"Without You I Fall Apart"

In case you are in need of this reminder today like I was…

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We All Need Some Good News

****The media is inundated with terrible news right now. Its unrelenting. If you are weary, this news is for you.*****
 

You guys! If you could just see everything that is going on here through my eyes! Warning, this post will be filled with absurd amounts of exclamation points.

Three little girls who have trouble with attachment because of home lives, now run to us, call us by name (which is huge) and make sure that they will see us tomorrow!!!
Pastor Ivo’s wife Marielos is now working with us!! She is a natural teacher, and her love for these children is something to behold! This is a huge answer to prayer.
Yesterday and today over 100 people will/have received medical care from a Total Health team visiting!!
Very soon we are going to open up a second computer school at a different location to reach a new group of people!
In September we will be welcoming into our nutrition program another 10 children!!! Children who right this very minute go to bed every night hungry, who are malnourished, distended bellies…. and then in October another 10, and in November, another 10!!! 
In 10 days 2,000 fortified food packets will arrive!!!!!! 2,000! Free! Because of the generosity of A Child’s Hope International and friends who donated shipping costs to Florida.  And The United States Navy who will then ship to us for FREE, we will be able to minister to and feed not only the children in our center, but their families as well!!!!  In addition we will be able to bless the other members of our community with much needed food and vitamins.  This is huge!!! Hundreds of people being fed, can you even grasp it?!!!!
Thanks to the very kind teachers and friends of my sister in Minnesota we will soon have over 50 paperback books to read to the children, and to teach with. In the U.S. literacy, libraries, story times and book stores are almost considered a human right. Here in La Libertad, there are very few books in stores (other than school books), no library, and no bookstores.  The books that are here, are way out of the price range of anyone that we serve.  A friend from the Navy donated a couple of bean bag chairs, and as soon as the rehab on the CDI kitchen is done our little reading nook will be opened up to the kids!!!!
On August 30th we will have a movie night for the whole community. We will hand out invitations to the community, no one will be left out. We are going to serve popcorn and refreshments and project “God’s Not Dead” onto our screen!!!  This is going to kick off regular movie nights for our community and sharing of Jesus. He is everything. He is surely Alive. 
You guys, I turned on my Yahoo news page today and its was streams and streams and streams of bad, really bad, worse and horribly devastating. Its tempting to think that God has turned his back on mankind. But if we look carefully, we can see that mankind is in fact the one that did the turning. The promise of Heaven to those who put their lives in Jesus’ hand is as real as you and me. One day, all of this tragedy will be at an end, and He will return.  People are dying for this truth. 
But He didn’t leave us. He is here, and he is at work through millions of people fighting evil with good in the name of Jesus. This is all we can do. We must make a choice to not turn a blind eye. To not continue about our rich, egocentric, entertainment lives, but to reach out and help. If we say the world is ugly, and evil, it is because we have allowed it. We have a choice to make each and every day, a choice to follow Jesus and to do good, because he did the ultimate good for us. 
God is surely alive. And He is at work my friends. I see it every day. The story of Central America is not made up of the picketers you see on your news feed. Its is not all gangs, and poverty, and people sneaking over the border. Here in El Salvador, the local church is fighting every day to raise up the people, so that they can change their country. A friend I met this Summer described it like this. “We must all be the tide. Because the tide can raise up a fleet of ships in the harbor.” If we educate, feed, and above all, teach the gift of God, the people will change their country.
Be the tide. It takes sacrifice, yes.  But it is so, so worth it. Not everyone can move to El Salvador, but you can sponsor us to do the work here.  You can advise. You can share with your church, and bring a team for a week. You can sponsor the salary of a second pastor to bring on staff. We are so incredibly thankful to be here. And that is only possible with you guys. 
For more information on how you can be involved, email me at marilee.marks@gmail.com

A Letter to My Grammie

Dear Grammie,

I’m laying here, in what feels like the other side of the world. It may as well be. And you lay in a hospital bed fighting colon cancer, pneumonia, heart attack…. I’m comforted to know that you are surrounded by your children. I’m struggling to not be near you. But do you know what? I feel you.  I’m lying under the quilt that you made for my high school graduation. I look down and see the hundreds of individual pieces that your arthritic hands carefully sewed together. You remembered a picture that I loved as a child, and saved up that image in your head all those years, waiting for my graduation.  Then months ahead of time, you spent countless hours choosing and arranging all the different fabrics.  You told me that Grandpa was your advise council. He would help you decide where to put each color.  Then you wrapped it up carefully, and flew with it to me, to celebrate with us. 

 

We took you to Niagara Falls, and I will never forget your face as you beheld it. You remarked at how when you see that kind of beauty you see how much God loved us, to give us this amazing creation. 

I love you Grammie, for so many reasons. Tho we have spent too many years apart, your legacy of love is felt as if we live together. 
I want the world to know that you are a fighter, a survivor, a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a great grandmother. The early years in your first, abusive marriage could have broken you. You could have turned to bitterness and hate. And few would have blamed you. It was a hard life, and you were sometimes hard. But you had to survive didn’t you. For your kids. No one is ever perfect. But that isn’t a requirement to love. 

We cherish you. We cherish the memories of camping trips, crafts, fishing, the never forgotten birthday cards, picking goose berries, chasing your ducks, your sugar drawer that you would “accidentally” drop strawberries into!  While I didn’t cherish them at the time, I am thankful for the clothes you made me when we couldn’t afford any. Even the Precious Moments applique sweatsuits, with the puff paint…. I cherish the baby blankets that you sewed for each of your great grandchildren. My kids love them until they fall into tatters.The way you held my babies, your great grand babies. Such love and pride in your eyes.

But those things are not your greatest legacy Grammie. Your five children are. Who all know their Savior. Your 60 years of service to your church are your legacy. And all of the lives you touched there in that vast span of time. Your 5 children, 20 grandchildren and your 43 great grandchildren are your legacy. All being raised to follow God. 
As we were passing through Guatemala the other day, we were temporarily waylaid at a jungle hotel. I kept taking pictures of every tropical flower. And I was laughing heartily on the inside, shook my head in the sunlight and sighed. Because I’m more like you than you know. I don’t know how many thousands of slides and photos you have of the flowers of Oregon, but I’m starting my own collection to rival yours. Someday my children will tease me about it too.  We love flowers Grammie. We love God fiercely and will not compromise on that. We love our children.  I am so proud to be yours. Time and God softened you into the woman that now lies in a hospital bed, hundreds who love you dearly.

                                      

If anyone deserves to be in the presence of Jesus, forgiven, redeemed and loved, it is you. Not because you have paid the cost, Jesus did that for you. But you hold on to Him. When the world fights to steal your heart for 80 years, you hold on. When the world whispers promises of earthly pleasures, that are fleeting, you hold on. When the world turns time and again, and tries to twist His words, you hold on.  You hold on to the promise of a future, eternity indescribable. You hold on to the love of Jesus, so deep, so vast, so faithful. This world steals health, loved ones, and tries to steal our souls. But you hold on. Soon you will be with your parents, with a fresh, strong body, you will get to hold my child before I do. You will be with your other grand children and greats that went on ahead. And they will rejoice to have you. And yet……

I’m not ready for you to go yet, I want you to continue to fight, to get strong again. I hope you have a lot of years left, to continue to lead and serve. Fight Grammie, because you have lessons and love yet to give to this world.  
I remember a year or two ago, when I taught you about ring tones on cell phones, sitting on Dad’s sofa together. And your face lit up when I told you that you can have any song in the world you want, when your phone rings. And so without hesitation you said you wanted “How Great Thou Art.” If I could only be with you, I would hold your hand and sing it for you. I think it would help clear some of the fog that is trapping you right now. 

We love you dearly Grammie. All of us. Your vast family. Sewn together by you, like the quilt that covers me. Piece by piece, held together by our love for you, and yours for us. And the common thread that you made sure to use, the love of a Heavenly Father.
May we be worthy of you.