Easter in Honduras

This year marks our first Easter here in Honduras. Unlike Canada, where children have Good Friday off of school, our kids have had the entire week off, plus Monday for Semana Santa-(Holy Week).  The city becomes like a ghost town. Normally traffic is crazy, stressful. Cars everywhere, making four lanes out of a two lane road, horns blaring, annoying cab drivers.  During Semana Santa, there are hardly any cars on the roads. Not only that but the entire city shuts down; with the exception of gas stations and grocery stores. Some stores are closed until after Monday. Even the market shuts down during this week.  Most people head out of town to visit family in other cities or head to the beach.  Semana Santa seems like an even bigger deal than Christmas.

On Thursday night we met with our small group at the Ruiz home. With it being Semana Santa, fewer people were there, but we had an amazing time of worship, communion with home made matzo bread.  This was the first time we have had communion since we moved to Honduras and it was beautiful.  Gerson also washed everyone’s feet while Amy prayed a prayer of blessing over each one.

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Dale and I thought it would be nice if we could have a get away as well…a mini vacation so to speak . A chance to get away from our routine, get out of the city and have a peaceful time away from home. We found a Christian camp where we were able to rent a family dorm for just $33 for the night. The place had a pool!  Our kids have not been in a pool since last summer! The pool was freezing, but it’s been so hot, the ice cold water was refreshing once you were in it for a while.  Not only that but they made an exception for us and allowed us to bring our little dog, who behaved very well there, thankfully.

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Yesterday Randy and Judy took us to Comayagua, about an hour way. We walked street after street and viewed the beautiful alfombras- ( Carpets). They are made entirely of saw dust shavings and depict the life of Jesus. We did see one carpet that was made from dyed orange peels. They also had re enactments of the Easter story and a processional. Parade like floats were carried on the shoulders of many people while they tried to maneuver around the corner. It was interesting to watch. Surely there must be an easier way. They had their foot work down pat! Honestly I did find it kind of creepy because they were clothed in outfits that eerily resembled the KKK. I am not sure what the significance of their “costumes” were…but on their shoulders they carried a float that had Jesus carrying the cross. I think it was suppose to be Jesus anyway, he was dressed in a purple and gold robe.

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This Easter is a different one for us. I am kind of sad about it, in a way. Gone are our normal traditions in the past as we make new traditions. We won’t be getting together with our family, or cooking a traditional Easter dinner. How we miss our family this time of year. There was no Good Friday service to attend. There are no cute Easter crafts and activities with daycare kids. We have always had an egg hunt with our kids each year. Even as they get a little too old for that , it is something they look forward  to. Just last week, Jake asked me if we were still going to our Easter egg hunt. I had told him “no” because Easer candy cannot be found here in Honduras. That’s not entirely true because we did find a package of mini Cadbury cream eggs….but at a dollar per mini egg they were much too expensive to justify purchasing.  However, last night Judy gave me a bag of Easter candy for the kids that she bought on her recent trip to the states…so thank you Judy! The hunt will continue this year. And yes, we do know it isn’t about the bunny….it’s just a fun tradition.

Tomorrow we will have an Easter morning service, bright and early at 7am. This will be followed by breakfast at the Marriot with our church family. We are looking forward to this!

I am thankful that I live in a country where there is freedom to share about Jesus love to the children of Honduras.  It’s a wide open door. Their hearts are open. It’s humbling that God would call us here to this beautiful country of Honduras.

It’s also humbling to know that if we were the only person on earth, Jesus would have still come. He still would have paid the price. It was our sin, that nailed him there to the cross so long ago. He was bruised, and beaten beyond recognition. And as he hung there bleeding and dying for our sin, our shame, our rebellion,  the crowds laughed at him, mocked him and scorned him.  He suffered so much and oh, the incredible pain that he went through for you, for me….not just physical but emotional too…so we could be free.  He did it willingly for us. He died so we could live! So we could be whole! I am so thankful for the cross! I am thankful that He didn’t stay dead…the tomb couldn’t hold Him. He rose again… Because He lives…We too can have life!

Who has believed our message?
    To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
    like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
    nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all.

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
    yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
    And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
    he was led away.[b]
No one cared that he died without descendants,
    that his life was cut short in midstream.[c]
But he was struck down
    for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
    and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
    he was put in a rich man’s grave.

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
    and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
    he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
    and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
    he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
    my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
    for he will bear all their sins.
12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
    because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
    He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

The help

Recently it has been on my heart to write about the Hondurans in our lives. The incredible people we have the honour to work with and know on a daily basis. They are all amazing! There is Victor, Damaris, Melissa and Delmis .

Today though I want to write about Suyapa.
When we first moved here, we were told that one of the first things we should do is hire a cleaning lady. At the time I felt that I didn’t need a cleaning lady, that I was fully capable of cleaning my own house. However, we saw the reasoning behind it. We would be giving a Honduran a little more income and it was a way of pouring into their economy. Not to mention the blessing it is to come home to a clean house after a long day at work.
The going rate here for someone to come into your home for a full day of cleaning, doing laundry and cooking if you so wish, is very inexpensive by North American standards. The going rate here is less than what an hourly rate is for a cleaning lady back in Canada.
Meet Suyapa. She is the amazing woman who comes into my home and cleans my house once a week. I wish you all could meet her. She is incredible. She loves the Lord with her whole heart and is a woman of faith, always giving glory to God. Even when a recent hardship came to her family. Emotionally it shook her up and upset her greatly, but she never lost her faith in God. She is as cute a button and we absolutely adore her. Every Tuesday she arrives before 8 in the morning and she doesn’t finish until almost 4. No one can get my whites clean like Suyapa. And strong! She may be little but she is mighty!
I feel so bad that she works so hard for what by Canadian standards is so little. Yet here it is considered a good wage. We do pay her a little more than what the going rate is, to cover her transportation costs, but still I would like to increase it even more just to “bless” her. She is such a blessing to us! However we cannot. The problem is that if we did, it would end up causing more harm than good. Because, if we were to move away from here, she would need to find another family to clean for and they would not pay her above the going rate…which would mean her lifestyle would need to adjust to making less.
Recently Suyapa was cleaning at the office. The staff had sat down to eat their food in the dining room, some of which Suyapa herself had cooked. Suyapa had her plate of food and sat down on a stool. Not in the dining room, but in the kitchen. We told her to come into the dining room and join us; that she didn’t have to eat in the other room alone and away from everyone else.
Suyapa eventually joined us at the table. It was then that she told us why she was reluctant at first. She told us of something from her past that made me think of a scene right out of the movie “The Help”.
When she was 11 years old she used to clean house for a family and look after the children. (I was surprised to learn that this was a Honduran family; not North American.) While she was in their home, she had her own designated plate, cup and utensils to use. She could not eat off of the same dishes as the family she worked for, nor drink from their cups. She was not allowed to sit at the table with them, and she could never, ever sit on the furniture. She told us she has never forgotten that, and it has always stuck with her. I can’t imagine how that must have made her feel. Words like degraded, dirty, less than, come mind. She was only 11 years old…just a young girl! That happened many years ago, but she has never forgotten. Those events left their mark upon her soul. To think she has carried those feelings all these years, breaks my heart. So, now when she was asked to join everyone else, I think it might have caught her off guard. Maybe she didn’t know what to think. I do think it made her happy though. I was shocked at her story and told her that she could sit on my furniture anytime!
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Suyapa is pictured here on the far right…and in the photo above, making Enchiladas for Dale’s birthday.
One thing I have noticed here in Honduras is this…life is hard. There is a lot of injustice in this country that I don’t know if I will ever understand. I have wept over things that have happened to others…things that just are not fair. I know Hondurans that have tragedy come into their lives and yet they remain a people strong in their faith. They are a people not destroyed. Their roots go down deep. I know people that have lost family members; a husband, a father far too soon, far too young. They know what it is to go through tough times, terrible times. They know the true meaning of suffering and yet they know that it is God who sees them through. Their trust is in Him. Completely. It speaks volumes to me and I don’t even know how to put it into words.

Top four answers…

It was back in October 2012, that I wrote a post on the bog what our kids thoughts were about the pending big move to Honduras. I am pasting the link below. I thought it might be interesting to find out how they are feeling now. Now that we have been living here over eight months.

https://cjruttan.wordpress.com/2012/10/

After dinner, Ben and I were walking Reuben through a gated community near us. I asked him how he was feeling now. I asked him for four things he loved about Honduras. Surprisingly the answers came easy to him. Jacob had a little more trouble. He is really missing Canada right now….but he knows this too shall pass and he won’t always be longing for home. Elisa…her answers came pretty easy too. Below are their top four answers of things they like…and miss!

 

Ben likes…

1. Food. He loves Honduran food; especially enchiladas!  He likes baleadas as well, and lets not forget pulpusas!

2.The Weather

3. Having his own bathroom.

4. Seeing  mountains when he looks out the windows.

He misses

1. Friends and Family

2. Living across the street from a good friend

3. Freedom ( being able to go places by himself)

4. Snow

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Jacob likes…

1. Weather

2. New friends

3. Pulpusas

4. Going to the movies and it’s cheap!

He misses…

1. Safety

2. Tim Horton’s coffee

3.People, his friends and church

4. Opportunities he would have if still in Canada. (have a job)

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Elisa likes

1. Going up to schools in the mountains and seeing the kids. “They are really content and smile a lot. They are so cute”

2. Her house and the view

3. Big malls

4. The teachers are young

 

Elisa misses…

1. Pastor Charlie, Grace and Bethel church.

2. Her family

3. Caelyn and going to the mall with her, trying to pull all nighters but eventually falling asleep.

4. Tim Horton’s

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When God says no.

Proverbs 19:2

Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes.

 

Have you ever been just little disappointed with God? Let’s be honest. Things don’t work out the way we hope or the way we prayed they would….It’s disappointing….no way around it. I am kind of feeling that way today. I mean, I know in my heart that Dale and I made the right decision…we have a peace about it, but I am sad because I had such high hopes and dreams that things would turn out different.

A few days ago we received notice that there was a little boy in need of a missionary family that would be able to take him in and care for him, love him as their own. People that would foster him and then eventually adopt. We read his bio, and it tore our hearts in two.  So very sad. This little fellow, only six years old had been abandoned and rejected over and over again, never knowing the love of a family.  We were so moved by his story and thought that we could be the family that could be that for him.  We had adopted before. Our three children are all adopted. Why not again?  Why not try and make a difference? Why not give a child who so desperately needs it.. a loving home?   Also it has been in my heart for a long time to adopt again, so this had to be God!  Right?

Our kids were all excited to have a little brother!  They began making plans to rearrange rooms. Elisa was going to move downstairs to the guest room so the child could have her room and he wouldn’t be away from the rest of the family when he slept.

I didn’t tell Dale this, but I even looked up middle names and their meanings that we could give him if we did adopt him. Names with significant meaning; like God’s gift, gracious gift of God and laughter. 

We had the opportunity to meet him and spend a couple hours with him on Sunday. He is an energetic child, with such a sweetness about him.  He loves to play with his trucks and he loves dogs! He was petting the head of the poodle that our friend who took us there brought with her.  We were telling him that his hair was similar….and it was almost the same!   He is in a home with about twenty five other people at the moment. We were told all the sordid details of his past and how he came to be there. Tragic. It is hard for me to get my mind around the fact that what happened to this sweet little boy could actually happen. And yet it did. His house mom told us that she had been fasting and praying for a family for this little boy. She loves him so much.

While we were meeting him, our son Ben was waiting in the car.  When Dale opened the car door, this little boy climbed in as though he we were going home with us right then and there. It was the cutest thing!  Then Ben got out of the car, and the little one grabbed a hold of Ben’s hand and began walking with him back to the building. My heart melted.

Before we left that afternoon, we made arrangements with the house mom to pick him up and bring him home with us next weekend. On the way back home we talked about what all we would do with him, on his weekend with us. We also talked about what it would look like to have him  eventually live with us and to adopt him. We thought about and prayed about it. We asked God for confirmation either way….of course wanting the answer to be yes. We wanted that with all our hearts. Desperately.

The reality is that we really didn’t have that sense of peace about taking him that we should have had.   We had more the sense that maybe we are not the family for him. More sense that he was more than we could handle. We are already so busy as it is and sometimes life is downright chaotic trying to balance ministry and family life. How terrible it would be if we started the adoption process and it proved to be too much..and we had to give him back. Reject him yet again? Not only that but we are still transitioning into this culture; it’s only been 8 months. It might be too much of a change too soon.  Would we have had the love to give him?  For certain. I already feel like I love this child. I pray the best for him, I pray that there is a family for him our there that will be the prefect match…..and that he finds that family soon!  He needs one desperately! My heart hurts for him and all he has been through.

 I feel like we had the best of intentions. We so wanted to adopt this little boy….give him the loving family that he needs and deserves. Something he has never known in all his six years. It seemed like a great idea…but it might not have been something that God is calling us to.  Not at this time anyway. Sometimes; while  it might be something we want, God gently speaks to our heart the answer we don’t want to hear…No.

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