The God of the mountains….

Recently I did one of those posts on Facebook where you post a certain amount of “things you may not know about me” I thought about it afterwards and thought that I should have written that I hate being late. Being late or pressed for time stresses me out. Big time. I like to be early.  In all honesty I would rather not show up for something than be late. Isn’t that silly?  Here in Honduras the concept of ” on time” does not necessary mean the same thing as it does in Canada. That being said;  I purposely did not wear my watch today. I knew that we had Spanish class in the afternoon and I did not want to be constantly looking at my watch stressing about the time and worrying if we were going to make it back in time. I was determined not to stress about it, not be uptight and relax.  Today was one of the best days yet!

It was our final day with the children of Mary Flakes. We had a program for them that included puppets, a story and a skit on the Christmas story.  Certificates were handed out to the boy and girl of each class with the highest marks.

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THEN….We had about 30 bins of food that were purchased at Price Mart; premade and packed with necessities. Things like beans, rice, sugar, tomato paste, spices. I am not sure what more was in them but they were crammed full of delicious goodness. The school director and man who is the “president” if you will of that community selected specific families and seniors who have the most need. What a joy it was to hand them out to these precious moms , grandmas and senior gentlemen. They were so thankful. So happy. Some of them had tears shimmering in their eyes.  The older gentlemen each received little care packages with things like tooth paste, a tooth brush, screw driver and other little items.

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There was a mom who was not able to make it to the school to receive her package. She was sick with a cyst so large that to look at her you would assume she was pregnant. She had left to purchase milk for her baby, so we spoke with the grandma who brings her grandchildren to the feeding program to be fed the nutritious CSB and beans and rice. Here are four of them below.

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We had the honour of visiting this moms humble abode and hand delivering the bin of food.  Her home was so very small…. the entire home smaller than a single room in my house. Out of all the homes we have visited…this one had the most impact on me…hardest to accept…unimaginable that the family must to live in such conditions. There were cracks in the boards on the floor and in the walls in which the light came through. Two double beds for nine children and four adults. Thirteen people share one tiny home and two beds. Thirteen! I was told later that two adults sleep on the floor of the kitchen.. Can you imagine for a moment how uncomfortable that must be? Rough wooden boards in a small and crowded space….that’s where you lay your head at night? Or sharing your bed with five or more other people?

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Eventually the mom came home and we had the opportunity to pray for her healing. It was a beautiful moment. I can still see the tears streaming down her face and I wanted to cry out “God, help her unbelief” She said she believes in God but has difficulty in believing God cares for her. Oh that she would know that He sees her, that He loves her!

After this we visited the home of a really old gentleman. He looked to be about a hundred years old.  He sat in his make shift wheelchair, so crippled up that he couldn’t walk or move his arms and hands. He also must have been cold because he was all bundled up in a hat and wool blanket. He lived at the top of a high hill so there was no way for him to get to the school to receive his care package…so we brought it to him.

I felt his shoulder bones protruding through his shirt as we laid hands on him and prayed for him. He was a beautiful, quiet soul. He loved the Lord and told us that he had church meetings in his house almost every day.

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It was a beautiful day in the mountains….and one day I will not soon forget.

Matthew 5:3

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Language class today….

I was very tired last night so I went to bed early. However my sleep was disrupted around 9pm by my puppy, who, it turns out was barking at his own shadow in the glass panes beside the door.  Then again he woke me up at 1:38 and 4:35 to go outside…which I am glad for; because it meant two less messes to clean up off the floor, two less messes to accidently step in when the lights are out. However these interruptions left me feeling very tired…especially during Spanish class this afternoon. I would have much rather curled up on the couch with a quilt and had a nap….not have to think in Spanish.

I found today’s class very difficult. Nothing was registering. My brain was just not firing.  At least in the second half of the class. Maybe it was because I was so tired…too tired to focus.  I felt like I was in a fog as I gave my teacher a blank stare.  I wanted to quit and say “I can’t do this!” while on the brink of tears.  I felt frustrated with myself, not knowing the answer to any of the questions. There were new words that I had not seen before that needed to go in the blanks to complete the sentences. Twenty three of them!  And I am suppose to know what they mean, speak it rapidly and put the correct ending on them? “One day it will click, a light will come on and it will get easier” our teacher told us. How I wished it were today. Because today I really felt like I was in the dark.  I really do want to be able to communicate effectively here; fluently. Not always having to reply “no entiendo” or  that I only know a little Spanish. The truth is I DO know a lot; many, many words but I can’t spit the right words with the right endings out fast enough! I guess I am a little discouraged about it. Discouraged that today was a struggle for me.

I don’t want to end this on a depressing note. Much as I might feel like it right now in this moment; I am not giving up on Spanish because of one day that didn’t go so well!   One day it will come! One day all that I learned today WILL register. Right now it might seem like it is taking forever to learn and grasp a hold of….but there will come a day that it will…and what a happy day that will be!

Feeding program and end of school year thoughts…..

Hungry children are being fed twice a day in all three schools. In fact since it began a few months ago; over 50,000 meals have been served. Incredible! In the morning they receive CSB; a high protein drink that sort of looks like cream of wheat porridge but the consistency is thinner.  It is jam packed with all the nutrition they need for a day. The children love it and sometimes it is flavoured with cinnamon. They are also fed a lunch of rice, beans and tortillas.

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There are testimonies of how this program has helped people. Amazing transformations! I know of one little girl who was anemic. Her doctor feared that she might also have other serious health complications  as well. However since being in the feeding program she has gained some weight and is no longer anemic. She now has a clean bill of health. It is surprising to know that this young girls family is actually embarrassed by her story. In this culture something like this brings shame to a family.

Another; a mom was so malnourished that really she should have died. She was in the hospital where she received CSB three times daily. She is now stronger and healthier and no longer on death’s doorstep. Also like the young girl I mentioned she is afraid to tell others as she would be considered a disgrace in her community. It’s hard for us as North American’s to understand that mentality of both these stories but in Honduras that is culturally how it is. Not being able to put food on the table and needing the help of others is a sad reality in this area, but it also considered disgraceful.

Children’s grades are up because they are being fed nourishing food and do not need to go through their day feeling weak and tired because of lack of food. They have more energy and stay awake in class.

Isaiah 55 :3 ” Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good?”

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Near all three schools  there are many little  shacks: pulperias, where for a few lps, children can buy snacks for themselves; candies and little bags of chips. The problem with that is that some children fill up on junk food and empty calories that won’t keep them full for long…rot their teeth and make them sick.   Kids are the same here I guess as back in Canada.  I know if my children fill up on junk food before their meal, they are not hungry for their dinner when it is served and it is the same here.  When  it comes time for their beans and rice some of them don’t finish it all.  Something that is healthy and high in protein and will keep them full for a long time. I am not sure what can be done about that; other than maybe offering classes and educating the parents and children on proper nutrition. We can’t ask that these shops be shut down as it is the people’s livelihood who operate them.

Also to run the program it takes a few moms to show up to cook the food. Sometimes it happens where no moms show up to help that particular day.  Even though they are on a schedule.  On those days, sadly the children do not eat.  I can’t understand that …..not really….not when they know that on that day the children will go hungry because they won’t have food to eat…because they decide not to come that day to cook.  Perhaps they have a reason. Perhaps they have a sick child at home that day or maybe they are working somewhere else where they can a little money to provide for their family, put food on the table.  Can you imagine for a moment how disappointed the children must be when they are told there will be no food that day? How do you tell them? How would you explain it to your own child?  There was one day before we moved here that this happened and a little girl in grade three offered to cook rice for everyone because she had seen her mom cook it and “we’re all hungry” and then went on to gather a couple more of her friends to cook the beans and tortillas. Obviously we cannot have young children working in a hot kitchen…but they so did not want to miss out on their food.

Just this past week we were at one of the schools for the last day of school. Our plan was to put on a Christmas program for them; which we eventually did.  However when we all arrived, the Schools of hope staff were all surprised. The children put on a program for all of us.  They had all of us sit at a long table like guests of honor while they all performed and gave all of us gifts!  Christmas  mugs that were  filled with candy and a small teddy bear…all this coming from those who have nothing; from those who live in poverty. A priceless, and precious moment that I won’t ever forget.  I literally had to hold back the tears.  Towards the end of our day their at lunch time…they served us; a meal of Chinese rice.  It was very moving and very humbling. They were thankful. Thankful to the Schools of Hope and thankful to God.

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Just a few things about the retreat…

I have to be honest,  at first I was a little apprehensive about the Woman of Purpose retreat I signed up for. On the other  hand I was really looking forward to the weekend away; the break from the routine of every day life.  Being the introvert that I am, events like this are a real stretch for me; a step out of my comfort zone. I shy away from places where there are a lot of people; people I don’t know.  However I knew in my heart it would be really good, and I knew I would enjoy it…and it was free!  It’s free because some wonderful women in the states sponsor a missionary so they can go too; totally paying their way.  So off to the retreat in Valle de Angeles I went, along with about 99 other missionary sisters from all over Honduras.

When we arrived we were greeted by friendly and warm staff who totally made us feel at home.  Then we went off to different pampering stations that were set up.  Pedicures, manicures and hair! There was food galore and plenty of chocolate to be had. Also available were tons of free books of different genres, free shampoo and conditioner sets, scrap booking and other crafts.

The worship was AMAZING and the teachings were incredible!  After one of our sessions we had our quiet time where we were to focus on ourselves and write a letter to God all that what was on our hearts. Then we were to wait on Him and write the words He said in return to us….our letter from God! This is my letter…my letter from God that I heard Him speak to my heart.

Dear Carolyn,

I see your heart and I know your desire to serve Me. You were obedient in doing what you felt was my will for your family; leaving everything familiar to come to a foreign land where all is new. I’ve seen you struggle and I haven’t forgotten you. All the hairs on your head are numbered. You are of great value to me and worth to me. Sometimes you don’t see that. Depend on Me. Rely on Me for your strength. You may have left family and friends but I have gone with you. You are not alone. I will never leave you or forsake you. I am with you always. I will never fail or abandon you. I am here.

What can I say?  The retreat was so amazing!   Had I not gone I would have totally missed on a  wonderful time of renewal, refreshing and revival…not to mention new friendships. Many things happened and were said that both touched and broke my heart, opened my eyes to certain things and gave me a greater desire to be more like Him….less of me.  I am so glad I decided to go! I look forward to next years retreat.

Here are my wonderful roommates and myself.

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Oh that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him! He will respond as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming rains of early spring. Hosea 6:3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mgo4vMspXJ4