Because sometimes we need encouragement to go…

The day that I signed up for the trip on Student Ministry Essentials I knew there was no turning back. This mom of two preschoolers had come to a fork in the road and had perhaps taken the less traveled path. If Ron had not encouraged me 100 emphatic percent to travel to Honduras I would more than likely have talked myself out of it.

I had never been away from the kids for a full 24 hours. How would they do without me for 7 consecutive days?

This thought crossed my mind more than once. However, I trusted that God is the ultimate protection for my children and surely in the hands of my competent mother they would be more than okay without me for a few days.

This was indeed the case. My going provided an opportunity for increased discussion of missions in our home. The kids were involved in purchasing toys to send and putting boxes of toothpaste in bags for Dr. Traci to give to the school. Joshua was even persuaded to give up two of his cars to send to little boys I would encounter.

The week leading up to the trip Emily said, “Mom I don’t want you to go to Honduras.” I would explain to her that God commands us to go and preach the gospel, to care for the poor, and to make disciples of all nations. The final night I hugged her and said, “I must go Emily, God has asked me to go and other people have paid for my trip. How else will this suitcase full of toothpaste and toothbrushes get to the children at the school? One day God may ask you to go far away to do His work and I may not want you to go. I will want you to be obedient to God even if that means that I will miss you. I have to do the same.”

Photo taken by Tom.

 Laylee is a beautiful student at AFE; she won over our group immediately. Photo taken by Gabby.

Two other mommy teammates: Jen and Rachel. Photo by Gabby.

When we follow in the footsteps of Jesus to reach out in love to those in need, we will ignite in our children the sense that they are worthy to consider themselves part of the solution in meeting people’s needs. Patterns of ministry will naturally be caught as they learn from us and from Jesus a new and initiating love. In the process they will be inspired to give themselves in ministry, to become skilled and loving workers for his harvest fields.

~Sally Clarkson, The Ministry of Motherhood, p. 94

More than one time I missed my husband and children during the trip. More than one time I lifted up prayers for their safety, fun, and that they were not wearing out Nana too bad.

Everyday I was so very thankful to be on foreign soil. Everyday I felt what John Piper so eloquently pens, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” I felt the satisfaction of God on this trip. I knew I was where He intended for me to be. I am blessed beyond what I can convey to you that my family was at a stage this summer where this mission was possible for me. Not all seasons are like this…

I am asking Him for such a stage next summer as well.

The fulfillment of world missions is God’s kingdom coming to earth. If God calls you and you have the blessing of your husband, then mother I urge you to step out in faith and take a mission for the Lord. Little footsteps will follow in time because they want to go where the authentic faith of mom and dad has led them. I believe it to be so and I pray it is so in the lives of our children and yours.  

In the faces and testimonies of the people I encountered I heard God longing, and fulfilling a bit of that longing, to pour out His love and blessings on His people.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

~Acts 1:8

Linking with Rachel:

friday favorite things | finding joy

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Reflections on Mission 3

A home is more than four squared walls with cutouts for windows and doors. A home is where lives are shared, bread is broken, and stories are told. Friends gather around tables and share in each others lives.

As our team ventured to Honduras, we went with the anticipation of building houses that would become homes for three families. Prior to the dedication of the houses these new first-time homeowners* lived in shelters. Structures made to keep out the elements and protect the families within as best they could.

Shelters, some houses even, are simply constructed and utilized for survival. Conversely, a home provides a sense of stability and pride.

The last day of our trip six sets of bunk beds were built, floors swept, and materials cleaned away. Then for the dedications of the houses.

Photo taken by James. Pictured here are Esperanza (top) and Rose (bottom).

 May the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

~Numbers 6:24-26

The Lord put a little girl on my heart and in my path the very first day on the work site. She was shy, sullen, and quite. I later learned her name, Rose. She was accompanied by her older brother, Juno. He sat and watched me hammer for a while. I would look at him and say, “hammer,” then “nail,” trying to engage him. He then began helping us carry wood and such.

The next workday was Monday and again Rose was there; this time with her sister Esperanza and mother Maria. Still no smile. In fact, my heart was broken even more as Rose tripped over a rock and fell to the ground. No tears, no comfort from mom. She laid in the dirt until her mother helped her to her feet.

Emily had chosen a necklace and bracelets to give as gifts and these I had kept in my tool belt all day on Tuesday hoping to see Rose. These gifts, with a little game of peek-a-boo, brought on the long awaited smile.

 

When I learned that this sweet family were to be the recipients of a house I knew that what we were doing was making a difference. We had been given the gift of delivering God’s present to a few of His people.

I lift my eyes unto the hills; where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth.

~Psalm 120:1

Angelica was the mom of the second family receiving a home. She is a prayer warrior and said she most looks forward to making her house a house of prayer. Angelica worked in the trash dump and lived there for 22 years. She has many children, perhaps 7, one son died and one lives on the street. She is married and her husband works on the trash dump.

From left to right: Pastor Jeony of AFE, Angelica, Poker of Student Ministry Essentials, and Austin of Orphan Outreach.

Angelica remembers her life void of hope. She says she ate at the trash dump, slept there, and was violated at the dump. She was very depressed and would lie in her makeshift bed. One day a missionary from the U. S. came to her and told her to “stand up to live. Stand firm in the Lord Jesus.” That day she did and now three years later she is a woman marked by prayer. During the dedication she kept praying blessings over us, the workers, and our family.

 Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

~James 1:17

The third house went to a family of 10. All the family members work on the trash dump. Only the mom could come to the dedication as all other hands were needed in earning a living.

The dedications were emotion filled as each homeowner was prayed over blessed, and presented with gifts including a signed Bible from the team.

At dinner that night I saw what I had glimpsed at the dedications: we are all alike. We are a created and loved people. We all become hungry, dirty, and tired. We each struggle and stumble and fall short. We cry, we laugh, and we live. Around the dinner table on Thursday night, were not Hondurans and Americans, we were family.

 

Brian, Esperanza, and Juno from house 1.

Angelica, her daughter and I.

 The family from house 3 along with my teammates Fisher, James, Pastor Jeony, and myself.

Angelica repeatedly told me of her appreciation and that she ate with us because she was happy.  I told her that we are sisters in Christ Jesus and she smiled and said, “yes.” She said she prays for all the world.

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

~James 2:5

I want to follow my sister, Angelica’s, example and pray for all the world on a daily basis. Perhaps the four squared walls that we call home could become a house of prayer providing a window of opportunity for a world in need. In this way our temporary home impacts the eternal.

 

A special thank you to all the 30 members of our team from Calvary and to the local Hondurans who worked side-by-side with us to make this a reality.

*The homes are not owned by the parents, but are deeded to the youngest child upon graduation from AFE. Until such a time 50% of the house is deeded to AFE and 50% to the family.

 

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Reflections on Mission 2

Last week I traveled with 29 other brothers and sisters in Christ to Tegucigalpa, Honduras to build homes for three homeless families who live and work on the city’s trash dump. During our mission there we visited the dump and experienced what my teammate, Eric Pogue,  so eloquently describes below. Eric was so moved by his experience that he penned this account a few days later and shared it with our team. He has graciously allowed me to post it here for you to glimpse the reality of perhaps hundreds of Hondurans every day. There is no official count as to how many people live and work on the trash dump as there is no birth or death records for these people.

The Trash Dump

by Eric Pogue

We raised the windows on the bus as we approached the trash dump in the mountain town of Buen Samaritano, approximately fifteen miles north east of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  Our travel companion, Austin, a curly blond-headed American missionary, who lives in Honduras, believed a non-ventilated school bus with thirty sweaty passengers would be more comfortable than having the bus infiltrated with trash dump flies.  As we moved closer to the dump, the air thickened, the temperature rose, and a vile stench permeated the bus walls.  The fresh air we enjoyed moments earlier was quickly devoured.  We turned the corner and arrived at the trash dump, a place where hundreds of Hondurans come every day to pick through thousands of pounds of unwanted garbage from their fellow citizens.  Our mission was to provide 400 bags of water and 200 packages of food for the people at the dump and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gravel crunched under our feet as we stepped off the bus and the smell of the trash and the trash dump people nearly made us vomit.  The flies, once held off by the bus walls, now flew freely into our face, because, well, that´s what trash flies do.  The sun beat down from above; there were no trees to provide protection, no grass to provide comfort.  The trash dump was approximately three football fields of gravel and trash, but we decided to not explore the area by foot and stayed very close to our bus and each other.  It is a place where vultures, flies, odor, gravel and weather seemingly do everything possible to oppress that which doesn’t belong.

We followed the lead of Pastor Johnny, a local Pastor whose life mission is to provide children an alternative to life on the dump.  The Pastor, who started his ministry over a decade ago, formed two feeding lines: one for the men and one for the women and children.   The trash dump people are familiar with these feedings and immediately gathered around the Pastor to jockey for position.  They know there is food, they don´t know how much.  They are told to respect the line but the stronger push the weaker out of the way to improve their chances to eat.  Besides the food found on the dump, this may be the only chance to eat that day.  They are very hungry and their focus is food.  Nothing else matters.

When basic needs are not met, God´s people become less than what God intended.  The brain that has the capacity to create, love, lead, teach, learn and serve is focused solely on survival and therefore success, for a trash dump person, is survival.   If survival can be ensured, the other areas can be developed but unfortunately survival is a daily requirement.

As we were leaving the dump, God showed up.  A local Honduran man fought through the vultures, flies, gravel, sun and smell and gave his life to Christ.  His ability to push forward and hear God´s calling through the oppression of the dump inspired us all.

For all of us, God has graciously allowed us to have abundance.  We were not born on a trash dump; we do not have a daily fight for survival.  Our basic needs have been met and we have the ability to develop characteristics that are uniquely human.  We are all God´s children but not all of His children have been blessed as generously as we have.  We should not take this responsibility lightly.  We are called to fight through the flies and vultures in our lives and become the people God intended for us to be.  We have no excuses.  Let´s vow to do better than we’ve done.  Let´s love the Lord and others more than we love ourselves.  Let´s be obedient to his word and give generously with our time, talent and treasure.   Let´s be more patient, more forgiving and more eager to discuss our faith with others.  Let´s never forget the lessons learned from the trash dump.

Thank you God for opening our eyes and for the gifts you have generously given.  Thank you for your incredible grace and for the beautiful people of Honduras.

Eric is pictured here. He is in the middle with the huge smile.

Thank you Eric for allowing us at This Temporary Home a view of you and your team’s experience last week in Honduras. You beautifully captured a very raw reality in the lives of these created people of God. Also, a special thanks to my brother-in-law, Tom, for the images of the trash dump.

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Show and Tell

The last two months it has become a common occurrence. Emily rushes to her coloring basket overflowing with paper, stickers, and coloring books. She selects crayons from the drawer and begins to make art in the fashion she knows best.

She colors and presses on stickers; occasionally she stamps love on a page.

Other days she gathers her water color palette and brushes then asks me to pour a cup of water. She wants to paint love on a page.

After each creation is completed she runs to me, waving her masterpiece in the air and declares, “This is for Pamela Jasmin!”

Pamela Jasmin is Ron’s Compassion Child. She lives in Honduras where my mission team will be flying this Friday. It seems surreal that it is two more days til foreign soil. Last year Ron traveled with the team and met Pamela Jasmin for the first time.

Our children know that they have a “brother” and “sister” in different countries. We sing Happy Birthday to them on their birthdays each year, are able to send them money for Christmas presents, and write letters to let them know we are praying for them and they are loved. Both of Joshua and Emily’s siblings are older than they and speak Spanish. Jefri is 11 and lives in Nicaragua and Pamela Jasmin is 6 and lives in Honduras.

While she has never met Pamela or Jefri face to face, Emily is perhaps their most fervent prayer warrior. Ron and I pray for and love our Compassion kids but it is Emily who petitions God on their behalf each night before bed time. She has helped in purchasing gifts to send to Pamela Jasmin on our trips the last two years and multiple times in between she has asked to give her many of her toys.

Through our Compassion sponsorship, Emily, and Joshua in turn, are learning to be givers. They are learning the truth of Christ when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

At her prompting, I started collecting Emily’s artwork for Pamela Jasmine. They are neatly collected in a green folder to be presented to her in six days.  I will tell Pamela of the gift given by the One who sets us free. Being in the Compassion program the gospel is shared with her on a daily basis at the school she attends as part of her sponsorship, but this time I am the one blessed to share the good news with her.

I will show Pamela Emily’s art of love colored on a page and tell her of Christ’s love written on the pages of history but orchestrated for her before time began.

Would you like to add a child into your family today? Would you make a difference in the world by changing the life of even one? Visit Compassion’s website to find out more and please join us in making disciples of all nations because by your giving you are helping write God’s story in the life of a child. You can show and tell a lost and dying world of God’s love that is written on a page in crimson shades…

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

~John 3:16

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