Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Keep praying for the baby Christians :)

This weekend was a big men's retreat and I asked you all to really pray for God to move in these guy's lives--- he did!
We got to greet the boys at a big church-worship-service-welcome-back event Sunday night. There were hundreds of people there to greet the boys and celebrate what God did that weekend. We heard great testimonies and saw about 100 men of God emerge from the experience.

I asked for special prayer for the boys we sent: Kevin, Axel, and Sarco (plus 2 cousins). Unfortunately Sarco did not attend because his girlfriend had their baby last weekend. I was bummed that he wasn't there to hear God's truth, but I know he is becoming more open to faith and I know God is not giving up on him.

Kevin, the 14 year old that ran away from our home 2 weeks ago, showed up with his heart open to God and gave us big hugs and smiles at the church reception. The pastor said he had really changed. I continue to pray that he receives serious healing from his nightmare of a childhood that only God can give him. Many of you have asked about Kevin and where he is living: he has chosen to live in the slum barrio where he grew up with a Christian cousin, just a stone's throw away from where he was abused as a child. He is making it really hard on himself, but I know God isn't finished with what he has started in Kevin's life.

Axel & the cousins all accepted Christ for the first time and want to completely turn their lives over to him. They cried with joy when we greeted them and I am praying for them to persevere in their new faith and find a good support system to cheer them on and teach them more. Axel says he wants to leave his old life in the dust and embrace the freedom and truth God offers. Praise God!!

On a much lighter note, I treated Michelle to a special spa day as a thank you for working so hard during our move and being such a darling friend. I have gotten to mentor her during my time here and it has meant so much to me! She is so sweet and open to what God wants to do in her life. Exciting stuff. She has also helped me tremendously with my Spanish because we just sit and talk for hours together about our lives and what God is doing around us :). What a blessing! You can see we did a 'serious' before pic and an adorable 'after' pic at a cute girly crepe cafe.

As I prepare to finish my last week here, my prayer is 1 Cor 16:13: Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be a woman of courage; be strong. Do everything in love. I want to finish strong and take advantage of every little divine appointment God has for me here :)! Love you all!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Girl Bonding! What a wonderful day :)

What an amazing blessing to visit our Compassion child today in her home! There are 44,000 children sponsored here in Honduras, and only about 100 children a year actually get to meet their sponsors, so everyone was SO excited! I was the first visitor in 8 years to visit this project, and I am so grateful for this special connection with Rubia!

She is a beautiful, kind, Christian girl. I loved every minute we spent together! :) First we showed up at the local church, where Rubia and her mom met me with tears in their eyes.

I saw the local afterschool project where the children recieve their care from Compassion, and then we went to her home where I met the rest of her family. She lives with her mother, brother, 2 sisters, aunt, uncle, cousins, and grandparents in a tiny plot with 3 one bedroom homes.
Her mother was widowed 10 years ago by a drunk driver. Life here is very very hard for a single mom, but she is a strong believer and the faith of each person in the family was gorgeous to see.

Lizzie stole the show: she is 4 years old and just full of little songs, dances, and stories to tell that made us all laugh the whole time. What an adorable girl!

After we made friends she pulled me into her room and said, will you take a picture of me all by myself? :) Then she and her sisters wanted to sing me a song. It was so cute!

All three girls share a queen size bed in the only bedroom in the house. We went into their room to enjoy the girly presents I brought for them: 3 pairs of butterfly earrings, a pink rhinestone cross necklace, and 5 tiny lip glosses. My favorite moment was taking turns choosing our favorite flavor and then pretending to be make-up artists together. Even the mom joined us :).

Then we took a walk with the whole family around the pretty little town to see her middle school, the town square, and share an icecream together. We kept meeting more family, friends, and neighbors along the way and they were excited to see me, too. They were like, we have Compassion sponsors, too, but we thought they were all old ladies!

They also told me how they pray for their sponsors and that they wouldn't be able to attend school without Compassion. I am so grateful that God worked out this special day to encourage Rubia, build our friendship, and to just have fun! It is so easy to just send the money each month, but I can tell you I am going to work so much harder at those letters, pictures, stickers, and cards because I got to see for myself today what a difference that connection makes.
Prayer request: There are just 6 children without sponsors in Rubia's project, and I want to pray for their sponsorship, too. Also praise God for the special time together, and that God would continue to provide for this sweet widow and her 4 children.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Prayers are working!!

Thank you so much for the prayers you lifted up for our ladies retreat this weekend! God moved in big, life changing ways in the lives of the girls we brought, and it was a huge blessing!! I asked for special prayers for Michelle & Clarissa because they come from very rough backrounds and are faced with a ton of life challenges. Their response to hearing truth this weekend was amazing!
Clari (in the black & white floral top) has been very very tough, closed off, and withdrawn in the last year due to the excrutiating pain of her homelife. Over coffee I asked her what she thought about the whole God thing, and she said for the first time she wants God to make huge changes in her life. After one worship session I walked over and gave her a hug and felt this little nudge inside to tell her I loved her. I waited for a split second because I didn't know what to say, and she said, Rachel, te quiero! (Rachel, I love you!) How special to stand by and see God's love breaking down barriers and setting the captives free!

Michelle's faith (far right) was completely renewed, refreshed, and engergized. Here's a small picture of her life: her mother had 8 children, all with different fathers that were never in the picture for long. Her mother did drugs, prostituted herself, and died of cancer when Michelle was 12. They did not do hugs, kisses, or kindness in her home. Her brothers were abused physically and sexually by family members. Her story seems to be the norm here, and she met God's grace in a powerful way this weekend!

The retreat focused on God's grace, healing, forgiveness, and love even in the face of the most awful sin and the most awful pain. It was the perfect message for these women. The culutral differences amazed me. For example, in a session on Self Esteem, I assumed we would focus on body image the way we would at a conference in the US. Body image was never mentioned once.

Causes of Low Self Esteem for Women in Honduras

1. Family/husband calling you names and saying you are worthless, and abandoning you

2. People at work calling you names and saying you are worthless

3. Finances. Being poor causes you to feel unworthy/worthless

It was an amazing look into the spiritual climate and challenges these women struggle with. People were just profoundly affected as they heard truth and had authentic encounters with the God who loves them like crazy.

Prayer Requests:
Praise God for the work he is doing in the lives of Michelle & Clari. Please pray this week as they fast on behalf of their guy friends they want to go to the men's retreat going on in 2 weeks. They want all of their friends to experience God, too! Also pray that they would spend time in the word as the daily grind/the enemy wants to destroy all of the truth, peace, and hope newly planted in their hearts.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ladies Retreat this weekend!

We are so excited today because we are about to leave for a 3 day ladies Ameaus retreat. Kim has an 'inviting problem' just like me :) and so we are sponsoring 4 girls to attend. This is a silly picture of Kim with one of her favorite pets, Rocky the talking parrot.
Please pray for our retreat. Some of the girls are strong Christians, others are very far from God. Pray that we would truly experience something special and meaningful. I pray that our hearts will be open to learning, hope and love. Especially lift up Clarissa, seen above with the computer on her lap. I don't know the whole story, but she has grown up in extreme poverty, and at this point has been abandoned by both parents, who are both on drugs. She hasn't been in school for a while and is really struggling. Pray that she is moved by our time at the retreat.
This is Michelle with her baby Tati (making a funny face), the oldest daughter Rick & Kim have adopted. She is very very sweet and loves teaching me Spanish/praticing her English with me. We have gotten to have some great talks about God. Please pray that I would have wisdom and hope to share with her when she asks hard questions.
Thank you so much!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Loving the daily life...

I am having a great time! The family is wonderful, and I've been practicing more Spanish than ever in my entire life. Tons. My head is spinning with it by the time I go to sleep. :) In a good way. I am trying to learn, read, practice, use new words, ask questions, and keep trying even when it gets ridiculous. On top of just saying wierd stuff all the time, I have also picked up a Mexican/Costa Rican accent that makes people laugh every time I open my mouth.

Being here is the perfect balance because Kim, the mom, is from Tennessee and is wonderful to talk/share/laugh with in English. On the other hand, the kids only speak Spanish and I am tutoring, reading, teaching, talking, babysitting, cleaning, playing, and doing everything with them and their friends all day. God is so good, providing so many opportunities to connect, grow, and be challenged.

Yesterday we even went to a big soccer game! The 2 top teams in the country went head to head, the biggest rivalry in town, and the crowd was crazy! Mos def a cultural experience. The family warned me that when the drunk guys see someone blonde they throw beer and bags of pee at them, so I should wear a hat and not look up at the stands behind us. Apparently this may dissuade them from identifying me as a gringa. Well, I really hate hats and the best one we could find made me look like a cancer patient (according to Jimmy) so I decided to take my chances. We had a group to go with and we had a strict plan not to make a scene and to sit in the least rowdy section possible. We decided that if I didn't wear my wedding band they would try to steal me/kiss me/hit on me but if I wore my ring they would curse at me. I decided to take my chances again. On the upside since I know almost no slang I rarely have any idea about the offensive things men are yelling. It works out. :)

Also if I take money anywhere outside the house I have to hide it in my bra. You have to put the money on the very bottom of your bra because the robbers know all about this trick and will make you flash them so they find your money and take it. If you are very strategic, however, about the placement of said money and the way you flash, you won't have to give them a thing (no pics on this one!). I am just laughing as I think about all the crazy things I am learning here :)!

Our strategy for the game went perfectly: I stuck really close to the biggest guy in our group, we ignored everybody, and had a great time watching the game. I have to say it is really hard to know what's going on in that stadium because the don't have a scoreboard/time clock and Mike wasn't there for me to ask tons of questions. Also the last soccer game I watched was like 5 years ago in another huge, packed, rowdy stadium in Costa Rica.

It's so fun here because I never know what each day will hold. For example, today the kids took me down the street to the ghetto where they grew up. It was a really rough neighborhood. They wanted to introduce me to their family. I ended up meeting someone's aunt and tutoring her in math/fractions for her adult high school homework the entire visit. You never know! :)