Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How we roll

Oh yes....we are wearing reindeer antlers in the middle of the store! Don't worry we bought them for the kids afterwards. I'm so very thankful that God blessed me with friends that are crazy enough to keep up with me!

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting a poor village called Isopo. A week from tomorrow a group of 20 will be traveling down here from my college. They will spend 8 days serving these people and this country that I have fallen so head over heels for. We will spend Sunday of the trip in this village. (Isopo) We make it a rule to visit each of the places we intend to take groups BEFORE the group actually arrives. We would never want to take people into a situation we aren't 100% sure is safe. So Jen, Dorian, and a preacher friend jumped in the car with me to make the maybe 20 mile journey. 20 miles...sounds close right....sure in theory. However, in actuality it was FOREVER away because the road we had to travel down was absolutely the worst road I've ever been on. I am a farm girl born and raised on no name back roads and I've spent close to a year traveling on whatever roads necessary to take us where we needed to go. I feel certain though that none of that comes close to this road. It was made up purely of rocks, dirt, and more craters, crevices, and cracks than even the moon can possess. Due to the conditions of the road we were forced to drive at a snails pace or risk shaking our innards loose. When we finally made it down the road (an hour later) we came to the church we were going to visit. It literally was made of a few rickety looking wooden poles. Then they had wrapped some very thin and old tin around the poles to make the walls. The "walls" came up to my head and stopped. After that it was open until you reached the ceiling which was made up of the same tin. It had a dirt floor that was littered with broken glass and trash. However, I couldn't quit thinking of how different it would be if our churches worried less about the structure we worship in and more about the worship itself. What if we spent less on the building and more on those in the building. After being at the church we had a chance to visit and build relationships with some of the people in the community. I was once again humbled and amazed by the conditions that some live in. I was shocked by the condition of their roads and the modest way of life. It was an amazing day and I look forward to working there with the group!
The view!

The path we walked down when the car could go no farther.

Some sweet kiddos on the side of the road....all alone!
The church

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Eduardo's graduation

During the last part of my time home I received an e mail from Karen. She was asked to send me a message to see if I would be willing to participate in Eduardo's graduation with him. I gladly accepted and said I would do whatever I needed to do once I got back. Well.... I didn't know what that meant UNTIL I got back. Once I got home I found out that I was to walk him down the aisle while he got his diploma and then had to dance with him afterwards in front of everyone. They then dropped the bomb on me that I had to wear a dress, heels, and jewelry! So graduation day (dec. 1st) came and I the good girl I am.... woke up early and got ready. I called in a friend favor and made Jen go with me. :) I mean lets be honest a Honduran graduation by myself did not sound appealing. So we went and of course sat waiting for an hour and a half before it actually started. However, as things began it became obvious how big of a deal this graduation thing is in this country. It is huge for kids here to have a degree. So the longer I sat there the more honored I felt. Being the one asked to stand up with him was a big deal and I was privileged to play a part. They called his name and I stood up to meet him. I walked straight to him and planted a big on kiss on his cheek in front of God and everyone. Clearly a bit embarrassed he still proudly threw his arm through mine and walked with me to the front. After he had officially graduated and such it was time for the big dance. We all went outside onto this black top area and paired up. The music began and suddenly whether I knew the dance or not we were waltzing around. Eduardo was proud as a peacock as he slipped his little hand in mine and spun me around and around. So even though I missed almost every word spoken during the actual graduation and felt majorly out of place in a sea of dark faces was worth every minute to play such an important role in his life. We finished the day off with lunch, photos, and just fun. I had to sign some papers as Eduardo's official witness and then we got to leave. However, the memory of that day will stay with me for years to come.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

God painted the most beautiful sunset on the night of my homecoming. :) I've been here a week and it feels more like a day has gone by. I have fallen back into the routine way of life here. Let me tell you some conclusions I've come to....1. The internet still stinks 2. The water pressure and water temperature is worse 3. Guacamole is still 100 times better here than in the states 4. people still drive like crazy people. 5. No mas is still my most used spanish phrase 6. The kids are as cute as ever 7. Spanish still makes my head hurt!:) 8. sunsets are best here 9. being a mom to little ones who have never known the definition of that word before is simply the greatest honor God could have ever bestowed upon me.

Friday, November 30, 2007

So good to be home!:)

The whole gang

The love of my life!

Yea we're cute!:)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Where I'm supposed to be

Ever have one of those ahh moments when everything just seems to line up. Suddenly all is right in your world and all the agony of moments past seem to finally be worth it. That moment came for me on Monday. I arrived back in Honduras around 1:00 in the afternoon. I had the privilege of flying back with Jen and we were both greeted at the airport by the other "sister" Gina. :) What a joy it was to finally see her. After grabbing a bite to eat we headed to the house to see the kiddos. Oh how blissful those first few moments were....of wrapping them up in my arms and showering them with love and affection. I savored every minute with them that afternoon and evening. We even took a little adventure all together to get suckers and avocados. A rare mix I know but one that left us all equally satisfied. I of course jumped on the chance to finally get to sleep with my Katty again. It has been far too long since that little one was cuddled up beside me. Yesterday was spent falling back into the routine of things. Today found us already on day 3 and much of the same. Half the kids are sick so undoubtedly the rest will be soon. It seems we are always battling that. I can't tell you how much the kiddos have changed. I promise to post more pictures soon when the internet decides to cooperate a little better. However, let me just say that Antonio, Maryuri, AND Katty are all potty trained now. Antonio and Maryuri are talking non stop and it is actually clear and very animated! :) They have all grown so big and the girls hair is longer than it has been in a long time! Rudy is much softer. Pamela is much more trusting. Daniela has completely stopped having fits. So much more I wish to tell. Little differences that probably would go unnoticed or would seem so minor most wouldn't mention it. However, when you are gone from your kids for so long you notice every difference and hurt for the time that was lost. Anyways for now this will have to be all. I promise to be more diligent with this blogging thing and will get pictures up very soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Going back

Ok ok...I realize it has been over a month since my last post. I am slacking for sure. My intentions have been good as I keep telling myself I will blog..."tomorrow." However, tomorrow just seemed to never hold enough time to sit down and adequately portray the thoughts, emotions, and lessons I have been encountering lately. Now as I look back on my time home I can hardly believe it is over. I will be returning to Hondo this coming Monday and will stay there until June. I miss my kids like crazy and am ready to see them. Yet that doesn't make this goodbye process any easier. My family and I will be having Thanksgiving Thursday. Christmas eve Friday and Christmas day Saturday. All of this to say that once Monday gets here I promise that my blog will once again be regularly updated. It will be flooded with pictures, stories, and all the emotion I can fit between the lines and in the words. Thank you for sticking with me and for all of you that played a part in making my time at home so special. I love you all.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


I had the privilege to spend yesterday hanging out with 11 year old Mallory Burnfield. I am friends with her Mom Karen who was going in for ACL surgery so I volunteered to entertain Mallory for the day. Let me tell you I did little of the entertaining and instead spent most of the day being entertained. I had forgotten how fun and refreshing it is to spend your day with a youngster. You know what I mean....the say exactly what they are thinking, the soak everything in like a sponge, and the don't have a care in the world except for what is coming t.v. age. It was a good reminder that life isn't nearly as complicated as we may like to think it is. Sure as adults we have more responsibilities and things plaguing our time than what will be on t.v. that night. (oh my I did just group myself in with all of you adults!) However, too often we forget that God never gives us more than we can handle. We forget that He made us to walk side by side with us and that whatever we are going through He is there with us. On some days our circumstances may seem like too much. The demands on us seem far greater than the strength we possess. Days like that present a choice between two alternatives - giving up or relying on the on who created us. Even when we wrongly choose the first alternative, He stands waiting for us. He will not reject us but instead stands ready to help us crawl out of the mire of discouragement when we finally turn back toward Him. He will infuse us with His strength with each passing moment. He promises to give us what we need for THIS day. If any of you out there are like me it is the last part that trips you up...THIS DAY. So often we want to solve this weeks problems...this months problems....this years problems before you go to sleep Sunday evening. We look ahead at what is to come and stress over how to get it all done or how to "fix it." What we are forgetting it that we were not made to worry about tomorrow. I have realized lately that I spend so much time worrying about my future that I forget to be thankful for today. Don't get me wrong I worry about tomorrow because I'm focusing so intently on what God is leading me to or what decision is the most Godly. However, in doing so I often times forget to thank Him for what He has placed in my life today. I'm sure some of you are wondering what any of this has to do with the fact that I spent my day with Mallory. To me it is simple. At the end of my time with her I was reminded of how great it is to be a kid. To not worry about things.
One of my favorite moments of the day came when Mallory and I were making Lasagna for dinner. We were half way through the recipe when it calls for tomato paste. I had bought the tomato paste but found that I didn't have a can opener to open it with....a huge problem if you want the Lasagna to taste like it should! If you are like me your mind automatically started thinking about how you could get somewhere to buy a can opener. I began trying to figure out how to put everything I was doing on home while I ran to the store to buy a can opener. While I was silently debating what to do Mallory looks up at me and with all the innocence she possesses said "should I run and ask a neighbor if we can borrow their can opener?" There you have it. The entire time I was stressing and making the problem into something bigger than it really was Mallory simply looked at me with a duh expression and solved the problem. I watched as she slipped her shoes on and walked to the neighbors door. I listened as she sweetly explained the problem, asked for a can opener, and then promised to bring it right back. She then promptly handed me the solution to our problem as if the whole process had been a piece of cake. I stood in amusement as walked toward the kitchen and gently said "you better hurry and use it because I promised I would return it as soon as we are done." When did we become a society that thinks first to run to the store to buy a can opener so that we don't have to "burden" our neighbor by asking to borrow theirs? When did it become necessary for every person in a housing development to buy a lawn mower or tool set instead of simply sharing with one another? How is it we preach lessons of sharing and kindness to our children and then forget what that means as adults? In one brief moment Mallory reminded me of what it looked like to live in a sort of community where we give and take....where we take care of one another. She reminded me that instead of stressing over a situation it was easier to think of a simple solution.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Prodigal son

I am reminded time and time again that I don't just relate to the prodigal son story because I ONCE was that son but because I find myself constantly playing that role. Thank goodness I serve a God who heals my heart, soul, and mind .....every time I ask. Praise him for His faithfulness even when I fail at being faithful. Occasionally I hear songs on the radio that just really impact me in some ways. I heard this song and really felt that this is what’s been on my heart recently. I just pray that the Lord would transform me and turn me into the woman I am supposed to be…

Rush Of Fools - Undo Lyrics
I’ve been here before, now here I am again
Standing at the door, praying You’ll let me back in
To label me a prodigal would be
Only scratching the surface of who I’ve been known to be
Turn me around pick me up
Undo what I’ve become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, need Your help
I can’t do this myself
You’re the only one who can undo
What I’ve become
I focused on the score, but I could never win
Trying to ignore, a life of hiding my sin
To label me a hypocrite would be
Only scratching the surface of who I’ve been known to be
Turn me around pick me up
Undo what I’ve become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, need Your help
I can’t do this myself
You’re the only one who can undo
What I’ve become
Make every step lead me back to
The sovereign way that You
Turn me around pick me up
Undo what I’ve become
Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, need Your help
I can’t do this myself
You’re the only one who can undo
What I’ve become

Saturday, September 29, 2007


I had the privilege of spending this past week visiting some friends at Lipscomb college. The entire evening was a blessing all the way around. However, the day that sticks out to me the most and that I am choosing to share with you now would be Thursday. The evening started out with my friend Nathan taking me to a spot that overlooks all of Nashville. It was absolutely breath taking to stand looking out at the lights of the city. From there we headed to Sanctuary. It is a huge college age worship that is held at a local church. We got there a little early but it wasn't long before Lipscomb students started pouring in and eventually packed the place out. It brought tears to my eyes to watch hundreds of kids my age come together not because they had to or because it was convenient but because they WANTED to. We spent an hour worshipping together in song. It was simply.....beautiful. It was the type of scene that I am certain not only brings a smile to God's face but a tear to His eye.

After it was over we joined a group of students in the parking lot as they gathered to head down town. Now you are probably thinking we were gathering to go somewhere to eat afterward or something of that nature....heaven knows it is what most college kids would be doing. However, I'm humbled to tell you that this group was gathering to head down town to participate in a different kind of worship. They were heading to go "hang out with homeless people." At the beginning of last year a group formed to weekly pay visits to some people that most have labeled lazy, illiterate, scary, or worse. However, this group refuses to use any of these names to label the people that they now call friend. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was for me to be a part of this group....even if only for a week.

I joined 30 or so others and carpooled down town. Some brought water, hamburgers, fruit, or clothes. However, they each brought love, compassion, and genuine concern for these people that they have come to know. Once down town we dispersed in groups of 4 or 5 and headed out. Most groups set out looking for that special person or group of people that they meet with each week. I was amazed to hear almost everyone calling these people by name or greeting them with a hug. The grins on their faces and the tears in both sets of eyes portrayed just how much the bond meant to both parties involved. It was a reminder that these students didn't just spend their Thursday evenings with these folks because they were doing an act of service but instead because they genuinely loved those they were serving. They looked forward to the visits as much as those being visited. As I mentioned before they take things with them. Each person has connected with someone different. Part of that connection means learning what the other person needs in order to get means learning about the other persons aches, pains, and struggles and commit to praying for them. The group gathers food, clothes, and living supplies to hand out as needed. They find out what sizes are needed or what needs are needing met and they make sure they can do so. This includes getting boots, clothes, or whatever else is necessary to help the people get jobs and hopefully a better life. The group has gone into the heart of the problem. They've crossed lines that society has set as being "too far." They have actually become a part of this homeless community. They are meeting them where they are and loving every part of them.

Allow me to take time to brag on my friend Nathan for a bit. I have no idea if he even reads my blog or if he will ever see this but I want each of you to have the chance to catch a glimpse of this boy who I am so privileged to call friend. He is one of the ones that sort of leads the group down every week. I was able to ride with him and hear not only his stories of past week but the passion that poured from his lips as he talked about this ministry that had become so important to his heart. He proudly introduced his friends as we all sat around hearing the latest of what had been going on in their lives. I sat listening as Nathan made arrangements to meet one of the guys on Monday so that he could take him to do some things the guy needed to do...including taking him to get some clothes and blankets. I listened as the men not only shared with Nathan but listened while Nathan gave them his prayer requests as well. It was the beauty of friendship in one of the rarest forms I've ever seen it.

Let me pause for a moment from my story to slip in a bit of shocking and horrifying news that I was told while meeting these fine people. Just last week Nashville swore in a new Mayor. Part of this new Mayor's campaign was for a cleaner/better Nashville. Well apparently that cleaner/newer Nashville does not include homeless folks. It doesn't include having people living on the streets. All this would have been fine if his intent was to go about that by helping those on the streets get off the streets. Instead he sent a bulldozer down to a spot where a large number of the homeless had come to call home. It was found under one of the cities bridges. The bulldozer was sent to push all of the stuff over the bank and down to the river. Folks came back to find what clothes, blankets, food, and anything else they may have been lucky to have....gone. I was able to stand and look down over the steep bank where items were still in the river or were littered along its edge. When did clear streets become more beautiful than a human life? Might I also mention that in the same park area that we were visiting a new sculpture has been put up. A sculpture that costs thousands and thousands of dollars and really doesn't look like anything....but is "art." I can appreciate the beauty of art just as much as the next guy but what about the people that are practically living in the shadows of this new structure? Could that money not have been used to better their lives?

I wish that I had taken pictures or could paint a picture for you with my words. However, no matter if I had taken a thousand pictures or wrote a book about the experience I would never be able to do justice to the amazing ministry that takes place every Thursday night in down town Nashville. It was an even more beautiful form of worship than the one we had started the evening out with.

Monday, September 17, 2007


"Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything."

Since getting home in August I've had the chance to spend time with some of the greatest people on this friends. I've always known how great they are but the last few weeks have just served as a reminder to how truly blessed I am to be able to call these people my friends. They laugh with me, cry with me, and most importantly pray with me. They are the people who can sit with me in silence, who can hug away my tears, who can offer words of wisdom, who can finish my sentences, and who simply define the meaning of the perfect friends.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


If you have been watching the news at all most of you already realize that Hurricane Felix is threatening to do a number on the country that I have come to know as home and the people that I have come to know as my own. As I sit in my apartment miles from the threat of storm damage or danger I am engulfed with a fear that comes from having your loved ones in danger. A fear that comes with the knowledge that I'm not there and the only thing I get to do is get down on my knees and pray. Don't get me wrong I'm a huge advocate for prayer. I've seen its powers and I've stood back many times and watched it work. However, for those of you who are parents you can relate to the feeling of wanting to be there to shelter you little ones from whatever storm may be brewing in their lives. This momma heart is certainly longing to be there instead of having to sit on the sidelines waiting for updates. So I ask that you all would pray....not only for Casa but also for the people of Honduras. Between the Hurricane hitting, mudslides, flooding, etc. this storm could be very fatal. I started this blog out with ....."been watching the news" and I want to end with that. May it be a reminder to each of us of just how blessed we truly are. We are thousands of miles away from the Honduran coast that is being pummeled right now by Felix yet we are getting live coverage and updates on what is happening. Thousands of Hondurans have no access to a radio let alone a television. Therefore, this storm is about to blindside them. What a privileged group we are to not only be able to know the storm happenings of the entire world but more importantly the storms that are going to hit us. Thanks to the technology that we take for granted daily we know what type of weather to expect before we even walk out our front doors in the morning....heck we know what type of weather to expect for Friday before we even get into the office Monday morning. All that to thankful for our many blessings and get down on your knees in prayer for those that are being affected by Felix's wrath.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Make the most of today

"A young Marion woman was killed Thursday when a limb from a tree was blown down onto her vehicle. The name of the woman killed when a tree fell on the Chevy Trailblazer she was driving has been identified as Shawna Stevens, 22, 576 Girard Ave., according to Lt. David Clark of the Marion City Police Department. Stevens who lived in the area where the accident occurred, was driving in an alley between Girard Avenue and Pearl Street shortly after the storm began to move through, according to Marion City police investigators at the scene.The vehicle proceeded for a short distance after the large limb came down the roof of the Chevy Blazer Sports Utility Vehicle before crashing into a tree. Emergency personnel responding to the 9-1-1 emergency call were delayed by debris blocking the roads accessing the crash scene. Bystanders attempting to help the woman said there was nothing they could do and were too shaken up to talk more about what happened, according to reports from the scene. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene by Marion County Coroner Dr. Marc Comianos. A passenger in the vehicle was able to get out and was not injured.

This is a section from a newspaper from up around Marion Ohio. The girl mentioned (Shawna) was a girl that I used to be very good friends with. Even after life's roads took us in separate direction I was still able to maintain some contact and never forgot all those years we spent sharing laughs and making memories. Tuesday night my family, my best friend, some family friends, and I loaded up in the van and drove to Marion for the calling hours. We were going to show love and support for the family whom had all touched our lives in one way or another. However, I would be lying if I didn't say that I not only went for that reason but also as a last chance to say goodbye. As I stared down at the girl who looked no different now than she did back in our days together I wondered where the years had gone. How did we get to this point..... where had her paths taken her and what had they shown her along the way? So as I turned my back and walked away from her side I wasn't just saying goodbye to an old friend but also a piece of my past that I had almost forgotten about. A piece that very much helped make me who I am today. A piece I hadn't realized meant so much to me. In the days since the calling hours I've reconnected with friends that used to run around with Shawna and I. We relived memories and grieved the loss. However, above all else we have all come to realize how much we value those friendships and how much we miss that closeness. For those of you that never had the privilege of growing up in "small town living" I'm have truly missed out on one of the things I'm thankful for most. It never matters how far life takes us we will always have that bond and friendship. We will always travel the miles to attend each others weddings, reunions, get togethers, and yes when the time comes even each others funerals. I was also reminded of how fragile life is. We never know when we are going to be called home. For me it was a bitter sweet reminder that school will be there whenever I'm ready. Making a difference in the lives of my children who change daily.....can not so easily be put on a back burner. I challenge all of you to stop putting off that thing you long to do or are feeling called to do. Don't make excuses that you have to pay off this loan first or finish that thing first....find a way to make it happen and do it. I also challenge you to not be backward in sharing your faith because just as we don't know how many days we have left we don't know how many days those around us have left. Don't put off sharing your love for Christ until another day. Finally, I ask that you would be praying for this family. The "bystanders" mentioned were her family. Her brother was one of the first to the car and helped remove the tree from the roof of the car. Those are memories he will never be able to erase. The "passenger" with her was her fiance and again that day is going to stand out in his mind for a long time. May your prayers shower this family and wrap them in love. Thanks.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Life changes

A little over 8 months ago I first heard of this girl named Jennifer Wright and the work she was doing at a little orphanage in the heart of Honduras. Little did I know that the story was going to be much less than a simple heart warming tale and would instead change my life forever. As you all know shortly after hearing of the work God was doing through Jen I decided to join her for 3 1/2 months. That 3 1/2 months then turned into 7 as I stayed through the summer. Well I'm home now....only I do not intend to stay. I will not be returning to school this fall. For all of you who are sitting back in your chairs, shaking you heads, thinking I'm making the biggest mistake of my life I ask that you would hear me out. I went to Honduras 7 months ago because I could feel God leading me down that path. From the moment I moved into Casa and started my new life there my life changed in more ways than I could ever begin to put into words. I went through an intense time of being broken and remolded. I was a Christian and was doing fine with my walk with the Lord before going into the mission field. However, the preexisting structure that I was inhabiting was nowhere near what God wanted it...and still isn't. I learned what it meant to die to self daily as I learned to live life in a whole new country. One that was equipped with its own beliefs, customs, traditions, and even language. I had to learn to give up my selfish Americanized way of thinking in order to truly connect with those I was coming into contact with daily. Again I wish I could put into words the changes my heart and life have gone through in the past months but could never do justice to the differences that have occurred. All I can say is that after living there for as long as I did my eyes were opened to the problems in our world. Starvation and pain went from something that people talked about around me or something I saw on the news to something I was living in the midst of. It became my took residence so close that its affects found their way into the depths of me and entwined themselves around my heart. It is impossible to walk out of that place so touched and not have been changed. I have spent 3 years of college crying every time I left home. I spent countless nights in my dorm room on the phone sobbing to my parents and begging them to let me come home. I sat in my living room numerous times with them battling the decision to go back and knowing it just wasn't where I was meant to be. However, I didn't know what else to do at the time and had nothing else to do with my life. So no matter how much my heart resisted I would always return to school. Don't get me wrong I loved my college life.....I met some of the best people life has to offer. I was blessed with the greatest roommate and friends that God could offer me. I thoroughly enjoyed my classes and adored (most of) the professors I had. However, I was lacking something....each time I went back I could feel something was missing. I never knew just what that thing was until I moved to Honduras and then it was simple. I was missing the contentment that we find when we are truly doing what God made us for. I was fulfilling the purpose and plans God had set before me. Being so far from my family wasn't any more fun than it had been during college. However, I can honestly say that I never called home once sobbing and begging to be allowed to come home. The fact of the matter is I no longer fall into this belief that we must fall behind and become thousands of dollars in debt in order to get ahead. I'm not discrediting the benefits of a college education and am definitely not saying that no one should go. I personally like knowing that our doctors, dentist, etc. have been educated in the field they are in. At the same time I don't feel like college is for everyone. I think that as a society we have made college so much into a MUST that we have made it seem shameful to not go. We have left a group of people feeling like they have failed simply because they never went to college. I know for me when my senior year of high school came around people were asking "where I was going to college" "what I was majoring in" "what colleges I had visited." I NEVER got asked if I was going or what my plans were for college because it was unacceptable for me to not go on. Again I'm not bashing the college idea. I will finish my degree at some point and I agree that it can open doors for me in the future. However, if I had gone back this year it would have been for 2 reasons. First, so that I could have one last years with girls that I've grown to love like sisters and wanted to spend our senior year making memories that could last a lifetime. Secondly, I was going back because I was scared of what would happen when God tells me I'm done in the mission field. What would I do then? So basically my motivators for not going back boiled down to my desire to socialize and my fear of the future. I was more or less looking at God saying I trust You but just in case You fail me I'm going to go ahead and have a degree to fall back on. He didn't lead me down this path into the life of a missionary to drop me at the end. I finally had to decide that I was no longer going to fall back on the worldly cushions I was placing around myself and instead free fall onto the cushions that God was longing to place all around me. I realize that God gave me a brain with which to learn and provide for myself but there comes a point when we cross the line of simply providing for ourselves with what He has given us and completely deleting him from the picture. I am sad to say that I've been deleting him from the picture for far too long. It is time for me to step up and listen to HIS timing and HIS way. Too be perfectly honest when I thought of going back to school I thought of all of you. I thought of the disappointment it would cause. I feared the shame that might come from those that I care for most. I cringed at the thought of letting any of you down. I could hear your voices lifting up and I imagined people labeling me a quitter, scared, dumb, or other such things. However, there came a point when I finally realized that my fear of these labels was worth it to have God think of me as faithful to my Him, passionate about His call, a servant ready for His work, or things of this nature.
I tell you this not because I want to be viewed as a saint or better than anyone else because I'm not. I'm a sinner saved by grace just like all of you. I instead tell you all this to beg you to understand even for a second why I am choosing this path for my life even when so many have warned me against it. I value all of your opinions and welcome your wisdom and guidance. However, I have to be quite frank....Jesus's way was never popular. He never allowed the opinions of other sway what He knew God was calling Him to do and neither will I. I'm done following the crowd or doing what I think I should do as opposed to what God would have me do because lets face it when we are standing at the gates of heaven we won't have our loved ones to answer to. It will be God's face I have to look upon and answer to as He asks me why I turned my ear away when he was calling me. This has been by far the hardest decision I've ever made in my entire life. It was done with lots of prayer, tears, and searching. The road ahead isn't going to be easy as I leave my heart people, my home, and even my country. However, as sure as I am that my loved ones want the very best for me I know that God has my absolute best interest at heart and isn't going to lead me into something I can't handle. I don't know if any of this has made sense to you but I pray that somewhere in the midst of my rambling you will see a glimpse of the heart that has poured all of this out to you. I don't exactly what lies ahead of me but I do know that God promises that His word and presence will be a light for my feet to light up my path. He will light the way and if He chooses to only light the path one step at a time I will faithfully trust His guidance. I will be in the states fundraising until November. At which point I will return to Hondo for who knows how long. I will for sure be back in forth visiting during this phase of life but I have no clue how long I'll be anywhere. I plan to stay in Honduras until God tells me we are done there. I simply ask that you would lift me up in your prayers and that you would try to understand the decisions I have made even if they aren't what you would have had me do. I love you all.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Faith and Joy

We recently had a church group down from Hackney. Aside from knowing who they were I knew little about them before they came. However, I now know no great honor than not only being able to call these people brothers and sisters in Christ but also friend. They are from a church called Faith Joy Fellowship. Now after getting to know them I can honestly tell you that if the rest of the congregation is anything like the 8 I met their church couldn't have a more rightful name. This group came down with more faith and joy than any group I've ever witnessed before. They came ready to serve not only the people of Honduras but also us. With hearts made of pure gold they held nothing back the entire time they were here. However, aside from the amazing way they poured themselves out onto those around I can't tell you how much they impacted my life. They were a much needed reminder of the reason I went into this ministry in the first place. They came in a moment of need and at a time of struggle for me and spoke to me simply by being the people God created them to be. God saw my hurting/searching heart and sent 8 people to answer its calling. So to these 8 people I say thanks...thanks for letting God use you not only in ways that you expected but in ways that neither of us knew would happen. I look forward to continuing down lifes path with you. I love you all.


I apologize yet again for letting my blog go untouched for so many days. I promise to put my best effort into spending more time keeping you all up to date. SO here goes....
Our new van FINALLY arrived Monday July the 16th. It has been a long process of finally getting it but at long last it has arrived. However, by Wednesday the 18th we were having van troubles and already having to discuss taking it into the mechanic! Of all the dumb luck...we get a new van and right off the bat find ourselves having transmission trouble. Then on Sunday the 22nd Jen and Gina awoke early in the morning to run Karen and Dorian into the bus station. As they made their way back up the mountain toward home they rounded a corner to find a car being driven straight for them. Jen (being the skilled driver she is) managed to maneuver the car off to the right enough to avoid getting hit head on. Instead the impact happened almost directly on and around the back drivers side tire. Thank the Lord nobody was injured but our not even week old van had been given its first bumps and bruises. The devil just never stops does he..... None the less we have our van. It has been worked on and repaired. For now we will just enjoy having something reliable to get our children from place to place.

Monday, July 16, 2007


So much has been happening around here lately that I don't even know where to begin. The devil has been hitting us hard lately and doing his best to rip us apart at the seams. Two weeks ago this Monday right around bed time 4 of our oldest boys decided it would be fun to run away. I don't know how many of you have ever watched movies where kids go missing. You know the ones I'm talking about....everyone in the neighborhood gets involved. They go out with flashlights in hand and start walking through the area the children were last seen while screaming out their names. Now picture that frantic momma on scene that is really freaking…in a panic…scared to death. Well I’ve not only seen those types of movies I’ve lived through it. I was that frantic mother stumbling around through the woods begging for the children to come to her. Well long story short we searched for an hour before Jen (who had taken the truck out looking) found them 2 miles up the road hitchhiking! When we asked why they ran they said they were heading for El Salvador because they could make lots of money there. Oh children! Well then 4 days later they tried the same thing only this time they left in the afternoon and it took us until 10 or so to finally find them. They were holed up in some random person’s home freezing their butts off. They came home and were put to bed with no dinner. A good lesson if they really thought they wanted to be out on the roads again. They also mentioned they had been running because the other kids didn’t want them there. So if you all could be praying about that it would be nice. We need the kids to learn to get along. Then the next day Jen JT and I left for an hour to meet some friends of mine at the local restaurant and returned to find that Fitto had been sniffing paint thinner and was high as a kite. They have been painting the new building we are putting up here and someone had left the empty bottle of paint thinner just lying around. He had been throwing up all day and we weren’t sure why. We ended up having to take him to the hospital where they gave him meds. He puked for 2 days but seems fine. I don’t think he’ll be doing anything like that anytime soon! Mario broke out in a rash that lasted for days. We had to take him to the hospital two days back to back about it. We are getting to the place where they know us by name at the emergency room. Finally, we have had lots of sick children lately. I mean really really sick children.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The joy thief

Once again I am going to use this space as a means of processing and sharing the deepest places of my heart and mind. As you all know a few weeks ago we experienced the death of our guard Santos. You have heard the tales of those two terribly long days that Jen and I experienced as we walked through the grieving process with his loved ones. What I haven't shared is the difficult days that have followed since. To put it quite frankly those days rocked my world. They left me feeling guilty and questioning if I could ever return to doing life as I used to. I no longer long for the American dream. I can no longer live my life with closed eyes and ears. All in all those few (but seemingly never ending) hours were enough to change me forever. Over the years the memory will begin to dim in my mind but the reverberations will be felt forever.
I've become a victim of sleepless nights and a saddened spirit. I lay in bed begging my body to get so sleep...begging my mind to shut off...begging for a bit of peace. However, night after night I am awaken by nightmares. As soon as I shut my eyes at night I can hear the screams of that sweet sweet wife and mother. I can see the faces of those little ones as they receive news that their father would indeed not be coming home that night. Maybe worse yet it is in those moments of sleeplessness that I can imagine the voices of his loved ones as they blame me for not doing more than what I did.
This post may have come as a huge surprise to some of you. For others of you we have exhausted the options of how to get past this. You offered your prayers, your advice, and your love. You’ve listened to my words and grieved in my pain. I love each of your for that. For those of you that are hearing of my struggles for the first time I know that you too will be joining in the prayers on my behalf and for that I thank you. One particular conversation that I had with a man whose heart is as big as his theories reminded me that Satan knows he can’t rob us of our salvation so instead he seeks to rob us of our joy. If he can succeed at that he can keep me from being productive in my ministries and in my world.
I’m still not completely past all of this. I probably never will be….and a large part of me hopes that I will never forget what I’ve learned from all of this. However, if I have learned anything it is this…. That even when life seems to be falling apart around us that the cross is still the cross. His sacrifice is still big enough to forgive and diminish even those things in our lives that we think we can’t overcome. When we dwell in the fear and guilt that I have lived in for the past weeks we allow the devil to win and it is almost as though we are saying that the blood Jesus shed just wasn’t enough. Saying the words now doesn’t mean that my nights have become any less sleepless or that my heart is any less heavy over the loss that was experienced. However, it does mean that I now use those sleepless hours to grab my bible and spend intimate moments with my Savior. I turn the devils attacks into triumphant moments for my King. Grief is a process and the guilt that I am feeling can be turned into a good thing if I allow it to motivate me into action instead of push me into hiding. An amazing friend of mine played this song for me the other day and it resonated with the deep places of my soul. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

Sometimes it seems the world's unraveling around us
We fear it all may one day come undone
We can't forget the One who came before us
To forgive the past and bring hope for what's to come
When it all comes crashing down
The cross still stands alone
And on this our faith is built
And our courage is made strong
When the world falls apart
And you fear for your heart
There's a tower of peace
It's still the cross
So bring your sick and your poor
And your longing for more
To the place of relief
it's still the cross
There is hope for the lost
It's still the cross
Sometimes it seems that I have been forgotten
I don't know how I will make it on my own
But the One who said I will never be forsaken
He still hears my prayer and I will never be alone
Though the world may not confess
You and Your holiness
One day all will see
You in all Your majesty
And the cross will stand alone
As the place where You made known
Your love for all mankind
Till then in it we'll hide

Sunday, July 8, 2007

my momma

As some of you know already my momma was here visiting for 10 glorious days. I relished in the fact that even for just a little bit I was able to share with my momma this new place in my world that has so completely captured my heart. For just a few days my two worlds were able to collide ...and I like that!:)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Once again

My next story may seem familiar to some of you. It has to do with a certain blue beast named Gracie, (our van) a loud pop, a lot of pushing, and A LOT of laughter. Seeing as how we have so many helping hands around here right now some of us were able to slip away to meet up with a group at Santa Lucia for their devotional time. We packed in Gracie, turned up the tunes, and headed for our destination. We were almost there when suddenly …oh yes there was a very loud bang that sounded as if we had run over something. Then the sounds started…the hissing, groaning, grinding noise that sounds as though Gracie has just broken out in song only to find that NO ONE else is singing. As the sounds grew louder and the smoke began billowing out around the car we came to realize that it was best to pull over. This was a treat in itself seeing as how there were 7 adults and 3 children, it was well past dusk, and we were parked in front of a gate plastered with signs that said: danger! …do not enter …caution…and other such warnings. However, you would have thought they read “gringos eaten here” by the way everyone was freaking! Used to Gracie’s song and dance Jen, JT, and I began the normal routine. We got the water out of the back, flipped the seat up, (the engine and whatever else goes along with all that is found under the front seat) and began the process of cooling her down. Once we accomplished this task we were able to start her back up and make it the last few miles to the church. We were only about 15 minutes late and thoroughly enjoyed our time worshipping with the group. As it came time to leave we decided it would be best to put more water in the car and refill our water supply …just in case. We made it into the city where we stopped to eat dinner. It was around 11:30 as we all piled back into Gracie and headed back up the mountain for home. We had made it about 20 minutes out of the city when the noise began again. The problem was we had put the other jug of water in before starting up the mountain so we had NO water at all in the van with us. So as the noises grew louder our prayers became more prevalent. However, within minutes the van began to slow and it became quite obvious that we weren’t going to make it home. Pulling over once again we really began to pray for answers. This is the funny part of the story…I’m sure you are wondering how being broken down at 1 a.m. in Hondo is funny…bare with me. Once again used to the routine everyone piled out of the van. We then began pushing it backward down the hill hoping that it would pick up enough speed to start again…no luck. However, we made quite a sight as 6 people (dressed nice with less than ideal shoes) were pushing, kicking, and wanting to curse that beast of a van. Finally, accepting that the pushing wasn’t getting us anywhere we began to discuss our other options. Tired of waiting and seeing how hopeless sitting there seemed JT and I began to venture down the roads. There were some lights on a ways down so we without a word we started that direction. Sounds safe huh…splitting off from the group with our broken Spanish in an attempt to find help…well whatever because it worked. We had gotten a little ways from the van when we saw a car approaching. I immediately threw my arms in the air and began my attempt to “flag them down.” I mean come on it is what we would do in the states right? Well believe it or not THEY STOPPED! Talk about angels in disguise….as they pulled in front of our car I could hear the yells from within the car telling me that I had just flagged down a car full of boys and requesting that I return my butt to the car IMMEDIATELY. (If you know me at all the next part won’t come as a surprise) I promptly…ignored them and headed straight for the truck of men explaining that our car wasn’t working and that we needed water. I shouldn't have been surprised but I couldn't keep my jaw from dropping as they pointed at the barrel in the back and informed me that they had the water we needed. You ask God to send you angels and He answers! Jumping into action they started scooping out water and went to work on our car. 15 minutes later Gracie was ready to attempt the rest of the drive. Even though she sang us the rest of the way home we did indeed make it safe and sound. However, she is now once again out of commission. Heaven help us this van is going to do us in! Although she most certainly provides a lot of comic relief when you look back over the stories I’m truly ready to see her gone for good!:)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Find our way home

As you all know Luby is back with us now. We will be keeping him for good now. He is a broken little boy with a softened heart for sure. I'm still in shock as I snuggle up to him on the couch or feel his arms wrap around me in those bone crushing hugs. I hope to never forget the lesson that he has taught me. A lesson on finding "home" and stopping at nothing to get there. Here is a little boy who had for the first time found the closest thing to a home that he had ever known. Then suddenly that all drops out from beneath him and he is once again finding his world tossed upside down. However, it only took those few glimpses of home for him to realize what he wanted and what he needed to do. He would stop at nothing to see those front gates of Casa and to be wrapped once again in our loving embraces. How many of us are like this little one. I know that I have made my mistakes in the past. Each mistake bringing about its own set of consequences. Some of those mistakes took me from God and the "home" that I had found. However, with each set of consequences came lessons that I would never have learned otherwise. Although I'm sorry for the mistakes I praise those hard consequences that have made me who I am today. I pray that I never forget what those lessons have taught me and the reminder to keep my eyes fixed on getting "home." I firmly believe that we should stop at nothing to find our way home. That we should each be so persistent to fight tooth and nail until we are standing at the gates. I pray that we do not stand back in the shadows afraid to look into the face of the one whose arms are always waiting wide open for us.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Living for Today

Ever sit back amazed at the way God answers your cries? I have spent the past 4 days in turmoil once again about what I should do with my future. I couldn't keep my mind from wandering to consider what was coming. I've longed to know how things are going to play out. Well also during these past 4 days I've experienced my first round of sickness since arriving in January and have started to have some troubles sleeping. Both of which are rare for me. So with each passing day the tired, stressed, cranky Ashley has begun to emerge more and more. In an attempt to refocus I grabbed my bible, journal, and Jen's ipod and retreated for a bit. I attempted once again at a few minutes of sleep and when that didn't work turned to the word. Wouldn't you know that within the letters of the pages I found comfort. The Psalms were full of promises for me. One of the first places I flipped to I read "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God, he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." You see fearful and anxious thoughts slip away while we are in His presence. I had forgotten this simple fact. Though I was still going to Him daily I was going with a troubled heart. I went begging for answers. However, I had to be reminded today that God created time as a protection for us. We are told to neither look behind or head but instead focus our attention on HIM. He knows what is coming and is preparing us for it with each passing moment. At some point I had stopped just living for this moment and had started to worry about all the ones that hadn't happened yet or even those that have long since passed. By doing this I had forgotten to live out the day that was right in front of me. Then as if He wanted to make sure HE really had my attention the song below started to play just as I was closing my bible. He never stops amazing me. It was as though I could feel His breath on my face as He leaned in close and gently whispered "I love you my sweet child and did not create you to worry about tomorrow. Cast your fears aside and let me handle your future. When will you learn to simply let your light shine for today and let me handle the rest?" Did I suddenly feel sleepy like I would finally be able to sleep through the Did all of my thoughts about the months ahead suddenly leave my mind as if they were never However, I found a sense of peace that tells me I need not worry about what is to come because MY God has gone before me as well as with me. He is holding my hand and leading me along the way. I pray that you all find the same peace. That if you too are struggling with what is to come that you seek wisdom not in my words but in the Word.

Sittin' in my room staring at the wall
Wonderin' about the meaning of it all
Why is it this thing called life
Has got me goin' crazy
So I open up your word and let it speak to me
The purpose and the plan that you've designed
Is clear to see, and I believe
I'm gonna live for today
I'm gonna follow in your way
I'm gonna let my little light shine
Like there's no tomorrow
I won't worry about the past
I know my future is intact
So I'll choose to live my life one way
I'm gonna live it for today
You told me not to worry
About what lies ahead
So I am gonna focus on today instead
Making every moment count and counting
Every single blessing
I'm gonna set my mind on the
Here and the Now
This is what I want my life to be about
And this is How...
(Repeat Chorus)

Monday, June 25, 2007


As promised I will finish the Santos blog that I started this time last week. I apologize that it has taken me this long to return to it. However, not only was it a very hard experience to process and put into words but also it has been a crazy busy week.
So at long last here is the much awaited story. As you all know from my previous post death here is done much differently than in the states. Monday’s experiences were just a brief glimpse of that. Tuesday morning Jen and I got up and got ready to head back to be with the family. We were not only attending the funeral but would be donating our services in any way that was needed. Once we had gotten ourselves in the car we headed to pick up a “few” others from our community that were wanting to come as well to pay their respects. However, when we pulled up to the spot where we were meeting them we found that “a few” was an understatement…there were about 12 or 13 others waiting there to ride with us. Without even batting an eye they did what I’m becoming accustom to calling the “Honduran way”….they packed into the van until there was barely any breathing room. Finally situated we headed back into the city. We arrived at the house around 1 and almost immediately Jen was asked to go with a couple of the guys to see about getting papers that were needed for the burial. Jen immediately looked to me to make sure that I would be fine by myself for awhile. Seeing my nod of assurance she quickly followed the men out the door to do what needed done. As I watched Jen climb back up the hill to the car it finally hit me that I was not only sitting grieving the loss of a great man but I was doing so completely surrounded by Honduran men and women. All of whom didn’t speak my language and whose language I definitely am not yet fluent at. However, in those 30 + minutes I spent waiting on Jen to return I watched men, women, and children grieve over the loss of one of the greatest Honduran men any of us has ever had the privilege of knowing. It was then that it hit me that it doesn’t matter what country you are in or how they choose to handle the death of their loved ones within that country. The heart of the matter is still the same….that no matter where we are we are all connected by that same feeling of grief. I stood, sat, and knelt beside dozens of tear stained Honduran faces that day as I too wept in sorrow. I held hands and offered/received hugs as we all leaned on one another for strength and support. It was in those moments that I realized that the truly important things in life are those things that span across all nations….grief, love, joy, sorrow, laughter, etc. They are the things that need no translation for they are not heard by the ear but felt with the heart. Eventually Jen found her way back to the house and she too joined me in the process of grief. As time inched forward the next moments were ones that will live in my memory forever. Thinking that they may enjoy pictures of the day I offered to take a few for the family. They not only graciously accepted my offer to take pictures of the decorations and such but also asked if I would take pictures down in the casket. If I had felt morbid taking pictures to begin with I was definitely feeling it then. However, I wondered if this was possibly the only photo they would ever have of their dad/husband. The entire day was filled with reminders of how privileged we are. The day was full of kicks in the pants that made me yet again want to see all I have and live off of nothing. We sit with books full of pictures of our loved ones while they get their first chance at a photo during the funeral services. We spend hundreds on a casket that’s only purpose is to hold our dead bodies while they place their dead in simple boxes. I don’t know about you but when I die I hope someone makes me a simple box and lays me to rest in it. If we would cut the cost of our funerals in half we could make a huge dent in the hunger problem that exists in our world. The next picture I took was of a cross that had been placed in the corner sometime in the night. It held a simple plaque that read Santos Maradiaga Nacio 6-11-1967 Murio 18-06-2007. I would still like to know who made the cross and who spent the time to write and draw on the plaque. I can remember thinking only one thing… “What a labor of love.” I stood back staring at the spot we had decorated the day before in preparation for the hours that had now passed. The flowers had wilted and died. The cloth was starting to sag. Candles that had been placed around the casket had long since melted wax all over the floor. However, never in my life have I have see a more beautiful display of affection and care taken for the viewing of a loved one. Finally, it was time to head to the burial spot. Jen left a few minutes ahead of me so that she could go get the truck. Our truck would be serving as the hearse for the day and she was to be the driver. Then as I made my way to the door Santos’s youngest daughter suddenly reached her little arms out to me and began to sob. For some reason her little mind had decided she wanted with me and only me. Swinging her up on my hip I did my best to shift her into a comfortable position that was conducive both for comforting as well as walking. I then joined the “procession” out the door of the house. Know how we drive from the funeral home to the graveyard. Well the cars that usually carry us were replaced with the feet of those weary grief stricken people who had spent the entire night awake watching over the body. For the first time in my entire life I had the desire to run for a bowl of water so that I could sit and wash each set of feet that marched before, after, and all around me. I stood watching each person follow the small foot path that cut its way back and forth up the mountain where Santos was to rest. We aren’t talking a small slop but a rocky, sewage and liter filled mountain! Let’s just say I also learned a lesson in wearing shoes that were sensible…not fashionable. Gone forever is the notion that my shoes need to match my outfit. Instead I will be picking my shoes according to rational! Without thinking of what was to come I had simply slipped on a pair of sandals that morning because they were “comfortable.” Gone was the comfort as I attempted to balance a purse of one hip and a child on the other. Gone was comfortable as I sloshed through water/sewage. Gone was comfort as I found myself being swarmed by fire ants whose bites leave your feet feeling on fire! However, on I marched…there was no stopping. We walked through the "graveyard" on our quest. It was just the side of a mountain where they had quite literally dug up every spot they could to bury their dead. All of which were marked by a simple cross and lined with rocks. If I had thought that in the house was hard to watch the graveside was even worse. As Santos’s wife realized this was truly her last goodbye the wails returned. Only this time along with that wailing came fainting. Then I watched as they wrapped rope around the casket as their “mechanical” way of lowering the casket into its new resting place. Finally, came the worst part…the men took turns using the two shovels to throw dirt down onto the casket. I say to you all….be glad that when it is our loved ones someone comes behind you after you are gone to do this process. There is something final in that thunk thunk thunk sound. Something that resonates deep in your being. The thing I found most odd about this whole experience was the fact that before leaving the house someone had scrapped up the candles, the melted wax, the dead flowers, and anything else that had been around the casket and placed it in a bag. Then when the casket was half covered they threw all of that stuff down in the hole before returning to the covering process. Then as the cross was placed, flowers were laid on top, and the family knelt to say their goodbyes my heart broke even more for this poor family. I felt as though all of Honduras should be feeling the loss of one of their finest. As the service came to a close I was shocked and amazed as I watched the mother compose herself the best she could and walk away with strength that surprised us all. She walked up to the truck and informed everyone she would be sitting in the back with her children. There was yet one more difference that struck me between here and home. Where as at home people would have baked, cooked, and provided them with the food they would need to see them through this we simply decided to take them out to eat. Jen and I piled them all back into the van ....this time there were 20 of us....and headed for the requested pizza hut. We took all of them in and sat with them for an hour or two as they learned to laugh, play, and live a little bit again. It was good to see them out together giggling and sharing in the joys of life. As I looked into each of their faces I was reminded of why exactly I was here and just what it was that made me fall in love with these people. Communication might be a bit of a challenge at times but when it came down to it we connected in the way that matter....the heart. Please continue to pray for this family as they begin to walk through this period of grief. They now must learn what it means to do life with out a daddy or a husband. I wish you all could have met this sweet sweet man who touched my heart in so many ways. He was some good stuff and will always be remembered.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


So I promise I will get back to the Santos blog. (hopefully later tonight) However, I need to do a quick update on a little boy whom I know lots of you have been praying for. Last Saturday while the Grand Central group was here they visited the state orphanage (Kennedy.) Well while there Jen discovered that Luby was not in fact at Casitas 21 but instead was there at Casitas Kennedy. He ran up to Jen, wrapped his arms around her, and promptly started to sob. He begged her to let him return to Casa. He promised that he would listen to the rules and that he would stop hitting the kids. Jen promised to talk to our children, the adults, and the people at Casitas. Well as you know we have had a long busy week and we have not had the time to get back to the city. Jen had asked the kids what they thought and all but Yovani had said it would be fine. Yovani was actually very adamantly against the idea. Well even though we haven't had the time to return to Casitas this week he has never been far from our thoughts and prayers. God took those decisions out of our hands. I was sitting on the couch with my back to the door when I hear Jen say "are you ready for this?" Let's just say that as I turned around the last thing I expected to see was Luby standing in the doorway. However, that was the exact thing that my eyes did see. Then as my eyes began to fill with tears (big surprise that I was weepy!) I reached out for that little boy who had found his way into my heart so long ago. As he climbed up into my lap and wrapped his arms around my neck.... I lost it! I held onto him for 2 or 3 minutes just whispering into his ears that he was loved and that we wanted him. In the moments to come the rest of the story had poured out of him. He had climbed under a wall and escaped from Casitas. When we asked how he got here he held up a dirty looking Wrigley's spearmint wrapper with no gum in it that had one single word written on it....Santana. He then showed that little wrapper to every bus driver between here and Teguc and begged them to bring him here. He showed up around 6 almost afraid that we would turn him away or be mad at him. Instead we welcomed him with open arms. We then sat him down and talked to him about what was to happen. We explained that Yovani wasn't big on the idea of him returning and asked if he would talk to Yovani. We brought Yovani back to the porch and watched as Luby approached him in an attitude of humility. He told him he was sorry. He told him he would never hit his brothers again. He told him that he wanted to live here. Talk about weepy....I was gushing! Yovani then looked at him and said sure he was fine with it! So at least for the night Luby is laying his little head on our pillows in his old bed. We will be going to the city to see about bringing home a little boy who we so desperately want to be ours. So again I ask you to be on your knees. Lift this little boy up to our Father and beg Him for a changed little boy.

The gum wrapper that got a little boy back into our home!

The other boys joined Luby in the bedroom to help him find his clothes and get ready and such. It was so stinkin sweet!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


When I signed up to come to Honduras I had no idea what was ahead of me. I didn’t anticipate the struggles and hard times that were to come. I didn’t envision myself developing such a passionate love for a people group so different from my own. However, God was calling me to be the light to a dark world. So I booked a ticket and climbed onto a plane that would take me into the unknown. I came here prepared to serve God’s people. He calls us to do for the least of these and I was geared up to do just that. However, I shamefully admit that I recently failed at that task. One of our guards (Santos) had been sick for about 3 weeks with stomach pains. He hadn’t been coming into work because it was so bad. Well last Saturday while the Grand Central group was here one of the nurses in the group went over with me to give him some medicine. In my broken Spanish I attempted to explain to him when to take which pill and how many times a day. I then asked questions about how he felt and all that. As we were leaving Thea (the nurse) explained to me what she thought the problem was and how bad it truly could be. Promising to come back to check on him and bring his family food we left. That day and the next were crazy busy and I didn’t make it back over to their home to check on him. Monday morning came around and at about 4 a.m. I found myself being awaken by Jen as she informed me that Santos had passed away during the night. Her presence was being requested at the hospital to see what needed to be done with his body. He had gotten worse and had gone to the hospital the day before but they hadn’t been able to do anything for him. Climbing out of bed I offered to ride along and seeing the relief that came across her face at those words I quickly prepared to leave. I was barely able to suppress the guilt and tears that had suddenly engulfed my body.
Grabbing my stuff I joined Jen, our pastor, and a couple of local men whom are friends of ours in the trip to the hospital. The drive to the city has never felt as long in my entire life. As we all sat consumed with our own thoughts and grief nobody could seem to find words to speak. It was surreal. As we reached the hospital gates the “long” ride suddenly felt way to short as I realized I was far from prepared for what lay ahead. However, ready or not I forced one foot in front of the other as I followed the men through the front gates of the hospital. Walking with a sense of confidence and strength they seemed to know exactly where to go. As we went down a set of stairs and followed a long hallway I could hear the wails of a women in pain. The farther we walked the louder the wails became. I can remember thinking to myself that someone should help the lady by giving her medicine or something. I thought she was one of the patients there and expected to eventually pass a doorway that would lead to the room that she was being treated in. However, as we rounded the corner the cries grew louder and then suddenly there she was. The wails were not of a women who was in physical pain but instead were the wails of Santos’s sweet sweet wife as her body was gripped with an emotional pain like none I have ever known.
I think that now would be a great time to mention that they do death here completely different than they do in the states. Where we place the bodies of our dead in separate rooms where the family may grieve separately they simply had rolled their dead out into a hallway by one of the main entrances of the hospital. He was still on the metal bed that he had been on while they were working on him. He still had tubes in his nose and an IV in his arm. They had simply rolled him into the hallway and covered him with a sheet. He was left there for the world to gawk at as they went by. As we approached I could see 2 beds lined up along the wall…both holding the bodies of those that had passed in the past few hours. The men immediately jumped into action and went to find out what was needed. All I could do was stand numb from the sights before me. 2 gurneys holding 2 men whom would never see another day with their loved ones. A wife half laying on top of her husband’s body crying out for God’s help and howling uncontrollably as she for the first time had to figure out how to do life without the love of her life. I will never forget the sound of her voice as she cried out God Help Me and I will certainly never get the sound of those wails out of my mind. It was the sound of a heart breaking…It was the sound of part of her dying there right beside her soul mate. Slowly I approached her and wrapped my arms around her in an attempt to pour out every ounce of strength that I could find. As Jen moved forward to do the same I retreated for my own moments of break down. As I stood sobbing I couldn’t help but think I should have done something…anything. More than likely I wouldn’t have been able to save his life. However, God called me here to try. He called me here to do the best I could for HIS people. I should have been there to at least offer the family a peace of mind that we did indeed care dearly about their father/husband. I should have been there to allow him a sense of peace that no matter what happened we would be here to help his family through it. Instead for whatever reason…be it my fear of the communication barrier, my busy schedule, or my American mentality that something like this wouldn’t happen because people don’t die from this…whatever the reason…I did nothing. I would like to think that I would have gone first thing Monday after Jen returned home but I will never get a chance to see. I waited too long. We stayed at the hospital for a couple of hours offering any help we could. The entire time we were there the other man was never visited. As he lay there dead and alone I couldn’t help but grieve for him and the fact that he didn’t have any sweet wife there missing him. Then in an act of complete disrespect and morbidity a lady walked over to the body, pulled back the sheet, and stared down at a man he didn’t she didn’t even know…simply to feed her own curiosity. She then covered him back up and was on her way. However, before she covered him I had seconds to stare into the face of a man who had very clearly been mangled in an accident of some sort. Those few seconds were just enough to add to the list of things that would forever be scarred into my mind.
Shortly after we were asked to go back to Santa Ana, break the news to the children, and bring them back into the city to meet up with their family. Not an easy task I can assure you. One of the guys with us sat the kids down and gently explained what had happened. Then all together we headed back to the city. Only this time we went to the home where Santos would be placed. Again they do things much different here. Instead of taking the body to a funeral home to be embalmed and prepared for a funeral they simply place them into a box and place them in their home. They have a 24 hour period of “watching” the body. Someone stays awake with the body for the entire 24 hours. The body is never left alone and throughout the time people can come and go for a “viewing.” We took the kids to the home where he would be placed and joined in as they began to clean and prepare for the arrival of the body. They brought in their table as well as the neighbors table and placed them together so that it would be big enough to hold the casket. Someone else donated these beautiful white cloths that were then hung on the walls and draped from the ceiling in an attempt to make a place for the viewing. While that was going on someone else was picking fresh flowers from a field and pinning them to the cloth backdrop and placing others in plastic bottles to lay around the foot of the casket. Still others were there from the community to donate their chairs to be lined along the wall for people to sit in. It was a beautiful sight of people coming together to do what they could. They may not have much but what they have they are willing to share and give in times of need. I wish you could have been there to see them form into the most real body of Christ I have ever seen. One was certainly being the hand while another functioned as a foot. However, the thing that moved me the most was watching the children. Santos has 4 children ranging from 4-14 and they jumped right in to help. The one that got to me the most was his 13 year old daughter Fanny. Her autopilot had kicked in and she was sweeping, washing, and serving in every way she knew how. Now I have to tell you that my autopilot had kicked in as well earlier that morning and I was still finding it hard to function. I also came to realize that my autopilot doesn’t come equipped with Spanish! Things that I have heard and understood a million times fell on deaf ears this time as I couldn’t seem to bring myself to focus on and translate what was being said to me. So how this little one so quickly and affectively switched to autopilot I will never know. Jen and I stayed until the casket was brought in and Santos and been placed in his spot of honor for the next 24 hours. We then hugged the family and slipped away to give them time to grieve.

As I sit here retelling this story I find that my mind is reliving it all over again. Though it is a story I hope I never forget I'm having a hard time reliving it again so soon. So for now I'm going to allow you all to read this part. I will continue the story later today.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Jen CAN make all your dreams come true

If you have ever doubted that God has a sense of humor just listen to this story. We spent yesterday in the city with Gina. One of the errands Gina needed to run was to the the pet store to get fish food. Jen and I went in with her hoping that we might find a lab for sale. We have been wanting to buy a dog for here for a long time now but have had our hearts set on a lab. Well we were sad to hear they didn't have labs. Letting go of the idea of a puppy we went about the other errands we had to run. It wasn't until after lunch hours later Jen said to me again "how fun would it to be to take a puppy home today?" Agreeing I turned to Gina asking where exactly we could find a lab puppy. She told us that there was no where that she knew of that we could get one. I kid you not we hadn't gone a block farther when Jen hit the breaks and gave out a squeal because there sitting on the hood of a car along side the road were 4 labs FOR SALE. We whipped the car into the parking lot and had Gina work her magic. She was so good that after she mentioned the dog was for an orphanage the guy took 1000 Lemps off of the price! We picked out the one we wanted and headed to take Gina home. On our drive there we decided that the puppy needed a friend and so we headed back to get yet another lab. Well believe it or not in the 15 minutes we had been gone the guys had left. There was no sign of them or lab puppies about fate. We had been there at the perfect moment! We continued up that road and came to the corner where there was yet another man selling dogs. Only this time it was the Cocker Spaniels. When I first arrived at Casa back in January Jen commented on the fact that she was here to make my dreams come true. Since then it has become our little joke. Well today that joke became a reality as she truly did make a dream of mine come true. I have always wanted to own a cocker spaniel....well today Jen took that dream and made it a reality by buying a 6 week old cocker spaniel. Again we convinced them to give us a discount since it was for the orphanage and we were on our way to the vet to have them both checked out. It is a very good thing we decided to take them to the vet right away because we found out they have fleas, ticks, and round worms! Not only do they have them but round worm can be passed to people and can cause you to go blind or could even move into your brain. Therefore, the vet strongly warned us to not let the dogs around the kids for the next 15 days as the meds kicked in and did their job. So we are now the proud owners of 2 puppies! I choose to believe it was God's gift to us and the kids after a particularly rough week. Not to mention that we are told that puppies (animals in general) are good for sexually abused children because it helps give them something they can love and receive love from without feeling scared. It teaches them to trust again. So I ask that you pray that these two little puppies (whom I've already become so attached to as much as the kids have) make it and become very healthy very soon. We return to the vet next week so there will be more updates for sure! Oh and we also need names so if you have any suggestions let me know....I'm getting tired of calling them puppy 1 or puppy 2! I wish you all could have shared in the joy this morning of watching those sweet little faces as they walked into the play room and saw me standing there holding not one but two puppies. It was like Christmas all over again. They squealed, clapped, jumped, and were beside themselves with joy. I might also add that the lab slept with me last night. You all will appreciate this story for sure! It took me two seconds after putting the lab in his box (aka clothes hamper) to know that he wasn't happy being there. His little whine and occasional bark let us all know he wanted out. He was only quiet when he was cuddled up next to someone. Therefore, I decided to brave it and took him to bed with me. As I lay there I kept imagining waking up in the morning with poop and pee filling my bed. So....I did what any other mother would do...I got up and grabbed a pamper. After cutting out a hole for his tale I expertly placed the pamper on his bottom like I would have one of the children! Content I climbed back into bed and curled up next to that cute little puppy. I awoke to find him curled up on my pillow with his nose ever so close to mine...breathing his little puppy morning breath into my face. However, I had a very clean and very dry bed!