Call of a Coward


This adventure begins when a New Jersey mother finds herself driving through Mexico with her husband and daughter, leaving behind her middle-class life to live in a Mayan village in Guatemala.

And that is just the beginning for Marcia Moston, author of “Call of a Coward.” At only 142 pages, this book is a quick read, but it’s packed with action throughout, and it paints a vivid picture of life as a missionary in Guatemala.

Moston shares her fears and reservations about the move, spurred on by her husband, who had recently returned from a mission trip. She shares the difficulties encountered in their journey, and also the deep relationships forged with people she met along the way.

As if driving through the entire country of Mexico weren’t enough to test anyone’s faith, this mother must learn how to survive and care for her family in a world very different from her own.

After her first trip up the mountain to the village, on a road without guardrails that barely accommodates two vehicles, she swears she will never take the road again, and that is only one challenge she must overcome.

Without the help of a grocery store or refrigerator, Moston must learn to feed her family. She accompanies a fellow missionary to the village butcher, who kills a cow every Saturday and hangs it from the rafters. As customers choose the piece they want, the butcher chops it off for them. The author laments this is a far cry from the styrofoam packages to which she is accustomed.

Throughout the book, the author worries she is unworthy and incapable to answer God’s call in her life, and she often questions whether He has picked the right person. When her journey takes her from the Mayan village to a small church in Vermont, she is left wondering whether her time in Guatemala was useful.

But as often happens, it all makes sense in the end, and her faithfulness is rewarded.

When One Door Closes

Last week, I received the phone call that no sponsor wants to receive. It was Compassion calling to tell me that my sweet Roxana from Guatemala has left the program.

This is the same child about whom I posted earlier on this blog after receiving a particularly sweet letter from her. She wrote that she dreams about playing ball with me, and she hopes to see me someday. She also let me know that she keeps the photos I’ve sent to her in a frame next to her bed.


Roxana, 9, Guatemala

I’ve sponsored her since April 2011, when she had just turned 7.

The Compassion representative who called me said Roxana’s parents pulled her out of the program.

There could be any number of reasons for a parent to take their child out of Compassion. Moving to another area or some other change in the family’s situation could be the reason, though it’s best not to speculate because then my imagination will go wild and only cause me to worry. Instead, I must respect the parents’ choice and trust in God’s plan.

Of course, that’s not exactly easy to do.

Fortunately, my 8-year-old daughter Ryan was able to push things along. She, too, was sad to lose Roxana, but she was ready to start scouring the Compassion web site that same day to sponsor a new little girl.

I set Ryan up at the computer, and searched for girls in Guatemala around the same age as Roxana, and my daughter quickly narrowed it down to one little girl. I told her I wanted to think about it, but the next day, she was back to campaigning for her chosen girl.

She was fairly relentless. Ryan enjoys writing, drawing pictures and making cards for the girls we sponsor, and she wasn’t going to let me mope about Roxana much longer. And she did pick a very cute little girl, so I sponsored my daughter’s choice, Hania, 7, of Guatemala.

I emailed Compassion later that day to request an emailed digital copy of Hania’s photo on file, and found out I am her first sponsor. I also found out this little cutie had been waiting for a sponsor since she registered with Compassion back in September of 2012.


Hania, 7, Guatemala

How can it be that almost a year has passed that no one decided to sponsor this little girl?

I immediately sent her an email with photos using Compassion’s online letter-writing tool, and my daughter got to work making cards and drawings for her new friend.

Later that night, Ryan came downstairs at bedtime to show me the photo of Roxana she keeps on her dresser. She leaned in my ear and whispered, “I prayed for Roxana.”

The door may have closed on that special relationship with Roxana, but I am comforted knowing that I’m not alone in continuing to pray for her.

And now we open the door to our newest sponsorship. Welcome to our family, Hania.

Do Something

The last few weeks at church, as I sit in the pew wrestling my 3-year-old or pulling him off his 6-year-old brother before they come to blows, the message has been persistent: do something.

Do something. Reach out to the people around you. Love them and help them. Give of yourself. Reflect Christ to them.

The pastor reminds us that there are many ministries at the church where “doing something” can be accomplished. Some church members visit nearby nursing homes. Others collect backpacks for school children. The more adventurous travel on missions, both within the United States and internationally.

The choices of ways to do something seem endless, yet each time I consider one of these options, my responsibilities at this stage in my life weigh a little heavier on my shoulders.

As a stay-at-home mom who is homeschooling six children, from high school all the way down to preschool, and shuttling most of them to various activities each evening, I don’t have a lot of free time. The idea of adding one more item to the to-do list seems about as possible keeping the above-mentioned 3-year-old quiet through an entire service, or at least convincing him to sit in his seat rather rolling around under it.

So I shrug, sigh and go home feeling a little defeated, knowing that some day I’ll be able to do something, but it’s going to be a while.

When I arrive home, I fall into the usual Sunday afternoon routine of catching up on chores and making sure we’re ready to start the following school week.

Once those things are done, I usually steal a few minutes to answer some letters to my sponsor children. It’s not uncommon for me to have a stack of three or four letters waiting to be answered, and it’s something I love to do.

I love to hear from each of my sponsored children, and I enjoy writing back to them. It makes me happy to know that I can provide them some encouragement from so far away. Poverty tells them they are worthless, but I’m able to tell them they aren’t. They are so important that a person living in another country, whom they have never met, is willing to write to them, and send them stickers and soccer cards, and love them.

It occurs to me that I am doing something. The proof is in those letters. It’s in lines like this, from 9-year-old Roxana in Guatemala: “I put all of the pictures you sent me in a frame near my bed, that way I always pray for you and your family.”

And this, from 11-year-old Jhon in Colombia: “Thank you for your beautiful letters.”

And from 8-year-old Ritik in India: “Me and my family are thanking you from the heart that you have chosen me to support.”

From 19-year-old Favian in Guatemala: “Kerri, every time that you send letters to me, we read them with my family, and we enjoy them very much… I send a big hug to you with much love.”

I could quote endless beautiful words from these children.

So if you’re finding yourself in a busy phase of life like me, why not sponsor a child? You can make an impact right now in the life of a child living in poverty.

You don’t have to put it off because you have too much laundry, and baseball practices, and youth group activities, and whatever else is filling your life right now.

You can do something.

Just click on the following link to get started:

Annual Reports from World Vision

Cover of World Vision-Romania’s Annual Report

As a way to keep sponsors up-to-date on their sponsor children, World Vision sends out an annual report on each child.

I recently received two reports, and being fairly new to World Vision, this is my first experience with the updates. I was happy to receive these and impressed by their quality.

The reports are printed on a nice quality paper with bright colors. They include basic answers covering several topics. When opened, the paper measures about 8 by 12 inches.

But most impressive to me is the actual photograph of the child attached to the report. It’s really nice to see your child’s growth and changes over a year, and I look forward to receiving many of these reports in the future.


Cristian’s Annual Progress Report


Andrei’s Annual Report

Gift in Romania


Dragos, 13, of Romania, with his gifts.

Dragos, 13, of Romania, sent me this wonderful photo of himself with gifts he purchased using a family gift I sent to him. According to his letter, he bought: “a jacket, a tracksuit, pajamas, oil to cook, rice, beans, sneakers, t-shirts, preserves, pens and many other things.”

I think his smile in this photo is better than all of those items together!

When Invisible Children Sing


“When Invisible Children Sing,” by Chi Huang

As a fourth-year medical student in 1997, Chi Huang took a break in his training to provide medical care in two orphanages in La Paz, Bolivia. The book “When Invisible Children Sing,” details his experiences on this mission.

When Huang arrives in Bolivia, he is met by a no-nonsense nurse who puts him straight to work in the girls’ orphanage, Yasella Home for Street Girls. His first patient is a teen girl named Mercedes who cuts herself with razor blades. He discovers more than 20 razor blade scars on one arm, including a fresh cut needing treatment. The 15-year-old’s other arm is the same.

After treating Mercedes’ arm, Huang discovers the teen also has a venereal disease. This is Huang’s welcome to the world of Bolivian street children, and it’s only the beginning of his adventure.

Huang also works at a boys’ orphanage, Bururu Home for Street Boys. The word bururu is what street children say when they are cold.

Despite long hours at both orphanages, it is Huang’s desire also to treat the children living on the streets of La Paz, those who either don’t want to live in an orphanage or aren’t welcome in one. To do this, he must visit the streets late at night, when the children and many undesirable adults inhabit the city streets.

Huang shows great patience in gaining the trust of these children, though he is faced with many difficult situations. He discovers the children are always high from sniffing paint thinner, which they do to stay warm and to escape their realities. He also learns that there are certain adults who wish to clean up the streets by rounding up the street children, abusing and even killing them.

Despite these and many other obstacles, Huang is able to show Christ’s love to these children, to gain their trust, and to help some of them. Today he is the founder of the Bolivian Street Children Project.

This book is difficult to read at times because of the devastating situations in which the children live. It is well-written, and provides a very clear and touching description of these children’s realities.

For more information on the Bolivian Street Children’s Project, you can visit