When the heart cries..

 

Just the other day I saw him.  Gregory.  ( Names in this blog post have been changed). His smile lit up his face as he waved to us from his yard. He knows us and always greets us when we see him at his church or on the street. Such a nice kid.  He had been working out with his home made dumbells. Fashioned from empty large tin cans that he had filled with cement and balanced between two poles. Genious, really. His creativity astounded me. I would never have thought of that! Fourteen years old.  I was reminded of his story the other day and it crushed me.

You see, when he was only a young boy of seven years old, his father abandoned him. Left and never looked back. Gregory  tried attending school that year, but he was so hurt, so broken, he just couldn’t continue. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of that kind of rejection,  that kind of  wound so deep to a soul so young, wondering why his father left. Wondering if his dad was ever coming home and all the while missing him.  Did he think he was to blame? Did he wonder if only he had done something different his dad wouldn’t have left?

Gregory can now be found on the streets in the city selling tamales. At times he is there at 5 in the morning providing for his family because his mom is not well.  I am not sure what school he attends but his able to go to school on the weekends to continue his education. I am proud of the young man he is today, despite the hand that has been dealt him.

Then there is little Marjory,  a precious little girl in fourth grade.  Each time we come to her school for the Bible classes I look for her.  I adore that little girl.  I honestly can say I love all those kids but there are some that just have found a special place in my heart.   Recently Marjory’s dad passed away very suddenly and without warning.  There are many  dads who are murdered.  It’s fairly common in that area. Yet that was not the case with Marjory’s dad.  It was a car accident and instantly his life was snuffed out, just like that, without any warning. My heart is broken for that little girl and her family.  I didn’t see her the other day when we were at her school.  I so wanted to give her a hug, tell her I was so sorry to hear about her papa. I don’t know what else I could have said. There are no words, really. How do you comfort  an eight year old girl whose daddy is never coming home again? Her family needs him.  We can grieve and weep with them. We can pray with them, but then what? I want to cry out that it isn’t fair.  I know God cares and I believe heaven weeps over such heartache. I know God is able to comfort the broken,  but I don’t know why these things have to happen. It’s one of the great mysteries in life I guess.  Perhaps sometimes in life there are things we are not meant to know until the day when our own journey on this earth is done…

Finally there is Jack.   He had Leukemia.  It was a recurring thing. He would be in remission and then it would come back. I remember the time he told Dale that he could not understand why kids would stay home from school when they had a cold, and yet he continued going to school even when he was in treatment because getting an education was important. I remember when we used to hand out Bible bucks that the kids could redeem for various items. He had more than anyone in the entire school and he chose to spend his Bible bucks on a Bible for himself, and then he bought gifts for others. He bought a sweet straw Tinkerbell purse for the director of his school,  who was genuinely moved to tears by his tender guesture, and a Mario Cart figure for one of his teachers…(well that was actually something they were going to share.) He was a kind and gentle soul, a teddy bear of a kid with a big smile and a huge heart. He always greeted us with the biggest smile and a hug when we would see him at his school.  I remember how hard we fought to go visit him at the hospital when we learned he was back in there. Finally we ended up getting in with the help of a lawyer because the guards at the gate of the hospital would not budge. They would not allow us to enter . We only wanted to come see him, encourage him and pray for him. I remember how his face lit up when he saw us. I remember how badly he wanted out of that hospital room so he could go to school.  Jack had been a sponsored child. When his sponsor died, the family continued on with the sponsorship. But do you know what Jack did when he learned his sponsor had passed? He sent a letter to the family offering his condolences and told them he was praying for them.  That’s the kind of boy he was.

A couple weeks ago I was sent a recent photo of Jack…now in seventh grade. The cancer was back.  When I saw the photo of him looking so very, very sick, I felt like I got punched in the gut;  overwhelmed with sadness. My heart cried “no!” The last time we saw him was his grade six grad. We were so proud of him, graduating  when he had been so ill during that year.  I remember the standing ovation he received from his peers and teachers. And yet, here we are, not even a year after graduating and Jack…our beloved young friend is gone. He’s with the Lord, and not suffering anymore, but oh how our hearts ache. He was so young, had so much to live for. He truly loved life. He lived his life well. He had dreams.  I don’t know why he had to die.  I don’t know why he wasn’t healed or why he had to suffer so much in his young life.  I know he loved Jesus and I know one day I will see him again.  He is in a better place, not suffering, healed and  whole.  And something that struck me the other day is that Jack got to meet his sponsor.  Not many kids or their sponsors ever get that opportunity.  I am sure he ran up to him, hugged him and said “thank you for sponsoring me!”  It reminds me of that old Ray Boltz song that says..”thank you for giving to the Lord…I am the life that was changed.”

Jack is greatly missed and was loved by all who knew him. An inspiration.  A real life hero. He will never, ever be forgotten.

Deut 29:29 The Lord our God has secrets known to no one.

Psalm 56:8 You keep track of my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

 

Greater than gold…

When Dale’s mom passed away one year ago, Dale asked that instead of flowers, money be donated towards Bibles for our grade five students who have all been taking the foundational course, Seedlings.   We wanted a Bible for each graduate of Seedlings,  just like what we did last year. We knew his mom would have loved that and it would have made her heart happy.   Except this year there are many more students taking the course.  We are happy to report that more than 800 of our grade five students have received a Bible within the last couple weeks as we finish up our Bible classes for this school year. Exams begin next week and then school will soon be done til Feb. I can’t believe this school year has come to a close!

Like last year the reaction of the children upon receiving their very own Bibles blew us away. There were cheers and tears. Clapping and smiles all around. Some of the children actually hugged and kissed their Bibles. Everyone seemed excited! Again I was reminded of when I was in public school and the Gideons handed out little new Testaments. I can’t say I was too thrilled. It’s so different here and it is refreshing. I pray that they read it and apply it to their lives.

There was one teacher that told the children in his class that the Bibles that they had been given  was a treasure greater than gold.

 

In addition to the children receiving Bibles, the teachers did as well. This was made possible because of a generous donation from a sweet lady who visited on a team and saw a need for it. It touched her heart that last year teachers were asking for Bibles but there were none extra to spare. Most of the teachers did not open their gifts infront of the class. That seems to be a cultural thing, where gifts are opened in private. Some of them did however when their class chanted “Que lo abre! Que lo abre!” However the teachers did know what it was, and were so appreciative and happy to receive.

 

I do have a testimony I want to share of a teacher receiving a Bible at just the right time. It shows God’s provision.  I asked her if it would be ok for me to share her story and she told me it would be an honor.

When we gave Profesora Emma her gift wrapped Bible, she asked Rossy…”Is this a Bible?” And rather than sitting it on her desk and waiting to open it at home, she quickly unwrapped it.  She then told us that she had lost her Bible,  and had been using her husband’s. Her husband had been telling her she should just go out and buy another Bible. But she was believing for a new one and had said by faith she was going to receive a new Bible.  So she was pretty happy to receive one that day!

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Psam 119:72, 73

The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.

A thankful heart

 

288190-There-Is-Always-Always-Something-To-Be-Thankful-ForIn my last blog post I briefly mentioned a friend in the final stages of cancer. Sadly, I learned that she passed away Saturday afternoon.  Her name was Diana, and my family prayed for her regularly around our dinner table during our family devotions.  For almost a year we prayed .  I’m heartbroken.  Yet, even though my heart is heavy and once in a while the tears start and it’s hard to stop them, today is Thanksgiving and it’s a time to be thankful.  One thing I have learned over the years is even though there is a lot of sadness in this world and we may be experiencing a loss of some sort, or grieving and missing family and the fall colours, and maybe we can’t find all the ingredients we want for a certain recipe, and maybe not all our family will be around our dinner table. Regardless of our circumstances or what we may be facing, there is always,  always something to be thankful for.
The Bible tells us to give thanks in everything. I don’t think for one minute that this means to be happy about it when bad things happen,  but rather to be joyful in the midst of it. Joy comes from within….where as happiness is more external. Anyway…just some thoughts this Thanksgiving day..  All of us have something to be thankful for. What are you thankful for today?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ.

What in the world?

The last few days I have been feeling the need to write but really not knowing where to begin. I feel like my thoughts are disjointed and not really making any sense. I’ve been full of emotion, trying to make some sense of the thoughts, heavy on my heart. So you all might have to just bear with me while I try to sort it all out. Sometimes writing is the only thing that helps! As I write this post a friend of mine struggles with cancer. How I have prayed for her. My entire family has on a regular basis. Yet, she is now in the final stages. She doesn’t have much time left on this earth. And it isn’t fair. I don’t understand why people have to get cancer. I don’t understand why some people are healed from it and others lives are snuffed out far too soon.

Why? I think it is a question a lot of us are asking this week. Why did some guy open fire on a mass crowd of people in Las Vegas, killing 58 people, including himself? Innocent souls who only wanted to enjoy a fun night of music. People, in the wrong place at the wrong time. People with names and faces and family and friends who loved them desperately. They died suddenly and without any warning that their lives were in danger. It’s a catastrophe that I think all of us have struggled to wrap our mind around. And we all want to know why?

We live in a broken world. It can be hard when we watch the news and we see all the events happening all around us, not to become discouraged and overwhelmed by it all. Maybe we feel fear. Maybe we fear what our future might look like. What in the world is going on? Why? Why are there so many hurricanes…one right after another? Why are there earthquakes? Why is there so much tragedy in this world? Why do kids get cancer? When will there be an end to all the hate and violence? When will things stop? When will people just learn to love and get long?

I know the answer to all these questions goes back to the beginning of time. It goes back to the days of Adam when he fell from grace, and sin first entered our world. God gives man a free will. And I know the Bible tells us that these things will happen and things are not going to get better any time soon.

Matthew 24: 7,8

Nation will go to war against nations, and kingdoms against kingdoms. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of birth pains with more to come.

John 16:33

I have told you this so that trusting in me you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world, you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I have conquered the world.

I also know that all these tragedies can cause us to take our eyes off of Him as we look at everything happening and falling apart around us. Some people even blame Him for not doing something…for not stopping it. They say things like if God really was a loving God or if He really cared….or if there was a God. Which honestly strikes me as a little funny, when so many people hate God and go through life without giving him any thought until something bad happens. Then, when it does, he gets the blame for it. It feels like society as a whole wants nothing to do with him but yet still expect him to come to the rescue. I am not trying to be all judgemental either. But I have to wonder how many things have been averted and not come to fruition. I mean we will never know will we? Just how many times God did step in and crisis was averted.

The Bible tells us that the secret things belong to God. Deuteronomy 29:29 a The Lord our God has secrets known to no one.

And then in 1 Corinthians 13:12

Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

I do know though that God does care deeply by what is going on around us. He is grieved by what grieves us. He is grieved by this lost and broken world. When we are hurting or when disaster strikes he is near…walking beside us, going through our journey with us. He is our hope. The anchor for our soul.

Psalm 56:8 you keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. Each one of them is recorded in your book.

Psalm 30:11 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to your name and not be silent.

Psalm 34:17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Lamentations 3 :31, 32
For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love.

Purified water..

Water.   You turn on a tap and don’t even think about it. Water will flow from the faucet.  But what if that was not the case? Can you imagine not having access to water whenever you needed it? Water to wash your dishes, your clothing, your hands. Water for a shower.  It is just something we take for granted.  A blessing.  Dale and I live in the city and have water at the turn of a tap….not purified mind you…we can’t drink it, but I don’t need to worry about not having enough water for the things I need it for.   For the people living in Buena Vista, they have never had running water. They settled there after hurricane Mitch back in 1998. Many of them lost everything and the govenment told them they could re build on the mountain outside of the city.  And so they did. They built houses, schools churches, pulperias, barbers.  Yet 19 years later they still have no running water. Water is bought from the water trucks that come up the mountain a couple times a week.  But it isn’t purified.

 

So, after the sad disappointment of the well project falling through, Schools of Hope wanted to come up with another solution. They have now partnered with another ministry in Honduras, called (El Audante) to bring bio sand filters to the community, so that the families in this area will have a way to purify their water that they purchase from the water truck or from rain collected in their pilas.   We held a “town meeting” in the hall yesterday and there was a lot of interest.  If they had one instaled, they would no longer  to purchase purified water in the bags or bottles for drinking and cooking.  It would save them a lot of money in the long run. This project will be not be free to them because we want to them to own it and to feel like it is theirs.  So, there is a small fee of about ten dollars per family, which for some will be a sacrifice and many will have to set aside a small amount each week to save for it.  The feeling is, if you are paying for it, you will take care of it, because there is pride in ownership. The filters actually cost significantly more. Mike Evans will be overseeing this project over the next year while he and his family are here with us.

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The hard thing for Kathy was explaining how long of a process it would be.  We are only able to install 9 over the couple months or so, with plans to install 300 over the next couple years.

It is an exciting time for us at Schools of Hope!

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