I am filled with joy to report I am back in Honduras! I have had several reunions, eaten way too much Honduran food, and discovered to my relief that my Spanish is about what it was when I left. The best thing that has happened so far is attending church at the Children’s Home. It had been a year since I last attended church in person, a year since I had taken communion. The little kids have gotten bigger, we have several new children, and some of the older children have moved to the transition program and are living in houses around Tegucigalpa. Other than that, it was just the same. I really felt like I had been to church the week before. It felt like home. As I felt the breeze and watched the trees sway outside the window, I thought about the Holy Spirit. A feeling came over me that this church experience was just like God, who is, was, and ever shall be. We change, we come and go, we move closer or away but He is always steadfast, always faithful, always the same. Thanks be to God.
Today is Monday, my 4th day back. I am finishing up a few “tareas” (chores) before I move out to the Children’s Home for the foreseeable future. I will be living with the medium boys! Being the mother of two boys, this is a perfect fit for me. I will get more details tomorrow about how I can be of service to LAMB and to God. I am also praying that we can welcome teams again soon. There are rumors here that the vaccine from Russia may arrive. Pray for that, or any vaccine. It is an election year so maybe that will motivate candidates to get the vaccine into the arms of the people. Everyone is vigilant here about COVID precautions. EVERYONE wears a mask. To enter a store you have to walk over a mat soaked with disinfectant, have your temperature taken, and get a squirt of hand sanitizer. When you enter the Children’s Home, they disinfect the car tires and your shoes!
It is so wonderful to be back, although I always miss my family and friends. I look forward to the day I can walk into church and worship with my St. David’s family.
Thank you again so much for all your love, prayers, and support. They go a very, very long way. My prayers remain for each of you.
There are two things I firmly believe are true. #1 – God did not rain down corona virus on us. #2 – God can and will redeem the pain and suffering we all experience during this crisis. I don’t know when or how, but He will.
I also believe the Lord wants us to learn something from this crisis and time of physical separation. I imagine we will be learning things long after it is over. I have been pondering this in the endless hours of solitude. Here is a preliminary list…
1. As Americans, we are socialized to be independent, self-reliant. To charge forward and take the bull by the horns. In the Covid era, we are learning that our survival depends on each other. My solitude protects the stranger in the shopping mall, my church family, the server at the restaurant. Your solitude protects me. We are in this together or we all go down. Isn’t that one of Jesus’ most fervent desires for us? “…that all of them may be one” John 17:21.
2. The last shall be first. Suddenly the lowliest jobs, sanitation workers, for example, are hailed as heroes as they put themselves at risk to do a job we have new appreciation for. In the blink of an eye, parents have a much more profound appreciation for the work, endurance, and commitment of teachers. Same goes for daycare workers, babysitters, and nannies.
3. Our generosity muscles are getting a real workout. The news and social media are filled with heartwarming stories. My neighbor picked up some blueberry scones for me at the grocery store and refused reimbursement. A small thing, for sure, but it meant a lot to me. LAMB has been able to keep our staff in Honduras working with medical benefits thanks to the ongoing generosity of our donors. An anonymous donor sent relief money so we could deliver food to the impoverished who no longer have any way to make a living.
4. We are discovering that we really do love one another. I have heard of more web conferencing programs and apps in the last two weeks than in the last 10 years. There is zoom, house party, and for those in different time zones, marco polo. We set aside petty gripes and log in to be together, laugh, play games, pray, and simply say, “I love you.”
5. We are discovering what it really means to be the church. Church is not the building where your child was baptized, or you were married, or where your loved ones are buried. Church is us, wherever we are.
6. We are learning that as contagious as corona virus is, kindness is a thousand times more contagious. When you get it, you can’t wait to pass it on to as many people as possible.
7. We are learning that political divisiveness is passe. Sticking together, supporting one another is so much more important that whether you are red or blue. We are one nation and we can only beat this together.
8. We are learning that prosperity is fragile. Whether we like it or not, this is a global world. Borders are lines on a map and mean nothing to corona virus. So many people live on the edge. The most vulnerable pay the highest price. So many of them are children. What we do about it is a lesson in process.
I pray that we are all learning that God is in the midst of us. The types and numbers of tragedies boggle the mind. We can only get through this by leaning on Him. If we lean on Jesus, we can be a balm for someone else. If you need a kind word, or some encouragement, or a prayer, let me know. I am your sister in Christ and I love you.
Where was God? This is a question we often hear when something bad happens. It implies that if something horrible happens, there must not be a God because otherwise He would have prevented this terrible thing. The common response from a person of faith is, “God never promised to prevent bad things from happening. He promised to be with us at all times.” True but incomplete. What exactly does that mean that He is with us during that terrible time?
A couple of days ago, I visited the 9/11 memorial in New York City. Close to 3,000 people died that day. Was God there with them? If so, what did He do?
Of course, it is impossible to know exactly how each person experiences God in those times. If we look at the life of the human Jesus we can get an idea of what it means for Jesus to be present in tragedy and heartbreak. In the worst moment of Jesus’ life, in fact the worst moment in the history of the world, past and future, this innocent man hung on the cross, betrayed, abandoned, and forsaken. As He suffered unspeakable torture, slowly dying a horrific death, Jesus looked out on the people who put Him there and…prayed. Prayed to His father to forgive the perpetrators of the most heinous crime that will ever be committed. Next, He promised salvation to the justly convicted criminal hanging next to Him. He certainly could have used His power and authority to smite the perpetrators and come down from the cross. Instead, knowing in that horrible moment how the story will end, Jesus prayed and Jesus loved.
On April 16, 2007, my younger son, Hunter was a freshman at Virginia Tech. Early that morning, a student named Cho murdered 32 students and faculty. When Hunter returned home, he was in shock and despair. I was focused entirely on being his mother, not even praying or thinking about the victims. At some point that week after the tragedy, I received a vision from the Lord. I could see 3 students lying on the classroom floor in pools of blood. I knew they were in great pain and terrified. Suddenly, Jesus walked into the room. He walked up to each student, held out his hand and said, “Come with me.” At that moment, I knew the pain and terror were replaced with the peace that passes all understanding. He loved them. When Hunter returned to school, while praying at the makeshift memorial, he also had a vision. “Mom, I saw Cho in heaven surrounded by the victims. They were telling him they love him and they forgive him. Mom, if they can forgive him, so can I.” Jesus forgave Cho and, through His great love, so did Cho’s victims.
As I toured the 9/11 museum, 4 things made an indelible impact. First, as you
walk down a ramp to get to the museum, deep underground, you see a nondescript, rather ugly, concrete wall on the left. It was odd since every other part of the museum was beautifully designed and finished. I learned that it was the original retaining wall from one of the towers–the wall that holds back the Hudson River. If that wall had been breached, the tragedy would have been so much worse as lower Manhattan would have been instantly flooded. I can see an army of angels holding that wall in place during the explosions that incinerated the building and fire so hot it melted the steel. God protected the people in Lower Manhattan.
I also believe that the Lord continues reveal His presence to us in the aftermath of the tragedies.
Take the Ground Zero Cross. In the midst of all the debris, on September 13, a worker discovered a cross, perfectly proportioned, made of I beams, from the prefabricated materials used to build the towers. Recovery workers prayed there and left messages there. The presence of God must have been powerfully felt by them as they were surrounded by death and destruction.
Many saw the crossed metal as a Christian cross and felt its survival was symbolic. Fr. Jordan spoke over it and declared it to be a “symbol of hope… a symbol of faith… a symbol of healing”.One minister at the site says that when a family of a man who died in the attacks came to the cross shrine and left personal effects there, “It was as if the cross took in the grief and loss. I never felt Jesus more.” Wikipedia
The next item I saw took my breath away. A New Testament was seared into a
molten piece of steel. It was open to Matthew 5 which includes the verses:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” and “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Matt. 5:4,38,39.
Surely, the Lord is speaking to us through this one page, made of flimsy paper, out of the entire Bible that survived the hellfire and brimstone of 9/11.
Finally, I listened to a recording by the brother of the pilot, Captain Burlingame, whose plane crashed into the Pentagon. All that was recovered was his passport and the prayer card he carried in his wallet. The plastic laminated prayer card, from his mother’s funeral, survived the explosion as the jet, used as a bomb exploded. It too had the verse from Matthew 5:4 — “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” His sister said, “It also has a poem that says ‘I did not die. Do not go to my grave,'” she said. “We took that as a message from my Mother: ‘It’s okay. I got him.'”
When Yarely, our bouncy, pouncy, flouncy, 10 year old died, God sent us the same message. As I wrote in a post the day after:
After the funeral service, we processed to the burial site. It is a cemetery on the side of a mountain in the village of San Buenaventura. Although the path was long and a bit treacherous, the view over the valley was beautiful. “Just like the view from our mountain home in Tennessee!” exclaimed Brad, Yarely’s father. Off to the left was a beautiful view of a valley with a town at the far end. It was cloudy and dark when we arrived. (Thank you Lord for holding off the torrential rains during the burial.) Led by Angel and the small guitar, we began singing a beautiful, meditative song called, “Aleluya” praising God. I looked up to see the town, just the town, illuminated, shining in the midst of the grey, cloudy mountains. As the song ended, the clouds returned. For a moment the Lord reveals, “Yarely is with me, in my Holy City.”
Where is God when bad things happen? Right there, loving the victims, holding them in His arms, inviting them into a new life. But that’s not all. He is here, with us, speaking to us, the survivors, offering us comfort and hope. The very last thing Jesus said was, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Always. Amen.
Over my life as a Christian, I have learned a lot about God. Often I realize in retrospect something He has taught me. I listen attentively to sermons to glean what I can, I seek out a deeper understanding through my own studies. I pray for discernment and understanding. However, it is rare that I am aware of being in the midst of being actively taught something by the Lord.
I recently attended the New Wineskins Mission Conference. I attended two break out sessions on healing. I believe miraculous healing through prayer can happen. In fact, I have received healing twice, once a physical healing and the other healing of a deep, long standing emotional wound. As I sat in the sessions, I decided I wanted to learn more about healing and, even perhaps, how to be an instrument of God’s healing. So, I bought 4 books on the subject. As I flew back to Honduras, I thought maybe I should start with myself. I have carpal tunnel in both my wrists and thumbs. (Side note to all you avid thumb texters…you will be here one day. As I told a doctor once, I am like a cat – clever but ineffective since I have no use of my opposable thumbs) I prayed with complete faith and belief for healing.
Here is what happened. First of all, the Lord taught me about daily bread. “Give us this day our daily bread” is not just about bread! This is something the Hondurans know very well. As Angel says, “Yesterday is gone, we don’t know if there will be a tomorrow, all we have is today. Live today as though it is your last.” Anyone in recovery understands this concept as well. “One day at a time.” Instead of waiting for a dramatic healing event, I understood the Lord was teaching me to pray for healing one day at a time. All I need is for my hands to be pain-free today. “As Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matt.6:34)So I start each day with a prayer, please heal my hands for today. Tomorrow is another day.
After several days, I realized He was teaching something else. Throughout each day I will have moments when I realized my hands don’t hurt. I say a quick prayer of thanks. Occasionally, my thumb or my wrist will start hurting, sometimes in the middle of the night. I say a quick prayer asking for healing. Within a minute or two the pain subsides. I was pondering this and reflected on the time He healed me physically. I had a bad case of tendonitis in both Achilles tendons. I could hardly walk. I had a huge knot on each tendon. I had just started my ministry here and worried it would severely impact my ability to fulfill my responsibilities. Two orthopedic doctors had examined them and both had said there was nothing to be done. One day, I met an extraordinarily spiritual woman. Suzy introduced her as Sister Lupita, a prophet. I asked her to pray for my ankles, which she did. That afternoon, the knots were gone and I was painfree. It was a miracle! Dr. Jim, one of the orthopedic doctors who had examined me, was amazed that my tendons were totally healed. This was over 8 years ago and I haven’t had a twinge since. I suddenly realized that I rarely think about them or what God did for me. Sometimes I will tell the story to illustrate our miraculous Lord, but mostly I just thoughtlessly enjoy healthy tendons.
This time, with my hands, the Lord didn’t give me a one and done miraculous healing. Instead He helps me one day at a time. This is my lesson – to depend on God when I have needs, to lean on Him in times of trouble, to be thankful at all times for all things, and to walk through this life hand in hand, day by day with Him.
I don’t know how my hands will feel tomorrow but today, despite hours of painting which should have left me writing in pain, today my hands don’t hurt. I talk to God all day, asking for help and thanking Him for His grace and mercy. I think I like it this way best. (By the way, I haven’t opened the books yet!) So pray with me, “Lord, give us this day our daily bread”…whatever that may be for you and take His hand today.
I have a combo team in house. Part of the team is a medical brigade and part is a construction team. Yesterday the construction team set off to a rural, mountain site to build a house in a day. We have finally gotten rain, thanks be to God, which made the dirt road leading to the site a muddy road. The truck carrying all the wood and supplies got stuck. Finally, it made it to the site. The team had just started unloading when a man showed up and announced that HE, not our beneficiary, owned the tiny plot of land. We can’t settle property disputes in the moment so the team had to leave. The wood truck got stuck in the mud again and almost slid off a small ledge. So, now what? We have wood for a house and team to build it but no beneficiary. Fortunately, my assistant, Edson, is on the ball. He had already begun scoping out beneficiaries for the houses we will build in October.
Meanwhile, a woman in Flor named Felicity, was reeling from the day before. Her daughter had been mugged. In the middle of the night, the heavy rain was too much for her fragile, makeshift roof. It collapsed. Felicity was relieved they had survived the disaster but at a complete loss. Everything she had was gone. They literally had no roof over their heads. She does the only thing she can do. She begins to pray, beseeching the Lord to intervene, to somehow provide shelter for her and her daughter. Please, Lord, help us.
Then the wood truck and the team showed up. The team jumped out of the van and began unloading the wood. Edson explained to Felicity that, if it is OK with her (!) the team would build her house right then and there. Just a few hours later, Felicity and her daughter had a new, waterproof,strong house, built to last!
During the house blessing, Felicity shared how overwhelmed she was that the Lord had heard her prayer and answered it..immediately. Her daughter cried. The team was equally overwhelmed to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a real, bona fide miracle for this faithful woman and her daughter.
So, which was it? A mess or a miracle? The day sure started as a mess but the Lord has a way of making a mess into a miracle.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26