Back to School

Back to School

Discouragement

To those of you who have had to learn another language, you know the difficulties that entails. Chad and I are experiencing extreme discouragement right now with our Spanish speaking and comprehension abilities. It’s true that we have come a long way, and we have learned a lot in the past year. But just when we think we have gained a better understanding, we get tongue tied when wanting to speak, and our jaw drops when someone tells us something and we have no idea what they just said!

Heart Breaking

This breaks our hearts because all we really want to do is communicate with the people we are ministering to. It is very difficult to sit with a crying teenager, wanting to give her words of encouragement, but nothing comes out. It’s frustrating to see a dear friend in tears after a church service, wanting to speak into her life, and then again, nothing comes out. It makes us sad, angry, and extremely frustrated.

A picture of some of the classroom building where we will be going to school.

Here We Go

So after much thought and prayer, we have decided to go back to language school in Guatemala for two weeks (October 1-15). We would like to go for longer but this is the most feasible for the three of us. We will each be doing 3 hours a day of Spanish studying, taking turns looking after Asher while the other is in class. We will also be staying with a local family this time. We chose this option for many reasons. For one, it will be much cheaper. Also, all meals will be provided so we won’t have to worry about not having a frying pan or whisk or can opener when cooking dinner in a not so cooking friendly apartment, like what we experienced last time!

Extra Cautious

However, this does mean that the three of us will be sharing a room for 2 whole weeks. It means yet another transition for Asher of not sleeping in his own bed. It means we bring our “loveable, yet rambunctious and picky eater two-year old” into someone else’s home. It means we have to be that much more cautious of his running around and his “not so quiet” voice. Did I mention he is two years old?

Comfort

While studying this language is difficult, we continue to rest in the fact that we have only been here one year, and that it usually takes 2-3 years to become fluent. We also take comfort in knowing that God will give us the desires of our hearts, in His timing. So we appreciate your prayers once again as we go on yet another adventure. Oh, and if anyone wants to come and meet us in Guatemala and babysit Asher for two weeks, let me know! :)

This is Asher when we first got to Guatemala, exactly one year ago.

This is Asher one year later. Look how big my boy has gotten!

Our weekends without Osny

Friday Alvin and I stopped at Casa Alianza (Covenant House) to see about picking up our foster daughter Osny. It has been some time since she has spent the weekend with us. For those of you who don’t know, Osny used to live in our girls home but for various reasons is now living at Casa Alianza and spending the weekends at our house. When we walked in we met the director of Casa Alianza. She said she wanted to meet with us about Osny. After waiting 20 minutes finally the director and a psychologist were ready to meet and took us back to her office.

For the next hour and a half they explained the situation with Osny. That is, after Alvin told them Osny’s story. Interesting that they knew nothing of her story or why she was there. NOTHING! They didn’t know she had been raped by her father and four other men. They didn’t know she had been abducted or that she had a nervous breakdown. They didn’t even know where her home town is or that her mom is dead or that her dad lives in the US. You would think the psychologist who has been meeting with her would have some clue.

After Alvin enlightened them, the psychologist began enlightening us. She told us that Osny has been very depressed and has said things about killing herself. So they are concerned she is suicidal. The psychologist has also diagnosed her as bi-polar and has prescribed her medication. However, Osny says she is not crazy and does not want to take the medication. They seem to think that when she has taken the medication she was better. But because she won’t take the medication and they are afraid she is suicidal they are considering committing her to a local psychiatric ward. Not out of concern for Osny but to protect themselves. If she were to commit suicide they don’t want to be responsible – that is exactly what they said: they don’t want to be responsible.

The director also went on to tell us that they were not going to allow her to leave on weekends to be with us anymore. She said that the rules state that the children can only leave with family members and since we are not family they will no longer let her leave to be with us. Alvin explained that her mom is dead, her dad (who raped her) lives in the United States, and her grandma lives in La Ceiba, 6 hours away. But that didn’t matter, we are not family and that is the rules. Again, they explained that it was to cover their own liability – and ours but I’m pretty sure they don’t care about our liability.

In a futile effort, Alvin continued to explain that our goal is to help Osny and to provide her things she needs like clothing etc. Often times in Honduras you can get your way if you are offering to relieve someone of their responsibility. The attitude it, “If you are going to do it and I don’t have to, then go ahead!” But this didn’t work either. Instead this was their answer, “We can provide her with everything she needs here. The only thing we can’t give her is affection.” They can’t provide affection. No wonder she is depressed. She has lived a life absent of affection, it is one thing she craves. Oh how my heart breaks over this.

Alvin and I were on our motorcycles so after we left the meeting we pulled over on the street a block away to talk about what was said. Just as we pulled over, there was Osny walking up the street. As soon as she saw us her face lit up and she ran to us giving both of us huge hugs. She was all smiles until Alvin started explaining to her what happened at the meeting we had just been in. She began to cry when she heard she couldn’t come with us on the weekends anymore. Alvin assured her we haven’t given up and encouraged her to have patience. She was sad but seemed strengthened by his encouragement.

Honestly, I don’t know what the future holds for Osny. We haven’t given up on her but for now there is not much we can do. She is in their custody and so what they say goes. Here in Honduras rules have a tendency to be strict one week and then relaxed the next. So we will see. Our hearts break for her. We know God is in control and so we continue to pray for his protection and grace over her.

Prison Break

Prison Break

I felt like I was in an episode of Prison Break

If you watched the show Prison Break you probably remember the season where they were in a Panama prison. Recently, I visited a Honduran prison and the whole time I felt like I was in an episode of Prison Break. There was one inmate who kind of ran the place. Everyone listened to him and respected him. When you want something, he is the guy you go to. Several times during the 5 hours we were there I saw him hand off a cell phone or other contraband to various inmates (cell phones are not allowed in the prison). And then there were the guys with huge muscles working out with barbells made from car rims filled with cement.

There were 13 of us who traveled the hour and a half out of the city to visit some of the inmates in this prison. Many of the boys we work with in the juvenile detention center end up here if they still have time on their sentence when they turn eighteen. We knew six boys in this jail which houses about 150 inmates. All of the boys we knew had at some time, while in the juvenile center, accepted the Lord and genuinely wanted something different for their life. I was deeply saddened to see that only two are still serving the Lord.

He Can’t Go Home

One of the two still serving the Lord is getting out soon. We asked him if he was able to go home when he gets out. He said he can’t go home. This is often the case. Sometimes they have been disowned by their families because of their actions but most of the time it is because there is a price on their head. To go home means to die. We asked him where he plans to go. He pointed to one of the guys with us, Marvin, who is the leader of our workers in the juvenile center, and said he was going to live with him. Marvin just smiled. Later I asked Marvin about it. Marvin just got married 10 months ago and is already expecting his first child. He lives in a small house and makes about $270 a month. Marvin looked at me and said, “Chad I can’t take him, I don’t have a place for him.”

So some will go the USA

There was another boy there who sat down to talk with me. I asked him how how much longer he will be in this prison, he said he had another couple of years. His total sentence was 7 years but he should be getting out early on good behavior. A 7 year sentence here means he is there for murder. I also asked him where he was from and if he plans to go home when he gets out. He said has no family and no friends and no home to go to. He probably means that he has been disowned by his family for the shame he has brought them. Latins are proud people. Then he told me his plan is to go to the United States, the land of opportunity, where he can make lots of money. I asked him how he was going to get there – he plans to hop the freight trains in Mexico.

Why should you care?

Sometimes I’m asked why someone from the US should care about what happens in Honduras when there are so many problems in the US. Or I’m asked why we don’t work in the US on the problems there instead of going to another country. The answer is, if we don’t do the work here the problem goes there. Do you want an 20 year old convicted murderer on the streets of your town? We all know that the chances of him finding a job are slim and even if he finds one it will be low paying. He doesn’t have much chance to better his life in the US so he will get there and do what he knows – join a gang and commit crime.

What if you were facing execution?

Like I said, these six young boys we visited had all accepted the Lord at one time but four have backslid. They backslide because of the hopelessness of their situation. Their reality is that they are 18, 19, 20 years old and facing execution when they get out of prison. As a Christian, they can be executed by the gang they used to belong to. Or they may be executed as revenge for the crime that sent them to prison.

The truth is we all need hope; we all need something to put our hope in. This is one of the fundamental truths of being human and one of the primary proofs of God. Hope serves no evolutionary purpose and yet hopeless people die. Show me someone without hope and I’ll show you someone dieing. These young men haven’t learned to put their hope in Christ so they put their hope in something else. For the one boy his hope is in the United States. For others their hope is in the protection of their gang. But the truth is, most are hopeless and will die soon after leaving this institution. The jail is like a life support system and as soon as they are unplugged from it they die. But that is why we invest so much time and energy there – to provide hope to the hopeless. But we need to do more. We have a plan to do more.

To see what we want to do to help these boys please watch this video: http://vimeo.com/27390091

 

 

Remember Being a Teen?

Remember Being a Teen?

Three of the girls: Quendi (17), Mayra (17), Kimberli (11)

A House Full of Teenage Girls

You all know by now about our home for teenage girls, The Eagle’s Nest. We currently have 5 girls in the home from ages 11-17. I have shared their stories many times. But each of these girls come from poor stricken backgrounds, along with sexual and/or physical assault from a family member. I know their stories like the back of my hand, and I get sick, angry, and heart broken knowing what each has been through.

Growing Up is Hard to Do

We were all once teenagers, or some that read this may even be a teenager right now. And we all remember how difficult those teen years were. We remember the peer pressure, the trouble with friendships, the clicks, the competition, and let’s not forget puberty and all those hormones!

Me and Blanca, who is 15 years old.

We remember that growing up was, and still is, hard to do. So imagine all those difficulties, along with rape, incest, abuse, hunger, not a parent or teacher or guardian who loves and corrects you, and extreme poor living conditions. Throw those all together with 5 teenage girls in one home and you can about imagine the stress, chaos, and hardships that occur on a daily basis.

Chad and Quendi at her graduation from 3rd grade.

Prayer and Direction

A few of the girls in the home do not get along. This causes a lot of trouble in the household, and is a constant struggle among them. Some days are good. But some are bad. Right now they are bad. There are some girls in the house that are instigators and button pushers, which leads to actual physical fights between some of them. You would never guess it upon seeing them for the first time. But trust me, they all have a feisty side that you do not want to tango with! But this is their way of defending themselves and how they have grown up. Which is why they need a lot of prayer and and a lot of direction.

Special Times

The girls are always asking us, “When can we come over?” Almost every time I see them, I can count on getting asked that question. So they came over today and we had a great day. We made cards for others, we listened to music, decorated cupcakes, and we took them out for pizza. I also shared a verse with them today, knowing their recent struggles at home, and I hope they will take it to heart and live by, Colossians 3:12-14:

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Me and Claudia, who is 15, and one of the newest to come to the Eagle's Nest.

L-O-V-E

Chad and I love these girls and look at them as our own daughters. So we love it when they call us Mami and Papi! I have never known anyone who has craved love so badly like these girls do. And they will do everything they can to try and receive attention and affection. And we are not about to deny them of what they crave, because each of them deserves love. Please pray for the girls as they go through this difficult time in their lives. And please pray that we are able to guide and direct them through it, with love.

We’re Back

We’re Back

We went to the girls home a day and did their nails. They did ours in return. We had so much fun!

Back Home

Okay, so we’ve been back for almost 2 weeks now. But this is the first chance I have had to sit down and write. We’ve been busy since we’ve returned to Honduras, as we’ve had visitors for the past 8 days. We had some friends from our hometown come down and see the ministry. We had a lot of fun with Caleb, Hannah, and Aurora and enjoyed showing them Manos Extendidas.

We’re Hondurans

We also are proud to say that we are official Honduran residents. We are very excited about this as it was a very long, and not to mention, a very expensive process. This will make our lives a lot easier living here now so we are thankful to have that out of the way. However, now that we have our residency here, we are required to have a Honduran license. Chad spent many hours obtaining his driver’s license and he now has it in hand. As for me, I still have 90 days to get mine. And I might just wait till the last minute as Honduran law requires you take your driving test with a stick shift, and I do not know how to drive a stick! So an extra prayer or two would be much appreciated.

It's hard to believe that this little guy is almost 2! We got him this wooden xylophone as an early birthday present.

Let’s Celebrate

This is a celebratory month as well for us. We have many birthdays, including Asher’s 2nd birthday on the 19th, which I have already begun planning. They also celebrate the Day of the Child here on September 10, which is a very big deal. And we have the Honduran Independence Day on September 15.  And since we are now “Hondurans,” we will join right in on all the festivities.

That’s it for now. We continue to be amazed at how God continues to provide for us. Thank you for all your love, support, and prayers. Until next time…Dios les bendiga!