Stories from Honduras

These are stories about the people and events we’ve experience while in Honduras.

Sometimes Dreams Change

When I was 29 I went back to college. As part of the enrollment I had to take a math assessment test. I did horrible. They placed me in Math 95 which meant I had to take Math 95, 97, 98 and 99 before actually taking a college level math and getting credit for it. I remember sitting in that first class and feeling kind of humiliated at my age being in a class with high school running start students. At that point I made a goal to be “one of the smart kids.” In high school I remembered the “smart kids” took calculus so I made a goal that I was going to take calculus.

Over the next couple of years I remained focused on my goal and I got straight A’s in all my math classes. I was consistently on the dean’s list and honor roll. Finally I made it to calculus. What a sense of accomplishment I had sitting in that class knowing where I had started and where I had come.

Calculus is hard. Very hard. I really struggled through that quarter and I think I ended up finishing the class with a C+, which killed the high GPA I was hoping to graduate with. But the experience taught me some very valuable lessons. One lesson was the value of setting a goal. I still take great pride in the fact that I accomplished that goal. I had a long road to get there but I did it and for that I am proud. But I also realized that taking calculus was probably not the right goal. I didn’t need it for my degree. It wasn’t required. And it hurt my GPA. I should have changed my goal along the way and focused on the dreams that had been developing as I had worked my way through my college courses.

When we came to Honduras we had a dream. We had seen so much need and wanted to help however we could. And we did it. With your help we left everything and moved down here and poured out our lives for the people of Honduras. It has been an amazing three years. We have accomplished a lot and along the way God has been shaping us and molding us. When we came to Honduras we didn’t know how long we would be here. We only knew that it was where God was leading. When someone asked how long we would be here I always said that I didn’t know we would be called here and I don’t know how long we will stay. Now that question has been answered. Sometime in June we will be moving back to the US.

This has been a very difficult and emotional decision for us. It is one we have been working through and praying about for a long time. We have actually tried to come up with any way that we could to stay in Honduras. Our prayer was that if it really was time to move back that God would make it obvious, and we feel like he has. It would be impossible to share all the details in one newsletter but there are a few main reasons why we believe now is the right time.

Returning to Honduras with a new baby has been a very difficult transition, especially for Trina. We don’t have any help here. No family or friends that can watch the kids or give any kind of break. It means Trina really can’t be meaningfully involved in the ministry. And if I am gone she is stuck in the house all day every day. If you know Trina you can imagine how difficult that is for her.

Another major consideration is the security situation here in Honduras. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world and Tegucigalpa is consistently listed as the 2nd most dangerous city in the world. Corruption is everywhere. While we have only ever had minor incidences, every time we leave the house it is weight that I carry. It is always in the back of your mind, “Is this the time where someone puts a gun to my head and robs me of everything?” If it happens to me, fine – but not my wife and kids.

This also makes it very difficult to raise a family, especially a very high energy 3 year old boy. There aren’t safe parks for him to play in, safe places for him to ride bike, pre-school to attend, or friends to play with. Trina and I have really seen Asher suffering and there is nothing we can do about it. Trina and I believe that our family has to be a priority and that means doing what we believe is best for Asher and Levi. At least for now, we believe the best thing is to return home for a season.

The final major consideration is the work that I (Chad) do. God has opened some doors where I believe I can actually be of more use back in the States than I can be in Honduras. Part of my work here has been overseeing a child sponsorship program. The program really needed a database tool for managing the program but there was nothing available. As a web programmer I decided to build my own. I figured there are other ministries who have the same needs so I set up a website and made the program available to other ministries. We currently have over 60 ministries around the world that we are helping with their child sponsorship program. We are literally helping thousands of children all over the world. When we get back to the States I will be going back to work as a web developer with my cousin Geoff. I believe I can use my skills to help many other missionaries in their work. I’ve seen needs first hand and now I know how I can help others.

We will also continue the work of our non-profit organization, Extended Hands. With the contacts and relationships we have in place we can continue to do great work.

As I said, this has been a difficult decision and will continue to be a difficult transition. Sometimes dreams change. Sometimes God leads us in new directions. It is almost always unexpected.

We are eternally grateful for your prayers and financial support. If you feel led to give to help us with our return it would be a blessing. Anything we receive that we don’t need will go directly to the work in Honduras. If you are sending an automatic donation online please let us know whether you would like to continue or if you would like us to cancel the donation. The money will continue to go to the work in Honduras.

Thank you again for all your support over these last three years. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Chad and Trina

Jesus Wept

Most of us know John 11:35, “Jesus wept,” as the shortest verse in the Bible. This morning John 11 was part of my devotions. I’ve read John 11 many times but today it struck me like it was brand new. Especially the part around this verse. You may know the story, Lazarus, a friend of Jesus and the brother of Mary and Martha died. Jesus was four days late getting there to heal him from his sickness. But he wasn’t really late because Jesus knew that Lazarus would die and that he would come and raise him from the dead as a demonstration of who he is.

Why did he weep?

So why did Jesus weep? It wasn’t because Lazarus had died. Jesus knew Lazarus would live again. In verse 33 it says that when Jesus saw Mary and the other Jews who had come with her weeping he was “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” It was the sadness and pain of others that moved Jesus to tears. He felt so deeply their pain that he wept with them.

So much pain

Here in Honduras we get to see the worst of the worst of the worst of what people have to endure. Some of it is by fate – they were born poor. For others it is the atrocities people are capable of committing on other people. We live in the murder capital of the world. There is no place on earth with a higher murder rate. Not only that, but being involved in ministry we are often intimately involved with people in great suffering. And let’s not forget that life is hard no matter who you are.

It is easy to wonder where God is in all this suffering. It is easy to wonder if he cares or if he hears our prayers. The story of Lazarus reminds me that he does. He didn’t stop Lazarus fron dieing – he had other plans – greater plans. He didn’t keep his dear friends from feeling pain. It didn’t mean he didn’t love them. It didn’t mean he didn’t care. He cared so much that their pain caused him to weep.

We often go through difficult times. Trina and I are going through difficult times. Some dear friends of ours are going through a difficult time. It is a comfort to me and I hope a comfort to you to know that Jesus loves you and because of his love he cares intimately about us. It doesn’t mean we don’t go through tough times. It does mean we have a heavenly Father who is with us and will see us through.

Back in the Swing of Things

Back in the Swing of Things
Our family of 4! Please excuse the way I look...I just had a baby :)

Our family of 4! Please excuse the way I look…I just had a baby :)

Too Long

Wow! We sincerely apologize for the lack of blog posts. Let’s just say it has been a crazy busy past couple of months. We did add a new member to our family, and if you are parents you know how busy that can make you! But we are anxious to get back into the swing of things and back to our normal life…if you can call it normal! I will try and catch you up on what’s been going on in our lives.

Back in the States

As you all know, I (Trina), have been in the states since the end of October. I flew here with Asher, along with the help of my sister-in-law, Tanya. Chad stayed in Honduras for a few weeks to continue work on the mission field. He came around the end of November and it was great to be reunited again. We then were playing a waiting game until December 6 for baby Baron to make his appearance.

Levi James

And make his appearance he did, exactly on his due date! Doctors told me I was the “perfect one” for having both my babies born on their due dates. It happens in every 5%, so yes, I think that makes me lucky, or I guess I should say, blessed. He came into the world very fast at 5:32 in the morning, which made it impossible for me to have an epidural. I never planned on having a natural birth, and I wasn’t prepared for that profound pain. But I was thankful it didn’t last long, and it was worth it to hold my sweet Levi James in my arms. We were so thankful for the amazing nursing staff and the Dr. who made all the right calls and took such great care of me and Levi.

Back to Honduras

We planned on returning to Honduras sometime next week, once we got all of Levi’s paperwork done and his passport in our hands. However, all of us got hit with some serious sickness. Asher came down with pneumonia, and Chad has a viral infection. Levi and I came down with bad colds and coughs. Needless to say, we are sick of being sick. We want to make sure that when we travel we are all healthy. So we are now thinking that we will be leaving for Honduras sometime the second week of February. Thanks to all who continue to support and pray for us on our journey. We appreciate you all!

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Asher and his new baby brother!

Malls and Street Kids

Malls and Street Kids

The Largest Mall in Central America

Today I went to City Mall to have breakfast. Pastor Marco arrived at the airport this morning after spending a few days in Panama buying the gifts for the children for our annual Christmas celebration. So Mateo, Alexandra, and I met him there and then went across the street to City Mall to have breakfast with him and his family. This was my first time in City Mall. I’ve been watching it go up over the last 17 months. Every time I would go by I would gasp at the enormous size. City Mall is now the largest mall in all of Central America. I knew that but still I wasn’t prepared for what it would be like inside. First of all, we parked in the massive underground parking. Every single parking spot has a sensor and a light overhead. If the light is green it means the spot is open and if it is red it means there is a car in the spot. You can literally see an open parking spot from across the garage. As a technology lover I think it is the coolest thing. The mall itself is like nothing I have ever seen. I can’t even describe it. It is beautiful and expansive with hundreds of stores and restaurants and coffee shops. It lacks nothing.

I struggle with what to think about this mall – especially in light of the stark contrast I see with so many people barely able to get enough food each day. On the one hand this mall is a great thing, it has provided 3,000 new jobs to people in this city. On the other hand, there are already at least 7 huge malls in this city. While creating jobs is good, most of the jobs are low paying jobs. I can’t help but wonder what good could be done in this country if there were investments in education and infrastructure like the investments made in the malls.

Street Kids

Last weekend we were in the heart of the city where our church is located. A number of us were outside on the street. I was helping film an interview of Alvin for a ministry in Denmark. We attracted the attention of a couple of young boys. They came up the street and sat down to watch what we were doing. Both of them obviously live on the streets. They were dirty and carrying the typical plastic bottle with some shoemakers glue at the bottom. The street kids huff the glue to get high. It is terrible stuff. I’ve seen many kids who have permanent neurological damage, they shake uncontrollably  from the glue. But it is cheap and they say it kills the hunger pains and numbs them from the horrors they have experienced. The sad thing is the glue is also addictive. Some kids try to get off the street and try to kick the glue. Seeing a kid detoxing from the glue reminds me of someone detoxing from heroin. I don’t know the percentage but a lot of them are not successful. The pull of the glue proves to be too strong and they end up back on the streets.

After we were done filming the interview we started talking to the two boys. I grabbed my phone and started filming Alvin’s conversation with them. Here is a little of Orlando and Kevin’s story.

Children’s Ministry

Children’s Ministry

If you know me, then you know that I love kids. My love for children is what led me to become a teacher and it is one of my greatest passions. If you’ve followed our blog posts, then you know all about the nursery/Sunday school project that I began not long after we moved here. In June of 2011 we finally had a room for a nursery and another room for our Sunday School. These rooms are perfect for the children and it gives them a safe place to have fun and learn about Jesus.

In our last newsletter Chad talked about how leadership training is our new and main focus this year and in the years to come. We feel that leadership training is extremely important because the people here have a serious lack of how to lead. This includes leadership in the church nursery and Sunday School. When returning from our 6 week stay in the states, I found out that no one had taken charge of any part of the children’s ministry and both the nursery and Sunday school classes were not in use! This is exactly why this type of training is so important. They didn’t know how to lead without myself or Alexandra there.

When this news was brought to my attention, I felt it was important to call a leadership meeting with the women and girls in our church, specifically those who have helped in the past or who are interested in children’s ministry. This Saturday, I will be teaching and leading these women on how to run a church nursery and Sunday School. I plan on giving a short message about service in the church, information on handling babies, and many different teaching techniques in the classroom.

Our rooms are wonderful rooms for these children but they are in need of some items to make them even better and more productive for the children. For example, the babies could use some new toys to play with, along with a bouncy seat for the many new babies that seem to be filling our church. And the Sunday School is in desperate need of resources. This includes everything from crayons, play dough, puzzles and other manipulative toys, a CD player for worship time, and books. Because the services here are so long, the children, ages 3-9, are expected to spend sometimes 2 hours in their classroom during church. This requires resources to keep those little brains and little hands busy! If you would like to help in any way, please let us know. We would greatly appreciate any donations toward our children’s ministry. Thank you and God bless!

The Sunday School room. We have added some tables and chairs but we are still in need of many other resources.

 

 

For Your Information

One More Week

One week from today and we will be back in our hometown of Lynden, WA. We are very excited to get back and enjoy all that comes with this town we call our own, including family, friends, the Fair, walks, the park, and maybe even the zoo, as Asher has never been. We also get to be home for Asher’s 3rd birthday, which I am very grateful for.

Help Needed

On top of all that, we will be having our annual Taco Feed to help raise support for our ministry in Honduras. The event will be on Saturday, September 8 at the Mt. Baker Rotary Building this year. We will also be doing a silent auction again with gift baskets, which means I am looking for people to donate a basket. Last year we had some amazing themed baskets, such as Family Night, Baking, Gardening, Baby, and more! These are super fun to put together and it goes toward a great cause. So, if you would like to donate one please contact me, either on here or through my facebook account. Also, if you live out of the area you could still donate a basket by just sending one. We appreciate anything and everything!

 

My Thursdays with Marco

My Thursdays with Marco

My favorite day of the week is Thursday. That is the day I spend with Pastor Marco. I leave the house at 7:30, pick up Mateo, and head to ‘On the Run’ in Carrizal. On the Run is a gas station on the northern highway heading out of the city. It is typical gas station mini mart with an espresso machine and some quick food like fried chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Mateo and I always get there a little early so we can get some coffee and chat a little about what we hope to accomplish that day. When Marco arrives we get into my car and head up to the feeding centers.

Marco and I decided to spend Thursdays together going up to the feeding centers for a couple of reasons. One is that my Spanish has finally got to the point where I can carry on a conversation. This means Marco and I can start working more closely together. Another reason is that there is so much going on that we needed schedule a day a week where we are actively involved in overseeing the programs. Otherwise, weeks could go by where we are so busy with other things that we don’t make it up to the centers. And most importantly we go to encourage the people working in these centers. That is the best part. It is so gratifying being able to encourage them in the work they are doing with the kids and the people in these extremely poor areas. Just by us being there and taking time to talk with the people they feel loved and encouraged.

The following pictures are a kind of “Day in the Life” showing what our Thursdays are like (click on a picture to see a larger version):

Delivering Supplies to the Feeding Centers

Some Thursdays we bring food and supplies to restock the centers.

Marco and Me

Marco and I are the same age although I like to remind him he is a few months older than me, to which he reminds me I have a lot more grey hair :(

Typical Home

This is a typical home in the areas where we are working. This is right next to Feeding Center #2.

Me playing with the kids

There are always kids around the centers so sometimes I get to spend a little time playing with them. They love having their picture taken.

Mateo sharing with a couple neighborhood boys

Mateo never misses an opportunity to share the gospel. These two boys helped us unload supplies one day and afterward Mateo encouraged them by telling them they are the hope of Honduras and that they need to seek God so they can make a difference.

Gloria is the cook at Feeding Center #2

Gloria is a faithful servant who does all the cooking for the kids at Feeding Center #2.

The guys laying tile at the church at Feeding Center #1

One of the benefits of the three of us visiting the centers on a regular basis are the ideas we come up with to help make the programs better. I’ve wanted to put tile down on the cement floor of the church for a long time. Mateo and I came up with the idea of doing it as a service project with some of the guys from the church.

Mateo preaching at Feeding Center #1

Another idea was to come up and encourage the church so Mateo and I along with some others from the main church came up on a Tuesday night. Mateo gave a great message to encourage the people there.

There is so much going on in these areas and so much more we can do. It is a blessing being able work alongside Marco and other Hondurans who are committed to the work of the Lord and helping their country.

Church Makes Me Sad

Church Makes Me Sad

I usually stand at the back of church on Sunday morning so I can say Hi and shake hands with the people as they come. I see a lot standing there.

This Sunday there was one young girl sitting on the steps below me sobbing. I know this girl. She is 18 and living with her boyfriend and making bad decisions. It is hard to blame her though when you know the trauma she has been through. A little later she was sitting outside by herself so I went and sat by her and asked her what was wrong. She is living in her boyfriend’s house but hasn’t seen him for a couple days. He doesn’t call and won’t answer her calls. She is worried. What if he found someone else? What if she throws her out? Where will she go? I asked how her relationship with God is. She said she isn’t really following Him because there isn’t a church close to where she lives. I told her we love her and if she needs something she can come to us. But I’m not sure what I can do.

There was another guy at church. He is married with a 2 year old son and his wife is 9 months pregnant. He is in his 20′s and for work he sells cell phone accessories in the street. He doesn’t make enough money for his family to live on and is worried. He can’t read because he only went to school through 2nd grade. Despite the struggles in his life, there are few people I have ever seen who worship the Lord so genuinely. When he is worshipping he is all in.

I sat and talked with another young man I know. He has the biggest servant’s heart of anyone I have ever met. He is always smiling and always helping someone. He is married and him and his wife live on less than $300 a month. The house they live in gets broken in to all the time. Anything they had of value has been broken or stolen. They need to move but can’t afford to.

The stories go on and on. And last Sunday as I sat there looking out over the congregation with many of their stories playing through my head, I got very sad. I was sad because I want to do more to help them. Some of them need training and discipleship. Some of them just need a little money. Some need a place to live. But I don’t have the time or the money to help them all. There is only so much I can do.

Hope

Then I read this verse from 1 Kings 8:56 this morning:

“Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.”

It gives me hope. The people of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Then they entered the promised land but still had battles to fight to rid the land of their enemies. But after it was done, those who remained faithful to the Lord got to enjoy his promises. Every one. Not one word of the Lord failed. And I believe the same is true today. On the other side of every season of difficulty and trial there is a season of blessing. And that blessing is from the Lord, not from me.

I wish I could do more. In the coming years I hope I am able to do more. But ultimately I know the responsibility rests on the Lord. These are His people just as I am His servant. He has promised blessing to those who remain faithful.

This Crazy City

This Crazy City

Honduras has got a lot of bad press recently – and rightfully so. In an article on the Huffington Post it says -

Honduras has become one of the world’s most dangerous countries and is likely to have the highest murder rate in the world — 86 per 100,000

and this:

Honduras stands to break world records with its murder rate — estimated at 86 per 100,000 inhabitants — putting it ahead of war-torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, a study said October 13, 2010.

In the article where it lists Tegucigalpa, the city we live in, as the 5th most violent city in the world they use this picture – taken 3 blocks from my house.

The other day Quendi, one of the girls who used to live in our girl’s home, came over to our house. She came over so that Trina could take her shopping for school supplies. She got on a bus about 7 miles from where we live. Shortly after she got on two other guys got on and pulled out guns and knives and proceeded to rob everyone on the bus. They took everyone’s cell phones, money, jewelry, and anything else they had that was of any value. This went on for 15 terrifying minutes. This bus was headed to the market in the center of the city. These people were probably going to buy their food for the day. Quendi said that when the bus stopped everyone got off. There was no reason to go to the market now – no one had any money left. Those who were going for food were probably going hungry.

There is a ministry in Denmark that sends a lot of volunteers to Honduras. We have two volunteers from Denmark working with our ministry right now for the next 6 months. A few times a year all the Danish volunteers in Honduras come and spend a weekend with us in our ministry. It is usually about 20 people we host for the weekend. I have been working with the coordinator to schedule one of these weekends and I was supposed to call her last Wednesday but I forgot. I sent her an apology email and this was her reply:

I got robbed in a taxi today on the way home from work – nothing happened to me, but they stole my money, camera, visa-card and pincode and drove me around for 45 minutes until they dropped me off… I’m okay, but yeah, I haven’t really had the time to wonder why you haven’t called.

A couple weeks ago we were in Walmart (yes we have a walmart here) and needed some cash so Trina used her debit card in the cash machine in Walmart. We only use our debit cards for withdrawing cash, we never use them for purchases so it was pretty easy to tell where we used it last. That was on a Saturday and on Monday I logged in to our bank account online to see how much money we had. I was surprised to see four cash withdrawals from our account done in Lima, Peru. Peru is a long way from here and we have never been there. Apparently there must have been cameras and a skimmer on the cash machine so that when Trina used it they were able to steal our card number and PIN and then use that to create a new card and steal money from our account.

Right away I called the bank. There were four other withdrawals that were pending. In total, they stole over $1,000 from our account. Thankfully our bank covered it all and returned all the money to our account. The worst part is that now we don’t have our debit card and no way to get any cash until my family comes next week. This is the second time in a year that we have had our card stolen without ever losing our physical card. The first time, our credit card number was stolen by our waiter at a restaurant. The lack of security here is very frustrating. It isn’t safe to carry cash. If you hand someone your credit card they might steal the number. And if you use your debit card in a cash machine you might be watched and they might steal it too.

When I was talking to the bank the nice lady asked me if I had filled out a police report – she said it was one of their requirements. I said, “Maam, I could do that, but the police here are often times more corrupt than the criminals.”

Are we scared? No. Should you be worried about us? Absolutely not. Should you be afraid to visit? Of course not. You and I are no safer at home in our beds than we are on the streets of Tegucigalpa. I just saw on Facebook that a friend of mine from our safe little town chased someone out of his house, out of his bedroom, in the middle of the night. This stuff happens anywhere and the truth is, our security doesn’t come from the conventions of man but from God above. And honestly, I never feel like I am in danger even when I know I am in dangerous situations. I know I will probably be robbed at gun point some day. I know that will be terrifying and traumatic. But I know that God hears my prayers for protection and He hears your prayers for protection too. So why do I tell you these things. I hope it gives you a better glimpse of what we live with and encourages you to cover us in prayer and not only us but all those like us, who are working in dangerous places around the world. Pray that God gives us protection, courage, and boldness!

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!