I am not even sure how to begin this blog as so many thoughts are running through my head right now. I guess let me begin by asking for prayer for Nathalie, her sister Allison and her mom, Brenda. This is the same Nathalie that many of you prayed for when she went to Texas for medical treatment. This morning, Nathalie’s father, Cesar had a heart attack and passed away. He was very young and in great health. This was very sudden and unexpected. Cesar was so very different from the vast majority of men here in Honduras. He worked hard and took pride in being able to care for his family. Even when they went to the US for medical treatment Cesar paid as much out of their own pockets as they could because he did not want to take advantage of anyone. He loved his daughters and helped care for them more than any other father I have seen here. Every night it was his job to put them to bed and to lay with them while they fell asleep. He came to every parent/ teacher conference and helped with homework in the evenings. This same love carried over to my children. I give full credit to Cesar for Tyler gaining confidence in Spanish. He worked with Tyler this summer and then every time we went to their house to eat, he would walk around outside with Tyler and patiently help Tyler, speaking slowly and playing whatever Tyler wanted to play. I am so thankful for all that he did for Tyler. He also had a deep love and respect for his wife. They did everything together… everything. This will be so hard for Brenda so please pray for her. This family has been such good friends to us since we moved her. We have eaten together many times, my parents stayed at their house when they came last time, they brought me medicine yesterday because I lost my voice, they have showed me where to shop, where the best doctors are and how to cook here. I guess what I am saying, is that we lost a really good friend today- one of the few we have here, one of the few who has wanted our friendship and asked for nothing in return. Please pray that God gives us wisdom in how to help this special family and pray for peace and strength for them.
Archives for 2012
After living in Central America for about a year and half, Shannon and I have become burdened for the children that live here. We have seen the horrible circumstances that they live in and the lack of future they have. So, after much prayer and thought we have begun the process to adopt a child from here in Honduras. Now that we are Honduran residence the process is slightly easier although in no way simple. After requesting all of the documents we need from various parts of the world, today I received our first official paperwork. Woo-hoo! I still need to collect 15 other documents but at least one down. The whole process will take anywhere from 6 months to 1 ½ years. Please pray for us as we begin this journey. Pray for our family as we begin to adjust to the idea of another child and begin to prepare for them. Pray for the judge that places the child with us (we do not get a choice in which child, this is completely up to the government)- that they would be attuned to whom God wants in our family. Pray for the lawyers, social workers and all involved and that the process will go smoothly. Lastly pray for our future son or daughter- that they would be protected from so many of the harmful things children go through here and that they would be ready to join our family.
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth. Isaiah 43:6
In 2009 (I could not find a more recent study) Honduras was listed as having the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Central America. 30% of all mothers right now are under the age of 18, and in rural areas the pregnancy rate is as high as 19.5%. Why am a so concerned about this? I experienced what this means to the baby first hand a couple weeks ago. Many of you have read about Maritza and have been praying for her. When she left our house in January she had just gotten pregnant by her boyfriend who was in his thirties. He left her soon after and she moved home to live with her 10 brothers and sisters, one niece and her parents. Two weeks before her due date she came and ask for money to buy things for the baby. Her parents have no money, since neither of them work. I ask her to make a list of what she needed and then I purchased the bare necessities: 1 pair of pajamas, 2 shirts, 2 pants, blankets, cloth diapers and pins, rags for wipes and diaper rash cream. I cried as I purchased them knowing that this was all the baby had to his name and I had bought that much for my kids the first month that I was pregnant. She called again when she went to the hospital to have the baby and ask if I would visit her. I was shocked by the maternity ward. There were 2 women per twin bed- 8 to a room and 3 rooms with that many women. It was one of the most disgusting places I have ever been. Windows were open with no screens so flies covered the sick and the babies, there was mold everywhere and a loud cat was making its way down the hall. As I talked with her she said her mom would not be coming to the hospital because she had too much to do at home. Maritza was scared and nervous and asked me to come back that evening. When I returned I brought shampoo, conditioner, soap and a towel as the hospital does not provide any of that and Martiza did not have the foresight to bring things with her. I continued to visit her the 4 days she was in the hospital while she waited to give birth. The doctors admitted her to induce since she was 2 weeks over due, but she had not heard back from them so she just laid there waiting. After a week, one of the doctors called and said she had been induced and would be having the baby soon. When I went the next day to check on her I was even more shocked. I held Maritza’s healthy baby boy while she took a shower. Next to her in bed was a young girl who was trying to clean her baby with a cotton ball. She then wrapped the baby back up in the same blanket it had pooped in because she didn’t have another nor did she have diapers or wipes. I then checked Martiza’s baby closer. It was wrapped in a sheet from her bed… no clothes, no diaper, nor had he been bathed after birth. I asked where his clothes were and she forgot to bring them. What is his name? We don’t know, she hasn’t made up her mind so for now it is just Baby. I will never understand a society that does not think enough in advance to take care of their children, give them a name or better yet, not have a child if they have no way to provide. Maritza is not alone in this lack of planning and immaturity. I cried almost everyday when I left the hospital because of how depressing it was. I watched mothers expressionless faces nurse their babies and hand them back to the nurses. It was so different from the joy in faces of new mothers in the US. There was no talk of how cute or sweet their baby was, or what they would become as they got older. No, none of that because there is little hope for the future of the children here. They are born into poverty, will be raised in poverty by teenage mothers and no fathers, and will then have children of their own as teenagers. Please pray for this nation of fatherless children and young mothers.
Luis invited us to his 27th birthday party on Thursday. It was a little odd in that adult birthdays are not normally celebrated but we got dressed and went anyway. When we arrived Luis asked Shannon if he was ready to preach. He said that the purpose in him having a party was to share Christ with his family. Luis grew up Catholic and his family was not excited about him accepting Christ 3 years ago. Most of his family is still Catholic although they have accepted him. This party was one of the first times that I have seen a Honduran go out of their way to shared Christ. Normally, God is someone who gives things or provides but Luis was wanting to share God. It is cool to see the growth in him and to watch the slow spiritual maturity taking place. And so, Shannon preached to 48 of Luis’s closest family members. Since he is one of 10 children this was not his extended family but it was his immediate family. How many of us, take time out of our lives to speak to our family about God and risk their ridicule? When was the last time you shared Christ with your non-believing family?
Sixteen years ago I was invited to visit First Baptist Church in Gordon, Texas. For someone who grew up in Strawn, Texas, this might have appeared to be odd. Strawn and Gordon have always been rivals. However, for me I simply was curious. As a seventeen year old I had only visited a few other churches in my life. Little did I know how the experiences over the next couple of years at First Baptist Church Gordon would impact my life. I began going to youth group every week with my best friend. Each week would ride together and soon we began to make new friends. We began to find our place in the church body and before long we found our place in the pews along with the other youth group, you know those “unofficial reserved seating assignments” in Baptist Churches. We felt welcome and like FBC Gordon was our home church.
The youth minister was a man named Kevin. After going for a few months, Kevin began to give me small tasks to do for the youth group. My first task was to pick out the music before youth group began. I remember the feeling of being used and the weight of the responsibility of picking music that was relevant and cool. After a few months and a lot of DC Talk’s song, Jesus Freak, Kevin asked if I wanted to preach. Immediately I felt a new weight of responsibility. I do not remember my first sermon to my new peers, but I remember it was long and the invitation at the end of the message was very long filled with several songs. In the fall of my Senior year in high school, Kevin asked if I wanted to go to seminary with him. I remember asking, “What is seminary”? Kevin told me it was the school he went to. I asked why would I want to go to school with him, when I did not even want to go to my school. Then Kevin told me seminary was in Fort Worth and that I would have to skip school to go with him. Of course any chance to skip school is good enough reason for any high school student. So we went to Seminary along with another one of the youth group students, Jewel Bethel. Kevin wanted us to come to be a part of a class project on how students view parents. When we arrived we learned that Kevin had another class first and that he had set us up to have a meeting with a missions professor. For over an hour the missions professor told us about the importance of missions and the responsibility each believer has to share the Gospel. God began moving in our hearts during the meeting and at the conclusion of the meeting it was very clear that God was calling me to go on a mission trip.
I had no idea where to start or what to do. So I began to pray. My only knowledge of missionaries were those people who came to church once a year and gave a long presentation with lots of pictures. I remembered that everyone one of the missionaries either went to China or Africa. So it seemed pretty obvious to me that God wanted to me to go Africa. After a few weeks of searching we found a trip and shared with our parents our desire to go to Africa. My parents were very supportive of this call and I began to raise funds. We needed $3,500.00. I spent the rest of the fall trying to raise money as best I knew how. I remember the Sunday before the money was due. We were still several thousand dollars short of our goal and had only one day to raise the remainder of the money. The pastor of FBC Gordon informed the church of our need and at the conclusion of the service all the money had been given.
It was while I was in Africa that I felt the call to missions. I spent two weeks in Kenya. In the middle of the trip one day while we were traveling to the village I noticed that there were so many people working in their homes. I asked why the people where not coming to Holiday Bible Club. Immediately after I asked this question the cab driver turned to me and said, “Because if they do not work they do not eat”. It was the first time in my life I understood the real meaning of poverty. God began working in my heart that day. He gave me a vision of missions. The vision was to help people with their food so that we can have the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus.
I returned to the States with a purpose and vision. Of course it took a couple of years for me to fully understand what God was calling me to do. Over the next couple of years Kristi and I married and we graduated from Tarleton State University. I earned a degree in Agronomy and Kristi earned her teacher certification. We also began to serve in the church. I did not know when we were going to go to the mission field, but I felt like God wanted me to serve in the church until he called us. I was called on staff at my first church right out of high school. Next we served in Bluff Dale for four and half years. While we were on staff at Bluff Dale we met Michael Jones. He was our pastor for the last three years we were at Bluff Dale. After Bluff Dale we served on staff in Teague. It was while we were in Teague that God called us to serve in Honduras as missionaries.
As we began to prepare to serve in Honduras we soon realized that we were going to have to raise the funds for the ministry. After six months of planning and attending various seminars we made our first visit to a church to share our calling. Since FBC Gordon had made such an impact on our lives, it was the logical first place to start. So we made the journey from Teague to Gordon in August 2010. Our visit was unannounced. It had been almost 15 years since we last worshiped at FBC Gordon and almost five year since we had last seen Michael Jones, who was now serving as pastor of Gordon. When we arrived at the church we found Michael and briefly shared with him the purpose of our visit. He immediately asked if we would be willing to share our vision with the church. This was such a blessing because we realize how special it is for a pastor to change the order of service just minutes before the service starts. It was such an amazing moment to stand before the church that had influenced our life so much and share what God was calling us to do.
Shortly after our visit Michael called and informed us that the church at Gordon wanted to become a prayer and financial partner of our calling. Michael also told us the church wanted to do more than support us from a distance, but they wanted to serve with us in Honduras. Two years later in August 2012 FBC Gordon brought a team to serve with us in Gracias. The team of seven helped a local church remodel the outside of the church building, made visits with the pastor of the church to church members and other families of the community, and they hosted a four day revival service at the church.
It is amazing to see that what God started 17 years ago with an invitation to church has become a partnership in fulfilling the Great Commission and making the name of Jesus famous in all the earth. It is also a reminder that discipleship is a process, many times a slow process. It is great to see how God worked in the life of two young teenagers, how a church ministered, and how these things lead to a ministry in Honduras. Thank you FBC Gordon for all your support. We know this is only the beginning of our story. We look forward to see how we can be used for the glory of God in the next 17 years of this story.