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Putting My Hands to What’s in His Heart

It is my absolute delight to introduce you to my sweet friend, and guest blogger, Susan Morris (www.susanbeth.com). Susan and her husband pastor Amplify Church in Jacksonville, FL and Susan is an active member of the Leading and Loving It community where she and I received our introduction. Susan is one of the sweetest most passionate women I know living her life trying to put her hands to the things in God’s heart… but I’ll let her share her own story!

A year ago I was immersed in wedding details for one of my daughters and had never even heard of World Help. I had however been part of Leading & Loving It, a community of women involved in ministry and have led one of their Connect LIVE groups the past several years. I had been looking forward to attending their retreat again last Fall, but due to putting some things aside in preparing for the wedding I felt like it wasn’t something I could do at that time.

Because of that decision I missed hearing Noel share about World Help and an upcoming L&LI trip to Guatemala. It wasn’t until after the first of the year that I saw something about the Operation Baby Rescue Project. I knew immediately I needed to go. I also knew that I didn’t have the money budgeted to go on a trip that was now quickly approaching.

It’s funny now looking back out at how everything played out…

I created several items for my daughters wedding and a few people had inquired about ordering pieces from me. That idea did not appeal to me at all, until the moment I read about this trip. I decided to create and sell custom art pieces to raise the money needed for the trip (out of my comfort zone!)

I was able to raise the funds to go on the trip. One of the highlights for me personally was getting to know Noel Yeatts. In a world that often glamorizes strength and beauty in a self indulgent way, I saw in her, womanhood at it’s finest. I saw a devoted, loving wife and mother who was passionate about what God had put in her heart. A woman who was willing to get out of her comfort zone, rally the troops and lead the charge to get a job done!

Noel spoke into our lives throughout the trip and she continued to speak into mine afterward from her book, AWAKE – Doing a WORLD of Good One Person at a Time (which you need to get if you havent already!)

One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Do you want to be safe, or do you really want to change the world? The conflict is that we want to be brave, we want to take risks… but we also want to be safe. The problem is we cant have it both ways.”

Even though many people I know would consider me a risk taker and brave…I knew deep in my heart I was still playing it safe.

I remember sharing with Noel the very first night of the trip that I had asked others to pray I would not be overwhelmed with the need before me, making it unable to see anything else. It is easy to become paralyzed by the enormity of it all.

That prayer was answered… I saw so clearly in my time in Guatemala that it takes each of us being obedient to what God is asking us to do. Only then can the miraculous happen. I made a decision to be obedient no matter how insignificant or how huge that looked.

The day after I got home from the trip, I made my commitment to raise money to rescue five babies, representing each of my five children. The total amount raised would be $6000, which seemed insignificant and HUGE all at the same time.

Another one of my favorite quotes from AWAKE is “Doing a world of good is oftentimes just doing what you already know how to do…”

So that’s what I’ve done…at AMPLIFY where my husband and I pastor we have Amplify LOVE Projects, so Operation Baby Rescue has become one of our projects. We made #amplifyLOVE shirts and coffee mugs with proceeds going to rescue babies.

Our family also owns Reach Destiny Arts, a Dance Studio lead by my daughters that has nearly 200 students associated with it. We have created a fun way to donate to OPERATION BABY RESCUE by buying a Pointe Shoe and the students writing their name and amount on it to hang up on the walls of our studio.

At this stage, we have rescued two babies and this just by doing what I’ve already been doing. Nothing spectacular or special! People you know want to make a difference…theyre just waiting for you to show them how.

I specifically took a picture of my feet on the ground in Guatemala because I knew once my feet were on the familiar soil of home it would be easy to forget. The following is a blog I wrote a week after being home about that picture…

susan morris 2
A week ago I was standing on the soil in Guatemala.

I had the opportunity to share about my week with my church family on Sunday. I wore these boots and I told them why…

Ive been on several trips to other countries where you see such heartbreaking need all around you. I know that my life and perspective has been shaped through the years by these experiences. I wore these boots on Sunday as a reminder that as much as I was moved to make a difference in those moments standing there in Guatemala, life back in my “normal” can soften the urgency over time.

I snapped pictures while I was there and as I was scrolling through them just hours later they seemed unreal. I wonder if its because its hard to process the reality of what I was seeing?

I don’t know.

But I do know, I want to remember…

I want to remember the mom that walked with her children 3 hours one way so they would have food for the day.

I want to remember the filthy dirty plastic 2-liter bottle that her child held up to me to fill that Im pretty sure he had just picked up in the dump that was a few feet away.

I want to remember the precious babies being held by brave moms choosing to leave all they have known to do what’s best for their sick children.

I want to remember the scared little girl that was probably going to lose her infected left eye due to not receiving treatment early enough.

I want to remember the joy and gratefulness on the faces of the people in the village where we dedicated a well so they could have clean water.

I want to remember the little boy in the plaid shirt that came and sat by me and melted my heart.

I want to remember that my feet stood on this soil and in that moment I knew I could make a difference.

You can too.

To help Susan raise money for Baby Rescue, visit http://lali.worldhelp.net/susan-morris

Kevin’s Rescue

Today we rescued a little boy named Kevin from a village. He is only 2 years old and has cancer. His kidneys have shut down and he is so swollen with fluid. He is literally just days from death. The local doctors have given up on him and have said there is nothing else they can do.

Kevin

But that is not good enough. We brought him to the rescue center today, hoping and praying for a miracle. I caught a short clip of little Kevin and his mother and sister riding with us after we picked them up.  Please pray for this little boy. He truly needs a miracle to survive.

You are not forgotten

Can you ever replace the loss of a loved one? Can you ever take that pain away?

I dont think you can ever replace a loved one or that the pain will ever completely go away. But, I do believe you can use that pain and that loss to make a difference.

Today in Guatemala, we proved that to be true.

The Loveland family has suffered great loss. Their daughter Kelly fought a long and hard battle with breast cancer, and died at the young age of 38, leaving a husband, 2 children and an entire family reeling from the pain.

But today, nearly two years later, that pain in slowly turning into hope.

Special Needs Decidation

Kelly’s parents, David and Carol, were touched by the opportunity to provide a special needs center here in Guatemala. The long-term effects of malnutrition leave many children with disabilities that they will have for the rest of their lives. These children are often discarded, abandoned and abused. They are simply forgotten.

Special Needs Dedication

In a beautiful dedication ceremony today, complete with the Guatemalan Minister of Health, the doors to the Special Needs Center were finally openend. This home will house up to 50 children at a time as well as provide regular therapy for hundreds more.

Hearing the Loveland family share about Kelly was so touching. Kelly was a nurse and they said that she would have loved this place. But, it was Kelly’s aunt, Mayda,that said something so profound and touching.

She said, “Kelly’s last words were, ‘I am ready to go home’. And Kelly, today these children are ready to go home.”

My heart was so touched. I wish you could have been there to take it all in with me … the beautiful new facility, the Loveland family standing together honoring Kelly, all of the special needs children lined up ready to “go home” … it was a moment.

I was privileged to say a few words and I wanted to share that with you:

This is a special day. Today we are shouting to the children of Guatemala – the children who have disabilities and special needs – children who have often been neglected and looked over. We are shouting … You are no forgotten! You are not forgotten – and there is hope!

I am so passionate about the baby rescue program and this center is an integral part of that. We have to go beyond the rescue and look for ways to make a long-term, sustainable difference in the lives of these children.

So many of the children rescued havelong-term needs that without a facility like this would go unmet.

The pain that these children feel, both physical and emotional, must be unbearable. But, we are here to turn that pain into hope.

What a beautiful story the Loveland family has. they have experienced extreme pain in their lives – but they are turning that pain into hope for these children.

I have often said that the greatest injustice of all is not poverty, hunger, disease, abuse, lack of clean water … even disabilities. No the greatest injustice of all is hopelessness.

And today we are making things right.

So, Loveland family, on behalf of Julio, Danny, MiMi, Estelita and all the other children they represent – thank you for restoring hope!

After the ceremony, the nurses brought all of the children in. I knew so many of these children because they are the same ones we have rescued. It was a beautiful sight. Here is a short clip of that moment:

Ulises

I arrived at Hope of Life today and one of the first kids I saw was Ulises. You will remember that he was the 16 year old boy I introduced you to a couple months ago. Because of severe malnutrition, he only weighed about 30 pounds when he was rescued … at 16 years old. Skin broken with open wounds – his body was literally eating itself. But after being at the rescue center nearly 2 months – the difference is incredible to see. Watch this short clip of my time with ulises today. His story is one of hope …

I Knew You Would Come

Chapter Five “I Knew You Would Come” from World Help.

As I finished writing this chapter in Awake, I was getting ready to leave on a very special trip to Guatemala. It was the first visit where I would see the Baby Rescue Program in its entirety – from start to finish. I knew we were helping save babies and young children, but I had no idea the lengths our partners were going to make that happen.

All I could do was speculate on what I would see and experience. I could only imagine the long roads I would travel, the hills I would hike, the intense heat I would feel, and the beautiful face of the desperately hurting child I would find just waiting for our arrival. In my heart, I imagined they would say “I knew you would come”.

This week I am leaving again for Guatemala and I am thinking a lot about the word “rescue”. I believe that somewhere deep inside, we all want to be rescued from something . . . financial troubles, bad relationships, a dead-end job, addictions, etc. And as people of faith, we know what it truly means to be rescued. But what if we believed that we were rescued in order to rescue?

It is true that so many children around the world are waiting. “They are waiting to be rescued from hunger, disease, sickness, abuse, and slavery. They long to say ‘I knew you would come’.” (Awake)  And their stories inspire me to keep going…

We just admitted a baby into the rescue center weighing 2 pounds 12 ounces and is only 6 weeks old. Our team is working very hard to keep this baby alive and need the prayers of everyone at World Help at this crucial moment. This is a family of nine from the mountains and they have already buried two of their children due to malnutrition and contaminated water.

OBR

Our goal this year is to rescue 1,000 babies. We have already reached more than 10% of our goal – and I admit, we have a long way to go. But, I am committed to telling the stories of these children. I am committed to being their voice. That is all I can do.  And, that is exactly what I am going to do this week.

I am launching a new blog and I encourage you to follow my daily video posts of this incredible trip. Let me introduce you to the children of Guatemala. They will steal your heart and inspire you to action.  I can tell their stories, but I need you to spread the word. Use your voice, share their inspiring stories with your network of family and friends – and together let’s save some lives.