Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Talanga update

Thought you would like to see just a few pictures of things at Talanga.  We went on the 3rd for Church services, I was not smart enough to get plenty of pictures, but this is what I do have.

It was great to see the praise and worship team in action...until they called me out of the blue to call out my favorite song for us all to sing.  I froze.  Oscar and Jana each were on top of things though, and the band played on as it were.

This is the lean-to for Sunday school.  Buying an adjoining property to put a real Sunday school room or two and for playing would be great...but not in the cards anytime soon (would cost probably $12,000 or more, but we would not know until we had the funds to really make some credible offers.)  For now, this system works better than what was there prior!

And another shot to see the wall now done!  Lots of group work and Church work made it all come together.  They are looking to paint what fronts the road in the future when they can get the paint.  Jose Luis preached that morning, even after the kidnapping and robbery he was on fire for the Lord and it showed in his sermon.  Times are difficult...but His Church perseveres.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

FAME Group

Had a great group of people with FAME that came early in October for a week of traditional "medical brigades" and also mixing in some new elements as well.  
One of those new elements was an experiment with providing a time with no brigade, just education...a time for some lectures on important topics like diabetes, high blood pressure,  chikungunya, and more.  We worshipped with the Church in Talanga, then had that afternoon people from there, Cantaranas and San Juancito came just for that.  I was nervous, but it went very well.  Some people were taking copious notes!  Afterwards we had a time for people with personal questions to just ask you can see just from this one picture, there was a line, plus there were other providers answering questions as well.  

Selfishly I asked Grace (who specializes in dermatology and cosmetic surgery) to remove a cherry angioma I had on my head back at the clinic, and she was more than happy to do it.

Darwin was also more than he could observe the technique.

Having a dermatologist on the team was a first, and a great pleasure to tackle all the skin issues/problems that people have...with great speed, skill, and information.

Hard to tell from this great picture below, but this is Sampedrana, and in addition to a more focused teaching station, which we will hopefully be expanding in the future, in the back corner on the left are Honduran dental students.  Estefany from our clinic in Tegucigalpa was eager to coordinate taking them with us to do medical and dental all four brigade days.  The demand was just as high to see the dentists as it was for a medical consult.  They did many extractions, but also some cleanings which was great to hear.

Darwin's heart for people shone when we talked about has been almost a year and a half since we had taken a medical team (that long since we had one period), and most people there have no other access to care.  We talked about how we could send someone once a month maybe to see patients and give out medicines...a smaller monthly clinic type thing.  Not really in the budget right now (between transportation, the medicines, and a small offering to the physician willing to go...probably $250 or more per month?  And maybe they could see 50 or more patients?) but I love the idea, and the heart it shows.  Have to keep praying about that one.

Milk project update

Wanted to give everyone out there a quick update on the Milk Project, as we almost close out the year.  

It has been a year of transition, learning, growing, stretching...a pretty good year.  There is still quite a bit we could be doing better or more efficient, and ways we could be reaching the kids and their families better, but Rome was not built in a day as they say.  

Part of the ways we would like to see things continue to improve involve needing some more staff, adding more children (we have not found sponsors for the first 50 yet, still needing another 10 or so, plus 25 already on a waiting list that Maria is already visiting) and forging strategies to be a real physical long term help to them (food, education support, the library) and as well keep the spiritual and soul help (Bible classes, singing, play times, games, the library again, communication with sponsors, etc.)

Maria continues to lead everything related to the operations, cooking, teaching, cleaning, house visits...she is a busy lady.  She even helps some of the kids with more tutoring and such at her home in the evenings and on weekends.  Adding more staff would help her tremendously to do what she does better, and assign some tasks off rather than having to do them herself (cooking and cleaning to start)

Part of the reason we need sponsors is to be able to afford the staff we need to do things better.  

Maria has Alejandra helping her every day as well, doing the computer classes, helping translate letters from sponsors, other teaching/kid-wrangling, and all the other major computer work associated with trying to keep everything organized.

We are looking to potentially hire two more staff for next year, a full time cook (short term teams could help a little with that, we are hoping to offer a full time job to our cook we already use for those groups), and another teacher/translator/helper, especially as we want to get to where we can add the other 25 children, and their families, that are waiting for such an opportunity.  

Your prayers, sponsorships, and special one time gifts help us help so many children...and their families!  It is hard to fathom really the depth of the impact being made on them, for the Kingdom but as well as impacting their daily lives and homes when we have the flexibility to help them help themselves in what sometimes can seem small ways...but for them can have big impacts to what they can do long term for themselves.  

We are also hoping the coming year will bring more donations and groups to continue the construction on the new purpose built building for the Milk Project.  Unless God greatly surprises us this year, with how things have been coming in and going up, it will not likely be finished in 2016, but His timing is better than ours!  

If you are sponsoring a child already...thank you so much.  I unfairly get to see what your dollars do on a regular basis, it is very cool to see.  
If you are not yet sponsoring...pray about it, it is a great way to be directly connected to the ministry on an ongoing basis!

How can you sponsor?  We try to make it easy...just visit this link to sign up via PayPal, every month it will transfer the $30 sponsorship to the mission account.  

Milk Project Sponsor

Easy right?  How often is doing something so good that easy?

Clinic update

So, great news this month...the second floor of the clinic is now open! It was a long time coming, with tons of work, but it is open for business.
Optometry, dentistry, and Darwin's office as well as the kitchen/break room all moved upstairs (leaving two rooms for future expansion) which freed up quite a bit of space downstairs for much needed extra space for general medicine and gynecology (no open rooms downstairs with the expansion!)  The waiting room upstairs has room for expansion as well, so far so good though to get started.  

Valerie in her new exam room.  We are working on outfitting the second exam room, very close.  That is anticipation of God calling another optometrist.  There is plenty of work to go around for sure.  
Estefany in her new exam room, with her dad Camilo still helping as well in the other room.  Moving dental equipment is harder with the water and air lines, but it all went well. 

Monday, September 14, 2015


I have had some interesting correspondence this week.  Some informative, some inquisitive, some normal in every way, and then some attempting to be encouraging, some explaining, and so on and so forth, as it were. 

All this reading has left me pondering again how our perspectives are sometimes out of whack.

None of us like to talk about it, but it seems "somewhat universal" that we struggle with inward looks and being disappointed, focusing on negatives, our mistakes, our sin, and our lack of living up to the standard...whatever standard that would be. 

In my line of work, I am used to only hearing complaints, problems, needs, and the like.  It seems easy in life to also get to having a focus of only seeing such work, in our home, in our families, and in ourselves. 

How do we remember God is in control?  How do we remember the many blessings we have, do and will receive? 

For me, my mental focus is naturally drawn like a magnet to the negative.  Fighting against that current, to mix my metaphors, and focus on God, and His word is not easy. 

Let us be encouraged not to fixate on an ideal we see in social media, or that which we hold in our minds, but instead realize that we are all emperors without clothes, we have warts, problems, we screw up every day, forget things, forget people, try but continue to not quite get it right. 

Fixate on the example Christ gives us...He loved us and died for us when we were at our worst.  When life sucks and you screw up, when you feel you can do no right...remember Christ died for you then, not when you think you have it all together.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Clinic Directions 2015

It seems that the time is right, with five years and some construction and such passing between blog posts, for an update on how to get to the clinic.

Como ha pasado cinco años, ya es hora de dar fotos y instrucciones como llegar a la clínica para todos interesados.

The easiest way to see the clinic from above is using Google Earth, coordinates coming up after some brief words in Spanish. La manera mas fácil de ver la clínica es por medio de Google Earth. Si tiene esta programa, aquí tiene los datos: 14°4'47.75"N 87°14'53.47"W

Giving directions here will presume you are coming from the airport on the anillo. If you are coming from the North, join us at the third picture. (Vamos a presumir que viene desde el viene del norte, puede acompañarnos en la tercera foto)

After passing the airport on the anillo, and PriceSmart off to your left, Las Uvas, the roundabout to go to the Battalion and Lepaterique, and then the reservoir on your will go up the hill and after cresting start back down again (Do not take the first u-turn available.)  This is when we will pick up with the pictures.Después de pasar el aeropuerto en el anillo periférico y PriceSmart por su izquierda, Las Uvas, el redondel para el Batallón y Lepaterique, y luego la represa por su a subir la cuesta y luego empezar de bajar de nuevo. Aquí es donde comenzamos con las fotos. 

Va a ver que podría salir a la derecha por un rotulo que dice "Col. La Fuente Col. 21 de Febrero" no salga, sigue recto, y pongase en el carril izquierdo.

You are going to see an exit to your right and a sign (small) that says "Col. La Fuente Col. 21 de Febrero" not exit, keep going straight, but get in the left lane.

As you go back up a slight hill, you will see overhead signage with a U-turn (retorno Choluteca), which is why you need to be in the left lane, as you are going to take it.

Después de subir una cuesta pequeña, va a ver el retorno para Choluteca, vaya retornado entonces!

After making the u-turn, immediately get into the right lane, as you will be taking the first exit, with a very tiny sign that says "Col. Arturo Quezada" and as you exit you will be going up a steep hill.

Despues de retornar, hay que ponerse en el carril derecho para tomar la salida con rotulo pequeño que dice "Col. Arturo Quezada" y subir la cuesta.

Getting to the top of the hill, you are going to naturally follow the street to the left.

Al subir la cuesta, va a naturalmente seguir la calle a la izquierda.

Quickly take the jog to the right, less than 75 feet after you naturally turned left, naturally.

Va a doblar rapidamente a la derecha, en menos de 25 metros.

Now you will start down the hill, with Arturo Quezada being on your left, and Ciudad Lempira on your right. If you look up to the top of the next hill and to the right, you will see our buildings...big and blue, and red...with our next door neighbor (Iglesia Cristiana Cuerpo de Cristo) in the big white building.

Ahora va para abajo, con Arturo Quezada a la izquierda y Ciudad Lempira a la derecha. Si mire para arriba a la siguiente colina allí están nuestros edificios (los grandes de azul y rojo) con nuestro vecino querido (Iglesia Cristiana Cuerpo de Cristo) en el templo grande de blanco.

When the pavement finishes, stay on the dirt road as it ever so gently jogs to the right and continues up the hill.

Cuando termina la calle de concreto, sigue la calle de tierra, tomando un zigzag a la derecha y sigue subiendo la cuesta.

You will know you are in the right place with the selling stalls, and the bus stop. Keep going up.

Se dará cuenta que está en el lugar correcto viendo los puestos de venta y la parada de buses. Sigue para arriba.

This is the first block up...keep going.

Aquí la primera cuadra...sigue para arriba.

As you go up the second block, do not go up to the left, but turn to the right.

A la segunda cuadra, podría seguir a la izquierda para arriba, pero mejor tiene que doblar a la derecha.

One block later, you will see us...or at least see all the murals and the sign.

Una cuadra despues, va a vernos, o por lo menos ver los murales y el rotullo.

Clinica Cristiana Cuerpo de Cristo (also known in the area as "la clinica azul", o tambien conocido por la zona como "la clinica azul.")

If you want to call for any reason, the numbers are 2213-8052 or 3254-2629

Si quiere llamar por cualquier razón, los numeros son 2213-8052 o 3254-2629

Operating hours are 8-12 and 1-4, Monday to Friday.

Horario de 8-12 y 1-4, de lunes a viernes.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Clinic progression

We are in the home stretch on the SFC construction, looking to finish that phase, move what needs to come up there from the first floor and start using it October 12th (to coincide with some national holidays where we would be close anyway to install the stairs and make some electrical changes, and then revamp the first floor as well for expanded general medical services)  
This has been several years in the making, with so many groups, local labor, and funding from the US to make it all possible...looking forward to seeing a two story clinic in operation very soon!
The opening will happen after I leave for the U.S., but the overall look is coming together already.  We went with the false ceiling in the end for heat issues, and cost related to finishing off the cosmetic issues we had with the exposed beams. looks so professional and is a clean look.  Seeing it go up, we are already happy we made that decision.  Hopefully more pictures to follow in the coming months!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Take a few steps

I ran my first marathon in Honduras in August.  Here they call just about every race a marathon, but this was the first I have seen that was a full 42KM (or 26.2 miles) in Tegucigalpa.  

 I had two weeks notice when I signed up (cost was a donation to the children with cancer area of the hospital for about $12) and one of those weeks we had a group.

Here you can see the massive crowding at the start line at 5:00AM...a total of about 25 or so people.  The bulk of the participants came later for a 5k, 10k, or 21k.  I had planned to run a full 21k, and then walk/run the other 21k.  Good thing I was prepared to walk, especially with very little preparation, and especially since there were no water stops for me after mile 18 (I was too slow, apparently the roughly six hours I was planning was not something they anticipated...or cared much about)  So I definitely walked the last six miles when I knew I could not get any water.  It was fun, and a real neat experience, the first time my family was able to see me cross the finish line, every other one in the US I was alone.

People have been marching peacefully against corruption every Friday afternoon/evening for several months now.  That people can unite to walk with torches protesting corruption overall in the government, without any screaming, masks, defacing public/government property, and in large numbers without offering payments, etc. is very impressive.

The White Ford turned over 150,000KM during the last group.  It has been such a blessing over the almost 10 years the mission has had it, and it has a few years left in it we hope.

150,000KM in the USA would not be much (about 95,000 miles) but those are much harder lived KM here for the frame, suspension...pretty much harder on everything but the engine I would suppose.

Anniversary service for the Cantaranas Church was in August.  People came from near and far, and some looked to be very into the services.

Cecilia and Soren got to go to MK (missionary kid) camp again this year, a good opportunity to spend some time with some kids like them.

Cecilia is wearing the first Real España jersey I bought 16 years ago here.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tegucigalpa, a few tidbits

I looked this all up, some my investigation, some from legit websites, however, I am not putting this all out there as all totally confirmed.  Mostly just for fun and to wrap our collective minds around a few things of Tegucigalpa.

Item #1 So why is land so expensive in Tegucigalpa, when it is in an economically poor country?

Tegucigalpa is roughly 7 miles from East to West, and five miles North to South.  It is hard to tell exactly, as it is a city crammed into a valley, rapidly working its way up the sides of the valley and spilling out of the bowl if you will, but close enough for blog work.  Total square miles despite my above measurements, taking in the not square nature (and consulting another website)...roughly 50.

Population...1.1-1.3 million or so (expected to double in the next 15 years or so?  Yikes)

Now, since I am from Indiana, and it is easy to compare, let us take a city like Indianapolis.

If we look at just inside the loop of 465, it measures about 13 miles East to West and 16 miles North to South but to make it easier, let us take the whole Marion county, which is roughly 20 miles by 20 miles, or 400 square miles.

Marion county as a whole has a population of about 900,000.

So, population 1/3 more here...but in 1/8 of the space.

This is where I would say "you do the math"...but I just did.

Item #2   Average wage in Tegucigalpa is 75% higher than the rest of the country ($440 per month as of 2010 according to the Honduras National Statistics Institute)  Try finding an accurate representative figure of the unemployment is nearly impossible, with figures varying wildly from under 5% (laughable in my opinion) to high figures over 30 or 40%.  Even the CIA factbook lists that about 1/3 are underemployed.

Item #3   Coming off item #2...seeing that 30% of people living in the capital live in "moderate poverty" and 18% live in "extreme poverty" (the first...good luck deciphering into real numbers, the second is living on $1.25 or less a day) sheds light on the disparity of incomes throughout the city.

Item #4    95 cars/trucks per 1000 habitants (this is country wide...could not find for just Tegucigalpa, which would be much higher, up to possibly 400)  (USA as a total has 809 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants)

Item #5   2nd Indiana reference:  In a straight line Tegucigalpa is closer to Indianapolis than is Los Angeles California.

Item #6   3rd Indiana reference:  We have mentioned we are pretty much due South of Indianapolis.  The Mission House sits at W 87 degrees 14 minutes, which puts us pretty close.  We are West of Indianapolis...but still East of Terre Haute.

Item #7   As of 2013, there were a total of roughly 29,000 foreigners living in Honduras, out of a total population of roughly nine million (or .3%) making them a rare thing.  Consider that the neighboring countries around and rest of Latin America represent half that or so.  So overall, your odds of running into a white person (from North America or Europe) are about 1 in 1000 and an Asian from anywhere in Asia...are even more remote, like one in every 10,000.

Item #8  There are something like 17 La Colonia grocery stores in Tegucigalpa now (I can remember when there were just two) and in Indianapolis, there are at least 25 Kroger stores.

What is the point?  No point, no hidden agenda...just sharing just a few things that come up often talking to people.  Hope you enjoyed it!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

+44, it's not just a way to call the UK anymore

We had two groups in July.  They actually overlapped.  I did not get to spend much time with the first one, the group from CIY here July 5-12 as I was sick for two days, and then they were off to Sampedrana with Oscar for five days before leaving.  I regret not getting to know them, but I had to take care of myself, and it did feel good in a way to know I was not really needed, they did fine with everyone else's help.  Up in Sampedrana they worked hard to put a concrete roof/second floor, as well as floor in the first floor of the new Sunday School rooms, and helped a bunch on the coffee farm.  That is always hard work.

Also hard work was just getting ready for that group.  You cannot just stroll down to the hardware store there and order concrete, sand, gravel, etc.  You have to go quite a ways to get it yourself in the case of sand.  Oscar was there for several days just to get everything ready.  Anytime we have a group that stays in Sampedrana for several days, it is such a big deal for the whole community, very much appreciated.

The second group that was here July 8-17 was from Hazel Dell Christian Church, specifically via their student ministry.  It was our biggest group ever...44 people total.  (+44 is the international calling code to reach the UK)

I do not put that statistic to brag on them...but I will brag on them for other reasons.

There is much debate it seems about what is a good group size for short term mission work.  I suppose it depends on the mission, what it can do, staff size, etc. but generally I hear smaller is better.
I am here to tell you that more than the size of the group...what matters most is the preparation, organization, and intentionality of the group and its leadership.  And in that respect, this group was one of the best I have seen.

They came prepared with months of meetings and team building.  They were ready to do whatever we asked of them, and they did it in spades.  Of course...having 44 people meant doing more was easier!

So...where did we put them all?  Part of the funding they raised went towards the apartment/garage/third floor construction.  That was specifically so we could put beds there for the overflow of what the mission house and man cave could not this case 12 more beds up there (temporarily...unless we get another big group like this!)

This third floor, in addition to Justin's apartment, has an office for Oscar and a full bathroom.  In the future we hope to get funding to finish the floor, and use some of the space as a conference area for meetings, and possibly an office for me as well. might think this is the garage for the Fords, but for this week it was called "The Breezeway."  And the term was quite apt.  We made makeshift tables for eating and meeting space, and brought chairs down from the second floor of the clinic.

It worked remarkably well...and it was in fact quite breezy and cool.

So what did they do?  Hang on minute!  We also needed more translators than normal.  All of us were up to bat, and while I am thinking about it, how about another update on Cecilia?

Cecilia being off school for the summer has been zealous in her desire to translate, help, cook, whatever she can for the groups.

Here I found her extolling the virtues of these tiny bananas not always available in the USA (I have definitely seen more of them in the last few years than I did for a decade before that!)

She is only 13, but definitely has a passion for working with groups.  Sometimes she is a bit overzealous (she can definitely tell you what to do if you ask), and sometimes an old crusty missionary (forgetting that this might be normal for her, but for the group their first time doing many of these things)...but is trying very hard and growing all the time.

This picture was not planned, I just jumped at the opportunity.  One of the things we have been trying a few times this year is working with the groups, the clinic, and the Church.  This being a big group, we were able to divide up into nine groups...six doing corn distribution with the cell groups in the wide area of Pantanal, and three groups going to do medical care.  Right before we were to leave we gather for prayer...and how many of us that were there together just hit me.

Every group seemed to walk...quite a bit.
And to go up and down...quite a bit.

At least on this portion I visited, there were now stairs, that was a welcome sight.  Unfortunately, the whole area is still prone to mudslides.

So many is hard to process.  Joy, tears, no food, a pet squirrel, a spider that leaped to attack the youth pastor, and especially of interest (and prayer) for me personally was hearing Valerie bring back a patient to examine at the clinic that "just happened" to be in the group she visited...that had just suffered a severe retinal detachment.  

Sunday afternoon we visited every family in the Milk Project with well as many prospective families (anticipating we might get all 50 children sponsored soon...still have 11 left) that are waiting.  

More walking...more up and down.  More stories that are more than stories...they are people.

May God take all those efforts to help physically, and also work through them spiritually to His glory.  

All told: we distributed more than 6,000 pounds of corn, and around 1,000 pounds of rice.

Construction...the Church (next to the clinic) they helped with concrete for starting an entrance ramp to the new building, more block on the Milk Project building, a new concrete parking area for the clinic, painted (one mural on the inside, several on the outside wall), started a retaining wall for a garden area, and brought extra funds to take a day in Talanga to help do some rust painting and with more of the wall they need for the property and an entrance gate.  The Church will do the remaining work on their own...this project will soon be finished, and it was decided the time had come that it had to be done just a few months ago we were not sure how we would even get it started!  Very cool.

All told...10,000 pounds of concrete used, not sure how much sand and gravel! And at least 7,500 pounds of concrete blocks moved/put up, and several thousand bricks.

We also visited both local hospitals, split up into seven different groups, with this group having made special bags and flashlights made that say "Cristo me ama" (Christ loves me) on them, lego toys, and more to give to the kids.

With a big group, we were able to go to Talanga and Cantaranas at the same time to do more corn distribution, we did a clothing distribution/VBS and corn distribution in Jalaca with another Church we know, and during the Milk Project time we had with the group they were able to print pictures for all the kids, and host another time for all the kids that have had to leave the project (had roughly 80 kids that day total)

They gifted us a new printer we can use for future VBS/group times to print out pictures for kids to take home which works great and is wireless for connectivity.

They also bought me a very nice new laptop, nicer than I deserve for sure, and many more laptops to be used in the clinic, which was huge, and tons of other supplies we will be able to use in the Milk Project, Sunday school for the Churches, and in the clinic. They bought tires for the White Ford (after a rather sudden and total tire failure the first day), and even helped us house hunt since we will be forced to move soon. Some sent us prayer cards specifically for us, before they even met us, and quite a few knew history of the mission and staff before arriving as well, and had preachers to share on Saturday night with the youth group and as well on Sunday morning.

Not all of this...but quite a bit makes this group pretty unique. What impacted me the most was how smooth it went, how organized they were, how intentional to have this trip not just be a trip, but a life changing experience for all involved. Sharing testimonies, having materials ready before AND after they left, even giving parents/family a heads up on how to reintegrate upon arriving back home. This huge group that many warned me before they arrived would be too big, too much trouble, was one of the easiest groups we have hosted. How? Much preparation on our end, much communication on both, and the vast majority of the credit goes to Jimmy, the leaders, and the entire group. I smell a future seminar teaching this in their future.

Short term missions is instrumental in helping us do what His Eyes does here, it is extremely valuable to us in that regard (which is a very big encompassing regard.) Our desire for those teams helping us though is just what this group did...a relationship, a partnership, working together to make a difference for Honduras, but most certainly as well to impact those that come to be changed, to make a difference not just for a week or so here, but to take that and build upon it to continue growing in God to make a difference wherever they go and whatever they do.

Maybe God will bless us with another group from their Church in 2017 that corresponds in the number of group members to the calling code from Denmark, Sweden, Norway...maybe even Brazil?

For now...thanks be to God for both these groups and the work they did here, and prayers for the work He will continue to do through that, and through them around the world!

Oh, and God? Not a big deal, but if they come back...maybe we can have time to get another Cocozilla (seen here in the incubation stage of development) or Hyperturbosupermegagrande as well?

Missionaries don't cuss

Did you know missionaries do not curse? It is just one of the many fine qualities they have.  They never curse because they do not get angry, and of course are too pious.

Can you imagine me using a "bad word" in this blog?  Unthinkable. is thinkable, just not written down.

Generally, I do try to avoid vulgarities of such sort.  When I was living in my parent's home, I remember my father, not chidingly, telling me that vulgarities generally are used out of weakness, when a better developed vocabulary would otherwise provide one with better ways to express surprise, frustration, etc.  I guess that made sense to me.  I was somewhat practiced at using them, certainly hearing them sitting at the back of the school bus as a very young child with all the older kids.  After hearing this, I was convicted to generally try to eliminate them from my everyday use.

Are they wrong, these words we have deemed "bad"?  No, I think not.  Surely we are warned not to use the Lord's name in vain, so aimless use of "My God!" and the like would fit that.  But some formation of letters being, it is the use, the aim, the potential ignorance, the intent, and the passion or hate with which they are used that makes any of them bad.  I have seen in Spanish (as well in English) that a word in one place can be most foul, and somewhere else quite tame.

So what's the point of all this?

I guess the point least for me, is that no matter well adjusted, no matter how much we understand, no matter how much we have a grip on day to day life (or how much we just think we are all of those)...there are times where we want to say "bad" words as we cry out to God for what we do not understand, or what we understand but do not like (death is a result of the fall, illness as well, so we can understand how cancer, Alzheimer's and other illnesses exist theoretically...but seeing them face to face?) or for what troubles our hearts so much that the words to put to the feelings are hard to find other than with the shift key and the numbers at the top of the keyboard.

We talk about prayer, talking with God...but sometimes we need to scream to, or at, God.  We need to cry out, to bear our souls and let come forth what would come.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. (Psalm 22:1-6)

The way I read this, and many other passages...David did.  Job did.  Sure seems like Paul did.

God is bigger than our problems, and our anger.  He can take it.  He is there for us.  After all...

Prayer is not about trying to change God, but about God changing us.  Somebody smarter than I said that (or something along those lines.)

If we are happy...praise God.
And if we are angry...well...take it to the Lord in prayer.

I looked up the history of the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."  I am continually amazed at the lives lived by many hymn writers.  In this instance, instead of a hymn, this was a poem written by Joseph M. Scriven.  He lost his first fiance the day before they were to be wed, a drowning accident. He left his home in Ireland, and went to Canada to teach.  Again he was to be married, and his fiance became ill and died.  Afterwards...imagine this...he became a preacher, and spent the rest of his life giving what he had to help others and tell them about Jesus.  Oh, and about the time his second fiance died...he got word his mother was sick and dying, and he could not return to be with her.  He sent a letter, and included this poem...which later was put to music, and the rest is history, or His story.

I have said it before, I will say it again...some hymns are so rich in history that we fail to take into account when we sing them.  I will not sing this one the same way again.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

15 years?

For several years now when asked how long we have lived here, the response has elicited a similar reaction:  "WOW!"  

We moved here full time August 1st, 2000, so we have been here for fifteen years (well, in a few weeks.)  

The surprised faces that we encounter after having been here for so many years is interesting.  I think it is a compliment, but why are others surprised at the idea of "lasting" this long?  Why are we so few in number that are "long term"?   It certainly seems at least here that most of the missionaries we meet are here only for a few years at most.  

Certainly there are hurdles to overcome.  I can talk to newcomers, mission teams, and visitors and get a sense of what it was like for us back then.  It is useful, because as much as I am aware that we will never be Honduran...we are certainly not as we were when we came, and have adapted/accepted/become accustomed to many things here that are either weird or just done differently than in the USA or elsewhere abroad.  Sometimes with the passage of time...which feels like very little time to us most of the time...but in situations like these it can be felt how long it really is, how much we have much Honduras has changed as well, and for sure how much the mission has changed.

Like what...personally how have I changed?  Prior to living here...I used to be a micro manager, with great attention to detail, a perfectionist, greatly introverted (still am in many situations), afraid of tackling new situations or speaking in public, no real construction experience, thought all dogs were pets, did not know how to drive a stick, had not even passable Spanish skills, uh...was not a parent!...the list could go on for quite some time really, including even more I am so very likely forgetting.  

So if I have that a good thing?  You would hope so, right?  I know I have changed.  Mostly for the least so I would like to think.

I have also heard stories from group members of me stretching them...mostly in ways of which I was not planning or aware, and often that I have forgotten.  I remember hearing of "crusty missionaries" throwing people in the deep end of the pool upon arriving...strange bizarre stories of what those missionaries must have felt was ok or normal but seemed strange and so odd, to the point I was afraid of them!  And I am aware...I have probably become one.  Funny...I do not feel all that crusty.  

How has Honduras changed?  Yikes...that is a big topic.  But for sure politically more unstable, more corrupt, much more advanced technologically in terms of being closer day to day to the USA, cleaner streets/neighborhoods, more emphasis on schooling, more violence, more gangs, more drug trade trying to get to the US and all that brings with it, more Hondurans living elsewhere and sending more money back...which creates more nicer housing, malls, and shops, and less stable climate patterns.  I am sure there is more, but this is a blog...and you are getting highlights.

And the mission?  I know for us...when we moved here, we felt a direct calling to optometry mission work.  The plan was to see eye patients from 8-4.  That was it.  No desires or designs on anything else.  Quickly we were to find out...that was not going to be the case.  The mission might have been at that time a small medical/optometry clinic and a small recently established Church plant with a few short term groups a year...but it quickly started growing by leaps and bounds far from that.  I say "it started growing" because it was God that grew it, not us.  Not often you get to use the term "it was literally amazing" and really mean it...literally. 

Where will His Eyes go/do in another 15 years?  If looking back 15 years (ever so briefly) has taught me is that I have no real clue, and that only God knows...and that His timing is better than anything we might think or plan.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Balancing June

I really do like blogging, it is just finding the time lately for this catharsis has been difficult.  I am not complaining, just indicating how busy life has been of late, trying to find some balance.  I have been sidelined from running, so for a while I am trying to walk instead...that takes more time, but is important.  Sure I got kicked out of the mall for doing it before official operating hours began (mall is a crime here, go figure) but it is good.  Work, I mean, ministry of course, is busy (as you will see and read below), and trying to invest in people, family, and God with more dedicated purpose also means something fall in importance...such as blogging.  So...let us not waste any more time and get quickly to it!

Life is a constant struggle for balance.  Just when you think you have found probably need to check one of the plates you have spinning to see if it has crashed on the ground.  I am not aiming for perfection, but a constant and/or consistent improvement would be nice. a theme coming that I was not planning.  

The group from Swiss Cove Christian Church was pivotal in scheduling another outing with the Church and clinic staff.  This time we went in small groups to do medical care in 21 de Febrero...and we saw quite a few people that needed care and otherwise would have been difficult to get to the clinic, all neighbors of people from the Church, and many non-believers.  I snapped this picture while we were praying for a patient with Alzheimer's.   Often in life we do not have the deep answers we seek to the problems we see around us.  Finding balance in knowing God is bigger than that, and in recognizing that some things we may never understand or be able to grasp...easy in theory, harder when staring you in the face sometimes.  

Some are concerned that I might be leaning to being off balance with the Milk Project growing, and needing more of my time.  I agree.  But...when I get to see a donation given, and then get to go buy a bed, and see it go in to Maryury's house, and meet her get hugs every time I walk into the Milk Project, and see the difference God is making in the lives of so many children...and families, it feels good to lose that balance for a while.  Granted, we are working on is a process overall as we seek to grow, mature, and prosper that project as it seeks to rescue children from a life destined for physical and spiritual poverty, but for now I feel quite humbled and privileged to be a small part in it.

 We visited the Church in Danli last week.  The pastor's humble adobe house next to the humble Church "building"...hits me hard on balance.  We have said since the Church began that we are not financially able to take on supporting the Church like we do the others (no salary for the pastor...but we did help keep things going by his inclusion in the clothing ministry), no supplies regularly, and such.  It makes sense that we have to limit that kind of support to be able to do what we are already doing better and more properly, but to know that balance means restricting things in areas like this, and in areas where there is no Church...that balance can be hard.  But...we know that God's timing is better than ours, and know that we cannot do it at all, it has to be God moving.  That makes it easier, more palatable, but still hard from time to time.

Odd balances come sometimes.  We did a first food distribution with the Church we know in Lepaterique.  Estela (whom we have known for years) went with us from there to have us help the people in El Espino, where they have planted a Church and we have helped before with other activities (clothing, medical brigades) and lately have been hit hard with crops not coming in and lack of food.  Normally we take the corn or rice directly to the people's homes...thankfully Estela was on top of things to know that of the 25 families we could bless...some might be close enough to actually visit, but none really close enough for gringos to walk and take the corn.  Seeing little kids and older women go, excitedly!, where the group could not with their corn was humbling...but she was right!

Cecilia had her 13th birthday this month.  We met during that food distribution Danis, who is 16.  Seeing the disparity in size...was hard on me.  Ok, so I am a dad of someone who already gets talked of as if she were 15...or older.  That is one side of it, and the maturity that is there or needs to grow for handling boys, relationships, the challenges and blessings of growing up here, all that.  Finding a balance for her, for my relationship with her, etc...hard stuff.  I still have not gotten any owner's manual from The Owner when it comes to kids.  Well...there is that one, but it can be a bit vague on the details least for me.

But also what hit me is just...why are we so blessed to get to eat every day?  To get to be so tall?  To be so monetarily rich?  Danis is blessed in ways we are not to be sure, and I am not having a pity party for, that is a mistake made all too often.  The love of God was written, literally, on the walls of their home, and there was joy there.  It is just finding a balance in how we are blessed, to be a blessing, and go do to do it unselfishly, and seeking God's glory.  That, at least for a tough one.

 Balance is hard when you are on crutches.  Soren broke his foot late May (kicking his sister, Tae Kwon Do style...hit right on her knee.  The knee won.)  But he has done remarkably well dealing with all the joys that being on crutches brings...especially in a country not exactly known for being hospitable for those with such issues.

Here we are modeling, at random mind you, two different T-shirts honoring "The Three Amigos."  Seeing my kids find humor the way I do (Cecilia and I were both hushed by Valerie at "Inside Out") and enjoy things I enjoy is pretty cool get to the age when we can talk about the complexities and deep issues...whether spiritual, how to talk and address other people in a humble way...or how the Dominion War works out on Star Trek Deep Space Nine...all very enjoyable stuff.

And lastly, for this blog posting (not in general...too many plates to spin in one blog post!) finding balance in the His Eyes mission.  We were and are extremely blessed by the leadership of the board of directors, four of whom flew down for a week of meetings, devotionals, encouragement and just getting feet on the ground again.  (Meetings are hard to represent in pictures...all the action is in your head!)

Balance restored, maintained, and to be encouraged in different areas...the impact of their trip and what it will mean for the ministry overall will be coming for some time, but it was all good.  Finding balance is not always fun...not always easy...not always perfectly attainable, but something for which to strive, to wrestle, to love, and to remind us that it brings us back to our proverbial knees in prayer to the only One that can make it all happen.

Say, since this donate button is always about helping our bank balance?  That is another balance that is off kilter as of late, and it would be a real shot in the more than ever, really!