Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A New Chapter: Compassion

Have you every waited so long for something you thought it would never actually happen?  I've  been waiting on God for the past 2 years.   With every ounce of my being I've wanted to run ahead and make things happen.  But every time I would tried to make a move, God would say wait.

At first it was easy.  People would ask why I wasn't plowing ahead and I'd tell them God said wait.  Simple.  But weeks turned into months and months turned into years and the simplicity of waiting got complicated.  My prayer time started to included desperate petitions for God to end the wait.  I feared my waiting period would be in biblical proportions!   7 years.. 15 years.. 40 YEARS!  What exactly did God mean by wait??

I can't say it was easy, but this waiting period changed me.  I had to become more confident and more focused on who God was and what He was doing.  I had to spend more time in prayer, seeking wisdom and direction.  Even though I felt like I was going to crack, my trust in God was growing.  It had to.

Thank God for his faithfulness.  After 2 years of waiting I felt God finally say "Go!"  

Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.  - 1 Thessalonians 5:24

I spent the month of August in the States.  I was really excited to return to Honduras and see what God had in store.  As my plane landed this past Thursday I prayed bold prayers.  I asked for open doors, divine connections, and great provision.  I think I skipped a little as I walked away from the plane.  I was confident everything from that point on would go smoothly.  

My confidence was confirmed when I flew through immigration.  No lines and a friendly officer!  Thank you Lord!  I couldn't get the smile off my face...  That is until I rounded the corner and realized my suitcases were missing.  What?  Ok, this happens I told myself.  Not the end of the world.  I would just need to return to the airport the next day.  A 3 hour round trip bus ride.  No problem.

But the next day began with a bang.  In the middle of the night I was wrestling a freshly poisoned rat out of my dog's mouth. This led to a flashlight search of my front yard and a google search on dog poisonings. My alarm rang all to soon after that and I got to the airport very tired.

I stood waiting for my luggage for 3 hours.  The whole time I kept trying to keep an understanding smile on my face for the kind airline agents.  After I got my luggage all I needed was a quick security check and I would be free to go.

I've never cried at an airport.  Not even saying good bye to loved ones.  But this day Honduran customs confiscated ALL of the dried chiles I had brought from Chicago.  Hot sauce, moles, stews!  I saw months of delicious meals (and $20) walk away with a security officer.  The tears were coming and I desperately prayed for them to stay in my eyeballs. (Ok.  I know I'm not the only one who has been overtired and over emotional...) 

I walked sadly out of the security check point sniffling and rolling my suitcases (which were now also missing a wheel.)  As I stood in the hall of the airport trying to get a grip, a young boy walked up to me.  He was raising money for school books and was taking donations for grasshoppers he had woven out of palm leaves.  The humble sincerity of his request made me stop.  I talked with him for a while and my heart melted. We parted ways and I was reminded of why I was in Honduras.  I was here to love the people around me with the compassion of Jesus.

Leaving the airport my attitude changed.  I haggled with the taxi drivers as they laughed and only ripped me off a little.  The taxi got me to the station just as the bus was pulling away and a nice man helped me run my broken suitcases to the bus.  As we drove down the crazy streets of Tegucigalpa towards Comayagua a smile returned to my face. Everything was going to be ok....

Just as I put my earbuds in...  BOOM!!!  2 tires flew off of our bus!  The bus swerved out of control and into traffic, leaning heavily to one side.  The driver managed to stop the bus but we were stranded.

Everyone was now standing in the middle of the street but the driver had disappeared.  Another bus stopped and said they had seats but I couldn't leave my 2 suitcases under the bus.  I was about to be left standing alone, on a median, in the middle of a dangerous city.

I walked to the rear of the bus (now dangling precariously over the ground) and opened the storage hatch.  I started to crawl in when this young woman pushed me aside.  She worked her way into the bottom of this broken bus, in the middle of a dangerously busy street, and yanked out my 50 pound suitcases.  I said thank you a million times but I was speechless.

This should have been the end of this series of events but it wasn't.  I called my taxi driver to meet me at a bus stop way outside of town.  It wasn't until the bus turned into the city that I realized I had sent him to the wrong place.  I called and called his cell phone but it was out of service.  Finally reaching him, I apologized profusely.  He paid no attention to my apologies and kept asking if I was ok.

I really wanted to hate the day.  I wanted to sit and feel sorry for myself but I couldn't.  The list of people that had shown me undeserved kindness was endless.  And they were all strangers.  

It really matters how we see things and how thankful we are.  It matters that we are full of compassion for those around us.  Today I was the object of this compassion.  Today God showed me how much His compassion can impact a life.

Honduras will never work according to my standards.  I will always run into problems and hard times.  But I'm not here to fix the system.  I'm here to love the people. It is this love and compassion that will bring hope to others just as it did to me this day.

When God finally said "Go!'  I wasn't expecting my first experience to be an object lesson.  But I am so thankful it was!

I've set this grasshopper on my table to remind me everyday to "Go!" and share God's love and compassion with the people around me.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

ENDURANCE: Chikungunya (chi-ken-guun-ya)

I will never forget the day that changed my life.  I was sitting in a back pew at my church, totally disgusted with my life.  Every time I tried to fix things, I just made them worse.  Swallowing huge sobs, I bowed my head and had a conversation with God.  I said "God if you want this mess of a life you can have it.  If you think you can do anything with it, its all yours."

It was that moment that changed my life forever.  That moment of complete surrender.  I walked out of church that night a new person and into a new future.  God DID want my mess of a life because he knew he would turn it into something beautiful.

Living this life of surrender has taken me onto the mission field.  Its been 5 yrs of learning, making mistakes, getting back up and pushing forward.  There have been a lot of tears and serious talks with God, but I felt pretty sure I was still, after 5 yrs on the field, living a surrendered life.

Then God showed me what the real deal was...  I had started to take control again.  I had decided what my "missionary life" was going to look like.

I had a lot of reasons and excuses as to why I did this.  I blamed the books I'd read and the qualifications I felt I had.  But God didn't care about my excuses.  He kindly smacked me over the head and showed me that His plans were not my plans.  And that actually my plans were TINY compared to His!

I can't help but feel like that girl again, walking out of church and into a big beautiful future.

"That's why my cup is running over.  This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines."   - John 3:30


My new perfume
If you go to a travel clinic in the U.S. and tell them you're traveling to Honduras, they'll prescribe Malaria pills. They'll show you a map where you can see that Honduras is saturated with this disease.

I'm not sure where they get their info but Malaria isn't a thing here.  The problem here has always been Dengue and just recently Chikungunya.  There are no vaccines for these diseases.

Mosquitoes seem to be everywhere here.  It doesn't matter if you're in the city or in the mountains, they are always buzzing around your head.

Unfortunately, I'm one of those people mosquitoes love.  I can spray myself every night and still end up with a million itchy, bites.  But I was never too concerned because I had never gotten sick.  Maybe I was immune...

I'd been living in Honduras for 4 yrs and had never gotten Dengue.  But then came this mosquito borne epidemic Chikungunya.  The name sounded so ridiculous I couldn't help but laugh when people talked about it.   And I have to admit, I had trouble believing so many people were getting sick from it.

My joint pain supplements
My laughing stopped one night as my whole body began to hurt.  I went to a mirror and saw that I was covered in a red rash.  From that point on it only got worse, until I was bed ridden with a high fever.  Every joint and muscle in my body throbbed with pain.  I couldn't even stand up.

I looked up Chikungunya on the CDC website and it said the mosquito that carries this disease was most commonly found in the daytime, inside and outside homes in urban areas.  They said the fever would end in a week but joint pain could last a couple of weeks.

3 MONTHS of severe joint pain is what really happened.  I was handicapped.  Only now am I finally able to function without a lot of pain.

Needless to say I will never again look at a mosquito the same way.  I will not laugh at funny epidemic names or doubt anyone's illness.  Bug spray has become my new perfume and I spray myself night AND day.  Lesson learned!

When I was bed ridden a good friend sent me this video.  Its how you walk when you have Chikungunya.  It's SO accurate and WAY funnier now that I can walk.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


There are times I wake up in the middle of the night panicking.  The full reality of where I am and what I'm doing hits me like a ton of bricks.  I should be dreaming, but I'm freaking out.  Its all I can do to go back to sleep and not start packing a suitcase.

God is so amazing.  He always gives me the strength I need to push through.  Even when I think I can't, he knows I can.  And in the morning, when the fear starts to come back, I remind myself God has a plan.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

Mi Casa

I'll never forget the first day I walked into my new home.  My friend had warned me it was old and dirty, but assured me the size and cost of rent was worth it.  Well she was right!  It was old, falling apart and really dirty.  What I didn't know was that it was infested with roaches and only had running water twice a day.

I screamed a lot those next few months.  Roaches seemed to pop out of every corner and when the water was on, it was freezing cold.  God bless my friend Diana.  I don't know how she put up with me.

Eventually though, I grew accustomed to the eccentricities of my new home. I actually started to love the house!

I wish that were the end of the story but its not.  Living in this house has been a constant adventure!  Here are just a few examples of the fun I've had:

Missionary by day, exterminator by night.  I've worn this outfit too many times! There have been so many infestation problems it was more economical to buy the fumigating equipment.

The first few times I fumigated in shorts and flip flops. I've come a long way.

There was the craziest tick infestation.  They were EVERYWHERE.  In my
bed, on my clothes, on my kitchen counters and all over my poor dog.  I kept fumigating the little patch of dirt in my front yard but couldn't figure out where they were coming from.

Well, they were nesting in my walls!  THOUSANDS of them!  And after the first fumigation they all migrated inside.  It was like the movie Arachnophobia! I was walking around with tweezers and a cup of bleach trying to get as many as I could.

I recently found roaches nesting in my dresser.  I had to boil water on my stove-top (no hot water here) and wash every piece of clothing I had in warm water.  2 full days of boiling and washing.  I was so grossed out.

So now I'm a roach expert.  This is a roach sack.  They don't lay eggs like I always thought, but sacks that hatch with a ton of babies inside.  I found this sack stuck to my sock.

I wish I weren't so knowledgeable on this subject.  I'm finding these things everywhere!  And after a lot of time on Google, I've realized the roaches have already won.  Thank you Google.

Insects aren't the only visitors I get.  The neighbors' chickens keep getting into my house. It was funny the first 2 times.  Now not so much.

Then there are the toads.  These guys are poisonous to dogs.  I've had to launch a bunch of them over my 10 foot, razor wired fence.  I feel bad but...

There's so much more! This is just a little intro to Mi Casa.  But the rest will have to wait for another time.  Until then I still hope everyone comes to visit me.  I promise I have all the creatures under control :)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

ENDURANCE: Chicken Buses

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.  It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God...    - Lamentations 3:25-27

As time goes on, and on, and on I am realizing my life as a missionary is all about endurance.  I'm starting to understand that in those really long, quiet periods God IS working.  I can't see anything but I know He is.  And while I wait for answers to prayers prayed a million times, I will have hope and will continue pressing on.

God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working with us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.  - Ephesians 3:20  

So while I continue building my endurance and following God, I wanted to write more about my everyday Honduras.  I wanted to share the parts of life that have become a weird norm for me.  I wanted to share the parts that make me laugh or even sometimes cry.  So here goes.

Chicken Buses

Before I moved to Honduras I had only seen chicken buses in movies.  In movies they always seem to be old school buses with a ton of luggage strapped to their tops.   Their seats are filled with unfriendly looking natives, holding livestock and swatting flies.  Movies make chicken buses look awful.  I had no clue they would become my favorite mode of transportation!

At any time during the day, you can find a bus in Honduras.  There are schedules for these buses somewhere... but you don't need to know them.  All you need to do is ask a local where the bus passes and then you stand there and wait.  These buses can be school buses, coach buses or even little vans.  Their destinations are painted right on the front of their windshields, so you'll know which bus to flag down.

Being car-less here, I've really come to depend on the bus system.  It's amazing how many there are.  The bus station in San Pedro is bigger than any airport in the country!  But travelling by bus in the 3rd world is always an adventure - to say the least.

I've had many Chicken Bus experiences in Honduras but a few still really make me laugh.  And although some of these experiences might have made me cringe during the ride, they were totally worth it. I got from one end of the country to the other for only a few dollars.

One of these memorable rides was on a 6 hour trip.  I was sitting at the back of the bus with my head out the window.  Someone had peed on the floor and puked in the seat in front of me.  The stench was nauseating.  But I had to get home and it wasn't so bad with fresh air hitting my face.

I'm pretty sure this bus was going at least 80 mph down very narrow, 2 lane roads.  The driver ran into large tree branches and even a little roadside hut.  Finally at our destination, I got off the bus with only a few minor cuts and bruises. (With my head out the window I hit what the bus hit.)  The driver got off the bus too, looked at me and proudly asked, "Quick trip right?"

I think they add more rows of seats to these buses because I'm usually squished.  And when the person in front of me reclines their seat its even worse.  But one of these rides was really special.  As our bus rolled slowly through traffic and the sun beat down through my window (that wouldn't open), I was not happy when the seat in front of me reclined.  And as I looked closer I noticed there were also roaches crawling in and out of it, inches from my face.

Just at the very moment I thought I would scream,  I saw a feathery little head peek back at me.  And with that, my bad mood disappeared.  I wanted to thank the little old lady holding the chicken... but instead I snapped a picture.

With Honduran buses there's always room for one more.  Even if that means sitting on someone's lap, standing in the aisle or blowing a tire!  A direct bus can be not-so-direct with a little tip to the driver.  This can turn a 1 1/2 hr ride into 4 hrs, as every person on the bus gets dropped off at their house.  Exiting a bus at night can be tricky because you never know what your going to step in on your way out.  Your flip flop may slip through a pile of vomit...  

You might think I'm crazy but travelling by Chicken Bus is the best way to see a country and its people...very up close and personal.  There's nothing else like it.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

He Loves Me

A few weeks ago I was scrolling through Facebook and noticed my brother had posted something about lent.  I stopped to look because, well, we're not Catholic. I was curious to see what had caught his attention.  40 things to give up for lent.  What a great list!

I was reading this list out loud to a friend and she jokingly suggested we give up negative thinking. It was a really good idea and something we both needed to do. So we pledged to give up negative thinking until Easter.  Its been 2 weeks and my friend has been very successful. I, on the other hand, am not doing so well. This sounded so easy!  What was my problem?  

You know those nights when you can't shut off your brain and you lay there for hours worrying?  Or the mornings you'd just like to pull the covers over your head and hide forever?  These were just some of the things I realized negative thinking was doing to me.  I was letting these thoughts, these worries, these lies, affect my life.

My devotional today was about Romans 8:37 "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."  

God loves me.  I don't deserve it, but he will always love me.  And no matter what craziness happens, no matter how defeated I feel or afraid I am, I have to remember God will get me through.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  - Jeremiah 29:11

Oswald Chambers gives an example of surf in an ocean.  Hard surf that wears out the normal swimmer brings excitement and joy to a surfer.  The surfer has fun riding the waves!   

The hard surf is our difficult circumstances.  When we worry and stress over these things we let the surf pound us.  But when we remember that God is in control, we cut through the hard surf and enjoy riding the waves.

Today I choose to ride the waves.  I will stop worrying and fearing things that are out of my control.  I surrender, again, to God's plan for my life.  I know that through everything I have victory because He loves me.

This is my city.  I always try to look up at the mountains.  They remind me of God's promise.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I was once told missionary life was a lonely life.  As a new missionary I didn't quite get it.  But now I do.

Lonely:  sad because one has no friends 
Synonyms:  Isolated, all alone, outcast, forsaken, abandoned

Sounds crazy right?  But today as I prayed and again gave God my burdens, I realized it was true.  I was in fact lonely.  My heart was breaking and I couldn't understand why certain things were happening.  Why was support disappearing without a word?  Why were so many people offering help only to forget soon after? Where did some of my best friends go?

And today, with my head in my hands, I felt that loneliness more than ever before.  I told God to take this burden from me once and for all.  I was so tired of feeling abandoned and forgotten.  He would supply.

So as I pushed through the day God spoke to my heart.  I was here to pour out my life and give to the forgotten kids of Honduras.  No matter how I felt or how rough things got, I could never stop.  

When I got to the boys home this afternoon I found out one of my former students was murdered Friday.  3 shots to the head.  He was only 14.  

Later in the evening I stood in front of my class of 15 street kids and it fully hit me.  They were why I was here. It didn't matter who was with me, who forgot me or how poor I was.  The urgency to reach these kids had never been greater.  It meant life or death.  And I would never give up.

I wanted to share a little about some of the kids I work with.  In this tiny, impoverished country they get overlooked by society.  But God sees them.

13 year old Albert was hit by a car when he was 6.  His injuries were so severe he could not continue school.  At 13 he cannot read or write but with one on one tutoring we are helping him learn.  Please pray for his memory retention.  Should Albert learn to read and write he would be able to enter school or an apprenticeship program.
Lester is autistic.  He roams the streets of Honduras at night and once got lost and ended up in Guatemala.  He has never been to school but loves to write numbers and words.  With the right care he may be able to function in society.
Ray (the guy in the cap)  has raised his 5 siblings in poverty.  His parents took off when they were very young and he has been the man of the house ever since.  ( His 3 younger siblings are in the program as well.)  Currently he has not been able to come to class because of a "problem at home".  Whenever he leaves for class people rob his house.  Even with his wife and kids at home!  Please pray for their safety and that he will be able to return to class.  A high school education means better job opportunities and a future for his family.
16 year old Yenifer's parents left her at birth.  For 16 years she's lived with abusive cousins who have told her she was worthless and theirs to use.   She is very smart and very driven to succeed. She has fought through all the hatred and abuse and has found the love of Jesus. Though quiet and shy she is one of my best students.
22 year old Nancy has a 9 yr old daughter and a 4 year old son.  The father took off and left them to fend for themselves.  She is determined (and excited!) to get her high school degree and go on to become a nurse and support her family.  

I see things so much clearer now.  And I can't even remember why feeling lonely was such a big deal ...   

Friday, August 9, 2013

3rd World Kids: fact and fiction

I don't know how it happened.  I know we meant well... But how did Americans develop such a wrong idea about 3rd world kids??  Maybe it was all the programs we saw on t.v.? Starving children sitting in the dirt, stomachs painfully protruding, flies crawling around their eyes and mouths.  We were offered a way to save them.  With just a few cents we could feed them, clothe them and send them to school.  All their problems solved.

Is this how it happened?  I ask the question only because I was one of these Americans.  I moved to Honduras believing that as long as the kids were given food, clothes and an education they were better off than they were.

"They are better off than they were."  This is a phrase that now makes me cringe.

Think about a child in your life.  Maybe a niece, nephew, son or daughter?  Now think about only offering them 3 meals a day, clothes, school and nothing else.  No love, no attention, no supervision or discipline or support or encouragement or praise.  Would you ever allow your child to grow up like this?  No of course not!  But this is what many consider acceptable for 3rd world children.  Because "they are better off than they were."

During my time here in Honduras I've worked with over 130 "3rd World Kids."  They are complex, curious children, hungry for love and attention.  They need direction and support.  They can make you laugh and they can make you cry.  These children will look out for you first and themselves second.  If all they have is 1 tortilla they will offer you half.  Some are very rough around the edges but on the inside all they want is love and attention.

I've seen things done the right way and I've seen things done the wrong way here.  And let me tell you the difference is shocking.

I can't help but get angry when I think about all these "rescued" 3rd world kids raising themselves.  But I've learned a lot from the people who are doing it right.  And it's becoming very clear that this is what I'm being called to do.  I'm being called to do it right.

Please pray for the amazing children of Honduras.  They are waiting for their chance to shine.

"Every child you encounter is a divine appointment."  - Wess Stafford