With us in the storm..

It seems that no matter what our theme is in the schools each month, the lessons seem to apply to us in some way. So that we are learning the truth from them too. We have been teaching about blessed are the peacemakers and how Jesus can give us peace in the storms of life.

And oh my, have we had our share of storms lately. Since we came back to Honduras a few weeks ago we have been hit hard with different things so the transition coming back has been HARD. There were moments in the recent weeks, when I truly felt like I was “done”. I was longing to go back….funny because when we were in Canada, I was missing Honduras!  But you know we came back to Honduras and life happened…our beloved dog died unexpectedly, and on the heels of that, struggles with one of our kids and the health of Dale’s mom. We found ourselves shaken and broken.

And the reality is, all of us go through times like this at some point or another in our walk of faith. No one has it all together all of the time. Not even pastors or missionaries. Because, storms will come. There will be times of doubt. Times where we want to just simply give up or throw in the towel and run away. Times where discouragement settles in.Times where our faith is put to the test.

In the recent weeks that have passed I have been so thankful for a couple close friends in Canada that I was able to call, talk to and pray with during those desperate moments when I felt like I couldn’t go on. They know my heart. Even if I can’t get together for coffee with them anymore. I believe it is in part because of their prayers and having someone to talk to, that it was easier to give the heavy burden I was carrying to the Lord and leave it at his feet. Oh, there have been moments where I have temporarily picked it back up again and the tears fall and I become momentarily undone…but really I am not meant to bear it alone. We all need to remember that He is there for us, to carry the burden for us….and through the storm He is there…even when we don’t understand why our world is falling apart.. We are never truly alone. We need to remember to keep our eyes on Him and not the circumstances…but also know that we can pour out our heart to God and tell him what we are feeling and he isn’t going to be offended by our pain.

Psalm 34: 18

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 55:22a

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.

I was reminded of these truths in a timely First5 devotional recently, right after Reuben our sweet dog died.

“ Gen 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded..

Christians have many benefits as children of God, but flood free lives are not one of them. Perhaps this is one of the most difficult things to accept.

Noah and his family spent a life walking with God, and yet he and his family faced a horrific storm. As the door of the ark was closed, Noah’s only hope was to trust God through the unknown,

We all have faced unknown storms. The untimely death of a family member. The uncertainty of our health. Unemployment. Just to name a few. But our key verse gives us certainty for times that are uncertain.

No matter the severity of the storm or how we arrive in its eye, we can trust two simple truths about God and the floods that we face. 1. God remembers His plans for us. 2. God remembers his love for us.

A storm doesn’t mean God forgot us. God remembered Noah and gave him instructions to build the ark. It was Noah’s obedience that kept his family safe when the flood rose. In the same way, God directs us, and our safety often requires obedience.

 

Whether we are currently in a storm or just on the other side of one, we can be certain our storm will end. Isn’t it comforting to know that God will be with us through it all?”

First5

So, all that being said, things are looking up. I believe for now we are on the other side of the storm…until the next one. We have had laughter in the house again. We have a new pup named Abby and having her to love on is helping to heal the hurting hearts in this family. She is a cutie and a quick learner.

Also, there are exciting things happening in the ministry too. There are things that I am not free to share about yet, but stay tuned! God is on the move, putting different people in our path for such a time as this and we can’t wait for the right time to share about it…

Joyful moments

I realize that two of my posts since returning to Honduras from almost 7 weeks in Canada have been incredibly sad. While it’s true that our re entry has been extremely difficult, there have also been some wonderful moments that have brought great joy sprinkled in the midst of all the sadness.  Moments that have made us happy.

Last Thursday we headed off to an area near Danli; a community that is almost two hours away. It is no secret that Danli is one of our most favorite places to visit and minister in. We are actually in two locations there now with the feeding program and our Bible classes. I wish we could go there more often to visit because I love it so much. It is more rural, more rugged and if makes any sense… more “Honduran”. We live in the capital city and it’s very North Americanized. In this area it feels more like we are deep in the heart of Honduran culture.

The one school is called San Lorenzo. It is a one room school house with about 40 students. Grades 1 to 6. They are a somewhat shy at first but they are always happy to see us . It does not take much to make them smile…to make them come alive with excitement. To think that something as simple as throwing a stuffed toy around on a parachute can bring so much joy to these kids is mind blowing. They also LOVE tossing stuffed animals in the air with a slingshot. I guess because they have so little….even something so small can make a huge difference. It’s refreshing to see. And seeing the pure joy on their faces makes us happy inside and makes us love what we do.  Another happy moment was when we asked who wants Jesús to be their forever friend, and almost every hand went up. Kids saying “Yes” to Jesús. It doesn’t get any better than that!

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The other school is Santa Rita. This school has about 80 children including the kinder whom we have not actually met as of yet. There is  the same sort of excitement in this school. They listen attentively. They love the bible classes and all sit around the room on the floor and listen to the lesson . They know all the answers to the questions. They love the object lessons and they love to volunteer to be a part of the stories.  Kids are kids and like  the children in San Lorenzo school, they love to play as well. Like San Lorenzo, the parachute animal toss was a HUGE hit! Like most Honduran schools we are in , they also love to kick an empty pop bottle around like a soccer ball!

There was one moment this week that made me laugh out loud. There is a special boy that we have come to know, who is one of our sponsored kids.. His name is Cristofer and he is always a very friendly and sociable child. He is trying to learn English and he loves to practice and learn more English words, or how to spell “thank you very much”. ( He learned not long ago it’s not it’s not tenkuberiamas). Haha.  If he sees us he greets us and wants us to say hello to his sponsor Erika who he actually met when she was down here with her church. He always asks us to take a photo for her. He talks about Erika all the time! On Wednesday we got out of the car to teach kinder and he was in the yard. He ran over and greeted me with a huge hug. He pulled back inhaled and said “Ah…que rico!” and then gave me another hug. So basically he was telling me that I smelled good! I actually laughed out loud at that as it was so unexpected and funny.

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Also, there was one other moment this week. In the kínder class at Moises Starkman, there is a little boy named Michael. I don’t know for sure the Honduran spelling of his name. . However he used to be very difficult and  very grumpy when we first began going to his class in the beginning of the year. He never seemed to want to be a part of  the bible classes or the activites. He would shake his head “NO” and he refused to participate.  He’d push us away. Since he is paralyzed from the waist down, he cannot walk. I am not sure what is wrong with him medically, but he also has an enlarged head.  Possibly it’s hydrocephalus  . The other day when we were there, he actually clapped his hands and had the biggest smile when we walked into the room.  He was happy that we came! He wanted to be involved in the games too and Dale was able to hold him so he could play with the parachute with his peers. It was a moment that made my day! Michael knows how to smile.

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Anyway, just wanted to share…not all is sadness…there are some bright spots and happy things happening too!

Casa de Tristeza

This may yet again be another post where I do not actually hit publish. A post where I just write down what thoughts have been running through my mind, my heart during this season of grief. And to warn people…they may be a little morbid, so feel free to stop reading. But perhaps by writing things down…it will be freeing.

It’s been over a week now since Reuben left us. The sadness is just as real. I know in my head that it will not last forever, that one day we will look back on happy memories of Reuben and be able to smile. I know one day we will all be ok. But now there are so many times when I cannot stop the tears from flowing. One moment I think ok..I am going to fine, I’m done crying. Then all of a sudden another memory hits me and I am undone. I’m a wreck. The tears fall the most in the bathroom. It’s where he had his final agonizing moments. He was in so much pain. He was so very scared. And the final moments of his all too short life were on the bathroom floor. I have nightmares of him trembling in the corner between the tub and the toilet. I have nightmares of his seizure that finally claimed his life and I still hear Dale’s voice“ I don’t feel a heartbeat”.

Not long after he passed I read a post on someone’s wall that said something like the Bible says that if we drink any deadly thing it will not harm us…and that it applies to our pets too. But apparently not to Reuben. He was a big part of our family and he brought a lot of joy to us…and when he was dying on the bathroom floor, we prayed over him…for God to breathe life into him, that God would restore him, that he would be ok and not taken from us..….but he wasn’t and God didn’t. And he died. And I don’t know why. I’ve asked God why countless times because I know He knows the answer and I may never know. And no, I have not lost my faith and I’m not walking way or anything like that…but my faith has been challenged. I am a broken mess. I can’t talk to God without crying or tearing up. As my cousin said to me…love is love and a loss is a loss…And Reuben was loved by us all. And I don’t understand.

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Now when I walk in the morning I walk alone. It sounds crazy but sometimes when I hear other dogs barking at their gates I hear Reuben crying beside me, because that is what he always did. It was so cute.  People in that colonia are beginning to notice Reuben’s absence…and they ask me “su perrito?” So I tell them the story of what happened. I’ve told his story so many times. One gentleman actually asked me last week…two days after Reuben passed away. I feel like I know this gentleman a little better than the other neighbours I see each day. See, he has a dog named Toby that looks just like Reuben and they were the same age. We always stop to chat and we joke that they are hermanos… “brothers”. When I told him, he actually teared up and reached out to give me a big hug. He said “Tengo delor en mi Corazon” Or in English…” I have pain in my heart” That simple gesture meant a lot.

Reuben’s things are all packed away. His dishes, his toys, his Honduran jersey for those chilly days that we get near the end of the year, the leash and harness and his bed. Seeing them lying around was just too much. My sweet son Ben approached me one day last week asking about all of the dog’s things.. He asked me if he could have one of them to remember him. So I brought the bag down from the top shelf of the closet and let him pick whatever toy he wanted. He chose a rope and it sits on the desk in his room as a reminder of the best pet Ben ever had.

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Now we no longer have to “puppy” proof the house. Shoes can go on the floor, so can the bathroom garbage and the empty water jugs that he used to like to pee on for whatever reason! We don’t need to worry about the new area rugged being christened and I lost all the weight I put on in Canada . Bonus! But how I miss the pitter patter of his feet in the mornings as he scampered down the stairs after me. He always skipped the last two steps and jumped. .Reuben was a precious gift from God to us.

After saying all that….I do know that this house will not always be full of sadness. I know that a lot of what I am feeling is part of the grief process…and I know for some it can take a while. And some people stay longer at each stage. I don’t even know what stage I am at to be honest. I know God will turn our mourning in to joy. I know he understands our pain. I know He is with us too….even though it may not feel like it at the moment. Even though we feel alone.

Just the other day there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky and it was like a reminder from the Lord that He has not left us…he is still there. He promises never to leave us or forsake us and that is a truth I can hold onto. It’s not based on feelings but on truth.

# Please note…at first we initially thought that it was rotton food that he got into…but apparently the container was pretty much empty. We found two dead rats very close to our house on the property…so we came to the conclusión that is was probably rat poison…but again how or where…we will never know..

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