Monday, July 25, 2011

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

I’ve been praying for the words to share with you.
Usually, when I sit down to write, the words come easily. I love sharing my thoughts and experiences with you and I have been eagerly anticipating using this blog to share my journey in Honduras.
Since I’ve been here, however, each time I’ve attempted to sit down and write I have been so overwhelmed that I’ve felt like there are no words worthy to explain all my eyes have seen, all my ears have heard, and all my heart has felt.

Therefore, I sit on my bed in our camp tonight… after two days of ministering to the unsaved, the poor in spirit, the meek, those hungry and thirsty for righteousness… to humbly share with you how GOD IS IN HONDURAS.

Yesterday, our flight departed Lexington at 6:30AM.
We were supposed to be at the airport at 5AM in order to get checked in, get our luggage and tubs of supplies checked, and make sure we made it through security in time to catch our flight.
My day, however, began a little more stressfully than I anticipated. My alarm was set for 2:55AM and I anticipated waking up, showering, throwing a few extra things in my suitcase I hadn’t packed yet, and being ready for my ride to pick me up at 4AM. At 4:40AM, I was startled and woke suddenly to a loud banging.
It was one of the missionaries, banging on my back door.
OH. MY. GOSH.
I was supposed to be at the airport in 20 minutes, and it takes longer than that to get to the airport from my house. I bolted out of bed and down to my back door – in my underwear mind you – to tell my life saver friend that my alarm hadn’t gone off. I checked it – it was still set for 2:55AM, turned on, set for the right date, volume turned up… and nothing. Ugh!
I got ready as quickly as I could, zipping up my bags and hauling everything down the stair and out the door.
We were on the road by 4:47. New record!

Things are the airport went smoothly thank God, and at 6:30, we set out on the first leg of our journey.
It was interesting to arrive in Houston and make our way to the gate where we’d depart for Honduras. There was more color at that gate. I already felt so much closer to this country we’ve been praying for over the past couple of months.

We landed in Honduras at 10:50AM (local time, 12:50 Eastern Time) after over 6 hours of travel.
After eating at Baleadas Express in the airport (I had a Baleada – which was like a tortilla shell with beans, chicken, and some kind of sauce inside), we waited outside for our (air conditioned!!) bus, and loaded all our luggage and supplies when it arrived.
I enjoyed looking out the window at this new scenery, totally different than the home I know.
Palm trees everywhere, green mountains… and then, as we moved in to the city, a drastic change. Concrete buildings with houses partitioned by metal and wood scraps line the streets and stretch down tiny alleys. Mounds of trash are piled everywhere.
We’ve all seen pictures… but it’s like stepping in to another world. We’re so accustomed to the world around us, we don’t even think about what the world actually looks like. We’re consumed by our culture, our habits, our lifestyles, and our physical environments, we rarely think about these places. It’s not a bad thing; we all operate from our own realm of meaning. However, it’s just amazing to remove yourself from your little bubble, allowing it to “pop” in order for you to land in a new world. Take the same you, a different world, and see how your character emerges.

We dropped our things off at the missionary center where we’re staying, then immediately boarded the bus and drove to Las Casitas, an orphanage for girls. Many of the girls are teenagers who have been kicked out of their homes because they became pregnant. Others have disabilities and were abandoned by their families.

The orphanage is surrounded by a huge cinder block wall, with an inner building inside the wall. As we exited the bus, we could hear a clamor from behind the huge metal door leading to the inner building.
Immediately, the girls welcomed us. They wanted hugs. They were starved for attention.

I sat next to a young girl who told me her name was Cindy, who looked like a tom boy and had her hair cut very short. She said she didn’t feel good and felt extremely feverish. I was drawn to her and felt compelled to love on her.
Because we had four interpreters with us, we split in to four groups. With about 10 girls per group, we began to get to know one another. I was the first to share my testimony. I raised my hand to volunteer, but had no idea what I was going to say.
Spirit, come.
I shared with the girls how I grew up in church and always took pride in being a “good person” who followed the rules, but that my life had a void that I could never fill, no matter how hard I tried. I tried alcohol, parties, relationships with boys, and more, but I still wasn’t filled. I shared with them that Jesus sought my heart and that I surrendered my life to Him, turning from my sins. I don’t need those things to fill my life anymore. Jesus fills my life and gives me new desires in my heart. Jesus forgave me for my sins and He even loved me when I was still a sinner.
I was a little discouraged, as Cindy, who I had brought in to my group, was looking around while I was sharing, not paying attention, as were many of the girls. I thought, “Man, there was so much more I could have shared. Did they hear anything??”
Then Drew (our leader) asked our little group of girls to teach us some Spanish, and the girl that had been sitting to my right began to point out objects and colors in the room, naming them.

I asked her for her name and learned that it was Isabella, coincidentally the same as my name in Spanish. She laughed and thought that was hilarious. She had been holding her baby, Sahira, who is 7 months old. Sahira was wearing nothing but a too-big cloth diaper held on my clothes pins. I then learned that Isabella is only 15 years old. Several times while we were talking, she lifted her shirt to breast feed Sahira. Wow, I thought… a child feeding a child from her breast like a grown woman.

I tried to get her to smile...

It worked!! 🙂

 

...and then we were silly. 🙂

 

I began asking Isabella questions about her understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
She said that she didn’t know any Christians in the orphanage, but that the ones she did know of were “good people” who read their Bible and prayed. When I asked her if she was a Christian, she said “half-way.”
When I asked what she meant, she said that she reads her Bible and prays every morning, but that sometimes, she “does bad things.” She said that she likes to party and even took her baby to a bar once, hiding her under the bar while she proceeded for the next hour to drink and dance with her friends, before remembering that she had hidden her baby under the bar.

She shared that she ended up in the orphanage because the baby’s father called the police on her for being drunk once while caring for the child. They were going to take Sahira from her and put her in the orphanage, leaving Isabella on the streets, but Isabella was fortunately permitted to stay with her baby.
She had so much to share; she’d been through so much.

I shared with her that it is not our works that makes us a Christian, but our complete surrendering to Jesus and turning from our sins. She seemed to identify with what I had shared in my testimony about filling her life with things to fill a void.
Isabella nodded and appeared to be receptive to what I was saying.
I was honestly in shock that I had been so bold as to share the gospel so freely with her, something I don’t feel like I have much practice at… especially not to a 15 year old girl nursing her baby and who speaks a different language with me.

We then continued to bond, and she showed me her journal. Most things I couldn’t read, but she had little doodles of her and her baby’s name, hearts, flowers, etc. She asked me to write her something, so I did. Our interpreter later translated it to her, writing my message below.
I watched Isabella read it, and she beamed.
She told me that when we returned Friday, that she would have something for me to take to remember her by. I don’t think I’ll need a token, but I’m definitely excited to see how she shares her heart. She asked for something to remember me by. I think I’m going to write her a letter and maybe draw her a picture. I may get help from the interpreters so translate what I want to say in order to continue sharing Christ with her. I’m excited to see her again on Friday and ask that you please please pray for her heart to be softened and ready to accept Jesus.

I can totally see the potential in her, but she was not ready yesterday.
I have to admit, I was somewhat discouraged after leaving there… I left her there and she was still unsaved.
What more could I have said? Should I have prayed with her more? Could I have done this…?
Then as I prayed about it, I realized that this is GOD’s thing. Only HE can save someone. I am just His willing servant, present to be His hands and feet.
So please join me in praying for Isabella, that God would continue working in her heart this week, that maybe when we return Friday, she will be ready to make a decision against her sinful nature, and FOR the God that died for her.

I later heard that Cindy shared her story with a couple of our missionaries after she left our small group… she said that she was sad to be at the orphanage because she never knew her parents and had not done anything wrong to be sent there, as had many of the girls there. She lived with a couple of different women, one of whom turned Cindy over to the police to take her to the orphanage. Apparently, Cindy had been listening to what had been shared that afternoon, because in a discussion with one of the women, she stated that she believed what she had been hearing about Jesus, and knew that He had died on a cross for her sins. She said that she wanted to be saved, and stated that she wanted to “receive Jesus in her heart.” So He saved her!!!
I had been so drawn to her, I was certain there was a tug of the Holy Spirit there. So I had been discouraged that she didn’t appear to be listening when I was sharing Christ with her… but then the missionary Cindy was with when she was saved said, “She had heard today something that clicked.” Praise God.
I may never know what was said, or whether or not I played a role, but God taught me through this situation to never take obedience to Him lightly. He uses our willingness to work out His will. We may not be aware of what He’s doing. But this doesn’t excuse us from boldly sharing Him with others.

As we rode the bus back to the missionary camp, someone else shared a story about a girl she had met at the orphanage. She had seen the girl, isolated and crying, and asked her what was wrong. She held a piece of glass in her hand, intending to cut her wrist with it. She said that she just wanted to get outside the gate… that she didn’t want to be inside the walls anymore. After sharing Christ with her, the little girl put the piece of glass down, and proclaimed, “Jesus is on this side of the gate, too… I’m not leaving.”

This was just the first day.
There is a whole day that I haven’t written about yet!
We started our day today by visiting a nursing home, sharing testimonies, the gospel, and worshiping with the elderly there. We then went to Manos Unidos, a soup kitchen for the homeless, where we split into teams to clean the building, provide medical attention, wash babies, hand out toiletries, cook and serve a meal, share testimonies, the gospel, and worship together.
Praise God that people were saved today as well!

I truly enjoyed providing medical attention to the injured. It opened up a whole new way to minister to people. It reinforced my decision (and maybe I should say, more accurately, God’s call) to be a therapist, as well as encouraged me to learn even more so that I can continue to care for people medically all over the world, wherever God leads.

I am so excited for the work God is doing.
It’s so amazing to see Him raise up His people, using experiences in their lives, their character, skills, and desires to carry out His purpose, fulfilling the desires of the heart in the process. It’s absolutely beautiful and I am humbled. The Creator of the universe loves me enough to put aching desires in my heart and then fulfill them right before my eyes. He loves me enough to use my most painful wounds for His glory, redeeming them in the process. Can everyone say they are thankful for the ways they have been wounded? I can. I am so blessed to be here and am excited to share how God continues to move.

Thank you for joining this journey!

Please continue to pray for the people of Honduras that we will be coming in contact with…
and remember my new friend Isabella in your prayers.

We don’t have internet access, therefore, I’m writing this tonight (Monday) with anticipation that we will be able to get on the internet tomorrow when we go to the mall (yay, Wi-Fi!) so that I can post this book on my blog! 😉
Thank you so much for reading… I can’t wait to share with you again!

~Elizabeth

Isabella's baby, Sahira

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