Monday, September 15, 2014

Honduras Visit - The Point of it all

While visiting Honduras last week, I had a flash back to when I had just moved there 10 years ago.  I remembered meeting Yulisa, a 8 year old girl, in the village of Los Pinos, a 20 minute drive, or an hour and a half hike up the mountain from the main highway.  Her town was a picturesque cluster of houses and farms high in the cloud forest.  Project Global Village (PAG), the organization I worked with for the 2.5 years I lived in Honduras, was working on building a school in Los Pinos.  PAG focuses on holistic development.  The idea of holistic development is that if a school is built, kids like Yulisa will learn best if they are healthy. This means health projects are necessary; latrines to prevent dysentery, water projects to access running water, and a community pharmacy (a small medicine cabinet with a few trained volunteers to locally distribute medicines, take blood pressure, etc). Health also depends on food– hence the agriculture and small animal projects.  In Los Pinos this means a few man made fish ponds, and some chickens and goats for milk, eggs and meat.  Besides working on the school construction, health care, and food security, the education project also includes teacher trainings and a program called Diakonos that provides pastoral training. Honduras also has a pretty unstable economy that doesn't provide enough jobs for the population so PAG also runs a large micro-credit program to help small businesses provide incomes for families.  And the list of programs goes on and on...

As I left the village, I wondered, where should the development stop?  What is the goal? Is it that the Honduran villagers live like we do in the USA? No, that would just cause a whole new crop of problems.  I realized that the goal was to help people like Yulisa and her family have access to education and a healthy standard of living. I also realized that at the end of the day, what really matters, more than all these projects, is love- God’s love.  There’s nothing more important and worthwhile.  There is no point in any of the development without the true HOPE of a better eternal future for the children of Los Pinos.  

The same thoughts crept up on our trip to Honduras last week while we were visiting a few different projects and children’s homes. At the Micah Project, a home for street boys addicted to yellow glue, the boys were memorizing 1 Corinthians 13 – the chapter about Love; ”If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrifice my body, I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Only God is true Love, and only with him, can we really love/help people that need it. That is the real reason behind the projects we do- but we can't forget that detail and get buried in the social justice aspect of projects or we will forget to point people to the source of eternal hope.

Another ministry that does an excellent job at actively loving others is Jericho Ministries, an amazing ministry that works with prostitutes on the streets of Tegucigalpa.  Jericho first started with the goal of sharing the good news of HOPE with the prostitutes on the streets and several responded to this message of hope!  This lead to the women needing employment off the streets and so Jericho began a sewing program and eventually opened a shop to sell the women's crafts. Soon they realized they needed to reach out to the women's children as well and now there is a school and rehab center/children’s home. Hearing the testimonies of the children at Jericho Ministries and seeing the countless ways that God has/is providing just what they need was refreshing to Andy and I. It was truly a blessing to visit them.

It is a miracle when you see where these kids have come from- addicted to sniffing yellow glue on the streets or children of prostitutes that have grown up being abused, and compare that to where they are today as healthy, thriving children, receiving an education. There is only one explanation for how these children are able to overcome their pasts and find joy, love and a everlasting life (heaven). 

Romans 6:23, 15:13
We just can't forget to remember that our hope is in God, not our projects or ourselves.  

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Two pictures speak volumes about God's saving power: the first, NoƩ and Edward on the streets consuming yellow glue; the second: the same boys at Pedro's wedding this weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The 5 Highs of Honduras

We spent a week in Honduras last week.  It was a GREAT trip! We are SO thankful that God gave us the opportunity to take a last minute, last trip of the summer!

The top 5s of Honduras for me were:

1) Introducing the kids to Honduras and friends.
2) Meeting missionary Betsy Hake and experiencing a ministry that is so Spirit filled and God-lead that there is no doubt that Jesus Christ is LORD and does transform peoples lives in miraculous ways!
3) Hanging out at Micah Project and seeing local Honduran youth leading in the street ministry alongside with Stephen, Micah's street outreach Missionary. (One thing I really wanted to see in Honduras while I was living there was more Honduran participation in social justice)
4)Being at Jericho and waking up to the sound of Children singing praises early in the morning.
5) Spending time with Don Chester and his Wife in the picturesque town of Santa Lucia
6) Dreaming again about our future.
Elias was excite to see the house made out of dirt... the walls at Jericho Villa are half adobe, half dirt.  They built using the materials on the land! Pretty cool!

Elias was introduced to soccer (futbol)... a useful sport for connecting with people

The outside of Jericho Villa....originally a home for x-prostitutes, but now a home for their children.

Nightly devotionals at the Villa.. Johnny was loved by all the kids there

My super boys were such a pleasure to take to Honduras! I loved introducing them to that part of my life and to all my friends there!

A living room at the Villa

I had so much fun teaching an English class to some of the girls at Jericho, they have homeschool there at the Villa and one of the older girls normally teaches English.

Courtyard with laundry drying at the villa. The girls live in the back, the classrooms are on the sides, and the living, dining room, kitchen is in the front (the part you see pictured in the big building)

Jericho's kitchen... beautiful and simple!

The outdoor/ cooking area of the kitchen

a two hour ride in the back of a pickup into the city, I was glad to take Elias and Johnny in the front, but they REALLY need a van!

The technical School at The Micah Project

Micah 1.0, the original Micah House- now used as an outreach base for the street ministry and for older street boys who are too old to live in Micah

The Micah Boys all wanted to hold Johnny, but he would scream and scream- we found the fist bump was the perfect happy medium for interacting with the boys!

View from Chet's house, overlooking Santa Lucia, a town outside Tegucigalpa

Where Andy proposed! (8 years ago :-))

 The way the bridesmades/groomsmen enter the wedding
Elias chose a "market hat" as a souvenir, and wore it to the wedding

My friend Becca moved to Honduras in 2004 around the same time as I did.  She just adopted 2 babies, I was happy to meet them and catch up with her (a bit, between diapers and feedings and naps, etc)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rice and Beans

Easter is the best day of the year.  You can't keep a good man down, the good will always win in the long-run.  This is what we all want, what we ALL NEED!!!  Lent is the 40 days that preceed Easter. It's purpose is to help prepare our hearts for this awesome truth: Jesus is overcoming our evil...we tried to get rid of Jesus, but couldn't. It was even impossible for death to keep its hold on Jesus (acts 2:24).  He is more powerful than anything, and because he beat death, he took what we deserve (death) and changes it for life with him (heaven)!!

Lent is a tradition that is not largely celebrated in my church as a whole, but can be a thoughtful practice and this year our extended family has embraced it.

My inspiring sister-in-law, Jenae, invited us over for a "Rice and Beans gathering".  She blogged about it so I don't need to!!! She is an amazing writer and so much more thoughtful than me, so I will just link to her post for most of it.  But first,  I must add a few of my own thoughts.

She had 31 people over for lunch to kick off the "lenten season" and served rice and beans... Andy and I are both thrifty and practical, so one of our favorite parts was just seeing the cost table that she made:

It shows that it only cost $13 to feed all of us!!

Here is a link to her blog... and she has written a few other great posts since then, so feel free to keep on reading!

My Easter verse for this year:

 22 “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene[a] by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. 25 King David said this about him:
‘I see that the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
26 No wonder my heart is glad,
    and my tongue shouts his praises!
    My body rests in hope.
27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead[b]
    or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.
28 You have shown me the way of life,
    and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’[c]
29 “Dear brothers, think about this!