He knows our name

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One of my favorite groups of kids to teach is the kinder classes. As my daughter Elisa would say, they are adorable. We teach different lessons to them than the older children who are learning all about the Fruit of the Spirit. Seeing as they are younger our theme has been all about something fun and cute…ovejas….or sheep!

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We have talked to them about how Jesús is the Good Shephard and how he cares for his sheep. We’ve told the story of the lost sheep, how the Shephard uses his staff to protect them and how he knows them…he knows us! He knows our name!

Isn’t that amazing? We teach around 1800 children a month about Jesús. Though we do know a few of their names it would be impossible to know the names of each and every one…each and every child, and yet God does! He knows our names too. We have been teaching the little ones this amazing truth…that He knows our name! He knows everything about us. How many hairs are on our head, the things we like and don’t like, what our personality is. He knows what our situation is and what are going through and He cares for us…because He loves us so much!

Luke 12:7
and the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid, you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

It blows me away when I think that the God of the universe knows the names of every person on this earth…with a population of over 7 billion people! Not just our name but every detail of our lives. Every detail. Every longing of our hearts. He knows. He cares. He loves.

Did you know that even the stars are numbered and named?
Just last night we read this verse in small group and I thought it was so perfect and fitting because we had just talked about God knowing our name to the children in the morning. But the stars in the sky out number the humans on this earth…and if He cares about the stars in the sky….how much more does He care for us? How much more would he know our name? Sometimes even as adults, we need to be reminded of that. Sometimes in life we may feel like giving up…but know that we can trust Him. We matter to Him.

Psalm 147:4
He counts the stars and calls them ALL by name. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute. His understanding is beyond comprehension!

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Reflections of a year gone by

This coming Friday, ( July 18th) it will be one year that we moved to Honduras. One year ago that we stepped off the plane with our lives packed into 15 hockey bags knowing that there was no turning back.

Since that moment one year ago, much has happened. Much has changed. Life has been a bit of an adventure with its ups and downs which I have been blogging about since the beginning of our journey.  This past year has been the most challenging year ever. We have been stretched beyond what we ever imagined.  It hasn’t always been easy.  There have been struggles. Laughter and joy. Frustrations and tears.

Our first year is complete.  Forever changed! We made it!  Onward to year two!

Here are just a few of the highlights ( or not) of the past year.

1. House hunting

2. The kids starting and completing their first year in an International school

3. Christmas eve sleeping outside on our balcony under the stars, watching the amazing display of Fireworks

4.Trip to Panama for the retreat with other missionaries who work in Latin America and Brazil

5. The woman’s retreat

6. Working in the schools…teaching the gospel to all the amazing kids. We added a new school to the program, ( Jose Cecilio), and also added kínder….and it goes without saying the FUN days we just completed. The feeding program.

7. Learning a new language

8. Our house was broken into….while my family visited from Canada.  Dislike

9. Adding a new addition to our family…(Our puppy Reuben)

10. Interns Taylor,Kathy and now Breanne….and all the teams that have come and gone.

 

There are a few things that when we first arrived took some getting used to, but now these are things that I no longer think twice about.

1. Not flushing toilet paper down the toilet

2.Not drinking water from the tap

3. Going to the grocery store thinking you are going to pick something up but discovering it is no longer there. It mysteriously has disappeared and most likely will not reappear for quite some time.

4.The process in which we wash our produce before we can eat it. Two words for this….time consuming.

5. Guns everywhere….Freaked me out at first but now is the norm and actually makes me feel a little safer. You will see them outside gas stations, grocery stores, malls, Baskin Robbins ( ect).  In the commmunity I live across from there are often up to twenty armed police lined up on either side of the street infront of a certain house. A year ago I would have been afraid to walk past them….now I do so freely and you know, they are actually very friendly and nice.

6. Driving with our windows up at traffic lights. ( Almost unbearable with no a/c)

7. People selling street food and other ítems at the traffic lights. Mangos ,nances, plantian chips…and our favorite…candied peanuts!  Other items would include back scratchers, cell phone covers and chargers, Honduras flags.

8. BIG bugs. Giant cockroaches….

9.  Geckos in my house. …so cute.

10. People who whistle at you to get your attention.

Below are some things about life here on Honduras that I honeslty don’t think I will ever get used to. These are things I struggle with accepting.  Life IS hard here. There are things that I see everyday that kill me…they break my heart and make me want to weep each time I see them. These same things also make me angry.  Why angry? Because they ought not to be so.  I see a lot of injustice, a lot of things that are simply not fair….They are sad things. Things that I can’t change, can’t help with or make things “right”

1. CHILDREN begging on the street corners. There is one girl in particular that I am thinking of. She stands on the same corner day in and day out, barefoot, her long hair unkempt. I don’t know how old she is…perhaps 6 or 7.  Alone. It is totally possible there is a parent near by, but he or she is no where to be seen .

In my perfect “sheltered” world, she should be in school, having fun with friends… not spending her hours and days on a busy street, begging.

2. PEOPLE standing in dumpsters sorting through the rubbage for something to eat or sell.

There is an area on the way up to the schools that is the dump for that commumity. There sits a dumpster and it is full and surrounded by refuse. Recently on the way up to the schools,  I have noticed something new…..a makeshift shelter or house or some sort made of sticks and tarps sitting beside the dumpster.  Someone has made their home there. It is something hard to fathom, hard to wrap my mind around….who would want to live among the garbage, among the rotting stentch?

My heart broke a new the other day…  Standing in the dumpster I saw a young boy that I know.  We  teach him bible classes in his school.  He knows who we are, recognizes our vehicle and he waved as we passed by.  I know his name….and the tears silently fell.

3. THE ELDERLY who beg on the streets. There is very old and frail lady who sits in a wheel chair not far from one of the grocery stores day after day. She is always there with a younger woman, presumably her daughter. It’s pathetic and I want to scream when I see this. I want to scream that it isn’t right. This poor old woman should not be used in this way…as a means to make money, as a means to make a living or glean pity from people who pass by.

4. BABIES.  There are woman on the streets here who carry sleeping babies in their arms, and approach people who are in their cars, looking for money. I have heard that these babies are drugged so they will be lethargic and sleep. I have also heard that more often than not, the babies are not even their own, but woman will take turns holding the baby and asking for money with the baby in their arms.

5.DOGS everywhere.

Being the animal lover that I am , it is upsetting to see so many dogs literally everywhere. Dogs without a home or if they have a home, thier owners cannot afford to feed them. So skinny you can see every bone in their bodies. Emaciated with open sores. Fear in their eyes when you look at them.

6.CHILDREN filling the pot holes on the road to make a little money. Again, this breaks my heart because they should be in school…not working. And where are the parents? Do they send them off to work on their own? Are they not afraid of them being kidnapped?

7. ONE ARMED men who also beg on the busy streets for  money.

8. LIVING CONDITIONS in which many live.  The area near Danli comes to mind.  I think of the homes with no electricity or running water, with their unlit stoves in the kitchen…..meaning there will be no food that day.

These things are achingly sad, and the harsh reality is there is really nothing that I can do to change them or make a difference . In most cases the people are begging for a living…not actually trying to get a job and earn a living that way..

All of these people… the children, the elderly, the one armed men, the women carrying drugged babies; they all have a story. They all have a name.  He knows their name! All of them are precious in God’s eyes and of great value to Him.  To God, they are not invisible. He is the God who sees.  And yet so often we drive by with our tinted windows closed, pretending they are not there.  While inside I am crying.

 

PS 72:12-14

He will rescue the poor when they cry to Him,; He will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy and He will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to Him.

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Coconuts, Mangos and Curry, oh my!

For almost a month now we have Breanne Pierce living with us as she completes her internship here in Honduras. We know Breanne from way back in our  Essex days when she was but a young child. Now she has grown and blossomed into a beautiful woman of God.  She is amazing!  Her spanish is very good too! Far better than mine or Dale’s, she has an excellent grasp of it.

She has come alongside our ministry here with the Schools of hope and is a huge asset. The kids love her and she is an excellent team member and has a willing heart to do whatever is asked of her.

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It has been an absolute delight having her here with our family and we are all enjoying having her here so much. She is a lot of fun to be around and we have laughed a lot since she has come into our home. Whether it be from her mismatched crocks, one pink one yellow…(she gets a lot of looks about those!).  To her and I buying matching polka dot pants because the price was right…Then being told by my eldest son that it wasn’t funny and that we were making fun of mentaly challenged people…although that was not the word used by son.  We had a laugh about that too!  Only to be told by the said child to stop laughing, that we were not funny.  Incidently my husband Dale told us that we could wear them on clown day at the schools. …though I am not sure we would wear them at the same time!

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Breanne loves to cook healthy and try new recipes and so do I. So it has been great pouring over cookbooks figuring out what we are going to cook for the week before we head to the market.  Speaking of the market, she is an en excellent barterer.  One lady tried telling me the small bags in which you can purchase for your goods were 15 lempiras. Having bought them before, I knew full well they were only 5 lempiras! I walked away and said..”15 lempiras! No…”  Breanne got one for the correct amount.  She also bought strawberries for less than the going rate.

She has made some delicious food for us including curry dishes with beans and one with coconut milk.  For dessert there has been mango popsicles, homemade banana ice cream and a yummy warm chocolate pudding cake.  All of it healthy!  I have been able to cook some new dishes that I have been dying to try since  her arrival that I probably would not have ventured out to make before  because I know my kids and hubby would have either said “ewww” or “I’m not eating that“.  Not everyone is a fan of lentils, black beans, curry, sweet potatoes and squash! It is nice to have someone who likes the same kinds of healthy, quirky foods. Breanne and I also dislike the same foods…hamburgers, hotdogs and Popeyes chicken.

She also is not afraid to try new things like pulpusas, enchiladas, pastilitos, and baleadas, frozen juice in a bag, pop in a bag. She is embracing Honduran culture.  It is neat to see her come alive as she experiences new things. She fits in just fine here in Honduras.

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Mangos are so delicous here in Honduras. Not to rub it in, but the mangos bought in grocery stores in Canada just do not compare. Last week at the market we were able to purchase 8 large mangos for forty lempiras. ( Two dollars) This week they were a little more… at about three for a dollar….so we know they are going out of season. We need to enjoy them while we can.

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While it is now no secret  that Breanne  loves mangos ….even more than mangos….she loves coconuts!
There is a coconut man who sells his cocounts every day under the over pass on the way down from the mountains. For a dollar you can buy a large coconut and he will hack off the top and stick a straw in the middle and then one can drink fresh coconut water. She is addicted to them! Like mangos she may as well enjoy them while they are in season.

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It has been a great three weeks and three days so far.  It has been crazy busy with the fun days we have had and the teaching in the schools. I look forward to the rest of her term with us and I can’t wait to see how God uses her with the kids in the schools. “Breezy” as the kids know here as, has touched their lives in a real way so far and I know they have touched her heart too.

 

A boy named Gerson

Everyone has a story, and this boy….his story is amazing. He is one incredible kid!
Gerson is in fourth grade at Moises Starkmen. Gerson is a sweet, gentle boy who always has a smile on his face and always greets us with big hug. He kind of reminds me of a teddy bear. The things I learned about his life and what happened today with this boy touched my heart.

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We taught classes today on the fruit of the spirit and todays fruit was “goodness” It was also the day we held our “bible bucks” store where the students could spend their bible dollars that they earned for learning memory verses and answering questions about the bible stories. Gerson prouldy showed us his bible bucks! Thirteen! Wow!

To look at him, one would think he was quite healthy, but that has not always been the case. We learned today that Gerson had been very sick. He had leukemia. He is doing better now though apparently, but he did go through a lot with being in the hospital and having to take chemo therapy. I can’t imagine having to deal with something like that at such a young age…knowing you are sick and could possibly die! How scary that would be! Fear may have come into his young heart and maybe he wondered, “what is going to happen to me?” Or what his mom must have gone through worrying and knowing he son was so sick with something that could very easily have taken his life and cut it short.

He told Melissa today that he did not understand how some of his classmates will not come to school if they have a cold, that they would stay home for something so small. He said that even when he was feeling so sick with leukemia he still came whenever he could because he wanted to keep up his good grades and his percentage in the 90s.

Later on that morning the moment came for Gerson to redeem his bible bucks. He was able to buy himself a few small things like a bookmark, stickers, a pencil and also a Bible. His last selection from our “store” was a sweet straw Tinkerbell purse. His choice was a bit surprising considering he is a boy, afterall. But we assumed it was for his sister or perhaps his mom. However, Gerson turned around and gave directora Carmen, (the principal of the school) a huge hug , and then he gave her the purse he purchased. A precious gift from the heart. I wanted to cry as it was such a tender and selfless moment. It caught the directora by surprise as she wiped away the tears. I am sure she will treasure that purse always.

Here is a child who has been though so much in his young life. And it isn’t just the leukemia. Like many of his peers, his father abandoned him and his family. While he could be depressed and discouraged and would have every reason to feel that way, he instead has such a positive attitude about life and about school. His heart is tender. His sweet gift to the principal demonstrated the one thing we were talking about today….goodness. And once again I want to weep.

Galatians 5:22-23New Living Translation (NLT)

22 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!