It’s been interesting…

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It is hard for us to believe we have been in Honduras almost 3 months!!  A quick prayer request:  We go to the Immigration office on January 29th to hopefully get our visas extended.  Our visas expire February 2.  If we cannot get an extension, we will have to leave the country for 5 days and go somewhere else in Central America until we can re-enter.  The costs to do that for our family of 5 would be great, so will you please join us in prayer that we are granted an extension on January 29th so we will not have to leave the country and re-enter?
4788529f-28fb-4cfd-bc99-2376d9789934On the night of January 9, Wyatt & I were laying on the couches watching TV and David and the girls were upstairs playing guitar and making music and I thought I felt the couch shaking.  I looked at Wyatt and asked if he felt anything and he said he was shaking.  Within seconds, it was shaking pretty good.  David said “we are having an earthquake” and they came downstairs.  By the time we all got together, it had pretty much stopped.  A neighbor came down and said we were under a tsunami warning.  Turns out, it was a 7.6 earthquake just off the coast of Honduras.  Thankfully, the tsunami warning was cancelled about an hour after the initial earthquake and we never saw any changes in the ocean from it.  We had no damage here either, praise the Lord!  There were 4 aftershocks from it (all 4.5 or higher) but we didn’t really feel too many of those.  That was the 2nd earthquake we had in less than a week.  Living on the Ring of Fire is proving to be interesting!
Pic1Our weekly Friday night fellowships with the youth here continue to go well.  We recently had a “Survivor Night” and divided them up into 2 tribes.  They did an endurance challenge (seeing who could stand on one leg the longest) and the tribe that won had 4 girls still standing on one leg 5 minutes later!  We even tried to make it harder by having them hold a hymn book, turn to different page numbers, etc. and they still stood strong.  They played Books of the Bible relay races, had a building challenge to see who could design the largest structure using only spaghetti noodles and marshmallows, played Bible Jeopardy, and watched different sermon jam videos throughout the night.
IMG_5178Sometimes life on the mission field is as simple as fixing a bike chain for a little boy when it comes off in front of your house and you watch him try to fix it unsuccessfully.  His 3 friends that were riding with him cautiously watch from a distance from their bikes unsure of this “gringo” who has come out of a house to help their friend.  When you fix the chain, the little boy smiles and quickly hops on his bike and rides to his friends.  They holler “thank you” and take off back over the bridge.  Sometimes it is the little things.  Ministry doesn’t always have to be some big, grandiose event or some life-changing experience.  Sometimes it’s just being the hands and feet of Jesus and showing people you care through simple acts of kindness when you have the opportunity.
IMG_5138Recently, a young man stopped by the house looking for David but he had taken some of the youth boys swimming in the ocean that afternoon and he wasn’t home. The young man showed up again after church that Sunday asking for David and said a friend of his had told him to come talk to him. David had the opportunity to counsel him and answer a lot of questions he was dealing with. In the end, the young man made a profession of faith and accepted Christ as his Lord & Savior! David took him down to meet Pastor Tom (who leads the church here) and he got to talk with him also.  David talked to him about discipleship and he wanted to do this so he came back to the house the following Tuesday to start discipleship with David.  Please pray for Patrick and pray for the Lord to give us more opportunities like this to share Christ with those in Oak Ridge!
IMG_5202Sunsets here are one of my favorite parts of the day!  I took this picture because I loved the “cotton candy” beauty both in the skies and in the water’s reflection.  The beauty of creation never ceases to amaze me and I love how it shouts the splendor of God.  Most of the time I write about the “good” parts of mission field life.  But the reality is, there are tough days too. Don’t get me wrong, we know we are called here and we are enjoying life here but some of it is just from being “spoiled American’s” and doing without things we have always enjoyed (like hot water and air conditioning).  Some of it is that we really miss our families and some days we would give anything to be with them again. Some of it comes from just adjusting to day to day life in a 3rd world country and some of it honestly comes because we don’t just give problems and worries completely over to God and let Him take care of them…I mean, they are out of our control anyway yet we try to fix and solve them ourselves. There are days that we can literally feel the prayers of faithful prayer warriors sustaining us.  The power of prayer is great and one of our greatest weapons against Satan. We truly appreciate those of you who keep us and our ministry here lifted up in prayers!

 

 

Snippets of Life

IMG_4924January 1st we celebrated 18 years of marriage! That’s 6,570 days together as husband and wife! So thankful that in the hard times we fought for our marriage and didn’t give up. Those seasons developed our character and made us stronger. I love our crazy, fun-filled, adventurous life and thank God that we get to share it together serving Him. The Lord is so good to us and all glory and praise to Him for His faithfulness and grace. Can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in the years to come!
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We woke up on New Years Day to receive notice that we had experienced an earthquake during the night! It happened 32 miles out from us and was 8 miles deep. We didn’t feel it (we were so tired after the lock-in Friday night and New Years Eve fun). The kids had some friends spending the night and they were all awake and said they felt it. They said they thought it was just from the fireworks..ha! (People here shot fireworks ALL night on New Years Eve). No damage here and no tsunami watches or warnings thankfully.
IMG_4944As of January 1, my Dad is officially a “retired” fellow! My Dad has worked for YEARS to make sure our family was well cared for. He worked night shifts, tons of overtime hours, 12 hours shifts, day shifts, and eventually worked his way up to an office job at the plant. He never complained (at least in front of us) and he taught me what true work ethic looks like. He made sure I had everything I needed & even most of what I “wanted”. Even through his hard work and long hours, he was extremely active in my life. He was a band parent and came to all the football games, band competitions and concerts I was in, he made sure I went on all the youth activities at church, went to Maywood Camp each summer, and even helped send me to Russia twice on mission trips! Dad and I also played co-ed softball together on his team from work for a couple of years. Even after I got married, he has continued to spoil me and my family and still makes sure things are special for us. He is an amazing Dad (& Papa to our kids) and I am so proud that he is ours. Thank you for all your hard work and beautiful example of workmanship over the years. Enjoy your retirement Dad!!
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One of the neat things about living on an island is that we are constantly learning so much about the ocean.  We didn’t grow up near the ocean (we grew up in North Alabama) and only went to the ocean for vacation once or twice a year.  Now the ocean is literally in our front yard and back yard.  It is currently rainy season here (y’all it rains almost everyday and some days it rains all day) and we have “northern’s” – cold fronts – that come in too.  When the northern’s come in, it affects the tide and during low tide, the water near the shore is gone.  That means you can literally walk out all in the ocean on the rocks that are normally covered with water.  Friday night, a northern was coming in and the tide was really low so we all went exploring with some friends who live down the point from us.

David found an octopus between some of the coral rocks!  It took him a little bit to actually catch it because that little thing could squeeze into the tiniest spaces between the rocks.  It inked purple a couple of times when he was trying to grab it and finally, he got it.  We all held it and took pictures of it and it was super neat.  When we put it back in the ocean, it inked black everywhere and disappeared back into the coral.

Earlier in the week, Wyatt had set a couple of little fish traps just to see what he could catch.  When he went to dump out one of the tubes, he didn’t realize there was a fireworm inside it too and it stung him on the finger. Bless his heart, it hurt him for almost 2 days before the pain and redness went away.  Lesson learned…look inside your trap before you dump it out on your hand! We are enjoying learning about the ocean, the tides, and the animals and creatures that live in it though.
IMG_5006We are taking weekly Spanish lessons.  While English is supposed to be the primary language of the island, Spanish is rapidly taking over as more and more people move from the mainland over here.  Because of that, we feel it is necessary to learn Spanish so we can reach both English and Spanish speakers with our mission work.  We have the sweetest, most patient Spanish teacher (Kennia) who comes to our house on Monday & Wednesday afternoons from 2:00-4:00pm to teach us Spanish.  She is a Spanish teacher in the schools here and she grew up here in Roatan. We have had lessons for exactly one month so it was time for our first test this week.  It was 4 pages long but thankfully, David made a 90 and I made a 91 and we both passed our first test!  We are learning so much and thankful for the opportunity  to learn a new language.  We still aren’t great at speaking and understanding it but after a month, we are proud of our progress so far.  Spanish is not real easy for us because one word can have so many multiple meanings or one object (like a ball) can be several different words.  We are working hard and being faithful to study each week though and praying that the Lord will help us with our language acquisition.
IMG_5022 And being that Alabama is “home” for us, we can’t let this pass by!  To get internet here in Honduras, it was cheaper to get an internet/cable package so that means we have basic internet and a lot of channels for cable TV.  We joked that we lived in South TX (at the Texas-Mexico border) the last 5 1/2 years and cable was so expensive there we didn’t have any TV.  We move to another country and get both internet and cable for way less than it costs in the States.  Because of that, we have been able to watch the Alabama football games since we arrived (and y’all, we are HUGE Crimson Tide football fans). We watched the National Championship game (and boy was that a great game) and sure were happy to see our team pull out that win! ROLL TIDE

“The Sleepless Sleepover”

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One of our primary focuses right now is to work with the youth and children here in Oak Ridge, Roatan.  We want to see them actively coming to church, looking forward to Sunday school, learning and growing in God’s Word both at home and in church, and going out and being the church to their local community.  So we are always looking for new and fun things to do with them.  We had hosted lock-in’s back in the States and they were always fun.  So we decided to try one here.

They had never even heard of a lock-in before and spending the night at church was an entirely new concept to them and seemed a little weird.  So we weren’t sure how many students would actually come but we had 23 show up!
IMG_4882We were so excited to see that many come that night.  We let them just hang out and play games together for about an hour.  Then at 11:00pm, we took away all the cell phones and put them in a bag for the night.  I figured there would be lots of complaints and some kids want to go home at this point but they all willingly gave them up for the night.  We started out with some ice breaker games so they were forced to interact with each other, talk to each other, and get to know each other better.

We played People Bingo (we made our own bingo cards that were relevant to life here) and we played the Toilet Paper Game.  Basically, we gave them a few rolls of toilet paper and told them to tear off as little or as much toilet paper as they thought they would need to play the game.  That is all the information we gave them.  After everyone had pulled off toilet paper, then we told them to count the number of squares of toilet paper they had taken.  Then came the kicker….for every square of toilet paper they had pulled off, they had to tell us one thing about themselves!  One guy had pulled off 57 squares of toilet paper but he was such a good sport and smiled while telling us things about himself and then he just let people ask him questions until he had done 57!
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Throughout the night, we played different games including parachute games.  They had never done a parachute before and they LOVED it!  Even the older kids enjoyed it and got quite competitive with it too.
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We also did the “Alka Seltzer Challenge”!  This one grosses me out so bad but it’s always fun to do with youth.  They put an Alka Seltzer in their mouth and then take a sip of Sprite.  They have to hold the Alka Seltzer in their mouth (without swallowing it).  Every 15 seconds they take another sip of Sprite.  The last person to hold the Alka Seltzer in their mouth wins. We had 2 youth who held it in for over a minute and a half!!  We also played lots of minute to win it kind of games and they played lots of Bounce-Off, UNO, and Monopoly too.

We also had several praise & worship sessions and at 2 different times in the night, we had hour long Bible studies during the night.  In our Bible studies, David taught the boys about how to use the SOAP method (Scripture, Observation, Application, & Prayer) for Bible studying and I taught the girls “10 Truths for the Teenage Girl” – based upon a wonderful post Beth Moore had written on her blog years ago.

We also ate lots of snacks, watched the movies “Soul Surfer” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and had a great lock-in with all these kids.  I made 50 pancakes and orange juice for them for breakfast and they even hung around an extra hour after it officially ended just talking and having fun together.

We were so thankful that this “new to them” event was so successful and they want us to make it a yearly “after Christmas” event. Please pray that we can continue to reach the youth and children here in Oak Ridge and that they will continue to grow spiritually.

1st Christmas in Honduras

We enjoyed a very blessed 1st Christmas in Honduras. While we certainly missed being with family and friends for the holidays, the Lord gave us great peace here and we had lots of fun in December.

Our church hosted a Christmas concert. 2 nearby churches joined us for this night of worship. Gretta sang Lauren Daigle’s “Noel”, Abbey sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, Wyatt performed a song with 3 other boys, and both Abbey and Sidney joined 4 other girls and danced a ballet to “The First Noel.” The concert lasted 2 hours and was a wonderful night of worshipping Jesus island style.

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David was asked to be “Santa” for a local Christmas party to children in our area. He arrived by boat but before he arrived at the party, we drove through 4 communities in our area spreading Christmas cheer from the boat. When we got to the party, there were about 30 kids and their Mom’s waiting for us. “Santa” gave each child a gift and they got to have their picture made with him too. Then they enjoyed Christmas snacks and I got to share the story of the birth of Jesus with them. We had such a great afternoon bringing Christmas cheer to people here!

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The church here has hosted a Christmas program for many years and we were blessed to get to be part of it this year. I played piano throughout the program, Abbey sang a special song and was also part of the choir, Sidney played the role of Mary, and Wyatt was a wiseman. David read the role of Gabriel and also helped with stage set-up and technical issues.

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Christmas Day was spent at home together as a family enjoying time with the kids, relaxing in our hammocks, and watching movies until time to go to the Christmas program. Santa even left the kids a few small gifts on Christmas morning too (much to their surprise).

This Christmas season was truly not about the presents, or the holiday parties, or the hustle and bustle of shopping, or even our usual traditions. This year it was truly all about Jesus and remembering what He has done for us. We are so thankful for where He has led us despite the sacrifices that come with this. We are blessed that we can be His hands and feet in a 3rd world country (did you know Honduras was the 4th poorest country in the entire Western Hemisphere in 2016?). And this…..this is what Christmas is all about…bringing hope to people, showing the love of Jesus, and being a light wherever He leads us.

Three David’s

Last week, we decided to go over and visit a ministry called “Bread for the Bight” in a nearby area called Punta Caliente. We wanted to meet the missionaries working in this area and see if we could possibly partner together in anyway.  We do not have a vehicle yet (we are trying to raise money for one though) so we decided to take a water taxi over to Punta Caliente (P.C.) as it is accessible by boat also.

On a typical day, probably 100 water taxi’s go down the harbor by our house.  Our backyard and small dock are on this harbor.  However, this particular morning there wasn’t a water taxi to be found.  We stood on the dock for about 10 minutes waiting and began praying for the Lord to send one for us.

We see a boat coming toward our dock but it wasn’t a water taxi.  It was the 2 guys who work for MaxCable and they were the guys who had hooked up our internet for us.  David had got to be friends with them through that and they have kept in touch since the day they installed our internet.  They pulled up to the dock and asked what we were doing.  They offered to take us over!  One of the guys unloaded the long ladder and all their work equipment out of the boat and even stayed on our dock with all their gear while the other guy drove us over to P.C. We offered them the same money that we had planned to pay the water taxi driver but they both refused to take it.  We told them to take it and buy themselves some sodas and snacks for the day if they didn’t want to get paid but they still refused.  They told us they were simply happy to help us.  So we took off to Punta Caliente.  IMG_4503                                               (in the boat riding to Punta Caliente)
IMG_4508                                                        (arriving in Punta Caliente)

We got off the boat and literally had no idea where we were actually going so the sweet internet guy even helped us find the ministry building.  Once we got there, there were a lot of women, children, and young men waiting outside the building.  We started introducing ourselves to the people and of course, we began playing with the kids.

(our kids loving on the kids there)

We got to meet Pastor David & Heather (the missionaries who run this ministry) and they are awesome folks!  They have a pretty incredible ministry going there to an area that is one of the poorest places we’ve seen in all of Oak Ridge so far.  Oak Ridge is actually a fairly large area comprised of many different little communities.

(we got to walk around P.C. to see more of the community)

Right before church service started, a little boy cut his foot very badly on a piece of glass.  David was able to help him by wrapping the foot and administering pressure to the wound as it was pouring blood everywhere.  Pastor David, who runs the ministry, put the little boy in his vehicle and him and David took the little boy back over to our area of Oak Ridge to the pharmacy where he could see a doctor.

While they were gone, church services began and it was a wonderful time of praise and worship.  After church, they feed the children lunch.  We were able to help set out plates and water and help direct children to their seats until the last person was served.

(feeding the children)

The little boy’s foot was cut pretty badly and it took awhile to get him stitches and get him cleaned back up.  When they got back, Pastor David (Granada) shared that even though he and Pastor David (Johns) missed most of the church service and preparations for feeding the children that God was at work in what they were doing.  You see, both Pastor’s were named David and they both got to help this little boy.  The injured little boy was also named David. No, that wasn’t a coincidence…that was God!!  I still get chills just typing this out.  They shared that every time the doctor would say “David?”, they all 3 would say “yes”!  They said that it made for some laughs for everyone in the midst of a tough situation. So David held the little boys hand while he got stitches, he sang songs to him, and comforted him since his family wasn’t there. The little boys family were not with him at the doctor because they had to go be located by someone and by the time they got to the pharmacy, the little boy was ready to go home. Sadly, the little boy does not own a pair of shoes so please pray that his foot will heal well and not get infected.

And remember how the MaxCable guys refused to take any pay for bringing us over.  David was able to use that money that he tried to give them to pay for the little boy’s stitches!  If he had been able to pay for our boat ride over, he wouldn’t have had that money on him to pay for the boy’s stitches!  BUT GOD…..He knew what was going to happen when we had no clue.  He knew that David would need to have that one lempira bill in his pocket from trying unsuccessfully to pay for our boat ride.  He also knew that we would run into the MaxCable guys again in a few days and we would be able to invite them into our home for some cold water and snacks in the midst of their busy and hot work day to say “thank you” again for their help getting us to Punta Caliente.

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(we are friends with this precious little boy’s older brother)

Shoes…..Shoes are a huge need here!  Unlike America, you can’t just go buy shoes in any store.  The largest thrift store on the island doesn’t even sell shoes. When you do find shoes, they are quite expensive (way more than we would pay in America).  Most people who do own a pair of shoes have one pair and sadly in a lot of areas, many kids don’t even have a pair.  We have found some awesome shoes that are called The Shoe That Grows.  These shoes will fit small children to adult sizes and they can literally be adjusted as a person grows. We would LOVE to find a church or even an individual who would be willing to host a fundraiser and help us get some of these shoes that we could distribute here!

We look forward to more opportunities to go and serve with Pastor David & Heather over in Punta Caliente.  Please pray for their ministry “Bread for the Bight” and please pray that the Lord will send us someone who desires to help us get shoes for children here.

 

 

Prince of Peace

We’ve been on the field in Honduras just 47 days!  We arrived at the start of an incredibly rainy season which on two occasions since we have been here, has prompted extreme flooding on the island, numerous mudslides (one child passed away due to a mudslide), and a twice flooded airport.

The day our crate contents were released to us, David called me to let me know that he was almost back in town.  It was kind of overcast and not too hot.  He even said “I’m so thankful it is not raining” because large vehicles can’t come where we live so he had to get the truck driver to park in the town square and they had to use Pastor Tom’s small truck to bring our stuff to the house.  Before he could get back, the bottom fell out and it poured rain.  All of our boxes had standing water on top of them.  David, Pastor Tom, and the 2 sweet youth guys who helped us were drenched and our floors were soaking wet from the rain and us going in and out to get our boxes from the truck into the house.  But praise God, we were able to get our crate released from customs in just 3 weeks and get our stuff to our home!

Then the Presidential election took place on November 26.  Instead of announcing a winner, it turned into quite a fiasco and people were crying “voter fraud” and upset that certain parties had cheated.  This resulted in rioting, protest, and looting on the mainland (we live on the Bay Islands of Honduras 40 miles off the coast of the mainland).  A curfew was enacted for all of Honduras, banks were closed, government offices, we were limited on how much money we could access since we are foreigners, etc.  Finally, this week, a President was declared and it was Juan Hernandez. The winning side got 42.95% of the vote while the opposition was very close at 41.42%. Now add, this is the first time in history a President can serve a second-term and the people have little trust in their government and feel unheard. So things have once again ramped up with protests and riots on the mainland.  This affects us because most of our supplies are imported from the mainland (food, propane, etc.) and when things on the mainland are shut down, we don’t receive our necessary supplies here on the island.

This is also our first holiday season overseas.  We are trying to keep some of our Christmas traditions even here (such as “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift” advent each night), hiding “Nicholas” our Elf on the Shelf, and putting up a Christmas tree with some ornaments from home.  We are also enjoying new Christmas experiences like going to a 30 minute firework show that was awesome with a family here that we have become good friends with and attending a Christmas concert at our church with island style worship music.

So, how do we find peace in the midst of a recent move overseas, a crazy rainy season, a political crisis, and our first Christmas overseas?  One word….JESUS!

Psalm 29:11 says “The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.”  Psalm 119:165 says “Great peace have those who love Your Law, and nothing can make them stumble.”  Philippians 4:6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Let me tell you what I do know.  I am not in control…Jesus is!  The same Jesus who is in control of the winds and the waves is in control of my life and as His child, He wants good things for me.  The same Jesus who raised people from the dead is going before me with every step I take, fighting my battles for me, and leading me where He wants me to be.  So, I can have peace no matter what the situations we face here are.  We know He has called us here to Roatan, Honduras to be His hands and feet.  The needs here can be overwhelming at times but God is continually opening doors for us to serve Him and help others.  The rainy season may be bad but we actually need the rains to help fill our fresh water supply.  The political situation may be a mess but it has caused people to come together and help each other more. It’s been beautiful to see neighbors helping each other and fellowshipping more.  Christmas may not look like what the kids have been used to the last few years but Christmas is still being special and we are blessed to get to celebrate it with new friends in a new place.  Isaiah 26:12 says “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished YOU have done for us.”

I won’t lie and tell you that every day has been a “piece of cake” and that we haven’t had our moments of stress, homesickness, or discouragement but on those days, we can turn to Jesus and remember that what He has called us to do, He will see us through.  We can give Him our worries, frustrations, stress, and discouragement and be thankful that His mercies are new every morning. God didn’t promise a life of no problems.  In fact, He told us to expect them (John 16:33).  He also promised us that if we call on Him, He would give us “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension.”

So when you feel like life is out of control, situations have you bogged down and you can’t seem to get through them, or when you feel discouraged and frustrated, sing this little song and let Jesus, the Prince of Peace, step back into the driver’s seat of your life and let Him lead you where you can find peace no matter what you’re facing.

Prince of Peace, control my will
Bid this struggling heart be still
Bid my fears and doubtings cease
Hush my spirit into peace.

May Thy will, not mine be done
May Thy will and mine be one
Chase these doubtings from my heart
Now Thy perfect peace impart.