Grace is so important to our lives. God's grace sometimes is overwhelmingly felt, sometimes seemingly absent, and sometimes the gap between the two can be easy street or deafening in silence.
When visiting Valle de Angeles with the last team, Valerie and I ventured off to see more of the town. We have had the pleasure of being able to go together for these trips the last several times, so we are definitely seeing more and more of the town, not that it is huge.
This time we found the cemetery. I have always had an odd, hard to explain fascination with cemeteries. Always wanted to live next door to one...quiet neighbors.
Walking through this one is like many in Honduras...markers representing every level of wealth and/or affection, and many places of seeming overlap.
Long lives, short lives. Full lives, and bad breaks. I could write a book what I think about all this. But instead, as often happens, this will be a themed post...bad breaks. Our first is our sister Maria Esteban. This woman lives in a perpetual state of trusting the Lord for everything. She and her family have constant bouts of illness and she lost her husband last year.
She fell and broke her arm and came to the clinic. I was impressed how everyone sprang into action to help...eventually reaching my ear to authorize some money she would need if she was going to be able to visit the public hospital to hopefully get the surgery she needed. As often happens here though, the appointment was missed for one reason or another, and the surgery did not happen as the clinic had arranged. After finally getting her back into the clinic, we found out the pain had subsided for the most part and some mobility has returned...as the bone tries to heal itself. After three weeks, it was too late to do surgery. So, for ow we will keep an eye on her every month, start helping her with some monthly food stipends, and praying she does not fall again.
There are times when I really wish God would open doors for us to have someone with the time and expertise to start a Co-op or savings program among our staff and any other friends/Church members.
Saving here is hard, especially when it is not a skill passed on/taught (Honduras being far from alone in that regard.) Here is a house that belongs to one of the mission's employees. It was broken into last year. Thankfully we were able to loan them the money to buy blocks to build a proper security fence around the property, with them starting to do all the labor required in the evenings and on weekends. But that is not a long term fix really in more ways than one.
The clothing shipment that came in late January, we came to discover, suffered from a hole in the roof of the container. Not sure when it happened, but that hole allowed enough water to enter to ruin about 10 boxes of shoes. Here you can see the imprint of some of the shoes to get an idea how much water was inside. The smell and sight of mold made salvaging anything of those boxes not possible.
The worst part is that to make a claim on the insurance, we would have to spend $300, and take a chance (a big chance I was told) that the company in the US would actually even compensate us, and if so...hard to tell to what extent. Rather than gamble on taking all the time, fuel, and $300, we decided to suck it up, so to speak.
We learned just this week that pastor Edwin (seen here happy that the clothing is back in January since he does not get a salary and depends on the clothing to provide for his family while he works as a pastor full time in Danli) lost the bicycle that he got last year from another ministry.
Turns out, while he was visiting the clothing store and had it parked just outside...it was stolen.
Bikes are a common way to get around here...when the part of the country you are in is relatively flat, such as it is in Danli. Now we need to see how we can help get another bike to use.
I posted this picture before, but did not explain the rock seen below. While we were leaving Sampedrana, the group reports this rock was thrown at them in the back of the truck. Thankfully it hit one of the bars and broke in two.
Was it thrown on purpose at them? At the truck? At the motorcycle? Was it an accident? Hard telling. It did happen in the right spot to be from some that are continually not thrilled with a Christian Church presence, but it is impossible to know for sure. What we do know is that there is resistance to the Church in this world...more in some places like Sampedrana, less in others perhaps.
Bad breaks happen. I believe there is another shorter way to express that, but we won't cover that here.
Theologically speaking we can talk about why, the causes, etc. but the real takeaway should be...
1. I post these things because it is real life. Real life is not like social media or other ways we usually share things, only the positive, happy, look-at-me-doing-everything-right, things. We have things we regret, that we wish we could do better, that we struggle how to handle.
2. God is bigger than the bad breaks. He uses them to mold us, to change us, to help others, to live more like Him. Man, sometimes that sounds so hollow, so trite, but it is true. If we change our point of view, and our attitudes, these things can be flipped on their head so far as to be comically hard to understand.
Case in point...Acts 5:12-42
Here you have two guys working for Christ, doing good stuff. Some other guys come down on them, tell them to shut up about this Jesus stuff, and then even flog them (originally wanting to kill them), and when Peter and John leave...they rejoiced, after just having been flogged, for being counted worthy to suffer for Christ.
And they kept proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
So bad stuff happens, sometimes it hurts, sometimes really hard as to break your heart. May God give us the grace, strength and perseverance to keep proclaiming His good news!