Just wanted to upload some pictures of the special Christmas gifts the sponsors made possible this year, the Christmas party, a couple of building construction pictures, and other Milk Project December pictures.
It has been a great 2017, looking forward to see how God grows and shapes the project and these kids for the future in 2018!
I am amazed that it has been over a week since the elections here (November 26th) and that the amount of coverage internationally to the growing problematic situation here has been so very little.
Honduras needs your prayers.
The short version of the story is that we have a president running for re-election, a first here, and controversial in and of itself. The main opposing candidate is representing an alliance of a couple parties whose main goal in aligning was to get more votes than the president, as otherwise he looked to be the clear winner. All the other parties here were quite assuredly before the election running for a very distant third place.
The socialist party which is pretty much led by the ousted president from the 2009 coup, where ironically he was also trying to get re-elected, has made statements they are not accepting the election results, which have been quite slow to be reported, and quite close in the outcome. Accusations of tampering have been flying as the results being final and (however one deems) transparent have been slow going. There have been calls for continual protests in the streets, even some not so subtly suggesting violence play a part in overturning this "dictatorship." And for a couple days, there was quite a bit of destruction of private property and looting. That has calmed a bit after a curfew was put in place, but still the streets are being blocked in key areas for some periods of time, making transportation of goods difficult, and cancelling school (for the schools on the US schedule...Honduran government schools are out for break until February) for over a week now because of safety concerns.
Politics (not just lately) in many parts of the world seems to have more to do with the power for those fighting for it than it does for real change for the people being served. While those ardent supporters of both sides claim it would be a disaster for the country to have to live through four years of their opponents, the reality is that for the vast majority of the country life will continue with little or no change. And the vast majority are the economic poor.
These disruptions really are not hurting the wealthy and those with steady employment. To be sure, they hurt service industry businesses quite a bit, those whose stores were looted and/or burned and others, but the greatest hardship is for those that daily are seeking a paying job just to make it through another 24 hours with something to eat.
Right now our mission is operating as normal as can be...construction continues on the Milk Project building, the Churches are meeting, the clinic is open (although...service industry, patient load is down since many have trouble getting transportation), and since all the kids from the Milk Project live within walking distance, they are meeting daily as well. Things are seemingly normal sometimes and in some places here...but not really. How this will play out remains to be seen...there is international interference behind the scenes, along with international observance front and center trying to help, the parties and what they are doing behind the scenes is shrouded. The curfew was established Friday for 10 days...but police are now resisting enforcing it (although violence has not escalated yet) and even still, there are no signs that the situation will be resolved by the time that curfew is set to expire.
So pray if you would...
-for God's touch on the hearts of those waging political war, and for all of us that get wrapped up in things like this so tightly sometimes that we forget where our faith, our sight, and love should be.
-that He would help ministries and their staff, volunteers, congregants all share Christ's love with everyone around them through this time regardless of what their political position is.
-for peace, for stability...so that there could be fostered an environment for economic growth to provide employment for roughly 50% or more of the country, for assurance of being able to leave your home without worry of being able to return for protests, curfews and violence, and done in such a way that only God can get the glory.
Not sure that is an interesting post or not, but it is part of what we have to do...sometimes quite satisfying when you can fix something or find what is needed (sometimes even when things are available here, they can be several hundred percent of what the cost on the internet is) and sometimes quite frustrating when it just does not work out. It is a reminder though that ultimately some things are out of our hands. I can plan, I can search, (sometimes I even remember to pray) but ultimately there are large swatches of life that are out of our control. It helps to foment planning for the future, but also sometimes helps to not be so dependent on the material things that cannot be ordered with one day shipping...or even 30, 60 or 90 shipping sometimes.
It is also a reminder to be thankful for what infrastructure development (in general and in helping other countries), access to internet, economic investment, and a growing "world" economy can do for all countries, especially countries that have economic disadvantages in some areas.
Felipe here. You may or may not know me, although odds are that at the time of this writing, most of those reading this do. But how well do we really know anyone?Sometimes it is hard to get to know one and another, depending on proximity, time available, personalities, etc.
For example, many of you do not know that I used to take when first dating Valerie in the early 1990s, I found she did not care for any songs by Tom Petty that were being released at that time. So I took great pleasure listening to classic rock stations, waiting for an older Tom Petty song to come on, and then casually asking if she liked that song, only to then with a dramatic flair announce, "Ah ha! That is Tom Petty!" And yet despite that and many other such stories from real life, she still agreed to marry me.
Another thing that strangers, acquaintances, and even friends sometimes do not get to know is a quality I possess in which I think many of us could identify...inadequacy. When we share our story, I am quick to point out that serving here in general and especially in a position of ministry leadership is definitely not something I identify as a strength or something innate in me. What goes along with that, but that is hard to share in a casual conversation, is a deep seated feeling of inadequacy. Sometimes that can be good...in being able to clearly see a lack of ability to gain favor with God based on merit or good deeds. Sometimes however it can also manifest in an almost crippling lack of belief of worth, of ability, and underlying doubt of Christ's redeeming power. It can be extremely difficult to work well when this is most manifest, hard to participate well in relationships, and hard to just be in public for any length of time. It can leave you feeling trapped in your house, not seeing a way out.
Those are just two embarrassing stories of my past...and present. Stories that can be hard to share, or hard to find people with whom we feel close enough to share. Not everyone wants to share our semi-embarrassing, or perish the thought actual deep dark secrets, with almost anyone. How you handle that will vary...but there is One with whom we can, and should share all that and so much more.
Tom Petty is no longer with us, but his songs are.
In a world (or inside my own brain) that can be so twisted, difficult and hard to navigate, we can take solace/strength in what? Only God...only He can get us through, only He can save our wretched souls. This is no mere platitude, not something we say to make ourselves feel better. Sometimes it does not make me feel better...but I can still know it is better and will get better. Only He can give us clarity in the fog of our brains, only He provides a solid foundation on which we can stand. Only He can lift us up and keep us going when our will gives out...
"You could stand me up at the gates of hell,
But I won't back down
Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around,
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down,
Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down
Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down"
I tell my kids that when they are getting guff from someone at school, to stop and think about what might be going on in the life of the person offending them. To think about what they may be going through, and in cases where desired intent is hard to decipher, to presume the best. Several times with hindsight, that has proven to be most helpful to them and good instruction to us all.
There are reasons to do this that are altruistic, and they are good, but mostly this is practical because it is helpful to us...because the anger, bitterness, and depression that can come from our interpretations mostly affects us, not the people that we think have hurt us.
I was reminded of that yesterday while running errands...twice. I was going about my day, on my phone texting while waiting in two different locations. I heard a police officer come in to the room complaining about plans being made and someone needing to make up their mind about if they were going or not. In retrospect about two minutes later, I realized that I had been thinking as she was discussing the situation, that private get togethers should be planned not while at work (which she was, in an police office where I was filling out some paperwork for one of our cars) and that the line outside would have been moving faster if she was not also doing that. It was not angry or bitter, just casual annoyance with only a superficial paying attention...but still. I say that because at some point her seeming anger and busyness came to a head after a phone call saying they were on the way to get the casket right then, and then ending the call with her head and her hands and wondering aloud about how her friend was going to be able to deal with this.
Later I was eating lunch with the kids and a group of North Americans came in where we were eating. I did not have any particular negative thoughts per se, we even gave them a recommendation of what was on sale but not on the menu, but still had my preconceptions and only superficial interest that was quickly wiped clean when we talked about where we were from, and finding out they were from Houston, stuck here for four days more than the mission trip they were on because of Hurricane Harvey, and one of the gentlemen shared that of six relatives living in the area, all six had homes under water. He had his boots on...said that if they got out on a flight, he was ready to get to work as soon as they got off the plane.
I share this because I think we all (mostly myself) could use a reminder that we are surrounded by hurting people in one way or another, mostly seemingly normal folks...people that need some understanding and sympathy rather than too-quick judgement, defensiveness or the like. Oh that I could be consistent in doing that.
I mean, in the previous picture, you get a sense, but this one below is better, as you can see just a tinge of red which is the Ford's roof to the right of Dalton who is waving to me. But what you do not know is...the distance I have covered is perhaps only two hundred feet up the trail. We discussed that in the future having this trail have steps and even a lane for driving would be nice. It would certainly leave you less gasping for breath. But once you catch your breath and turn around...then the view takes it away again.
Darwin cannot be there at 8:00 on Fridays this year, and Oscar was out of town this Friday, but we carried on between Maria, myself and Valerie giving the devotion. It was about healing, as she has been listening to some sermons online from a former pastor of ours about the subject.
We listened, we talked, we wrestled. It is a difficult topic really, especially if you deal with a lot of people with illness. Looking at healing that Jesus did and in the Bible...it is a hard-to-deal-with mix of some being healed, some not, God moving, God calling us to prayer...it leaves you possibly with a bit of a paradox, or at least a conundrum.
We arrived at something I thought was most helpful. That in our prayer life in general, as well as when praying for healing, sometimes we miss the point. We can focus on what we are asking for, and what that means for the person or people hearing the prayer...and allow many questions of doubt and whether or not we are praying correctly get in the way.
Instead...we should remember that all prayer is ultimately about getting us closer to God and what He is doing and will do. It isn't about us or how we phrase things. We are free to come to God in our confusion, our anger, in our lack of seeing the bigger picture, knowing that what He will do is so much bigger than what we can see or imagine. And if that point was not clear enough in my mind, I ran across a picture from the cancer ward in Hospital Escuela from a few years ago that showed a Bible verse. Specifically Jeremiah 33:3...
"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."