Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Our Daily Blessing

Guest Blogger: Victoria Vazquez, Age 18 years

I have no words to even fathom the last week and a half. I have tried to write this blog post a million times and currently I am asking for God to give me words when I have none...
Last Thursday night, we went out for a market outreach. My heart was heavy as we pulled in and I saw many children living by themselves in this tough environment. There was a young , pregnant girl being dragged away by her abusive boyfriend. There were many fights breaking out among boys my age. There were children having to appear tough because the older boys would brutally pick on them...
Meet Emmanuel. He is a young boy who lives in the market. He and an older boy of age 12 have partnered together in the hope of helping each other survive. When we arrived with meals to eat, this boy ate for the first time in many days. We went to the market with two orphanages, GMI and Nyame Dua. One of the boys from Nyame Dua heard Emmanuel's story and gave Emmanuel two cedis. That was all Zubel, the boy from Nyame Dua, had. I am reminded of the story of the widow who gave all she had and Jesus said that she gave more than all the other rich people because it was everything she owned... What a humbling experience.  What more can I give, because I certainly have not given everything I have? What more can we, the American church, give to the rest of the world? The answer is very straight forward: We can give so much more...
Meet Grace. Her parents are pastors and she sings in her church choir. She was at the market looking for answers to life. She wanted to be "cool". So many are fooled by the allusions of freedom, when in reality these children are then bound by the chains of starvation and abuse. I was able to talk to Grace and tell her the precious gift of family that she has. She agreed to continue in her church and to stay with her family. Grace said I was like a sister to her and the only sister she ever had was deceased. Her sister was named Victoria... What a powerful moment. We never know how God can use our words, even in our weakness, to impact other's lives.
(Grace is far right)
Two days after this market outreach, we received terrible news. That Saturday morning, one of the Feeding the Orphans sponsored children had been admitted to the hospital. He was a precious baby named Atsu and he was only 15 months old. They would not treat him, though he needed urgent attention, until there was money. Since his mother, Esther, had no money, she was left watching her son get sicker and sicker. Later that day, money arrived, and they did all they could do to save this little boy... But his heart stopped and the BEST teaching hospital in the COUNTRY did not have the BASIC instruments in the EMERGENCY Children's ward to notice his stopped heart or do anything about it. Mr. Ochs tried CPR on this little baby, but Atsu went into his Heavenly Father's arms that night.  Atsu's brother, Etse, was admitted to the hospital that day with the same symptoms. We praise God because He is doing better, but the loss of Atsu is still heavy on many hearts.

Esther told us in the hospital that if it had not been for God bringing Feeding the Orphans into her life, she would not even be alive. Now she works making different things that are sold by Feeding the Orphans to support herself and her two, now one, baby boy. 
A week later, we received awful news that my pastor had died tragically the night before. Once more, I was face to face with the concept of death. I did not know how to fathom it and I still have no idea how to grasp it all... All I recall is simply holding on to Reid and Robin and crying. Pastor Robert was by far the best pastor I've ever had. His jokes, wisdom, and realness were things I greatly admired. He was always welcoming during my random pop-ups in the church office. He is missed and the loss of His life is heavy on my heart. Community Bible Church has become my church family in so many ways and in every extent. I long to mourn and grieve with my family in this, but I know God has placed me on the other side of the world during this time for a reason. So instead of asking why, I ask God what He is teaching me with this.
Two days later, it was time for little Atsu's burial. Due to the fact that white people had been seen, the process of obtaining this little boy's body had been made much more complicated so that more people would have the opportunity to be bribed. After this affair, it was finally time for a moment I had been dreading. We were to obtain the body and it would ride in the car with us to the burial site...
I went with Reid and Mason to the morgue (the doctor had called it The Freezer). The morgue was just a couple run-down buildings with a constant smell. After an hour of waiting in this place, we were able to obtain Atsu's body and drive to meet everyone else. As we rode to the other side of this huge hospital, all I could think of was the fact that there was a dead baby in the same car as me. My stomach churned and stayed in a knot the rest of the day.
The cemetery was not a respected place. Many just hung out there and I assumed they were waiting for jobs to dig more graves... We wept as Atsu was lowered into the ground and covered with trash-filled dirt. The cries of sweet Esther, Atsu's mother, are so vivid in my memory. My heart is so heavy at the loss of Atsu, but the pain she is experiencing is at another level that I cannot understand...
Right in the middle of this week, I celebrated my 18th birthday. My precious family here made the day quite special. Throughout the day, I constantly wondered how I could get the joy of celebrating 18 years, when Atsu barely got 1...

God has taught me the reality of how short our life on Earth is. He has shown me that at any moment, that life can come to an end. He has also shown me that I need to be raw and real with Him because He understands me better than I can understand myself. He has also begun to reveal the calling for my life. My desire to give my whole life to Him has grown in astounding ways.
God has given us all the blessing in that His plans are much better than ours. In the big ways, like death, or in the small ways. Yesterday we learned this in our day that didn't go as planned. The day consisted of 5 hours in market traffic and only 20 minutes out in the market. We experienced the joy of seeing an excited face of a Feeding the Orphans lady when we bought her new sewing machine. We saw the heartbreak in young girls carrying lots of weight on their heads and the heartbreak of young hawkers who should have been in school. We also experienced joy in simply spending time together.
This week was also my last week of teaching at Faith Roots International Academy. The bond I have made with the teachers and students there is so sweet. These kids and staff have taken a special place in my heart. I know I will miss them terribly. Their passion to learn and overcome is something that I admire. God has taught me a lot and humbled me in even more ways with these sweet kids. 

Every day is a gift, but it is our choice whether we use that gift to glorify God. I am at peace because I know little Atsu and our dear Pastor Robert are in Heaven. They have renewed strength and are soaring high with wings like eagles in my Heavenly Father's arms. God is good, ALL THE TIME, He is good, for His ways our much higher than ours. He loves us with a love no one can fathom and the hurt of the world is something He has seen since the beginning of creation! He is giving me the gift to see this hurt and to have my heart break like His, so that I can go and glorify Him with a passion that comes from above. I love my Heavenly Father so much and without Him, I would be nothing. I praise Him because He experienced the greatest tragedy of all: Jesus' death on a cross, so that I, who constantly fail Him, can be forgiven. WOW!!! To God be the glory, forever and ever.
"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." -Isaiah 40:31

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