Sunday, November 25, 2012

Honduras

I sat down to write tonight and couldn't help but think of the blog as an old friend that I haven't spoken to in a while. I miss my friend--our time together--the way we connect. I want to pick up the phone and call, but where would I start? I need a good chunk of time so we can connect in a meaningful way.

Life is busy, so the call gets put off--not because you don't want to talk, but because you want to make sure it counts when you do. Ultimately, though, you realize there will never be enough time and you just have to make the call...

My kids have been out of school for nine days (one more tomorrow). We have had a wonderful week of just taking life at a slower pace. There have been play dates, visits with grandparents, a trip to see Santa, present wrapping, lots of puppy bonding time and a tree cutting expedition. We've watched too much screen time, built forts, made cookies, played cards and created plenty of messes. My husband has been on call for four straight days, so I have been wiped out at night--unable to form a cohesive sentence much less write a blog post.

The most noteworthy thing we have going on is an assignment to travel to Honduras in January with World Medical Mission (a division of Samaritan's Purse). We've been in conversation for months, with Ghana, Peru and Honduras all offered up as 'matches' for our family. The location was just finalized recently and we were finally able to speak to our contact at Hospital Evangelico Friday night. It finally feels real enough to talk about it!

As parents, it has been a desire of ours to combine our love for adventure travel, service and Jesus into the types of experiences we introduce to our children. The path has been especially tricky because most organizations aren't begging for a family with young children to serve. We've prayed and sought opportunities where our presence would be a blessing not a distraction. God has been so faithful to provide just the right type of trip each year to increase our capacity for cultural differences, travel challenges and more work for the children as they age and are able to take on more.

We've been blessed to serve each time with organizations we were already supporting and therefore familiar with the mission. Each previous trip has been with a small group of people we already knew. It has been a wonderful way to ease into this type of service.

This trip is going to be different on a variety of fronts. We've been supporters of WMM for years, but we are traveling alone. This the first time we have been able to take a trip that's focus is my husband providing surgical services. He is thrilled to be able to bring supplies and expertise to the field--but the kids and I not trained or equipped to help. As a result, we will be 'on our own' most of the days to find ways to serve, love and help (without getting in the way). Our contact is a wonderful physician in his 80s. We are not aware of any missionary families on site who will 'take us under their wing' like last Spring's trip to Guatemala.

For this type A planner, God seems to have me right in His cross hairs for a real life trust exercise. It really feels like God's hand is all over this and we are just along for the ride. We've been told that we can go to a bilingual school during the day and visit a few nearby orphanages...but this is Central America...so there is no set agenda. I am trying to be prepared for anything. (And more importantly, prepare my 8 year olds for flexibility, patience and downtime.)

I have ordered hand puppets and Jesus Storybook Bibles in Spanish. I figure even my kiddos can get in on that! K & I went shopping yesterday and have a rolling suitcase full of pencils, stickers, coloring books, dollar store knockoff Barbies, deflated soccer balls, etc. Each purchase has been accompanied by prayer that these gifts will open doors to relationships and opportunities to share God's love with new friends.

We are practicing our vocabulary with Spanish flashcards at the breakfast table...but as I have written before, I get overwhelmed with steep learning curves. I am trying to remind myself that I don't need to be fluent. Yet, my own desire for relational encounters means every new word counts.

I recently learned that friends of ours are in the pipeline to adopt two children from Honduras and so I am overcome by the reality that the children we will encounter in those orphanages are somebody's children...even if they don't know it yet. I have anticipation that this can be an incredible trip.

Five busy holiday weeks between now and our departure... I can't believe how few details we have and yet I am so excited to see what God has in store. I have grown to understand that this is the way God deals with me best--physically removing me from the complacency of my comfy life, stripping us from the distractions, requiring us to trust and to cling. (And I am typing all this so I can come back and remind myself if I start freaking out.)

In the meantime, we pray that our preparation won't just be about vaccinations and suitcases, but that our hearts will be prepared. I specifically pray God will make me diligent in my language study. We will have translators, but I want to stretch and attempt to show the people we will meet that we loved them enough from afar to prepare ourselves to meet them with our best. I pray my children will grow in their patience and specifically in their flexibility when it comes to food choices. Mostly, I pray God will get the glory, that we can be used as agents of His love and that our hearts will be more tuned into to His.

7 comments:

Debbie G. said...

Hi! I'm a frequent lurker, and generally don't comment, but I couldn't resist on this post. Two of my friends from church are missionaries that run an orphanage and farm in northern Honduras. Not sure where abouts you will be in Honduras, but thought I would give you the website information in case you want to contact them and it fits in your schedule. The orphanage is called The Hope of Jesus Children's Home (www.hopeofjesus.org) and the coffee they grow/sell to support the orphanage is called Hope Farm Coffee (www.hopefarmcoffee.com). They are missionaries through the SAMS organization - here is a bit more info about them from their site: http://samsusa.org/users/mike-and-kim-miller

Hope you all have a wonderful trip! Can't wait to hear about it when you return.

Sitesx6 said...

Yay for WMM. I'm a RN with S. Purse ( I recently signed a 2 year contract with them- my new job is an international disaster and relief nurse) so when a major disaster strikes in the world, and S. Purse decides it will respond, I get a call and within an hour or two our disaster medical team will be on a plane to the disaster site to triage and set up a field hospital.

I was just in Haiti (my 3rd trip) with WMM.

What a fantastic opportunity for your family. I can't wait to follow along.

Hugs
Kelly in Michigan

J & A said...

I love that you and your husband have open, giving, God-honoring hearts. Here is an alternate point of view for your possible consideration, from our good friends who were once long-term missionaries in Haiti:

http://allthingshendrick.blogspot.com/2012/06/short-term-missions.html

A few thoughts pop immediately.

- "The sad reality is that many churches have created an expectation that "good Christians" should all go on these short term trips ... annually if possible."

-"If we're honest, the American church isn't all that sure how to reach our own culture and meet the needs within our own borders. Without cultural differences and language barriers, we're still pretty confused and unsure our methods for loving and serving our communities are working or effective - at all. So maybe we should be extra cautious and humble when it comes to the best way to further the Kingdom in foreign countries."

-"What if we were honest and admitted that one week spent anywhere with strangers, even in our own country, probably wouldn't be all that life-changing or slide-show worthy? Deep down we all know the most effective ministry happens at organic, long-term, day in and day out, relational, human levels."

-"Whether we mean to or not, when Americans (and other foreigners) enter a country and a group of unemployed national men stand by and watch a short-term mission team paint walls and construct buildings - one of the messages we're sending is this: "You are such incompetent idiots, you can't even paint a wall. It takes 32 white people in matching shirts to fly across the ocean (and an unheard of amount of money and mosquito spray) to turn this building from grey to island blue." How much would it cost to hire those same unemployed nationals to paint the building? Not much. How much value and self-worth do we give a poverty-stricken country when we allow them to be a part of restoring their own community? The answer is probably immeasurable. How good does the American church get to feel about the building changing colors if they didn't physically paint it? Not very."

Anyways, take this or leave this...sometimes I think an alternate perspective can help if we're willing to admit to ourselves that perhaps even a 'good' thing might not be as good as we think/hope.

Blessings to all of you.

Amanda E. in Durham, NC

JMom said...

Amanda,
I really agree with so much of what your friends have written.
Honestly, your comment sparked so many thoughts that it may warrant its own post, but in the meantime a few thoughts:
I totally agree that it is almost always those that GO who get far more out of the trip than those who we serve. There is the very real danger of trying to somehow position ourselves as the savior in each endeavor rather than allowing the Lord Himself to get that glory.
Frankly, as I mentioned in the post above we love travel and adventure, so in our minds we would much prefer to travel and serve than simply travel and be served. We'd rather see the world (and expose our children to it) in this way than at resorts. We want them to love the world the Lord loves and in order to do that they need to see the world He sees. Bringing gifts, (physical and talents) seems a much better entry point than trying to ingratiate ourselves any other way.

Our experience has been that the change in scenery is often the best way for us to reframe our 'real lives.' It is refreshing and inspiring to see the way God is at work all over the world. I think it dramatically expands our often microcosmic world view. The hope is that the Lord will then enable us to take these lessons back to our own neighbors.

I learned a HUGE lesson in this earlier this year when a group from my church traveled all the way to Eastern Europe to serve an organization that was doing work I am involved with in our town. There was only 1 girl in the home they went to visit and there are dozens in our town. But I humbly realized that God really revealed Himself in an unbelievable way to these women. I truly believe they will serve this community for years with greater love and fervor as a result of the perspective from a week elsewhere.

That being said, God has very different calls on different lives. Just sharing ours.

Best,
Jennifer

J & A said...

Jennifer,

Thanks for your gracious response - gives me a lot to ponder and consider as well. Love good thought-provoking dialogue. :-) Wishing you five the best of luck during your travels!

Amanda

JMom said...

Amanda, I appreciate a good dialogue too...especially when the intent really is to find truth. We all benefit from that! (I am definitely going to be challenged in the next few weeks of preparation by your words.)

When I read your comment I was immediately reminded of this. It makes your point in an unforgettable way...
http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com/2012/03/hugs-for-jesus.html

JMom said...

Kelly- I love knowing that you are affiliated with WMM. How exciting the disaster response team sounds. What a gift!

Debbie- I am thrilled to follow up on your contact name today. My geographical knowledge of Honduras is limited, but we will be in the Northern part! Thanks for delurking to share.