Personal Reflections

Thoughts, struggles, and ideas we a dealing with through this process.

A Little R & R

A Little R & R

Yes, the sand really is that white, and the water really is that turquoise.

We Need a Break

Chad and I have been waiting for the day when we could just take a break. Anyone who has worked or currently works in ministry knows the meaning of overload. So working in full time ministry definitely takes a toll on you. We told ourselves that moving here and being missionaries meant that we had to take breaks, at least every few months. We received this wise advice from many who had worked in full time missions, and we fully planned on giving ourselves a little R&R when needed. But time gets away from you, and before you know it 6 months have gone by and you are completely burned out.

Out for dinner one night with our friends.

An Island Getaway

Well, God chose to recently bless us with a much needed getaway. The three of us, along with two other missionary couple friends (a total of 9 of us), spent a long weekend on the island of Roatan, which is a short 1 hour flight from Tegucigalpa. We have always heard about Roatan and how beautiful it is, and we have always wanted to go there but just never had the chance. So when our friends John and Rebecca told us they were going and invited us along, we jumped at the opportunity for a little vacation.

DOLPHINS!

Recharged and Rejuvenated

We had a wonderful time. We swam in the beautiful blue ocean. We went snorkeling. And we even got to spend some time with dolphins! This little getaway also gave us the chance to get recharged and rejuvenated for our next season of ministry. We couldn’t be more grateful for that time away.

On a boat ride to see the dolphins!

Do What You Love For Those You Love

Do What You Love For Those You Love

Michelle and Shuanny making some treats at Monday night Bible Study.

Baking + Young Women

I love to bake. I love the young women in my church. How do you put those two together? I bake for the young women in our church! Every Monday night at church is Bible Study night where the men and women break off into separate groups. Every Monday night, I come with some sort of baked good in hand. And every Monday night, I see wide eyes and a bunch of smiling faces, excited to take part in some deliciousness!

What’s Baking?

Now I am not saying that I am the world’s greatest baker. Although I sometimes wish I was an employee at Cake Boss. But when you live in a place where baking is unheard of in the home, you can see why a cupcake gets the crowd going. I remember the first time I brought treats to Bible Study, almost everyone asked me if I made “these.” It was only chocolate chip cookies! But it’s something so foreign to them, so they couldn’t believe that I had made them myself. I really give my mother all the credit. After all, there weren’t many days when we would come home from school and NOT find a black bottom cupcake, peanut butter blossom, or a monster cookie sitting on the counter, waiting to be devoured!

A Better Life

Silly Kensi, enjoying her treats!

Last week at church, I had a conversation with 22 year old Kensi, who asked me when I was going to give baking classes at church. Many of the girls and women keep asking me this same question. But Kensi’s reasoning is what touched my heart. She wants to learn how to bake so she can sell the baked goods on the street and make money to support herself and her 2 year old son (she currently is a hot dog vender on the streets). To think that I could be a part of that puts a joy inside my heart.

A Dream

God has put it on my heart to start some baking classes at church. This obviously involves time and money, so I am just in the thought process of it all; but I am excited nonetheless. Our church already has a kitchen in the upstairs, but it just needs some TLC. We will need a couple of stoves, cooking utensils, and your key baking ingredients. But I know that God will provide. So please pray with me to make this dream a reality and to help these young women help themselves and their families.

Would You Go To Church?

Would You Go To Church?

Here are some of the kids that don't miss a service. Can you pick out the white kid? :)

How many of us can say that when we were between the ages of 6 and 15, we would have  gone to church without our parents, just because we wanted to be there?

There is a group of kids who come every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to our church services, without their parents. Many of them are siblings and they live in the apartment building next to our church. Some of the kids even have baby siblings that they take care of and bring along with them. Just this past Sunday, I saw a 9 year old girl sitting on the steps in our church, holding her baby sister who was sleeping. And where are the parents? They are in their apartment while their children attend church.

I am reminded of the verse in Luke (18:17), where it says, “Truly I tell you, anyone who  will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” When I think of this verse, I think of these children. They know how to receive the kingdom of God, and we can all learn a thing or two from these precious ones.

These children have taught me so much. They’re not forced to attend church. They could be doing tons of other things during those 4 days a week that we have church service. But they choose to be there. They want to go. They love to come and hear God’s word. So yes, I do believe that receiving the kingdom of God like a little child is the way to go.

A New Year

A New Year

As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “…the old has gone, the new has come.” I look at this in terms of the new year. 2011 is in the past. And while it was a very difficult year, it is gone. But the new is here and we are excited to see what God has in store for us and for the ministry. I know it is 12 days past the start of the new year, but I wanted to share some of the goals that both Chad and I have on our hearts for 2012.

Speaking Spanish

Chad and Carlitos have become best buds and Chad loves practicing his Spanish with him.

We both have one major desire and that is to speak and understand this language fluently. It has been one of our biggest struggles since being here, and we continue to struggle with it daily. It’s true that we have both come a very long way in our communicating with others. But we are definitely not at the level that we so badly desire. We have developed some amazing friendships with people in our church. But what we truly desire is to deepen those relationships by speaking into their lives, and that’s hard to do when you don’t speak the same language! So one goal we both have is to improve our Spanish language skills.

ONE of Trina’s Goals

My small group girls from church, when we threw a baby shower for some ladies in the church.

Since moving here, my passion has been working with troubled teenage girls, mainly those from the Eagle’s Nest. But since we closed down the girls home, God has laid it on my heart to work with the girls in our church, ranging from ages 5-18. They may or may not have been physically or sexually abused, but they all nonetheless come from hard places. I have developed a special bond with these girls and I look forward to receiving their hugs at church. So one goal of mine is to further these relationships and speak into the lives of these young girls.

ONE of Chad’s Goals

Chad continues to pray, plan, and prepare for what has been on his heart the most: Our Boy’s Home. And God is continuing to open doors for this part of our ministry. Chad recently met with a Honduran business man, who God just placed right in front of us, who owns a beautiful piece of property outside of the city. He wants the property to be used for ministry and for farming, which is exactly what we were praying for. There is still a lot that needs to be planned and processed and decided, but we continue to pray and are hopeful that this goal will soon be accomplished.

More Thanks

Thank you for your continued support, thoughts, and prayers. This year wouldn’t be possible without the love and support that you continue to lavish on us. We thank God for you daily. Happy New Year!

We Won’t Be Home With Bells On

We Won’t Be Home With Bells On

No Bells

I had it all planned out. Christmas was going to be wonderful. We were planning a trip back to Lynden and we would be there for Christmas Eve, Christmas day, and for the whole week after. Someone even offered to buy our tickets home. I was looking forward to family and friends, peppermint mocha’s and oliebollens, sweaters and boots, cold weather, and maybe even some snow. My facebook status would read: “Trim the tree and wrap the presents, turn the Christmas music on, cause Christmas I’ll be home with bells on.”

The Plan

When we left Lynden this summer, we were almost 100% sure we would be returning for the holidays. This made it a bit easier to say goodbye since I “knew” we would be returning in just a few short months. When Kimberli came to our home almost one month ago now, we put a hault on our plans to return home; because we weren’t sure where she would go if we left. We then had the idea of taking her with us. But that would take months to get her a passport and all the needed paperwork. After talking to Alvin, it was decided that she could stay with his family over the holidays while we returned home. Back to the original plan: home it was!

PEACE

Chad never felt a peace about going back. I just kept pushing him saying, ‘we need to go back,’ ‘we need a break.’ He obliged and we decided we would spend about 8 days in Lynden for Christmas. But in my heart, I honestly did not feel a peace about it either. Something, or rather, SOMEONE, kept telling me, “You are not supposed to go. You need to stay here for Christmas.” I kept ignoring God, trying to justify that going to Lynden for Christmas was the right thing to do. But I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I couldn’t ignore God anymore. I needed to be obedient. So I went and told Chad what I was feeling, and after much prayer and many tears, we made the difficult decision to not return home this Christmas.

Trust and Obey

It’s amazing how hard it is to trust and obey God sometimes, especially when you want something so badly, and He is telling you you can’t have it. But it’s also amazing how His way is always best. I know this because of the overwhelming sense of peace I felt when we made the final decision to stay here for Christmas, with Kimberli. Today was one of the best days we have had since she has been here. Lots of laughing, lots of smiles, and lots of fun. And even though we would love nothing more than to spend Christmas with our families, we know that this is exactly where we are supposed to be this Christmas season.

Putting up our Christmas tree! Asher and Kimberli were all smiles!

All About Kimberli

All About Kimberli

We just love her...and the little stinker in the background!

Kimberli has been a part of our family for almost three weeks now. Both Chad and I have spent much of that time figuring out who she is and getting to know what she is all about. Here is a little of what we have learned so far.

Upon first spending time with her, she is a bit shy. But once she warms up, she is a talker. She loves her family and misses them terribly.  But she is thankful to be in a home…a real home. She is not crazy about American cooking, but eats it anyway. She loves her Honduran food of tortillas, beans, and rice. She loves chocolate, and I mean LOVES chocolate. Her favorite candy bar is Snickers. She drinks coffee in the morning with a lot of sugar. She hates vegetables, unless they are cooked in a soup. Her favorite fruit is a strawberry. Her favorite animal is a bunny. She wants a pet rat…NO WAY! She likes to do puzzles, play Candy Land, and color. Her hobbies include mopping the floors…not your average tween hobby. She gets incredibly overwhelmed with the question, “Do you need anything? Do you want anything?” She is great at correcting our Spanish, and loves to tease Chad. She loves to exercise and soccer is her favorite sport. If she could go anywhere in the world, she would go to the U.S. Her dream is to be a pediatrician. And her prayers are for the children on the streets. She loves the smell of the clothes when they come out of the dryer. In fact, she didn’t know what a dryer was until she came to our home. She loves Asher’s white and soft little feet, saying, “There are no other feet like yours Asher!” She was born in a taxi cab. She sings worship songs in the shower (we can hear her :) She loves to dance, especially when it’s for the Lord.

Kimberli is on the worship dance team at our church.

This is just some of what we have learned about Kimberli. We look forward to each day as we continue to learn more and more about this precious gift from God. Thank you for your prayers.

Lice, Love, and Jesus

Lice, Love, and Jesus

Kimberli decorating some cookies.

One Week

It’s been one week since Kimberli came into our home and became part of our family, and we are in love. As you can imagine, the first week was a bit scary for her, for all of us really. But she is beginning to open up to us more, and the shyness around us is going away. We know this because we stayed up until 10:30 last night just talking, and she did most of the talking! She is a beautiful young girl who loves the Lord. She has a sweet smile and a generous heart.

A Lesson Learned

Leave it to God to throw a paranoia you have right in front of you to teach you a lesson to lean on Him. If there was a ever a lesson learned in my life, this past week was it. Kimberli came to our home infested with lice. Probably something she has lived with her whole life. I instantly began to worry and fret about these little demon bugs. I literally had paranoia and I was consumed with “what ifs?” I just looked at it as a problem, and the thought of tackling this problem seemed to big for me to handle. And to be honest, I didn’t want to. Until Nubia showed me love.

Nubia

Nubia is a dear friend who sometimes works for the ministry, cleaning and cooking for teams, etc. She came over later in the afternoon and began helping me treat Kimberli’s hair for the lice and nits. I thought she was just going to show me how to do it, but for 2 1/2 hours Nubia stood by my side as we handpicked the lice out of Kimberli’s beautiful curly hair. I was so thankful to have Nubia and her giving, humble heart. But it’s the words she said that have left an imprint on my heart.

Poor Kimberli fell asleep while we were combing her hair! And look at that smile on Nubia's face.

True Love

Kimberli quietly sat in the chair while we combed out her lice, without complaining one time. I could tell her neck was getting sore, and I felt so bad for her. I told her I loved her. After I said those words to Kimberli, Nubia replied, “It’s for this reason that we do this Kimberli.” I was humbled by those words and it reminded me of Jesus. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. Through serving, he loved us. This was my way of showing Kimberli I love her. She may not understand that type of love now, but I pray that in years to come, she will.

Christlike

I also told Nubia of a girl I knew from college. She worked at a girls shelter in the states and her job was to get the lice out of the girls hair. I told Nubia about this girl, and her only response was, “what love.” I hadn’t thought of it this way before. My first response was, “I would never want that job.” Again, I was humbled by her words and her Christlike love.

Lice Update

After much work, and many prayers, I am happy to announce that the lice and nits are dead. Hoorah for the massacre that was of those nasty little buggers! Nubia came over on Saturday and for 6 hours we combed through Kimberli’s hair and picked out all the eggs, with our fingernails! I think we got pretty much all of them. But I will be combing through each day for a while just to make sure. All in all, God taught me so much this past week about true love. God is good.

It’s Good to be Back

It’s Good to be Back

The famous Arch Street in La Antigua, Guatemala.

We’re Back

We arrived back in Honduras on Saturday, Oct. 15 from our two weeks of Spanish Language School in Guatemala. If you read our facebook statuses, you know that our time away was a bit challenging for us. Whether it was severe back pain, sickness, house issues, or bad news from home, we got hit. Satan attacked us every which way he could. It was obvious that he didn’t want us to learn Spanish. Because he knows that once we do have this language perfected, we WILL use it to glorify God. And that is the last thing Satan wants.

School

Even though our trip was challenging, our Spanish classes went great! We both feel like we gained more knowledge on this language that we so badly desire to speak. We were put with the same teachers we had last year, and for three hours a day we practiced Spanish. The first hour of our lessons was mainly just Spanish conversation, while the other two hours was spent on instruction and questions that we had about the language. We are by no means where we would like to be, seeing that fluency is our goal. But we are well on our way!

Us with our house mother and some new friends, Judith and Amanda, that we lived with for two weeks.

Practice

Our goal now that we are back home is to continue to practice, practice, practice! Anyone that has ever learned a language will tell you that the best way to learn is to practice speaking it with a native speaker. This is difficult for us both, as we become a bit afraid when put in a situation where we need to speak the language. Basically, we lack the confidence. But through prayer, we hope to overcome our fears and do all we can to become speakers of this beautiful language.

 

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.

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.