Thursday, January 28, 2010

Best lice ever!


(Jan 27) Emin is better. That's what is important about this story. A little boy came into the hospital yesterday with a snake bite on his hand and a snake bite on his hip and not doing well. It had taken some time to get him down from the mountains and apparently (I'm very hazy on the details) there has been some difficulty with identifying him and contacting his parents. I went down to see him in the "ER" and was immediately struck by how much he looked like my son Ben. I confirmed with him that he was indeed eight years old (he also confirmed for me that he was hungry). As I watched his mannerisms and listened to his speech, it was almost like I was watching my own son there on that bed. The gulf that opened in my heart was even wider than is normal when I see a hurt/sick child. I went to see him two or three times yesterday, including one last time as I was leaving the hospital for the day (in the early evening) after a pretty long day. I told him how much he looked like my son, which most have been a bit of an affront to him because he immediately told me that he was not normally this pale and that the snake bite had affected his skin color. I laughed and tried to explain to him that my son actually had much darker skin than me as his mother was of Spanish descent. I don't think he bought it for a minute...

I asked if if I could pray for him and he said yes, his family drawing near as I put my hands on his head and caressed his hair. As I prayed, much to my surprise, he repeated every word. Now, praying in Spanish is hard enough for me, I am not even ready to lead someone else to pray - who actually knows how to speak Spanish to the Father. Oh well, as is always the case, God made up for my lack an we had a wonderful prayer together.

This morning (Jan 28) I received the joyful news that Emin is better and seems to have turned the corner. I also received the news that he has a pretty good case of lice, which means that I probably do too. I touched him many times yesterday and often caressed his hair as he bravely told me that he wasn't hurting too badly (but his face betrayed him). I am so glad that I didn't know that he had lice, or else I would have been less likely to touch him and care for him in this way. I am also so glad that he is better, that I could care less about lice. I'll get the special shampoo and the lice will hopefully go away in a few days. Hopefully today, I'll be able to take Ben down and prove to him that my son isn't a blanco and I wasn't insulting him when I told him that he looked like Ben. Hopefully soon Emin will go home and never, ever see another snake...

A special note of thanks to Penny Alden who invested herself fully in Emin's care yesterday, as she so often does. I've never known anyone so completely willing to pour themselves out on behalf of another as Penny is. She will readily give you all of her attention, all of her care, and all of her heart - full knowing that it will probably get broken yet again. Not this time Penny, looks like for now that this one is going to have a happy ending.

Update (Jan 28 - evening) - I'm just starting to realize what a miracle has happened here with Emin. He was reported to have been bitten by a Baraba Amarilla - which is one the most poisonous snakes around and from whose bite few live. It took (reasons unknown) days for extended family members to get him down here to the hospital. Put plainly, people don't get a few days of time when bitten by this type of snake, they usually have hours. Dr. Sharon, a pediatrician here at Loma de Luz, said that Emin was "as close to dying" as any child she's seen. An amazing statement. We visited Emin this evening (Jan 28) and he is feeling much, much better. He did indeed have a chance to meet my son Benjamin and he agreed that they were igualitos (little ones who appear similar). Emin's parents are in the States and he lives in a mountain village with his grandparents. His life must be hard beyond anything I could ever know. God reached down and touched this young man. His life was spared in a most miraculous way. Please join me in praying that Emin's new life that God has given Emin would be a blessed one, lived to serve God and to bring Him glory.

Update (Jan 30th) The best update of all. Last evening on Jan 29th, Emin accepted Christ and is now a Christian. Dr. Don was doing another one of his many discipleship classes, this time with Debyn and Nestor, two young Honduran men who are fairly recent converts themselves and on fire for Christ. I approached him and asked him to speak with Emin, sensing that Emin was very near to Christ. Dr. Don immediately replied that he would take his two young disciples down to speak with Emin about the gospel with him. They did and the result was that two young Honduran men led this young man to Christ. There is a sense in me that this is how God wants missionary work to happen. We want to be here to help empower the local people to be the spiritual leaders and to make new converts. Instead of creating a sense of spiritual "entitlement", these young men are helping to build the local church and not just following the "gringos" around. Lord, please help us to do this work well and in a way that brings glory to you and thank you for Emin's salvation! Amen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Joy in the journey - Dec/Jan trip to the states.

We’ve been home about 12 days now and we are starting to settle back into our “routine” here. Our trip to the United States was such a blessing! We saw SO MANY friends and family – and still couldn’t get around to everyone that we wanted to see. We were in Colorado for about three week s and Mississippi for one week. Our time in Colorado was divided up into three categories: Dave working, all of us spending time with family in and around Denver, and all of us spending time with our friends from the Fort Collins and Greeley area. Dave worked for three days in Salt Lake and for also spent several days on site with a client in Loveland Colorado. During this time, Marinajo and the kids got to spend some great time with grandma (Marinajo’s mom) putting out the Christmas decorations and baking. When in Denver, we mostly stayed with Marinajo’s brother Kip and his wife Patsy - they are some of our best buddies and we wish that we could have spent more time there. Christmas was really special as we were able to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with Artie and Mary, and Archie - Marinajo’s parents and her brother. It was neat to be able to have Christmas morning there with them. True to his nature, Santa found us there! Benny got a bow and arrow set from Santa and a new BB Gun from grandpa Fields in Tennessee. Mariah got a new digital camera and is now happily posting pictures on Facebook.

After Christmas we spent time up in Northern Colorado (Fort Collins and Greeley) trying to see as many friends as possible. Our host family was our dear friends the Edens and we were just so happy to be able to spend time with them. Their welcome and their hospitality just reminded us of how much we love them and how much we miss them down here. They must have felt like characters in a sitcom at times as we would leave each evening to go “have supper” with yet another family and then come blowing back in with the cold December wind about 10pm and so tired we could drop. We were also able to worship with our church family in the Spanish speaking service at Christ Community Church in Greeley. Marinajo was able to play in the praise and worship band for three Sundays and I was able to share briefly (in Spanish!) one Sunday. This Spanish church is experiencing huge growth and we were so blessed to be able to compartir (share) with them our new life here in Honduras.

It was an exhausting, but wonderful time catching up with all of our friends and renewing deep friendships. We are just so blessed to have so many wonderful friends! The miles and the time don’t change everything – they don’t change the love that we share with people. EVERYONE remarked on how big the kids were and lots of people said to me (Dave), “I thought you’d be more tan”…… Funny! I guess since we only send pictures back of us at the beach that people think that must be all we do - go down to the beach. (Full disclosure –We’ve been to the beach twice this weekend – two times in the last two days) Unfortunately, this is not the case. Most days I sit in a concrete office all day and do IT work for the hospital and for Intelligent Design IT. We usually get to go to the beach on the weekends, but it had been quite awhile since we had been able to go before we left. So, I guess that is why I was so pale.

After Colorado we flew down to Mississippi for a one week visit to our sending church – The Church of the Good Shepherd – and to visit with some of the people that we served during our time doing hurricane relief work there after Katrina. WE JUST HAD A WONDERFUL TIME IN MS! We were so warmly greeted by our home church down there that several times we were moved to tears over their love and care for us (thank you church family!). One church member picked us up the airport with ALL of our luggage and ALL of us, another church member vacated her home for one week so that we could stay there by ourselves. Still another wrote us ahead of time to see what we wanted to eat and had a BIG pot of Gumbo on the stove, a pecan pie that was absolutely OUT OF THIS WORLD on the table and some huge juicy steaks in the fridge waiting for us when we got there. Honestly, I don’t think we’ve ever received this kind of love and attention anywhere. We got to spend some good time with two of the ladies that we were closest with during our time in Mississippi doing hurricane relief work, Ms Barbara and Ms Bea. What a huge blessing it was to be able to reconnect with them – we just picked up right where we left off. We were also able to see our friends at First Baptist church, whom we spent much much time with after the storm. This church, while devastated by the storm, housed volunteers and even gave me a Sunday School room to use as an office for about two years. We have deep close ties with this church, so it was so wonderful to see their new Sanctuary – now completed. It was even better to hear of the growth that the church is experiencing. I believe God is giving them a harvest of souls because of their sacrificial work after the storm.

I got my dates mixed up and we missed our flights back to Honduras. Thank God for a lady on the Continental international flight customer service line who was able to get all of our flights rescheduled and graciously waived all of the change fees! What a miracle and answer to some brief but very fervent prayer on my part!

Now that we’ve been home for almost two weeks, I can honestly say that this is home for us now. We are just so thankful to be here. In the midst of all of the travel and going back “home” (what used to be home for us) – it is just so clear to us that this is where God wants us to be. He moved our hearts down here and we just love it here. We now have a home we can call our own here at the hospital and it helps SO MUCH to just be settled. I get up every morning and look out over the Caribbean and realize that I am one of the luckiest people alive. We pray that God would just use us for His glory here, because right now – it feels like life is TOO good – I hope that makes sense. We’ve been fortunate that our Spanish teacher Diana is now staying with us four nights a week and is REALLY building up her new business down here. This means that we are getting lots of practice and training with our Spanish – an answer to prayer! We feel like this year we’ll be able to finally get to a point in our Spanish where we can really begin to minister to the local Honduran people with more than small talk – but rather heart talk.

Lastly (these updates ALWAYS end up so much longer than I anticipated when I first sit down to write them), I am reading “What’s So Amazing About Grace” by Phil Yancey for the second time right now and let me just beg each and every Christian that is reading this to please read this book. And if you haven’t read it in awhile, let me ask you to read it again. I realize each day as I read it HOW MUCH we need to be reminded of this central theme in Christianity and how often we fail to express grace to our fellow Christians and (worse) to those that are not Christians. Christ’s life and the writings of the New Testament are RADICAL DEPARTURES from the social norms of the day and what makes them radical of the lifestyle of obedience and sacrifice that we are to live as Christians. The message of Grace MUST BE intertwined deeply within this lifestyle of obedience and sacrifice, or our religious lives degenerate into religious works. Without grace, our message rings empty in a graceless world. The world is not looking for more rules to follow; rather they are looking for redeeming love. It is grace that expresses that redeeming love to a dying world. Yes, grace must be expressed within the context of the gospel, which includes the message of sin and condemnation for those that do not choose God’s grace. I realize that. But when Jesus said we are to be salt and light, I believe that Grace was, and is, the central empowering force for TO BE THAT SALT AND LIGHT in the fallen world in which we live.

May God’s grace touch you this day anew and may we each live our lives out of the abundance of fear, awe, wonder, and joy that His grace has touched someone like me. Amen. God Bless each of you and we pray that you are warm and well in HIS LOVE this day.

Dave and Marinajo
Mariah and Benny