selling all types of souvenirs and restaurants selling every type of food imaginable. Continuing south I passed all types of tourists, locals and surfer types.

By 10:30am I was at the base of the trail where I inquired of two young women that appeared to be in their 20’s, with two (very loud) three-year old children, if I was on the right trail. One of the girls said, “Sí, arriba!” So, I began to “arriba” up the trail.

The climb was a winding dirt road through a relatively dense amount of trees and foliage. I had been told I might see white-faced monkeys on the trail, so I was on the lookout for movement and sound of any type. The road kept going up and I came to a vista that offered me my first view of the Costa Rican coastline and Jaco Beach. Beautiful. Several more people soon arrived and not long afterwards the two girls with the noisy kids passed and shouted to me, “keep going…there is more to see!” (Hold that thought…)

I responded I would and I let them get ahead of me on the trail before I continued up. I continued the ever-winding uphill climb, eyes peeled for monkeys, lizards, lions, tigers, bears or dinosaurs of any type…nothing.

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Finally the “up” gave way to a small path that led off the main path and deeper into the jungle. The remains of a concrete sidewalk with a beautiful Roman style balustrade railing made of concrete led me deeper into the jungle. About 100 yards into the jungle, the path open up to an expansive multi-level structure of tile floor and concrete columns and archways that all worked together to frame the view of the Costa Rican coastline and Jaco Beach. It was stunning…the view at least.

I didn’t think much about it then, but today as I reflected on it…I was greatly saddened by remembering my walk down that path and ultimately viewing the beginning of someone’s unrealized vision. I hope I never have to walk down such a path again…but I know I will. It’s heartbreaking.

Years ago someone had a vision to create a beautiful mountainside restaurant and for whatever reason…the obstacles they encountered proved overpowering and they abandoned their project and vision. What remained was overgrown, in disrepair and had been taken over by “self proclaimed graffiti artists”, in essence…it was ugly.

Today I thought about it and I think the same thing happens to all unrealized dreams…once abandoned…they no longer retain the brilliance of hope and the luster of possibility. Without constant monitoring and upkeep, they become ugly with regret and and the roots of personal failure begin to take over.

It was a powerful lesson and one that empowers me to continue to try to bring the light of hope to the people I meet. There is power and life in hope, vision and dreams and unfortunately there is also the opposite once that light goes out…and I don’t want that to happen to anyone.

The path to our dreams is ALWAYS an uphill hike. It is ALWAYS going to be tough…“but keep going…there is (ALWAY) more to see”and the ultimate view is spectacular.

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UPDATE:

I’ve since learned that the reason the project was abandoned was because the owner passed away.   This reinforces another very important aspect of not only creating a vision, but sustaining that vision.   Part of good leadership is planting your vision in the mind and hearts of others, so that they too can participate in helping to make your vision a reality.   Politicians do it, military leaders do it and so do all great leaders.   You must GROW your vision in others!

Clearly, this important step was omitted in this particular case…and the results speak for themselves…tragic.

Don’t let it happen to you!

Back to School…

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I became aware of something over the past couple of days that warranted some attention.

School starts here in Guatemala in January (this Monday) and goes until October. So all of the “back to school” shopping is in full swing. Each student that is attending public school is given a “list” of school supplies that they are required to purchase in order to attend classes. Now this “list” is FAR more extensive than anything I have ever heard of. It is very specific, and includes among other things several notebooks of varying page count, graphs, blank pages, there is also glue, T-squares, compass, colored pencils, all types of construction paper, scissors, rulers, erasers, different colored pens, crayons and the list goes on and on! They even are required to provide TOILET TISSUE AND CLEANING SUPPLIES for the school!

All of these items are not a big deal by themselves. However, when a family has several children and all of the children have the same type of requirements in addition to the purchase of school uniforms, school clothing and money for registration and lunch each day (if there is any money left over…). The financial burden on the family is overwhelming. As a result…much to my surprise…parents elect not to send their children to school! They just can’t afford it!

Well, this is not acceptable. Especially, when the children LOVE SCHOOL and are excelling. I became aware of 8 children that were not going to be able to attend school because they couldn’t afford the school supplies. Each of the children love school and last year’s report cards reflected their love of learning as well. Each of the children had scores of 90 and above (on a 100 point scale).

So today…Amy and I went to WalMart. We had each child’s required list and we fulfilled each item. We had a basket full of school supplies and tomorrow, we will surprise each of the 8 children with a bag full of supplies just in time for the first day oIMG_2625f school.

I’ve spent money on many things…but today…the smile on my face as I checked out was just a little brighter than usual.

It was a good day…