Cindy and I are leading a Bible study. The group is very mixed, English only, Spanish only and a few bilingual, and the runs of the spectrum of denominations, church wounded, broken families. I have never been with such diversity in such a small group (usually about a dozen or so). We are beginning the second chapter of Ephesians tonight. Paul’s emphasis on the Grace of the Trinity in chapter one continues. Our salvation takes us from spiritually dead to life eternal in Christ. Our salvation is an act of Grace, a gift from God, purchased by the blood of Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit. A gift I cannot repay.
Some teach we will know all when we get to heaven. I have always been uncomfortable with that thought. The only ‘know it all’ is God Himself, the rest are fools full of self pride and always fail when time comes to deliver. (smile – I were one so to speak). Read Ephesians 2:7 “in ages to come” He (God the Father) will show us / school us in grace. It seems to say it will take eternity to know what grace is…
Eph 2:7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus:
Verse 6 God the Father raised us and makes us SIT before Jesus, I believe for instruction. Would it not have been enough that God the Father were simply kind toward us? But Paul in v. 7, stretches the grandeur of speech and one gets the sense that words will never be enough.
His Kindness toward us – His grace in kindness toward us – RICHES of His grace in kindness toward us – THE EXCEEDING RICHES of His grace in kindness toward us === IN CHRIST.
I believe that we will be schooled in grace at the feet of Jesus sitting at the Throne on the right hand of the Father. That that school term will not be three, six or twelve months, but it will be for eternity. Grace is recieving what we do not deserve… simple thought. Do we understand? I think we only have a hint of grace, and that God the Father’s hearts desire is that we understand this more fully. If we understood this we would once again turn the world upside down for the Glory of Christ. And all this (v. 8) a gift from the hand, mind and heart of God the Father.
Back to studying for the teaching this evening. May Jesus be glorified.
Please be in prayer for us and our neighbors. Lilly our precious neighbor was robbed at gunpoint and hit once with a bat. An attempt was made on our neighbor on the other side. We have a guard for a season. The professional guard here for the last two days cannot fire his weapon as the company charges him for each shell he uses. It is the Don Knotts Security Firm, I think. We are taking steps we believe to be wise, but ultimately we are in the LORD’s Hands and surrounded by Legions of His Angels. We are His to do with as He pleases. Very firmly we are IN CHRIST!
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Five years ago today Cindy and I stepped off the plane in Guatemala City (Peggy came with us for a brief time). Dennis and Doris Rice welcomed us. He tossed me the keys and told me the Mitzubishi was my responsibility. It has been a wild five years. We are now resident status in Guatemala, with Guatemalan ID and Driver’s License.
One of the life lessons here is you cannot live here in a turtle shell, one must have friends and must invest in friends. In this we have been truly blessed. If I start listing events you will get bored reading and I will offend someone forgetting to put them in the list.
Vine International is somewhat unique. Our ‘work’ is shipping medical supplies, equipment and medicines to serve evangelical and humanitarian medical facilities that serve the rural and inner city poor. We have been given opportunities to preach, teach Bible, do weddings, work with building teams for hospitals and homes of handicapped, orphanages. We feel strongly we have been planted here for a great work to come. Our boss Woody Woodson sets the tone, abiding in Christ. It is easy to do ‘good’ works, my works and pull from Christianese to make us look good. Easy to take our ‘mission’ and ask Jesus to support our good ideas. God does not share His Glory or the Glory of His Son Jesus. Jesus is not there to be used for my benefit. If this is how we use Him then the work will always be natural and results predictable.
Abiding in Christ – Christ first, we abiding in submission, are free then to do what He asks. Yes to do the work of shipping an amazing amount of material on amazing little financial resources and sharing with over 100 works in Guatemala. But also to preach the Word, to be used to minister to neighbors, to be ministered to by neighbors. To love on some amazing brothers and sisters in Christ who do not have resources to respond with anything but love in return. To see God’s transformed children serve in amazing ways through amazingly difficult circumstances in the midst of unspeakable evil. When the relationship is us in submission to our LORD it is His work and one can expect to see supernatural results as common. A boy’s lunch of five loaves and two small fish feeds 5,000 men. The Vine Family believes this story is real and literal – we see it happen all the time. We participate in handing out that which comes from the Hand of Christ.
LORD, we praise You and Your Son. All glory and all honor are Yours. Thank You for calling Cindy and I here and giving us the provisions to do this work. May the work we do make You smile. There is much that is evil here and we claim Your power and authority over such as these. Make us bold to speak of the importance of relationship with Jesus Your Son. Let us see Your Hand and Heart at work in both our friends and even in Your enemies in this beautiful land. Keep our friends safe. Help us to steward the finances and materials that You give us into those ministries that are active in Your Harvest Fields. Thank You for this last five years and we turn our eyes to what is ahead until You call us Home. In Jesus Name Amen.
Thank you for your support. We value your financial support and prayers, believing God gives you that desire and those resources. And finally, Cindy has a four year driver license. She threatened Woody with she has no desire to get another Guatemalan Driver’s license… smile. We will see.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
For my Guatemalan friends none of this is a complaint. We actually laughed most of the day and thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Rolando and Lisa. Actually some direct ministry issues may come out of our discussions yesterday. The Lord, He is Good and the time was not wasted.
If you have followed us over the five years (three days from now) in Guatemala, you have heard the Woody Woodson quote, “Sometimes it takes all day just to live in Guatemala!” To get full effect one must say it with a Southern Appalachian – East Tennessee drawl. Yesterday we were chauffeured by the Sauder’s of Orphan Resource International to meet with Rolando Vargas and his precious, very pregnant wife Lisa. We met at Immigration in zone 4 to pick up residency documents and passports for Sauder’s and Lisa. While in the parking lot met with Rabbi Joel an orthodox Jew and had a delightful, unfruitful conversation. We did find out that Judaism is the most difficult religion in the world, because of the burden of the law (anecdote for tonight’s teaching in Ephesians and the believer’s identity in Christ). I assured him I believed he was correct. Wish we could have talked more as I believe all religion is at best man designed and at worst of satan himself, and it would have been a challenge to talk about the golden gift of Grace we who believe benefit from.
Then it was on to the Guatemalan form of Division of Motor Vehicles… it is not all in one building. In fact it is not all in one zone in the city. First stop zone 12, sign in, get your photo and book to study. The photo is not for the license but to prove to each person that handles the documents that it was really you who took the test, paid the money etc. 625 quetzals to take the test. Cindy and I scored well on the written test. She got 94% and I got 92%. Then the actual driving test in which I want to point out she knocked over one of the cones, while I did not. She got 79 and I got 78… her tester spoke English, mine did not. He gave a healthy critique of which all I got seemed to be I was a good driver but I failed to do something with my arm. Oh well, we passed. A stop at Pollo Campero for chicken and fluids was helpful. Then on to the third parking lot of the day and to zone 9!
Here we got our eye exam in a room in the basement, another photo proving we were really the person taking the exam (this photo was better). Another signature, another 40 quetzals, another receipt. Then upstairs to the place that finalizes the license.
First a lady on the porch checks the documents and has to leave to get approval for Rolando to translate. Then next lady checks to see if we have any outstanding violations on our license (which we do not have yet – ?). Then to the BANK where we pay for the license; one can choose one, two, three, four or five years. Interesting. Another 350 quetzals, 30 of which is for the paper you carry proving you have paid, apparently. Next station, I still can’t explain. But another check of documents, another signature. Then to finger printing where another document with all the usual license information, color of eyes, hair, TYPE OF NOSE, I tried to put crooked but that was unacceptable. (bureaucrats are so serious). Then we were finger printed… that is one of the few laughs I got. My fingers are so large that in several instances one smudged over the other. The lady had not dealt with that before. Next station another photo! By this time it had been a full day and we were not real happy. I keep my glasses on my head and removed them, but did not straighten my hair. No mirror. No wife, we were separated at this point. So my hair had this wind blown failed comb over kind of look unbeknownst to me. So Cindy and I meet again at final step waiting for the license. So we are watching the large screen TV where your photo flashes when they are ready to give you the license. Mine comes up just before Cindy’s at which she busted out laughing, so the other 15 people look at the ‘convict’ on the TV. The room couldn’t believe the pretty blonde walked out with the convict. By my count, one very full day (it took 12 hours), three parking lots, three zones, four buildings, two tests, fourteen stations / people, six signatures, and we now possess a real pretty Guatemalan driver’s license. If any US citizen complains about voter identification I may just bust them in the nose.
Our life in Guatemala. All our expendable coin and then some… so rice and beans for June. No photos this time, the orthodox rabbi and bureaucrats don’t like their photos taken.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
To get representatives from three busy ministries together at the same time is difficult. After a couple of strikes, we hit it out of the park. A friend David Mollinedo wants to develop a new orphanage (three of them with a pediatric hospital to serve orphans in Guatemala). We have had several discussions over the last year. I suggested that he go with me to Casa Angelina/Mercy Clinic (CAMC). David had his ideas, very traditional and has a melted heart for orphans. CAMC is in my mind one of the good orphanages. It is difficult to do orphan care well with all the regulations. There are seven or more regulatory agencies requiring frequent documentation and doing both surprise and scheduled inspections. Like bureaucrats in the USA they must find something wrong to justify their position. All this adds up to expense for the orphanage in question. CAMC came to Vine International attention due to their work in medicine. Mercy Clinic first was formed to care for the orphans themselves, but they also share their resources with the local community, improving health of young mothers, children and the widows in the immediate area. They have a good reputation among the rural Mayans. They treat their neighbors with respect due a creation of God and are drawing patients from quite a distance now.
Because of David Mollinedo’s desire to couple medical care with orphan care I wanted him to talk with Yuri and Kerry Mondal, directors at CAMC who have a decade of experience serving under What Matters Ministry founded by Ivan & Kimberly Tait. We got the $100 tour, new house, school, dining hall (9,000 meals per month), aquaponic greenhouse, water treatment and medical clinic. Several issues were discussed at length, including security, caring for abused children and financial issues. CAMC has purposely chosen to deal with sexually and physically abused children. Some are true orphans, while some are wards of the state due to the abuse from family member. They have several sibling groups. 80 – 90 % of the children received are malnourished, some severely. One outgoing delightfully smiling 7 y/o was 8 pound when received. The staff thought she was a month old child, but she was 18 months old. Photos linked here.
Here in Guatemala there are many good orphanages, others with limited financial and personnel resources that try to be as good as they can, and a few that are not so good. CAMC is top of the shelf. Child sexual abuse in this country is rampant. Capture rate of offenders is estimated 10%, with a conviction rate of less than 10%. Vigilantism is alive and well in some rural areas due to lack of punishment, but most get by with this horror of a crime, at least in this life.
OK, I am going to try to express myself clearly in this issue of orphans. Orphans are the responsibility of the church not the government. Pastors rise up and declare God’s word on orphans from the pulpit. Churches start developing strong families and when one family comes forward desiring to adopt in obedience to God, make sure fees and finances for adoption are not a burden. That adopted child should have a church full of aunts, uncles and grandparents. We are failing as the church in this issue. That is about as gentle as I can be. May God grab us by the ears and put His nose to our nose and discipline us to respond to such as these.
International adoptions hit their peak in 2004 when 45,000 children were adopted worldwide as I understood the article I read. Sound like a lot? There are according to the UN an estimated 143,000,000 orphans. 8 million in orphanages, over 100 million on the streets. International adoption is falling dramatically due to UNICEF influence opposing international adoption. Unclaimed children become fodder for child sex trafficking, servitude/slavery and gangs. 45,000 is a tea cup in an ocean.
Find and follow a good orphanage like CAMC and follow David. I will keep you posted as that project moves forward. There are others in many countries. Develop a relationship, pick a need and respond. 100 kids, laundry, clothes, propane, electric bills, medical bills, school expenses, food, staffing, everything it takes to run your homes they need multiplied several fold. You can only give a little??? Remember what Jesus did with that boys lunch!? That is Vine International every day – little is much if God is in it folks. That phrase plagiarized from the side of Buck and Linda Forester’s Kentucky Coalmine Mission trailer.
There are a couple of links below for those interested in orphan care. The first is about the untoward effect that the UN/UNICEF is having on the adoption process and orphanages. The second is by Professor Dr. Elizabeth Bartholet (mother of two adopted Peruvian children, Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law, Child Advocacy Project ) Harvard Law School. She has quite a body of work on adoption process which you can find on her CV on the faculty page at Harvard. The first article is brief. The second paper is detailed, Guatemala gets special mention on more than one occasion… but if you care for the children in orphanages, read and watch – smoke will come out of your ears!!!
God has used Vine International to put others together before and we are praying God has so used us once again. Time will tell. I know that David was unusually quiet for a few minutes as we started home. His first words were along the line that his plans got turned upside down by what he saw at CAMC and he needs to go back to the drawing board. This is early in the process so simply pray for David’s Project at this point. CAMC, many other orphanages AND the government bureaucracy that seems to oppose us so often need your prayers as well. Church let’s get out of the pews…
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Cindy and I have had neighbors and then we have had neighbors. The one that poisoned Cindy’s cats was a little difficult to like for example. Then there are those when you think of them you smile. The Cordona’s as one example. We met Sharon and Jose about 11:00 at night pounding on the door and shouting ANEEMAALL! (animal). There was a possum in their garage storage room. I went over and cornered the rudest possum I have ever seen. As I raised the shovel to dispatch the hissing heinous looking critter, I was distracted when Jose starts stabbing at it with his machete – he was behind me and working that long knife between my legs. The possum went quickly as I couldn’t allow Jose to keep swinging that machete in that particular anatomical location. The food and conversation we shared over the years, getting to see him come to the LORD and be baptized and then doing my first funeral… knowing I am going to see my brother/neighbor again, yes I can only smile.
The Bible has a LOT to say about neighbor(s) and might make a good study for some of you. If we followed the precepts of the Bible we sure would have more peace on this muddy earth.
Pro_3:28 Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, And to-morrow I will give; When thou hast it by thee.
Pro_12:26 The righteous is a guide to his neighbor;
Pro_14:21 He that despiseth his neighbor sinneth;
And according to our LORD love of neighbor follows close on and may not be separable from love of God. In fact in reading the history of Israel and the prophecy of the Old Testament the treatment positive and negative was a visible sign of the people’s standing with Jehovah. It seems that how we treat our neighbor is a visible sign of the status of our heart in relation to God.
Now the thing that brought these thoughts together is we left our home in the care of our neighbor Lilly a widow with five beautiful children while we worked with the Eden Valley Church of the Brethren team (see last blog) and the Rheas at Rancho de Esperanza. That team was actively caring for those that God had given the Rheas as neighbors. We returned to orchids on a stump we left for that purpose. The front porch swept as was the house. Our plants love Lilly as they get sometimes a little higher quality care from her than us! A flower arrangement greets us – we are blessed. Enjoy the photos of the flowers around our two yards and a picture of our NEIGHBORS…
LORD convict us, rebuke where necessary and cause us to be good Godly neighbors. Cindy and I thank you for neighbors like Lilly and the children. We also thank you for Hans Schieber and the opportunity to meet for a time of Bible study and prayer each week. Help us to be everything good You speak of in regard to neighbors in Your Word. We ask this in the Name of Jesus amen and amen.
Thank you for your support of the ministry of Vine International. Check out the website Vine International there is a way to support container projects on line now.
In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
So much has happened in last two weeks it will not fit in this one blog. This team out of St. John Kansas will always have a close tie to us and the Rhea’s. Dennis and Doris Rice, who had our position at Vine International, go to Eden Valley Church of the Brethran, and led their first short term mission trip to Guatemala a year ago. Dennis returned with the team this year and Doris stayed behind nursing a new total knee. We missed her.
This team worked with Mike and Karen Rhea ( Rayo de Esperanza ) again this year. Mike and Karen have a wonderful ministry that you have heard about before from us. They met a couple of kids during a wheelchair fitting on their property done in partnership with Bethel Ministries International and they form relationships with these families. Mike and his staff, Bonito, Oscar and Chuleti set up the construction projects, get materials on site. When the team comes in it is a beehive of activity. There were two projects this year.
The first was a young man with muscular dystrophy and a motorized wheelchair at the end of a path that could not be traversed. 240 foot side walk was formed and poured by this team in two days. Cement was hauled by wheelbarrow. Edwin Rene was perched in his hammock to oversee the project and was pronounced supervisor for those two days. He did a great job (smile). This young man did a thank you card for each team member and a WHOLE BOOK for Mike and Karen. Whew! You see in order for Edwin to color he holds the pencil in his right hand and uses his left to push it around… and smiles. Edwin’s dad and several relatives and neighbors helped. It was such a good site to see the cooperation between the folk’s from Kansas and the locals. This team has what it takes – they RELATE!
The second project was Darwin a wheelchair bound spastic cerebral palsy patient whose chair had to be carried to the road and then mom would return to carry him uphill about 140 feet. This team cranked out this sidewalk in a day. I am so sorry I missed the celebrations for completion of these events as there were some critters having their own celebration in my gut. Waugh! There are other photos on the Rayo de Esperanza face book site linked above.
This team is very good at relationship with locals. They made an effort to look up the family from the project last year and were met with huge smiles. Local boys were sent up trees to harvest oranges and other fruit as a gift for them. It is so precious to see receptions like these. One can see something has clicked. It is done in such a way that Mike and Karen can go back into these settings and where needed share the Gospel of Christ. Some are believers already and receive encouragement in a culture that is quite hard on such as these.
The debrief was emotional and uplifting. The joy at closing out this weeks work was evident in each one and we look forward to helping we pray each year until Jesus comes. I have several photos linked here… not all the 400 that were taken tho, ha! Please enjoy.
Much is happening here in regard to new projects. It is a bit overwhelming at times. So wish we had a million dollars, but we must depend on the LORD and not our own ways. We stand amazed at how He works… more on that later.
Share our blog/newsletter with those who are like minded and we so appreciate your support through prayer, material and financial donations. We are here because you share.
Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon
Joe McCutcheon, a distant cousin, lives in North Carolina and does photography of children as a profession. He has several employees now and is looking at ways to use his skills in mission applications. We set up a date to meet and do a day at a local orphanage that Vine International has a close relationship with. Woody Woodson has known the Benfeldt’s for two decades and while Woody was starting and growing Vine International the Benfeldt’s were growing an orphanage called Fundoninos.
Then there is the Freed family whom we have known for almost five years now and were instrumental in helping Cindy and I transition into missions here in Guatemala. They have very recently taken on one of the director positions at Fundoninos. I asked Joe to come with the idea of teaching some young ladies about doing photography. The teaching issue fell through, except I got to watch Joe at work and I think I learned a dozen or so pearls of wisdom. Joe can herd cats I think. He photographed over 50 kids, staff and teachers in a little over an hour. All photos were copied and in the hands of Dennis Freed, lunch eaten, devotions done by three o’clock. I was impressed.
The only failure that day was my timing of chauffeuring Joe from Word of Life Mission and back. I managed to get myself in rush hour traffic both ways. Joe I enjoyed the fellowship and watching a pro at work. Thank you for loving on my friends in Guatemala.
OK just a note about this photo. The child in the photo is praying before we eat. She prays for the kids at the orphanage, the staff mostly by name, each one of them. There was a small team from the USA, and Joe, Cindy and Dennis McCutcheon… This sweet child asked the LORD to bless the Americanos immediately AFTER she mentioned the dogs kept as pets there. I am still laughing and I know God laughs.
Photos are linked here.
Next week we will be in Rio Dulce with a team from Kansas led by Dennis Rice our friend that was used by God to build up Vine International in Guatemala before Cindy and I took over. Doris Rice has stayed home recuperating from total knee surgery and will be missed. We will be doing some work in the area around Rancho de Esperanza an orphanage we love and care for. Cindy and I are looking forward to the change for the next 10 days or so. When we return it will be a day of ‘rest’ and out to the Pacific side of the country with Joe Leier to refurbish three (I think) surgical tables. Please pray for us, several ministries have medical projects in development and are asking for help from Vine International. We are in a season where we must guard our resources and commitments. We pray for you our supporters. We covet your prayers.
In Christ, Dennis and Cindy McCutcheon