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dry season and droughts and the soul…

31/03/2017

Isa 58:11  And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

We are struggling a bit with our water supply.  We are blessed with the most awesome hand dug/bricked well I have seen in my life.  It is about 120 feet deep.  Our neighbors wells, two of them hand dug also but only 60 feet deep are very nearly dry.  He has quit irrigating and it selectively watering plants he wants to thrive.  I was encouraged seeing the depth of our well, but after replacing the deep well pump, the old one failing after 15 years of service we pumped the well dry in a few minutes.  Don’t worry mom, we will get by.  But it will take some manipulating of filling the cistern, reducing our usage.  We are blessed.

Guatemala has about six months of rain and six months of dry season.  But recent years the rainy season has not been as wet as usual and this past year there was little rain for us in October, when usually there are a couple weeks of heavy rain signaling the close of the rainy season.  Here weddings are scheduled often in November, weather still warm, sunny skies and plants look fresh at the beginning of dry season.  Now in end of March with one more month without rain almost guaranteed, there is dust on everything.  The grass has long ago gone dormant, one can imagine the plants and trees crying out they are thirsty.  Sometimes the fog comes in at night and the trees rake the air for moisture and the condensate drops on the plants below for a small respite.  But the sun the next morning quickly sucks up that which has not been absorbed… so much for the refreshing moment!  Some areas of Guatemala have been hard hit, enough to drop production of black beans, rice and corn, the staples Guatemalan mothers feed their children.

I know of no brother or sister in the LORD who has been around several years who has not had a ‘dry season of the soul’.  When events don’t happen as we plan, when delays seem interminable, when tragedies occur around us and like Peter our eyes go to the storm.  We sink in despair.  That arid question of our soul, “where are You LORD” grows from a drought of faith.  Dry faith is a brittle weed.  The ferns here have lost their leaves, the stems are blackened and break easily in your hand.  This land can do nothing but wait.  Wait on the promised rains to come.  Wait for the soils to sponge up heavens blessing to then release them slowly through the next dry season.  Christian, it is the same for our souls.  God’s promises never fail, no matter what the eye sees, the heart feels.  Never allow our human emotion to get the upper hand.  The prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer_17:9)” My eye sees an empty well and being a pastor and missionary I am not free to tell you what my heart said!  But about that moment is when the neighbor said, ‘we need to pray for the rains from heaven’ while casting her eyes and hands clasped in prayer to the One who promises rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

One of my brother’s in the LORD not knowing any of the above sent a couple verses this morning.  It is his habit.  They are in Spanish so Cindy and I both go find the references in English.  Thanks Nacho.  This morning it was the two verses PRECEDING Jer. 17:9.  Fascinating.  The timing.  The lesson and blessing from my LORD.   —  “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.”  (Jer 17:7-8)

My trust is in the LORD and notice the intimacy of hope.  The LORD is…. my hope.  Again, the promise of God will never fail, therefore I have no care, no worry in drought.  He has planted us where we are and promises we will bear fruit for the glory of the LORD and His Son Jesus.

Please pray for an early start to the rainy season for Guatemala.

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Visiting Orphanages

17/03/2017

Cindy and I were blessed to ride along with Shane and Brooke Burkholder, directors of Orphan Resources International (ORI) in Guatemala.  They are trying to meet the demands of the several orphanages receiving children from the Hogar Seguro tragedy.   See last blog post “Where’s the Church” for details.  I have a positive correction to last blog.  There are 40 girls dead not 41 as reported over the weekend.  They found that last ‘fatality’ had been moved to the USA for treatment.  We heard today there are now 9 being treated in the USA.  I leave much unsaid but this has triggered an overdue criminal investigation.

The Burkholders looked a little tired as the work piles on.  Neil and Oscar also on staff are hustling too.  New beds are being ordered, food supplies reassessed, bed, linens, being quick to partner with so many ( Our Guatemala, Nuevo Reto, others) trying to help.  ORI provides beans, rice, sugar, salt, and share donations that come from Price Mart.  They got about a ton of avocados from another donor last week.  I carried one of those 120 pound bags up the hill at one orphanage…. about did me in.  Shane got to carry the rest!  I start working and forget to take photos.  Here are a few from that day.   No photos of children from that orphanage to not offend the children or the government in the midst of this chaos.

We visited Los Gozosos Joy Filled Home.  This home specializes in special needs children.  I have heard there were 100 – 150 children in the special need wing of this now closed facility.  Homes we are familiar with are at capacity.  Los Gozosos have been assigned six – one arrived so far.  Extra staff is hired at the homes expense NOT the government, food, diapers, etc.  Canada, USA and GUATEMALA are opening up and giving.  Some Guatemalan friends dear to Vine International have given and collected from friends, even encouraged volunteering at Los Gozosos.  Bunk beds made by a youth ministry in Antigua area and high chairs, and cribs were donated.  We filled every free space in the truck with donated diapers and other needed items.  With tears, there are NOT enough homes.  Not enough beds.  All the special needs children not taken by the available homes have been placed in Cadanino, another government facility in the city… also over capacity and the numbers are staggering.  Personal presence, volunteering will mean more to some of these ministries than anything else that can be done.

I continue to encourage the opening of international adoptions.  It will NOT take care of this situation but in time may help to decompress some of the overcrowding.  When international adoptions were stopped 8 or 9 years ago and increased regulations were brought to bear there were about 300 private children’s homes in Guatemala.  These are estimates.  I admit the numbers could be off a bit.  In that first year almost 100 homes folded their tents.  They could not afford compliance with all the regulations.  In the intervening years the number of homes are down to 130.  Some are phasing out, keeping their kids until they ‘age out’ at 18 then will change their mission or go home.  The dynamics looking forward are that care of orphans will be in turmoil.  If you are supporting homes in Guatemala, talk them up.  They are doing battle for those God gives them.  Inspectors/agents for the government seem to always find something wrong.  It justifies their job. Need to fix your screens, put up emergency exit signs, buy more fire extinguishers, don’t let them call you mommy and daddy, get your paper work in order requiring multiple trips to the capital city to multiple departments to be told you need this form from still another department….. fuel, time loss, quetzals/dollars going to BURROcracy instead of stretched food budget and medical bills.  I am not sure of the percentage of homes that have received formal recognition/licensing but suspect it is very low.  It takes a very special type of person to care for and love on these kids while battling this beast, but they are here and more than ever need your support.

I worked with a pastor Thursday that is receiving 8 of the teenagers, added to 16 they were caring for before this tragedy.  El Bario Para Cristo needs a two washing machines, propane dryer and a freezer.  It will take 2,000 US dollars to purchase and INSTALL the machines.  If you are called to work on a project like this, please think it through to the end.  As an example, your church buys the freezer – does the home have adequate electricity, safety against machine being accidentally unplugged, generator backup etc?  Invariably someone is going suggest industrial strength washers and dryer.  I did.  Good idea.  They don’t have the space/they rent the building/landlord won’t allow changes/probably won’t allow upgrading electricity to 220v and the list goes on.  Please communicate with the people you are supporting.

By the way we have $250 toward that $2,000 already available thanks to some old Vine family Dennis and Doris Rice.  (Old – grin)… Orphan Resources has enough on their plate.  The Vine family would like to ask that our supporters take on this project.   If you desire to give send a note with check earmarking the donation for El Bario Para Cristo we will follow thru on this end.  Pay Pal is an option on our website and the mail address is Vine International, P.O. Box 52086, Knoxville, TN 37950.

Pray for Cindy and I please.  We have helped feed and played Santa Claus to these kids and this loss is personal and upsetting.  We thank you ahead of time for any and all help.

Just a note about the last blog.  It is the largest response to a blog post in the 8 years with over 2,000 hits (about 1600 viewers as some of those hits are people coming back a second time) in 25 to 30 countries.  May God bring beauty from ashes as His word promises – Amen.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Where is the Church?

12/03/2017

March 8, 2017 there was a fire in the ‘children’s home’ in San Jose Pinula.  Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asuncion, is a government home for kids from the street, abandoned, physically, sexually abused and true orphans.  A youth prison on site houses ages 6 to 17.  The complex designed for 400-450 kids is underfunded,(can’t afford propane enough to cook beans) understaffed, (1 staff per 34-40 with an admit rate of 15+ per day) and has over 700 kids.  Vine International through El Barrio para Cristo gave medicines and wheelchairs.  Cindy and I have volunteered with Esperanza contra Esperanza and a local church in Villa Nueva to feed at this place.  I am struggling for words.  Hard to see the screen.  Too few good staff.  And GOD, where is the church?

The kids rioted on Tuesday.  Sixty went ‘over the wall’.  Several were captured and returned to this place.  The older teenage girls were locked in a room.  8:30 a.m. Wednesday the electricity went out and a fire started. The girls started screaming but were ignored, you know just another riot.  No witnesses and no video evidence.  Someone saw smoke and called the bomberos (fire fighters) who were initially refused entrance.  One needs proper authorization.  There is still much confusion, it is said some of the girls broke through the door (steel anchored in concrete).  NOW the newspapers ask questions.  Who had the key?  Was there sexual abuse or trafficking?  There is a report that 200 kids are missing over the last three years. Was the fire to remove threat of witnesses?  I am praying for a brave aggressive journalist to go after this story.  My question is, where’s the church?

Whose responsibility is this?  Let’s blame the government, the self-serving politicians and lazy bureaucrats.  Government has no heart or compassion and will always be bad at caring for people. Government has never been authorized by God to care for children from Genesis 1:1 to Maps!  So let us not blame government.  The trolls are out on Facebook.  Blame the mothers; if someone mentions adoption, I have seen the comment why should we raise someone else’s vermin.  Where are you church?  These 40 were created in the image of God!

Imagine beatings for the slightest offense, isolation.  Imagine watching families that come the weekend but yours never do.  Those very few with visitors who would bring you food – which the staff confiscates and eats in front of you.  Try this for me.  Cook beans and rice half way.  Just once and force yourself to eat it, now imagine every day.  One small piece of chicken once a week.

Church where are you?

There are cases where children are turned into the streets to steal and bring the loot of the day in exchange for a small meal and a bed.  Children know this is wrong.  When youth get treated better by the gangs than these safe houses what outcome do you expect?  We are making fodder for the gangs.  Church where are you?

I have heard of judges crying, asking Christian homes to take this child or they have to send them to this facility.  Knowing they have a problem, regulatory agencies will burden the nonprofits private homes with inspections, compliance meetings, and reams of documents to get licensed, but let these facilities have a free pass.  These agencies are scrambling to get orphanages to take more than their rated capacity to deal with over 700 kids.  Are government agents going to follow up next month and threaten my friends for being overcrowded?  Where is the church?

Forty girls are dead.  More are on ventilators and not sure they will live.  The government has declared three days of mourning and they will pay for the funerals… Three days and a few hundred quetzals… we will shake our heads and say, “we can only pray for such a tragedy.” Monday is will be work as usual… Church where are you?

Church we need to fall on our faces, declare our guilt, repent and stand up for these orphans.  Like Esau we have sold our birthright for a bowl of oatmeal.  You want to support your rich pastors and large edifices … the rails are greased and the gates of hell are wide open.  God cares nothing about our health, wealth and prosperity until such as these are cared for.   Adopt.  In Christ there is no such phrase as “this child is unadoptable.”  {UGH!}  I am living proof.  God adopted me.

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  Sweet verse.  Did we do ‘pure religion’ this week church?

The church hides behind a Book we do not read.  After God gave Moses the Law God reaches back into His Code of Law and specifically says HE will deal with His Chosen on this issue.  Read Exodus 22:22-24,

“You shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.”  Read it again.  The responsibility for orphans was given to the called of God, in our era the church.  One further point this is said to MEN.

Where are the men of the church?  The sexual abuse/rape of women and children in Guatemala occurs at a horrible rate.  It is ignored.  I have read that less than 10% of child sexual molesters and rape are arrested and guilty verdicts of those are around 10%.   Can we call ourselves a “Christian nation” based on how we treat our women and children?  So men, do you think the 39 young ladies dead in that fire were afflicted?  Do you think they cried out to God?  I KNOW they SCREAMED!  But we pay taxes, we give to the church….Sounds real hollow.  That passage is not about your wallet.  It talks about physical and spiritual involvement.  To keep the orphan from affliction requires us to be a physical shield between the child and whatever is afflicting/attacking them.  Sexual abuse – Today, we remove, move and move again the child.  NO, remove the abuser.  He is the guilty one, not the child.

What to do?

There is obvious immediate need.  It is chaos right now.  Seven hundred kids are being shuffled from this facility to others.  Some will be returned to the abusive situations from which they were “rescued”.  Pray that God would heal families.  Realistically some will end up in the street again.  There are very good homes here that God uses every day and for generations.  The influx will strain budgets, materials and staff.  While money is needed, presence is most important.  Volunteer time and skills, relationship.  Shoes, cloths and food do not heal the soul or the body.  This is ultimately a spiritual battle and the very reason God’s chosen are given the care of orphans and not the government.  Get to know the leadership of the orphanage.  Watch for abuse, financial or physical.  The director owns multiple properties? Always has a new vehicle?  Be rude, ask questions.  Has the staff had a thorough criminal background check?  These homes need the presence of true Godly men, not sexual predators. It happens. So where are you, men of the church?  Are you going to stand between the orphan and that affliction? 

 

Church of Guatemala:  ADOPT.  I have heard there are 20 – 25,000 evangelical churches registered in Guatemala.  In the next 2 – 6 months we could decompress the overburden of orphans on the system. If there is a good family in your church with the desire to adopt but is too poor to meet the parameters this government puts in the way.  Fix their house, get the husband/father a job that fits the requirements.  That adopted child should have a church full of aunts, uncles and grandparents willing to give to the care of that family.

Get radically annoying with your political class and the regulatory agencies demanding this be cleaned up.  This will fall out of the press (already has internationally) in the next three weeks.  The politicians count on that.  Will only the families that lost children care after that?  God promises beauty from ashes, but I think He means for us to get in there and dig!  Open up international adoptions at a rate that can be done with utmost safety of the child.  Demand stiff punishment for attorneys or homes that ‘sell’ children.  Twenty thousand churches in Guatemala why is there an orphan at all?

Church in USA and Canada:  ADOPT.  International adoption in Guatemala was justly closed due to criminal activity of buying and selling babies.  NO PEOPLE OR COUNTRY should ever be a breeding ground for false orphans.  It is time however, to open international adoptions again.  Let’s get these children into true homes, with true families and out of warehouses.  There are adults in US and Canada that were adopted as infants and children in Guatemala.  Get the word to them about this tragedy and the overburden of the private and government Hogar de Ninos (Children Homes).  Join your letters with theirs to the Secretary of State.  Ask that the issue of international adoption with Guatemala be examined again in light of the recent tragedy.  In my era neatly hand written letters carried more weight than email.  That may be changing.  Use your judgement.  Email is faster and more efficient, but hand writing shows a passion for the subject.

Secretary Rex Tillerson, 2401 E. Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20037 Offices on the 12th and 13th Floors

https://register.state.gov/contactus/

And the White House.  President Donald Trump The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20500

https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Also send the letter to your congressman and both senators in your state.  Canada not sure your government key positions.  Perhaps Joe, Karen, Leceta can attach in a message at the end of the blog.

There are a number of missionaries and homes to send financial resources to.  I would consider due to the acute need unless you are traveling soon that you send money to homes you may know and have a relationship with.  Or consider donating to Orphan Resources International http://www.orphanresources.org/ways-to-give  who has an account for “Orphanage Fire” set up.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

A gift isn’t always free!

04/03/2017

The Christian mind runs to the cross.  Christ’s sacrifice was an act of free grace.  It cost life, tortured pain, shame, being forsaken by God for our Savior.  And the Father; what He asked but did not require of Abraham – God gave His Son.  The cross was a most costly gift.

In Vine’s world gifts given freely are not free!  I have had this bit of counseling on at least four occasions this week.  Please accept what I say based on direct experience with out getting upset.  The desire is to improve ‘our serve’.

IS Guatemala needy, Yes.  Poverty level is well above 50%.  Some inner city barrios and agricultural areas suffering drought are much higher.  Short term teams come, see needs and with God given compassion they want to help.  Home they go with that heart desire.

Anecdote.  A team goes home finds a sale at Home Depot on ceiling fans, buys them for about $20 a piece (good deal).  Sends them to a missionary with church planting mission in a tropical country so they can cool the congregation while listening to the preaching (buen idea).  Shipping cost another $20 a piece.  No communication with the pastor (surprise gift won’t he be pleased?!).  Customs agent hands him a bill for almost $10 per unit – pastor still doesn’t know what is waiting for him.  Customs brings out five fans.  They are wired for US electricity 110 v.  This country has 220v electricity so the in country missionary had to buy step down transformers for each unit so $60 x 5 equals $300.  220v ceiling fans cost less than $20 in that country… the missionary could have bought a fan for every church he had planted and had gas money left over if the team had sent a donation of $300.  Confession: I participated in these kind of gifts.  Missionaries never complained – they have learned to not offend donors by refusing ‘gifts’.  It wasn’t until MedEquip Missions that I started looking with a critical eye at this issue.   One of the relationships that Jim Moore, Cindy and I were blessed with in that first year 1994 was Technical Exchange for Christian Healthcare, Inc (TECH).  A group of 10 (+/-) full time medical missionaries got tired of seeing Junk for Jesus in the clinics and hospitals they served and formed this organization (now over 100 members).  They developed a set of standards, seen on the webpage (click on ABOUT, fourth line in the drop box).

This will not be a complete discussion on this subject – I would take up your weekend!  It is advice from one who loves missionaries AND one who loves those who care enough to support the causes my missionary family is involved in.

1.) Vine International  our mission is to ship materials, medicine and equipment to help medical missions here in Guatemala.   EVERYTHING I am pointing out Vine has learned through pain and embarrassment.  We have done it wrong at least once.  And I think Bruce White and Woody Woodson with 25 years of experience would say we are still learning.  Once I had a team of three ladies come to the warehouse (bodega).  One was quiet, two started telling me how to ship containers, get involved with water projects, several other things and they wanted me to help them ship a very large piece of medical equipment that had been stored for several years.  To this day we don’t have a hospital project that could afford to install that unit, pay the electric bill to run it each month.  I will buy Cindy a pizza if the thing even worked after being stored in the fashion it was.  Here is the thing.  I haven’t heard again from those two/my questions were not well received (how many containers do you ship this year – none – last year – none….does the machine work?).  The third lady, the quiet one has a heart for medical missions and is doing it right.  There will be children later this year benefit from a cleft palate team that ministry is bringing down.  They have worked in the region, sent good advance teams, willing to work with nationals… and don’t do Junk for Jesus!

2.) get relational with the missionary.  If able  come work with them a few times before dumping a lot of stuff on them, even money.  Observe.  Funnel your communication through the local missionary.  Here for example you might see a need and say to the national ‘I am going to see if I can help’  To you and to nearly everyone in the USA that means, “you are going to TRY to help.”  To the national they are watching the mail box and when your help doesn’t come – they contact the missionary here to see when that help is coming and they contact, and they contact and because they interpreted your TRY for a PROMISE then you and by default the missionary becomes a liar.  Hard to witness for Christ when that is your reputation.   I know life long missionaries who refuse  short term teams because of this.

3.) Newsletter/ blog/ facebook however they get their news out – get on it.  Don’t comment on everypost or respond to every newsletter but folks write us a note once in awhile – it gets lonely away from your children and grandchildren.  Remember if you change email accounts they will not know it unless you tell them.  Also very important – I pray for some folks in places where being one of us is dangerous.  When their news comes it comes with a request to not share without clearing through them.  PLEASE, please if you are involved with someone in that kind of situation DO NOT compromise.  Putting a note on the churches website has shut down ministry opportunities – enough said.

4.) If you have a thought, see a need that you believe you are called to answer – don’t surprise the missionary!!!  pensive smile —  Discuss in detail.  An example, you want to send Bibles to Guatemala.  Somebody donates (they are truly freeeeee) English Bibles.  There might be a limited need interestingly, but Spanish is the language here and there are at least two publishing companies here that print Bibles.  You may also be supporting a Mayan region that has the Bible in their native tongue.  So consider buying the Bibles here, supporting local company and economy.  NOW to take it one step further, there is a group of Guatemalans in western NC I understand that are Maum – the Bible is translated and printed in their language now, maybe you should buy Maum Bibles here and take them back???  You cannot make good decisions without discussing with the missionary on the ground.

5,) “Missionaries can use anything.”  Would you please bow your head, and say with me, Father in Heaven this thought has come to my mind.  I have heard Christian friends say it even.  But Lord my brother Dennis McCutcheon in Guatemala says this is a lie, smells like sulfur smoke straight from the pits of hell. Please Lord when this thought comes to mind cast it far from me.  Amen and amen.   OK that may be just a little drastic (Jim Moore says, “no it ain’t”).   Missionaries have fostered this attitude by receiving “anything”.  Use this test.  I call that missionary brother/sister.  What I have to give would I give it to my blood brother or sister?  It is true we can use some things that would be castoff, even go to the dump in the USA, especially true in medical equipment.  BUT again, talk to the missionary.  Different regions/countries have different rules.  Untreated lumber, used clothing here will get a container stopped for a long time in customs/fumigation fees or worse.  You may be able to hand carry the cloths through the airport if you are supporting an orphanage and it work fine.  Make a true friend of the missionary God is calling you to support – not like a ‘friend’ on Facebook.

6. Some countries are ahead of others in business and manufacturing.  In medicine does your team displace the local doctor?  Can you buy cheaper or same price the product you need, school supplies, food, Bibles etc from local resources helping the local economy or the families in the church that sponsors your team?  Even from the best of hearts your free gift can be costly.  Relationship, communicate with the missionary with whom you are going to serve.

After cutting 500 words in editing, this is longer than most people today are going to read – so enough for now.

Thank you so much for continued support.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

 

Odds and Ends

25/02/2017

Just an update.  Cindy and I have started back to language school.  It is costing about $800 for 30 hours for two members in the class.  Cindy wins on penmanship.  We have a very nice ‘maestra’, a lady from Cuba.  We have taken the money out of our ministry account.  If any feel led to help replenish the funds we and Vine International would be grateful.  We are between containers and over the rush that always occurs Dec/Jan.  So we are taking the time to try to improve in this area of our ministry.IMG_1430.JPG

I often do my Bible study or letter writing in the ranchito.  There is a garden bench.  For those that follow Cindy on Facebook you have seen the chickens that have been added to “the farm”.  Well they are a forward bunch of fowl.  The photo below shows they have taken over the garden bench.  Just come and try to share the bench with them.  The squawking is impressive.  These are the young out of the last brood – way to many roosters so trying to get Cindy to not name them and in a few weeks let our neighbor have them for soup.  It is under discussion – I expect to loose unless too many roosters do what too many roosters do and get on her last nerve (evil grin).IMG_1420.JPG

OK, file these next two photos under scenes from Guatemala.  Shane Burkholder if you read this post harvest the garbage truck for your photo collection brother.

First look closely… there is a man sleeping in a jack-legged hammock above the hydraulic compactor in the back of this garbage truck.  They push the hydraulics to the max so they can make fewer trips.  I have a friend here when he travels with me tells me to get away from trucks like this as they do blow up!  The man is truly asleep as we had to follow for a kilometer or so due to traffic.  Interesting…IMG_1427 (1).JPG

And final photo.  This was in the album with the last post I think.  But here it is again.  Sometimes we get a different audience.  This is Brook Burkholder.  She is with the ministry next door to our warehouse Orphan Resources International.  Every since Cindy and I showed up in Guatemala this ministry has helped us in many different ways.  On a few occasions they have asked for help – if we are in country and free, the answer will always be yes.  PriceMart here in Guatemala gives food that doesn’t meet their quality control to ORI who quickly gets it into little bellies all over Guatemala.  Kids don’t care if the cake didn’t rise quite right or the crust on the pie was broke in the handling process.  Like all things ‘given for free’ there is still work involved.  So we have committed to help if the ORI team has construction team and can’t get to  Price Mart for pick up.  On this morning we did not have the van – it was on a different mission.  So we packed Cindy, Brooke, myself and a dozen pizzas, four cases of muffins, 20 some roasted chickens, case of doughnuts, at least 10 cakes, and 5 pies.  We almost lost Brooke in the back seat.IMG_1413 - Copy.JPG

OK we are working on issues dealing with our presence on the internet and emails/newsletters.  I am exploring Mail Chimp for notification of our newsletter and container announcements.  So far I like what I see.  I have received testimonies from some folks I trust about their experience with Mail Chimp.  It is likely that I will move my data bases sometime this next week.  After I do that I will probably put out some really brief note just to make sure I haven’t lost anyone.  Soooo it is a good time if you want to get off this list to let me know.  Also if you want to be added let me know.  On Mail Chimp there will be a way to subscribe – similar to the RSS Feed on the right of this post.  I will likely renew my account on Facebook as we have seen a reduction in numbers reading the newsletter.   It’s time for a ‘mater sandwich.

Thank you, all of you for your prayer support, financial support and encouragement.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon

Orphan Resources International and other neighbors

13/02/2017

Cindy and I have always been blessed with good neighbors, well there was the guy that didn’t like Cindy’s cats but that is the only one I can recall.  Lilly and her children are precious to us.  We give Lilly the keys to the house when we leave for the USA.  When we return she has always cleaned house and put a vase of flowers in the living room or dining room.  No you CAN”T have Lilly for your neighbor she is ours!  She and Cindy work on the chickens together, treat the animals when appropriate.  Those two ladies are always laughing.  It always amazes me with our limited language skill the ability Cindy has to communicate with Lilly.

Another neighbor at the bodegas is Orphan Resources International.  If you have been on the blog since the beginning you will have heard of them before.  They are a group out of Pennsylvania.  They help provide basic food stuffs to about 50 orphanages here.  ORI also hosts teams, several teams in a year to do construction projects, paint, roofing, build fences, play with orphans, etc.  On occasions when hosting teams, being short staffed at the moment they struggle to pick up food donated by Price Mart and recently asked us if we could help.  The only way we would ever say no to them is if we physically weren’t present.  They have helped us on multiple occasions on short notice.  So we had one of those mornings… We were to meet Brooke at Price Mart (close to a McDonalds so Cindy and I went a little early to have coffee).  As we were entering Micky D’s Shane called he had Brooke’s keys across the city could we go pick her up – of course.  Next issue.  We had loaned our van to El Barrios para Cristo for a need they had.  Now ORI didn’t have their truck.  We had the Yaris, very small car.  We all laughed and we went to Price Mart to see if we could get it all in the car (see photos linked here!).   It is a joy to help our neighbors especially when we can make fun of them and bury them in pizza.

Another neighbor, Hans and Mary Lou Schieber… the owner of our bodega, too.  We do a Bible Study each Wednesday night at their home, presently in Gospel of John.  Hans has been very generous to Vine International, by not raising the rent and allowing delayed payment on a few occasions.  He is one of the first to respond if there is a problem in the neighborhood.  He is always experimenting with farming and greenhouses (peppers, tomatoes, herbs, now coffee!!! – we always volunteer as taste testers).

We are very blessed.

In Christ,

Dennis and Cindy.

Rapid Start to 2017

03/02/2017

Well at least for Cindy.  She spent the first week of Jan. 2017 taking care of me.   But after that it was a race.  We had 51 visits to the bodega (202 all of last year) the last 3 weeks of January.  The last container of 2016 finally arrived middle of the month.  It was a wheelchair container sponsored by the Platillero family for which we are grateful.  In the middle of the month I was asked to do a dedication of some special babies.  All the Tejeda-Harris sisters were pregnant and delivered I think within six weeks of each other.  This is the family whom God has given us in Guatemala that helps with import of containers.  These ladies and their husbands are a blessing to us and I pretty much say yes to anything they suggest.

Brady Green came down from Knoxville but we were in the midst of a busy bodega schedule.  He borrowed the van and pretty much took care of himself.  He visited and interviewed Daryl Fulp and Dick Rutgers about wheelchair ministry and taking care of special needs children here in Guatemala.  I am anxious to see what comes of those videotaped interviews.  I warned Brady to interview these men separately or the footage would have qualified for Saturday Night Live.  They act just like brothers.

I am trying to pick photography up again.  I have an album of recent photos with captions – trying to tell the story of what Vine International does and the ministry’s effect here in Guatemala.  I get the idea that medicine can be merely humanitarian and some of the churches and pastors I have spoken to over the years don’t support medical ministries.  I actually think the complaint is legitimate.  BUT medical missions can be done in a way to effectively share the truth of Christ, effective church planting can be done.  The first person to clothe the naked I believe was Jesus Himself in Gen. 3, while it was ‘humanitarian’ it was also a type of His atonement to come – the Divine stepped into human history and got bloody to bring relief… and turn us from our just destiny and put our feet on the narrow way.  Check the photos out linked here and enjoy.  With the captions I add quite a bit of information about this past month.

We are tired and have taken most of this week off… the phone still rings, people need help.  Hard to say no.  Wednesday night Bible study continues and we finished John ch 7 this past week.  Looking forward to chapters 8 and 9 – some of my favorite stories.  Please pray for this aspect of the work here.  There are a couple of hurting families in our circle we are discipling.  Our children, Casey and Jeremy have moved into a new house.  We would have loved to been there to help them move.  Missing Peggy.  Jason and Hadley have our third granddaughter on the way I think in April.  And of course Olivia and Sarah always in our heart and on the front of our minds.

Please continue to pray for whoever it is that God would have replace us.  We are at that point we are about as busy as we can stand but not busy enough for two families… but somewhere, sometime transition has to occur.  Cindy and I are checking out language school again.  We have found a school close to us but it is a little expensive ($800 for 30 hours instruction)  we are praying.

OK the squirrels (Cindy calls them the little people) are playing above the ceiling so I need to go beat on the wall.  Thank you for your support in prayer and finances.  Here is to 2017 and the work ahead, looking forward to what God is going to do.  Amen and Amen.

In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon