The Cause Worth Fighting For. ~ by Johana Doblado

This week’s ROOM contributor is Johana Doblado.  Johana is currently serving as our Scarlet Project director.  Her role is vital to ROOM’s mission in Honduras and we are so grateful to have her on our staff.  Her heart, her love for the Lord, her dedication, and her intelligence are some of the many reasons we adore her.  Read her first blog ever to see for yourself  just how wonderful she is!

Johana with Papa and Judah

This is my first time ever writing a blog, and as I sit here waiting to feel inspiration on a topic (and trying not to feel self-conscious) I go through every face in our Scarlet Project…every single little face that has captured and thereafter stolen my heart, and I realize that I don’t need specific inspiration from one of those little faces because all of them as a whole are my daily inspiration.

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A few of the faces that steal hearts.

It has been almost a year-and-a-half since my life completely changed. It changed with a little girl with big eyes sitting on the floor with a tiny body but huge personality. My first heart-stopping moment came with Estrella; here was a little girl that seemed to have so much to say and so many places to go, yet she couldn’t talk and she couldn’t walk. Shortly after that, I met Brigitte a sweet girl with so much wrong with her teeny tiny body, yet she was a fighter, and she still is. She beats the odds every day of her life. Then we have our Jesus Enmanuel. Here is a little man that has fought to live and is still going strong and wowing us every day with his determination to thrive. There are so many other names that come to mind: Alex, Eda, Andres, Camila, Anthony, Deysi…You might know some of them by name or you might have already met some of them on a mission trip down to San Pedro Sula. Let me tell you, they are all heart-stoppers. This is our Scarlet Project, each name, each face and each life makes up this incredible project that I am blessed to be a part of.

Johana and Estrella.

As I sat in front of the computer thinking of who I would talk about, I realized that I can’t just talk about one of them but instead I have to talk about the project that gave each and every one of them a chance of belonging. Our Scarlet Project came as an answer to a need seen in Nueva Esperanza (the public orphanage that has since been shut down).  Nueva held line after line of cribs back-to-back with two or three babies to a crib.  These babies were left there abandoned in a tiny bed months and months on end, in some cases years. Most of them already knowing how to self-soothe because in the few months of life that they had lived, they already knew that their cry would not always be answered. This reality started our Scarlet Project, and with it came a chance to reach out and touch the lives of so many.

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Mili’s forever family’s first photo.

When I was first approached to join the ROOM team as the Scarlet Project Director, I was blown away that foster care in Honduras existed. I didn’t know that it was a reality. And even though it WAS in fact a reality, it was often a harsh reality because we had to fight tooth and nail for every single child that we were able to bring out of Nueva Esperanza. One of the things learned early on is that we don’t get to be weak, not when it comes to these kids, these babies that have no other voice than ours fighting for their future. It has been such a humbling experience because many people say: “these children are so blessed by you or to have you.” This isn’t so. It is the other way around, THEY are the true blessing, THEY are the true heart of who ROOM is. They are the reason we are strong, they are the reason we wake up and fight each battle with passion and determination.

The Scarlet Project is in charge of finding, processing and monitoring all of our foster families. One of our biggest prayers is for the need of more foster families to come forth to open their homes, lives and hearts to these beautiful little babies that have nowhere to go. This project helps give children, mostly babies, a chance to be a part of a loving, Christian home. They are given a chance to be a son or a daughter, a brother or sister…a chance to belong. This is my biggest desire for every child in my home country Honduras.

The other side of the Scarlet Project is emergency medical care that is provided as needed, and let me tell you, it is MUCH needed. Through this project many, many of our kids have had life-saving medical attention that they would not have had any other way. When I think of the Scarlet Project, I do not think of operations done or numbers accomplished but by a list of firsts: first smile seen on a child’s face after weeks on end of just seeing a sullen expression, first steps after years of sitting on floors without even crawling, first sips out of a straw after months of screaming at the mere sight of them. And one of my absolute favorite firsts: the first time that foster parents (many of whom are in process of adopting) get to see and hold their child. This is a first that never gets old, it takes my breath away every time. This is my vision of who we are, this is the vision I hope you will cherish along with me.

It has been an expanding year for ROOM, a year of transitions, a year of growth and mostly a year of learning. Many things have changed in our organization this past year, but what has been steady and will continue to be steady is our commitment to each and every child that God entrusts us with. One of the most astonishing aspects of our project is the fact that the Lord is in complete control of everything. I might be the director of it but the Lord is the owner and He shows me every single day that each child that we have the privilege of holding close is and always has been HIS. The Scarlet Project is an ever-changing endeavor that each and every one of you reading this blog is a part of. Each person that gives to the Scarlet project is in the trenches with us, each person that prays for us is a warrior that stands with us to fight for the lives of these most precious children. Thank you for making our journey your own!johanablog1

I would like to add an additonal note about Johana’s work and contribution to Honduras as a whole. Please pray for her as she has a platform with the local government agencies and has had a pivotal voice in contributing to the changing landscape of Honduran laws regarding child welfare.  We are so proud of you, Jo! If you want to support the Scarlet Project or any of ROOMs programs please visit our website for information on how you can join the cause worth fighting for.  Reach Out Orphanage Ministries

Johana speaking on attachment and child welfare issues with government representatives.
Johana speaking on attachment and child welfare issues with government representatives.

To the One Who Doesn’t Feel Brave… by Cassie Murray

This week’s featured ROOM contributor is Cassie Murray.  Currently Cassie is serving as one of our interim country directors for Honduras alongside her husband, Kyle.  

“You are so brave,” Jack said.

We, just moments ago, had put our toes into the chilly,early April waters of Florida.  He had convinced me, as only a son can convince his mother, to continue wading deeper.  At this point, we were up to my knees and he was trying to encourage me to go deeper.

“You are so brave,” he said.

Immediately my brain was flooded with the chilly thoughts of the day before…the day that we boarded an airplane and left Honduras.  I wanted to feel brave, but all I felt was broken.  Jack and I continued our battle against the cold waters until we were completely submerged and we were impervious to the ocean’s assaults.  We played and laughed, and Jack thought his mother was brave.

I loved that moment.

I still hear his little voice in my head telling me that I am brave. When I think of those words, tears sting my eyes because I want it to be so true.  I’ve thought about bravery so much since that day…I have this habit of over-thinking, over- analyzing, over-understanding anything and everything that comes into my mind…and this concept of bravery is no different.

For Jack, bravery means not being afraid.  When I dared to enter the icy-cold water with him even though our toes, legs, bellies, and arms begged us to run the other way, he viewed my act based on a lack of fear of the consequences…but the reality is that the fear of consequences is oftentimes the motivation for bravery.

In this case, the thought of not entering those waters with my most sensitive son meant choosing sadness over motherhood…over him.

I didn’t want to go.  I didn’t feel like playing.  My heart was broken.  But I was afraid that choosing sadness would lead him to feel the brokenness that I was feeling. I didn’t want that for him, so I put my toes in that water and he laughed and called me brave.

When I think a little deeper I realize that the root of all bravery is self-sacrifice.  Really, the two words could be synonymous.  In a moment, you are choosing what someone else needs over your needs.  Devotion to my son made me choose the water.  I didn’t feel brave because my mind has constructed some sort of imagining of bravery as something bigger…something grander…something more warrior-esque.  But really, there is no greater war than the war against selfishness.  No greater victory than choosing others over ourselves.  No truer warrior than the ones who set aside their own needs to help another.

I am not brave in the sense that I fearlessly walk into battle completely unaware or unmoved by the cost.

I am brave in the sense that I choose to do those things that I know I am not equipped to do because the thought of what it means for those things to not be done is far scarier.

Over and over again in the Bible we are told to not be afraid.

  1. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7 NIV
  2. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT
  3. I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 NLT
  4.  This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 NLT
  5. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 NIV
  6. I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 NLT
  7. For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears.He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
  8. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil,  for you are with me Psalm 23:4 NIV
  9. Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:36 NIV
  10. One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! Acts 18:9 NLT

In order for God to calm our fears, we first have to realize we have them and I have never been confronted with such an assault of fear as I have on the mission field.  I’ve walked my son down the path of anxiety… He has a painting of a castle that is right beside his bed.  On the painting, are the words, “the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe.”  Each night as he wrestled the fear that tried to overtake his mind, I would point him to the truth that he was safe.  I watched him choose faith over fear but I have never had fear like that…Fear that insists on being acknowledged and addressed…but even then, I marveled at his faith.  Watching him purposely choose faith because it was the only hope against subduing the Fear that waged war on his mind was inspiring…but, still, I had never known that Fear.

I remember the first night anxiety and panic covered me like a thick blanket while I laid in bed.  The days had been long and hard.  I went from night-time feedings to foreign hospitals to homework, laundry, and dinner with such a sense of duty that I had barely noticed how out of control I felt.

It should have been no surprise, but it came as a full surprise to me when I laid in bed one night convinced I was having a heart attack.  My heart was racing..beating faster than I have ever felt it before…and it was pounding so hard I was convinced you could see it pumping outwardly.  Every time I closed my eyes the room would spin…my arms were tingling…my chest ached.

I was afraid.

The weight of life pressed heavy against my chest and instead of calling it by name I called it a heart attack.  That in itself only caused the weight to feel heavier, my heart to beat faster, and my mind to spin faster.

This was a moment that I had to learn that I was afraid.  My flesh cried out in fear because I had never been so confronted with such suffering.  It is strange to be so close to the war between flesh and spirit…in my spirit, I was brave…but my body was exhausted, overwhelmed, and out of control. I struggled with this nightly war of spirit versus flesh for over 6 months…

And then one day Oliver Jack told me I was brave.

Those words washed over my spirit as the cold water cut through my legs and I realized that I do believe it.

Although, I feel broken and afraid, the Lord is my strength. The Lord God is my bravery.

Being afraid doesn’t make me weak.  The biggest lie I have ever believed is that Christians are not afraid.  I do not have to convince myself to be bigger than the suffering that surrounds or to be unaffected by human suffering.  In contrary, the more I am moved by suffering the more my heart bends to compassion. Suffering is scary.  Is it even possible to love without compassion?

Bravery and compassion are linked to freedom because it is through both that we find love…and love is selflessness.

We have all these truths in the bible…we hear that God is love in 1 John…we have love defined in 1 Corinthians…we are told that we have freedom in Christ in Galatians…and yet my mind always makes it more complicated.  All I have to do is put my faith in my only hope bigger than the fear…

You can read more from Cassie on her personal blog page The Murray Family Blog

This is us.

Over the next several weeks, ROOM’s blog will server as a mouthpiece for our amazing missionaries, staff, and board. So this week I asked ROOM’s missionaries and staff to provide a picture and a caption that best describes their life and ministry lately.  The results are no surprise to me, as I know and love each one of these amazing people!

Johana Doblado is our Scarlet Project Director in Honduras.  She is a missionary in her own country and brings such a beautiful mix of professionalism and heart.  Johana’s “job” has included everything from working with the government to sign and place foster families to spending countless days and nights in the hospital bedside for any child that needs her.

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“Our kids are loved no matter where they go, and Papa has first hand knowledge of this now. He is now loved greatly by an entire village in Sta. Barbara! His visit ended with a 20 min nap after being the life of the party for an entire day!” ~Johana Doblado

Ali  is our country director for India.  Ali is not afraid to jump in wherever she is needed and is completely unintimidated by anything.  She is quick to get her hands dirty as well as quick to soften the hardest of hearts with her sincere kindness.

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“This month we were so thankful to spend time in Honduras with our ROOM family loving on others and encouraging one another! We love the way that God unites His body together for His purpose and are excited for the ways He is using ROOM and others to share His hope and love with children around the world!” ~ Ali 

Kaylie Kuhn is a long-term missionary in Honduras.  Kaylie, at 20 years old, is our veteran missionary on the field.  Her heart was captured by Honduras when she was just 17 years old and her commitment to this country is evident in her knowledge of the orphanages and children.  Rarely do we meet a child that Kaylie does not know.  Kaylie served as Lizzie’s one-on-one caretaker for 18 months and has helped transition Lizzi back into the care of her biological family over the past 6 months.  Kaylie’s picture submission shows just how much the calling of being a missionary is such a family affair.

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“I’m excited to have my mom, sister, and friend all here for Lizzi’s 2nd birthday! The happiness they get from seeing each other is just so great. I am so glad my mom can play such a big role in her life. It doesn’t even phase them that they only get to see each other once every 2 months; they love each other like they see each other every day!” ~Kaylie Kuhn

When I asked Wendy Boyle, our transition home mom, for a picture she couldn’t help but to provide 3.  She is such a proud mom and loves all the children in her care so fully that asking for just one picture is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child!

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“I LOVED seeing Josue meet his brother Nelson, and his foster mom and sister, after months of praying for them to be able to do so!” ~Wendy Boyle
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A birthday celebration + a foster dad = joyful baby

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“If [this photo] doesn’t say ‘foster love’ well… I don’t know what does!” ~Wendy Boyle
Kyle, Cassie, and the Murray kids are back Stateside adjusting to new culture, new responsibilities, and new views on life.  Kyle and Cassie are maintaining their roles as interim country directors and spend their days advocating for ROOM stateside and managing missionaries and staff in Honduras.

“Our life right now is a a balance between reconnecting with each other, our family we have missed while away, and missing our family God blessed us with in Honduras. It is a bittersweet time for us; investing in our children who have so patiently waited while our hands have been so full is a beautiful gift, but a huge part of our hearts remains in Honduras. We are so thankful that we have the opportunity to advocate for ROOM in the States!”

Bekah Holten, our long term volunteer, has been an invaluable addition to our ROOM family in Honduras.  She has happily and diligently plugged in wherever she has been needed!

“A huge part of ROOM’s mission is orphanage care and I had the opportunity of helping an orphanage in need the past month. Such Is The Kingdom Ministries is an all-girls home of 40 girls ages 1-19 that have been abandoned by their parents or their parents are no longer capable of caring for them. They needed an English teacher to prepare the 10 pre-K kids for the new bilingual school in the community. I have helped teach these ten beautiful girls the basics of English to strengthen their chances of getting into the bilingual school which would provide them with a better education. I also have helped around the “farm” in many ways, especially using my design skills to create informative movies and invitations for their 20-year reunion in July. It has been an incredible opportunity and the relationships I have been able to create have been so rewarding. I look forward to providing leadership at the orphanage for the month of August as the “mom” heads back to the US for a bit (prayers are greatly appreciated!)” ~Bekah Holten

Joey, Kellie, and Connor Weed will be moving to Honduras to fill necessary roles as part of our team in-country.  This month they officially sold their house and moved in with Kellie’s parents to focus full time on fundraising for their upcoming departure!  We are so grateful to have them join our team!

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Full boxes and empty frames best describe ROOM’s newest missionaries, Joey and Kellie Weed’s life right now!

Amanda Stafford is our Interim Executive Director.  She spends her days on administration, financial management and fundraising.  Amanda describes her work as “all the boring details that allow ROOM’s front-line staff and missionaries to do the important work of empowering children and communities through orphan care initiatives.

” My work with ROOM looks like this: A mountain of paperwork fueled by God’s word and a whole lot of coffee.”
~Amanda Stafford

Kacey Bolin is a ROOM missionary and foster mom to Jesús.  She is wise, discerning, prayerful, and unafraid to use her voice to defend those who cannot defend themselves. In addition to her role as foster mom, she has also taken on leadership roles within Honduras’ team.

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“Jesús loved our trip to the beach. He found so much joy in discovering and trying new things everyday. The past two weeks my mom has been here visiting us, and it seems every moment we marvel at the miracle the Lord has done in the life of Jesús. He isn’t the same boy that came into my life 11 months ago. This photo shows such a beautiful glimpse into who Jesús has become: a joyful child of God.” ~Kacey Bolin