Friday, September 28, 2018

The Impact of Child Sponsorship

I like to use this blog to share stories of what God is doing in my life, and keep my second blog for ministry projects and promotional posts.  This one, however, is going to be a little of both.

I traveled to Honduras this summer to visit my 7 sponsored children through Manna 4 Lempira and to work with the other children in the sponsorship program.  I wasn't planning to sponsor any additional children during the trip, but also knew that was something I never really planned.  The first full day of the trip found us in the community of El Tablon, doing profile updates and registering new children into the program.  As children were coming through the line, the bright smile of one girl caught my eye.  Something about her joy captivated me.  I soon learned that the reason for this joy was that she was being registered into the program for the first time that day.

While I think it's great to sponsor a child just because you have the desire to do so, I already sponsor so many that at this point, I was pretty much only adding more if I had a specific leading from God.  When this girl smiled at me, though, I didn't even think about it.  I walked up to her (with my translator) and asked if I could be her sponsor.  My friend caught a picture of this precious moment.


Her excited YES and jumping up and down was followed by many questions- What is your name?  How many children do you sponsor?  When are you coming back?  I already started writing a letter for my future sponsor, but it's not finished!  How do I get it to you?  Pure joy.

I learned that her name was Wendy.



I had brought gifts for my other children who I'd planned on visiting, but didn't have anything for Wendy.  My teammates and I all went through our stashes and were able to pull together a few gifts for her: A beautiful necklace with gems floating inside (so fitting for a girl who lights up an entire room when she enters), a shirt that says "Girls Can Do Anything" in Spanish, and a sweet floral sun dress.  

Wendy squealed with excitement when I gave her these gifts- the gifts that fit her personality so well, despite being chosen out of desperation.  I hadn't known she existed before that day, but God did.  Later that night, she showed up at the church service wearing her new dress.  And that's when God put all the pieces together.  At the very top of her dress was one single purple flower.  


singing in the children's choir

Those of you who know me, or have been reading this blog for any length of time, know that purple flowers are my personal reminder of God's promises.  When I saw the flower on Wendy's dress, I realized that God had seen her all along.  Maybe her sponsorship was an impulsive decision on my end, but God knew.  This became even more evident when I visited her home.  Wendy and her mother shared with me that Wendy's father is not in her life.  Her step father doesn't provide things like school supplies for her, only for her sisters, because they are his biological children.  Wendy is determined to continue is school and is currently completing 7th grade despite these challenges.  I was honored to share with her about the love of her Heavenly Father who sent me the whole way from the United States to make sure she had what she needed.  I also let her know about the backpack project, and that all of her school supplies would be provided this upcoming school year.

Our next few days together were so beautiful.   I took her and one of my other girls, Angie, for a fun day at a local pool.  I have never seen someone more excited or thankful to wear a swim suit or eat chicken for lunch.  




I've always known the backpack project was a huge deal and gave children the ability to reach their God-given potentials in education for the first time.  Wendy's story made me realize that for some children, it does so much more.  For Wendy and many like her, receiving a backpack means receiving a physical reminder that God is a good Father who provides for His children.  It means realizing that they are children of opportunity.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child like Wendy, or packing a backpack for a child who doesn't have a sponsor, please contact me or the Manna 4 Lempira page on Facebook.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Forever Family (Estefani's Heart Adoption)

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know Estefani's story.  Over time, though, a lot has changed.  I have deleted some of the older posts, simply because they are no longer accurate.  When you're working with a developing country like Honduras, it is just that- developing.  Things rarely stay the same for long.  Thankfully, we have a God who remains stable in our unstable circumstances.  While trying to find the words to share about these things, I decided I would start by recapping our journey for anyone who may be new here, to spare you the time of searching through the archives.  Even if you already know much of this story, you'll want to stay tuned until the end.




It all started in early 2013, when God began an indescribable work in my life- leading me to reach out beyond my immediate surroundings and to Honduras, Central America, on a mission trip to meet the needs of children living in impoverished villages in the mountains. He showed me the need and made me painfully aware until I couldn't possibly ignore it.  At that time, I committed to sponsoring a older teen girl in Honduras named Melania.  Sponsoring a child meant that I would financially partner with her local church to help provide her basic needs, while encouraging her through monthly letters and occasional visits.  To me, being a child sponsor means being a tangible reminder of the love of God in a child's life when they may not be seeing it anywhere else.  It means raising them up to be the first of many generations raised in love for the LORD.  It means encouraging their God-given potential through feeding programs, school supply distributions, and bible classes.  Most sponsored children have families of their own and just need the extra support.  That alone was such an exciting mission.  On that first trip, I fell in love with Honduras and its people.  I knew I had to return.

On New Years Day 2014, I had spent the day in prayer and knew I wanted to do something big to start the year off right.  God had been teaching me to go and meet needs wherever I saw them, rather than always sitting back and waiting for a specific calling.  Being called by God to a specific mission and proceeding with prayer and caution is very biblical; but I was also learning that the answer to helping the needy is already in the bible, and the answer is yes.  This isn't the say that everyone should become a full time missionary or even sponsor a child- but rather, that everyone is called to serve the needy wherever they see them.  It was on that same day that I fell in love, through a Facebook post, with an 7-year-old orphan named Estefani.


The picture that made me fall in love

Estefani lived in Honduras, and my missions team leader had posted her picture in hopes of finding a sponsor for her.  Instantly, God wove Estefani into my heart and I knew she was the answer to my prayer to do something more that year.  However, being that she would likely need a lot of individual attention and I already sponsored another girl in her community, I decided to co-sponsor Estefani with a friend from the team and let that friend be the main one to form the relationship with her.  It was a sacrifice, because I already loved Estefani; but I prayed and believed it was best.  Little did I know how much God was about to do.

Our team returned to Honduras in May of 2014.  Throughout the week as my friend and I (mainly my friend) bonded with Estefani, we learned that her father killed her mother when she was a small child, and she witnessed it. Her father later died in jail. She now lived with distant relatives and was treated okay, we were told, but not like one of their own.  She also had an older brother, but his whereabouts were unknown.  On our last night in Honduras, when we took her home from a fun day of vacation bible school and said our goodbyes, Estefani clung to my friend and I and sobbed. I felt helpless, knowing she needed so much more.  She needed a family.  Shortly after the trip, Estefani wrote a letter that said, “For me it was difficult to say goodbye, because you are the mother I do not have. I love you very much and I know God fills that void in my life.”

Our first day together at Vacation Bible School


The goodbye


Over the next year, difficult choices were made and Estefani's co-sponsorship fell through.  My heart was broken for Estefani as I wondered how to undo the damage.  On the other hand, I knew God was working something out for our good.  Now that I was her only sponsor, my mission seemed clear.  I began doing research on international adoption and how to be there for her full time.  What I learned, was that adoption laws in Honduras are near impossible.  After speaking to an adoption attorney, my choices were basically limited to moving there and adopting her domestically, or bringing her to the states on a student visa (similar to a foreign exchange student) without technically being her mom.  I was willing to do either, but carefully prayed and researched to make sure the right choices were made.  The phrase "heart adoption" meant that while the end goal was actual adoption, I was taking on the role of a mother a much as possible from a distance while I searched for the best route to take.  I wrote this letter to Estefani, which was delivered to her shortly before our next visit, explaining the change in sponsorship and offering her the hope of a Heavenly Father who would never leave her.  

When I returned to Estefani in July of 2015, I was relieved that she had received my letter and happily welcomed me into her heart, no questions asked. 





From her teachers and the staff at her sponsorship center, I learned that Estefani still had some obstacles to overcome. When I inquired about Estefani, the overall consensus from every adult in her life was, “She is mainly missing the role of mom."  One way or another, that was about to change.

For the next two years, constant love and prayer were poured into Esteani's life through letters, phone calls, and visits.  A friend of mine in Honduras was also able to connect her with a counselor in the area.  If I'm being honest, those two years were somewhat of a limbo.  There were times when Estefani seemed happy and stable with her distant relatives, so I backed away from the idea of adoption- knowing that biological family is the best option if the child is being loved and cared for.  Then, out of nowhere, the family would no longer seem stable or safe, and I wouldn't know what to do.  I prayed constantly for a forever family for my girl- and wisdom regarding who that would be.  In the mean time, I found peace in knowing that no matter where she ended up, Estefani would never have to doubt that she was loved.  That alone made everything worth it.  During this time, we shared many visits and precious moments together; including birthdays and Christmas celebrations.






In fall 2017, shortly after one of our visits, contact with Estefani's family stopped.  For a while, I thought maybe her guardians were upset for an unknown reason, or backing away from sponsorship to attempt to bond closer with her.  After several months, that no longer seemed likely and I started to fear that something was actually wrong.   I sent friends in Honduras to check on Estefani and deliver her school supplies; but they were told she wasn't there.  I was out shopping one day that week when I became overwhelmed with fear about where she could be.  Right then, I looked on the shelf next to me and saw a children's jewelry set with a purple rose on it.  Purple roses are my personal symbol of God's faithfulness.  I knew in that moment that my girl would be okay and I would see her again.  I bought the jewelry set to give to her when that promise was fulfilled.  

Shortly after, friends in Honduras asked around and confirmed that Estefani hadn't been with her family in months.  Nobody in the community seemed to know where she was, and the family wasn't providing answers.  Let's be real: I panicked.  I received this news in the middle of the night and frantically sent a message to one of my mentors who is always willing to pray.  She happened to be working the night shift that night, which wasn't typical, and called me right away to pray for my girl.  We not only prayed that Estefani would be found safe, but that it would happen the very next day, and that she would be with a stable family where she could belong forever.  I hadn't heard from Estefani in 7 months at this point, so the "very next day" part was incredibly unlikely by human standards.  

I hardly slept at all that night.  I mostly stayed up praying and looking online for flights to Honduras.  The next morning, I decided to try messaging her former guardians one more time.  This time, I got an instant response: Estefani is fine.  Here is her contact information.  Below the message was the link to a Facebook profile of an aunt who lived just outside of the community where I work in Honduras.  I sent her a Facebook message and she replied!  Not only was Estefani safe and happy in a home with this other aunt who loved her like her own child, but her biological brother was also with her!  This aunt, Marta, said Estefani had been asking for me; but she hadn't been sure how to get in touch.  Marta was thrilled about me remaining in Estefani's life as her Madrina (a word which literally means "godmother", but is also sometimes used for "sponsor") and sent me several pictures of their family.  I sent them my phone number and promised to stay in contact.  On my way home from work that night, my phone rang.  I recognized the Honduras country code on my caller ID and pulled over into the first gas station I could find.  It was my girl, and she was happy!  When we hung up, I cried and marveled at the faithfulness of God.

I returned to Honduras last month and was reunited with my girl and her precious family for dinner at the base of Mount Celaque, the highest mountain in Honduras.  We then spent the next two weeks reconnecting.  My Spanish held up enough to have a decent amount of alone time with her, as well as time to bond with the family as a whole.  We had dinners together, did crafts, had great conversation, climbed onto rooftops, and celebrated Estefani's 12th birthday with cake and presents.  Estefani shared openly about her friends, family, school, and what had gone on in her life for the past year.  I told her that I will always love her and want her, but that I believed this family was the best place for her, as long as she is safe and loved there.  She agreed.  The whole two weeks were a miracle, really.



Estefani's brother, cousin, and aunt


Notice the purple rose bracelet on her arm


In my heart, Estefani will always be my daughter.  I know, and she knows, I will always love her.  I will do everything in my power to make sure she'll have every opportunity to become whoever she wants to be, within the will of God.  However, knowing that she has a stable family, my focus has shifted to encouraging her to bond with them; and being an additional support for her.  I am still observing closely to be sure she is truly safe and loved, and would still want her in a heartbeat if she wasn't; but I don't see that being an issue.  I ask for continued prayers for my girl, as she still faces challenges from the past, but is doing so much better.  I am confident in knowing that no matter what, Estefani will never have to doubt that she is loved.  God is writing Estefani's story, and I can't wait to someday hear it in her own words.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Holding On to Hope

Sometimes, life is so vast and beautiful, it doesn't fit into a blog post.

Sometimes, you stop blogging for a year and a half- not because you have nothing to say, but because you have way too much to say and no idea which direction to go with it.

It feels strange to be sharing a story that starts with grief while I'm currently in a season of joy.  But as we approach two years since this story started, I realize that God has done so much, and it is time.

My older sister, Amy, passed away in 2016.  With our 16 year age difference, Amy was a sister, a best friend, and a second mom all rolled into one.  She shared my love for children and was a foster and adoptive parent along with her husband.  She also shared my love for letter writing and made handmade cards for everyone she knew.  She was hilarious and always the life of every family gathering.

Although my sister was born with a congenital heart defect and had been in full-on heart failure for over a year, these things had happened before and she always bounced back.  Somehow, I never expected this time to be any different.  I had prayed and believed for Amy's healing; and I trust God even though it didn't happen how I had prayed for...even in the moments when I don't understand.  As my pastor says: I don't know why this happened, but I know that healing is still the nature of God.  Shortly after Amy passed away, I was in bed one night praying, but feeling extremely distracted.  I felt like prayer wasn't changing anything.  My spirit knew this wasn't true, but all I could see in front of me were the prayers that were seemingly left unanswered.  In the midst of my pain and uncertainty that night, God took my mind off of myself and reminded me of a little boy who I had seen while ministering with our child sponsorship program in Honduras over a year earlier- and who I hadn't seen or thought of since.  I remembered that he had a heart condition like my sister's, and I was compelled to pray for him.  His name was Marcos.



At the end of my prayer, I half-heartedly added that if this boy ever needed a new sponsor, I would sponsor him in honor of Amy.   I wasn't even sure why I said it, because I knew he already had a good sponsor of over a year who was very dedicated to the ministry.  I now know that God was the one to place that mustard-seed-sized prayer in my heart that night; because the very next morning, I woke up to the news that Marcos' sponsor was not able to continue supporting him!  I was stunned, but knew that God was speaking- prayer still accomplishes much, even when you can't see it.  He put Marcos on my heart to pray for just a day before He already knew that prayer would be answered...just a day before He knew Marcos would need someone.  I believe this was for me as much as it was for Marcos; and in a way, even Amy's story didn't stop there.

Last summer, I returned to Honduras to visit my ever-growing group of sponsored children and minister in their communities.  At long last, I met Marcos and his family for the first time since becoming his sponsor!

Me with Marcos (in blue), his aunt, grandmother, father, brother, and cousin.  Mom recently left the family.

On my visit to Marcos' house, I learned even more of God's reasoning for bringing me into his life.  In addition to encouraging me when I lost my sister, God knew that a few months later, He would also use me to comfort Marcos when his mother abandoned the family.  Throughout the week, Marcos proudly wore the plastic cross necklace I had given to him and ate up my attention as he asked me over and over again to watch him flip into the swimming pool during our child fun day.  My heart explodes with love for this child.  I've wanted to sponsor a boy for as long as I can remember.  Choosing to sponsor girls is so easy.  I know how to connect with girls- dolls, jewelry, princess bible stories...  For years, I prayed I would find a little boy who I could love that much.  With Marcos, it was easy.  Oh, and I can't forget to mention that Marcos' heart condition is now non existent!  

In addition to sponsoring Marcos, I sponsored a sweet girl named Angie on New Year's Day 2017, as a way of declaring God's goodness over the new year after a crazy 2016.  I met Angie this past summer, and she was pure joy!



I had also wanted to sponsor a little girl with my sister's name, and hadn't been able to find one.  Right around the one year anniversary of her passing, I got a letter in the mail from a child who I had never agreed to sponsor, from a different sponsorship organization that I no longer even work with.  It turned out that they had mistakenly placed me on a list for a new sponsored child, and they asked if I would like to keep her.  Yes, you guessed it, her name was Amy (well, Aime, but....details.)  And later that same week, a little girl named Amy in our program who I had met several times and loved lost her sponsor, so she became mine as well.  I can't wait to see both girls very soon!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

What it Means to Be Glorified

"My daughters are free because their mother decided not to allow her past to define their future!!" -Chirstine Caine

"...and these whom He justified, He also glorified." -Romans 8:30

What does it mean to glorified?  What does it mean to be set apart?  To be adopted?  To be pulled from the mire and have your feet set firmly on a rock?  Romans 8:30 is my life verse, because it tells me that it doesn't matter where I come from or who I come from, but only to Whom I now belong.  I always try to instill in my children that they can be transformed and be anyone they want to be, within the will of God.  They can be set apart for the new life He has for them and be the first of many Godly generations.  To be glorified means to be filled with His beauty and purpose, and that they definitely are.

When I think of being set apart from the world, my mind flashes to three solemn faces in the mountains of Western Honduras.


We registered these 3 girls as new additions to the Manna 4 Lempira child sponsorship program on my most recent trip to Honduras this past summer.  When I first saw them, they were huddled behind a row of chairs in the corner of the feeding center where they could hardly be noticed.  They weren't in line to be registered with the rest of the new children, but I knew I hadn't seen them before.  I was told that we were waiting on permission from their parents before we could enroll them.  I learned that these little ones face opposition from their Catholic parents because they want to attend the Christian church/feeding program to hear the bible, and have strong desires for the truth.  Although their parents don't approve, they continue to attend the church every week.


Hearing these words, I felt like I was hearing my own story.  I was also raised in a Catholic home and was the first in my family to become a born again Christian, but not until age 16.  This decision was often not understood or well-received by those around me.  Seeing such small children make the decision to follow God completely on their own, and with such joy, amazed me.  I instantly felt protective of them.  I went over and made friends with the girls, who appeared unsure at best.  I asked their names- Irma, Yessenia, and Kenia.  I took that first straight-faced picture of them and told them how beautiful they were.  Then, their amazing smiles emerged.





  
The girls were eventually registered into the sponsorship program that day; and yes, I became their sponsor.  With a connection like that, how could I not?  I am ecstatic to be able to stay in touch with these girls through letters and continue to encourage them in their faith.  By the grace of God, the cares of the world will not be able to choke out the desire for Him in their hearts.  We have been set free to equip our daughters, even our honorary daughters in the LORD, for a life of glory.  They will be set apart to go on and equip future generations!  They will rise up and be unstoppable!



Also, can we talk about the fact that Irma (on the left) has purple flowers on her shirt??  For those of you who don't know, purple flowers are a personal symbol between God and I of His faithfulness in my life.  Of course He would send my girl to me covered in a flowery purple top. Did I really expect anything less?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Manna 4 Lempira

During my time in Honduras this past summer, my team spent a day starting up a brand new child sponsorship program, Manna 4 Lempira.  Manna is the biblical word for the bread that God sent down from Heaven to feed His people in the wilderness.  It also has a special meaning to me and this blog (see About Me).  Lempira is the department of Honduras where our feeding center is located.  In just a few months, we have seen it take off to include over 200 children registered, over 100 already finding sponsors, and thousands more being fed from the excess funds.  At Manna 4 Lempira, your support of just $15 per month provides not only your sponsored child, but several other children in surrounding communities, with 2 meals per week.  It also provides your own child with annual school shoes/supplies and frequent bible teaching.  In addition, your sponsorship allows you to write bi-monthly letters to your sponsored child and receive letters and pictures in return.  You also have the opportunity to send one full-sized package of gifts each Christmas.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child through our program, please check out Manna 4 Lempira on Facebook and go to one of the "Waiting for Sponsors" albums.



Below is my sponsored child from our feeding center.  Her name is Carmen, and she is pure evidence of God's leading in my life.  I saw her picture on the list of newly registered children that our missionary partners in Honduras just sent over last week and I instantly fell for her.   Instead of signing up to sponsor Carmen, I posted her picture on Facebook as a way to advertise the program.  Almost instantly, one of my friends contacted me wanting to sponsor Carmen, but let me be the one to write to and visit her!



Even crazier, later on in the day as I was looking through some old pictures from my trip to Honduras 2 years ago (from before we even started the program), I found this... A picture of me with a "random little girl" who I had met at a feeding center.  It was Carmen!  I have little to no memory of this picture, or of meeting her all those years ago...but there we were, together.  I am so excited to know that when this picture was taken, God was smiling- knowing our story wouldn't end there.  And in just a few weeks when I return to Honduras, I will get to see Carmen again!



Many more children are still waiting for sponsors, including Carmen's sister (child #212).  Could you provide hope for one of those children this Christmas season?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

When Two Hearts Became One

In honor of National Daughters Day being this week, I think it is finally time to tell the story of my reunion with Estefani, my sweet sponsored child in Honduras who I can now call my daughter.  We call it a "heart adoption".  To us, this means that while a few factors currently prevent us from actual adoption, I am loving her like a mama would as much as possible from a distance for the time being. 



Shortly before our visit in July, I had sent a letter to Estefani with a friend who could get to her a few weeks before I could.  In this letter, I explained to her that while her previous sponsor was no longer in the picture, I remembered her from our visit to her community last year and God had put a great love for her on my heart...that I loved her like a daughter and chose to become her sponsor as soon as I knew that she needed a new one; and that no matter what, God was the Father who would never leave her...that He desired for her to become His princess.  You can read the full letter here.  I packed a copy in my suitcase, decked out in princess stickers, just in case the first one hadn't made it to her.  I didn't know what God was going to do, but I was preparing for a miracle.



When the day of our visit came, I didn't know how Estefani would receive me.  I didn't know if she would remember me from the year before, or whether she would understand and be okay with the fact that I was now her sponsor.  My team spent our first morning in Honduras teaching at the local elementary school, where Estefani happens to attend.  I arrived at the school that morning ready for our much-anticipated reunion.

As soon as we entered the courtyard at the school that morning, we were greeted by a few teachers who immediately ushered us into a classroom to begin teaching.  I scanned the classroom, quickly realizing that these children were not Estefani's age.  I peered out the door and across the courtyard, looking for any sign of her or which classroom she could be in.  After introductions with the children, one of my teammates took over and started on an art lesson.  I, on the other hand, was not going to be all there until I had found my girl.



I pulled the teacher of this class aside and asked if she knew Estefani and which room she would be in.  The teacher informed me that Estefani was not at the school that day.  She was home sick with a fever.  While my incredible translators jumped into action, finding Estefani's actual teacher and coming up with a game plan for a visit, I used the opportunity to ask the other adults about her. 

When asked about Estefani, the first teacher frowned.  My translator relayed the teacher's words to me as she explained some of the struggles Estefani faces from her living situation and the trauma of what happened to her parents- and that she is deeply missing the role of mom in her life.  I can still feel that sinking feeling in my stomach when I talk about this.  My first instinct was to ask, "Does she know which one is my Estefani?".  Don't get me wrong, I knew that Estefani's situation was real; but last year, she had seemed so undaunted by her surroundings.  She had been sponsored by her previous sponsor for an entire year and even received a visit.  It was then that I realized that Estefani needed so much more.  She needed consistent parental figures, constant love; and most of all, the intervention of the Holy Spirit.  Within my first fifteen minutes at the school, I was already in the bathroom crying and praying for a miracle.  My wonderful teammate and mentor, Lori, prayed with me and helped me to collect myself.  We returned to classroom to the news that Estefani was feeling better and we would still be able to do our home visit that I had scheduled for later in the day.  During the rest of our morning at the school, I was pretty much useless.  I helped pass our drawing paper, hugged a few children, and looked at the clock as I waited to see my girl.

Finally, home visit time had arrived!  When we pulled up to Estefani's home that afternoon, the front door was wide open.  And through the open doorway, I saw her.  My sweet girl was peering out the door, waiting for my arrival.  I wondered what she was feeling in that moment.  Excitement?  Anticipation?  Uncertainty?  I jumped out of the car and ran to her.  We embraced each other in what was likely the happiest reunion of our lives.




Someone brought me a chair, and I sat down to show Estefani her letter (which she confirmed she had already received a copy of) and the special necklace I had brought for her that had her name engraved on it.  I also showed her pictures of me celebrating her birthday with cupcakes a few weeks earlier, telling her that her life was celebrated that day, even though we were not together.




We stepped out onto the porch to take a few pictures.  Estefani and I sat together and held each other close.  "Te quiero mucho" (I love you so much) I whispered.  In her still-somewhat-shy and tiny voice, she whispered a similar phrase back to me.  I didn't catch the exact wording, but I will never forget the sweet tone of her excitement.  I asked if she had any questions about anything written in the letter or the fact that I was now her sponsor.  She said no, she understood and was happy.  I told her that if throughout the week there was anything she wanted to ask me, she could.  She nodded with a smile.  Could it be that it would really be this easy?  What about all the confusion and pain I had anticipated having to work through? 

With God, yes.  It really was that easy.  Only one question about her sponsorship arose throughout the whole week, and even that question was quite cheerful and miraculous.




God had seamlessly woven our hearts into one.  I was now a 21 year old with a 9 year old daughter who needs more reassurance and intervention than any human can offer.  It was the best day of my life; and at the same time, I had no idea what to do.  From this moment on, things would never be the same.  And it was perfect.

More soon... 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Words I've Found....

I don't want to write about it...

I don't want to miss it...

I just want to be there.  With my daughter.  With my team.  In that culture.  Where my heart is at home.

I returned home from Honduras just over 5 weeks ago...

But my heart did not return with me.......


I have spent the past five weeks at a complete loss for words to share about the whole thing.  The memories are just so beautiful, no words can match them.  My first days back, I avoided discussion about Honduras at all costs, except with my teammates from the trip; not knowing how to explain the experience that nobody could possibly understand without having been there.  I refused to write about it and have it be seen as just a memory to look back on. In fact, I don't want it to be memory at all.  That feeling of being smack dab in the center of God's will is something I want to experience every day.  God has completely wrecked me in the most perfect way- for His calling.  I am in this season where writing and sharing about missions has just not been what is important.  I have become content flying under the radar and simply living this adventure, taking it in a little more every day.  I don't want to forget the culture, the sounds of people's laughs, the details of their faces, the hilarious moments in the back of the bus while riding through the mountains.... 

For me, this wasn't just a short term mission trip. This was a "evaluating how I can serve God like this for the rest of my life" trip. I don't know yet what that will look like.  What I do know, is that I came home five weeks ago...but my heart, and my daughter, did not come home with me.  Last month, Honduras became my heart's home. My team became family, living all together in one place. I was adapting to the culture...the language...the food...the JOY. And even though it is only a "heart adoption" as we call it, rather than a legal one at this point, I became a mother to nine year old Estefani. And I don't think any words can really tell that story....to describe how badly I miss it.  Miss her.  Her hugs.  Her laughs.  Her cute little curls.
  


While talking with a fellow teammate about adjusting back home after an experience like this, he asked me, "Do you ever think, you know it will be okay eventually, but you don't want it to be okay?".  He took my brain, my culture shock, and my every thought from the past five weeks and put them into a single sentence.  Right now, I feel that.  Eventually, you do adjust back to life in the states.  Your heart stops longing to go back every second of every day.  You get used to not having your kids and your teammates there with you.  You start to get comfortable and even excited about other opportunities.  Summer ends, fall comes (here in Western Pennsylvania, that usually happens in like...August), and you somehow fit right into this new season of cool weather, church bonfires, and pumpkin spice lattes.  You lose your grip on just how amazing life there really was.  It becomes okay.  But I don't want that.  I don't want to forget how perfect it was for my heart to be at home.



I know this post may sound depressing, but I am actually filled with so much JOY over everything God is doing. It is the story that my heart sings every day, but my lips have spent the past five weeks refusing to speak; because without being there, you can never really know. For this reason, these blogs may be less orderly and chronological that any missions series I have written in the past. I may or may not even write a whole detailed series; but there are things that I want the world to know.  Not just about Estefani and my older sponsored children either...

I want the world to know how amazing it feels to live every second of every day nauseous from the heat and the agua verde (green water), yet never happier.  How it feels to open your mouth and suddenly have Spanish come out, phrases you weren't even aware you knew.  How it feels to go on adventures in the murder capital of the world, ride through gang-ridden areas in the back of a pickup truck, spend your nights swimming at a hot spring heated by lava rock, or get stuck in a government protest while just trying to go to the mall...


Note the torches


I want the world to know how much I miss living in a little hotel and laying out on the porch in a hammock.  Or how I miss living in community with my team who quickly became family... never being without fellowship, because our rooms all opened up to the same long-stretched porch.  How I miss the culture where church and worship mean fancy costumes and tambourines.  And without being there, you will never understand why I even miss the agua verde....



The view from the roof in Gracias, Lempira, Honduras


Church in San Pedro Sula
  

I have been coming to God completely empty.  No empty as in lacking.  I am so filled, so blessed, and so excited for the future.  There are many things I have, but nothing that I cling to.  I am coming to Him open- open for Him to lead me in any direction from here.  To give and take away the desires of my heart.  Being in Honduras freed me to absolutely anything He may have in store.  I can't sit still.  I now know what is out there.  Some nights, late at night, I get so excited that I go outside and just walk...or run...or sometimes just lay on the grass.  Anything to feel closer to that place....the heat, the dirt, the scenery....




In the stillness, I hear God speak:

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.  I will counsel you with my eye upon you." -Psalm 32:8

This verse has been following me since I have been home.  I am learning to follow His voice.  In this time of feeling like the whole world is my possibility, I know that God is instructing me in the way I should go.

Even writing this now, I know my words are not doing it justice.  But I pray that the Spirit will speak to each heart who reads it.  Greater things are still to be done....

More soon...