Beauty That Remains

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Building a house is no joke. How about this? Building a house in a third-world country.

My heart still stings when I think, talk and dream about Honduras. Back one week now, tears bite at the corners of my eyes on mention. Little by little I reacclimatize to being home and I get so excited to tell our story.

Actually….God’s story.

We had an incredible team hand-picked by God; a blend of new people, some of whom had never left the country before, let alone on a mission trip and some who are well-traveled veterans. None of us, with the exception of one (I believe) have any real building experience.  Funny how that has never made a difference….. IMG_1068

UnknownGod enters into the scenario. Only through Him do you get a team of men and women to create something wonderful with no experience. He always shows up and always blows my mind. This is who He is.

We arrived on our build site to find 2 foundations poured, side-by-side. This was amazing, as we were really praying for this prior to the trip, so we could share recourses throughout our build time AND not have to split up the team. We made some preparations with our team foreman, and set off on our task of building two transitional homes for families living and working in the trash dump in Tegucigalpa.

We had 3 and a half days to build these houses!

IMG_0928IMG_0863   Building relationships is one of the best things that I love about mission work. Partnering with God, alongside other people; some of whom you’ve never met, to create something; These people become your family. It’s happened with every mission trip I’ve been on. There is nothing like that bond. It lasts and is one of many things that I feel blessed with from these trips.

As the days continued and houses were erected with the help of some amazing Honduran workers I loved watching the process. I loved being in the moment. I wasn’t rushing to get things done; I knew they would be. I wasn’t feeling a sense of urgency; I know everything works in God’s timing. I wasn’t worried we wouldn’t complete the houses; He who sent us, will equip us.  I found myself, several times, standing back and smiling at what was happening around me…..IMG_0848IMG_0830IMG_0780

Laughter between people of two different countries.

Conversations between people that do not speak the same language.

Differences being worked out in respectful ways between two strong-willed men.

IMG_0755Women learning how to use tools that I’m sure they’ve never used or possibly seen before.

Children shyly making eyes contact with us.

The young boys in the neighborhood who were always right there to help lift lumber and our spirits.

All of us bettering our Spanish language.

Learning new things everyday from our translators. (Some not so great…hello Chinche bug)

Women caring for one another when one of us fell ill.IMG_0710

The compassion we had for the ones that had to stay back at the hotel for sick days.

Making jokes with one another.

Laughter.

IMG_0912Dogs barking.

Turkeys gobbling.IMG_0706

So. Many. Smiles.

Generosity like I’ve never seen.

How thankful we were for one day’s rain.

Prayers being whispered for the clouds to show up in the sky.

The care everyone took to make sure everyone had a chance to try something new.

Complete selflessness.

IMG_0765Walls of a home being lifted.

Nails being bent and re-nailed to perfection.

Complete surrender and reliance on a God who was preparing the way ahead of us on this trip the entire time we were there.

Softened hearts.

IMG_0915Rooves <roofs> going onto houses.

Children teaching us Spanish.

The strengthening of our hearts.

Playing a simple game of Telephone in English and Spanish that created unbelievable amounts of laughter.IMG_0939

Smashed thumbs and healed hearts.

Fears being released.

Lives being changed.

Family being able to share an amazing experience together.

The love between a mother and son.

A mama trusting me enough to hold her chubby, baby girl.

IMG_0688Hands working together.

Great patience.

God’s love and presence everywhere.

IMG_1004A dad’s love for his sweet daughters.

Tears of joy.

Tired bodies still willing to do something more.

Butterflies.

Beauty in the struggle.

So. Many. Answered. Prayers.

And then….the day came for us to dedicate these houses to the families. This is really the moment we wait for. Meeting the families for the first time. Seeing them coming up the road, quietly, shy and grateful.  Maybe a little overwhelmed. This is where we see a reverse of blessings. The place where we think we are blessing someone, only to find out the blessing is coming right back onto us. To stand and witness a mother and her 3 small kids as she sees her new home for the first time; blessed.  This is the beauty of God.  It’s etched into my mind forever. I think in this moment; THIS, this is why we are here. This is why we have life. This is why we have been blessed beyond belief with the recourses to be here, in this moment. This….does it get any better than this? This is making kingdom differences. This is making world differences. images

As we pray for and dedicate these homes to the families;tears fall.  Our hearts ache with a joy that’s inconceivable to most.  The witnessing of God’s presence everywhere is undeniable and unimaginable.  God’s beauty is thick like a blanket over this place.  His never-ending mercy and grace abounds.  It’s what brought us here and what will continue to bring us here. Amor, Fe, Esperanza.  Love, Faith and Hope…To Him be the glory!

For more about partnering with AFE:http://www.afehonduras.org

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Dump-Teguciglapa Honduras

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The dump day is so hard. I wake early, knowing that this will be the day for the visit. Praying to God that he protect and surround the hearts of our team with a supernatural force. That he allow us each to see exactly what we need to see.

For me, breakfast is quiet. Being in Honduras last year; I know. I understand what’s coming. It’s hard not to try and explain to our new team members what’s going to happen. I want to prepare them for the ambush to the heart that’s going to happen as we drive up to and visit the dump, but I cannot. They need to take it in the way God sees fit for them, and not some prewritten script from those of us that have prior experience.

As we turn onto the road, my heart seizes. What will it be like this time? I have been here. Will it be less impactful? Will it seem old hat?

As we climb the bumpy hill, I start to smell what’s ahead of us. That thick, rancid smell of rot and decomposition. I pray silently and tears sting my eyes. “Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders. You’ve called me here. You’ve prepared me for this. Be here with us. Open my eyes even wider on this journey. Allow me to have the heart and eyes to see these people as Jesus sees them. I have prayed so many times “Send Me.” and here I am in the middle of this, thank you.”

~Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

Unknown-1We step out of the truck into a war zone. Ravaged ground teaming with busyness. The buzzards and dogs swarm around heaping piles of decay. I pan out as the smell lands thick and rancid on my tongue. My eyes burn. My heart heaves in my chest as I see them appearing. Sepia-toned people.  Dirty and broken as if they came from underground.  They head towards us, knowing that we have come to feed them. They surround us fifteen, maybe twenty deep or more with hands reached out. I stand back from the line taking it all in with my bag of tortillas and rice. It’ s brand new to me again. Not the same as I remember it being. I hear the Holy Spirit speak to my heart “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” These are the least of these.

The line in front of me runs out of tortillas and it’s my turn to step up. I feel my heart quicken and a sob starting to climb up my throat. I step forward and look at outstretched hands. My eyes continue to travel down disheveled arms to faces. Women and children surrounded in meagerness. It’s a need so profound it’s undescribeable. I reach into my bag and we touch hands. I think “this could’ve been any of us” Had we been born of a different country. Smiles emerge on the faces of these sweet, women and children. I just want to grab them and hug them. I want to scoop them up, and bring them with us. The passion I feel runs so deep for them it burns my stomach. I stare into their eyes. They are grateful and genuine. A meal today. They have one meal today. I think of my own children. As a mother this stings me. Had I been born in any other place; this could’ve been me. Us. It’s hard to hand out only one pack to each women and child. They ask for more. “Dos por favor?” as they hide one behind their back. I wonder if they have more children back in their home made of plastic and parts that the dump has given up to them. My heart lurches thinking about this. What would I have done for my children in this situation?

I am down to water now as the team walks and spreads out a little. We still stay somewhat close as this area is not safe to wander far. I smile and talk to people. Are they thirsty? Do they need agua? The hands continue to stretch out and I continue to see their eyes crease in smiles. How much we take for granted every single day in our country. Our abundance. Our taps that run gallon after gallon of fresh water at our disposal at any second. Water is something I don’t even feel we are really grateful for; but they are. This small plastic bladder of water I hold could mean life or death for them today. I think about waking every day to a restart. That’s life for them. It’s a do-over every day. They wake to scour the dump for recycleables or the scrap food left behind. The possibility of an old bottle of hot, coke with one sip that was left. That’s their day. Every day.

People begin to surround us asking for prayer. Their needs run so much deeper than their poverty. You would think that this would be their first need. I think too immediate. Our culture has done that to me. They need prayer for sick family members. A son that is dying. Here in the disintegration and rot, a son is dying and this mother is weeping. Our team surrounds her and prays for her in our English language. God hears us. She hears us, and knows what we are saying even though she doesn’t speak the language. She hugs us and is so grateful. As this mother leaves another approaches; this time, pregnant. She will give birth to and raise her baby right here.

As we climb back into the truck I allow my tears to fall. I continue my prayers for these people as we drive away. My emotions run wild and I feel that twinge of guilt. We can leave. It seems unfair.

It’s hard for me to see that type of need and not be able to change it in an instant. I think about the impact we have partnering with AFE to build homes for these people, and for the children to have the opportunity for education through AFE. God is good. It may not happen in a spilt second, but it is making a difference. One family at a time.

I am reminded of the verses we studied over the week. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Everyone got something, but no one got everything.

As we come back home and acclimate to being back into a wealthy country; a first world country, I need to keep reminding myself of this: Why God put us here and not there. And even though I feel like a refugee coming back into my own home, I don’t allow guilt to swallow me. I thank God for the compassion he has put in my heart. Without that I would walk around in such abundance and only crave more. My job is to feel a burden, not guilt. God gave us what we have knowing he can trust us with the recources. It’s not an issue of fairness, but of what we can handle and how we are going to use it. Partnering together to do kingdom work. images

Our next trip is already in the works. Dates are already being set. I thank God for giving me eyes to see beyond my four walls. To be witness to what real need is and what genuine thankfulness is.

For more information on AFE and their impact on the people of the Tegucigalpa trash dump click here: http://www.afehonduras.org

Leaving-Tegucigalpa Honduras

Our Lake City Chruch team ready to go

Tears drop even before the bus loads.  For those that are staying, whispers of prayers begin.  Red-cheeked, we hug.  Grateful for our Pastor’s prayer before we leave for Honduras.  Emotions run high.  Some of us; we know.  We know the smell of rot and stench that will permeate every fiber of us.  We know the heat and  blisters that will torment us as we build.  We know that our hearts will be ripped.  Shredded into sinew that only the Lord himself can heal, over time.  I can feel that twinge of excitement mixed with bittersweet, raw emotion. images

I am catapulted back in time to just over a year ago; fresh-eyed, ready to step off of firm soil into the unknown.  A smile forms on my face remembering the laughter of brown-skinned kids, climbing all over me.  Their laughter blows like wind through my ears. They are searching for the sweets they know I have tucked safely inside my pockets and the warmth of my arms wrapped tightly.

UnknownMy hands ache with the memory of swinging hammers.

This starts our day and our plane boards.

My continuous prayer is that we are used in insurmountable ways by the Lord.  That when we hit ground we ARE the hands and feet of our Savior.  His hands, how they were pierced, sore and blistered.  May we remember this as we tire.  Allow us all to  thrust our eyes Heavenward to see how tired and broken He was carrying the weight of the world.  Allow His love to flow through us.

Language barriers will cease to exist where a smile can creep into its place.images-1

FullSizeRenderHe is here and ahead of us.

He is I am.  Ever present.

For information on AFE our partner in Honduras: http://www.afehonduras.org

(This is my first journal entry the day we left for Tegucigalpa, Honduras Oct 17,2014)