Saturday, April 30, 2011

Swimming With Prisoners

Last week was Semana Santa, Holy Week. This week in Central America is not only famous for its displays of palm branches on cars and colored sawdust carpets lining the downtown streets on Good Friday (they used colored sawdust to make pictures of the crucifiction, flowers, and Bible verses), it is also the week when the city becomes a ghost town, everything shuts down, and people leave the city for vacation and to visit family.

(the sawdust carpets lining the streets in Copan)

Palm Sunday weekend, I got to take a few of my kids to the pool. The LOVED it! Afterwards we went to Burger King, got ice cream cones (2 ended up on the floor) and played in the playground. Their faces were priceless and it took them a while to get in the pool. But when they did, they didn’t want to get out. On Monday and Tuesday we had the opportunity to bring the youth Aben works with the pool as well. We got pizza and mangos to enjoy at the pool. They also loved it, and it was a lot less work for me J

At the end of theweek, we also left the city, to go to Youth for Christ (Juventud Para Cristo) camp in the western part of the country. It was a fun time, because I had never been to the west. I got to/ had to go to visit the Guatemala border to renew my visa that expires this week. There was a group from the camp visiting the Copan Ruins (a day trip 1 ½ hours away). We got a ride,then took a tuktuk (3 wheeled taxi) 15 km to the border. It was kind of funny how short the distance, but how long it took us with the mountain hills. I could have walked up the hills faster than this taxi went. It was an experience! With a short “72 hour” stop at the border and two favors later, we returned to the Copan Ruins within 2 hours. Since we were with the group, I did not get to see the famous ruins, but I did visit the entrance. I felt like I was in the car most of the weekend, because we went to camp on Thursday (6 hours), to the border on Friday, and home on Saturday. One of the cool events of the camp was Friday night. We all sat in the middle of a pitch black soccer field, with our eyes closed, while one girl read something. She explained that we are all called to be a light, we should not hide our light, and that we all shine differently with different strengths and abilities. When we opened our eyes they had splattered us with glow in the dark paint. We all glowed differently in the dark of the night. It was a very cool activity!

Returning back to the daycare, it was nice to see my kids after a week. But the most jaw dropping story we got was when 3 of my kids told me they got to visit their dad at the penitentiary, and got the swim with the prisoners and gang members. Try to digest this, I’m still working on it… a three year old girl, 4 and 5 year old boys swimming with gang members, murderers, and the father in jail for raping one of their sisters.

It’s hard for me to comprehend and know how to help, how to change the dangerous situation. We laugh at the absurdity, but when the irony fades, its still the same situation. My friend wrote a quote on her blog this week that has defined my emotions the past few weeks, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” –Flannery O’ Connor.

Pray that we can work to educate these families how to treat and raise their children without offending them, resulting in closed doors.

In other news, I have my plane ticket to return to the States to raise funds for another year serving these families. I will be in the States August 1 to September 5. Please let me know if you would like me to share with you, your family, your small group or your church. Please pray about supporting me in prayer or finances. God has provided me with big and little things along this journey, please pray if God is asking you to be involved. I will be sending out a newsletter in May with more specifics.

Thank you to everyone that has supported me with prayers and finances. I am grateful for what God has provided!

(Oliver peaking through the barred door for a picture)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Season of Change!

Javier and the bubbles

Lizandro and a big puzzle

Diego and the soccer ball

It’s April already! Looking back, time has flown by. In the moment it seems like it may be standing still, but judging by the calendar it’s going fast! This past month I had two pilot groups, to check out the options of bringing teams down in the future.

A lot has been changing at the daycare and I’m excited to share some pictures and good news. With the two groups coming, as well as a bigger team, we have numerous supplies to last us for a while. Supporters and teams have helped bring down puzzles, sidewalk chalk, balloons, bubbles, stamps, soccer balls, coloring books, prizes, pencils, crayons, glue, clothes and a lot of other supplies! From December to March our office has exploded with materials. The kids are loving all the new things, its hard to tell what is the “favorite,” they love it all!

Another change that has occurred is the color of our building. As you can see in the pictures, the once dirty white building was painted bright green by a team, accompanied with hand prints, shapes and polkadots! It has only been a few weeks, but it brings a brighter, refreshed look to the daycare.

Some changes that we hope are coming in the next few weeks will be visiting houses of the families and meeting with them. It has been my desire to get to know the mothers more, and we have the opportunity to do that by visiting the houses. One mom stopped me on the street the other day to ask about different sunblocks she had purchased, because she knew I could read the labels for her and explain it. I am getting to know some of them more, so that is an exciting change!

Along the same lines of being involved in the families, I am going to ask one of the mothers if I can watch her kids on Saturdays. One of the boys can be very cuddly and very violent, and judging by his interaction by his brother on the street last Friday, I hope I can provide a safe place for the kids a few hours every Saturday. Pray that the two boys can behave. I’m planning to take two brothers and a sister, Gabriel, Javier and Racsel. It will be a help to the mother and the kids!

I have been thinking ahead and want to let everyone know I will be in the States the month of August. As you know, I had a 10- month commitment, so I raised funds for that time. In July the first 10 months will be finished and I will need to raise support for another year. At this moment, God has shown me that he wants me here longer than 10 months! That being said, please pray about this trip, that I will be able to raise the funds to be in Honduras another year. If you would like me to talk in your church, to your small group, or even a group of friends please let me know so I can plan what States to visit. I’m excited to share what God is doing here and how He is using me to do it.

Please pray for Zulema, one of the ladies I workwith. She had a motorcycle accident last week with a pack of dogs. From what I can understand she flew off the bike and the bike ran over her foot. They thought it was broken, but I’m still not sure. Also pray for Bessy’s ear. She has had an ear infection and began to lose hearing. She has been to a few specialists and been on a lot of medication, which is not cheap. She found out on Thursday that it is beginning to heal, but she has to continue to see the specialist. Also continue to pray for the kids and their families. I have been having some difficulties disciplining because most of the kids are used to harsh words and hitting. Of course I don’t use those methods, so it has been a challenging experience to see what each child responds to. I have been very busy and emotionally overwhelmed, so pray that things begin to settle down and get back to normal.

One more big change! Michelle is back. Her family moved back in November, then her mom was out of work, so they pulled her out of the program. This week she returned because her parents have found work. It’s exciting to have her back!!