The day of miracles

Yesterday when we came home from a full day up at the schools of hope, my heart was bursting with emotion. I could not even begin to put into words all that we had seen and experienced that day.  I was happy, so very happy and yet I also wanted to weep. Weep at the goodness of God and they way we saw His hand move up in the mountains. They may be a forgotten people to the rest of the world or the rest of Tegucigalpa, but God has not forgotten them! It was a beautiful!  Miracles didn’t just happen when Jesus walked the earth. They happened yesterday. I saw them for myself.

The Lundrigans first began the work here years ago. It has long been a dream of their hearts to bring water up to these schools. Can you even begin to imagine living in an area where there is no running water? How would you live? To us, water is a given thing. Something that we take for granted. We turn on the tap, and we know without thinking about it that water will flow from the taps. Not so for the people here. Not so for the schools. Unfathomable….and yet for them, it is reality.

Yesterday we were prepared to head up to one of the schools to do crafts all day. We received word though that the water truck was at one of the schools! The tanks were delivered the previous day…and what an interesting process that was getting those enormous tanks over the walls!
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I will never forget the day water came to the schools. It was a day wrought with emotion. Tears flowed. Getting water up there was not an easy process. It wasn’t like you make a call one day and have water delivered the next.  There was much stress and many tears shed before…and yet yesterday it was reality.  At Moises Starkman school, Judy held onto the hose and felt the water flow through it with such a powerful force it almost knocked her to the ground. “The water is coming!” she said, overcome with emotion and many tears. You see, this was something, that up until now she had only dreamed about, and now it was happening!  It was no longer a dream.  It took several people to hold onto the hose for the hose not to come whipping out of the tank and spraying everyone. Moises Starkman had water!!  Not only that but the guy from Sana who delivered the water told us it was drinkable as he reached into the newly filled tank, filled his mug with water and began to drink. I don’t think the kids realized what an incredible gift this was to them….they were used to not having it.

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The second miracle happened when we finally made it over to Maria Elana school for the crafts. The team brought with them these really cool photo frame crafts for the children to make. Once their photo frame was made they would have their photo taken with a Polaroid camera to put in the frame. There was a problem though. Most classes have between 40 and 50 children. There was only enough print for 41 Polaroid prints. What if they got to the class and there were not enough prints? Well, guess what? The class that they had wanted to do the craft in? 41 children on the attendance role. Exactly enough!

There were two more instances that day where there was enough. One was in a grade one class who received underwear. Exactly enough for each child. Then came the second class of grade ones. The team had socks to hand out to them. They were handed out and there was even one left over….but then a child came up and said she did not receive a pair, and so the exact amount once again.

Another dream that the Lundrigans have had is for the kinder class. Kinder is held in a separate building next door to the school. This class has never had bathrooms.  Can you imagine a school with no bathrooms? So when the kids needed to go, they had to go outside on the ground. The team from St. Catharines came down and began the work on the bathrooms with the help of some of the men in the community. They are now near completion!  Now these precious kids will have somewhere to go when the need arises.   Not only that, but kinder now has a gate around the school, thanks to this amazing team that has been with us this week.

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There was something else too; one final thing, that happened before we came home that day. In the car on the way down the mountain, Dale was telling Cliff and Jackie; a lovely married couple on our team about a gift his mom had sent down to him. Recees Peanut Butter cups.  Dale’s favorite!  It was a gift that Dale left on our bed and a gift that our dog Reuben managed to get a hold of…and eat! How disappointing to receive your favorite treat, only to have your dog eat it all.

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Jackie came into the room and she says while crying that she knew there was a reason she didn’t eat these this week…and then she proceeded to give Dale a bag full of peanut butter cups! What a sweet heart and what a blessing!

Isn’t it great how God cares about all the details? Water, bathrooms, fences, polaroid prints, socks, underwear and Recees Peanut Butter Cups!

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photo credit on group photo to Drew Unruh

One small child

We were wrapping up our day and preparing to head back down the mountains. There was a precious little boy hanging around with us that captured our hearts in a big way. He couldn’t have been more than four years old.   He was filthy, and the red shorts that he wore were much too big. Dale rolled down the waist band so they wouldn’t be so large on him.  He seemed content; a smile lit his face. He was so happy just to hang out with us, to have someone pay him a little attention.

 

At one point Dale lifted him up onto the hood of a rusty old car on the site. The boy had a piece of paper and a pencil and he had drawn a house with a path way from the door and something that sort of resembled a tree.  Dale took the pencil from him and drew, at my suggestion a snow man. I added a Canadian flag on the arm of the snowman. Dale wanted him to draw his family and he asked him about his mom, dad, brothers, or sisters to which all of them he replied that he had none. No family. We thought he was being silly; joking around with us.

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A short while after we were telling him he needed to go home, because his Mommy would be looking for him.  The parents were no where to be seen, and we didn’t want to leave him there all alone when we made our way back .  Victor, who lives in the area took him by the hand and began to walk him to his house. He was met by this little guys neighbours who informed him that the mom was not at home today, but at work.  Today he was left on his own, and so on the streets he wandered . I guess that is why he wasn’t in a hurry to get there. He knew no one would be looking for him. He knew no one was worried about where he was.   We don’t know if this was a one time thing or if his mom is gone everyday while she tries to provide for her family.  Perhaps that is why he said he had no mommy, no daddy and no brothers or sisters.  No family. In his young mind, perhaps that is what he believes.  Left alone to fend for himself at not even four years old. Broke our hearts….even if it was only for a day.  

 I thought about that mom who has to work to provide an income or her family will not survive. The mom who is single and has no one to care for her children while she works and the mom who just can’t afford child care.  What is she to do? I am sure she must worry the whole time she is working that her children are ok. Hoping and praying that the neighbours will watch out for them.  Up in the mountains, the situation of many is desperate.  It’s all about surviving one day to the next. Dale made the comment that it brings a whole new meaning to it ” takes a village to raise a child.”  We have seen it with our eyes and never will we view that statement the same.

 

 

It’s all about LOVE

But the fruit of the Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5:22-23

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For the next nine months, Dale, and I along with Kathy and Taylore (3 months) will be in the schools, teaching on the fruit of the Spirit. With Valentine’s falling in February and love being the first fruit listed it was only fitting to begin our lessons with love.

On Thursday, while Randy, Judy and Kathy delivered the school supplies, Dale, Taylore and I taught 7 classes on this subject. The kids were attentive and really got into it. Taylore did an object lesson using ice cubes and demonstrating how God’s love can change us.  It can help us to love people who are mean to us. For example if people pull our hair, or kick our chair, or say mean things about us. God’s love can help us love people who are not so easy to love.

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Dale told the story of a boy who spent all the money his dad gave him; his inheritance at the zoo, treating all his friends to all kinds of good food and other things….having a wonderful time. Then once the boy’s money was gone…his friends ditched him. The boy had no more money even to pay for a cab back home, let alone food to eat, but a farmer offered him a job working for him, feeding pigs. After three days he was so hungry that he began to eat the pigs food. Then finally he had earned enough money for a cab ride home. He was nervous about going home as he had broken his father’s heart when he left….but yet the father welcomed him home with open arms.

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My object lesson was that I had received mail and I was so excited as I danced around at the front of the room. My mail was a valentine from God with John 3:16 written on it. “For  God so loved the world that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.” 

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We ended our program by singing that old Sunday school song “Peace like a river”, and the second verse “Love like an ocean.” This is the song that we introduced to them when we did their school inauguration. They remembered it!  We were really surprised by the older kids; those in grade 5 and 6 who started singing without even being prompted!  Then when we were packing up for the day, we overheard some of the children singing “peace like a river” softly in their seats. Amazing!!

 

Also that day, Dale and I handed out Christmas gifts to the sponsored kids who were not present at the time they were handed out last year. It was incredible watching them open their gifts.  At first they all stood inline until every child had their gift, then they opened them all at once! They joy their gifts brought to their sweet faces.Image

 

Please pray that the kids in the schools will remember all they have been taught. Pray that it will take root in their hearts and that they will all come to know the love of God. He can make such a difference in their lives.

This is Kathy…

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Kathy is a children’s pastor from Windsor Ontario. She is on a three month sabbatical from her church and has joined our staff here in Honduras. She is amazing with children.   I think she was overwhelmed with all the hugs she received on her first visit to the schools. She made a comment that she had never had so many hugs in her life. That’s how the kids are here. The are just so friendly and loving….and they absolutely love it when they have visitors from Canada.

One thing you should know about Kathy is this: not only is she gifted in working with children, and in administration, she is also the queen of organization!  We had boxes, boxes and more boxes of school supplies. Enough to hand out to the over 120 sponsored kids at the one school, plus enough for over twenty teachers at the three schools.  Thousand of items. Things such as pencils, sharpeners, notebooks, markers, ruler sets and Bristol board. Basically anything you could think of that applied to school times 140. ( Teachers and students)

First, Kathy had to order everything. Each child/grade  and teacher had a specific list of things needed. Just like they do in Canada, teachers send home a list of things required for that specific school year. It was a daunting task…but Kathy did it!

 

Then she had to organize it all. Everything had to be arranged in piles according to school, grade and then boy/girl. It was a task that took many hours, but through her guidance, Dale, Taylore, Kathy and myself finished the job. As you can see from the photo below we still managed to have fun while we worked!

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Thursday was the day that Dale, Taylore and myself did our first program on “LOVE” at Moises Starkman school. It went very well, and I may post about it later. While we did our program, Randy, Judy and Kathy had the honour of handing out the supplies to the children. For those of you who sponsor children, I can’t tell you the absolute joy that these supplies brought to these kids.  The smiles it brought to their faces. They were so excited; especially the younger children. There was one thing though that was kind of a downer, and Kathy would tell you that it broke her heart. That was, to see the other children in the class; the kids who are not sponsored who did not receive anything. Noticing them watch the other kids while they themselves received nothing was heart wrenching. Oh that all them were sponsored.

Below is the grade 5 class with their teacher.

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Kathy pictured with one of the grade one teacher’s and our translator, Melissa…and below

with a student.

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We are so incredibly blessed to have a chance to work with this lovely woman of God. I am looking forward to getting to know her better in the next three months as she pours her life in to the children at the Schools of hope!

First day of school

It was the first day of school yesterday!  The day children start a new grade. Here in Honduras, the public schools have from around Christmas til now off. The weather is just too cold for the children to attend school. Sounds crazy to think it is too cold for school here, when we are in the tropics. However the temperatures do drop that time of year. In the mountains it is even colder; by about ten degrees. Wood slat houses and often dirt floors, don’t offer a whole lot of warmth, if any at all. With the wind howling and blowing through the gaps in the wood slats….it is very cold.  The schools are made of cinder blocks, so no insulation at all.

 Anyway; yesterday our day began bright and early as is our normal routine. I was up before 5am, did my devotions, awoke my children , fed them breakfast and saw them off on the school bus at 6:10. Shortly after this, Dale and I headed to the office to pick up Taylore and Kathy; our two interns. Then we made our way up to the mountains to do our program at the first school at 7:15.  As Schools of hope we were asked to put on a short program for the children and Dale was asked to pray over each of the three schools. Really there are four schools because one of the schools has afternoon classes. The other schools only have school in the mornings. So, all in all we put on four programs for the first day of school. It was a very full day…exhausting  but oh, so amazing!!!

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After the national anthem was sung,  Dale prayed a prayer of blessing over each of the schools. We introduced our theme for the year. The “fruit of the Spirit”.  We taught them a “new song”, which really is an old Sunday school song.”I’ve got peace like a river”.  The only exception was that we taught in Spanish while Taylore played along with her guitar. That song translated equals a mouthful of words and it was interesting getting all the words out! The kids loved it though and caught on to its catchy tune.

Kathy did an object lesson about planting good seeds into our lives. She asked them,” if I plant my shoe will a shoe grow?”

She also asked if she planted Victor, would he grow?  This made the children laugh.

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Taylore also did an object lesson using a rotten banana and a good banana, asking them which one they would rather eat….and if they were a fruit, would they want to be a good fruit or a bad fruit?

We taught them a memory verse; Galations 5:22-23 which they seemed to really enjoy. We made a memory verse board where the words were attached with Velcro. We selected a few children to pull of a couple words at a time and then the children repeated the verse. I think by the end of each program those kids knew that verse!

Earlier in the week we also made and painted Styrofoam fruit that we can use throughout the upcoming year. They were bright and eye catching.  We will be introducing a new fruit of the Spirit each month.

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I can’t wait to see what this new school year holds! It is such an amazing opportunity to be able to share Jesus with these kids, and show them that they do have Hope in Him!

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But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

This week’s ramblings!

At 5 o’clock this morning I was wide awake. It was kind of frustrating because I would much rather have been sleeping. The two previous nights I did not sleep well at all; between roosters crowing, dogs barking and a child up in the middle of the night. Lack of sleep makes for long days. Coffee  and also prioritizing some time for physical fitness helps give me energy!

It has been a crazy busy week. The week began on Tuesday where we, as a staff,( Randy, Judy, Kathy and Taylore, Victor, Dale and myself) met for prayer and worship and planning of our upcoming school year and other things that I am not at liberty to share right now….but hopefully soon! Then the rest of the week we had several meetings in the different schools with each of the directors regarding different things in the upcoming year, and also meetings at the office. Our theme for the year is the fruit of the Spirit. We will be focusing on one fruit a month. All of the teachers want Dale; as the pastor of the schools to come and start their year off with prayer over their schools. That blows my mind to think the teachers would be so open and receptive to such things. They want it!  It’s an incredible opportunity that we all have here to share the gospel, and be a light in a dark place where poverty is rampant all around and the needs are so very great.

One thing about meetings here in Honduras is that you walk away feeling like nothing was accomplished and so then yet another meeting is set up to basically talk about the same thing. Ah, life in Honduras! 🙂 I am sure any other missionaries here can attest to the same truth.

 

I have to admit that there were moments where I wanted to pull my hair out this week. Please try and understand and hear my heart that I am not trying to be negative. I guess I am just more frustrated at myself.  I am not great at all with things that are related to computers, and in this day in age that is a real handicap. It’s needed and I am clueless as to how certain programs like excel work. So there where times in the office this week where I felt completely useless and in the way. There were moments where I wondered “why am I even here?”, moments I was just sitting around when I really wanted to be doing something. Anything besides sitting in a chair and watching everyone else enter things into a computer.  I wanted to be moving…doing something. Not just observing. I don’t learn by merely watching.  Maybe that is how I am wired. I often wonder if I have adult ADD. I find it almost impossible to sit still for any length of time. It’s torture. I get fidgety and antsy and just want to be moving. This is true even when watching a movie, or sad to say even in church! I cannot sit still!  Anyway, hopefully someday I can learn all that is needed as far as computers go and the work that is required here, so that I am an asset and not just sitting there watching everyone else work.   I really do want to learn,  but I need someone with patience as I am not going to learn it over night. Practice makes perfect, right?

One of the highlights of the week was working on the props for the upcoming Fruit of the Spirit lessons we are doing. We cut fruit shapes from Styrofoam and then painted them. They turned out awesome. Arts and crafts are right up my ally and brought back good memories of back home and my little daycare kiddos.

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Also my birthday was this Thursday. Judy took me out to this nice French café for lunch, along with the other girls. I had a delicious salad and an amazing cheesecake. Then there was more cake at the office afterwards with all the staff.  Later on, Dale and I went out for dinner to Applebees, and then went to the mall. One of the stores had a big sale and we finally were able to buy curtains for our kitchen and office! What a difference a bit of colour makes! After that we went to home group. Home group is one of the highlights of our week. We have come to love and appreciate this group of people. It’s really an amazing time sharing with one another over good food, coffee and talking about the Holy Spirit. We are going through the book “The God I never knew.”  it is amazing to see with our own eyes the spiritual growth of everyone. Home group has helped us feel connected, settled and at home here in Honduras, where he has called us to!

All this week we have also been continuing on with our Spanish. It is important for us to be fluent in the language so that we can communicate well with people. As of February we will be only doing three days of Spanish lessons. Mondays and Fridays are our busy days and we won’t be home until later on. Having them in the evening is not an option because that cuts into time with our family.  Elisa goes to bed at 8, so evening classes would mean we would never see her.

Yesterday we were up early as usual. ( The kids are up by 5) After the kids left for school we left for the Villa Olimpica and went for our daily walk/run. Then we had Spanish class from 7-9 am, and were busy the remainder of the day….a meeting at a school and then an afternoon staff meeting. I am finding it a little hard to balance everything I need to balance in my day…Time with God, work, ministry, family, household things like laundry and meals, fitness, and not get stressed.  I know God will give me the grace and patience I need and I will get it all accomplished. I am still a work in progress…Aren’t we all?  I guess that is where the kids come in and maybe they can start to pitch in a little more with things around the house. Last night for example, Jake hung up all the laundry that was sitting in the washer that I had not had time to hang because of having Spanish so early. Now would be a good time for a dryer but it’s not going to happen!

 

Today we are headed out to the market. I love going there. It’s a real Honduran experience and should you ever come to Honduras, we would be happy to take you!

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So, there you have it….this week in Honduras.