That's right, Honduras, you stole my heart and have yet to give it back.
So, friends, I have so much to tell. You might as well grab a pillow and blanket, prop yourself up, because it will be a while getting through all of this. I can't say I'll be able to get through it all without using a tissue or two. My heart is just now healing from the brokenness it experienced in Honduras. I'd give up life as I know it to go back and just serve. Let me tell you a little bit about what we did;
Our mission was to serve, bottom line. We were there mainly for the kids. Life over there is not what we're used to here. Not in the least bit. Poverty runs wild, along with illnesses and filth. People are without hope, without anything to look forward to. They have no source of entertainment and really have no ways of becoming "busy". Most of the places we visited had no electricity. They have nothing. To them, we have everything in the world. This was the first thing I was broken of; just, my stuff. We put on numerous VBS's at churches and schools, singing Spanish praise songs, putting on puppet shows and dramas, playing games and making crafts. Everywhere we went we had major opportunities to give these children hope in Christ. We had translators with us, because, of course, nobody over there speaks English. While there, I picked up a little Spanish here and there. I knew just enough to ask a name, maybe an age, and request a hug. But that's all I really needed; that, and an open heart for Christ's love to pour out of me. I was there to do nothing but love on people that needed it most. I'll introduce you to a few of the ones that impacted me the most;
Her warm, innocent smile and coy personality are what drew me to her the most, I suppose. When I asked her if she was a Christian (literally, just asking "Christiano?" haha) she replied with a no. It broke my heart, but probably made me want to love on her even more. She, at first, was very reserved from me, refusing to give me an 'abrazo' (hug), but warmed up to me after I took a few pictures of her. You see, over in Honduras, the kids will let you take their picture over and over again, and giggle like crazy when you show them their frame on the LCD screen. They'll yell "una mas una mas" (meaning one more one more"). She didn't do that, but she definitely found interest in having her portrait taken. She was a beautiful little girl, and by the end of our VBS stay, she was kind enough to agree that we were amigas. I took out my notebook and drew little stick figures of us with our names and wrote "amigas" beside us, and put it in her hands. I pray she'll never forget me, as I'll do the same for her. God truly touched me through this little girl.
It took a long time to get this one to like me...
But we eventually shared a moment I will never in my life forget. I don't know her name or her age, but God gave us a little bonding time. She cried when we came, I think we may have scared her a little. I tried inching myself towards her, and she really wanted nothing to do with me. But i persisted. I'd glance a smile every now and then, and pass an 'hola' as I walked by her. Eventually, standing a few feet away, I caught her looking my direction. I smiled and watched her hand extend towards me holding a flower. I walked close as she placed the beautiful orange flower in my hand. I thanked her, gave her a small hug, and placed the flower in my hair. She still wouldn't allow me to hold her, and even after the fact she acted like she still really didn't like me being there, but that flower meant more to me than anybody realized. Just one of those many special moments in Honduras.
Going to Honduras, not knowing what to expect, I had a hard time preparing for a language barrier. I was so scared of the whole working with and serving a whole bunch of people that I couldn't even talk to. With the kids, there seemed to be zero problems, as all they needed was your love. Yet, I came across a major language barrier that I really just wasn't emotionally ready for. I met Leslie at one of the small churches we did a VBS at. It was a tiny little space in a house, the place was packed. It was so full, I actually couldn't fit inside to participate in VBS that night - I just sat outside and listened. I really didn't have much of a job until it came time to hand out candy and blow bubbles with the kids outside afterwards. Well Leslie walked by and I just said a friendly "hola" that I didn't realize would end up turning into a complete bonding experience. She came over and I asked how she was; then she started talking, and I couldn't understand a word of it. I had to sadly express a "no comprende, no habla espanol". She just smiled, and sat down beside me. I asked if she was a christian, and she joyfully answered positive. I reiterated the question by asking if Jesus was in her heart (one of the few Spanish phrases I knew) and she, again, answered with a yes! This flooded my soul with joy, yet at the same time created such a strong pull as I realized I couldn't really communicate with this fellow believer. When we left the church and got on the bus, I was surprised to see Leslie's face getting on. Apparently she lived in La Esperanza (where we were staying) and we were giving her and her husband a ride. When she saw me, she grew a gigantic smile and came and sat right next to me. As happy a moment as that was, the following minutes of the ride really dropped my spirits. There was something about her, something that just bonded in me. I'm sure it was just our unity in the body of Christ, but I really felt a connection with her. I managed to ask her age, and tell her that her fingernails were pretty, but that was about all I could say. She kept trying to talk to me, and nearly every time I had to turn it down with a "no comprende". I felt awful, as I wanted nothing more than to sit and just talk with my newly developed friend in Christ. I would have given anything in that moment to talk with my sister. I got a photo with her, and she soon got off the bus. I gave her one last hug as I said adios, knowing that the next I would see her would be in Heaven one day. And a part of me is more than okay with that. I just wish I could have told her how special she was to me.
Lysette's story made my Nanna cry.
I was introduced to Lysette about mid-week when we visited a very poor community to play games, hand out care packages, and serve food. We had gathered a large group of children for games when Karina and Ana (the translator's two daughters) came over telling me about a girl that was really sick and didn't want to play any games. When I looked over, I saw a little girl sitting to the side, barefoot in a puddle, and a frown like I had never seen. I walked over with the girls to find out for myself what the problem was. I first introduced myself and asked for her name. I was fortunate to have Karina and Ana to translate as I inquired about this girl's sickness. She complained of a terrible stomach ache that she had had for a day and her mom had no medicine to give her. She seemed so ill, and it immediately broke my heart. I was ready to do anything to get her feeling better. I had a few tums in my backpack and offered them to her. She got up to go play, but back out quickly and went to sit by herself again. I walked back over to a sad little girl, head buried in her knees. I asked to sit next to her, and she did not decline. I made small talk through Karina's translating and started to rub her back. Hey, it always makes me feel better. She said it felt good, so I continued for a good ten or fifteen minutes until her mom walked by and took her home. But before that, we all decided to lay hands on her and pray the sickness away. I prayed aloud that God would completely take her stomach ache away, and that she would be healed 100%. She soon left, and I didn't see her again for a little while.
About an hour later, look what I found;
It was Lysette, changed and healed completely. She had gone home, changed clothes, and was carrying the biggest smile I had seen all day. I saw her standing there, flashed a smile, and as I stepped towards her, she ran to me, wrapped her arms around my waist, and embraced me. Now, here I go, tearing up. This was one of the most beautiful moments in Honduras, and I pray that it never escapes my memory. I will never forget that second in time, being thanked the only way she knew how, for simply giving up myself and spending some time with someone that really needed it. God used me not only to help a child in pain, but also to pray over and witness a true physical healing with. I saw her go from sorrow and sadness, to hope and joy, and it was all because Christ shined through. I don't recall seeing her much more that day, but that hug was all I needed. Lysette, you changed my heart forever.
Elle's Story makes me cry.
And really, there's no story. None at all. Nothing spectacular, miraculous, or unique. All I can really say is that Elle stole my heart more-so than anybody I met in Honduras, and she's who I left most of myself with. I learned from her and took so much from just being around her. I embraced her the most when I had to say goodbye, and still cry thinking about her. The moment I got off the bus in that community, she took to me. She held my hand and walked with me, not letting go even for a second. She had a smile like no other, and wanted to take pictures all day long. She spoke about as much English as I did Spanish, which was cool in itself. She was learning in school, and could understand me more than anybody else could. The best part? She and her family were all believers, and assured me that Jesus was in their heart. My heart is warmed in the comfort of that thought a lone. I spent a lot of time with this little girl, just getting to know her personality and that smile that could light up a room. Something about her, I'm sure it was Christ in her, was breathtakingly beautiful and I will never ever forget her. In fact, the other night I had a heartbreaking dream about her. I dreamt that I was back in Honduras at the compound, yet in her community, and I was searching for her. I saw numerous other children I had met, yet no Elle. I looked everywhere, asking other people, shouting her name. All I wanted was to see her and give her a hug, and something inside me knew she was close, but I didn't find her before I awoke. I think about her daily, and pray that God keeps her on His righteous path. I bawled my eyes out thinking about how that was probably the last time I would ever see her again, and the reality that in a few months she would probably forget my name. But I rejoice in the comfort that because Jesus Christ died on a cross, I will see Elle again in a place called eternity, and never have to say goodbye again. This is the most beautiful thing I can contemplate right now, and I'm beyond the word thankful.
Thank you, Jesus, for such a beautiful child.
Only by the power of God can we do anything. Always remember that.
Because Christ has been so amazing to put the Holy Spirit in me, to work through me, this man will one day see Father face to face in eternity.
So we had our door-to-door witnessing day, and I was not happy. Our resources were an evangecube and a translator, and every person on the trip was required to witness at least one time. I internally struggled with this, as I did not want to do it. I love to share my Jesus, I will admit. I will tell anybody and everybody here in the States about Savior with any opportunity I'm given. But it's a lot different when you can't even directly talk with a person, and you're talking through a translator with a little box with pictures on it. Looking forward to the task is not easy, and I had a major spiritual battle going on before it was my up. I was nervous, scared, unprepared, unwilling, and embarrassed to do the cube in front of anybody. I even prayed a prayer that sounded something like this; "God, I know you've called me to preach to all nations, but I do not want to do this at all. I really don't. I think it's stupid, and I don't see the point in me sharing. Why can't the translator just tell them about Christ? Why do I have to say the words and make an idiot out of myself? I don't know how to do this. But you've called me to it, and I'll follow whatever you do. All I know is I'll need your Holy Spirit working 100%, otherwise I will fail. So Spirit, consume me." Well, we get to the house and it was my up. I made everybody else stand behind and took only the translator with me. As soon as I met the man, everything but a compassion to see him saved faded away. Fears, frustrations, selfishness and unwillingness perished as I felt the Spirit literally consume me and talk through me. As I started to talk, the cube really did nothing for me. I went as the spirit led, and I'm glad I did. No, there were no tongues from heaven or miraculous understandings; The translator was used and the man and I spoke different languages, but I must admit something strange happened. I felt like the man never heard the translator, but heard only my voice...and understood it all. With everything I said, he intently listened and even nodded. I could see in his eyes that he knew everything I was explaining before the translator got it out. We had an eye-to-eye connection especially as I told him "I don't know you, but I care about you and I want to see you in Heaven one day". The nods and the affirmative looks he gave were beyond me, I can't even begin to describe it. It was completely God, and thank Him it was, because that man, right there, was saved and accepted in the Kingdom. He asked what he needed to do to avoid hell, and we immediately got someone in to lead him in a sinners prayer. We gave him a Bible, and he promised to read it every day. We don't always have to be completely prepared or willing to complete a task. All we need is a heart for God and an obedience to His word, and an openness to walk by the Spirit, and God will use us in ways that will blow our minds.
I will also see this man again in Heaven one day, and I cannot wait.
I have SO much more to share, but I've been typing for over an hour, and I'm ready for bed. Tomorrow will bring many more stories and a lot of pictures. So check back!
PS - I greatly apologize for any typos or grammatical errors. I only spellchecked, but didn't proofread. There's just too much to go over and fix. I'll fix anything messed up tomorrow.