Happy THANKsgiving!

Dear Friends & Family,

As the season of Holidays approaches we hope you are all finding joy in all the awesome ways GOD moves and reminds of His love for us, especially with Christmas! They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Ecuador…but we will, and Juan Manuel is very much looking forward to the feast! : )

 We have been enjoying a brief break from surgeries since our last update as Janely has continued to show stability with her new valve, yay GOD! We go to physical therapy weekly and try to do as much as we can too at home. Janely has learned to move both her arms and at times she is able to make them touch a specific target (our faces : ). Last week though, the cold season caught up with us and we ended up spending 8 days in the hospital as Janely fought a nasty virus that had her in a lot of pain. IMG_1005We are happy to say now that very difficult time is over, she is recuperated and we were blessed with some really caring and attentive nurses that made all the difference.

During this time we have also followed up on other concerns some of Janely’s doctors have had and recently found out that her left hip is displaced…meaning it is growing out of the socket. Because it was not caught before she was 6 months old, it is too late to correct with a brace or other methods. We are being told that she must have surgery to correct it and that even though they do not know if she will walk or not one day we certainly want to give her the chance…plus if it is not corrected it will result in less and less mobility and more pain for her even for the simple things of changing her diaper. It looks like we will move forward but likely not be able to get in for surgery until January. This is sad news for us just because of the thought of her going through more pain and hospital stays; however, IMG-20140722-WA0020 grateful that it is caught now so the surgery will be less invasive and Janely will at least have the chance to walk and avoid more pain. Please pray that the cost for her surgery will be approved by the orphanage and all will go smooth in that regard.

Over these months of caring for Janely, it became very clear early on that she wouldn’t survive in the jungle and has no living relatives able to care for her. So Juan Manuel and I dove into very, very deep discussions about all the realities of Janely and what our life would look like if we were to adopt her. We prayed…and prayed some more. Sought counsel. And now we’ve decided to move forward with adoption! We are excited – we want Janely to be officially our daughter and we love her so very much! Yet, there are many challenges – some from the government and laws here that could cause us to be shut down and some from our own situation that makes it a little scary (just to be completely honest). We know Janely’s life (without a miraculous intervention from GOD) will continue to be filled with lots of intensive medical care and treatment that will likely be a large financial burden…of which we are not set up for now or prepared for. Our biggest reason for deciding “yes” despite just how unbelievably cute she is and how much we so enjoy her…is really when we continued to come to the verse that says “Whoever losses their life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). To us, in this situation, it is saying…forget about your dreams of financial security and being debt free, forget about buying a home, having kids, etc…put Janely first in my name and you will find your life…joy, freedom, and surrender to me, Jesus Christ your Savior. So here we go : ) We are asking GOD to move and to make His will clear as we embark on this journey that though there are scary and overwhelming moments…we are choosing to trust Him and watch Him show Himself in a mighty way!

GOD has been gracious enough to let me continue to do counseling through the counseling ministry. GOD has brought even a few new clients over the past 2 months. I just enjoy it so much and it always pays back by reminding and encourging me to follow Him more too! If you would, please join me in praying for the women I am counseling and specifically for their struggles of shame, worthlessness and trauma and that GOD would use me as a vessel to bring freedom and help them step into the light…His light! One last thing here, I have had to turn some clients down or have not been able to see them as frequently as would be best because I have been unable to find more babysitting. Please also join me in praying that GOD would send help if it His will for me to do more…thank you!

About a month ago we had a new crew of volunteers come to the orphanage (Hogar Para Sus Ninos), from the US and England. It has been an awesome mix of ages and cultures and GOD has allowed me to facilitate a Bible study with all 8 of them through some of Bill Hybels work. I am always impressed at their bravery to come visit another country and just jump right in. So exciting to get to be a little part of their journey. A few just went home but there are still a large handful here that I plan to continue doing Bible Study and growth time with. They’ve already been so open about how they are seeking GOD and where they need help. Please join me in praying for all these young men and women, their relationships and intimacy with GOD to grow deeper, and for GOD to speak big into their lives during their time in Ecuador as many of them go home to a lot of uncertainty about their future.

Lastly, GOD has opened up some very exciting opportunities lately. One I want to share with you is the possibility of being on the Board of Directors of an organization called “Dunamis Ecuador.” Dunamis is a ministry that helps very young women who have been sex trafficked, abused, labor trafficked and/or raped, by providing workshops to teach them life skills and ways to earn money in a healthy way. Dunamis has been growing a lot lately and their goal one day is to actually have a home where they could also offer these women refuge. I received a call a last week when the request was presented so I am praying about this opportunity and excited at the idea of getting to be any kind of help towards these women’s safety, recovery, and coming to know Jesus. I will attend the next board meeting this week and keep you all updated as the next steps come and GOD makes His will clear.

Juan Manuel continues to enjoy his work and learn more balance and joy in the midst of a high-pressure setting. He completed all his physical therapy a while ago for the rehabilitation of his knee but still continues to feel that same pinching pain occasionally and is not quite able to return to soccer yet. We are hoping and praying maybe there is still more healing going on and he doesn’t have to face another surgery. He is so amazing with helping me in everything from Spanish to changing Janely’s diapers and caring for her in everyway…especially during that 8 day hospital stay. So blessed to be beside him and be the team GOD made us to be.

As I close, if I could ask that if any of you have experience with some of the things we are facing with Janely or know of any doctors or Neurosurgeons that might be willing to consult with us….we would sure love to hear from you and/or any advice you have?

We send you all very big hugs for your continued and faithful support of us and what GOD has called us to do! We so appreciate your prayers for the adoption, Janely’s health, GOD’s guidance in all the ministries we are involved in and just wisdom and peace as we walk this beautiful journey. Thank you for taking the time to read and catch up with us! Always love hearing from each and every one of you and what GOD is doing in your lives! Have a very Happy Thanksgiving Day on the selected day to thank our Lord for all He does for us!

Your Partners in Christ,

Juan Manuel, Shawna, & Janely

2 thoughts on “Happy THANKsgiving!

  1. Hey Shawna!

    GOOD to read about all your adventures in Christ, MY GOODNESS. YES, a life that is fully willing and able to just give up “comforts” for assisting others is what Jesus wants us to do. “Love one another”…you have truly done this with Junely. I believe God will protect you from any legal entanglements too, as the enemy tries to thwart us…I miss you a lot; you are truly a saint, marching forward, in His grace. Just keep singing praise songs, and the enemy will see he’s wasting his time with your family!!! God continue to bless you!

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