Sunday, November 27, 2016

The ABCs of Advent - The First Sunday of Advent

In 2007 (the year my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor), I took some time away from the ministry in the early fall and was encouraged to prepare something for our families within the church and beyond to use during the season of Advent.  While life had been such a whirlwind that year, it was a simple time to write about simple things that have such great impact.  I shared the idea to the children within the ministry, had them draw a few things, and then spent hours and hours in front of a computer and with the copy/print company to produce something by the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Out of that effort, with God's grace and blessing, much prayer and continual editing came A is for Advent, an Advent devotional for families.  It was tool and resource for studying God's word, reflecting on His plan for mankind, and practicing the simple ABCs throughout the upcoming 4 weeks as we look towards Christmas Day.
Each year, since we've had children, we use this devotional for our family and enjoy the conversations that grow from it, year to year.  We always love to share what we're learning, and hope you find encouragement from this too.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Friday, the end of a good week

Last year God's calling was piercingly distinct. I remember climbing up the mountain several different days and meeting with Him as I never had before. I was anxious to get back up the mountain, but we had been told it was some dangerous to climb without the missionary as our guide, so we had to wait until this morning to subir. 
Naturally, we were up by 5 am along with the rest of the city so we began the ascent. At the top, I was reminded why this place was so wonderful. 

It's like from a magazine. So peaceful, fulfilling, and promising. 
No way can I doubt the Lord's presence, protection, and provision with us this week. Though, if I'm honest, I must admit the feeling of "hanging on" almost as if we were waiting for a big BANG to go off and God to speak loudly again and give us direct orders. But, as far as we can tell, that didn't happen. 
We both are in love with the people and the country, see the extreme need in that place and want to be there, especially with those we have become closest with over the last days. But we just aren't quite sure how. 
Now that the anticipation of our trip has come and gone, now we begin to pray for the other side of that coin just as hard: when do we go back and for how long?!

It's rather difficult to put it all into words now, and we know that trusting God with the plans he has for our family there is where our hearts want to be. 

Our team is headed back with wheels already up for a few. It's been a week of lots of everything and we look forward to sharing more personally how God intervened and put us in places to teach us great things and how to bring HOPE!
Honduras 2016


In our final day of ministry we were left with a few things to accomplish. We've been up since 6 am and it's now 11:21 pm. We will be up by 530 tmrw morning and get home sometimes by midnight. The next 48 hours will be exhausting, no doubt. 

We began the morning by sorting out a few of our onesies for the babies, then we hopped in the truck and headed for day center 2. This was the first feeding center we went to last year and somehow there is just a sense of belonging there. There were about 22 children there (only one of which attended last year) and of course, one that I immediately attached to. Her name is Jasmine and she was incredibly shy. All of the other students sat around 3 different tables but she sat alone in the corner. She had such a sweet smile, once she finally warmed up. There wasn't nearly enough time spent there. 

Just outside of the center was this scene of the neighborhood. 
At the top of that hill was a man carrying a 50" Sony tv. Quite the photo opp. 

After the center, we headed to the hospital (after making a pit stop at the gas station and the grocery store). Fourth floor maternity ward. It just isn't the same as it is in the states. This is one out of 9 hospitals in the city and the only one that's a teaching hospital. Any procedure, whether it's back surgery, labor of a baby, or heart surgery, you only pay $5 for it. It is said that it's the hospital you go to when you want to die. 15,000 babies are born annually at this hospital alone (about 66/day) and about 20% of the mothers are between 13-19 yrs old. Those are some wild statistics!  They have a separate room for those young teenagers (minors). I went into that room and dressed a baby whose mother was 14 yrs old. Another 16 yr old little girl was caring for her second child. Weakly, depressing. 

We served over 70 babies that had literally been born in the last 24 hours. I held one baby who was only 10 hours old. 
We gifted them blankets (that we sewed and when I hurt my finger), diapers and wipes (that were purchased thanks to many of our supporters), and onesies that our Tirzah folks had brought. We entered into each room where there were anywhere from 2-6 women. In some rooms, the woman had lost their babies. Others were in so much pain for their c-section and had no access to medication. We saw their children, gave them gifts and prayed for them. We even were able to change some of thief babies. 

Coloring with ladies at the house who had come for a ladies afternoon. We had the chance to take some awesome new adult coloring books to "color God's Creation" from my dear friend Caroline Simas. Thanks to other friends Kasey and Robin we were able to take these for the women in the jail and for these neighbors to fellowship together. 
This is Cynthia. She joined us for our day, but she's also the new proud owner of the home that we dedicated on Saturday. The neatest thing about her: she has two daughters, Raquel and Grecia, that are practically the same ages of M and L and BOTH were born premature just like my girls. We had an instant connection of love!

Homeless feeding night was upon us. This is probably the most difficult ministry to be a part of. While someone else prepares the food, we help serve it to some do the most poorest in the streets. They are prostitutes, drug addicts and families who have nothing. This ministry is a hard one to swallow, and to reflect upon. Just a few photos to give you an idea:

Jeremy had an instant connection with Samuel while I was in the cab with Sammy's younger sister, Brittany who was also in the same position. It was a late night-we didn't get home until 11 pm!!
Tomorrow is our departure. We anxiously await seeing the girls but know it will be hard to leave. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016


I hate I wasn't able to post any sooner. It had been quite a day so we were all in bed before 9 pm!
We were able to go back to the jail again in the morning to visit with the girls. They weren't exactly full open arms when we walked in and it seemed a little more difficult to warm up to them. However, I was able to see their living quarters for the first time. Basically three girls share a cell with bunk beds. They put their stuff on the top bunk and sleep in the bottom. Most night, then three girls sleep together on the same mattress simply out of fear and need the comfort of a snuggle. These cells are locked from 12-2 pm, 4pm-8am. So they are only out from 8-12 and 2-4. Their toilets have been cemented in because the girls would continuously break them. Their showers are outside.  They have their own clothes brought in from their family. In some aspects their living situation doesn't seem "too bad" but if I wer to tell you that between the 28 girls living they're, 4 of the 7 known gangs are represented. And they don't typically all get along. The other girls have committed a murder of some kind. Some have been there for several years, others just a month. One girl was expecting the court to come and pick her up at 10, but never arrived. They would have determined her sentence or would have let her free. This was the girl I had an opportunity to pray for (I acted as translator) along with Anna, another one of the Canadian missionaries. 

I wasn't feeling well after our time the and knew I needed some sugar and food. So we got home and arena wonderful lunch. Then headed straight to the porch sew 30 more blankets for our hospital trip. As we began, I knew I had about 5 or 6 under my belt and was talking with the girl beside me doing the same thing. All of the sudden I realized my left pointer finger was moving up and down with the machine and then I felt a sharp stingy and throbbing pain and looked down to see that the sewing machine needle had gone entirely through my nail and out the back side of my fingertip. So naturally, I FREAKED!! I instinctively pulled it away from the machine ?i was still attached by the thread and needle) and I snapped the tip of the needle off. 
You see the top of that missing needle? Yeah, that's what was in me!  Already not feeling too strong, having the pain and bit of blood.....THEN reading what finger it was. I was hysterical and was on the verge of passing out or getting real sick so I slumped into the chair and fell out onto the ground so if already be there when it did happen. Thankfully it didn't but my pressure was incredibly low and I didn't have color for most of the afternoon. 
All bandages up now!
And now looking back after several hours and a good rest, it does feel much better, though still in pain. 

For the evening we traveled back to the Centeal church for worship, prayer and Bible study. I had been prepped so I wasn't completely wacky, but I was to be the "preacher" for the evening. I knew I wanted to share from Ephesians 3:2021, so I took my thoughts and began to write them down through the week. Then translated them into Spanish and with the Spirit prompting words spoke for about 15 minutes on that. All in Spanish. (Thinking about that praxis test I took...Give me Jesus to talk about and I do fine. Give me "saving the whales" and I bomb it!) but anyway, it was so encouraging to be there, in that place, and to share encouragement with those believers. That indeed, God is going to do much more than we could ever ask or imagine! 
The skirts Shelby and I made (she had to finish mine) with fabric she found in the fabric store here in Honduras). 
Praying for the congregation at central church. 

We are looking forward to our last full day of ministry on Thirsday, which will include a visit to the hospital, some cultural engagement and feeding on the streets later tonight. 
I personally have spent a lot of time praying and thinking about this city and these people and something isn't sitting quite well. The question that seems to be repeated over and over again is "God, you called us here, and we want to be here, but what are we here for?" I have always given the answer "to bring HOPE" but there's something greater and deeper that I just can't put my finger on. J is of course in love as I knew he would be, but where are we going from here? That's what we will continue praying for most, and that through it, God would be glorified. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


¡Gracias a Dios! Today has been an incredibly long day, but was more of an exploratory trip of sorts. The truck took about 14 people to "the village" of New Armenian to see the 4th church of Manos Extendidas. This totally wasn't what I would have imagined and I am thankful for your prayers of safety on our behalf. 

We left around 830 and began the long, curvy, mountainous ride. That was about half the trip. Then we approached the Rocky Mountain and started the trip. It was over an hour of bump. I literally thought I had been displaced to the Grand Canyon. The site was THAT Rocky. 

There were stray goats, cows and horses all along the way. Several donkeys kept us from going a couple of times. 
Our first stop was the church under construction. The ministry owns about 3 acres on the top of this mountain in the village and they are under construction now to finish the church within the next month. 

This church has about 70-80 members and now they are just worshipping in homes. The pastor (at the open door on the left with the hat) and his son, Terrance (in the far back with hat on doing work) have been working tirelessly along with a team of five men from Texas last month to build this. The next plan is to build a home for 5-7 young men that would be able to care for this land, learn trades, and harvest the land for sale in town. That building would go here past those trees. 
And the crops would be harvested here
While it looks like a bunch of dry woods-well it is. But with visions that always come to pass, I am confidant that in the next year we will see this happen. The boys living on this property would be men that have been released from the juvenile jail and need a place to recapture what it's like to be in society as well as a safe place for them to be (rather than back on the streets with the gangs). 

After we left the church we went to Cindy 
And Terrence's house for lunch. We had packed sandwiches but the other folks with us didn't have anything. So, Bessy just started making tortillas and Cindy started the wood stove. This house was so incredibly humble. No more than 300 square feet, three rooms and two beds for four people. No electricity and no running water. Chickens for eggs and meat, mango trees in the fields and a breathtaking landscape. I felt like I was in the 1700s in the desert!

J and Carlos picking mangos to bag and bring into the city to sell. 
The view in their front yard. 

Of course I got some time with the kiddos. 
The view from our ride down the mountain. 

This is Brittany. I met her last year anxi was so glad to have her on our trip today. She reminds me of a great mix of Miriam and Lydia and she latches on immediately. She's actually Bessie's little sister, but knows her as her mother and she treats her as her daughter. 
I LOVE this family, Carlos, Bessie and Brittany. Their stories are seriously unbelievable, and their Love for others is so grand. 
So I would ask your prayers for them:
- continued provisions for their family (and the other 4 folks living in their tiny 1 room home in the city)
- for Bessie as she's taking classes in nursing school
- health for Carlos as he serves as a right hand man and works with Alvin and the ministry
- for Bessie as she has probably the biggest desire I've ever seen to have a child biologically
- for Brittany as she grows, that she would better understand why she is with Bessie

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Mornings in Honduras help me fully unwrap how Gid desires his people to live. Praising Him for the beautiful landscape before us, fellowship with believers, and prayers in abundance. Today was no less. 
Our devotion in preparation for today was encouragement from Psalm 96-the psalm that we have used for preparing our own hearts for this week of ministry. May we always boldly proclaim "the Lord reigns" and declare his glory and marvelous works among all the peoples (Psalm 96:3)

Today, the guys spilt from the women. They went back to the house from Saturday to work on putting its walls up. Jeremy is totally in his element! This house built with all of the materials costs about $1500 and the land was about $1500 (but she has owned it for quite some time). They put the walls up, and watched the men construct the toilet, just like that. 

I went with the other women to the prison for the teenage girls and was reintroduced to a few familiar faces, Brenda and Nicole (who both speak English) and a few other girls. What they are doing now at the prison is holding academic classes and focusing on special trades. For the month of May they are doing Beauty school and paint/design. So upon our arrival, the girls welcomed us and painted our fingernails. I was able to walk around and chat some with the girls, though they seemed hesitant to respond. After connecting with one, they ended up fixing my hair too! 
What happens is these girls are in the jail for all sorts of reasons (13-18yrs) and they have been members of different gangs. Once they arrive in the jail, there are still barrier walls in between the different gangs and the girls still carry a bit of hatred toward one another. It's quite a weight to carry, but you can tell by their looks at one another and their body language. I wish I could show this to you, but it is strictly forbidden to take any kind of personal belongings into the courtyard. But it's visions that stick with you for sure. 

While the guys were still out, the ladies had a few hours of rest. I was able to pass most of the time on the swing on the porch overlooking the mountainside. I am preparing to "preach" at one of he churches in Wednesday evening for their devices. All of the men in our group have done this so far, and the women were asked to help. So I was chosen and encouraged to do so IN SPANISH!!!! So the afternoon was helpful in setting aside time to prepare a bit. I'll be focusing on the early chapters in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, sharing the encouragement we have as believers, and charging us to pray boldly and hold fast to the expectation of God's provisions. In all things, that God would be glorified. 
Top five for can pray for:
- the girls in the prison, and for their love for each other to grow
- the woman who will have a house by the end of the week
- continued unity among our group and those also here at the house
- safety while we travel, especially on our 2-3 hr road trip to the village tmrw (on the rocky winding roads)
- our little girls at home that we haven't had much of a chance to chat with, and we do miss them

Monday, May 9, 2016


Naturally, on the Lord's day we worship-wherever we are. So, we went to Central Church of the mission organization today. It's the church that was started by Alvin about 16 years ago. It has a BEAUTIFULLY view of part of the city, but the driveway is quite wild to get to the building. 
Services start at 930, and the praise and worship lasts about 45 minutes and is NOT timid. They always have sweet girls at the front dancing interpretively to the music. Some of the songs were even familiar to us, but obviously by in our native language so it can be a little frustrating to sing along. 
 Being Mother's Day, it was quite a celebration. Special songs, special sermon, and special food. It was wonderful to be back with this congregation again and to be encouraged by Pastor Andy's sermon. 
After the device, some of the men grabbed a barrel of the soup food and rolled it down the hill. It's a good thing there was a man to catch it on the other side or it would have rolled fast and far!
As was our plan last year, we stopped at the Chinese restaurant and ate a montón de comida. It's sort of more culture shock seeing the Asians in that restaurant in Honduras than it is to actually be in Honduras. 
We had a moment to rest after lunch and entertained some guests of Alvin: Blast and Gloria blast is from Costa rice and his wife is a lawyer here in Honduras. We had an opportunity to learn about how long it would take and how much work it would be to become residents of Honduras (:)). Blast rides bikes in the Coyotes riding group (like a Harley club) and is also a big runner. So we had a lot to talk about!

Around 4 pm, about an hour after we were supposed to leave, we traveled to church at Feeding center One. On the way to the hillside (one of five sections of the city, this is the poorest) you pass by Potters Field-where the poorest of the poor are buried....or even dumped in a body bag. The cost for a funeral for the lower class costs about $300 and many folks don't want to pay that so they just dump them and hope they are eventually covered up by the land.  We snapped a photo of a family putting flowers on a grave, probably in memory of Mothers Day. 
After a super bumpy and rocky ride, we arrived at church about an hour late. This is where, last year, I met the woman who was addicted to pain pills. And of course, she was there, sitting in front of us, kneeled just as before. I did not have a chance to talk with her this time, because there was a lot going on in the church!
But on another note, the service was wildly about Mother's Day. 
As you can see the church was crazy decorated. 
The young girls did a dance in honor of the moms and Alan preached for us all. Throughout the entire service there were gifts and blessings and recognition for the mothers. I've never seen so much celebration!

After the sermon, Alvin invited Barbara and I to pray for the mothers and the ladies. We surrounded them and asked for the Lord's blessing to be on their lives. Such a neat and powerful moment for us all. 
We were gifted with dulce-cake-and celebrated and visited with some familiar faces and some sweet young children. 
Here is Andrea, Kayla and Fernanda (left to right). 
And here is Silva, the past teacher from Feeding Center two who we met last year. 

To finish off the evening, we returned home around 8 pm and had the best meal-the one I could eat every day....pupusas and plátanos. I was able to help fix some in the kitchen and learn the methods. A picture will settle and hopefully I can fix these when we get back home.