Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Free Wheelchair Distribution Party

The challenges we face are not the things that usually come to people's minds; we've grown accustomed to the cockroaches, we're unphased by the smell of burning trash, lice is nothing but a minor inconvenience and we never expect anything to start or finish on time. The real challenges include remaining docile to the Holy Spirit and seeking His guidance in every situation, resisting the temptation to acquire "stuff" which could alleviate discomfort or inconvenience, and knowing when to say "no" so that our personal prayer time is not compromised.

Another challenge is remaining sympathetic to those who are suffering and not allowing the sheer abundance of need to numb our senses and distort our ability to see each one of them as Jesus Himself in the disguise of the poor, crippled and lame.

Last July our family was scheduled to visit a small village several hours away. About 16 youth group members had accepted the invitation to accompany us and were waiting at the church.  Before leaving, we broke open scripture and read the gospel for the day, which just so happened to be the story of the Good Samaritan. Many of the kids were hearing the story for the first time, so we dove in and discussed the importance of caring for the needy that we encounter even if we're in a rush, even if we have other plans, even if.... even if...

This isn't the actual road, it's just a photo I found online
of the same region of Peru. The road is very similar.

Hoping they understood Jesus' teaching, we piled into Burrito Gris and headed out.

You can read about our outing in the blog post titled "Make DISCIPLES of all Nations"; however, the story I wrote fails to mention the most profound event that occurred that Good Samaritan Sunday.

As we were returning from the remote pueblo, bumping along the rocky dirt road, we came upon a man with malformed legs who was literally dragging himself along.  We were dumbfounded by the realization that the gospel we had just read hours prior was coming alive right before our eyes. We stopped instantly and jumped out. Our new friend explained with a smile that he was making a "routine" trip into the city (over 10 miles away) to sell fried plantains with his brother. After he accepted our invitation for a ride, we lifted him into our van and continued on our way. When we arrived, we carefully placed him upon the sidewalk and asked what more we could do. "I have everything I need and I thank you for the help," he said. Before parting ways we prayed together, but my heart still felt heavy.  Not wanting to make a promise that we couldn't keep, I kept my desire to provide this man with a wheelchair to myself. As we drove away I peered back to watch him drag himself along the sidewalk. I was sad, but also incredibly inspired by the humility with which he bore his cross.

Later that day I "just so happened" to receive an email from a friend who was "just checking in".  I explained the divine appointment we had earlier in the day and shared our burning desire to provide the man with a wheelchair. Our friend insisted that we postpone any purchases until he could "check into some things", and so we did...

Unbeknownst to us, an amazing ministry was coming to life. Our friend didn't just "check into some things", he opened the floodgates of an outpouring of grace that would change the lives of hundreds of people. By contacting Free Wheelchair Mission, a US-based, non-profit organization dedicated to providing mobility to the needy in the third world, and completing all the necessary legwork, our friend provided us with the opportunity to help 43 people and their families.

For the past several months we've been working with priests, nuns and various leaders of the surrounding communities to locate people in need. Free Wheelchair Mission requires copies of the potential recipients' legal identification, current photographs along with medical certificates from the provincial clinics which provide diagnoses and explanations of need. All praise be to God, the combined efforts of many resulted in the collection of all needed documentation. The same group worked together to ensure that the recipients had transportation from their village to ours, which in some cases was over two hours. Coordinating this part of the effort was a miracle in and of itself.

After securing the date for the "Liberation Party" the task of planning all the festivities began: some offered to make rice while others compiled playlists of Christian praise and worship music, the folks from our town's municipal office set up a stage and provided all the decorations. We assembled gift bags which included a crucifix handmade by a member of Team Carmody, rosaries which were also handmade, a vinyl picture of Jesus (which happens to be my favorite), prayer cards and more. Each person's efforts helped to make this day possible.

The day before the party we had to kill and pluck 63 chickens...

The first step was buying them from "the chicken people" in our town.

They allowed us to use their vehicle to transport them to a friend's house.

Behind our friend's house we paired up for the task ahead.

My job was to keep the chicken still by holding it's feet together and wings from flapping while my partner sliced it's throat open and drained all the blood.

Next, we dunked the chickens in a pot of boiling water to prepare them for de-feathering.

When it came to de-feathering I was the laughing stock of the gang.

I finished one for every three of theirs. Not only was my speed inferior, but my quality left a lot to be desired. I often tore the skin and struggled to get every feather off.

As the women cleaned the chickens they separated the parts.

Their compensation for a hard day's work was a share of the parts that wouldn't be served to the masses: feet, heads and organs.

When the chicken prepping task was complete we were supposed to begin assembling the wheelchairs, but we couldn't...

It was 7PM, the night before our big celebration - the homemade juice had been prepared and was being chilled, the gift bags were arranged - red bags for the ladies and yellow for the men, the speeches were written and the music was cued, but the wheelchairs still hadn't arrived from Lima. The word on the street was that the truck would not arrive until 11PM or so, which by Peruvian standards could mean much later.

We were tempted to be totally freaked out.

Acquiescing to the inspirations of the Spirit, Chris sneaked away to the church, where he begged Our Lady of Good Help for her intercession.

Moments after he left the church we heard unfamiliar rattles and saw extra bright lights coming down the main road toward the plaza.

"It's here!!", the kids all yelled.

Around 8PM everyone gathered around and helped unpack the truck.

We invited every capable set of hands to help.

The volunteers from Lima demonstrated how to assemble a wheelchair and then set us free to starting working.

With a room full of helpers, they estimated it would take 4-6 hours. Thank you Jesus for every sacrifice we get to make for YOU!!!

Jack, who loves building things with his hands, got right to work.

We were happy to see that some of the Lost Sheep were willing to give up their evening to help out as well.

The next day we invited the volunteers from Lima to our home for a yummy American breakfast followed by praise and worship.

It was the perfect start to a long-awaited day!

The kids from our town helped to get everything set and ready to go!

As the recipients began arriving they headed to the church to wait for the festivities to begin. When we finished all our last minute running around we met them there. My first bucket of tears fell as we entered and saw people, who were unable to sit upright on their own, laying on the floor. One by one we took the people to the municipal building where they could rest more comfortably.

The volunteers from Lima taught Anna and Katelyn how to adjust the chairs to fit each individual.

So, after each person's paperwork was processed they headed outside to get the finishing touches on their new ride.

The scheduled program began as our mayor welcomed everyone.

We had hoped to meet with him before his talk to brief him on the fact that Jesus revealed to us in prayer that He wants to be the guest of honor at this event, but we didn't have time.

How silly of us to think that the Holy Spirit is somehow bound by our incompetencies! To our surprise and delight the mayor began he talk by thanking Jesus for making the whole day possible. He acknowledged the unity that has developed between the Christian churches in our town and stated boldly that we need to act as Christians should if we want our town to continue improving. It was beautiful!!

Chris led the group in prayer and then shared a personal testimony about his own father who was wheelchair bound for Chris' entire childhood.

A friend's daughter was our MC for the event and did an amazing job of keeping the focus on Jesus.

She read the story of the Good Samaritan and shared our experience of the man dragging himself along the road. Using the gospel story as a reference, she explained the importance of caring for others, even those we're not necessarily close to. Our MC told them about our friend in New York who worked hard to make this event possible, even though he would never meet any of them.

During the presentation there were people in the crowd weeping. I want to believe that it's because they were contemplating the profound impact that the Holy Spirit can have on those willing to listen for His soft voice.

As our MC finished up, people were directed to the church to receive dinner.

We served about 500 meals thanks to the tremendous generosity of Team Carmody!!!

I was grateful to be working alongside of a friend who kept reminding me to laugh and have fun.

In between scoops of the tangy sauce I was responsible for drizzling atop the chicken and rice, I would sneak away to say good-bye to the folks that had traveled so far for the gift of mobility.

It was hard to keep a dry eye as I watched family members effortlessly push their loved ones across the bumpy, dirt road - especially as I remembered seeing so many of them being carried just hours prior.

We continued serving into the night until all the huge pots were empty.

Once again, we collapsed in bed confident that we had given the day all we had to give.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." Oh, how I delight in the words of Our Savior!!!

PS - We haven't been able to find the man from Nuevo Mundo who was the inspiration for this whole ministry. We humbly ask for prayers, that the Lord guide us to him so that we can be the Good Samaritans that we desire to be.

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially, please visit:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Lost Sheep are Considering Baptism

The lost sheep in our area are
the drug addicts, occult members and floozies.

We've read the parable of the lost sheep over and over, but have we considered the story from the perspective of the sheep?  Have we thought about how it feels to be the one who is lost and alone, scared and filled with doubt?

Jesus knows how the Lost Sheep feel because they too are His precious children. When we're lost we get confused and sometimes panic; unable to think rationally, we struggle to make good decisions. Jesus sees his Lost Sheep wondering aimlessly in desperation and weeps for them.  Knowing that they will follow anyone and anything that gives them hope, he asks us to rush to their aide and be their shepherd before they're led astray by the wolves in sheeps' clothing.  

Jesus asks us to seek out the lost.

It has always been my nature to care for the lost sheep that I happen upon, but that's nothing more than fulfilling the minimum requirement.  Jesus challenges us to do more - to be more.  He tells us to go looking for them.... to seek them out.

Time and again we've recognized our kids as the best missionaries on our team - and it's true. They go looking for the lost sheep and often times find them congregating in the dark, literally. In our town plaza there is one side which remains dark at night because every new light bulb is promptly busted out. As I watch my beautiful daughters approach this foreboding territory I beg the Lord for His protection and wisdom. "Ask and you shall receive." Jesus responded to my plea with these words of wisdom for Katelyn and Anna, "Don't ever leave because you're scared to stay, and don't ever stay because you're scared to leave." We talk often about the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us, but how do we know when the inspirations that we feel are from Him?  One indicator is the peacefulness that fills our hearts when we're in the midst of the Father's will.  It is that tranquility that they assess when deciding to stay or leave.

About six weeks ago we were hanging out in the plaza one night.  Anna and Katelyn approached some of the kids congregating in the dark and invited them to walk around the plaza, hoping that they would pass on the drugs being offered by their "friends". Several of them accepted the invitation.  During their loops, our daughters broached the topic of baptism and briefly explained the importance of being Christians. The Lost Sheep, as we call this group of wondering souls, were intrigued and wanted to know more. Knowing that we had to give the best 30-second elevator speech of all times, we briefly explained that during baptism we are filled with the Holy Spirit and our souls are forever transformed. They listened and then left, with no indication of what they thought. We were unsure of the effectiveness of our spiel until our daughters returned only moments later to report that "the group" wants to be baptized.  They collectively decided that we need to start a sacramental prep class in our home just for them.  It would meet every Saturday morning at 8AM, include a yummy American pancake breakfast and lots of fun...

As so it is...

Each Saturday morning the Lost Sheep gather in our home. Upon arriving, after politely greeting Chris and I, they always make a beeline for the Legos. It seems that Legos draw boys of all ages from every part of the globe. Vehicles, structures and other creations come to life as I put the finishing touches on the yummy, American pancakes they like so much. We all crowd around our table, say a blessing and then dive in. A couple weeks ago we celebrated one of the boy's birthdays. He was happy to be with us since his parents were both intoxicated and unaware of the date. During breakfast we upheld the FMC tradition of honoring the birthday person. Each of us shared things about him that we enjoyed, respected, etc. It was really powerful - for him and the rest of us. Although he wasn't going to show his tears, I could tell he was crying in the inside.

I can't possibly provide the details of every gathering we've had, but want to highlight just a few.

For one Saturday we made a giant heart-shaped puzzle that they worked together to assemble.

They were unaware of what the final shape would be...

...and that it would have a huge hole in the middle.

After looking on the floor and seats for the missing piece they asked, as if scripted, what was up with the missing piece.

"What's wrong with having a big hole in the middle of your heart?", we asked, "You mean, things don't work right when they have big holes in them?"

We agreed they needed something to fill the hole... we gave them pieces of paper with words that represent things that people try to fill the holes in their hearts with: drugs, material possessions, pornography, girlfriends, etc.

The gaping hole still made the puzzle seem incomplete.

"What do you think is the only thing that can fill this hole in your heart?", we asked.

"Jesus", they surprisingly replied in unison.

"Let's learn a little bit about this person Jesus," we said before reading two stories from the bible: The Woman Caught in Adultery and The Prodigal Son.

This was the first time any of them had heard either of these stories and they were amazed at how applicable they are to life here in San Hilarion. We talked about the reality of our sinfulness and Jesus' unconditional, unending love. We spoke directly about their home lives and family situations, acknowledging the pain that they suffer when others make bad choices, but explaining the importance of forgiveness. We ended the day by reciting the Our Father and talking about the embedded truth: we can only approach the throne of God asking to be forgiven AS we've forgiven others. Until we've completely forgiven others, we have no business asking God's pardon for our own sinful choices.

"...and forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us..."

They boys were struck by the profound nature of the message. By the looks on their faces, I could tell they were considering their own ability (or inability) to forgive those that have hurt them most..

It was a little awkward, so Katelyn and Anna announced that they were going to make human tables. It was a perfect end to a fun morning.

Javier is in a white t-shirt next to Katelyn.

The very next day we learned that it was Javier's 15th birthday. We offered to host a mini-celebration of cake and pop, but fully expected to lose out to his "boyz" who are always vying for his time.

He agreed to gather in the home of a mutual friend. As everyone was enjoying the sweet treats we honored Javier by sharing what each of us appreciate about him. His hard shell melted and what we saw was the fragile remains of a little boy who had experienced a lot of pain and hardship. We pray that he'll continue coming around so that he can experience the love that Jesus has for him.

Another Saturday we played a board game that we had made. They moved their pieces along a path which spelled "AMEN" and were trying to reach "Heaven" at the end.

Various spaces included descriptions of either good or bad choices, which allowed them to skip forward or fall back.

The pile of draw cards offered the most entertainment. Anna and Katelyn had created over 60 cards that described common situations. For example, "You skipped school to do drugs with your friends. Move back 5 spaces." Another card read, "You carried water from the river for an elderly neighbor. Move ahead 4 spaces."

Some cards referenced specific events that had transpired, which made everyone laugh really hard:

"You told the gringas (their name for white people) that you love them. Move back 20 spaces."

After about an hour of play we had gone through the DRAW pile a couple times and decided we needed additional cards.

As the kids wracked their brains to think of both good choices and bad I realized that this was a perfect application of what we had talked about. They were not only differentiating good from bad, but qualifying just how bad something is to determine how far back a player needs to go on the board.

Their examples often seemed ridiculous, but effectively shed light on the scenarios they're faced with.

After our game and discussions were over we expected our guests to leave.  However, they stuck around our house for hours and hours. They played our other board games, built more Lego creations, hummed along with Chris as he strummed the guitar and sang praise and worship songs, and just enjoyed nice conversation. It was delightful.

When it was finally time to leave, they all inquired about our next meeting and felt disappointed to learn that we'd have to take a week off because of our trip into the remote valley of Bombonajillo.

We're super excited to have found the Lost Sheep.

We pray for the grace to be able to follow Jesus' lead and bring them safely back to the flock.

We ask for prayers as we discern each gathering, that we're able to remain docile to the Spirit who knows exactly what these boys need.

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially, please visit:

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bras Abound!

Hilarity ensued as women accustomed to "living natural" disrobed and began wriggling and twisting into the bras donated by Team Carmody.

Laughter and giggles exploded from the 40+DDD bench as the women were coached in how to shimmy and shake themselves into the cups.  I'm not sure which was funnier for them - trying to get themselves into the unfamiliar contraptions or watching others try to accomplish the same ridiculous task.

At the height of the silliness, it wouldn't have been appropriate to snap any photos.  However, I was able to get a few shots before and after to give you a glimpse of our evening.

We began our preparation by calculating the metric conversion and making a reference chart so the women could determine their corresponding standard sizes.

Then, we organized hundreds of bras along the church benches, first by band size and then by cup size.

We gave each recipient a number as they entered the church to help maintain order.

As we made our final preparations people began arriving.  This was a true indication of their eager anticipation because the Peruvians aren't early for anything!!!

Katelyn and her friend Ebolin measured each woman's band size, consulted the chart and then wrote the corresponding number on her little slip of paper.

Then, Anna and I helped the women find ones that fit. This woman couldn't stop laughing. She has never worn a bra in her entire life and couldn't get over how amazing it felt to be so.... so.... she tried to find the words to describe how she felt, she just kept giggling.

Throughout the night, eruptions of cheer rang out over the music each time a "perfect fit" was discovered for someone with an uncommon shape.

Our friend Charo is the leader of the Catholic community here in San Hilarion. She spends a lot of her time speaking in front of the church. It really blessed her to find ones that are her size.

This last week, since our bra party, we have seen SO many women around town that have a totally different stride. They walk with their chins up, their shoulders back and big smiles upon their faces. I don't believe that their countenance is different solely because of their new attire. They have been given a new sense of dignity, thanks to the tremendous generosity of Team Carmody.

In Matthew 25: 35-40 Jesus says, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me...Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." 

Thank you for helping to make this possible!!!

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially, please visit:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Great Start to Year #2 at the Orphanage

I've never thought of taking a picture of the
front of the orphanage. I found this picture online
from their grand opening in December 2015.

Casa Hogar is an orphanage in the remote village of Shamboyacu. which is deep within the Ponasa valley.

It is run by three nuns from Bolivia and Paraguay, with the help of our two amazing missionary priests from Spain.

Currently Casa Hogar houses 39 girls, ages 8-16, whose parents have either abandoned them or died. In most cases, one parent passed away and shortly thereafter the surviving parent disappeared; leaving their child/ren in the hands of individuals who often times expected things in return for the care they were providing.

In November 2016 Anna's dance class
had a recital for the community.
Last year we felt the Holy Spirit tugging at our hearts to spend time at Casa Hogar.  Unsure of what the Lord had in mind, we simply showed up and allowed Him to shape our ministry. As it was, we ended up going twice a month. Anna started each visit with a dance class, our beloved friend Charo prepared a delicious dinner, and afterward Katelyn and I facilitated activities which emphasized the importance of our dignity and worth as daughters, and therefore princesses, of the King. It wasn't until the school year came to an end (in December of 2016) that we realized just how much our time together meant to the girls at "Shambo". As we bid each other farewell, we were all filled with the hope that we would be reunited again this year.

The girls gooble up every meal that Charo prepares!!!

All thanks be to God for allowing this ministry to continue!!!

In April, we traveled out to Shambo to meet the new bunch of girls who feel honored to call Casa Hogar their home. The evening rang with laughter and cheer as we jumped rope, listened to Christian pop, and enjoyed a scrumptious meal. During that initial trip we made arrangements to visit Casa Hogar twice a month along with FMC's team of single ladies: Olivia, Cassie and Sophia.

Anna and Cassie are teaching a dance class for the girls ages 8 to 11.

Katelyn, Olivia and Sophia are leading a dance class for the girls 12 and older.

In this photo Charo is wearing clothes
donated by Team Carmody

Our friend Charo has agreed to participate in this ministry as our expert chef. Given their normal fare of rice, yucca, plantains and beans, the girls burst with excitement when Charo prepares dishes with chicken and vegetables.

After dinner each time we will present a different activity.

Last night we made covers for the bibles we've given them. Those who are new to Casa Hogar were thrilled to have bibles of their own. Those who have returned were thankful for an easy way to distinguish their bibles from all the others sitting on the shelf.

Some of the girls were really silly and just enjoyed doing a fun activity together.

Other girls took the task really seriously, but enjoyed it all the same.

We'll return to Shambo in two weeks to finish our bible covers and begin our next activity.

We're all really excited to have this time together and thank God for reuniting us this year!!

Thank you for taking time to read about what the Lord has been doing through Team Carmody.  Please pray for our continued success as we work hard to preach the gospel and serve the poor here in Peru.

We'd love to hear from you via email:

If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to support us financially, please visit: