Bethel and Thanksgiving

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Living in Honduras, it is very easy to lose track of seasons and holidays. The leaves don’t change colour, there are not a lot of fall decorations in the stores. Sometimes we have to stop and think, “what month is it?” because, for the most part the weather stays the same, month in and month out.
It wasn’t until team Bethel was packing up for home that I truly realized, Thanksgiving was on the weekend.
And we have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

Here are some things about team Bethel I am thankful for.

1. Having our home church bring a team here.
It was so great having them here and working along side them. It almost felt like, to me anyway…that no time had passed and we were able to pick up where we left off. It was wonderful to reconnect with everyone ; it felt comfortable like home. Except for the fact that home came to us.
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2. One a personal level two of my closest friends also were a part of the team. I got to go for walks everyday once again with Grace, just like we did in Stratford when we lived a couple doors down from each other. Kathy and I prayed together like we did once a week when we lived in Stratford.
My son Ben, got to hang out with his best friend Dane…who actually slept at our house for the whole ten days that the team was here.

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3. The work team made awnings for outside the school kitchens. Now the moms no longer have to do the dishes under the intense heat of the sun while their skin burns. They are sheltered as well from the rain, and will now stay dry if it rains when they are doing dishes.
One mom in particular was so grateful, so appreciative. Thankful. You could tell by looking into her eyes how much this meant to her by her unshed tears . It spoke volumns to us the words she could not communicate.
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3. Bethel team put on a program for the children that included songs in Spanish. The children loved it! It makes such a difference when the kids can sing along with the songs and can understand them, because they are in thier own language. They seem to get much more out of it because they don’t feel lost or confused by a language they don’t understand. They abosutely loved Pastor Charlie’s monkey imitation in the story of Noah’s Ark. So funny! And so Pastor Charlie. Those of you who know and love him will know what I mean. He puts his whole heart into everything. Even being a monkey!
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4. I helped the craft team. However unlike the ministry team; I had no translator. With God’s help, I did it. The instructions were simple enough, I guess, and the children understood me. I was ever so thankful for that because it really through me for a loop and I almost panicked when I found out no translator was available for me.
Crafts are always a hit here in Honduras. It is something these kids do not get to do that often.
It is amazing how simple things like straws, strings and buttons can bring so much joy to people…even grown men.
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This is a photo of Pastor Charlie enjoying the button and string game, but even the president of the community got in on the game. It was cool to see his eyes light up while he played with a button and string. It was really quite entertaining watching him.
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While I was able to get a photo of the president of the community playing with his button and string, I didn’t want him to know I was watching him, and was not able to capture the delight on his face or his smile. I will always remember it though.
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5. Bethel got to meet their sponsored child. An amazing moment for the team and Jeison. This moment was special for me too as Jeison has long been on my heart; since that moment when I first laid eyes on him over two years ago.
The team was able to go to his home as well, and meet his mom and other siblings.
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6. I am thankful for how Bethel played with the children. Between programs or taking a break from their work project..they took the time to just be. Time out to play, time out to love on a child. To hug a child. Even something as simple as just sitting with a child. Skipping, home made tetter totters, soccer, and a whole lot of hugs. Just being Jesus to them and showing his love. Honestley, that could very well be the stuff that these kids will remember the most: that Bethel loved.
( 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love)

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7.
Bethel team also was able to see first hand, the child sponsorship program in action as the children wrote their letters to their sponsors.They were able to play with them outside of the school; bubbles,skipping atc.. also doing crafts left over from the other schools we were at earlier in the week.
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8. Team Bethel also put together little gift bags for the moms who volunteer their time in the kitchen.They were filled with toiletries. It was something small, but was token of appreciation for all the moms who give and sacrifice of their time, for their hours of dedication to the feeding program. Grace prepared a little devotional for the moms…telling the story of the loaves and fishes and how little is much when God is in it.
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9.Lastly, I am thankful for the way that Bethel blessed our socks off. Seriously.
We have been here for over one year now. While we can find most things here; there are still many things that we cannot and have missed or are just too expensive here. It isn’t like we can fly home and bring back what we were craving or missing. Not til we have been here two years. Bethel took care of that by packing all our favorite candy, tea, magazines…( you can’t find english magazines here) A friend of mine sent me pajamas and another friend sent salón shampoo and oil, that I had wanted to pay for and have sent down. A friend of Jake’s sent a care package for him that was; pardon the expession, a (butt load of candy). Which by the way; Noah if you are reading this… is all gone.
Even the peope renting our home sent candy. So totally unexpected. There were treats for Reuben, our dog too.
There were also a couple pads of stationary filled with sweet notes from people in the church who were not able to come on the team. So heart felt. We felt loved and cared for. Remembered.

10. This Thanksgiving we did not find turkey…but we did find most of the trimmings. Including Pumpkin pie and cool whip. Another missionary blessed us with a homemade pecan pie…Dale’s favorite and it was delicous!
While none of our family was around our table, we still had each other. We were all healthy, except for a couple of lingering colds….and we are blessed. Blessed indeed.
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Meeting Jeison

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I first met Jeison over two years ago when our church in Stratford brought a team down for ministry in the Schools of Hope.
When I saw him, there was something about him that touched my heart in a huge way. While the other children at the school played and entered into the activities, Jeison sat on the window ledge; tired, listless and extremely thin. He had zero energy and looked like he was on deaths door…that is how thin he was.
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( checking Dale’s heart beat at the science center)

I had asked Victor his name and mentioned that he needed to be sponsored. I did not even know if he was on the list to be sponsored or if his family met the required criteria. As it turned out, the school he attended was not the school that had sponsored children.

However, Schools of Hope, through Child Care Plus are now taking on children at this school and Jeison was put at the top of the list.

Not long after that Dale and I noticed that we had not seen Angelica ( the little girl that Bethel Stratford sponsored) around at Moises Starkman school. When I asked the director I was told that she had moved away to San Pedro, a city severel hours from here. I am not sure what steps happened next, but I believe it was recommended to Child Care Plus that Bethel take on Jeison as their sponsored child.

A couple of days ago, the Bethel team had the opportunity to meet Jeison in person. At first he was looking around at everyone; probably wondering why on earth they had centered him out, why they were so interested in him.
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It was a precious moment when Jeison was told that Bethel was the church that was sponsoring him. His face lit up with the biggest smile and his eyes grew big!
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The team asked him about his family and his life. He is ten years old, and is on medication that will help him to grow. He has two siblings, one older and one younger. When he grows up he wants to be a soccer player.
The team was also had the honour to go to his home and visit with his mom. She is a lovely, soft spoken lady, and is one of ten kids!
While we were there visiting her Jeison stood infront of her and his mom
stroked his hair. Jeison seemed so shy and yet proud to have us in his home.

To get into his home, you have to climb severel stairs made of tires. Although his home is small, it is actually rather comfortable and spotless. It is amazing to see how people make the most of what little they have and can manage to make it beautiful.
His mom’s name is Xiomara. She rises at 6 each morning to prepare breakfast for her family. Then her morning is spent cleaning, doing her laundry for the day (by hand) and preparing lunch.
Jeison’s dad works as a mechanic in the city and has very long days. He travels by bus and is often gone more than 12 hours at a time. Only five people live in the home, which is very rare as many of the homes up there house more than one family in crowded conditions. It is also rare that Jeison has a dad that is alive and still living with his family.

One thing that his mom told us was her dreams for her children. ¨”My husband and I never had a chance to ever go on and be somebody. But, I want things to be different for my children. I want them to have the chance at an education and for them to become someone”

It was a good visit and so great for Bethel to meet their sponsor child in person, meet his family and see where he lives. A moment in time that both team Bethel and Jeison will remember for years to come.

Never alone

Have you ever felt at anytime in your life, like you were alone?
Sometimes we go through storms in our life and we may question where God is. Maybe we no longer feel Him or see Him at work in our lives. Maybe He seems silent while our heart is crying out to God to fix things or for there to be a change in our circumstances. Maybe it is unemployment, an illness, grief, or relationship issues.

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About a year ago, I went through a dark time, not long after we moved. One of our kids was really struggling with being here and I was on the receiving end of that frustration. I felt like I was at the end of my rope; no one to talk to, no one who would understand. I took the things said, the words lashed out.. personally. I cried. A lot. I literally was ready to pack my bags and go home. The ache was so great, my emotions so raw. Quite honestly I didn’t know how much more I could possibly take.
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While my heart longed for home, I knew with everything in me that it was God who called us here. I also knew that if God called us here, he was not going to abandon us or leave us to figure things out on our own. Even though at the time God’s voice seemed silent and the situation seemed hopeless. I was looking at things with my “human eyes” I knew in my heart that He was there, walking along beside us. We are never truly alone because He is always there, right beside us, going through the storm with us . I knew that in Him I would find perfect rest.

One thing that is hard to do when life is seemingly spinning out of control, is releasing the control to God. It is so easy to hang onto things and try to fix them ourselves and to fret and worry about what might be or what might happen. God’s plan is not always our plan and things do not always go the way we want them to.

But we can trust his promises… Just a few of them are….
Heb 13:5
I will never leave you or abandon you
Micah 7:7
As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for my God to save me, and My God will certainly hear me.
Psalm 62:5
Let all that I am wait quietly before my God, for my hope is in him.

God cares about us. We are His children. Sometimes he does allow bad things to happen. It is inevitable. People often question why those who love the Lord and serve Him go through times of difficulty.

Matthew 5:45b
For he gives sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and unjust alike.

There is a quote from the movie God’s not dead that I love that talks about trials we may face.
“Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want them turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to leave. The door’s wide open. Till one day, time runs out, and the cell door slams shut, and suddenly it’s too late. “

God loves us so much…far greater than we could ever imagine. He desires the best for us. We don’t have to go through anything alone. Not ever. He is there. Always. We can cry out to Him and give whatever it is we are hanging on to or holding …to Him.

Jake and his cat….

I originally wrote this over a year ago, for another blog that I have that I am no longer able to access for some reason. I am not sure why it was posted on that blog as it for recipes….so I am sharing it here. I guess maybe I posted there because it really had nothing to do with our journey here to Honduras….anyway I hope it makes you smile.

A couple weeks ago something happened in the midst of sadness that was quite funny.

Last summer our oldest son Jacob helped out at a Christian camp with the kids program that was directed by the “Rubber Chicken Company” There were other teens that helped out as well that Jake connected with. One of them was a girl named Emma. During the course of the week Emma became sick and had to go home. It was later discovered that Emma had cancer. I believe she was fourteen at the time.

Every day for the past year we as a family have prayed for her; that God would make her well, heal her so she could have her life back.

I remember that night a couple weeks ago reading on Facebook that Emma had taken a turn for the worse and things didn’t look good. A few hours later she had passed away.
I knew Jake would take it hard. I mean granted he really didn’t know her that well other than working with her those couple days at camp…but Jake believed with his whole heart God would heal her. There was no doubt in his mind at all.
The next morning Dale and I went into Jake’s room and broke the news to him. A little while later he came upstairs to the kitchen and poured himself a bowl of Shreddies. Then he broke down sobbing at the table….he couldn’t eat it because he was too upset.

I let him stay home from school that day. I just felt if he had moments where he wanted to cry…he should be able to…and not have to keep it all bottled up. I felt he needed a day to sort through whatever emotions he was feeling.
This kid believed totally that Emma would be healed…but she had died. His faith at that moment was shattered.

The bowl of cereal remained on the table. Jake remained holed up in his room, door shut.
Meanwhile, our cat Taffy jumped on the table and began to eat the Shreddies. Who knew cats like people food. I didn’t stop her, or throw the cereal out…not sure why!
By this time the daycare children had arrived as well and saw what Taffy was doing.

Around noon Jake came out of hiding and sat down at the table to finish his now soggy cereal. Two year old Benson was eating his lunch and pipes up and says “Hey Jake, that’s Taffy’s!”
Jake looked up from his cereal, his spoon in mid air and says “wait a minute…did Taffy eat this?”
I was holding in my laughter when Benson turned and looked at me his eyes as big as saucers. I’m not sure what Benson was thinking at that moment but his expression was priceless!
Needless to say Jake didn’t finish it.

A short while later he told me that when he was in his room he had been praying and God had shown him that He did heal Emma…just not how we all wanted or were hoping for…but Emma loved Jesus and she was in heaven completely healed, no more sickness or pain. Such a wise statement from someone so young.

Anyway, I was reminded of this story about Jake and his cat yesterday and I thought…I really need to write his down and share it…or I will forget it. It was a moment that I am still laughing about. Maybe it’s one of those stories that you have to be there for it to be funny….but I hope you all got a chuckle out of it.