Ariel’s Miracle

A typical house 
In Honduras it is very common for extended families to share
the same home.  For the poor, this means
many people squeezing into a very small house. 
A family of five may share 
one bedroom in a two bedroom house.   Often there are multiple generations sharing
the small home.
  A sheet hung from the
ceiling provides the only privacy for intimacy for a married couple.
   There
is no room to move around or space to be alone for a few minutes each day.
Our collaboration with Torch Ministries has given Suzy and I the
opportunity to provide a home for some of the people we know and dearly
love.  Suzy and I have a
mental list of people who need a house.  Earlier
this summer, the Holy Cross team built a “house in a day” for Virgilio, who helps Suzy with
her yard.  “Virgilio is a new man,” Suzy said recently.  



Two weeks before Christ Church
Anglican in Overland Park Kansas was to arrive, Karen, the team leader said
they would like to build a house in a day if possible.  “Great!”
I answered, “Ariel is next on the list.”  (We had built a house in a day for his brother, Jose Luis.  Ariel told me then, two years ago, he would like one too.)  Christ Church knows
and loves Ariel so it was a done deal.  When I told Ariel he smiled and
strode forward ahead of me.  It seemed like a muted response but I could
tell his excitement was growing the closer we got to the day as he asked more
questions to verify we were actually going to do this, made sure the team had
arrived and even called in the morning before we left Casa LAMB to check once
again that this was happening.
Early Monday morning, we met the Torch team on the way to
Ariel’s lot.  We drove as far as we could
and then walked down a dirt road, over a footbridge and up a hill to the site
of his future home.  Of course, we had to
haul all the tools, wood, roofing material, lunch, and water with us.  Each house is 16×16, wood with a raised wood
floor, tin roof, a door and one window.  The
Torch team builds about 100 houses a year.  They got right to it, digging the post holes and measuring out the dimensions off the house.  They agreed upon the placement of the door and window with Ariel.  
The Christ Church team figured out quickly how they could help.  Jose Luis and Angel both came to help, sacrificing a day’s work.  Of course, Ariel grabbed a hammer right away!  Soon the framing was done and the teams were hammering away at the floor and walls.

The building site




Meanwhile, his brother and co-worker, Jose Luis, took me on
a tour of the area.  “Our family lives in
all these houses.  That one is my sister’s.  That one up there is my uncle’s.”  He invited me to visit the house in a day
Torch built for him a couple of years ago, straight up the mountain.  He proudly showed me the 
improvements he had
made and his plans for expansion one day. 
I explained to him that in the US people pay big bucks to have a view
like he has!  It was there he shared with
me how he became a Christian. (Read his story
here.) When he was 19 a friend invited him to
church.  The pastor was preaching and
suddenly he got chills and felt “filled.” 
He came forward and said to the pastor, “I accept Jesus.”  At that moment, Jose Luis, who never had a
relationship with his father, heard a voice, “I love you.  I am your father.” 
As we were walking back down to the build site, Jose Luis
asked me if I knew about Ariel’s situation. 
I didn’t. Ariel has been living with his 2 sisters.  The landlord is evicting them.  They have until right before Christmas to
move out.  The sisters have a place to go
but Ariel didn’t.  Unbeknownst to me,
this has been weighing on him heavily. 
Making $13 a day, 4 days a week only when we have teams does not allow for any
savings.  “Amanda, for Ariel this is a
miracle.”  I believe his initial muted
response was the reaction to the unexpected answer to his prayers.  Two years after his initial request and just in the nick of time, he was going to get a house.
We spent the next couple of hours building the house
together.  More and more family members
and neighbors arrived to watch, smiling and sharing Ariel’s blessing. 
When the last board was nailed, the roof on, and the new
floor swept, we all gathered inside to inaugurate his home with prayer and
love.
  “It is so big!” he exclaimed. Angel sang, we all prayed, and
hugged.
  

The extended family celebrating the new home
Ariel and the Christ Church team



Ariel’s response now?  See for yourself.  His smile went from ear to ear and his face
shone all day.
  The team retraced its
steps back to the van for the ride home, all filled with joy and walking lighter
knowing we had been part of Ariel’s miracle. 









Flowing love

Jesus Christ, the Man for Others, 
 We, your children, make our prayer: 
Give us grace to love as brothers 
All whose burdens we can share 
(From hymn Father, Lord of all Creation)

Bill Curry’s medical brigade was here last week. As always it was wonderful. Hundreds of people were seen by the US and Honduran doctors. They left with bags filled with meds we take for granted that are completely inaccessible to them – Tylenol, cough drops, tums, worm pills (well, OK, we don’t take them often in the US!) and more. Babies were held, children hugged, little old men proposed to (by me, much to the delight of the little old ladies present!) thousands of stickers stuck to hands and shirts, countless smiles exchanged. A great time was had by all.

In my blog I often write about events from the Northamerican point of view – what an experience meant to us/me. This time I want to present an event from a Honduran’s point of view, with some artistic license on my part…

 “I got up early this morning. Yesterday was the anniversary of my daughter’s death. She would have been 28. I still look for her to walk in the door. I can hear her laugh. I think I see her out of the corner of my eye. I turn quickly to call out to her but she isn’t there. It breaks my heart all over again. With a heavy heart I put on my orange vest and grabbed my broom to go to work sweeping streets. I guess this government program is good, although it doesn’t pay much and often they don’t pay us for months. I don’t have any other work so every day I sweep and hope in the hot sun and driving rain. I heard about a clinic happening in a church. I stopped by to see a doctor. They gave me a number but it was at the end of a long line. I can’t be away from work that long. Just as I was about to leave, a woman called me to the door of the clinic and said, “Come in. We’ll take you right now.” I was surprised. I am used to being at the end of the line. Soon it was my turn to see the doctor. He smiled at me and said something in English that sounded nice. The Honduran lady translated everything he said. I was telling him about my aches and pains when suddenly my daughter came into my head. I couldn’t help myself and started to cry. I explained to them what had happened. The doctor stopped what he was doing and listened to me. I could see tears in his eyes. This northamerican doctor came from so far away to be in my little village and he stopped to listen to me. Then the lady from the door appeared and they all began to pray for me. They put their hands on me and prayed while I cried for my precious daughter. When we said amen, I felt different. As I stood to leave, the doctor  hugged me. My clothes were so dirty and his were so clean but he hugged me. My heart still hurts for my daughter but I feel lighter somehow. I left with a bag full of medicine but so much more. Is this what Jesus meant when He said He will always be with us?”


While medicine happened last week, it was love that flowed through the clinics each day. From little Jenny who greeted us as the vans pulled into her impoverished village, to the elderly woman who made us the most delicious semitas (sweet buns), to Dr. Jill, the optometrist, who saw almost every one of the 618 patients, to all the local volunteers, to the brigade team who gave of their time, talent and treasure, to the patient who told Dr. Bill that an angel in heaven sent him to shoot cortizone (painfully) in her knee, to every person who gave God's blessing to one another, to the grandpas waiting for hours in the hot sun to bring their grandchildren to see a doctor, to the Honduran translators (including Suzy's daughters) who go so far above and beyond the call of duty, and finally to Dr. Bill who gave his shoes to a member of my airport family.

There is a common denominator in all the LAMB teams. They come laden with crates and suitcases full of meds, clothes, school supplies, games, etc. but Love is what they bring.

"God, through us your love make known"
(From hymn Father, Lord of all Creation)


Rejoice and dance!

Rejoice and dance!

I was gazing lethargically out at the ocean when my attention became riveted to a young boy and his father. They approached a table nearby, and by the end of their interaction, I was left contemplating my trust, and confidence in my Heavenly Father.

The child pointed excitedly to a tiny, folded object in the bag strewn across the chair, and the father dutifully lifted it out. The boy gleefully clapped his hands, twirled, danced and skipped around in increasingly larger circles. I was fascinated, even though I still had no idea what the “reward” would be. The dad settled into the chair, raised the “reward” to his lips and began blowing with large breaths. Realization dawned …it was an inflatable object! I glanced at the young boy and he was not even looking at the dad – he was still rejoicing in anticipation of his “reward”. Meanwhile, daddy was rapidly heaving, huffing, and puffing without visible results. Many thoughts raced through my mind: He is not taking any recovery breaths; I hope he does not become “lightheaded”; I hope he does not have an underlying respiratory condition; I wonder how large that object will be; this is sure taking quite a while; the boy has no idea how much it costs to manually inflate this; look at the love of this father. All the while, the boy danced on in anticipation, not even glancing at the dad to observe the progress.

Finally, the inflatable object took shape and form. When it was fully inflated, the father interrupted the boy’s dance – he took him by the hand, presented the “reward” and led him to the water’s edge for the grand finale.

I smiled and wondered, really wondered – how many times did I trust my Heavenly Father with this childlike faith? How many times have I laid my request at his feet and danced or rejoiced as I waited for the “reward”? How many times did I fret about the “process / wait” as many doubts clouded my mind?

What I can truly say is this – I would love to have my Heavenly Father interrupt my rejoicing, so that he can lead me by the hand to the grand finale! I’m going to make an effort to gleefully dance like this boy danced…

 

A delay is not always bad.

A delay is not always bad.

A delay is not always bad.
It has been approximately two weeks since my return to Honduras. With it has come many emotions: joy with returning to familiar faces and places, peace with my decision to return, mild concern about readjusting to the heat and humidity, and wonderment at the welcome I received from some of my previous students.

The first few days seemed “action packed”. My luggage was delayed until the next day, but thankfully it arrived safely and intact. Friday 18-Aug-2017 was the day of the tornado in Tela. I had returned home from school and sprawled haphazardly across the bed, as I replayed the day’s activities. I planned to stroll across to a nearby location to view the sunset and unwind after a hectic day, but for some unknown reason, I just could not readily spring up and bound out of the door as planned. Instead, I flowed into quiet thanksgiving and praise to God about my perception of blessings and favor that had unfolded for me in the recent days. I made a phone call to share my joy, and at the conclusion stated: “I’m going to head out now and view the sunset”.

I never got up… Instead, I was immediately startled by a sudden, large shadow moving rapidly across the window! I turned and realized that within an instant the sun had retreated and it was dusk outside – no gradual growing dark… instantly dusk. As I tried to process what I was witnessing through the window, my mind registered the sound of zinc sheets (from a roof) whirling outside and the simultaneous sound of what seemed to be a truck nearby or a distant train. A train? That sound was not right for this location – there were no trains! My immediate thought was to get on the floor, but before my muscles could even respond… as quickly as it started, the noise and swirling subsided.

I soon discovered it was a small tornado. However, the pictures made me sit upright and ushered me into more thanksgiving. Even though structural damage seemed minimal, I would have been sauntering down this very road, passing this very junction on my way to view the sunset if my original plan had unfolded. Taking a “praise break” – offering praise and thanksgiving to God had delayed “my plan” and kept me within the safe confines of my home. For that, I offered even more praise and thanksgiving. Indeed, a delay is not always bad!

          

Classes for Angelita: Learning Sign Language

Classes for Angelita: Learning Sign Language

Jack Melvin, SAMS Missionary in Honduras serves and cares for the people in his community. Recently he shared about a young girl and her opportunity to receive education.

After six months of searching, we have finally found a sign-language teacher for Angelita, who is 15 years old. Angelita is deaf and lives in the mountains, south of Tegucigalpa.  Recently I asked for prayers about her doctor visit. At that time, we thought that with a hearing-aid she might be able to hear again. Unfortunately, the tests showed that she cannot hear the sound frequencies used in speech.  Both the doctor and a missionary, who works with the deaf, advised us to have her learn sign-language. That way, she can communicate with others, become part of a community, and get an education or learn a trade.

Angelita’s brother joins along with some other neighbor friends. Lessons have become a community event!

Adding to our difficulties, the major two-lane highway to the Pacific Ocean, which is the only way to reach her community, has been under construction for this entire year.  One lane is entirely shut down, leaving only the other lane for north-south traffic. Accordingly, one has to wait an hour each way, before one can pass.   A trip, which one-way normally takes one hour, now can take as long as three hours.   The problem for Angelita is that all the resources, such as schools, the Association of Deaf Persons, teachers, are in Tegucigalpa. We could not allow  a teenage girl to travel that far alone under such conditions.

In spite of that, we finally found Doña Gaudelupe Villatoro, who lives close by. Although she has another job, she was willing to visit Angelita each Saturday and teach her sign language. She also teaches cosmetology, jewelry and sewing, all valuable skills to earn a living.  Angelita would have a bleak life without any help.  While the other kids are in school, she stays home to care for the toddlers and babies.  As such, she would not have much of a future. But with an education and some assistance, everything opens up for her.

Right now, Angelita is studying with her cousin Johana, 12 years old, who lives in the same house. That way, she can practice and talk to someone else outside the classroom.  They are already best of friends.

Please continue to pray for her and the whole family.

Learn more about Jack Melvin and his ministry in Honduras.