Saturday, March 31, 2007

It's That Time...

Well it's April again...I LOVE this time of the year!!!!

A couple of years ago, God asked this girl to do some things that scared the beegeeber's out of me, but have come to just be absolute markers in my spiritual walk in so many ways. One of my very favorites that scared me to death before it all happened was that I got to lead a team of people to this precious country after I had only been here once in my life. A scary, daunting task to say the least and I felt hugely inadequate...but so many people I loved wanted to touch and feel and see and do and allow the glory of God to shine through them to some dark places that needed to be touched with hope. In light of that no being an option sort of just becomes not an option. When you've seen it and know how it changes you, you are compelled to share that experience with those you love. And so we set out.

3 years later andhere we are and many of those same folks that were willing to step out in faith and go on the word of this girl who had been so completely touched by these people and this place will be back again. The only thing better than that is that they've now felt compelled to share it and so there will be new faces and eyes that see all of this for the very first time and we'll get to marvel at the marvelous through their eyes. We'll all set our hands to the plow again (or the hammers or food bags as the case may be) and we'll get dirty for Jesus. I can't wait!!

These folks have become so precious to me and trip time is one of my favorite times of the year. We've gone miles deeper because we've shared these experiences. It seems that true worship does that to souls. When you join hearts there, something happens. I believe with all of my heart that the life we live here in surrender to God planning our calendar and divinely appointing our locations and yielding to Him in the moment with these people...THIS is worship as pure and true as I know it.

Tomorrow some of my dear dear friends will arrive and we'll finish last minute things before the rest of the group flies in on Thursday. It will be neat this year because Jody and MaryAnn and their girls will have a part in helping choose house locations and letting the families know that God wants us to build them a house and we'll do some neat things as well before the rest of the group gets here.

I have had the privilege over the past couple weeks of getting things together and somehow this time of year always brings me back to center in so many ways. It is such a vivid reminder of why we do what we do and how "worth it" it all is and how blessed we are to just get to be a part of it. Always reminds me that there is no merit in what "we do" but such huge honor in God inviting us to be a part of His outstretched hands of love and compassion to this world. What a privilege.

I'll share just a couple highlights of the past week or so in preparations so that you can share this journey with all of us. I went the other day to a village called Mololoa (San Miguel to some of you) and saw some house sites that were possibilities to build. We always attempt to pray before time and choose the house and family situation that is most "in need" at the time. Such a difficult thing to determine. I'm going to be very honest and tell you that I am rarely shocked anymore. Sometimes ashamedly I've grown accustomed to seeing poverty. I drive by it often. It masks itself in dirty children begging at my window every single day. I have learned to expect it and accept it as part of my world here. So when I go to see house sites, I no longer expect the "oh my goodness" reaction, but the other day got me again. It had been a while since I took the time to see and attempt to enter in to the lives of the people on the sides of those mountains. My life at this point involves the lives of 10 kiddo's and so I have lost touch with some of the other stuff unfortunately. So when my friend randy showed me this house, it caught me off guard just a bit and the "oh my goodness" was certainly present. I'll allow the pictures to speak for themselves.

You might notice the back is held up with 2 x4's that are there to stabilize the house that is already leaning at at least a 20 degree angle, the cardboard pieces are put up to hopefully block the air and insect flow through the HUGE cracks in the wood. The gutter system is one pipe held up with pieces of wire in a futile attempt to keep the water from flooding the dirt floor inside the house. The inabitants of this particular dwelling...a 2 month old baby just born to a 19 year old girl, her mother, and her grandmother in a house that is smaller than most of our living rooms. I went inside after the family got home and took some pictures and met the family. They have no idea that in just a few days this leaning shack will be replaced by a house without cracks, a wood floor that will no longer fill up with rain and be infested with bugs as they lay their heads down. They'll live in a house that God built and we'll be so honored to put sweat hours into things I know He believes in with all of His heart.
Then just yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the mayor's office in Santa Ana and talk with her about possible house sites in this community and while I was there one of the ladies that she wanted to be able to help was outside waiting to talk to her. She invited her in while I was there and the woman explained that she would not be able to accept the help from the mayor for the donated land because in order to get her paperwork completed someone had told her she would need 300 lempiras (which is equivalent to $15) and she didn't have it to spend. She's been spending her nights in different people's houses, moving here and there all the while having her stuff stolen from her and she was certainly beside herself. She started to cry as she told the mayor that she was sorry but that she just didn't have the 300 lemps to pay and I thought in that moment how poverty so strips so much of your dignity. I felt so sorry for her and I asked the mayor if I could talk to her privately and so she excused the woman from her office and I said to her, is it acceptable if we help her pay to have the documents taken care of to which she said yes and so she brought this sweet lady back in, I believe her name is rocinda (though I have no idea how to spell it) and she said to her listen we want to help you and I got to explain to her that I had no idea why we were blessed the way we were but that we so badly wanted to share the blessings and that God wanted us to help her and we wanted to be a part of building her a new home and this 50 year old woman put her head in her hands and bawled...shook because she was sobbing. Life had forced her to be a nomad in a certain sense of the word and she just wanted a "home" a place that she could settle and live and 300 lemps ($15) was gonna prevent her from doing so. Can you even imagine???? We spend that on dinner most days. Oh God please help us!!
So I've once again been touched by the heart of God this week as He has tenderly shown me His heart for the poor and oppressed and the beaten down of this world.
I will be blogging about our adventures over the next couple of weeks on this blog and so you can read daily to be updated on the ways God is blowing us away by His mercy and kindness. Please pray for us, our eyes to be opened and our hearts to be bent toward obedience. Please pray that we'll allow God to take over and change within us things that are not of Him and that we will walk away different for Jesus because we've looked into the faces of some of His precious children, young and old alike in this country and seen the face of Him in each of them.
Allow me please just one second to thank some sweet sweet ladies from Arkansas who are coming to help us at the children's home so that Karen and I can go and be a part of the group and expose our kids to some of the neat things that go on during this time. We are so looking forward to it and are so grateful for the servant hearts of Kea and Kinsey, please pray for them and the kiddo's as well over the next couple weeks. It will be a blessing to have them here.
Stay tuned....

Thursday, March 29, 2007

God IS Faithful...

I am being as honest as I know how to be with you when I tell you that once again I've had one of the most faith building weeks of my life. They come in different ways at different times, but this week it was learning how to lay the things you love most in God's hands and leave them there and trust Him with them. My mom hasn't been feeling well and she had gone to the doctor and found out that her blood pressure was super high and they did an EKG and it came back abnormal. Then last week she went to have a stress test and there were reasons for concern on it and so the doctor said that he was pretty certain that there was blockage, but thought that it was in one of the smaller arteries and so she was scheduled for a catherization this morning and they thought they would be able to take care of the blockage with angioplasty or worst case with a stint.

Now all this being said, I am well aware that the news could have been so much worse. It's just that this is MY mom we're talking about now and somehow your head doesn't speak louder than your heart in those situations. So I was, needless to say, very concerned and the worst part is that I was way over here and she is way over there and if I thought there were days that were difficult to be away when everyone is well, they surely do not compare to the days of being away when people you love are hurting.

So once again I had some moments with God, maybe you're familiar with them, when He has proven His faithfulness over and over and over again and yet you find yourself standing looking up into His face and saying "yeah but can I trust you with THIS, cause this is my mom we're talking about and I need her and this is different, can I trust you with THIS, cause I know you can but will you." Certainly not full of faith in all moments and I've learned it's better just to be honest with Him about that.

So I called this morning to talk to mom before she went in to have the procedure and we were all a bit stressed you could tell. They promised someone would be outside at noon for me to call and see how things were going, and when I called then my dad told me the doctor had looked all over and could find no blockage, so no angioplasty no stint needed.

I choose to believe God just reached in there and took care of it and touched her heart. I know He touched mine and once again I stand tearfully praising Him for His faithfulness! HE IS FAITHFUL ALWAYS!!!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hello Again...

Well it's been way too long again hasn't it. Sorry about that. I have spent the past 10 days or so in the States with family and on a trip to the National Women of Faith Conference in San Antonio. To say I have been richly blessed is a tremendous understatement. It was wonderful.

When I am in places like that now, I am just so touched to watch folks using the gifts God placed within them. We heard Donald Miller speak and he was just so deep and thoughtful about where our paradigm's for church come from and how much they are affected by the culture and time in which we live. For instance he walked through different era's but described that during the Industrial revolution it had become all about business and so our churches looked like companies during that time and if you didn't "produce" for the boss then you got fired and so we sorta took some of that on even in our churches. We now live in an "entertainment" era with commercialism on every corner and so in a sense we are "selling a good show" and he just spoke about how deeply we are affected even in our religious cultures by what's going on around us. Some wonderful things to think about.

Nicole C Mullen's new album coming out in April is a must have. There is a song on there called One Touch that talks about the woman with the issue of blood wanting to get to Jesus just to touch the hem of his garment that is so moving.

The most deeply touching part of the weekend for me was Chonda Pierce. She is a Christian comedian for those of you who don't know her and she stood on stage and just freely and transparently described her war with depression over the past year or so. It was so hard to watch and yet there was this sense that even in a room with 18,000 women that this was the way it was supposed to be, the way we do Jesus for one another. Being real and inviting others to do the same as we run to the Great Physician. Anyway she read notes from her journal about wanting someone to just end her life, that she had just written a month ago and told stories about how despair settles in and how real depression is and she was just a model of courage and authenticity and I was touched that I wasn't sitting watching some "show" that I was entering into a very for real battle not for a celebrity we've all watched entertain us, but for the soul of a sister who is battling for her very life. Changed things somehow for all of us I think.

Anyway it was a great weekend. Got to spend some time with some of my favorite people on the planet which was a gift and ate like little piggies and I'm headed back to Honduras on Wednesday morning. I'll go back refilled and refreshed and challenged in new ways to love Him more. I love that!!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

An Unintentional Sabbatical...

Unfortunately as I look at the date of the last post I am feeling definite feelings of "slackage" on this blog. I love to write, it's soothing to this heart, and more than that I love to keep you informed of the cool things God is constantly doing in my life and in this ministry. It's just that He's at it again, you know that beyond what you could ask or imagine deal, and with it has come all sorts of "busyness." Great things, wonderful things, but in the midst of it something had to go and unfortunately this became one of those "somethings." Please forgive me and know that I will attempt to be diligent about doing better and not waiting quite so long before the next post.

Things here are going very well. The boys started school a few weeks ago. So Yovani and Marvin are in first grade and Mario is in kinder. You should have seen them strutting their little proud selves up to the school on the first day in their uniforms. I volunteered to be the walk them to school girl and we've had some neat moments in that time...(way too early in the morning, but way too special to miss.) The other day I came home and Yovani had made me a card that somewhere in the middle said, "thanks for walking us to school everyday." Are you kidding me??? I would walk a million miles knowing it means that much to you. Here's a little pic of them on the first day of school.
We have started attempting to become more active in the community as well and Dorian has been a huge help with that. Starting this week we will begin a bible hour for the kids of the community on Wednesday afternoon's. He will begin teaching English classes for the children in the school a couple days a week and for the adults on Saturday mornings. We have begun working with the mayor in an effort to collaborate to help meet the needs of the community. That has been a neat experience, to see so many people in need and pray about how we could resource to help. God is so incredibly faithful and has blessed us soooo much and it's neat to watch the way He brings people to us at just the right moments to help in a given situation.
Today we got to take the kids to the ocean in Chuloteca. What a treat??!! The church rented two school buses and we took probably 100 people to the beach. It was a great trip. Most of the people I talked to had never seen the ocean before, so this was a once in a lifetime experience for many of them. It was so telling about the creativity of God as I sat today in the ocean and looked out across the water and saw these HUGE mountains on the other side. Awesome!! It was a beautiful day. The white girls got scorched and the brown people we love dearly huddled all together underneath the little "hut" looking deal to try to stay out of the sun. :) Our kiddo's LOVED the water. Have a feeling they're going to be little fish. Was way fun to watch them walk off the bus and see the water and look at their huge eyes and hear their comments like "look mami there is sooooo much water" or "WOW" or "look marvin, let's GO" it was a blast...and I remembered to marvel at the marvelous today through their little eyes. Thanks again God for the reminder.
I'll write again soon!! Until then, may God bless you beyond all you could ask or imagine.