Monday, November 28, 2005

A Little Picture Happy

Ok so I went a little bit picture crazy today. Hadn't taken many lately. So here's an overload with a brief description cause I'm pooped tonight. We unloaded tile today by the truckloads literally. Seeing as how the first truck broke down and we had to make a couple trips. Poor Joe had a true, welcome to Honduras day. We fell in on the middle of the fiasco but it all turned out just fine. Thank You Lord. These were our little tile helpers today. Dennis and Eduardo...they loved getting to help and were so doggone cute.

You all remember me talking about the little guy Eduardo who stole my heart when we painted his house on a mountain one day. This is him. We get to be neighbors now. His family officially resides in Santa Ana now. YAY...good one God!!

This is Tim and Timateo having a meeting of the minds today. I think it went something like this. Timo muy rapido muy rapido...bring many men to help bring them from anywhere we must get finished!! :):)

This is the back entrance to the property.
Some construction pictures...the second coat of stucco looks AWESOME!!!! You can see it on this one wall. I have no idea what the rows of concrete are over the rebar but that's what that is.
Now this, this my dear friends is the tea drinking spot and the view from it. I love our back porch/deck/patio whatever you would call it. Good quiet times will be had by Jen in this place even if I have to get up at 3 am to have them. :):)

This is the roof going on. And the picture below is Karen with our Spanish teacher Rocio. We like her a bunch she's great. Patient and kind and lots of fun. I do think however if I hear her say, "oh no Espanol is facile" one more time I might rip the nose off her face. It means Spanish is easy. Makes you feel really stupid because nothing in your processor is working easy in this Spanish department. :):) We're getting better.

It was another great day to be a part of God's grand epic. May we play our roles well. More another day. For tonight buenos noches. Love and blessings.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A True "I Love Honduras" Day....

Well had a day yesterday that my heart so needed. It was a reminder of every reason that I love this country all wrapped up into one statement. I see Jesus' face here. I see Him in every child whose innocent little eyes implore your help. I see Him in mothers trying to provide for their children. I see Him in those we'd term weak and oppressed who rise up with this incredible faith in moments when you are absolutely sure you'd crumble. I see Him in stories of sweet little older lady's just weeping when a house is built for her because she'd watched TORCH teams come all summer and build houses for everyone else and she'd been the one watching and helping and today was her turn for God to show up to build her a home. What an unbelievable feeling and incredible honor to get to say to someone God wanted us to do this. Whether it's giving someone food, a ride down the mountain, or a new home feels really good to be God's ambassadors sent to do His work. I think when we really grasp the weight of the privilege it's infectious.

Let me start with Friday...(I had some sinus ick/cold thing going and was feeling pretty crummy so I stayed in but the story is worth the telling although I had to live it vicariously through friends.) The Kluge's had some family in town and wanted them to have the experience of building a home here. Karen and Jen Arnold and Joe went with them to do that. Some of you may remember me telling you the story about getting to put sandals on the little girls feet this summer in a village we went to called Nuevo Oriental. Her grandmother had taken her all the way down the mountain and cleaned her up before I gave her her new pair of shoes and put them on her precious little feet. I just adored her grandma. She kept kissing my cheek and hugging me and our hearts just connected on the mountain that day. Well Jen and Karen got back and were talking about this older lady they had built a house for today and something in my heart knew it was this lady. She kept saying something to me this summer and I couldn't really understand what she was saying but I know it had to do with needing something. She wasn't begging or tugging on us as some of them do but I remember that day standing beside her as someone was taking our picture and she was as close to me as she could get I remember whispering a prayer that God would provide whatever it was that this sweet lady needed. I'm sure there were hundreds of other people through this summer who met this lady and did the same thing. She had watched so many other houses in her village go up this summer and they were always for someone else. She wasn't chosen. Then today, this Friday, a group of people show up for her. To build her a house that will keep her dry from the rain and out of the wind, with a wood floor that will help keep her from sleeping with the bugs, that she can decorate and call her very own. They said she just cried and cried when it was all finished.

Made me think about that profound moment that you realize with this awe inspiring awareness that you are chosen. That this Jesus thing isn't for everyone around you to enjoy and find peace in. It's for you. You with all your flaws and inconsistencies. You with this deep hole in your heart that you are so hoping something will fill. are chosen to be the object of God's affection.

Then yesterday our friend Katie was coming in from a little weekend trip to Roatan and needed a ride home from the airport and so we were headed down the mountain and on the way we saw this little guy with his hitchiker thumb in the air. (Now let me preface this by saying that we do not pick up hitchhiker's here for any of you who by now are thinking oh dear please tell me they are not putting themselves in danger....WE'RE NOT) but he looked to be about 6 years old and I felt that nudge you know that one that says you'd regret it if you didn't go back and do what you knew you needed to do. So ole "Grace", the name we have lovingly selected for our van, turned around in the nearest spot and went back to get this little guy. When we went back there was not one now but two. His little brother was with him who looked like he was maybe 4. Oh they were CUTE as could be. So we motioned for them to get into the car and asked where they were going and they said "abajo" which means they wanted to go down the mountain. They sat in the back seat of the fan all huddled up together like they were scared to death of these gringa's who had given them a ride. Karen and Jen started talking to them and the little one got so tickled at Karen's spanish and just started cracking up and it was the sweetest sound. We laughed most of the way down the mountain and when we dropped them off they kept saying over and over, gracias gracias. Sweet moment #1.

Then we needed to go to the Mailboxes Etc. in town and grabbed Wendy's before that for lunch. Sitting outside before we went in was this grandmother and her grandson sitting on the steps selling handtowels. They looked like the kind you get at Dollar General for a buck. So we bought her handtowels and got the privilege of buying a Combo #1 BIGGIE SIZE and a Kids Meal with the cool toy to take outside to them for lunch. I took it out and the grandma just kept putting her hand on my cheek and with tears in her eyes was saying oh Dios Dios Dios le bendiga le bendiga. Which means God bless you. I sat there for a minute and talked with her in my limited Spanish and we got out the fact that her name is Lola, that God loved her, and that she was thankful. More than enough for one precious conversation.

It was an I love this place day truly. Probably mostly because I was reminded today of the humbling purpose God has in us being here. To be His ambassadors in this world who go out with servant hearts looking for ways to make Him recognizable to the world. And my heart says ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!! :)

Be blessed as you are a blessing!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Almost There...

Well here we are exactly 16 days from the Grand Opening of Casa de Esperanza this house where God's hope will be given away. Seems pretty fitting that I'm writing this on Thanksgiving Day when it's one of the things in my life I am most thankful for. The privilege and opportunity to be a part of something so near God's heart...oppressed children. If there was anything that Christ stopped dead in the middle of His purposed tracks for it was kiddo's or the hurting and oppressed. Feels like an honor to take care of two things He certainly would have taken the time to tend to.

Thanksgiving Day en Espanol is called dia de accion gracious. The day of the action of thanks. They don't celebrate the holiday here but they are aware that we do and that's what they refer to it as. I so pray that is how today has been for you. A day where you have been in the act of thanks. In our humanness it's hard to live there some days isn't it?? Satan would like nothing more than for us to forget about all the things we have to be thankful for. Thanksgiving or any other day we each have quite a list if we take the time to think about it.

So here are is my top ten list for this year...probably more for my benefit of thinking through them than yours to read but humor me.

1) I have the precious privilege of being God's daughter. One He looks at with love and watches with grace. Whatever else may happen in the course of a day I get to pillow my head each night in full assurance that He loves me.
2) I know now without a shadow of a doubt what it means to be a valued part of God's family. I know what it's like to belong to Christ's body, to share with them grow with them and learn how to love Christ more with them.
3) I have a family who misses me and saves me a spot at their table even though I'm hundreds of miles away. A spot no one else will be able to fill that will be mine forever. An irreplaceable place.
4) I have two beautiful nephews and one precious neice who run to the phone when I call because they want to talk to Aunt Jen. They love me and it's for no other reason than my simply being me. They allow me the privilege of one of my favorite jobs in the whole world...being an aunt.
5) I have been blessed with the best friends this world has to offer. They challenge me as much as they comfort me. They speak the truth in love even when it's not easy. They protect my heart with more fierceness than even I do. Most of all they help me be who God has asked me to be and as flawed as I am, they never stop believing in me.
6) I get to be a part of a ministry that God had planned for my life even before I was born. One that not only uses the gifts God has given me but one that allows me the opportunity to stretch, grow, and become more like His Son.
7) Christ loves me and because He does, He honors every prayer I've prayed asking him to make me better for Him. So he allows me to endure things that will grow my character and produce perserverance patience and trust.
8) In 16 days we'll throw open doors we've prayed so long and worked so hard to get to. Soon after that there will be little brown eyed beauties who call this place home. Not long after that we'll kneel down beside their beds and say prayers of thanks that He has brought us all home.
9) I get the humbling gift of having in my life a spiritual mentor who is patient and kind and who has been a HUGE influence in my spiritual life. I get to watch a sold out faith and a live above life and all the lessons that come with it.
10) Every morning since I've been here I have opened my email to a prayer for my life and my heart from one of my dearest friends and it has been such a symbol of how faithful my prayer warrior people in my life are and how honored I am to know them. Makes you feel so loved to be prayed for fervently.

So there's my list for this dia de accion gracious and the things I am most thankful for at this point in my life. The list could have gone on. I am for sure one blessed girl.

I'll close this post for today with a question for anyone out there who may be in a position to help us complete this construction for the children's home. Would any of you like to make a donation, or konw someone who would, in memory or honor of someone who would have loved to help rescue children? It is certainly a cause worthy of our investment. We need $20,000 to complete construction, furnishings, and have a bit of a cushion to feed and clothe our kids for the first few months? We still very much need your help. We're trusting God to come through but He still uses people to do His work. Our clay feet and flawed hands, pretty amazing the responsibility He gives us isn't it?


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

My Hearts Prayer Through Anothers Words...

This was taken from a neat little book on praise that my dear friend Donna gave me before I left to come to Honduras. It so resonates with my hearts desperate prayer to give this life to Him. Hope it touches your heart today as well.

Lord, I'm Yours. Whatever the cost may be, may Your will be done in my life. I realize I'm not here on earth to do my own thing, or to seek my own fulfillment or my own glory. I'm not here to indulge my desires, to increase my possessions, to impress people, to be popular, to prove I'm somebody important, or to promote myself. I'm not even here to be relevant or successful by human standards. I'm here to please You.

I offer myself to You, for You are worthy. All that I am or hope to be, I owe to You. I'm Yours by creation, and every day I receive from You life and breath and all things. And I'm Yours because You bought me, and the price You paid was the precious blood of Christ. You alone, the Triune God, are worthy to be my Lord and Master. I yield to You, my gracious and glorious heavenly Father; to the Lord Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for me; to the Holy Spirit and His gracious influence and empowering.

All that I am and all that I have I give to You.

I give You any rebellion in me, which resists doing Your will. I give You my pride and self-dependence, which tell me I can do Your will in my own power if I try hard enough. I give You my fears, which tell me I'll never be able to do Your will in some areas of my life. I consent to let You energize create within me, moment by moment, both the desire and the power to do Your will.

I give You my body and each of its entire inner being: my mind, my emotional life, my loved marriage or my hopes for abilities and strengths and status (high or low) past, my present, and my future...when and how I'll go Home.

I'm here to love You, to obey You, to glorify You. O my Beloved, may I be a joy to You!

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Captured Heart

We took a few days off of internet world, but we're back again now so hola amigos...

Today just want to share with you a lesson that has completely altered my walk with God. It's made my relationship with Him seem so much more like a love relationship as opposed to a stern, stiff, distant superior/inferior, point His finger, watch with eagles eye for my mistakes, want to send me to hell sort of bound obligatory relationship. I love Him now because I want to because I can't help it, because He pursues my heart and draws it near.

Over the past few years God has been relentless in showing me how much He loves me. He's done it in dozens of different ways, but one of the most precious ways He has revealed Himself to me is by allowing me the privilege of being an "apprentice of faith." He has allowed me to be a "Timothy" and provided a "Paul" to help grow me up in the Lord. It has been an undeserved blessing.

One of the most compelling messages she shares and one she has chosen to build her life and a ministry around is the idea of a captured heart. Not just that my heart has been captured by a God that would look down see my hopelessness, helplenessness and complete unworthiness and send His Son to take care of all my hope, help, and worth. Not just that I am forever captured at heart by a God who would hunt me down and relentlessly love me into His arms. Not only that my heart would have no choice but to be held captive to a love that compares to no other and has the potential to fill every single empty place within my heart. As if that were not enough, add to it this beautiful idea that this life, this heart, this girl has captured the heart of Almighty God. That we have captured HIS heart. That his entire heart is wrapped up in loving us. That He would not only be a God who is just and righteous and perfectly holy, but that He would be a God who delights in us, rejoices over us with singing, calls us the apple of His eye. We have captured His heart. What an awesome thought.

As I have started framing my life and my heart around that thought it has made all the difference in how I view my relationship with Him. I don't come needing to earn His love, I have it. I don't have to do all the right things or be all right, I simply come just as I am and admit that I love and need Him again today and He wraps me up in His love and leads me through.

If I've learned this lesson anywhere I've learned it from a life that I've watched live it. I will cheerlead for this ministry for the rest of my days because it is as genuine behind the scenes as it is in front of hundreds of eyeballs. She didn't come to this conclusion easily either I know, but through a multitude of lessons and hundreds of hours of sitting at the feet of Jesus. She is absolutely committed to believing and helping others believe they have captured the heart of God. It really does change the way you think.

I have been so blessed both by hearing and watching all this in action. I leave you with a link to the website that was recently begun by a lady I so admire based upon this concept. As much as I am convinced of anything I know that I know that her words and her heart will bless you beyond my ability to say so. Check it out.

Be blessed!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Update from Santa Ana

Well so many things are happening on the's one such renovation behind the clinic. This was tiled this week and looks GREAT!! It's sort of a back patio for the clinic. They also put new steps in and there's a tree in the center which makes it look so quaint and cute. It is very nice.

The rest of the pictures are of the children's home and progress there. It's looking good!

More stories to share with you from today but need some time to articulate the lessons I learned well. Will post again soon. Enjoy the pictures.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Modern Day Starfish Reminder

Well most of you well know that for a while now the story of the little boy and the starfish has been one of my favorites. I'm certain you all have heard it and know it well, but on the off chance that you haven't I'll share a shortened version on here so you get the point.

Little boy was walking along a beach one day and every few feet he would stop, bend over and stoop to pick up something, then would throw it out deep into the ocean. An older man was standing some distance away and he kept watching this little guy wondering what in the world he was doing. He couldn't figure it out and so he got closer to him to see more clearly and when he still couldn't figure out what was going on he approached him and said, "hey little man, what are you doing?" To which the little boy responded, "well sir see all these starfish, my daddy told me that when starfish get washed up on the shore and are out of the water if they don't get back to the water they'll die, so I'm throwing them back into the water." The older gentleman stood there for a minute and said, "Oh buddy, there are millions and millions of starfish and miles and miles of beach, you can't possibly make a difference." The little boy bent over, picked up another starfish, threw it back into the water and said, "well sir, I made a difference to that one."

For years now I've read journal entries and seen pictures from one of my dear friends who has been coming to Honduras for the past 8 or 9 years I guess. It was her journal that first started my interest in ever coming to this country and it was her pictures shared through tears and the entries that she wrote with such moving stories that touched my heart. It was a gift she offered me to allow me to read what God did in her heart while she was here. Several years after reading that first summer's journal after I had met her in Fanning Hall at Lipscomb, I'm living in this country that I watched her so love.

Today one of the neatest things happened. The family that she and her husband have been very heart attached to since they started coming had a major event take place today. Let me back up. Judy and Brett every summer pack boxes of goodies to bring to this family that they've grown to love. They call them "their Honduras family." It's a mother and three sons. Carlos, Eduardo, Saul, and Daisy. They're a sweet little family. It just so happens that it's the same family that when I was down here last summer, we got to paint the house on the hill that you all heard me talk about. The village that they live in though has gotten very dangerous. There is a lot of gang activity and just violent stuff happening up there and her sons are getting older and becoming involved in some things they shouldn't have any part of. So this summer when Brett and Judy were here they offered to out of pocket pay for this family to move to another neighborhood where they would be safe and cared for. It didn't work out this summer and if you read my posts from then you would have read some about Eduardo and a petition of prayer for he and his family. It wasn't God's timing.

Today Karen and I were in town at Mailboxes Etc. checking our mail and I see this trail of little Hondurans behind the van. I glanced in my rearview mirror and I see this family that we have all been praying for walking along behind the van. I yell at Eduardo, he comes running up to the van, I get to hug his little neck and I went down to speak to his mom. They were on the way to the lawyer's office to sign the papers to move into one of the duplexes at Santa Ana because one of the families had backed out that was supposed to move in there. I get to live near my buddy God kind or what???!!!!

Here's the deal...often you come to this country and find yourself overwhelmed at the impossibility of making a difference to so many people in such desperate need. I can assure you when my friends got on the plane this summer they were disappointed in not being able to move this family into a safer neighborhood. It hurt them to leave. It felt impossible to make a difference at that point. Hundreds of prayers from their hearts later, I have no doubt, God determines now is the time and this one family that Judy and Brett have invested in for so many years, and prayed for so many times, are being rescued from such dangerous situations. They didn't give up, they kept asking God and kept asking Tim if he would please try to help make something work out and it was important to them to see this through.

I couldn't help but get tears in my eyes today as I watched them walk to the lawyer's door. I could almost picture God looking down and I can't help but wonder if what he saw was this one gal who came to Honduras with an open willing heart who couldn't make a difference to everyone she saw but was determined to make a difference. I think today I could almost hear him say, "yeah Jude you made a difference to that one."

I love you my friend and it was your love for this country that helped to inspire my own. I pray to be half as good a starfish tosser as you are.

Good one God ... thank you so much for never giving up and for having perfect timing!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Santa Ana Yesterday

Ok so these are some photos we took yesterday afternoon on a quick run out to Santa Ana to see progress because we hadn't been out there to see it in a week and a half. It looks AWESOME! I know these pictures do not do it justice, but I'm doing the best I can to at least give you something to look at. The projects for this week as you can see are the stucco and the roof. They are building the support structures to hold the roof, and are going stucco crazy! They have 2/3 of the front stuccoed and some of the inside walls. It's moving right along.

Karen and I went to pick out tile for the floor on Monday. That was an experience considering we speak next to no Spanish and they spoke next to no English. It was fun nonetheless and we found some we really like for a pretty good price. We're going to check at one other place today and see if we can get a better deal. It's fun to be a part of putting this all together and it really was a gift from God that we got to be here when it was all happening. Feels like you get to see the whole birthing process you know.

We started language training yesterday. That was quite the experience. My brain hurts right now thinking about going back today. Our teacher is really sweet, but she is not allowed to speak to us in English. It's the process of the training to be totally immersed in Spanish so we got stuck on a few words yesterday seriously for like 4 or 5 minutes and she would keep saying them and we would keep guessing and she would have this very sad look on her face and say "no." That's the one universal word that means the same in both Spanish and English. We know that one well! :) It's gonna be good, I'm just praying for a more absorbent brain this day! We do know alot more than we knew this time a month ago so maybe it will eventually happen.

Also moved the 20 mattresses the first lady donated yesterday in the bodega. They are sooooo nice. They're Serta perfect sleepers. Nicer than my mattress at home. Yay!! These kiddo's are gonna pillow their head in safe comfort for the first time in their lives. God you are so kind!

Alright off to get ready for this blessed and be a blessing!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Marvelous Monday

Well today we ran around Teguce by ourselves in our trusty van and only got lost one time on the way to the language training place but we'll know how to get there tomorrow. We're starting that this week and will go from 10-12 everyday for a while. Please pray that it sinks in quickly and we'll be able to communicate soon. I know it's a lot to ask but I believe God can do it. He made a donkey talk so I figure it could happen to us too. :)

Am reading a couple really really good books right now that are totally God chosen. One of them my friend Donna gave me before I left called "Fields of the Fatherless" and it talks about orphaned children, but not just orphaned children but anyone in this world who feels alone regardless of the reason, and our responsibility to them. Here's an excerpt that i read today that went hand in hand with what God was laying on my heart to type yesterday.

"Just looking at our world tells us that we have to rethink our understanding of compassion. What does it really mean to be compassionate, and how can we do this the way Jesus did? Is compassion merely showing kindness to those who are less fortunate than we are? Does it mean that in general we don't inflict pain purposely on another? Is it occasionally sending money to a charity organization or donating some clothes to a homeless shelter? While small actions can and do produce results, I suspect compassion - the way Jesus practiced it - means a bit more than that."

"The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean 'to suffer with.' Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human."

"There you have it. The definition of compassion is about involvement. To be compassionate means to get out of the boat of our current circumstances and get into the boats of those who are suffering."

I'm just hearing God so clearly tenderly speak new truth into my present definition of compassion and my mission on this earth. Thought those words were worth sharing.

The other book I'm reading is a new one by Brennan Manning (the author of the Ragamuffin Gospel which is on my top ten list and the best book on grace I've ever read). The book is called Abba's Child and was given to me as a gift by one of my favorite people in the world - my friend Jen the night before I left for the airport. By the way I miss you my friend. :)

I have only read the first few pages because there were things there that my heart just needed to chew on. Daddy's little girl is the premise and I need to rest there for a while.

These words caught my heart. "May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted, may all your desires be withered into nothingness, that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God who is Father, Son, and Spirit. Today on planet earth, may you experience the wonder and beauty of yourself as Abba's child and a temple of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Just some things that have caught my heart and turned the wheels in my head lately. Thought they might in yours too. May we all get involved in having a heart of Jesus kind of compassion because we understand what it feels like to rest in being Abba's child.

Love and blessings!!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Few More Sweet Faces

This picture above is of all the kiddo's that we were directly responsible for last week with the exception of Carlitos. He is who knows where in this picture. From left to right there names are Bryan, Byron, Normita, Alex, Kathy, and Chevy. Are they not just adorable? We have joked several times about all sorts of experiences we had with them this week. From the sweet sweet smell of baby lotion after bathtime where you want to just snuggle them to death. To little boys making designs of who knows what in the toilet during pee pee time. We wiped more little tooshies and touched more snot than we know what to do with. We said "NO" at least 3 billion times. We fed bottles and got smeared with baby food. We got frustrated and thought what in the world have we gotten ourselves into? But when it came time to say goodbye there were tears on both of our cheeks. They wormed their way right into neat places in our hearts and it didn't take long.

Well this picture above is of the youngest children that are at Jimmy Hughes children's home. They are both about a year old. The little girl in the pink on the left is the one that just fell in love with Karen and held onto her all week for dear life. Carlitos in the highchair on the right is a little pistol. His mom was a crack addict and so he is extremely hyperactive but has a smile that wraps you around his little hyperactive finger. :) The picture at the top right is of my buddy Bryan and the daughter of an ex-prostitute/crack addict who now lives in the home and helps take care of the children. This little girls name is Chevon. She's beautiful and is miraculously healthy and well although her mother did drugs the entire time she was pregnant. God protected her for sure.

This ministry started out as a rehabilitation center for people who need help with various types of addictions and disorders. It is a fantastic operation that not only heals people, but allows healed people to help heal others. Every single person I worked with this week has been through rehab for one reason or another. I heard their stories as we asked and they were willing to share. I stood beside drug addicts and prostitutes and I have never in my life been more proud to call what I was a part of “ministry.” It was exactly what I feel like Jesus would have termed an overflow of grateful hearts. I’m not sure exactly what the verse about loving much because you were forgiven much was directly pertaining to, but I know that I saw alabaster jars wide open and empty this week because they have poured out their love for Christ on these children. It was absolutely beautiful. They were no longer the outcast, they were no longer someone with a disease or an addiction or a disorder, they were now able to be part of the cure.

I heard it best from a 15 year old girl I met while working with the babies. She is a beautiful young girl who isn’t in school right now because she is in trouble and not able to go back for a time until she proves herself to have a changed heart. She got sent to work with the babies as a punishment and in her own words she told me…”I was sent here to work with the children as a punishment but they have really touched my heart and I found it was my medicine.” Her name is Seun and she connected to that part of my heart that is determined to pray daily. My prayer is that her rebellious spirit will be conquered by the compelling love of a cross and the One who died upon it. I told her I would be praying every day for her. We definitely had some heart connecting moments where she told me her life story of being horribly abused and abandoned by her parents when she was 6 years old and how she has such a hard time believing that God exists sometimes because she’s prayed every single day for her father and he hasn’t changed one bit yet. So how could she believe He was really up there and that He was ever listening to her?! She was adopted by American Christian missionaries and was treated poorly by them too. God's goodness doesn't add up in her head right now.

I’m convinced that there are moments when you are silenced by your own inadequacies to look into the heart of someone else’s pain and attempt to explain a God that doesn’t make sense to them. I’m learning that that is not my job…to explain God or make sense of Him to someone else, but if I had all the money in the world and could have paid for an answer or given my right arm to find one for this sweet gal, you can rest assured I would have done either. She speaks perfect English and is extremely intelligent. I pray her potential is one day realized. Hurts in her heart a mile wide and a mile deep and questions only God Himself could ever answer. Shewwwwww…

Then there is Nora the crack addict who when asked to tell her story told about her two year old daughter who now lives with her grandfather because her life was such a disaster that she couldn’t care for her, who raised her arms as if she had just won the gold medal in an Olympic contest when she said “and now 9 months of victory with God.” She wakes up voluntarily at 4 am every morning to go pray with some other staff members and comes back by 4:45 to help the girls get a shower and do their hair and gets them ready for school. She then gets them off to school, does the laundry for the girls room, cleans their bathroom, and then goes to work at the mission house (rehab center) all day and comes back at 3:30 to help the kids with homework, clean up at night, puts them to bed, all with a smile on her face. To see her with these children is one of the most precious sights I have ever seen. A broken life redeemed by Jesus and being used to drench these children with His love is a take off your sandals sort of sight.

Or Blythe the gypsie/crack addict/prostitute who lived on the streets moved every few weeks and turned tricks to make enough money to survive. She has a daughter who is 2 now and she used drugs while she was pregnant with her and by a miraculous act of God her daughter is beautiful and healthy and now thanks to God, so is she.

Or Roy the 28 year old guy, who was a crack addict, who is now the supervisor in the boys room who is a role model extraordinaire and is investing into these boys life in precious precious ways. When sharing his story with Karen and my overhearing from a table nearby he said…”I owe the change in my life first of all to God but then to my mother because every night when I came in late she would be praying…she was always praying for me.” Talk about a changed heart. And the confirmation of the tremendous power of prayer. He is wonderful and dedicated and devoted in ways you rarely see. He understands grace and doesn't take it for granted.

So many stories behind each life. Unbelievable how you come face to face with the fact of the world’s brokenness and God’s healing all in the same instant looking into the same eyes. Heard kiddos stories that just about did me in. Like the little girl who showed up almost bald because her mother pulled out handfuls of her hair at a time by swinging her around in the air and throwing her into a wall, who is having a very hard time not doing sexually perverse things because of how badly she was abused. A beautiful little girl who came and for 2 months wouldn’t speak to a soul because she had withdrawn so far within herself that she wasn’t willing to let herself out. Who now is one of the most loving little girls you’d ever see who hugs me every morning and kisses my cheek each night before bed.

Or the brother and the sister who came to the home after watching their mother be murdered and gutted in front of them. Or...the list could go on and on and on! Every single one of the 25 children who live there has a difficult story behind their very young life.

I guess I say all of that to say this...if you hear nothing else from what I shared in this very long post I pray with all of my heart you hear this. Please do not read these stories with a disconnected heart from a faraway place and resolve in your mind that "these" people and "these" things happen in third world countries and not in our "safe", "wealthy", "free", ... country and thus no need for you to act or become concerned where you are. I learned this week that there isn't a life God can't redeem no matter how HORRIBLE it may look and now hopeless it may seem...BUT it takes someone willing to get their hands dirty in the mud pit and their heart close enough to connect before it happens. I'm afraid that sometimes we hole ourselves up in our clean houses and our safe places attempting to stay protected and clean. Myself certainly included. I guess God is just asking some really difficult questions of my Jen how many nights do you think Jesus went to bed without His hands dirty from touching a leper or someone's uncleanness or his heart broken by someone else's pain? Jen do you really mean you want to walk in the footsteps of my Son or is that a good phrase you've learned somewhere that you flippantly toss around without a lot of thought about the cost those steps paid? Jen are you willing to leave your clean places to get your hands dirty and are you willing to let your heart get close enough to people who hurt in ways you cannot fathom and feel their pain? I'm beginning to learn He offers each of us the opportunity to be His disciple but that word doesn't mean what we've cheapened it to mean. It's an all out war to trace His steps in the middle of a broken world and it costs us everything we've got. Our comforts, our time, our energy, our heart, and perhaps most difficult of all it costs the sacrifice of status quo for a new way of thinking and living. One that lots of other people won't understand. That's ok.

Guess I'm just learning that I have an invitation to "enter in" to this redemption process. To be a tool God uses to reach out to broken people in a broken world. To allow His love to become so real to me that I am able to love the untouchable, the outcast, the sin soaked soul who feel as though they are beyond hope. To make a difference in the world because I choose not to back out but choose to enter in. I always have another choice. I can do what I've always done. I can stereotype the drug addicts and the prostitues and the single mom's who got pregnant without being married. I can talk about the drunk, or the impure relationships, or the sin that is in front of my face without ever allowing the heart of the sinner to sink into mine. I can categorize the sin and see the filth without ever looking into the pain in their face. I can help silence the gospel and the sick people Jesus came to make well, or I can help silence the critic of a gospel that has become far too much for cleaned up people in nice little church buildings on padded pews. I can enter in or I can back out but I am convinced with all of my heart that if I ever hope to live a life that makes one iota of a difference for my Redeemer I better decide to enter into His redemption process and get my hands dirty.

I pray we all look for ways to enter in. There are people hurting all around us. May our eyes be open and willing to see them...really see them. Not their sin, not their reputation, not their horrible track record. May we be able to picture them wrapped up in the arms of Christ and be willing to help them find Him so that He can work on their broken places and heal the wounds. It's what He came for and it's the business He asked us to be about!

Let's get busy loving them like Jesus...MAY WE ALL BE WILLING TO GET DIRTY!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Back Home at the Hines

Hey there...well we spent a week at Jimmy Hughes children's home and what a week it was. We started out the first day in tears ready to come home feeling like it was completely uncomfortable and we were being slaves and ended the week in tears trying to leave the place. It's amazing how God works isn't it? He can change the contents of a heart within minutes and the snap of His holy fingers. It still amazes me that we learn the most in some of the hardest places. Logically it doesn't make much sense that difficult yields some of the most joyful memories if we're speaking of true sink deep down into your heart lasts for a lifetime through all circumstances kind of "joy."

It felt good to walk back through these doors at this home though too. They have been tremendously kind and it was neat how in a weeks time we were able to walk back in here after a week of being gone and feel a genuine ahhhhh at how comfortable it now feels here with them in such a short amount of time. That's all God!!! Gena is home now and so we got to visit with her for a while tonight and that was nice. Felt like in a few minutes of conversation like we'd known her forever and that we will be fast friends. Good to have another gal in this house with all the boys. :):)

Have so many stories to tell you and will certainly tell them soon but for tonight I am truly pooped and need to get some rest. We were up every single morning at 4:45 and went solid until like 9 or 9:30 at night. To these rookie momma's we are DONE IN!! :):)

Learned so much and lost more pieces of my heart. Imagine that. Fell in love with a 3 year old little boy named Bryan. If I could have signed a piece of paper to raise that child for life I would have done it in an instant. By the time the week was over I had taught him how to say "Love ya" and my hug tank is completely full thanks to his precious little brown arms that were faithful to run up to me at least ten times a day and squeeze me tight. He just came to the home several months ago. His mother is a gang banger and he spent the first 2 years of his life living in the prison with her. He is beautiful and I will post a picture here for you to see. Needless to say, I will be going back regularly to visit him.

Ok more stories another to all! I miss you guys. Keep praying us up. We are well aware after this week that it's going to take an ARMY of prayer warriors and an abundance of God's strength to do this thing with excellence. We're counting on your prayers! We completely trust God to be our strength! Think we're in for an excellent journey!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A Few Words From the Week

Oh we definitely have some pictures to put on here from yesterday and I had an entire really long post typed and pictures put in and everything and I lost it all, so I will retype it later today but am going to do lunch now and will come back later this afternoon to do the post. It'll be a long one cause I haven't posted for a few days and there are several things to update you all on. Good things are happening.

Keep this in mind, one of the most profound lessons I've learned in a week is...

wheelbarrows = BAD

Love you all!

This is a picture of the children's home with all the walls up. They will fill in the top with poured concrete for a few more feet I think, but this is the basic structure completed. It's pretty exciting to see it all and recognize the different rooms and know what will happen there in just a few short months. Kids eating seconds if they want them who haven't had more than scraps from a dumpster somewhere. Playing with toys that are more than they've ever known. Sleeping on mattresses instead of dirt floors (20 of which have been donated by the first lady officially by the way). More later...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Ok last picture for the night. This was an absolutely beautiful picture that is not done justice by my camera. There was this separation of the clouds and the sunset just above the mountains on the road coming home from Santa Ana today. It was gorgeous. The drive out there from Tegucigalpa is really pretty. Lots of scenery to witness. I have said several times the landscape of this country is some of the prettiest I've seen anywhere. Posted by Picasa
This is the view out our back window where our little deck will be. Momma Grose you better bring lots of good tea with you when you come because it's a perfect colored water drinking spot. :) It is absolutely beautiful!! Will have lots of quiet times sitting out here I feel sure! How kind of God to give us a breathtaking view of His creation to soak in each morning and evening as we go about what He's called us to do. Posted by Picasa
Ok here's another picture of the children's side of the Casa project. These are the walls for the rest of the building. It's moving right along! Posted by Picasa

Today at the Property

Ok I'm gonna post a few pictures from today at the property. This is Karen and I's apartment and they are working on putting a closet in one of the bedrooms in this picture. It looks great out there. The block will be done by the end of the week and it is sooooooooooo exciting to watch all of this happening. I love being able to be a part of what's going on as it goes up! It's so fun to watch it being born!

Ok for some reason can't get multiple pictures to post here so I may just have to do a few more posts. Hmmmm... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ok City Here We Come...

Well today we're going to visit the lawyer once again to work some more on this residency thing and then will meet a gal who is involved with the Mi Esperanza project for lunch and then we're off to tackle the city for the first time alone in our new van. Should prove to be exciting!

There are new adventures every day. It really is kinda fun just to do a little more new everyday. This is so my personality though I realize that. I have always been up for a new challenge. This is just one right after another. Good stuff!! Makes me feel like I'm living for something you I'm involved in something bigger than me and I LOVE that feeling.

Like I'm just along for the ride and God is the creator of this whole adventure. It really has taken away my need to worry or fret or be in control. I just feel like ok God it's a new day what do you have planned for today.

Having fun, loving life, feeling humbled to be a small part in His grand epic. May we each play out our parts of the story He's writing well.