Sunday, November 30, 2014

Gracias (Thanks)

This week, in the States, was Thanksgiving. At Destino we celebrated Día de Acción de Gracias with the kids on Wednesday, talking about what it means to be thankful. My first graders had a lot to be thankful for, so we made a Thanksgiving Tree!

I also have a lot to be thankful for. I am most thankful to be in the center of God's will here in Honduras, doing His work. I am thankful for each of my precious little students. And as much as I love them, I am thankful for a Thursday and Friday off of school, and time to relax at home. I am thankful that even though I couldn't be with my family in the States, Rhonda invited us out to her house for a small Thanksgiving lunch of 42 people. I am thankful for time spent decorating for Christmas, including homemade hot chocolate and handmade Christmas ornaments. I am even thankful for Pinterest-fail cookies.

Yes, these are melted snowmen, and they are beautiful creatures with feelings, no making fun!

Today I am thankful for a road trip with other English teachers from Siguatepeque. Thirteen of us rented a van and went to Valle de Angeles to do some Christmas shopping, then visited the Christ statue outside of Tegucigalpa, and finished the day with REAL hamburgers from Johnny Rocket's in Teguc. I am thankful for the English speaking community here, and how well we all seem to get along. I am thankful that my Jesus, like this statue, meets me with arms wide open no matter what I come to Him with. And I am thankful for hamburgers! That's one thing you can't find in Sigua that I miss so much, a real American hamburger, so that meal was a treat!

I can't believe we only have three weeks here until I come home for Christmas. The time is flying by. Guess that means I'm having fun! Can't wait to see you all in a few weeks. Thanks for continuing to pray for me, and I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving as well!

Philippians 1:3-6 "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tragedia (Tragedy)

The world is a crazy place, and I will admit sometimes it's hard to get lost in all the bad and miss all the good. This week, for example, was a whole lot of bad. On Tuesday at school we found out that all bus and taxi drivers might be striking on Wednesday in order to get the government's attention about all the murders. A new article I read said 800 bus drivers have been killed in the past 5 years, making it the most dangerous job in the world. How crazy is that? Also in the news, Miss Honduras and her sister, who were thought to be kidnapped, had been found dead. Honduras is a crazy place people.

Well the strike ended up only being in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, so school and church went on as usual on Wednesday. Jenna and I got on the school bus to go to church Wednesday night, and a good night of worship, and got back on the bus to come home. After dropping all the kids off, our bus driver made his usual U-turn, but hit what I thought in the moment to be a curb. That curb actually ended up being a guy on a motorcycle. Our bus pulled over, the motorcycle twisted up underneath the bus, and the guy was loaded into the back of a pickup truck and taken to the hospital. All of us teachers who were on the bus gathered around on the side of the road to pray. One of the teacher's brothers took a few of us home, where we found out the man on the motorcycle had died. Colton, Bethany, Jenna, and I prayed again, that God would bring good out of this seemingly terrible situation and that this man was now with God. We later found out that this man was a believer, and was actually friends with our bus driver's son. Rhonda was able to make a deal with the family and ex-wife and our bus driver was able to get out of jail. We heard later three other people were killed in Sigua that same night.

Sometimes it's hard to understand why God allows this all to happen. What is the point? But I know my God and I know He has a plan. Psalm 34 has been a real encouragement to me this week, so I'd like to share it with you.

I will praise the Lord at all times;
his praise is always on my lips.
My whole being praises the Lord.
The poor will hear and be glad.
Glorify the Lord with me,
and let us praise his name together.
I asked the Lord for help, and he answered me.
He saved me from all that I feared.
Those who go to him for help are happy,
and they are never disgraced.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him
and saved him from all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord camps around those who fear God, 
and he saves them.
Examine and see how good the Lord is.
Happy is the person who trusts him.
You who belong to the Lord, fear him!
Those who fear him will have everything they need.
Even lions may get weak and hungry,
but those who look to the Lord will have every good thing.
Children, come and listen to me.
I will teach you to worship the Lord.
You must do these things
to enjoy life and have many happy days.
You must not say evil things, 
and you must not tell lies.
Stop doing evil and do good.
Look for peace and work for it.
The Lord sees the good people
and listens to their prayers.
But the Lord is against those who do evil;
he makes the world forget them.
The Lord hears good people when they cry out to him,
and he saves them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed.
People who do what is right may have many problems,
but the Lord will solve them all.
He will protect their very bones;
not one of them will be broken.
Evil will kill the wicked; 
those who hate good people will be judged guilty.
But the Lord saves his servants' lives;
no one who trusts him will be judged guilty.

I'm still not sure what all good will come out of this, but I don't have to know because God does. I do know that on Friday, after a week of rain and cold, the sun came out, and Bethany and I were able to enjoy class outside with our students. I know that I have friends that have become family here, and that we will always be there for each other with prayers, with laughs, and with the invitation to drag a mattress into one bedroom and have a slumber party. I know I can be thankful that God has brought us all together for a purpose, even sometimes just to encourage each other, and even in the tragedies, "I will praise the Lord at all times."


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gracia (Grace)

Grace. What a powerful word. Do we sometimes forget the power those five little letters have? In my life, absolutely. Luckily, I got a good reminder of the awesomeness of grace this week. 

Rhonda's pastor from the states, Wade Trimmer, was visiting Destino along with a dental team this week. Wednesday night he preached at church. First of all, I have almost forgotten how good it is to hear a sermon and actually be able to understand the whole thing from beginning to end, big points and little points. (People of the states, don't take your church services, pastors, and sermons for granted!) He spoke an awesome message on grace from 2 Samuel 9, where King David shows grace "for Jonathan's sake" to his son Mephibosheth, and how this is an incredible picture of us before God. Looking in 2 Samuel 4:4, we see that Mephibosheth was crippled in both feet because his nurse fell when carrying him, and with us, we are all crippled before God from birth because of the fall of Adam. But just as David sent a servant to seek out Mephibosheth and fetch him, so God has sought us out, and told the Holy Spirit, "Fetch her for me." Not an invitation. A summons to the presence of the King. How awesome that God specifically went looking for me to restore me in His grace and bring me to Himself? Not by anything I've done, but by everything He's done. How does that cease to astound me? May we never lose sight of the awesomeness of grace again.

Pastor Wade told us "grace" in the Greek is "loving kindness," and I have seen this so evident this week. In His loving kindness, God sent a dentist who has spent the past three days pulling and fixing and working on the teeth of our students and others around Destino who needed relief from pain. And in His loving kindness. God took one of our teacher's sister home to Him, where she is no longer in pain, but can rejoice before the Lord. And in His loving kindness, God has made the six of us English teachers into a family here. A family that can circle around our hurting sister and offer her our prayers and our support. And in His loving kindness, God has provided us with a small community of other English speaking missionaries who can meet together to fellowship and worship in English as we did last night. And in His loving kindness, after another awesome English sermon at church this afternoon, He allowed some students from Destino and a few mothers to be baptized in a pool set up in the courtyard of the school.

And in His loving kindness, we were all able to share a meal together afterwards (although who knew rice, beans, repollo, and tortillas went with spaghetti?) And in His loving kindness, we returned home from church to a small fire in the street outside our neighbor's house, so Bethany and I quickly ran to the Mercadito, which just happened to have marshmallows and chocolate, and we made s'mores with the neighbors out in the street, a perfect end to this week. 

I love how God has been showing little acts of kindness all week, and I hope my eyes continue to stay open to this. As Pastor Wade said today, God has blessed me so that I can bless others. Pray that blessings would not only flow into my life, but out of it into other's as well. Love you all!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Paz (Peace)

This week has been rainy and cold almost every day. I think we've seen the sun like twice. Let's just say this has made the kids crazy because we couldn't go outside for recess, and no one likes that! However, we did have some fun with our indoor recess in first grade :)

Aren't they cute? Gotta love them. 

Friday we only had a half day with the students. The buses took the kids home at noon and brought all the parents (mostly mothers) back to the school. Teachers met with the parents of the kids in their grade and gave out report cards for the parents to sign. The Honduran teachers were also able to talk with the parents of some of the kids who need extra practice with their work at home or those who don't pay attention in class, so the parents know what is going on and can hopefully help out at home. 

Saturday Rhonda picked up all us Americans and we went to lunch with her and another couple who was visiting Destino from the States. In the evening we had our English teacher's Bible study with homemade pizzas and Ephesians 2, then Sunday we picnicked in the a park with other English teachers in Sigua and played some Frisbee before church.

I love verses 17-18 from Ephesians 2: "He [Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." I am so thankful that because of Jesus's sacrifice and the Holy Spirit living in me I can come before God with confidence with whatever is on my heart, and He hears my prayers and brings His perfect peace, the peace that passes all understanding. I need that peace every day, and He is gracious to give it. Even in the midst of crazy school days, screaming kids, and busy schedules, I can still find his perfect peace, and rest in His presence.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Semana de Exámenes (Exam Week)

Wow. So I have finished my first exam week, and can I just say, longest week of my life! Because I have the two youngest classes, neither of which can read or write well enough to take a written test, I had to one by one pull students out to test them orally. It took FOREVER, but it was good to have that time one on one with each child to see what they really know. 

After a long week of testing, grading, and writing in report cards, Friday night we met with some of the other English teachers and had a movie night, which a good way to wind down from the week. Halloween is not really celebrated in Honduras, especially by the Christians, so it was pretty much just a night like any other.

Saturday a few of us went to Pan de Casa to work on grades and report cards, then out to lunch. Unfortunately, while we were eating someone broke into the car and stole my iPad and another of our teacher's computer. So that stinks, but I'm thankful nothing else was taken. It makes me think back to the first mission trip I took five and a half years ago to Jamaica. One of the girls on the trip had her camera stolen, and I remember her saying when we came back that yes, she was upset it was stolen, but then maybe that person needed it more than her. So I am looking at the situation with that attitude and will pray that whoever took our things will be blessed by them. Maybe they took it for selfish reasons, or maybe they took it to feed their family. Either way, I pray God will work in their hearts. As 1 Peter 3:8-9 says: "Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."