A special Thanks!

We presented on our Honduras trip on Sunday and it was fun to recount all of the great things about Give Hope 2 Kids and our opportunity to visit and serve them.

 20131015-095013.jpgTeam Honduras

20131015-095036.jpgOur trip team with the directors of Give Hope 2 Kids and all our kiddos.

We really appreciate everyone that donated Croc shoes and gave financially to make the trip happen. We love you all and your generosity is inspiring!

I wanted to take a moment to especially thank my wonderful mother-in-law. Without her this trip would not have been a possibility. She eagerly agreed to come and watch our kids while we were gone. It was so great to know our kids were being well cared for and loved while we were away. She acted like it was no problem at all and never complained about child meltdowns, tantrums, or sibling fights. It is possible our children were perfect while we were gone, but that probability is slim. She juggled school schedules, mixed up lunch payments, and library due dates with ease.

We came home to happy kids that were sad to see grandma go home. Junior, in particular, jumped out of the car at the airport, convinced he was going with grandma.

Thank you!!

Less of me

The trip was great, but also really hard. I felt like I was doing all the weeks of the 7 study combined into one. We ate the same foods, wore the same dirty clothes, slept on hard bunks, shared a room with another couple, showered in cold water, sweat all day, tried to only drink the ‘clean’ water, had no privacy, and struggled to communicate.

20131011-155839.jpg

Day one I fell in the river. My first ‘taste’ of the water in the only pair of jeans I packed.

The first day was a transition into this reality and the next few days we all adjusted and it felt fine. No big deal! I got this!

IMG_4162

The water is fine for the locals (and for those that have lived there long enough for their systems to adjust).

Then I got sick and the stretching conditions were magnified. In particular the day I felt the worst I just lay in bed and wished for home. I felt like such a wimp! (I’m totally blaming it on old age!)

I lay in bed, wishing for the comforts of home. I wanted my own bed, my ‘normal’ food, and my own private, ehm, master bathroom.

I felt like God was saying to me, “You know what, you talk the talk a lot. like a lot, a lot. You sign up for the causes, buy the t-shirts, read the books, and write checks. Enough talking. Now you need to walk the walk.”

Insert crying and gnashing of teeth.

But, God, I will gladly continue to give, donate, and speak up…..just please, PLEASE, give me clean water. PLEASE?!

20131011-160042.jpg

Here come the boys with our drinking water.

Day 9 we made our way down from the mountain and were told we would be staying at a swanky condo for our last night in Honduras. We all felt giddy with joy. The condo had AC. The condo had clean water. The condo had hot water. The condo had private bedrooms for each couple. Ah, the condo. We were in love.

20131011-160251.jpg

The beach a few blocks away from the condo.

Then plans changed and changed again and we ended up at a much less swanky hotel for the night. Everything was still good, though, because by all appearances they had clean and hot water. Or so we thought.

Enter day 10. We woke up anxious about our day of traveling home, but excited for at least a good shower before we left. Wait a second? There is no water.

NOT A DROP OF WATER

So much for complaining about no hot/clean water, now we had no water. None. Zero.

Talk about wake up call.

20131011-160149.jpg

He managed to make it out of Honduras without getting sick (unlike the rest of us), but his luck ran out after eating a bit too much processed food once we hit U.S. soil.

When we finally made it home I cried in the shower. It felt so amazing to have clean, hot water raining down on me. Then I just felt so horrible that I have clean water every..single..day. Much of the rest of the world goes without clean water or they have to travel for miles for water or get it from a dirty creek.

It was such a good experience. Less of me. Less of my privileged life. Less of my personal comfort. Less of my limited worldview. More of Jesus. More of his people. More of his work around the world. More of his perspective. More of his heart for the hurting.

“The goal is not self-actualization, the goal is Christ –realization.” Christine Caine*

I also have to say that I have a sincere respect for missionaries that are willing to leave their comforts of home to serve wherever God calls them. I loved the staff and volunteers at Give Hope 2 Kids. They were so positive! I never heard them complain. We asked them what (besides family) they missed about home and they said things like carpet or certain foods, but every single one of them said they wouldn’t trade living there for anything. Nothing is a sacrifice when sacrificed for God.

* Take a moment to listen to Christine Caine’s podcast titled ‘Die to Self’

 

More of you, Jesus!

More of you, Jesus. Less of me.

We are two weeks home from our big trip to Honduras. I haven’t been ready to write about it and actually still feel hesitant to put it down in words. I’ve been slow to type it all out because I am still processing and hate to ‘publish’ something that might change as my perspective grows.

But, for today, here is where I’m at:

It was fantastic to see the work that is going on at Give Hope 2 Kids. There are so many qualities and characteristics of this ministry and the people that work there that we love!

First off, they love Jesus. Second off, they love people.

Need I say more? They are doing real, lasting work in the community in so many ways!

The school program has 60-70 students attending, where they learn English, computers, music, and bible. Some of the kids walk 45 minutes each way (talk about motivated to learn). The ministry has also been offering high school exam prep. There is one high school in the region and we were told that over 100 students take the exam to get in each year. Unfortunately the school only has spots for about 1/3 of those students. Public school ends at 5th grade and if a student does not get into the high school, then their education ends. Give Hope 2 Kids offers a great way for students to accelerate their learning and/or learn valuable life skills (ie computers).

20131008-205026.jpg

This is one of the high school prep classes, led by a young Honduran lady that lives on site and travels into the city for college. She wants to be a math teacher!

 

The ministry recently started a preschool program (this was right at our level of Spanish so we loved it!). The preschool helps target the kids that live on the property that need some more one to one attention and intervention. Several of their kids have some special needs and the teachers do a great job of working with those kids and providing opportunities for sensory play and language enrichment.

 20131008-205411.jpgHere I am with one of the kids from the children’s homes. She always had a smile on her face! We brought crafts to do with the kids and they LOVED each and every one. She has her arms up to show the bracelets we just made!

 

The ministry has three children’s homes. Each home consists of a dad, mom, their kids (if they have any), and 5-7 children in need. They have a long-term vision for these kids. The goal is that the house parents will raise these kids all the way through. They are growing Honduran Mahogany trees that will be ready to harvest when the kids get older as a way to pay for college. They have a vision for starting a boy’s home farther down on the property to provide transition for young men and teach them valuable skills like wielding, construction, et.

20131008-204918.jpg

Here we are outside one of the homes with the kids that live there. A friend donated bilingual children’s bibles, enough to give to each home.

 

The ministry also hosts a weekly youth event. This was one of my favorite parts of our time there. Someone drives around with a flat-bed truck and picks up teenagers that want to come. The youth ‘hang out’ then there is singing, games, a bible message, and more time to ‘hang out’. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but teenagers all over the world are looking for a chance to be with their peers and to have someone speak positively into their lives. This event does that and also offers opportunities for leadership development. Good stuff.

 

The ministry really strives to be sustainable. It was cool to learn about all the ways they are growing their own crops, experimenting with new crops, raising livestock, and ‘living off the land’. It shows initiate to not just rely on donors from the states, but to really use their resources to care for the people that live on the property and also to model to local farmers how it can be done.

20131008-205531.jpgHere the director explains how bananas grow and the big ‘flower’ that buds off the bottom of a bunch.

20131008-205503.jpgOh, Wilbur, you are cute, but not for long.

20131008-205605.jpgHello there precious coffee bean!!

 

All this to say, it was wonderful to see what God is doing in this rural region of Honduras. God is present there, moving within the people, and caring for vulnerable children. As someone who has a heart for orphan-care, it was so great to see that God is and has always been caring for orphans. The verse that came to me while I was there was Psalm 91:4

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Orphaned children have no adult to champion for them, to protect them, to provide for their needs, and to nurture their lives.

I read the above verse and picture God gathering all the orphaned, neglected children (in Honduras and around the world) and covering them with his wings.

He is watching out for them, holding them in his safe grasp, and covering them with his protection. God is doing this! He is faithful! We had the privilege to witness it first-hand and we continue have the privilege to join-in and be part of his care for children.

We are excited to continuing partnering with Give Hope 2 kids, possibly visiting again in the future, and sending other teams from our area! We look forward to seeing how God will continue to use this ministry to impact the mountain/valley region of Honduras.

There are so many more pictures/stories I could share. If you live in the area and are interested, we are presenting about our trip on Sunday, October 13th at 6:00pm at church.

Honduras here we come!

The days are zooming past. Two weeks ago I had all these deep, reflective thoughts I wanted to share about our trip to Honduras. But, I didn’t write them down and now I’m almost out of time.

Alas, iPhone blogging will have to do.

We are excited about our trip! The packing, planning, and prepping is almost complete. I think of a million tasks that still need to be done as soon as my head hits the pillow. Overall, though, things have come together.

We have almost 100 pairs of crocs to bring, a guitar, a pressure washer, 27 soccer balls, frisbees, bubbles, Spanish children’s bibles, craft supplies, English lesson supplies, gifts, and so much more. I have no idea how it will all fit in our luggage, but James assures me it will.

20130912-220445.jpg20130912-220516.jpg

 

My prayer last week was that we would live to return after reading an article about the crime in our arrival country. This week I am letting go of fear and praying the love of Jesus shines through all we do. That is the reason we are going. We love Jesus and want to love people like Jesus does.

I will leave you with the words received in a card from a friend that sums up a lot of what I am feeling and thinking as we prepare to leave.

“You are just a few days away from hoping on a plane and flying down to Honduras. Your emotions are no doubt all over the place – from excitement to the fear of the unknown, the sadness of leaving your previous children behind, to the God- given longing to hold and love on some other of God’s children.

 

I want you to know that I will be praying for you each and everyday you are gone and this is part if my prayer:

‘And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things, at all times, you may abound in every good work’ 2 Cor 9:8

That you will ‘abound in every good work!’

 

Your going and doing is what LOVE DOES *. May your heart be broken for that which breaks our Lord’s heart. But may the hope and joy of our saving Lord not let your heart be troubled, but take heart, he has overcome the world, the poverty, the injustice, the unloved…

 

I’m proud of you for getting out of your comfort zone and loving with a deep, selfless love. I pray The Lord ‘interrupts’ you time and time again with divine appointments and you will come home with many ‘Hallelujah Jesus’ stories to share!”

 

* Our small group has been reading Love Does. I highly recommend it. Our motto for this trip comes from the book…”Just say YES!” and “Why not?” We are saying YES! and praying God uses this time to do his work.

Everything must go, except that darling blonde boy!

 

20130914-145151.jpg

And they are off..

20130905-132425.jpg

20130905-132440.jpg

MissE reports the best part of school is helping the teacher clean up the classroom and the worst part is that she now doesn’t have as much time to read (she read an average of  3 books a day in the summer). MissE also reports that she is going by her full name this year.

20130905-132450.jpg

20130905-132509.jpg

Junior reports that he loves school. His favorite part is singing and his least favorite part is playing outside (because he gets too hot and sweaty).

I report having both kids in school is AMAZING!! I am loving my few hours a week that are quiet and I can get work done. I also enjoy the one on one time with Junior when he is not at school. All in all, a great start to the school year!

Good news, Exciting Times, and How you can help

We are going to Honduras!

(No, unfortunately, this does not correlate with our adoption.)

For a long time we have wanted to partner with ministries on the ground in Honduras and invest in the country and the people. We are getting that opportunity in September and we are thrilled about it!

Clean Power

We will be serving at Give Hope 2 Kids located in a rural part of Honduras. We are excited about their ministry there and how we can partner with them. They have a great children’s home, they work to be sustainable, they invest long-term in the children in their care, they have established a community library, teach English lessons, and do a weekly youth outreach.

This is what I know about the ministry, but we can’t wait to experience it first-hand. We hope to report back with even more knowledge and to discover ways where we can continue to support their ministry. Our local church is looking into developing a long-term partnership with this ministry with the goal to send down teams regularly to help. We are excited that we get to be the first team to visit and hope to really spread the vision about investing in this region.  While we are there we will be helping in a variety of ways. We will be teaching English lessons, making crafts with the kids, helping with construction projects, assisting with a youth outreach event, and offering our services to meet needs in whatever way possible.

Phew, there is the info in a nutshell.

If you are interested, here is how you can help:

1. We were very fortunate to be able to pay for our plane tickets with Delta vouchers received when we got bumped last October. However, we still have around $1000 in total costs for the two of us to go. If you would be interested in financially supporting us on this trip, we would greatly appreciate it.

2. We (along with our church) are raising funds to purchase a couple washing machines for the children’s home (at $400/each). We have four people in our family and I do what feels like A LOT of laundry each week. I can only image how much laundry this ministry goes through each week!?!

3. The children need infant size 4 through youth size 4 Crocs-style shoes; as they are durable, breathable, and easy to clean. We are hoping to fill two extra-large suitcases to the BRIM with Crocs. If you have some or would like to purchase some to donate, we would love to bring them for the kids!

.

4. We would really appreciate your prayers. Pray that we arrive safely, stay healthy, and can serve wholeheartedly. We are going with another couple (who also have two young kids), please pray that our children do well without us and for the grandparents taking care of them. Lastly, we really need prayer that we (and our luggage) make our connecting flight in Atlanta. Because the ministry is located rurally, if our luggage doesn’t make the flight with us it will be very difficult to get it at a later time.

Thanks, friends! We can’t wait to report back about what God is doing in Honduras. We trust that he will use this trip to accomplish his purposes!

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless.” Isaiah 1:17

 

Making dreams come true

It’s the county fair week and after sitting it out the past two years, we caved and bought tickets. Two years changes things. Junior man can now go on rides, although he prefers the tamest ones. MissE on the other hand has grown into a full-blown dare devil. She went on all the crazy, big kid rides while I sat on the sidelines and tried to keep breathing. Dreams came true for my dear husband, too. After years of wanting to ride the camel, he finally got his chance.

We had agreed that if we did the county fair we would not go to the state fair. But as MissE was whipping and spinning on the rides we got a call that she had won state fair tickets from the library. Looks like we get to do this all over again in a few weeks! Dreams coming true :)

20130809-182952.jpg

20130809-183017.jpg

 

20130809-232722.jpg20130809-183102.jpg20130809-183348.jpg20130809-183508.jpg