Sticks and stones

There is an old saying that goes. ”Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” I think we all know how false that statement is. Our words can inflect some of the deepest scars. We saw that first hand today…

At one point I looked over and I saw one of our staff members sitting beside a young boy who is maybe ten or eleven years old. She had her arm draped around his shoulder and I could tell she was praying with him. For a long time they sat together like that. I mentioned it to her afterwards how it touched me to see her praying for one of the students. She told me his story and it broke my heart.

This precious child is bullied in the classroom. The kids make fun of him all the time and call him names like niña and other derogatory things and say he is a homosexual. Day after day he faces the taunts and jeers of his classmates. Every day he puts up with their bullying. His teacher is aware of the situation and yet she does not come his defense or do anything to stop it. She allows it to continue. He has told his family what is going on, and they do nothing but laugh at him. But it isn’t funny. This boy is broken. He’s hurting bad and his wounds run oh so deep. And let me tell you…hurts like that …they follow you into adulthood. They can shape who we become. You can’t just simply “forget”.

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My friend talked to him for a while. He was sobbing as he told her of all he was going through and the things he faces every day. I love my friend so much and we are so blessed to have her as part of our team. She is not only compassionate, patient and kind. She is amazing with the kids at the schools. God used her to speak  life into his hurting heart, telling him the TRUTH that God loves him so very much and he is valuable to God.  She told him that God has a plan and purpose for him. WORDS of LIFE…words so unlike the words of DEATH that have been spoken over him for so long. In that moment, she was Jesús with skin on to that child  . When on one else cared, she was there offering hope. He had someone to talk to, someone who would listen,  someone who truly cared about what he was going through. Someone who believed in him. I am sure her words calmed him and were a soothing balm on his crushed spirit. The Holy Spirit used her to breathe life and hope into his brokeness. It wasn’t by chance that she was in his classroom today, and had a chance to hear his heart.

James 3:5, 6

In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.

And the tongue is a flame of fire, It is a whole word of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

James 3:9-11

Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. Surely my brothers and sisters this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?

What about those beggars….

Lately I have been thinking about something. I have a bit of a battle raging inside . And that is how do I respond to beggars on the street? (I don’t really like the word beggars, but I don’t know what else to call them.) What is the appropriate response? Every day we see them on the streets here in Honduras. It is such a normal part of life here. We see them at the traffic lights and it is usually the same people at each light. Day after day after day. The kids who want to wash your car windows for a few lemps. If our windows need it, that is fine, I really don’t mind giving to them especially if our windows are dirty. But most of the time we shake our finger at them to say “No” or we tell them in Spanish, “not today thank you… “ It just about kills me to see children on the streets begging or working for money when they should be in school. My heart wants to scream that there must be another way. They are babies…this isn’t the kind of life for a child. They don’t belong on the streets. And yet, if we give to them…what does that accomplish really? Nothing changes. They will still be there the next day asking for money. Does giving to them not enable them? Does it actually help them? How do I know if I give to them, they are not going to spend the money on glue or some other drug? So, more often than not, I don’t give to them.

Recently in the Spanish church we attend, our Pastor made a comment…”what if God felt about you, the way that you feel about people on the streets?” That comment has stuck with me because, while my heart feels so much compassion for the kids, I admit to feeling differently when it comes to adults, and that comment really challenged me. There is a one armed man that approaches our windows each day pointing his finger at us. I assume it is so we roll our window down and give him some money. Honestly, there is something about this guy that gives me the willies. I  feel disgust when he approaches.  I think it is because I have heard that the one armed people are child molesters. I don’t have a clue if that is the truth or not, but it’s like I have already judged him without knowing his story or his name. All of the people on the streets have names. They all have a story. They are all loved deeply by God.  And yet, how many times, do we drive by with our tinted windows rolled, ignoring them and pretending they are not even there, like they are invisible. (Except for the man who sells candied peanuts near the mall.) I buy from him all the time. He can see our car a mile away, and no joke, his face lights up with the biggest smile when he sees us. Maybe because we acknowledge him. We talk to him. But, you know what? I still don’t know his name. But Jesus knows all their names, and I am pretty sure he wouldn’t drive by and ignore them. Yet, exactly what would Jesus do?

But, then there are the troubling things that make me kind of angry.

I recall one missionary friend telling me about a time when she gave a package of cookies to a man looking for money. Instead of saying thank you and eating them, he stood in front of her car and crumbled up the cookies and tossed them on the ground.

And those kids that wash the windows one time blocked a friend’s car in with rocks so she could not go anywhere. All because she did not want her windows washed . How scary that must have been for her and her friend who was a passenger in her car.

At one time we had Schools of hope stickers on our car. We eventually took them off because of being harassed so much at the lights. We felt like targets in a way. Our car is yellow, so it’s recognizable. There are few cars exactly like ours, but we were the only  yellow car with a sticker like that. It was like people would see the sticker and automatically assume missionaries…they will give me money. I remember one guy practically spitting. He was disgusted and angry with us for not giving him anything. “pfftt! Escuelas de esperanza!” It was kind of a scary moment. One where we couldn’t wait for the light to turn green so we could high tail it out of there..

Recently, Dale and I were having dinner out at a restaurant for our 21st anniversary. We had barely sat down and ordered when a young boy about ten years old approached our table and asked us for money. We told him no. He wouldn´t leave. He just stood there looking at us. Eventually he sat down at the table beside us, but he wouldn’t stop staring. It was so awkward. We had the waiter ask him to move, and he did, but only about two tables down. Still he continued to stare at us. Then, he had the audacity to make circles with his finger by his ear and point at us, as if to say we were crazy. It was so uncomfortable. That actually kind of made me angry. All we wanted to do was have a romantic dinner out for our anniversary. Eventually the boy left and then returned about 5 minutes later. He was standing on the bench of the booth next to us and was staring down at us. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore, and I said to him in Spanish ” Please don’t bother us…” He said ok…But was that tears I saw I his eyes before he left? Seriously, I have felt bad about it ever since. Chances are he was hungry. Maybe we should have invited him to sit with us or buy him a meal, even if we couldn’t afford it. Then I think, that really the restaurant should never allow that to happen. And they shouldn’t have. Because it makes people uncomfortable, and we did feel like walking out. I have thought about it so many times since then. Replaying different scenarios in my mind. I only ate half my meal, which is the norm for me. I could have and maybe should have said to our waiter to give the food to the boy. He probably would have enjoyed it. And perhaps it was the Holy Spirit nudging me… But I didn’t know whether that was culturally appropriate to give someone my “Leftovers” Is that offensive? I don’t know…but I can’t get that boy’s face out of my mind.

Anyway…those are my thoughts tonight on beggars. I don’t know the answers of what the correct response is…Perhaps it depends on the situation…but I do know this. They have a name and they are loved by God. And God sees them even when no one else does…

Jacob and the passing of time…

I didn’t realize until yesterday when it appeared as a memory on my timeline that it was just over two years ago that our home was robbed for the first time. Hardly seems possible that it was that long ago. I remember that day so vividly and yet it was two whole years ago. Seven Hundred and Thirty two days.

I guess, that is how it is with time. It has a way of passing far too quickly. And lately it’s been going by just a little too fast for my liking. I remember when the kids were very young, there were times when I wanted time to stand still…just capture certain special occasions, like our family vacations at a lighthouse in PEI or other fun family vacations and hold on to them. My kids roll their eyes at this, but I love to take photos . It’s because I want to look back and remember and not forget all those precious memories.  There are moments when it feels like time just slips through my fingers. I want to grasp them and hang on tight to them, or stop the hands of time, but of course it is not possible. The moments are here and then they are gone forever.

 

 

Our kids are almost grown now and Dale and I are in the beginning stages of empty nesting and I’m feeling kind of emotional or dare I say… fragile about it. Last night Jacob had his baccalaureate and his high school grad is just around the corner. Then he will be headed off to Canada sometime in the summer or early fall. There are yet a lot of unanswered questions. We don’t know where he will live exactly or what he will be doing. He wants to work for a year before he goes to school if that is the direction he chooses. Perhaps work at some sort of apprenticeship but so far we have nowhere for him to stay. I am excited for him, at whatever may lie ahead…but on the other hand I am in no rush for him to go. He is kind of the life of this house. While he annoys his sister and they fight a lot and he really knows how to push my buttons, he is a very funny guy and keeps us all laughing with his charming wit. We love him so much and are going to deeply miss him. Most of you reading this blog know his story. Most know the struggles and heartache he has had on his journey. He doesn’t try to hide how he is feeling. With Jacob, what you see is what you get. But I can say I’m proud of who he is. I’m proud of who he has become. He has overcome a lot. His life is truly and without a doubt an example of the grace of God. He is a confident young man, that I am proud to call my son. I know I should not worry about him. But, I know I will. I know I have to trust that God will keep his hand on his life and not let him go. I have to trust his future to God’s control…and really there is no better place to be.

 

On this Mother’s day….

1625622_10153351448641049_1294400794704716878_nMy mom is probably one of the most selfless people I know. She is kind . Compassionate. Sensitive. Active. She gives of her time and energy to others continually. Even breast cancer did not slow her down. Being here in Honduras, I was not able to be there for her at that time, much as I desperately wanted to be. I would hear of all that she was still doing even right after her mastectomy and I would tell her that she needed to slow down. Take it easy. But like me she can’t sit still I guess. She told me that if she didn’t do it, no one else would. Did I mention that she is eighty years old? She sure does not act like it or look like it. Aside from the cancer…( she is cancer free now)… she’s pretty healthy.

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My mom has the gift of hospitality and from the time I was an early age I remember her often having people over for a meal, especially during the holidays like Easter or Christmas. She is the kind of woman who remembers the down trodden , single moms , the widow who feels alone, the man who’s wife has abandoned her family, or those who have no place to go at Christmas time. She welcomes them into their home. She feeds them. Embraces them. Accepts them as they are.

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I can remember one time when I was in third grade, my mom invited my single teacher Mr. Trumner over for dinner. Talk about an embarrassing night. See, he was the kind of teacher the kids liked to poke fun of. He was rather awkward. He was a bit of a geek. ( I don’t even know if that word is used nowadays…)They used to nickname him Tuna Fish. Well, my mom made a casserole for dinner…with guess what? Tuna! My brother, who was in grade one at the time, piped up and asked innocently “Is this tuna fish?!” Well, Mr. Trumner’s spoon stopped in midair and his face turned bright red. And I felt like crawling under the table. It was mortifying. For him (Mr. Trumner) and for me.

When my uncle Ernie was still alive, he would spend many a Christmas with us. And let me tell you…my mom is an incredible cook! Those who have ever been blessed by her generosity can attest to that. When Dale and I were in Canada in January I swear she kept trying to fatten me up; offering me all kinds of Christmas goodies and my favorite meals. I think I got my love of cooking from my mom.

Sadly there have been times when her generosity has been taken advantage of. One time a couple years or so ago, there was a lady she reached out to who ended up being just little bit crazy. (for real) This lady would call and talk non sense and harass them and accuse my dad of things like being demonized. Or maybe not so much him, but his car.

My mom is skilled with a needle and thread. She has made many quilts over the years. When I was a child she made me a thick and heavy quilt made from what I call old lady fabric. I think it’s crimplene…It was bright pink and green and very cheery and lined in floral flannel. Until we moved to Honduras it was my favorite quilt to curl up with if I was sick with the flu or something. In a strange way, I guess it brought me comfort. Since then, she has made each of my children a beautiful quilt that we brought down when we moved to Honduras, as well as two for Dale and I. One was a wedding gift and most recently she made one for our twentieth anniversary last year. A lot of time and love goes into her quilts and they are something we will always cherish.

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My mom also writes poetry. She has many journals full of all of her creations. She’s an amazing writer. She is gifted at putting the heart to paper and having it actually rhyme. Not only does she love to write, she is an avid reader.

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My mom loves God. I have memories of coming down the stairs in the morning for breakfast, and she would be sitting in her house coat with her coffee and journal on the end table and open bible on her lap. Sometimes she would be praying. I remember walking past her bedroom door different times and I hear her praying, or rather crying out to the Lord. I don’t recall understanding the words, but I knew she was talking to her saviour. At an early age, she set an example of what it was to seek the Lord and spend time with Him. Not just a few minutes here or there.

My teenage years were rather tumultuous and for a few of those years, things were rather stormy. My mom and I did not always get along. I am fairly certain that a few of those times I would hear her crying out to God, it was because of me. ….but through it all, my mom was there, loving me even when I was a big fat pain the rear end to put up with.

I love my mom and I really wish I could be spending this day with her. It is days like Mother’s day that make our hearts (Dale’s and mine) just a little bit homesick. Homesick for our moms

Proverbs 31 :27-29

She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all”