God gives family new vision for their "second home"
For years, I dreamed of owning a beach house. I imagined the sound of crashing waves, sand crunching underfoot, and the cry of seagulls as the sun retreated below the horizon.
Several years ago, I found the perfect lot on which to build. It was on the fourth row –– an easy walk from the ocean –– and it overlooked a beautiful marsh. Water filled the marsh at high tide, making it a private oasis. The view was absolutely spectacular.
During the due diligence period, our dreams of an idyllic, future life near the shore were dashed. When the lot was cleared, a wetland was discovered on the desired building footprint.
I spent weeks communicating with the Army Corps of Engineers and other officials about set-back rules and wetland mitigation instead of talking to a builder about floor plans. The bottom line? The dream of a second home turned into one headache after another. I decided not to complete the purchase and the lot is still for sale three years later.
About the same time, God gave my family an opportunity to invest in another home. Friends Roger and Vicki Grossman direct the Good Shepherd Orphanage and Medical Clinic in the hills of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. They are special people who are dedicated to doing the Lord’s work.
Guatemala is inundated with poverty, alcoholism and hopelessness. Children are abandoned in the streets. International adoptions have been halted due to corruption and human trafficking concerns.
The first child to come into care at the orphanage was a precious day-old baby girl who was abandoned near a dumpster by a desperate mother. She was rescued and named “Caroline” as a nod to her many supporters here in the Carolinas. My wife Scarlett and I have supported the Grossmans’ work since the partnership with Baptist Children’s Homes began.
The Good Shepherd Orphanage reached capacity several years ago. There was scarce room for the children in care. A new cottage was needed or children would be turned away.
I visited during Easter week 2016 and felt an unmistakable tug on my heart. Walking along the land on the hill above the medical clinic, I sensed it was the place for a new cottage.
Scarlett and I prayed and knew our “second home” needed to be in Guatemala. We believed there would be time for a beach house later –– we wanted to help build a home for these children in need.
One of my greatest honors in my life was showing my dad a rendering of the planned home and letting him know we had made the lead gift. The home would be named in his honor.
Dad was nearing the end of his time on Earth. I had enjoyed five decades as his son and wanted to tell him thanks once more. His love for others will never be forgotten.
He responded in a whisper, his voice straining to be heard. But it was more powerful than the loudest of speeches I have ever heard. Looking in his eyes, we both teared. He whispered a heartfelt, “Thank you.”
I will cherish his words the rest of my life.
Because of hundreds of people who gave their time, prayers and resources, the Westmoreland Family Children’s Home is fully operational and home to a great group of children. Some of my dearest friends have been important contributors behind the scene. We are grateful for their friendship and sacrifice. And just as we are grateful, so are all the children that now have a loving, Christian home to call their own.
I’m far from perfect. I sometimes catch myself clinging to earthly things. Possessions, pride and position sometimes get in the way. But when I truly give my time, talents and treasures, I never regret it. It’s always a liberating experience.
It has been said that when we open our hands to relinquish something, it also allows God to deposit many more blessings in those hands. Some are financial, but many are even more valuable –– they are blessings that can’t be bought.
Scarlett, Ashley, Jason, and I traveled to Guatemala to visit the sweet children who live
in the new cottage and to dedicate the cottage in memory of Dad. We were overjoyed to hear the children’s laughter and see their smiles –– the sound was better than the sounds of the beach.
It was priceless!
For more information and ways to help visit www.orphanreach.org
Written by Jay Westmoreland, BCH Trustee and Supporter
#GoodShepherdHome #GuatemalaMinistry #SharingHope #ChangingLives