Why in the world would you want to live in Honduras?

Why in the world would you want to live in Honduras?

Every once in a while I need reminding of this. It is not always easy living here. There are things that stress me out and drive me absolutely crazy. Ongoing little things really… yet, things I can’t write about. There have been a lot of tears. Frustrating things and I have wondered if things will ever change. Sometimes I feel homesick because we are not near any family and feel like packing my bags, my family and my dog and high tailing it back to Canada. At times I ask God how much more Lord…?

But then I remember. I think back to the moment Honduras captured my heart. The first time I stepped onto Honduran soil really….And how it still holds my heart. I think of all the things that I love about this beautiful country that I call home. I know God has us here. There’s something about Honduras.

I love the people! Hondurans are a very warm people. They are friendly. They are personable. If they see you on the street they will always greet you. Relationships are important here .That is why when you are in a restaurant there is no hurry for you to get out the door after your meal. You are welcome or maybe even expected to linger. It’s about relationships, and any time we have gone out for dinner, we have had to ask for our bill. I’ve had more hugs since moving to Honduras than a lifetime in Canada.

I love the Hondurans I work with. I love how they now outnumber the Canadians by a lot! They are all amazing men and women of God. They love Jesus and want to serve in whatever way they can. They are dedicated, trustworthy , and wow can they ever pray!

ed98a9a7-5e53-4837-ad9e-85bc72adefa4

I love how the guard jefe across from my house will sit by the gate and read his bible out loud to the other guards or whoever may be there to listen. He always has a smile that reaches his eyes. I’ve said this before, but I enjoy chatting with my neighbours in the area I walk in. I am still touched by my neighbour Ernesto who told me that his daughter wanted to give me their dog….as a gift, for free because their dog knows me and they felt bad about Reuben dying.

The food! What is not to love about Honduran food? Not to be confused with Mexican food, because they are not the same. Enchiladas, pastelitos de perro, gringas,and my favorite; baleadas made with eggs and beans and dry cheese. Inexpensive coffee. Expresso Americano and coconut cream lachino…my favorite guilty pleasure.

Fresh tropical fruit. So delicious. Pineapples, mangos, bananas…oh my! Cereal, peanut butter and chocolate chips may be costly here but fresh produce is not…unless it is imported.

I love the freedom of talking about the Lord. Painted on the walls of many of the public schools in the city, and on all the schools we minister in are scripture verses. Got to love it when God’s word is on the walls of public schools. There are signs all over the city, bumper stickers, billboards, the back of buses and taxi cabs. I think this is due to the fact that it is a Catholic nation.

josececilio

The beautiful breathtaking views. I won’t ever tire of the mountains.

12928284_10153901569131049_6642426585499994448_n

I love how once in a while I can hear a worship service from somewhere in the valley…There is something about worship in Spanish that stirs the soul. I love watching fireworks from my balcony at random times of the year. Especially Christmas eve! And speaking of Christmas eve…I love sleeping on my balcony and watching fireworks under the stars.

The climate. Perfect weather all year round. I love it when it actually gets chilly here for a brief period of time and I can wear my fall clothes.

Cheap movies! I love being able to take my family to the movies and it’s not costly. Recently Dale and I went to see the movie Risen. Cheap date night for around $8.

Last but not least…I love the kids that we minister to. Each week we are greeted with hugs and beautiful smiles. They are energetic and joyful and eager to learn. It used to annoy me and kind of offend me a couple years ago when they would get all excited and chant..”Gringos!” But now it makes me smile!

12928393_996391163778072_8838378770389953587_n

Dale with some of the boys…

Semana Santa…a cultural week…

fam

Semana Santa or “Holy Week” is coming to an end. This is the one week where basically the whole city shuts down. Many stores are closed and there are hardly any cars on the road. Since there is no school during this time, Schools of Hope had the entire week off. After the very busy season we have just had, it was a welcomed time of rest. And…believe it or not, I actually drove! I didn’t go too far, but it’s a start. I feel like in a small way, I conquered my fear. Semana Santa is the perfect time to start driving because the streets are basically empty. Traffic here is normally insane, which is why I’ve been so afraid to drive. There may be rules to the road but no one follows them. You also need to be aggressive or you are going to sit for hours in one spot and have everyone honk at you. I realized though that I need the steering wheel lowered and perhaps a pillow to sit on so I can actually see over the dash. But at least we finally have a rear view mirror after two years of not having one.

FB_IMG_1459109052953

 

 

Two of our kids…Ben and Elisa went on a missions trip with the youth from church to Comayagua. There they helped build a latrine, water filters and build a high school wall. This was a mission trip for which they had to raise their own funds . I was so proud of them! They both had an amazing time and were so excited about their trip when they came home.

12472361_846630125483579_679516759777002253_n

 

While they were away, Dale and I took a couple days and had a “staycation” at a nearby LQ. Jake stayed home on his own, and looked after Abby… our mini schnauzer. We were given a fantastic rate that made it affordable. It was very relaxing just to get away! This place had a pool and hot tub but for some reason a cold, rainy front came though and we were not able to enjoy them. Dale was rather bummed , because the reason he booked that place , other than the cheap price, was the pool and hot tub.

bedroom

We also went to see the movie Risen. If you have not yet seen it, I encourage you to go. You will not be disappointed There were a few moments where I could not stop the tears…especially when Jesús was talking to the man with leprosy.

On Friday, Dale and I, along with our director Kathy, and her parents who are visiting, went on a road trip to Comayagua. The streets were crowded and the weather was so very hot! It was so hot that Kathy got a burn right through her shirt.

Every Good Friday for the last three years we have gone there to see the beautiful carpets made from coloured saw dust, rice,wood chips, flowers and other items. These carpets depict the Easter story. It’s incredible the amount of time and work that goes into them.

.

Then there is the processional where people in burgundy hoods that eerily resemble the kkk , balance a float with Jesus carrying a cross , and another float with “Mary”. At one point during this parade, Jesus bowed to Mary. It’s all very Catholic but a huge important part of the culture here in Honduras. They walk through the beautiful carpets destroying them. I am not sure of the significance of this. People follow along beside the floats as they pass by chanting/singing a mournful song. Then after the parade is over, children can be seen scooping up the coloured sawdust that was once a beautiful work of art.

At one point when we were walking down the streets lined with so many beautiful carpets, I thought of that verse in the Bible about having a form of godliness but denying its power. In Honduras, being the Catholic nation that it is…there are signs everywhere about God.   It would make one think that it is a Christian nation. Here, we are free to pray to God, to talk about Him…it’s totally acceptable. Normal. We don’t need to worry about offending people or losing our jobs.  But I wonder how many actually understand what Jesus went through for them? How he suffered indescribable pain.  How He was beaten and mocked and crucified.  How many know that the blood was shed for them? So they could be free from whatever chains that bind them. So they could be healed. That He died in their place. So they could have HOPE and a future of eternity with Him? How many know that he rose from the dead and he is no longer in the tomb? For how many people is it merely just a tradition that they follow year after year, not truly understanding the significance of the cross or knowing the One who gave up his life in the ultimate sacrifice.

Is 53:5

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was whipped so we could be healed.

12140797_10156650296255125_9054999943199645831_n

There were other things that we did this week…like the outing with about 75 other missionaries to Ojojona for a chili/potluck day. The awesome sunrise service this morning followed by breakfast with our missionary Friends at the Marriott….but I don’t want this post to be too long. It was a great week! We look forward to a busy week ahead..

Blessings!

Busy days!

It feels like it has been a while since I have sat down and wrote anything. We have been super busy!  It’s all good though , so I am going to try and summarize in one blog post what has been going on the last month or so to bring everyone up to speed.

At the end of February we had a team from St.Catharines Ontario join us for 11 days. They spent time in all the schools, sharing with the children that they are God’s princes and princesses. They made crown crafts and then all the kinders recived really cute puppy pillows. The children LOVED them! Plus, they took the time to play with the kids! The children love it when people from Canada come!

The work team gave a much needed fresh new look to the community center, by putting in new windows, new steel doors, and a fresh coat of paint indoors and out. The team made the building more secure with added bars on the slatted windows. Don Santos the community president was very pleased with the end results. You could see the happiness all over his face.

faa53897-56fb-4cbf-87a5-d18acae8ca70

In the midst of the business, we also celebreated our 13th Gotcha day with our kiddos!  I can’t believe it has been 13 years already!  We celebrated for dinner out at Chili’s and with Cookie pie for dessert…instead of the usual cake.

 

 

Shortly after this, we received another team from Koinonia Christian fellowship. This group had four adult leaders but the remaining ten were all 18 or 19 and are enrolled in a missions school in their church. They were amazing!  They had an abundance of energy and were such fun to be around. And wow, can these kids ever pray! Heartfelt and anointed prayers. They presented dramas, music and dance to the children.

They were given the opportunity to go to the newly completed community center and interview Don Santos to hear his heart for his community, and his heart for the people he lives among. They also learned how he came live there following Hurricane Mitch and how he was made to be the president of that area. We found out that he is a trained carpenter by trade .

One evening they went to Pastor Marcos downtown church and took part in their small group studies. I didn’t go that particular night, but it is in a pretty sketchy área of the city we normally don’t take teams into, but they were safe and in good hands with Marco.

This team stopped on more than one occaision for ice cream.  Something we found out, this team LOVES!  One day we stopped at a Sarita at the  Multi plaza mall after being in the schools all day. This was followed by….the photo below!

They  got some really funny looks as they rode the riding animals in the mall! Crazy gringos!  🙂 Serioulsy though….I think this would be an awesome team building event! Don’t you agree?

12795363_10153559804914492_6684638575136461798_n

The team went home after 5 days. They had previously spent about a week in Guatamala, so I am sure they were exhausted.

Ben’s  16th birthday was in the midst of all this so we waited for the weekend to celebrate. However, on his actually day, I woke him up a little earlier for a breakfast of peanut butter, chocolate chip pancakes. To which he told me they were the best pancakes he had EVER eaten! Although at 5 in the morning, I guess it is hard to look too enthusiastic! We gave him his gifts after school.

 

 

He had wanted me to make him a winter hat cake…which for me would be simple enough since I have been making cakes for years. It is something I once loved to do!  Not so much anymore as it seems they never turn out..The kids would give me what theme they wanted and I would do my best to give them exactly what they had in mind. However it was a total disaster and completely fell apart. I was so disappointed to disappoint him. But he took it all in stride. Atleast it tasted delicious. And, he actually ended up with three cakes!

We invited some friends in for dinner and then watched a movie outdoors at our home. It ended up being a great day after all. Despite the failed cake attempts and the fact that Dale was not able to download the movie Ben wanted.

untitled

Fast forward to this week. Yesterday was an amazing day! The lead team; Kathy, Victor, Dale and myself headed to the provincial park in Valle de Angeles. The weather ended up being perfect. Not too chilly. Not too hot. The perfect day for team building, planning and to dream…and that’s what we did. Habakkuk 2:2. 3 says to “ Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for anappointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it….because it will surely come to pass. It will not tarry.”

sticky

We all have ideas, dreams and hopes for the future of Schools of hope, and we wrote them down. We discussed what our strengths were to the team and areas that we need to work on. Things that may bring the team down. It was encouraging day, where we walked away feeling affirmed and valued. If you want to read more about yesterday, you can read Kathy’s take on it here…

https://pkmizen.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/team-building/

Today was staff meeting day. We met with all our team. All the bible class teachers and the lead team. I think there were about 13 or more of us there this morning. We meet for worship and prayer. I love those moments with these amazing men and women of God! I also think it’s so cool that now, the Canadians are the minority!

10376947_10156602331470125_8516820012628514250_n

Timy led a powerful devotional that I am sure brought a bit of conviction to us all. He preached it! That everyone needs Jesus. Even big, scary looking people covered in tattoos, that we might be afraid to talk to because of their frightening appearance. Jesus tells us to go and that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few…He wants us to be obedient to his voice…Who is he asking us to talk to and to share Jesus with?

The remainder of the day was spent talking about other things…future teams and things coming up in the future.

Then it was off to get groceries! We are heading into Semana Santa( Holy Week) for some much needed time off. Ben and Elisa are headed out on a missions trip, a couple hours away and we will be going to see the “Carpets” another day.. Stay tuned!

When dreams become reality

Last July, God put within our hearts that it was time to begin training and empowering Hondurans to teach Bible Classes within the public schools that we serve. We were given opportunity by Norma; the District Director of our community to expand into 10 new schools….allowing  us to teach the Bible to 6000 students! We previously had gone to visit each and every school, then had a meeting with all the directors in attendance . At first we did not think it was possible to take on all ten schools… but ALL the schools wanted the Bible program and had questioned us as to why we would offer it, but then only choose a few of them. It’s truly overwhelming, and it seriously blows me away how God has opened the doors and provided the staff to complete the task of going into ALL ten schools! Every school has received the Bible classes with open arms. We are welcome any time. Not only that, but God has also made it possible by giving us the finances to hire the 5 Hondurans needed to accomplish this dream. All 5 staff members have begun teaching as of this week.   God has made it possible to GROW! God is sooo good!

 

ed98a9a7-5e53-4837-ad9e-85bc72adefa4

 

This is a photo of our team. As of January, Kathy Mizen, of Windsor, ON, is the new director of Schools of Hope. Pastor Victor now has a new assistant (Ariel) for Child Care Plus. Our team is growing! We are blessed!

We just received official word last Monday that the Honduran Bible Society WILL be giving the Schools of Hope between 1500-2000 Bibles and devotionals. When we first applied for this program, they were offering NT but now they are telling us they are FULL Bibles. All of our grade 5 & 6 students will receive these Bibles when they arrive in May. We are overjoyed by the fact that the SoH ministry has been selected to receive these Bibles at NO cost to our ministry. Incredible! God made this DREAM POSSIBLE!

7f1b72d5-73e5-4ecb-98ba-1ce60acb01f0

 

 

It was amazing to have Team Central from St. Catherines come to Honduras last week to teach our kids that God has made them each a Prince and Princess in His Kingdom. The work team was able to complete the Community Center in Buena Vista with a new roof, new electrical system, and a fresh coat of paint! Don Santos (in white shirt) is extremely grateful for this completed project!

faa53897-56fb-4cbf-87a5-d18acae8ca70

 

 

15 years ago, a program developed by Keith Parks was developed with the intent of growing the knowledge of Jesus into the hearts of children through this foundational curriculum. These 14 lessons take the students through the Bible and gives an opportunity for the children to receive salvation! It will deepen their roots in Jesus!

Believe it or not, the first trial of this curriculum was in Honduras, but unfortunately, the program was not able to continue without leadership on the field! Well….Seedlings was introduced once again to Honduras TODAY! 49 Grade 5 students began with chapter 1 “The Creation Story” by our Seedlings staff, Rosy & Claudia! It was exciting to see the reaction of these students! Over the next week, another 160 students will begin this course!

The first great news? The Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland sponsored our first year. The greater news? We just found out that a church is sponsoring Schools of Hope $200 a month to help pay for Seedlings in Honduras! Praise the Lord! This means that another 200 students can join the Seedlings class in our newer schools next year. Gloria a Dios! He continues to make all things possible!

be96f208-e7c7-4ff8-9a7a-30647b1da7c1