Fourteen years have come and gone..

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On February 28th fourteen years ago our lives forever changed and turned upside down. We had been married almost 8 years by that point and there was no hope of ever having children. At least in my mind anyway. I had kind of resigned myself to that by that point. Certainly we were happy on our own, but in my heart of hearts, I longed for children. I had spent years running a daycare and caring for other people’s kids, but I wanted children of my own.

It wasn’t supposed to happen the way it did. The CAS had told us from the beginning, when we first started fostering that they would never place children under the age of 6 in our home.  We would get attached. We wouldn’t want to send them back to their parents…blah, blah, blah. They were absolutely right of course.  But God had another plan.  He is so good! He had another purpose. Those things thought once thought impossible, were made possible.  Because with God nothing is impossible. Where once there was no hope, he brought hope.  There was an emergency. And on that day fourteen years ago, two toddlers in desperate need of a place to live, walked into our home. Ben…a rough and tumble, accident prone, almost three year old blue eyed boy with curly blonde hair and his spunky eighteen month old little sister Elisa . On that day we became a family of four overnight. A few short months later their older, fiesty brother Jacob moved in and we became a family of 5.

Most people reading this know our story. A lot of people will remember when it began. (Our church family in Essex Ontario for example.)  If you are not familiar with our story , you can read about it here..

https://cjruttan.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/forever-family-how-our-story-began/

The years have gone by crazy fast.  At some point they just seemed to blend into one another and before we know it another year has gone by.  It has not always been easy. This journey has had its shares of ups and downs, joys, tears and heartaches. It’s been complete chaos at times. But through it all, love remains. There is nothing that these kids do that will change or cancel out our love for them.  Nothing. We have not been perfect parents by any stretch of the imagination. We have made our share mistakes for sure and there have been many times where I have felt insecure about my abilities to parent, and I have at times felt like a failure as a mom,  but all in all we have always tried to steer their hearts towards the Lord.

They are all at the age now where we cannot fight their battles.  I want to. It is hard to sit back and watch when everything within me is crying out to respond. Step in. Punch someone in the nose. And by someone, I don’t mean my kids. It’s painful to see them hurting over a wrong choice made and it hurts if they have been wronged.  We can try to direct them, or offer our two cents, but ultimately the choice is theirs.

It’s hard to imagine what our life was like before these three entered our lives, and it is equally hard to imagine what life will be like when they all have moved out.   We have already begun the empty nest proccess. Our oldest Jacob has already moved out and on with his life in Canada. How we miss him. We want to slow down time. Hit the pause button somehow.  In just two and a half years, all three of our kids will be in Canada beginning their college education or careers.  And then in the blink of an eye, it will go back to being just the two of us. I’m not sure my heart is ready for that…

A true story of guards, dogs and guns…

This post is somewhat different than other posts, as it is not in any way ministry related but more life outside of missions. But I thought I would share it anyway to give a little glimpse into life here, even if the events of yesterday  were not an every day experience

It is no secret that I love to walk, and that I love animals…especially dogs and this post begins with both of those things.

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Yesterday, Abby and I had quite the adventure. The plan was to go for our morning walk.  I think most if not all of you know, I live in Honduras. For safety reasons, we live behind high walls and a gate that is topped with barbed wire or serpentine wire. There are four houses behind the gate. My next door neighbors have two schnauzers and of them is named Kiara whom you can sort of see in a pic below..

Well yesterday when Abby and I headed outside the gate to walk in the neighborhood across the road, there was a lady I see everyday waiting for the bus with her son, her dog and a schnauzer. The schnauzer is loose but wearing a collar and I was able to catch it and read its tag..KIARA. The lady waiting for the bus told me it came from my gate when it opened. Naturally I assumed it was my next door neighbor’s dog. Even though I thought she looked kind of different. I seldom see my neighbor’s Kiara except  from the balcony and I thought she was darker than this light gray dog.
Well, when I went to my neighbor’s house, I’m banging on his door and calling that I have Kiara…He yells out his terrace, “what do you mean? Kiara is here..” Sure enough Kiara is there..

I’m thinking, now what do I do? I know that a couple doors down…outside the gate is a house with two schnauzers, so I walk with both dogs to that house and no answer at their gate. In the meantime Kiara got away. It was difficult hanging onto a leashed Abby and carry Kiara and knock on the gate at the same time.   Kiara then proceeded to cross the busy road darting in out of traffic.
I had some help from Jonny the guard across the road because he saw what was happening and came to the rescue and helped me catch the nervous and scared Kiara…He took her back across the road and chained her to a tree. .I told him I would be back soon.  It was obvious she was  well cared for. She had a collar with her name and she was heavy, a little on the gordita side. ( chubby) I knew she had to live close and someone was missing her.
Anyway, we do have new neighbors that moved into one of the houses…and I thought since the lady told me she came from our gate, I would try that house….I start knocking  on gate to their home (It’s self contained.) Sure enough the new neighbors have a schnauzer also named Kiara..who was missing….What are the chances of that? Two schnauzers living two doors down from each other with the same name..? Kiara is now home ….and I guess she somehow managed to escape when the husband left for work.

So because of that fiasco with the missing schnauzer on the loose, we did not get our walk in that morning because Dale and I had to head out to teach.

It wasn’t exactly a typical morning. I shared this story on a pet FB group and someone commented that it sounds scary…gates and guards and all that. I admit when we first moved here all that stuff did kind of freak me out a little and leave me a little wide eyed and on edge. Now  it is the norm, and when we go to Canada to visit it is weird not seeing houses that are self contained by a wall and gate and guards outside of most businesses with their guns. Kind of like reverse culture shock, I guess and I find myself thinking how the houses in Canada are like  sitting targets and would be so easy to break into with nothing protecting them. No walls, no gates, no bars on the windows.

In closing,  a bit of a funny story regarding guards and guns..The other day I had yet another dentist appointment and so did Dale’s dad Al. He is getting some cavities filled and taking advantage of the much cheaper prices while he is here. Sitting outside the dentist office is a guard. He is there every day, with his gun. Dale’s dad wanted a photo of him because to him, that is not something you would see in Canada.  So I explained that to the dentist and asked if he thought it would be ok. The dentist said, “Of course,I  will just explain to him” . He told the guard sitting outside his office with his  gun that the guards in Canada don’t carry guns. I just kind of laughed and said..”there are no guards…especially not at a dentist office..” Al was able to get his photo of the guard who stood and posed with his gun…and he actually cracked a smile. He must have been amused at such a request.

I guess depending where you live the word normal takes on new meaning..

School days back in the day …and now

I’ve been reflecting lately about some of the differences between Honduras and Canada, having just met with some of the directors and teachers of the public schools we partner with.

Growing up in Ontario I always attended public school. For most of my school years I was at East Oxford public school , just outside of Woodstock.  I remember each morning standing for the national anthem, and this may age me a little, but I also remember when the words “God keep our land” were added to O Canada. I also remember reciting the Lord’s prayer every morning before classes and I remember some children being dismissed for both the Lord’s prayer and the national anthem.  I remember a kind of funny incident back in sixth grade. My teacher at the time ( Mr. Simmons) always had us read a chapter of the Bible each morning. Students would have to take turns reading it. He read from the King James version of the Bible.  A girl named Lisa W was reading this particular day when she paused, unsure of whether go on or not…but the teacher merely nodded unfazed and said “ Yes, continue” and continue she did even though it caused a few of us to snicker…Even myself, although I think I was more shocked than amused. I remember thinking…that’s in the Bible? But that’s a swear word!

The passage was 1 Sam 25:22..”So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.”  Don’t believe me? Check it out. I am pretty sure more modern translations have changed the wording to something like “any male.”

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It was but a few years later, in 1988 when the Lord’s prayer was banned from public schools. I was still in high school at the time, so it’s hard to believe it’s been almost thirty years.  I certainly don’t feel that old! But how things have changed since I was a child..

Jumping ahead to the other day. We visited four of the schools. We met with the directors and handed out school supplies to them and the teachers. We saw the children again. We probably had over a hundred hugs. They were happy to see us and the kids wondered when are we coming back? When are the Bible classes starting again?  We spoke with the directors to make sure that they still wanted the classes. And you know what? Without exception…the response was unanimous…”Yes, of course!”

To be honest, it was refreshing. Sometimes I just want to pinch myself because it doesn’t seem possible. It doesn’t seem real. I love what we are privileged to do .I love that we get to teach the stories of the Bible to these precious kids. This year the theme is super heros…Heros of the Bible . I love that we get to introduce them to Jesus…and offer them hope in Him. I can’t help but compare Canada to Honduras. Even though I shouldn’t..But it is hard not to because there is such a stark difference.  The people here want the Word of God, they want prayer. The teachers and directors of the schools are shocked when we tell them that in Canada this would not be allowed…and we wouldn’t have the opportunites that we have here. They don’t understand it and sometimes they shake their heads and say “Wow” when we tell them that.

The children have been off for their “winter” break and the new school year just began on Monday. We start teaching our classes this coming week and I can’t wait.

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