Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's just one of those days.

Everything I do. Everything I see. Everything I hear.
Reminds me of how much I miss the kids.
Reminds me of how different here and there are.
Reminds me of where I wish I was.

Reminds me of Honduras.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A quick look at the beginning.

I don't think I've even ever explained what Por Los Niños is. It's really a mix of a lot of things. The black and white definition would be: A place where a number of abused, neglected and orphaned children have the opportunity to live and create a new life for themselves. But I'm all about the gray area. I fell in love with the gray area. The gray definition would be: A village, run by Hondurans, where abused, neglected and orphaned children have the opportunity to live and create a new life for themselves...added bonus: the love of a family that might as well be their own and the chance to learn about the God that created and loves them. The Village brings in truly needy children and transforms their lives. It really is an incredible thing to see. Children like sweet Jose Armando and his sister Andy Celeste can go from;
to this only two years later;
 The awful, exciting, inspirational thing about these two is that they are not the exception at the Village, they are the norm. Children like this come to Por Los Niños just like Jose and Andy did all the time. But the exciting thing is, they never stay that way. It's an awe inspiring thing to hear the story of a child when they came to the Village and then see them present day. It truly is night and day. It's enough to make anyone's heart melt. Por Los Niños is not just a place for children to live. It's a chance to grow with God in a setting that will change their lives and with a family that loves them.

I can't help but relate this to how my life changed when I started following God. These children certainly did not asked for the life they were born into. Just like we didn't ask to be born into a life of sin. But we were. When God found us and we found Him, our lives were changed. When the children were brought to Por Los Niños, their lives were changed. Both of our lives have been refreshed. It's my prayer that someday, when the children get older, their lives will be refreshed again when they give it to God.

"'Come now let us reason together,'
says the Lord.
'Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow.'"
Isaiah 1:18

Monday, March 28, 2011

It comes in waves...

It's hard to explain. I went to Honduras for a week. I came back a different person. Weird, right? One week and my life has changed? I know it's shocking, but it's true. The connections I made to the people in Honduras, especially the kids, has had a huge effect on me. I don't go a single day without thinking about what the kids are doing. Are they in school right now? Riding their bikes? Playing in the grass? They're always on my mind. Some days it's good. I'm happy knowing they're having fun, riding their bikes, playing and just being kids. Some days it's bad. I want to be with them, have a conversation (even if my Spanish is broken and jumbled), hear them laugh, and play, play for hours. I just want to be there. Today was one of the bad days. But even when it's a bad day, it's still so good. I know the kids are happy, healthy and very well cared for. Knowing that is worth a day or two of sadness. It's strange, I kind of feel like the jealous parent I related God to in my last post. I'm jealous for those kids, all the time. I guess this feeling gives me a tiny glimpse into the jealousy God has for me. For us.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

He is jealous for me.

          I'm so thankful for my house church/wednesday night bible study/honduras conglomeration of a family. Really, they make me feel sane, thankful, spiritually uplifted and loved. I wasn't sure I'd ever find something like this. Well I never expected to find something like this; something like a family. But God provided, and I did. And I don't plan on looking back. I have a second family. I am blessed with the opportunity to be apart of a community that can freely share what is on our hearts. Plus, we're absolutely ridiculous together :)

          Tonight at house church we talked all about our God being a jealous God. When you take it at face value, it's saying just that. Our God is a Father who wants His children all for himself. Somehow that view has gotten negatively skewed. It's true, our God is selfish and self-centered. We have been blessed with a God who knows us by name. A God who calls us by name. What more do we need in our lives than to give glory to Him? Nothing. What more could we possibly need besides Him? Nothing. We should be all consumed in our God and 100% God-centered. 

"You weren't made to be somebody, 
you were made to know somebody."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Freely you have received.

"For it is in giving that we receive."

The Lord calls us to give back. Personally, in my life, I have been blessed with more than I need. I never really realized this though until I went somewhere where it was normal to have a lot less. I think living in a culture where it is normal to have the mindset of "take, take, take", we can lose the mindset of Christ. Jesus gave to us something we can never repay. We have been given the opportunity to be cleansed of our sins and live forever with God. We can never repay Jesus, but we must live our lives with the intention of giving back. My goal is to live my life as a giver. I have selfish tendencies. We all do. But it's okay. We're all human. My goal is to raise money in any way I can for the children at Por Los Niños. I thought that in going to Honduras, I would be helping them. While I did do my best to help, what I got back was so much more. Being able to experience the happiness in these children was amazing. To think that children like my little Jose Armando were on the brink of dying from malnutrition, neglect or abuse terrifies me. What if? But because of Por Los Niños I don't have to think about the what if. He has the chance at a new life. All the children have a chance at a new life. Currently the Village has around 50 children. Each child is being clothed, fed, housed, taken to the doctors, educated in school and about God and most importantly, receiving the love of a family. The talk of expansion is in the air, but this can't be done without funding. My group has already begun planning our trip for next year. The goal is to put a cement block and barbed wire fence around the entire Village, costing around $100,000. Safety, like anywhere is so important. But it is vital in Honduras, and currently their safety is not up to par. It is a large goal, but it is certainly not impossible.
"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1: 37
To the right, the sidebar has all the steps to completing a donation. It is 100% secure so you don't have to worry about anything being stolen, sold, or lost. Each donation received goes to Por Los Niños and helps keep the Village running and the children safe, healthy and happy.

"...Freely you have received, freely give."
Matthew 10:8

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's all so bittersweet.


        [adj. bit-er-sweet, bit-er-sweet; n. bit-er-sweet] -adjective
     1. both pleasant and painful or regretful: a bittersweet memory.

I think that is the best way to describe my day. I got out of bed this morning ready to go. My excitement about Bible Study tonight was at an all time high. Honduras changed the relationships I had with everyone on the trip. But honestly, Honduras changed everything. Anytime I see anyone that went on the trip, my day immediately brightens. (Disclaimer: I still love everyone that didn't go to Honduras, trust me, I love you all) So I think the idea of getting everyone together for the first time since we got back excited me. No, no, I don't think it excited me, of course it excited me. Anyways, the day went well. Bible study started and I started reliving Honduras. We were all together again. We were talking about the kids. We were going to skype Taryn. WE WERE GOING TO SKYPE TARYN!?!? My stomach almost fell on the floor and my heart almost leapt out of my chest. Our own little piece of Honduras was about to be right in front of our very eyes. Then it hit me like a freight train. If we were skyping Taryn, the possibilities of seeing our precious kids were high, very high! At this point, I'm pretty sure I started sweating with excitement. I could not sit still. We were going to see the kids.

            ...We started our presentation with our overall theme: Grace. I don't think we could have picked a more appropriate theme. Grace is the underlying reason Por Los Niños even exists. God's grace saved us all. God's grace brought us all together. We are all blanketed with grace. Then Daniel started. As soon as he stood up and I saw the picture of Alejandro and him, I knew this was going to be hard. It was like ripping off a scab. I was just starting to realize where I was. Where the kids were. And I was beginning, I hadn't gotten there by any means, but I was beginning to make peace with it all. Tonight changed that. But honestly, all I have been wanting to do since our team got back was to sit down together and relive it all. But this hurt. There was no getting around the fact that I'm not in Honduras. I'm not ready to move on. Not just yet...

During the entire presentation, I won't lie, I kept glancing back at the screen. Waiting for a child to show up. Any child. As quickly as it began, it was over. We immediately asked Taryn where the children were. Her response? With a smiling face, "I'll go see who is outside". So it began again. I waitied more anxiously than I knew was possible. The screen froze up for a second. When it came back there was a group of children on the screen. All I could do was scream "HOLA! I MISS YOU! I LOVE YOU." Alberto, Jennifer, Mauricio, Eduin, Isia, Sinia, Hector, Cristian and Alejandro. Right in front of me. I couldn't breathe I was so excited. I think I just sat there starring at them for at least 30 seconds. It was like we were together again. I wish so badly that I got to speak to Jose, but I am beyond grateful and happy that I got to speak to the other children. Nothing felt more right than the 20 minutes we spent talking to the kids. Then we said our goodbyes again. Arkansas to Catacamas.

            ...It was my turn to talk. My hands were shaking. My stomach was flipping. Why was I so anxious. Boom. My favorite picture popped up on the screen. Jose in my lap, fingers locked together, smiles on our faces. I didn't know what to say. All I knew was that I missed him. And I'm certain I said that at least 5 times. I did my best at portraying his story. Did my best not to lose it in front of a group of people. Did my best to smile. Then I was done. I realized everything I forgot to say the second I sat down. I wanted to say how much love Jose had to give. How much love all the children had to give. But it was over. Others had said what I wanted to say. It was over and I missed them already. But, we talked up our kids pretty well if you ask me. Not that they needed any talking up. They're pretty extraordinary all by themselves...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Patiently Waiting.

And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you
share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comforts.
2 Corinthians 1:7

Last night I was reading through my bible and stumbled upon this verse. I couldn't help but smile to myself. God knew what I needed to hear. It wasn't luck, a coincidence or even chance. I needed the reminder that God is with us. He is our comfort. Good, bad or indifferent He's never leaving our side.

Monday, March 21, 2011

You'll be in my heart, always.

I'm not sure what to say here.  It's going to be hard not to write every little detail, because it all feels so important to me.  I could write for days about the things I got to experience in Honduras and the lives that touched me, but I won't put you through that.  There are some things I have to share though.  I'm going to break this down by before, during and after the trip.

The night before;
Fear. I was scared about leaving the country for the first time. What was I doing? But this would definitely be worth it...won't it? Anxiousness. There were hurdles in front of me. The heat was coming. I'm a horrible grump when I'm uncomfortable. Will everyone hate me after this trip? Excitement. I needed unconditional, unforced, pure love. I was ready to see the children I had heard about for months. But more than anything, I was ready to love them. Give them everything I could, all of me.

Downtown Tegucigalpa

Landing in Tegucigalpa;
Awe. We landed. It was rough, but it was worth it. The mountains all around us were like a postcard. The sky was bluer and the clouds whiter than I could have ever expected. I felt God immediately. I was ready for this. Fear. There it was again, that nudge of doubt. It was hot. Uncomfortably hot. Did I make the right decision? And the guns, everywhere. I hate guns. My dad was right, this isn't safe. Comfort. Just as quick as the fear had come, the rush of comfort had taken it's place. We hadn't even seen the children yet and somehow they were all anyone could talk about. God was talking to me. Telling me this is where He wants me. Do not fear.

Arrival in Catacamas;
Wonder. We got to our hotel and nothing felt strange. Maybe it was because this hotel was nice. Top notch. I couldn't help but wonder why everyone said Honduras was so different from the U.S. Exhaustion. One full day of traveling and I was ready for bed. How would I get through this week if I'm already tired?? Excitement. We were on the finish line. Tomorrow morning I would finally get to meet the kids. I was so tired, but this thought kept me up for hours.

Meeting the kids;
Excitement. We got to Por Los Niños early the next morning ready to start work. But before we started work, we met the kids. Instantly, I fell in love. Their smiles, laughs, hugs, everything, made my heart happy. They didn't even know me a full day before they started pulling on my arms to play, asking me to sing with them or just snuggling up in my lap.
Waiting for their BRAND NEW bikes we got them!!!!

Nothing mattered anymore. The heat? What heat? It was a comfortable temperature every day we worked. Why did I ever question coming here? Guns? Unless you're a criminal, you should be happy there are guns everywhere. They're for your protection. Honduras is different. How could I question that? Everything was simple. Life was down to the basics. Blissful. And of course there will be hurdles. That's life. God wanted me here. I wanted to be here.

Our week at the Village;
We worked hard. As a team we re-roofed an entire house. Not a shack either, a big house. It was hard, but it was worth it. Who cares about rain anymore? House 2 has a roof now. We played harder. I remember sweating a lot. Kids were chasing me around the Village. I was playing happier than I had ever done before. If all we had to play with were sticks, it was the most fun we'd ever had. Those kids made everything fun. Everything entertaining. They made everything worth it. We loved hardest. Every day I made it a point to tell every child I played with, encountered, or talked to that I loved them. My Spanish was rough, but I had perfected how to say "Te quiero". The love the kids showed us in return was immeasurable. Their happy faces were enough to make my heart melt every time. But nothing compared to when we would say "I love you" and they would look back at us and say, "I luhv you". Why would they lie? They're kids. If they didn't love us, they didn't say it.  But every time they did, my heart felt a happiness I can't describe.
Sweet Jose Armando was among one of the first children I met at the Village. Our second day there, he got hurt. My first reaction was to pick him up and comfort him, so I did. As soon as I picked him up, he melted into my arms. All the children had a huge impact on me, but after that day, Jose held a special place in my heart. I spent much of my week playing and bonding with him. One day, I believe it was at Church on Sunday, he was sitting in my lap. Unexpectedly, he took my hand and threaded his fingers through mine. It took everything in me not to cry. Here I was, someone he had known for barely two days, but the love he was showing me surpassed anything I could have expected. This little child was showing me what pure love looks like. God was in this child.

Saying Goodbye;
Pain. The night before we left my stomach hurt. My heart ached. That pain still hasn't gone away. When we had to say goodbye to those precious children, there was not a dry eye at the Village. After one week, those kids had changed my life. God is in those kids. God is in the Village. And just like in Searcy, Arkansas, God is in Catacamas, Honduras. I had told Jose and all the other children I would be back next year. Lord willing, I will be.

Life after goodbye;
Sadness. If I'm being honest, it hasn't been easy. I feel so connected to the children of Por Los Niños that it is incredibly hard to be here without them. I would give up a lot of things to go be with them down there. Gratefulness. God blessed me with the opportunity of a lifetime, and I will not take that lightly. There was a reason I went to Honduras. I believe part, if not all of it is to help Por Los Niños now in any way that I can. Determination. My eyes have been opened to everything in Catacamas at the Village and I no longer have the option to sit around and be idle. I want to do everything I can to continue to help the children. My hope is that through this blog, I can convey the importance of helping these precious children to the world.

 "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:3