Alone

My last trip to Honduras, I was away from my home (Alan) and my family for three weeks and that is too long. That part of the trip was actually hard for me.  Also, Janet, my Honduran security blanket, had to go to the States unexpectedly just a week after I arrived.  So there I was in Honduras, alone.  ALONE.  At least that is how I felt.  But I committed the time to God and moved forward.  It was amazing how God filled the time.

The first week, though, Janet was there along with her sister, niece and some other friends of hers.  My sister, Lynne, was with me too and so was our friend Jocelyn.  We tagged along with Mary’s crew on some of our days.  One day was a house build for a super nice lady who loves God a whole lot!  She holds bible studies in her house weekly and really needed a new house.  The old one was dilapidated to say the least.  The first day was demolition – and I hate to think about the things that fell into my hair and all over my body as we tore it down.  Suffice it to say a long hot shower was totally appreciated at the end of the day.  The next day, we built her a new house.  The new one was twice the size of the old one ( about 20 x 20)and she was so grateful and excited.  Maria (Denia’s mom – if you have read my blog from the beginning) was with me that day and it was really awesome to have her join right in and get to work with us.The house buildMaria helping

We also went to see a homeless ministry in Comeagua (downtown – sort of a scary place).  The ministry there is called Breaking Chains and that is exactly what Amber and her team are doing.  They are helping homeless people out of their desperate situations through love and acceptance and a place to sleep at night.  It was really neat to see the beginnings of an aquaponic garden they are using to grow fresh vegetables.  I am really impressed with this ministry and look forward to opportunities to work with them in the future.

I got to go to church with my friend, Teresa twice.  The second time I was there, some of my Honduran family was with me.  Dilcia, Maria, Denia and Alexander. On this second Sunday, I asked Teresa not to translate for me to see if I could understand it all.  When a testimony given by the music worship leader touched me deeply and brought me to tears, I realized how much Spanish I could understand.  And then, I was able to understand the sermon too.  I am certainly not fluent, but it’s a far cry from where I was 12 years ago when Maria and I could only communicate by keeping the dictionario close at hand.

For three and a half days, Denia, Maria, Dilcia, Alexander and I had jewelry production times.  We spread our supplies all over the kitchen table and got to work.  We were able to complete plenty of jewelry for Mi Esperanza and for Denia’s Hope.  I was even able to pay them to assemble some of my personal designs.   It really excites me that I can provide work for my beloved Honduran family.   As I have said before, my goal is to generate enough work for them that they can establish a consistent family income and be able to provide for all of their financial needs through their own “cottage industry”.  I truly believe that we will be able to accomplish this and that we will then be able to expand the jewelry school to include other students and artisans. Alex making crosses

I will share about the rest of the trip in my next post.  I will tell you about my visit to a pewter factory, a leather factory, another house build, and some great time spent with great friends.

For now, please pray for my sweet Denia who is having some health challenges.

More to come.  Thanks for reading.

 

Elefantitis and Beauty

I had heard of her before I met her. The woman with elephantitis. We went to meet with Leatherman in Oho Jona to see if we could buy some sandals and belts. While we were picking out our products, I looked up and met her eyes. There was so much sadness there. My friend Janet had told me that this woman is the laughing stock of the town. People look at her and laugh. They talk behind her back and mock her. All because she has a disease that makes her lower legs swell and her ankles and feet become dry and cracked. It must be so very painful. Both the disease and the mean-ness.

I was struck with sympathy and concern immediately and wanted to help her. I spoke to her and asked her name. I couldn’t understand the response but I told her my name too. It was then that my friend Lori of Mi Esperanza (www.thewomenofmyhope.org) took action. While I wondered how I could help her, Lori was already ordering a specially made pair of sandals for her. The sandals will be ready for her by Wednesday. Leatherman did not look particularly pleased at the prospect of making sandals for this outcast woman in his town, but he took the money and promised to deliver. My other friend, Teresa, (www.smartteams.org) was with us too and she immediately started researching treatment for elephantiasis (the real medical term for the disease). She is hoping to find a way to minister to her and give her medical help.

As a result of this “chance” encounter, my elefantiasis friend has atleast 5 women praying regularly for her and two right here in Honduras who are sure to be checking up on her and sharing the love of Christ in a very tangible way.

God is good. All the time.

Recording Studios and Beginnings

I have been with my daughter in the recording studio for the last two days.  She is a singer/songwriter and we are recording her first ep.  This time spent in the studio takes me back to the first trip we made to Honduras with our kids in tow.  Our Honduran daughter had been living with us following her open heart surgery and it was time to take her home.

Our church family had really fallen in love with Denia and we had a group of 17 accompanying her home.  The church family had collected enough money to buy a new house for Denia’s family and we took the team to do some necessary renovations to the house and to do some evangelism.

As I have mentioned before many times, Choluteca may be the hottest place on the planet.  On about the third day of renovations, we had several cases of dehydration and heat stroke and general malaise among the team members.   This afternoon, most of the work had stopped and some of the team gathered on the front porch of the house we were working on.  In an odd phenomenon that happens often in Honduras, when a group of gringos are around, the Hondurans gather to see what going on.  Such was the case this particular day and there were many people gathered in front of Denia’s new home.    At age 10, Leah already knew she wanted to be a singer and she had prepared a few songs to sing in our group presentations.   She was encouraged by our pastor to sing.  The power was not working- very common in Honduras) and so she had no musical accompaniment.  With a clear, pure voice, Leah began singing.  There had previously been a buzz among the Hondurans gathered around, but as she began, there was a hush as they listened.

“Al mundo Dios Amo, que su Hijo El nos dio….

For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son so that whosoever believes in Him shall not parish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

It was a magical moment. That day, the gospel was heard and Leah sang her first of many songs sung on the mission field.  I believe that trip was in many ways the beginning for her in her musical pursuits and her passions for missions and causes.

I love how God ties the threads of life together to weave a life story.  I love how so many of the threads run through many different life tapestries as we pursue our individual callings.   So often we don’t even  know it’s happening.  But God does.  We see only the threads in front of us, but He sees the finished art piece.

Purpose. A History.

 

This whole jewelry adventure started for me in unexpected ways.  I am an artist.  I learned that late in life. By late, I mean early 30’s.  Most artists I know were always artists.  They were always doodling, drawing and making art from childhood forward.  Not me.  Nope, I would have told you that I could not draw a straight line.  (As if that is a requirement for artistic-ness).  In any case, I never did anything artistic until I had my first child.  There I was with a baby, a new full-time mom with more “free time” than I had previously had.  I put the quotations in – because in this stage of life, your world revolves around this little chunk of humanity you just brought into the world.  But I digress…

So there I was, stay at home mom, with the aforementioned “free time”.  I  vividly remember the first artistic thing I ever did.  Salt dough Christmas ornaments.  I realized I was good at it and made a bunch.  I still have the very first one I  made – it is now 25 years old. (see photo)

What started as a hobby proved to be the springboard for a lifelong quest for my “artistic calling”.  I craft-hopped for a long time until I discovered painting.  The year I had my second child, I asked for some art supplies for Christmas.  I received several graphite pencils and some drawing paper.  One of the first drawings I attempted was a sketch of my brother-in-law asleep on the couch at my sister’s house in North Carolina.  (I really miss him.)  Things progressed and I began taking painting classes and lo and behold, I was good actually good at it.  Wow.  And it was so amazingly rewarding to take paintbrush to canvas and watch the images come forth.

Flash forward many years.  The kids were now teenagers and I had come to refer to myself as an artist.  (It was hard to actually think of myself this way – but I will save that for another post.) I became enamored with “lampworking” which is essentially miniature glass blowing.  After my first lesson on the torch, I was eternally hooked.  I made bead after bead until I became accomplished at it.  And there I was with a bowl full of pretty glass beads that had no purpose.  Enter jewelry making.  First, it was bead stringing to complement my glass beads.  Next it  was learning metal working skills to move beyond the basics in jewelry making.  Finally, I found myself in jewelry school to become a jeweler.  I never graduated from jewelry school – I was more than half way through when duty called.  Denia needed to come back to the United States for a hoped for third surgery.  She came back and we spent three weeks in Delaware exploring those options.  Once surgery was ruled out, we settled into having our “second daughter” with us for another year.  It was a wonderful year, but I never went back to jewelry school.  Having gained most of what I wanted out of the training, I added those silversmithing skills into what I was making and selling.

Here’s the rub.  All during this time, I was on a quest for skills and knowledge.  I really couldn’t have articulated the reason for it all, save that I wanted to explore my artistic side and pursue art/craft as a potential career.

I loved what I was doing.  I am driven to create.  And yet, somehow it seemed a little hollow.  You will remember a few posts ago, I told you about our many visits to Honduras to do various mission endeavors.  This is the part where life’s meandering path meets purpose. 

I now know that throughout the years, as I pursued art for the sake of art, God was preparing me for something more.  I know that as I sought to fulfill myself, God was seeing to it that I had the skill set needed for this current mission, and thus, to be fulfilled on a much deeper level.   I see the “divine thread” through it all and I am so grateful.  Thanks be to God that He walks with us on our meanderings.  If we hang with Him long enough, the threads reveal a pattern that He intended all along. As I move forward in this mission I feel called to –  Mi Esperanza and For the Love– I pray that God will direct my steps.  I pray He will give me the courage to press forward when it seems a little scary and unknown.  And I can’t wait to see what He has planned.  Self-expression and meandering meets purpose.  God is good.