Happy Thanksgiving!! Keep Calm and Gobble On!
We hope and pray that this Thanksgiving you were not only surrounded by those you love… but that today also became a very sweet memory that you hold closely and cherish deeply.
There are SO many things to be thankful for today. Where do I start?
Today I’m SO thankful for this table stuffed with turkeys – that there’s not an empty seat at my table… that my children are safe… that my children are healthy… that no matter what my children endure they continue to be resilient… that my children are God’s first… that He continues to hold them tightly when they feel afraid – – or when I feel afraid for them.
Even though Fabi slept through Thanksgiving dinner – I’m SO thankful that God – brought her through my clinic doors and into my home…and so deeply into my heart… for the silly laughter she has brought our family over this past year…for God allowing us to see her grow, gain strength, and find health & normalcy.
I’m so thankful for incredible friends like Susan and Miss Beth that God has perfectly placed around me to do ministry alongside! I’m thankful for the friends God has placed all over this world who cheer me on – who cry out for me – who encourage me – and who go to the floor in prayer over me.
I’m thankful that for the first time in 10 years – my family hasn’t lost any personal supporters (no one has lost their job, churches haven’t split, or folks haven’t been unable to support us for one reason or another)… that our supporters still believe in our ministry… that our supporters constantly pray for what we do here… and that our supporters consistently sacrifice so we can serve here.
I’m thankful that I’m healthy today – I haven’t always been able to say that. I’m thankful that God continues to give me opportunities to create such beautiful memories with my children. I’m thankful for the example my parents have set – for the traditions I’m able to pass on. I’m SO thankful my parents are still alive – that I STILL get to love them, be loved by them, and learn from them.
I’m thankful for my brothers and sister who are always there for me… who find ways to show me they love me & care for me – even though they live so far away. I’m thankful they have wonderful families to celebrate with today.
I’m thankful for my husband who spent all day cooking. Who spends all day – every day – serving our family… who has a heart bigger than his body… who rescues orphans from flooding… who rescues sick children and then calls them his daughters… who raises them as though they are his flesh and blood… who loves me more than anyone possibly could… who holds are family together when everything around us is falling apart… who came from a broken home but still manages to make ours whole…. who has a solid foundation in Jesus Christ.
AND….even though the past few months have been an absolute nightmare… the fact that everyone on this campus is still alive – ONLY GOD. The fact that God brought so many people together who would otherwise not know each other – united in prayer – ONLY GOD. The fact that this community has seen the Goodness of God through the Goodness of others… those who have sacrificed so much just so we can rebuild here – ONLY GOD.
I’m thankful that God placed a hedge of protection around each and every living being on this campus. I’m thankful it hasn’t rained in a few days… that we have a break from the constant worry of what the raindrops will bring… that we get to focus on our family – instead of watching the yard waiting to see how high the water will get.
Oh my sweet and precious Jesus – there are SO many things to thank You for today! May we take the time to count our blessings – not just on Thanksgiving as we go around the table- but each and every day that You breathe life into our lungs.
Here’s a few pictures from our Thanksgiving Dinner: https://lifeoffering.org/2016/11/24/happy-thanksgiving-2016/
And below are a few recent Facebook updates for those of you who don’t have access…
Jody Owen Castillo November 18 at 12:34am ·
Just finished tucking in the campus…. the staff and their families are in the girl’s dorm – our only 2nd story building. The orphans are in our church – it’s got the highest foundation. In fact my dad built our church last summer and it’s the ONLY building that didn’t get flooded.
It’s quiet outside right now. I watched our strongest leaders have panic attacks last night and again this evening as they settled in for the night. Being woken up by a raging river through your home is not something you soon forget. Our orphans have been moved a half dozen times this past month during the wee hours of the morning trying to stay dry & safe. They’ve all watched their nightmares unfold before them.
My kids are also struggling to fall asleep tonight. They all have loft beds because their rooms are so small. Their toys & dressers are under their beds. Except for Gabriel. He has a twin bed. He told me he was afraid that he was too low to the ground and that the flood would wash him away.
I’ve shed a lot tears today for our community. I just can’t wrap my head around this constant rain & destruction. We were planning on decorating the campus for Christmas this week with our team that was arriving here tomorrow…. the staff and children have been asking nonstop about when we’re going to put up the pretty lights. They were also excited about getting to know this brand new team. They’re starving for affection.
Instead we’ll be spending the week trying to calm this community’s fears while we repair & clean-up yet again … The team is also being relocated to our St. Louis Campus.
So tonight I’ll walk around the campus several more times – will jump up as soon as I hear the pounding rain – and will hold my babies tight as they continue to climb into my bed one by one.
Please pray that I will be able to show my children, this campus, and this community how God can make beauty out of this uncomprehensable mess… pray that they will see that our God is still good even though this feels so bad …. pray that they will somehow know that His ways are better than ours…. and pray that they will believe He has not looked away, fallen asleep, or forgotten about us.
We just wanted to thank you all SO MUCH for your prayers, for your words of encouragement, & for the sacrifices made to help us in our efforts here.
I know I’m behind on emails, texts, & private messages. In full transparency – I’ve been too emotional…..too depressed… too tired….. to respond. All that to be said – I’ve not given up – I’m not defeated – satan doesn’t get this victory. No. God’s picking us all up and dusting us off.
If you could listen to the testimonies of Momma Gigi, Mme Nene, Elirose, & Tizzie…. if you could hear them talk about how God saved them as they truly believed they might die….. if you could hear them talk about God’s faithfulness & protection even though they lost so much…. it’s enough to make anyone cancel their pity party & get to work.
We haven’t had running water since Tuesday night. So there’s not been any way to really “clean” the mud out of the buildings. The orphans & staff are still displaced because the mud is SO thick in their homes. But the piped water JUST came on right now!! PRAISE THE LORD!
We are filling up tanks & buckets while the water is working right now. If it works tomorrow we will begin pressure-washing all the buildings. We’ve started piling all the rocks together – – NO simple task. Nene jokingly said “Well we won’t need to buy any rocks for our next project”. So true.
We’ve got that supply truck which has 2 600-gallon water tanks & 400 boxes of food STILL stuck about 2 hours from us. We sent a tractor to help them and then the tractor got stuck 🙁
People have asked what can they do to help right now?
I know so many people want to donate supplies – – but the time it takes to receive them and the costs associated with trying to ship them in right now is still too high. It’s still BEST for the country to buy locally. Even though the Mole is running out of necessities (no one can refill their stock because the roads are still cut) – – it’s still better to buy in other villages than other countries. When we buy in Haiti we are giving the venders a chance to care for their families. When we hire locally – we’re giving the workers a chance to care for their families.
We have had to stop construction on some of our homes because we can’t get enough cement/wood to finish. Once the roads open back up – we’ll be able to finish what we’ve started & rebuild other homes as well.
The damage on our campus right now is far more serious than the hurricane & previous flooding combined. We need a lot of wisdom as we try to repair our own buildings & protect ourselves from future flooding.
If you feel led to give…. here’s a link where you can donate: http://bit.ly/NWHCMDisasterRelief
Most importantly we need prayer.
Please Pray for dry days, piped water, working roads, wisdom & discernment…..
Please Pray that families will find water, food, & shelter…
Please Pray for God to make His presence known in an undeniable way to each and every frightened child – overwhelmed mother – – doubting father – – tired leader.
Please Pray that the light of Jesus will continue to stomp-out the darkness. That it will burn bright as a constant reminder that God’s eyes have been and will ALWAYS be upon us.
Jody Owen Castillo November 20 at 5:09pm ·
Momma Gigi gave a testimony this morning about how God saved and protected her life this past week. That the only reason any of us are here is because God chose to breathe life into our lungs not only through the storm but each and every day we wake up. She knew God saved her life to serve His greater purpose. And for that she must testify today of His great goodness.
Then she sang Blessed Assurance with all the might she could muster. It was a beautiful and raw testiment to her unwavering – undoubting – unfaltering faith.
And as she sang with all her heart – I found my own demeanor begin to change. I found tears streaming down my cheeks more powerful than any flood. I found my worn and tired body suddenly overcome with an unrelenting thankfulness for the mighty God I am privileged serve.
And as I questioned how in the world did my weak arms have the strength to make their way so high in the air? I looked up and found Jesus reaching down from the heavens – holding up my trembling hands – ever so steady in His. #lostinhislove
1. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.
2. Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angels descending bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
3. Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love.