…..Tis the Season

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Tis the Season…

I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that December is upon us.  I’m working on the not so quick transition between Thanksgiving and Christmas in our home.  As I put away the Fall, and dig through the many totes of Christmas decorations, I find myself nostalgic.  It happens every year.  Looking at the ornaments from Christmas past.  Crafts our kids made while growing…..  It really gives me a sense of length and width of the life we’ve lived thus far.  Now, we have kids moved out and moving on…  Life is so good.  Time is so fast.  I love that this time of year gives me the reminder to slow down, and always enjoy the moments we have.  images-1

imagesChristmas is something I never want to rush through.  This is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love it, because it is a holiday that is not about ourselves, and all about The One we celebrate.  It’s about and our family and friends.  It’s a about strangers and guests, it’s about giving and celebrating.  It’s about memories and traditions.

This time of year God came to us in the form of a baby.  Helpless.  The God of the Universe wrapped in cloths and put in a manger.  Imagine.  As I set up my Nativity, I think about how that night would’ve been for passer-byers, for the inn keeper, for Joseph, for Mary…knowing that the Son would be born among the sheep and cows.  In the hay.  Thus starts the season of giving. God gave, and so we pass on the Gift.  Christmas is Love in action.Unknown

Christmas in our family has always been so much more than the parties, the songs, the stories and the commercialism, it is about a baby.

Unknown-1One of our favorite traditions is putting our Baby into the manger on Eve.  Each year, as our children grew up, they took turns, as the Hubs read Luke 2:1-20, at putting Jesus into His place in the trough.  The story never changed and even though they knew it by heart, they vied for their place next to Dad and to know who would place Jesus in his baby manger.  Eagerly, each trying to remember who had the honor the year before, and who it passed to the current year.  It was always interesting to me, that even as older teens, they sat, with anticipation, listening to the Story.  Quiet, filled with expectancy.. as if it were the first time, hearing it…..and somehow, it always seemed that it was…..The story was always fresh, unique and awe-inspiring….just the way it should be.  It’s a fun story to share when people come into our home around the holiday, and ask, “where is your Jesus?” as they look at the bare manger.  I hope it’s these traditions that will continue to be passed on as our kids have their own families, but more-so I pray that they always pass on the Reason that is Christmas.  The Truth of that Baby.  The certainty of that night.  The perfection that was born in a manger as a gift from the Most High.  Emmanuel.  Nativity-Wallpaper-05

~The spirit of Christmas needs to superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world. -Stuart Briscoe

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Mission Day One

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Looking over Tegucigalpa

How can one describe the indescribable? Explain a rainbow of color to one who has never had sight? Or the most beautiful of sounds to one who has never heard a single sound?

Yesterday was our first full day back from Honduras. The sights, sounds and smells of that country and what we experienced is fresh in my mind. My heart is heavy. I have, in a twenty-four hour period, since stepping off of that plane, experienced a hundred different emotions. I feel weighted down and as if someone is sitting on my chest making it difficult to breathe. I have gone from sitting quietly, reflecting, praying, looking at pictures, full of joy, to sobbing, to anger and back again. Having my best friend, the hubster, here to talk with has been my most valuable asset.
I loved all of the well wishes from friends and family yesterday, but honestly couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone, but one. Who I longed to talk to was my team. No one will get me and what I feel, but them. And when checking in on one, I heard she had the same sort of feelings. Like refugees, scattered around our small city, I feel out of place and out of sorts. I am glad on our last night, as we met as a team, we were given “pointers” on how to re-enter. I know what I am feeling is normal, and know that it will be a process to work through. How do you come back to this life in the US, so full of abundance after seeing and experiencing what we did? I am excited to share this amazing journey with you.

On our first day we visited the AFE school. AFE stands for Amor, Fe y Esperanza (Love, Faith and Hope) We toured AFE and heard about its beginning. It’s quite amazing how God can work through the smallest of children to do something so huge in a country. We learned how one visit to the trash dump in Tegucigalpa prompted a tiny girls heart to help an entire population stricken by incomprehensible poverty.
We visited each class at AFE starting with the nursery. Kids can immediately grab your heart, and I knew mine was gone the second we stepped in to play with these sweet cherubs.
As we visited each class, we learned their names, favorite colors, favorite subjects and what they would like to be when growing up. Doctors, paralegals, engineers, teachers, soccer players… They asked us questions as well, and it was so fun to hear their laughter as we struggled over our Spanish. We ended in each classroom, with an encouragement, “Te ve en la Universidad!”
It was amazing to see this school. To know that these students, not long ago were attending school for the first time, under a make-shift tarp, sitting on old tires, in the trash dump. Now they have roofs over their heads, sitting at desks and tables. God is good!

The next part of our day was a visit to the dump. We were educated on this, and were prepared…so we thought, for this visit. We were not allowed to take any photos, out of respect and dignity to those who make the trash dump their home. And honestly, pictures would’ve never conveyed what we saw.
As we drove up the winding hill, I prayed…”Lord, give me the strength I need for this. Give me eyes to see, and ears to hear these people.”
We were going up to feed the people of the dump and I thought about how it would have been for Jesus. How the dirty, sick and starving would come to Him and how he loved them all. I continued to pray as we pulled in. I was nervous. I had images of what I thought we would see, but as we approached I realized, quickly, that even my worst minds-image, wasn’t even close. We stepped out of the van with our bags of water and food, and the crowds emerged. At first it was hard to wrap my mind around these….people. Broken. Dirty. Emaciated. Their clothes, faces and hair all one color. I grabbed my composer, trying my best to keep my eyes from tearing. Trying my best to…breathe, through the rancid, sour, odor of rot and decomposition that was permeating my nose and mouth. We started a line to hand out water. We were instructed to make three lines, for men, women and children. As they raced into lines to grab whatever they could, I saw their faces for the first time. Their eyes. These people, who were entrenched in the piles of trash, right along with the buzzards and dogs, who seemed almost “un-human” had eyes so tender. Their faces, became real to me. They became, people. Human beings. I watched as smiles emerged from faces, grateful for just the small amount of food and interaction. I left the line with bags of water to hand out. I walked a ways, praying a silent prayer over these people. May God spare them of this. I watched as they scoured through new trash as trucks entered. Frenzied, looking for any tidbit they could find. Grateful for even a chicken carcass that was thrown out, so that they could have a meal for their family.
We got back into the van, and I sobbed! I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to be able to do more. I wanted for this entire population of people living in the dump to not exist. These men, women, children and infants to have a place to live and work and eat and breathe! To be clean and have fresh water. I wanted to scream. But I sobbed.

After our dump visit, I was so emotionally drained, I could barely speak. In fact all of us were quiet…each of us processing what we had experienced. Quietly lifting up prayers as the day went on. Praying for AFE and how God is using that ministry. Praying for our strength, as we all knew that the next day we would be out in the neighborhood building a house from the ground up. I was encouraged by this. Was excited to meet the family we were building for and hand the keys over on that last day. Little did I know, that God had given me a little glimpse on this very first day at AFE.

I changed on that day. Changed in a way that I am still working through and processing. Changed in a way that I cannot convey and may never be able to. A soul change. A shift so strong in me that I know I am a different person. That day at the dump will never leave my mind. The kids at AFE will never leave my prayers. My list of names is long. i know the country of Honduras is on my heart. I know and see that God IS working in this country. I know He is bigger than all of this.

– to be continued…..

For more information on AFE and their ministry, go to http://www.afehonduras.org/

~For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land. -Deuteronomy 15:11

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Little Lucy

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They loved the camera!

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Hiking to the statue of Jesus

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Below the statue
~ When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to Heaven. – Luke 24:50-51

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Christo el Picacho visible from any point in the city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Preparing for Honduras

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Sometimes things just happen in our lives that are so amazing and so incredible that there are no words to explain.  Things that we know…are not about us!

That’s how I feel right now.  Some of you know, but many of you may not, that in June (in 19 days to be exact) Greg and I will be taking our first mission trip to Honduras.  My heart races, and my belly fills with butterflies every time I think about it.  The closer it gets, and the more I pray and think about it, the more excited I become.

The hubs and I have always tried to live an unselfish life.  This can be a hard thing in this day and age, of compelte selfishness, of everyone wanting what they want, when they want it.  In a society of “it’s all about me!” Get what you can get. Get more, get better, get bigger.  Trust me, before you think I am being judgmental or goodie-two-shoes…I struggle with this as well.  Everyday, I have to wake up, and remind myself that it truly “isn’t about me all the time.”  There is so much more to life than….me.

It is SO, not about us!

As I pray about this journey everyday, I learn more and more about the life God wants me leading.  Set-apart.  Different.  Not hypocritical, not judgmental, but loving, giving and self-less. I now realize that LONG ago…. years ago, God was preparing my heart, exactly and precisely, for this trip.

I have always known that someday I would be leaving this country to do this trip.  I just had no idea where, what I would be doing, or what it would look like,  but knew that God had planted that seed in me.  I now see that the many years Greg and I have gone to Costa Rica, and how we fell in love with Central America, was in preparation for this.  I see how God changed us from traveling and sitting in resorts, to wanting to “live among locals” on our trips.  To go with the flow.  To expect the unexpected. To meet, speak and eat with the locals….and not just sit among other American, sipping umbrella drinks.

I know that God can do extraordinary things.  Unexplainable things.  He can take this little, blond headed, once shy, type-A, clean freak, that doesn’t know the difference between a hammer and a wrench (joke) and turn me into a builder.  A girl that can handle a flexible schedule, that isn’t afraid to get dirty.  A girl that is strong, reliable, and optimistic, that can wield a hammer, tape measure or pair of tweezers for a splinter.  That knows, God can and does change lives, in both, small ways, as well as big.  A girl, devoted, humble and completely open to God’s calling.  I stand, arms wide open, for what He has in store for us.  And I already know, that He will equip each and every one of us, on this trip, for exactly His use, in whatever ways He sees fit.  Giving us strength and perseverance to do the work He has called us to do.

I, with my team, will be building a house while in Honduras.  A HOUSE!!  A house.  If 10 years ago, someone would’ve told me that I would be doing construction in another country, I would’ve laughed.  Like I said, I always KNEW there was a calling to missions for me, but building never crossed my mind.  God works like that!!  And it’s not about me.

This house we will be building is for a family that currently lives in the dump in Tegucigalpa.  That gives me a lump in my throat the size of a watermelon.  This house is in no way, the standard home that we would see in the US.  It cost $6000 to build from the ground up.  It has no indoor plumping.  But to a family, living in a landfill, this will be a mansion.  It just shows how really little we need in life, for true happiness.

When the house is completed, we get to take the family in for the first time and be present while the house is blessed.  Can you say, halleluiah!

Sitting in my home, with all of the modern conveniences, the gorgeous view, the abundance, I sit and cry about this.  I am pre-crying over what this day is going to feel like.  Taking this family from the dump, into their own home.  My gosh, my heart swells!  I am completely over-come by God’s goodness and provisions.  I am in total awe of the privilege of getting to go on this trip and share God’s love.  To share His compassion.  To share His mercy and tenderness.  To serve Him in this way is such a pleasure to me.  A complete honor and joy.

We also have a day that we get to serve in the local school.  To play soccer.  To love on the kids.  Bring treats and treasures to them.  And once again, share the goodness and love of God with them.

God has been so faithful in preparing Greg and I for this.  Given us such compassion and such soft-hearts for those in need.  He has brought us to a place of knowing everything we have, our belongings, our family, our friends are not ours, never were, and never will be.  Every “thing” is His.  Over the years, He has shown us to just, “let go” and in us doing so, He has blessed us beyond belief!  He has shown us how to be bold for Him and how to be the best example of love, relationship, marriage, family and faith that we can for Him.  To “be” about Him, and not us!  I am so thankful, that God not only planted that seed within me years ago for this trip, but in Greg as well.  God knew from the beginning the couple he was bringing together!!

I already know this trip will be life-changing for all of us.  I know we will grow a bond between the people we are traveling with (our team) that will be amazing, and life-long.  I know that we will have days while we are there, that will astound us, overcome us, and render us so affected by God’s love, grace and mercy, that we will never be the same.

I am so excited to share this journey with you and appreciate, incredibly, your prayers and all of the finacial support you have given for our team.

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~‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:40