Ron Clover is the HopeChest Partnership Leader at the Hope Reformed Church in Grand Haven, Michigan. He wrote the following blog about his experience with HopeChest and his personal transformation.
My name is Ron Clover. I’m 66 years old, and retired. I have been married for 44 years to my wonderful wife, Annette. We have 4 children and 10 grandchildren.
I want to talk about the difference that going to Guatemala has made in my life- more like, the difference God has made in my life, by sending me to Guatemala. After I had retired, I thought I knew where my life was going. I had it all planned out. My wife and I were going to travel on our motorcycle as much as possible- the kids were all gone, so that should be easy, right? Well, God decided that we were going to raise 2 of our grandchildren instead. Of course, that made the idea of travel more difficult, but having them around has been a big blessing in our lives, truly. They kept us young after our retirement!
We ran into some friends of ours who had recently went to Guatemala on a mission trip to build houses in villages and to spread the Gospel of Christ. They found out I had retired, and told me that I needed to go with them on a trip. I told them I would have to think about it, but I knew right away in my heart that God was calling me there. I said, “I’ll go- just once!” Well, now I have been on that trip 4 times. It was truly an eye-opening experience, seeing how people lived on so little, yet were so happy and grateful that we had come to help.
These trips helped me develop meaningful relationships in Guatemala. I met Katy, a very smart and kind little girl. She lost her dad when she was 6 years old, and always prayed for a father figure in her life. God has brought us together, and she is a true blessing to me.
After I went on that trip for the first time, HopeChest partnered with our church. They invited us to become HopeChest Friends to children at the Lean On Me School at the Operation Rescue CarePoint in Guatemala City. We became the HopeChest Friend of a little girl named Jackelyn. I thought that we would just sponsor her, and write letters to her. I had no thoughts of going there, as I was already going with the other team. Obviously, I was again listening to myself, not God. I didn’t go on our church’s first trip. When they said they were going again- I said “I’ll go- just once, so I can meet Jackelyn.” Well, now I’ve gone on the trip 3 times to see her.
Now, I’m the HopeChest Partnership Leader for our church. It has truly been a blessing and an honor to be able to lead teams on trips to Guatemala. God is always watching over us and protecting us. I know that everyone that goes on these trips feels blessed. One of the members of our church approached me one day, saying that he was thinking of going- I assured him that he would love it, and he agreed to go. I will never forget how happy he was when all of the children from one of the classes made cards for him. Now he is always ready to go back.
All of the children at the school are wonderful, but for some reason, I bonded right away with Keren. Keren truly loves the Lord. She is a talented artist and student. On one of our last days, we were in her class saying goodbye, when Keren’s teacher told us Keren was going to sing for us. She sang “I Will Build My Life” for us in English, and she did an incredible job. The most amazing part was, one of the American woman on the team, whose name is also Karen, was going through a tough time in her life. She had just lost her son to cancer- and the song Keren sang for us was one that Karen listened to often while her son was sick. God’s timing is amazing.
As soon as I met the children and teachers there, I fell in love with them. Every time I go there, I find that the more I give, the more I get back- and the more blessed I am. God has truly blessed me in my life, and I feel closer to him on these trips that I think I ever have at any other time in my life.
Going there has taught me to listen more to God’s voice than mine.