Sunday, March 25, 2012

Life ramblings

This past week has been a very exciting one!  My dear friend, Jen, came to visit me.  I had been anxiously anticipating her visit and the week went by so quickly.  I was able to take her through my daily life here in Honduras, as well as show her around this part of the country.  We visited Valle de Angeles and did a little local shopping, ate some authentic Honduran comida, ministered to the women and children of the gang village, made bracelets and airplanes with the kids at school and enjoyed much needed girl time.  I am so grateful for the sacrifices she made to come here and for all she brought with her.  I know it is not an easy trip to make and it definitely brings some challenges, but it was a blessing all the way around.  Her visit really got me hopeful for my upcoming time at home.

It has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote and my heart and head have been in constant movement.  I tend to be someone who is very planned out and organized (just ask my mother about my color-coordinated closet).  My “plan” has been to permanently move home in June and spend the upcoming year with my sister.  She will be a senior in high school and I have missed out on most of her childhood and growing up.  My heart has been set on moving back and finding my place in the “normal” world again.  While God has given me peace about this decision, it is still a hard one to make. 

Two weeks ago we were visiting in the gang village.  I have written about Norma before; she owns a pulperia (corner store), has three sons and a daughter and always feeds us when we visit.  Her oldest son is in prison for being a gang member, her middle son is continuously on the run from the police because of suspected gang activity and her younger son and daughter live in the midst of police raids and fear.  During this particular visit, we walked in to visit Norma and you could immediately see the worry on her face.  A few minutes prior we had heard gunshots.  After speaking with Norma, we were told that the police were in the village searching for her son who had just left after eating a quick meal and showering.  She was frantically calling her son but he was not answering.  Had the gunshots been directed at him?  In the midst of all this, she remains a gracious hostess and serves us homemade food.  This is when it happens.  I begin to feel as if I am having a panic attack; I am hot, having a hard time breathing and am overcome with emotion.  I realize that I cannot break down in front of her.  Norma finally reaches her son to find out that he is okay but she is telling him to be careful because the police are after him.  Here I am, sitting in her house, eating her food and witnessing a small glimpse of what her life is every single day – terror, desperation, worry.  All I kept thinking was, “How do you leave…how do you go back to United States?”  Once we left and got in the car, I broke down and spent the remainder of the evening crying and trying to make sense of it all.

That is where I am today – trying to make sense of it all.  Honestly, I don’t know if any of us can make sense of it.  Before I began this journey, I imagined it to be a certain way and it has been far from that expectation.  The setting is different from what I expected, there have been new friendships and loss of friendships, overwhelming loneliness but comfort at the same time, unexpected temptations and needed realizations, bold answers and confusion, hope and despair.  I am terrified about coming back to the United States.  I am afraid of conforming to the selfishness and easiness it so boldly offers.  I am afraid of what people will think of me because I am different from who I was before.  I am worried that I will be bored.  I am worried that I won’t be doing enough.  Notice how many times I said “I”?  That’s the one thing I am still working on – this is not about me and my wants and my worries.  This, whatever “this” is, is about Christ – His work, His name, and His grace. 

Grace.  That’s a whole blog series in itself.  Amidst all of my rambling, the concept of grace is what I hope to take away from my time in Honduras.  Grace is God’s unmerited favor and sufficiency in our lives.  Unmerited favor…do you realize that God’s love for us does not change based on what we do or do not do?  This whole time I kept thinking that if I wasn’t constantly pushing myself and doing as much as I could then God was going to be disappointed in me or love me less.  Apparently I haven’t been listening in church. 

So, whether we are serving as a missionary in a foreign country, teaching in a school in the states, waiting tables, writing speeding tickets or whatever it is you may be doing, God’s grace is covering you.  He can use you and bless you right where you are acting as who you are – good or bad.  I pray that you and I would grow to gain a deeper understanding of this grace and that we would never take it for granted.

I ask that you would pray for me as I prepare to leave Honduras in June.  I know God has prepared the path and I choose to stand hopeful in the plans ahead.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What do I have to do with anything?

Before I moved to Honduras, many people spoke to me about how I needed to prepare myself because God would test me on the mission field in ways that I had never experienced before.  They weren’t kidding.  I think when you make the decision to distance yourself from everything familiar and comfortable, the challenges of life become significantly magnified. 

I grew up living comfortably.  My parents have always been hard workers and my dad always made sure we had what we needed, and for the most part, what we wanted.  When you’re a child, you are so na├»ve about reality.  You don’t realize the struggles, sacrifices and hardships that may be alive around you.  Wouldn’t you love to go back to childhood?

Over the last 3 years, my family has experienced more loss, heartache and uncertainty than I thought possible.  The loss of loved ones – both unexpected and expected, my dad losing his job and our family struggling to get by, working through emotions of anger and misunderstanding, me moving out of the country with no means of income and my dad having a heart attack just this past Sunday.  That doesn’t even include the tests that we have either kept to ourselves or experienced as individuals.  During my time in Honduras, my faith has been questioned and tested, feelings have been hurt and bouts of loneliness have masked all other emotions.  There have been times when I felt like my body would just give way to the overwhelming sensation of hopelessness.  You always think, “it couldn’t get much worse,” but sometimes it can.

You know what is so beautiful about this grey picture?  God has been and is alive in it all!  When we thought our sadness of losing loved ones would never go away, we were restored with the hope that they are living in the presence of Christ.  When worries of financial strains flooded our daily thoughts, God provided in only ways that He could.  When sickness struck and family was miles away, God was the ultimate Healer.  If our lives were always easy and effortless, there would be no reason for God and His power.  We are merely the bodies that God has chosen to live out the plans He created.  God is not some evil man in the sky who chooses to release havoc and hurt on those of us below.  Rather, God places us in situations where He knows we will grow and learn, and that growth will come because we have to get to a place where we have no other choice but to call out to Him.  None of this is about us and it never has been.  It is all about a God who loved us so much that HE sacrificed it all through his son.  He is alive in all things and our lives are about bringing glory to His name and nothing else. 

"Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake."
-Victor Hugo