2006 Honduras Journal

Copyright © 2006, Star Ferdinand. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Reflections



Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Our flight to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was uneventful. We flew from San Antonio to Houston, where Darrel joined us, having flown from Dallas. We changed planes and flew into Toncontin Airport in Tegucigalpa. Big portions of the airport building construction that was going on last year have been completed. The building is very nice and has such modern equipment as digital fingerprint systems and digital cameras at each immigration station.

Each person entering the country is photographed and fingerprinted. The photographs and fingerprints are automatically entered into a computer database. The application looked similar to the security system we use at work. The next time we enter the country, it’s not supposed to take as long, because we will already be in the database and they’ll just “whisk” us through.Moises and several other people from the local church met us at the airport. After we loaded up our luggage into the back of a pickup truck, our driver, Vincente, took us to the church building, where we were served lunch by several women of the church. We had chicken, rice, vegetables, tortillas, and fresh pineapple. It was excellent.

After lunch, we spent a few minutes reacquainting ourselves with the facilities. I took some pictures of the finished SportCourt. The soccer goals were completed after we left last year, so we did not have a picture of the final product. It looks great and has been getting lots of use.

Shortly thereafter, we went to the hotel and checked in. We unpacked and got settled. I then went with Randy, Ron, Jim, Bill, and Moises to the church building, where the guys separated the tools from the vitamins so they could just grab the tools in the morning and go. Before returning to the hotel, we went to the construction site, where Luisli explained where each room, door, and window would be located. I took pictures while Jim, Ron, and Bill helped load up rocks to be hauled away for use at another church building.

Then it was back to the hotel to get the others and go to Tres Fratelli’s for an excellent dinner.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

We left the hotel about 8:30 this morning. On the way to the church building, Moises told us that the house we’re building is for a physically handicapped woman, Norma, and her mother. Norma’s sister was living with them and taking care of them before the house was torn down. Norma is now staying with Moises and his family. Her mother and sister are staying elsewhere.

Darrel had three sewing machines waiting for him to repair and he quickly got started.

We dropped the construction team (Bill, Jim, Randy, and Ron) off at the church so they could pick up their tools and get their ride to the construction site.

Paula, Lynn, Sharon, Michael, and Haydée waited at the church while Moises took John and me to the store to get cleaner for Darrel and then to the dental supply store to get several items for the dentist. We also stopped at the hardware store to look for CRC for Darrel (his was removed from his baggage, presumably by TSA), but they didn’t have any. By this time, it was almost time for the pizzas to be delivered for the construction team, so we hurried back to the church to pay for them. While we were waiting for the pizzas, another sewing machine came in to be repaired.

The pizzas arrived. Hector picked them up and took them back to the house site, while the rest of us went to lunch at Campero. This is a fast food chicken restaurant. It has a playground similar to those often seen at McDonald’s or Burger King in the U.S.

After lunch, we met Thelma and Blanca at the old church building. We prayed for them before we started on our afternoon home visits. Carlos joined us and they took us to visit a few people in that area.

We visited Claudia first. She said she is very happy we are here. She is having some throat problems and may have a tumor on her thyroid. She said she knows that God works in mysterious ways. We prayed for her and then went to visit Santos.

We visited Santo last year when he was recovering from gallbladder surgery. He’s been having some problems for four years, and today the doctor said he has an inner ear condition that is causing his balance problems and a lack of oxygen to the brain, which results in memory problems. He’s been forgetting a lot of things, including the words to songs, which is a big issue for a worship leader. An oxygen tank was ordered for him today. Santos said that God is so marvelous in making such a small piece of the body to perform such complex functions. He sang for us the song he wrote last year while he was in the hospital waiting for surgery. Some of the words are:

Today, more than ever, I love you.
Today, more than ever, I need you.
Today, more than ever, I exalt you.

Despite his memory problems, Santos sang several songs for us. He used his son’s guitar for accompaniment. I read Zephaniah 3:17 and then Michael and Haydée sang the Spanish version of the Scripture.

Next, we went to visit Lourdes, a new Christian whose 14-year-old daughter, Kelly, ran away with her boyfriend for the second time. We prayed for Lourdes, Kelly, Jeymi, and Jeymi’s baby. I’m not sure how Lourdes and Jeymi are related.

Thelma and Blanca then took us to visit Ulvin and Lourdes, a very devoted Christian couple. We sang songs and prayed. Then, I read Psalm 121, which Haydée translated.

Our last visit of the day was to the home of 24-year-old Marvin, who was shot in 1998. He was paralyzed, but started walking again two weeks ago. He walks very slowly, but, after being in bed for several years, he loves to walk. On Sunday mornings, he walks more than 20 blocks to church, by himself. His brother left two years ago and Marvin misses him greatly, but he said, “I’m happy that I am alive.” Thelma said Marvin is always talking about the Lord and encouraging them while they are trying to encourage him.

We got back to the hotel around 5:00 to get ready for church at 6:00. The construction team didn’t get back until 5:40. Several of us left at 6:00 for the church building and the rest came a little bit later. There were a few people there when we arrived and more came later.

Santos led the singing and Michael preached. His text was Psalm 92:12-15. The group was primarily composed of older adults. Michael spoke about the wisdom of the elderly, the respect they deserve, and the fact that they are never too old to fulfill their purpose in life.

After the service, we went back to the hotel for dinner. We had chicken with rice and a lettuce and tomato salad.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Evita came with us this morning. She took us first to visit Hilda, whom we prayed for last year. She is now in the final stage of cancer and is very ill. Her brother, Oscar, is taking care of her, but he’s leaving tomorrow. Her older brother is coming then to take over. Haydée told us it is very unusual in the Hispanic culture for a brother to take care of a sick sister. Michael and Haydée led us in singing several hymns in Spanish as we waited for Hilda’s bed to be made up so that we could go in and see her.

When she was situated, we crowded into her room and sang a few songs. As soon as we started, Hilda closed her eyes, raised her hands, and sang along. I immediately thought of my first trip to see Babs in Oklahoma. She was still able to get out then, and we went to church with her son and his family. Babs sat next to me. At one point in the service she had lifted her hands, but could not raise her arms. She told me she couldn’t raise her arms but in her heart they were raised.

Hilda told us she had been a little worried about how she would take care of herself when she got old, and then the Lord provided two Christian women to rent the two rooms at the back of the house, which provides an income for her.

Our next visit was to Maria’s home. She broke her hip in December and couldn’t walk for awhile. She had previously been very sick with a stomach problem and wasn’t eating. She thought she was going to die, but church members kept visiting and encouraging her. Now, she is doing very well. Michael read 1 Corinthians 13 in Spanish. I read Isaiah 40:28-31, which Haydée translated.

Maria told us it usually takes many hours when she goes to the doctor, but today she was one of the first ones, because she had to be home for us! She said God arranged everything. She told us that while she wasn’t able to walk she was sad because she couldn’t go to worship services. She prayed to God about this and He told her, “Evangelize for me.” So, she started talking about God to all the people who came around trying to sell vegetables and other things. She said she thought she wasn’t going to walk again, but, “look at me now!” Michael and Haydée led us in singing hymns in Spanish and we prayed for Maria. As we were leaving, Maria told me my name fits and she wants to keep me. She also told John that she wants to keep him.

Our last visit before lunch was to Lucrecia’s home. She is 95 years old. She fell and bruised her leg. The doctors say it’s not broken, but it hurts so much she won’t stand on it. Evita said she is one of the pillars of the church and she feels bad because she can’t go to church, but Lucrecia says she’ll be back. We prayed for Lucrecia and then for her daughter, Paz, who gets 2 shots a day for her diabetes. She lives close by so she can visit her mother often.

We went back to the church to get Darrel for lunch. He told us six more sewing machines had been brought in for him to work on.

After eating lunch at Pizza Hut, Ana and Wilma took us to visit Anna Martinez. We prayed for her last year. She told us the story then of her healing from paralysis after being prayed for at a Full Gospel Businessmen’s meeting. She was able to walk for 5 years, but then, last October, the pain returned and she again experienced a partial paralysis that prevents her from walking.

We sang several songs and then prayed for Anna. I read Psalm 20:1-8, which Haydée read in Spanish. Right before we left, I went back into Anna’s room, where Moises was talking to her, asked Moises to translate, and then recited Proverbs 3:5. She gave me a big smile and thanked me.

We went to Wilma’s house next. Haydée asked Wilma how she met Ana. Wilma replied that she had been in the hospital many times for her diabetes and hypertension, but God has always helped her. She met Ana when a medical brigade came and Ana was working with them as a nurse. Wilma went because of her hypertension, met Ana, and they’ve been friends since then.

Wilma told us an interesting story about one of her hospital stays. Wilma was lying on her bed at the end of the row of beds, facing the wall, praying. She felt an injection, immediately turned, and no one was there. She said, “Thank you, Lord, for the shot because I am leaving today.” When the doctor came to check her, her blood sugars were normal, and she was released from the hospital. She told Ana about the incident. Ana looked and there was an injection mark at the spot where Wilma said she felt the shot.

Wilma took us up to the terrace on the roof so we could see the river community where she and Ana work. Ana said she was afraid to take us down there because the rocks are so slippery and she didn’t want anyone to get hurt. So, we just stayed up top, took pictures, and talked.

From Wilma’s, we went to Julia’s house. She helps Ana and Wilma with their ministry. When Haydée asked Julia how she was involved in the ministry, she said she’s not a leader, she’s just an assistant. Michael talked about all the disciples and prophets in the Bible who never went out alone. They always went in groups of at least two. Julia seemed to be encouraged by that conversation.

Julia was bedridden in May, but is doing fine now. She said, “God was the One who healed me.” Julia has been a diabetic for nine years and had a kidney infection. When she was very ill and on a lot of medication, she had a dream that she was alone in the temple and saw a bird that she thought was her guardian angel. As she reached for the bird, she saw a bloody bird on her foot. She thought it was her disease coming out. Ana told her the dream was the result of the fever she had. Julia said it was the medicine that made her well, and she thanks God for the medicine.

Julia has eight children; two are Christians. We prayed for her and her family.

Our last stop before lunch was at the home of Ana’s daughter, Yamilet. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the home Ana built (which we visited last year). Ana is trying to decide whether to rent out the third level of the home or to move in there herself and rent out her home. We prayed about that. I read Psalm 56:10-13, and Haydée read it in Spanish.

Before we went to lunch at Wendy’s, Ana told us a little more about her and Wilma’s work in the river community. She said they work with 50-60 kids. Last year, 23 people in the river community became Christians, including nine on one day. These people are part of the Pedrigal congregation and walk 40-60 minutes to get to church on Sunday mornings. They rode the bus last year, but it is currently broken, so walking is their only way to get there.

Most of us heard Ana’s story last year, but she told us briefly about her experience with her heart problem. We were told last year that she had a mild heart attack, but Ana told us that she was dead. She said the doctors were getting ready to send her body to the morgue when she woke up and her co-workers were standing over her, crying.

Ana told us that she has had many dreams over the years that have come true, even before she became a Christian. She said she is able to tell that some of the dreams are not from God, but that no longer concerns her, because she just turns the dreams over to God. She told us that one day when she was praying for her father, she saw his face with blood all over it. Shortly after that, he killed by two gunshots to the head. She said she also had a vision of an earthquake right before it happened, and has had numerous other visions and nighttime dreams that have come true.

The growth group Ana was hosting in her home is still meeting there, but she has turned the leadership over to Luisli. Ana is now building a new group.

After lunch, we dropped Michael off at the hotel to rest. He’s been feeling a little tired for about a week because he has a very slow heart rate. When he feels like this, Haydée said he will just work four hours and then go home. He’s learned to pace himself.

We proceeded to the Singer store downtown to try to find some sewing machine repair parts. Darrel was able to get a belt for one machine, but nothing else that he needed.

Our first visit this afternoon was to Andrea’s home. She is the mother of six children; two are disabled. Luis is 21 years old and has cerebral palsy. Griselda is nine and also has some kind of illness that prevents her talking or taking care of herself. She cried when we were praying for her mother. Andrea said she was scared and she cried because she had seen Andrea cry a lot in the past.

Because of Luis, Andrea must always stay home. With tenderness in her voice, she said, “He’s special.” Andrea’s husband, Jose, works, but in the evenings he helps with Luis so Andrea can take care of other things around the house. It has been this way for 21 years. Her other four children help her with the housework when they get home in the evenings.

Andrea has been a Christian for three years. When Jose was ill and could not work, her Christian brothers and sisters provided money for the family. Andrea feels bad that she has been missing church lately because there has been no one to take care of the children.

Haydée asked her how she feeds Luis and Griselda. She said she used to use her blender to liquify the food, but it is broken, so now she manually chops and mashes the food. (We’re hoping to find a blender here that we can provide to her through the church.)

We sang several songs, some in English, and Luis tried to sing along. Andrea said he loves to sing.

Tonight, Michael spoke on Psalm 119:9-15. The focus was on the young people, whom he challenged to take a stand for Jesus now, because “today is the day of salvation.”

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Friday, July 14, 2006

This morning, we met up with Eric and Alectis, who took us to some homes in the Colonia Trinidad neighborhood near the church building. We walked to Sagrario’s home. She has two children. One is about to graduate from technical high school. She’s worried because she does not have the money to buy the two sets of professional clothes he needs to have before he can graduate. Sogrario sells fruit, but the business isn’t doing well.

She was very sick for a year and was in bed for two months. She asked God for help because she needed to take care of her young daughter. She was afraid, but knew she needed to have gall bladder surgery. Her husband left her because she was getting worse. She told her older kids that she needed help and they raised enough money for the test she needed to have.

While she was waiting at the hospital for her surgery, she talked to the other women who were waiting, also, and told them they all needed to find out more about the Lord. They eventually agreed and called Wendy, who had been there visiting. Wendy came and talked to them and they all accepted the Lord. Sogrario said she felt the peace of God afterwards. She said, “I owe a lot to the Lord.”

We prayed for Sogrario’s business, her family, and the ulcer on her leg.

Next, we went to the home of Wendy. She has one child of her own and is taking care of seven other children, who are relatives. Lisandro is one of three brothers staying there. His grandmother was taking care of them, but she died three months ago. Lisandro is 16 years old, epilectic, and has mental disabilities resulting from being run over by a car. Lisandro is getting therapy and can now walk a little by himself, except on the stairs. He misses his grandmother very much and frequently asks for his “mimi”. His younger brother, Aderly, (around nine or ten years old) helps take care of Lisandro. While we were there, he put Lisandro’s shoes on his feet and helped him walk to his room to get his limpira (paper money) that he just constantly turns over and over and runs his fingers over it.

Lisandro’s mother abandoned the children some time ago and has no contact with them. Alectis says Wendy is not a Christian, but she thinks Wendy is almost ready to accept the Lord. Haydée talked to Aderly for a few minutes to encourage him as he cares for his brother. He told her that God is his father.

Tonight Michael spoke to the non-Christians about Jesus being the solution to their problem with sin, and that their sin will send them to hell if they don’t have Jesus. He also talked to the Christians about needing to live lives that are different from the world. We need to chose whom we will follow — God or the world. (This is a constant challenge for all of us.) The Scriptures he used are 2 Timothy 2:22, 1 John 2:15, James 1:12, Romans 3:23, Rev. 3:15-16, Matthew 6:24, 1 Peter 1:15, 2 Timothy 4:6.


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Saturday, July 15, 2006

I uploaded photos to Yahoo this morning, but didn’t have time to send the links out. I won’t get a chance to do that until we get back to the hotel tonight.

I met Lynn and Lee at the hotel this morning. They are here with Northwest Medical Teams to build a school in a village about four hours from Tegucigalpa. They have been in country for a week to vacation and learn more Spanish. The other seven members of the team arrive this afternoon. I gave them my card and asked them to send me a note and tell me how the trip turns out. They said they will and Lee offered to send some photos, too. I’m looking forward to it!

It’s 9:40 a.m. as I write this. I haven’t had much time to write during the last few days, but I have been taking notes along the way. Darrel just came in and said we have a new assignment–visit the classrooms, take pictures of the kids, and observe–exactly what I wanted to do. I brought both cameras today, digital and film. My film camera is a new 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) that I ordered a few weeks ago. I brought it along in hopes of breaking it in and here’s my chance. Hold on–I’ll be back.

These kids are here as part of the Compassion International program. They serve 143 children. Some are from the congregation. Many are not. We are a big distraction for the teachers as all the kids are clamoring for us to take their pictures. They all seem to know that with digital cameras you can see the picture immediately, so they eagerly come over to see. They are disappointed with my film camera because there is no picture to see.

Right now, the kids are getting ready to present a program for us. This should be interesting.

I’m currently surrounded by a few of the kids as I’m typing. They seem to be fascinated. Too bad I can’t type in Spanish! Maybe I’ll have that corrected by next year. I definitely need to work more on learning Spanish. I only know a few words and they’re not enough. Well, they’ve headed out the door now, so the program may be starting soon. Gotta go.

Well, I’m back. The kids were fabulous! One group of kids played three songs on the flute: “What Child is This?”, “Yesterday”, and a song we didn’t recognize. Then the choir sang “How Beautiful is the Body of Christ.” Next, the dance teacher brought in her students, who performed several dances for us. She said the children practice for two hours every Saturday. The purpose of learning the dances is to learn about the cultural history of Honduras.

I’m hoping to stop at the hotel to pick up more film and another memory card. I forgot how many pictures kids would “demand.” Now that’s good timing–Moises just walked in and said he’s taking the construction team back to the hotel to clean up before we go to eat at the Maya Hotel. I’m going with him. Be back later.

The restaurant at the Maya Hotel was very crowded because of the Tai Kwondo championships at the coliseum, so we waited awhile for tables. There were two Canadian teams on our plane coming to Tegucigalpa from Houston, but I don’t see the lady who sat next to me on the plane. She is from Regina, Saskatchewan and has been to my hometown (Minot, ND). The food at the Maya was excellent.

After lunch, the construction team went back to work, while the rest of us went up to the park on the hill overlooking the city so we could see the statue of Jesus. It’s quite a nice park. Admission is 15 limpira, which is less than one dollar.

Dinner Saturday night was at Tony’s Mar. It’s a good seafood restaurant. I opted to stay at the hotel and work on my pictures and journal. Michael and Haydée went to the church building so Michael could present the marriage seminar to 50-60 couples. The rest of the folks went to Tony’s Mar.

The marriage seminar went very well. Michael said it was the best evening of the entire week. There were rose petals and candles on the tables and rose petals on the floor. Haydée said it was a very romantic setting. Many visitors came. Michael said there were about 25-30 tables with two couples each. He also said that several of the people apologized to their spouses. It is quite common in this culture for couples to live together without getting married. One of the couples has been living together for something like 15 years, but they are now getting married on the 28th!

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

This morning, Michael concluded his series of lessons on the family by speaking about the family of God. His Scripture references were Hebrews 2:11, 1 Corinthians 6:20, Revelation 3:8, Ephesians 3:14, Matthew 10:40-42, Acts 2:44-45, and Galatians 6:10.

There was a little excitement right after the sermon as Bill fainted. Moises took him to the hospital, and Randy and Michael went along. Bill’s OK now, but the doctor wants him to rest until we leave Tuesday morning. Michael and Bill stayed at the hotel while the rest of us went to eat at the Chinese restaurant, Palacio Real. The food great and there was a lot of it.

This afternoon, we went to the Valley of the Angels. This is a small town that has a bunch of little shops where you can buy a variety of handmade wooden boxes or musical instruments, as well as the usual tourist items, such as T-shirts, postcards, and key chains.

On the way up to Valley of the Angels, Moises received a phone call informing him that Luis, Andrea’s 21-yearl old disabled son, died this afternoon. This news came as a shock to all of us. When we saw him Friday, there were no signs of any life-threatening problems. The funeral service was this evening and the graveside service will be tomorrow.

After we returned from Valley of the Angels, we went to dinner at the home of Jose and Evita. The food was great and we had a very enjoyable evening.

Before returning to the hotel, we stopped at the church building to see Luis’ mother, Andrea. Some of us will be going to the graveside service tomorrow afternoon.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

This morning, we went to see the small villages of Villeda Morales, Malalaja, and Yaguacire where the Pedrigal church has planted churches. I was at Yaguacire last year, but had not been to the other two places.

We went into the church building at Villeda Morales, where a Sunset Ridge mission team constructed the stage a few years ago. The man who preaches there lives in Tegucigalpa and is driven to the building by Vincente, who has been our driver all week. Vincente drives a cab for a living.

We went on to the Malalaja area. The creek was too high to cross, so we took some pictures, while Moises pointed out the area where he’s hoping to get a suspension bridge built. He said some engineers from David Lipscomb College came out to take measurements to start planning the project. This will be a great help to the people in this area when it’s done. We saw one woman washing clothes in the creek, probably a common site when our grandparents were growing up, but certainly not a site we see often in this country today.

Our final stop this morning was at Yaguacire. Here we met Dennis Matomoros, the preacher. Moises told us a little about Dennis’ life before he became a Christian and Dennis showed his “before Christ” picture.

A team from David Lipscomb College built a playground next to the church building last month. I can imagine it getting a lot of use.

We made a quick stop for lunch and then went back to the church building to join the processional to the cemetery. When we got there, Moises found out that the grave wasn’t ready yet, so our departure would be delayed by an hour.

The cemetery is about a 30-minute drive out of town, but at the slow processional speed, it took about an hour to get there. When we arrived, the hole had been dug, but the tent wasn’t up and the stand for the casket wasn’t put together. Nobody seemed to be upset by this delay. The church rented a bus to bring the family’s friends and neighbors, so there was a small crowd present.

The service was, of course, conducted in Spanish. Moises spoke first, followed by Luis’ father and his brother. They talked about what a blessing it was to have had Luis, how he brought unity to the family, and then urged those who are not Christians to give their lives to the Lord today.

On the way back to the hotel, Michael sang several songs from the Spanish hymnal he had brought with him. Several people in the van sang along.

We left for the La Cumbra restaurant about 6:30. This is a very nice restaurant that overlooks the city. This was my third visit to the restaurant. All three times, the food was excellent and the view was beautiful. It was a very nice way to end the week.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

We flew back to Houston this afternoon. Unlike my previous two trips, we had plenty of time between our two flights and didn’t have to rush through the Houston airport to make the connecting flight to San Antonio. Darrel left us to catch his flight to Dallas and the rest of us had to time to get some food and relax for a few minutes before getting on the plane. Both flights were uneventful and everyone arrived home safely.

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Reflections

August 18th – It’s been a month since I returned from Honduras. I wish I was still there.

This was my third trip. The first one was in 2003. It was a difficult trip because I strained my back on our third day in country. Nevertheless, I was impressed by the people—their friendliness, their love of God and His people, and their slower-paced lifestyle. I was also touched by the true poverty I observed.

I didn’t go back in 2004. I chose, instead, to spend my time and money visiting a friend whom I had not seen in 30 years. It was a great trip, and I was certainly blessed by it. As I look back, however, I could have arranged things differently so that I could have made both trips.

God has reminded me many times since then that everything I have comes from Him. He gave me my job, my house, my pickup, my mind, and my talents. Why did He give them to me? Did He give me my job so that I could get rich, buy a luxury home, take cruises around the world, or go on safaris or mountain climbing expeditions? No. I don’t think so. I think God gave me my job so that I could purchase the basic essentials of life for myself and so that I could help provide for people in this country and in other countries who are unable, through no fault of their own, to provide for themselves.

Did God give me my house so that I could go home at night and have a big party or a fancy dinner? No. He gave me a very simple, basic house. Nothing fancy. It’s a mobile home, or, if you prefer, a manufactured home. He gave it to me so that I would have a warm and comfortable place to sleep, and so that I could awaken each morning feeling refreshed physically, ready to face the challenges of a new day. But, I believe He also gave it to me so that I could provide housing for a stranded traveler, or a college student in town for church activities or a sporting event.

Then there’s my truck. Why a pickup? It has an extended cab. Is that just so I can get to work or take cross-country trips? I don’t think so. I think He gave me that truck so that I could take a brother or sister to church, to Bible study, to the grocery store, or to the doctor. I could use it to help someone who needs assistance moving from one location to another, or who needs to transport a much needed bed from the store to the house.

God has indeed given me everything I need. He’s given me more than I need. Have I used the things He gave me in the way He desired? Only sometimes. Often, I chose to ignore the needs of others.

Before I left on that first trip, I had started to go through my house and get rid of all the things I wasn’t using. I had decided I was going to simplify things. I had many boxes of stuff that I had not opened in several years. I knew it would take quite awhile to complete this task, but I also knew I had to get started. Well, I did start. When I came back from Honduras, I knew that was absolutely the right decision. But, as is often the case, “things” happened. I got busy and only occasionally made progress in sorting through the boxes.

I went back to Honduras last year and had a wonderful trip. Like this year, I was on the prayer team. That was my first experience on a prayer team. I knew it was an important activity. It was important for me to participate, and it was important to the people for whom we prayed.

I returned home, once again, with the conviction that I must get rid of things I no longer needed. Again, I started, and then, I stopped. Not intentionally. Other priorities just got in the way.

I decided last year that I would go again this year, unless God closed the door. Why? Because I believed that was what Jesus would have me do. God didn’t close the door. Instead, He made sure not only that my vacation was approved, but also that an audit at work that we were told could not be rescheduled, was rescheduled. Some people will say that God didn’t have anything to do with that, but I know that God controls the circumstances of my life. Many people responded to my request for prayers that God would work out the audit situation, and it was rescheduled. I am grateful for the prayers and for God’s answer.

When I think about this year’s trip, I don’t need to close my eyes to see the images. In my mind’s eye I see the house the construction team built, the beautiful garden at the Humuya Inn, the statue of Jesus in a city park, and a woman washing clothes in a creek. Mostly I see the people we prayed for and the children.

I see Ana, Wilma, and Julia, and the river community that they love and minister in.

I see Wendy, with a hernia, who at 21 years old is responsible for eight children. Only one is hers.

I see two young boys, abandoned by their mother, now in Wendy’s care. Sixteeen-year-old, epileptic, brain-damaged Lisandro aided by his younger brother, Aderly. Lisandro doesn’t comprehend that his grandmother died three months ago. I hear him crying out, “Mimi, Mimi”, as we pray for him, Wendy, and the rest of the children. I don’t know how old Aderly is—probably nine or ten. Much too young to routinely take care of an older brother, but he does.

I see Anna, partially paralyzed and unable to walk, smiling broadly as she worships God from her wheelchair.

I see young children with their eyes closed, praising God.

I see Andrea, mother of six, including two disabled children, Griselda and Luis.

I see the casket bearing the body of Luis, who, for 21 years, went through life with cerebral palsy. How much he understood, I do not know.

I see Luis’ father and his brother speaking at the graveside service, pleading with the people to follow Jesus.

I see Hilda, in the last stage of cancer, with hands raised and eyes closed, singing and praising God. Oh, how she reminded me of Babs during the last time I was in a worship service with her—unable to raise her hands beyond shoulder height, but raising them as high as she could.

I see people living in homes that are literally crumbling around them.

I see the children in the Compassion International program smiling, laughing, and showing off for our cameras and imploring, “photo, photo.”

And in the midst of those children, I see a young boy with a torn shirt and sad eyes leaning against a door jamb. No smile, no laughter. The face that haunts me and compels me to ask, “What’s his story? Why is he so sad?” I am hoping to find the answers to those questions.

I have heard people say that if you go on a mission trip, you will be forever changed. This was my third trip, and I have been forever changed.

I have been reminded, once again, that I am rich. No matter how little I may have at a particular time, I am rich. Both materially and spiritually. If I have one dollar to my name, I am rich. There truly are people in this world who do not have a dollar to their name (or the equivalent in local currency).

My parents were divorced when I was three years old. My mother raised my brother and me by herself until she remarried when I was in the eighth grade. Before her remarriage, she managed to take us on a vacation every year. My brother and I went to summer camp. If we tore our clothes while playing, she mended them. She had an old sewing machine, but it worked. We had clean clothes to put on every morning. They didn’t get that way by being washed in a stream. They were washed in a washing machine. Oh, yes, for awhile it was a ringer machine that required some manual labor, but there was no need to go find a stream.

I never had to wonder if there would be food in the house the next day. I knew there would be. I never had to wonder if there would be enough money to buy shoes or to go to the dentist. I did not have to wonder if I could go to summer camp again.

You see, I grew up in the United States of America. I grew up in a very wealthy country, a country that is full of wealthy people, who, it often seems, don’t know how to use that wealth wisely. For years I adopted the practice of saving my money and not giving it to charity or to church, except in small amounts. A few years ago, I decided that was not how God wanted it. If I was to be a cheerful giver, I needed to give of the first fruits of my labor. If I truly recognized that all good things come from God, that I am gainfully employed by the grace of God, if I truly believed that, then I must recognize that the money I have, I have because God allows me to have it and gave me the skills and abilities I need to earn it. Therefore, I must use that money wisely. I must be a good steward of it. I must use it for His honor and glory. The time that He’s given me, 50 years—what portion of that time have I truly used for the honor and glory of God? Not nearly enough.

I believe that God gave me the job I have for a reason, that there is a purpose for my being there. I believe that whenever I fulfill that purpose and He wants me to move on, He will let me know. Wherever I work, I know that I am to work for His honor and glory, not my own. I know that the paycheck He’s giving me is to be used for His purposes and not mine. I know that He expects me to use that money to pay for my basic essentials, but He also expects me to use that money wisely to help care for those who struggle for survival, to care for a sponsored child in Uganda through World Vision, to care for those kids in Honduras through the local church there and Compassion International. He’s given me 50 years of life, and out of those years, I have used very little to do the things I believe He wants me to do. Whatever time He gives me now—O God, I beg you, help me. Help me to use my time the way you want me to. You’ve given me talents and abilities to use to help others, and in so doing, to point them to the Cross of Christ. I know I have sometimes done that, but, how many times have I given in to the desires of my flesh and done what I wanted to do instead of what You wanted me to do? Forgive me, Father. Help me, from this day forward, to always do what You want me to do. I give You my life, Lord. Take it. Take every nook and cranny of my life, and use it according to Your purpose. Here am I Lord. Send me.

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