The family of Johnny..

This is Johan….or otherwise known as Johnny. We first met Johnny when we brought a team down from Bethel Stratford over three years ago. Before we knew we would be moving here….this is him three years ago, sporting the crown that he made.

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This is a child ..who although he does not see so well, can spot Dale a mile away! He always greets him and myself with a huge hug and a big smile. He has a gentle and quiet personality. Here is Johnny and I. This photo was taken this week, after his mom gifted me with a bag full of mandarin oranges.

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The other day we visited his home. We met his mom and both his younger and older brother. They have a cozy little home in the Buena Vista area; not far from the school Johnny attends. The home has a cement floor, but his mom really makes it a home with what they have. They do have a fridge, stove and dining room table and chairs in their kitchen, and a pretty white and pink  embroidered curtain between the livingroom area and the outdoors. His mom makes tacos and sells Avon to help support her family. She has an infectious laugh. She became very emotional when we interviewed her about her son Johnny who is soon to have corrective eye surgery. Tears filled her eyes as she told us his story, and how he was only fifteen days old when she noticed there was something not quite right with his eyes.( There will be more to this part of the story in part two….in the next few weeks). But, that is not what I really wanted to talk about today.

Not long after we arrived in the home we learned that three years ago, her husband and father of the children had died; murdered for his motor bike. We were able to catch a glimpse of the man he once was. The older brother brought out one of those wooden photo frames that displays several photos. All of his dad. His dad was really big into moto cross and had even won awards for the sport. He brought out a trophy his dad had won. Then he brought out a photo album full of photos of them as a family, back when his dad was alive. We could see from the photos they were a happy family. Once upon a time.

Those are the kind of moments that get to me. The moments that break my heart. A young man taken far too soon from his family that still love and miss him so much. A family that is proud of the man he once was.  A dad and a husband. A man who loved the outdoors and dirt biking. A man who will never see his children grow up. He will never know how his oldest son is struggling and is no longer allowed in school. He will never see his middle child have the eye surgery that before was only a dream. And these are the moments that make me want to cry out to God and ask why? Why do these things have to happen? It doesn’t seem fair. This family needs their dad, They miss him! They feel his absence every day . But he is gone and they are on their own to manage without him. It’s so sad. Heartbreaking. And we see and hear of these stories far too often. It’s sad that this has become the norm in that area. It’s stories like this that make me weep at the injustice of it all.

But you know what? Johnny’s mom is an inspiration. There is a strength inside of her that can only come from God. He is their provider, and they are doing better than merely surviving, even though they may not have a lot in the way of earthly posessions.  While memories of her husband make her sad and while she obviously misses him, she has joy and is able to laugh again, despite the hardships her family has faced.  And like I said in the beginning ….her laugh is infectious. She laughs a lot. Her life is an example and she truly demonstrates that scripture in the bible about the Lord being our strength.

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The Lord is my strength and my shield. I will trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filed with joy. I burst out in songs of Thanksgiving. The Lord gives his people strength. He is a safe fortess for his annointed King.

Stay tuned for more about Johnny in the next couple weeks or so…

We’re expanding…. just around the corner

Recently we have been planning and  looking ahead to the New Year 2016. Public schools are soon wrapping up…as they are done sometime in November. There are some exciting things about to happen in the new year!

For some time now it has been the dream of Schools of Hope to expand into more schools. More schools hearing the Word of God . More children learning that God has a hope for them and a future. That God loves them. However we are only two people…we can only do so much. We can’t possibly be in all the schools in the area we are already in. So, we began to pray that God would send us people that would come along side us and be willing to teach the bible classes in other schools.

We are also in an area near Danli. About a month ago, a young man in that community approached us about teaching Bible classes there. He was recommended by another missionary named Jeanie and people in the community think highly of him. Well this young man who normally has a ministry to youth, is now going to be teaching in three schools in this area!

Then, not long after we returned from Canada, a pastor named Roger came with us on one of our teaching days to see what the ministry of Schools of Hope was all about. Roger has been a teacher for a long time, having taught Bible at the International school for about 15 years. He came with our translator Danny. That day he loved what he saw. He even taught the lesson. He is Honduran so no translation needed…and he was incredible! The children were so engaged in the lesson. He had them on the edge of their seat….and they seemed to really like him and they connected with him. Long story short…he will be taking on three new schools in the new year.

Then, recently our amazing translator and friend Danny told Dale that he would like to be a team leader…and he too will have three new schools. It is amazing how God is putting everything into place.

A couple weeks ago we met with Norma. Norma is the regional director of many, many schools. Previously, Judy had made connections with her and built a relationship of trust. Norma respects the ministry of Schools of hope and she would love for us to be in all the schools in her district. She believes in what we stand for, what we are doing. It is because of the connection already established between her and Judy that we were able to meet with Norma as well and tell her of our desire for more schools. She gave us a list of ten schools. She told us she would be contacting all the directors and not only that but gave us a driver to take us around to those ten schools on the following Monday. At the close of our meeting with Norma we had the honour of being able to pray for her, especially for her son who was struggling and on her heart. If not for this previous connection with Judy…a meeting with Norma would not likely have been possible. But since the friendship was there, it paved the way for us to meet with her and ultimately paved the way into new schools because the groundwork had already been done. The foundation, already laid.

However when Monday rolled around and our tour was underway, we were not able to make it to all ten…only 8 of schools on the list. We were also shocked at the size of these schools. Many of them had well over 500 children and all of them had morning and afternoon sessions. So in many cases 8 or more classes in the morning and the same in the afternoon.

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Later on that week, we met with the directors of the ten schools…to explain more about the Bible classes. ( Even though we will not be visiting the other two schools until later this coming week).

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Dale made a comment during the meeting that we would only be choosing 6 schools at this time. One director spoke up and asked why if we were only selecting 6 would we want to meet with ten…when they ALL want the bible classes. Partly that was Dale’s mistake of mentioning nine or ten schools to Norma. He had kind of forgotten that three of them were already in Danli. But this director had a point. And those of you who know Dale, know his heart and passion for children and for children to come to know Jesus. His comment to me was that we need to pray for another person to come on board…and also for more finances to be able to pay them. He said that no child is going to go without hearing about Jesus.

We also have a person to teach all of the kinder classes. The younger sister of Damaris..(who runs our feeding program) came and taught with us a couple times. She is amazing with the children. She loves Jesus. She is active in the children and youth ministry at her church as well as the worship. She has long been praying for and looking for a job, but has not found anything. She said it is very difficult to find work anywhere in Tegucigalpa and many places want two or three years experience. We saw her with the children and realized what a gift she has in teaching. It’s a plus that the children know her as she lives in their community and they love her. We really felt in our hearts that we should offer her the position. So, Dale approached her about taking over the kinder classes. Her face lit up. She told us she did not need to think about it or pray about it…the answer was yes. It was an answer to her prayers. An answer to ours as well…as now it freed us to take on another school.

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So, if you do the math, that leaves us with three schools where were are still needing a team leader to teach and a person or two to work alongside them. So far, God has brought everyone to us. And I can’t wait to see how everything unfolds. We may not be able to take on all ten at once. It just may not be possible…but hopefully eventually, because how can we say no if the directors want the gospel in their schools?

We recently did the math on the new possible school additions. If we are able to take on all ten new schools, the number of new children that are going to be able to have bible classes is around 3500! Simply amazing!

I am so excited about the doors that God seems to be throwing wide open. It’s mind blowing. There is another thing. It is possible that not all ten schools are in good areas. It’s possible that the areas are more gang ridden than the areas we are already in. It is my understanding though that at the schools we visited we would be ok at. However we will still need prayers for protection and for safety. I feel as does Dale…that just because a school may be in a bad area; does that mean those kids don´t get hear about Jesus and his love for them? Does that mean they don’t get to hear that God has a plan and a future for them?  They need Jesus too…even the kids in the absolute worst gang ridden areas. They all need to know there is hope.

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In chatting with Damaris she seems to feel the same way…that if God wants us there he will protect us and keep us safe. She said she did not feel unsafe at any of the schools we visited. I did find out from another missionary momma that in some of those areas it is possible to get a military escort for no charge when going into certain areas that are worse than others. So perhaps, if needed, we can look into that as well.

Anyway, that is our update and what God is doing and what we are looking forward to as we look ahead to 2016.