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Growing Pains

During the growing years of my children and grandchildren it was almost a nightly routine to rub their throbbing legs with heat rub as they cried in pain.  Their bones were growing faster than their muscles and each night their legs would cramp in pain and ache.  Grandmothers have a word for those nightly cramps:  Growing pains they say, as they shake their heads with the wisdom only years of experience can bring. 

At Morning Glory we are going through a period of growing pains.  Eleven years have come and gone.  We look back at where we began and are amazed at where God has taken us.  I remember that first ten year plan that I thought was so ambitious that the mission board would surely tell me that I was crazy and nix the whole plan.  We completed that plan in the first three years.  Now well into our long term plans with growth that we could only dream about ten years ago we look to the future with hope mixed with nervous anticipation.

Last January our first group of students, who entered the kindergarten class in 2001, graduated from secondary school and went on to diversified education or vocational school.  Of that group of forty three students, thirty eight continue to study.  The national average is under thirty percent of students who finish sixth grade continue on to higher education.   Of those thirty eight students eighteen won full scholarships to the schools of their choice and many won several scholarships.  This week our second group of kids graduated from secondary school.  Once again a great majority of those kids finished another cycle in their education.  The two highest award winning students were Morning Glory kids. 

Three years ago we began a music program.  This year our band won first place in the city wide band competition competing against secondary and diversified students.  The Jr. band with students from first through third grade was the talk of town.  Our dance teams won four trophies in the city wide competitions.  We work hard, practice long hours and strive for excellence to honor our Father and we succeed. 

I have been blessed by our Father to see the results and fruit of our labor.  I have seen families changed and prospered.  I have watched children grow and become amazing young people with loving, Christ centered hearts.  I have seen Morning Glory grow from two run down classrooms, from a trash filled muddy field to a bright and beautiful campus.  My office has changed from an old wooden table and chair on the front porch to an office that is bright and professional.  Our supplies have grown from a plastic box that I carried to and from school each day to a well stocked storeroom and a packed work shop.  From packing thirty something children into our old Isuzu Trooper we have grown to four full school buses that bring the children to and from school each day.  From myself and four teachers earning a beggar´s wage we have grown to twenty one full time teachers, two teaching assistants, two office workers, a cleaning lady, a maintenance man, four bus drivers, a guard, Rob and myself.

But all this has come at a cost.  It has not been a cheap adventure.  All of you have sacrificed to make this growth possible.  From a budget of less than five hundred dollars ten years ago, we have grown to a nine thousand dollar budget that barely covers our daily expenses and needs.  For the last three years I have not revised the budget out of consideration for the economic downturn that has affected us worldwide.  I have chosen instead to cut corners, to rob from Peter to pay Paul, to ignore needed repairs or patch over.  For this entire year I have put my personal salary into the school budget to make ends meet reducing family expenses to be able to function on Queno´s salary.  We have faced double digit inflation, devaluation and economic crisis without screaming help.  But I can´t go on.  I have completely depleted our savings, I have put off serious maintenance issues and I have pinched every penny until it bled.  For the first time in eleven years last month I couldn’t make payday.  I had to pay only a percentage of each teacher´s salary asking them to wait a few days for the rest.  This next Monday I will have to do the same.  My car is dying; it will take more than it is worth to fix it.  The back door is literally tied on with rope and duct tape.  If I drive it long enough for the motor to reach normal heat the injection system begins to cut out and the car loses power.  The hydraulic booster is giving out and the  whole suspension needs to be replaced.  The automatic transmission is slipping and who knows what other problem is hiding, waiting to rear its ugly head.  My office photocopier died in March and sits idle because I don’t have funds to repair or replace.  Classrooms need paint, doors are falling off, desks need repairs and we haven´t bought new research books in years.  My bus needs tires, the teachers are asking for a raise and the list goes on and on. 

It is not my nature to whine or complain, I much prefer to tough it through and figure out how to make ends meet.  But honestly there is nowhere else to cut and the stress of staying solvent is wearing on me.

So I face a tough decision.  Either we raise budget to meet the current needs or I cut programs or reduce students and we move back.  We stand at a threshold of faith.  God is doing amazing things and we have amazing opportunities before us.  We have once again completed all the paperwork for secondary school and are waiting on the answer from the ministry of education.  Our band has the opportunity to complete on a national level next year.  The huge music company out of Guatemala City wants to sponsor and encourage our students.  We have a great opportunity to deepen and fortify the academic education of our students. 

I am sharing this dilemma with you because I don´t have the answer.  Which teacher do I let go? What program do I cut?  Which child do I look in the face and tell him there is no room for you at Morning Glory?  Or is all this just a test of faith and God asking me to continue to step out on air in faith believing that something will be there?  By nature I am a worrywart, I always prefer to have my little nest egg squirreled away for emergencies. My independent self sufficient nature hates asking for help.  Is this just God working on my sinful self and moving me up one more step of faith?  I don’t know the answer.  Those of you who have been here and those of you who are wiser than I perhaps have insight that I have missed. 

I know that economics are tight; I have read all the indicators and all articles.  Yet I know that God is in control and Morning Glory is His work.  He is the owner and King of all.  I know that unemployment is at all time high and yet people are lining up to buy the newest gadgets and technology. 

So where do we go?  Do we rub down the pains with heat rub and walk on forward?  Or do we draw back into the safety of what we can see and touch? Do we hide in the security of yesterday in the easy comfort of our bed or do we push on to the unknown?

Thirty-two years ago I left home and the safety of all that I knew to step out on faith and follow the King.  Thirty-two years I have asked my family to follow my dream and to be the hands, feet and heart of Christ to the lost and dying. I asked my children to sacrifice an American education, toys, conveniences, and the American dream to live in a third world country.  In all honesty I have given my all.  Thirty-two years many of you have shared in this endeavor through prayers and offerings. Thirty-two years God has provided for my needs and often given me my wants.  Thirty-two years I have lived far from family and home. Thirty-two years I have been privileged to see the hand of God move and work. I have been given glimpses of glory, I have walked through the fire and flood and He has always been there.  I have descended to the pit of despair and flown on the wings of faith. I have climbed mountains and danced in my heart.  I have been challenged to be more, to do more than I could have ever dreamed. I have heard the angels sing over me in my darkest nights and felt His presence dance around me when my heart hurt so much I thought I would die.  I have learned that His blessings come through raindrops and He asks me to dance in the storm.  I have learned that the darkest hour of the night is right before morning comes in all its glory and splendor. I have learned that His wrath lasts but the night and joy comes in the morning. Morning Glory has gone from a childhood nickname to a prophetic statement of what my life is all about.   I stand amazed in His grace and presence.   

Many of those who encouraged me, shared with me in those early days have since gone on to heaven and are waiting for me there.  Women like Tommie Garrison who always took time to write an encouraging note, to send a valentine with a piece of gum taped on, my grandmother who wrote me long newsy letters from home, Ed McCarnahan who covered my husband with a blanket as he slept in the easy chair, who lifted my heavy heart with his simple beautiful breakfast prayer; so many who sacrificed personal gain so that we could stay in Guatemala.  There were so many who made the difference in those early days of uncertainty and loneliness, and now is the time for a new generation of Kingdom workers to step up to the plate; those of you, who have come and played soccer with the kids, filled your facebooks with their jubilant smiles and had your hearts changed by their unconditional love and acceptance. Perhaps you came on a medical trip and were drawn by the laughter of the children playing at recess and you stopped what you were doing to take a moment to watch, perhaps you have never been able to come but the stories of the changes that God has made on countless children´s lives has touched your heart. Will you sacrifice the latest Iphone, Android, a new computer, brand- name fashions or Starbucks so that brown eyed children can grow and learn in a Christ centered, safe place?  Those of you, who fuss about illegal immigration, are you willing to do something to change the next generation; educating and equipping children so that they can support their families in their own country?  I am not asking for personal wealth or gain, I am not asking for a vacation to Europe or the Holy Land, I don’t want or need new clothes or a fancy home.  I ask for money to pay to pay teachers, the electric bill, to paint the classrooms, to fix the busses. I am asking to not have to choose which children can come to Morning Glory.   I ask your prayers; I ask that you share with your friends, coworkers and churches what Morning Glory is about. I don’t ask you to sacrifice anything that I am not willing to sacrifice, to share anything that I will not share, nor to give anything that Christ did not give,

This has been the hardest article that I have ever written.  It has made me look deep into my own heart for answers.  I have had to swallow my pride to scream help.  This article is not about me or my ministry, it is not about what I can do or not do because I am nothing without Christ and it all is because of Him and belongs to Him.  I am writing nothing that I have not spent long hours in prayer over, searching and examining my own heart, seeking for His will and His answer.  But as it was so clearly pointed out to me last week, God´s people cannot help if they don’t know there is a need.

As I have written these words the answer has come to my heart.  I cannot look a single child in the eye and tell him there is no room for you here.  I just can’t do that.  I cannot choose.  I cannot in all conscience offer less than the best.  I cannot move back. The security of the bed is not an option we must carry on growing pains, aching legs  and all.  So all that is left is for me is to step out on air, move on in faith and pray that God will provide.  God is doing amazing things through Morning Glory; lives are being shaped and changed.  So I will walk on in faith, I will step out on air, I will stride on into the wind, I will continue to follow my King.   But I can’t do this alone, Morning Glory needs you and your steady financial commitment.

To give a one time gift or a monthly committment contact Herb Pinney at nima@zianet.com

To commit to sponsoring a Morning Glory child contact Rob at mr.rob08@hotmail.com

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