The H-Word

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September 22, 2014: Sometimes my days seem to get lost in the endless task of sweeping and mopping our floors, fighting stains and mold, balancing quality and individual time with each child and between my husband and I, and managing the administrative side of things. Occasionally I get discouraged because the kids washed their clothes poorly or dozens of mosquitos found their way into our bedroom or I wonder how walking around in galoshes delivering food and water to our farm animals fits into God’s redemptive plan.

But not tonight.

The Lord privileged me greatly in allowing me a glimpse into the transformational work He is doing in our children’s lives in the midst of all the daily and hum-drum happenings of our household.

Darwin and I sat at our long wooden table with the kids for dinner as normal, but rather than being armed with a scribbled list of family matters to discuss or our Bibles to share a truth we found that day, we were armed with the unlikely: a local newspaper.

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We opened the page Darwin had stumbled on a couple days before: the migration crisis of Honduran youth pouring into the United States and now being returned to Honduras. We began with a general overview of the theme, informing the kids of the current situation of thousands of Honduran children and teenagers flooding the United States’ border in search of lost parents or the illusion of a better future. Our kids faces dropped, their eyes drilling ours, each lost in their own thoughts and level of understanding of the new situation being presented to them.

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We then explained slowly and with several simple examples how many of these children and teenagers are now being removed from the United States and being returned to Honduras, detailing how the entire situation is very difficult for the United States – receiving thousands of uninvited minors who have no place to go, having to make difficult situations as to what to do with them, etc. – and how the Honduran youth likewise face untold difficulties – travelling long distances and facing certain dangers, arriving in an extremely large and unknown country whose citizens speak a foreign language, probably not being able to find their parents or assimilate into society as they imagined they would, etc.

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Once we were certain the kids had a firm understanding of the overall situation, we read the article at hand about the unaccompanied minors who are currently being returned to Honduras. There were many big words and unfamiliar political terms, and although the kids respectfully maintained eye contact their stares began to glaze over, so we quickly closed the paper and decided to put things on a more personal level.

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We had a very specific direction we were headed, and we wanted the children themselves to make the decision at hand.

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I looked at the kids as a coach might look at her eager players or a theater director at her stage performers, “Ok, let’s say that the six of us – Brayan, Jason, Gleny, Diana, Pa and I – all six of us together – are biological brothers and sisters. We’re kids. Let’s say Mom and Dad left us to go get a job in the United States because they couldn’t find a job here. Now we feel…” And my eyes grew and I looked around to see if anyone would take the bait.

Diana bit. “…Lonely.”

Me: “Yes! We would feel lonely and…”

Jason: “Sad. Crying.”

Brayan: “Bored.”

Me: “Ok. Excellent. The six of us – all children – are now living without Mom and Dad. We’re lonely, sad, and bored. But Gleny –” and I shoot her an excited glance as if to indicate here comes your line says, ‘Hey, why don’t we go to the United States to look for Mom and Dad? Let’s all pack our backpacks and get out of here.’ What do we say?”

Everyone nods or voices their agreement. They’re up for the trip.

Then my eyes shoot over to Brayan as the plot thickens. “And Brayan says, ‘Let’s start by walking, then we’ll take a bus, then another bus although I don’t know how or where…’ And then… we find ourselves crossing the border of the United States after a very long journey. We feel…”

Jason: “Exhausted.”

Me: “Yes. And we arrive only to find out that no one understands us because everyone speaks…”

Gleny: “English!”

Me: “Yes! It would be like if a small French child showed up in Honduras looking for his mom and dad, but nobody could help him because they couldn’t understand him.”

Brayan says with a wicked grin: “Well, I would just tell him bon apetit [and then unintelligible made-up French words]…”

Me: “Ok, ok, thank you, Brayan. So we arrive there and find out that the United States is BIG. And it’s not so easy to find Mom and Dad. And then the government decides to return us to Honduras because Honduras is where we’re from, right?”

All state their agreement and seem eager to hear the rest of our developing journey.

Me: “So then we arrive in Honduras again. We feel…”

Jason: “Sad.”

Me: “Yes! Why?”

Jason: “Because… Mom and Dad aren’t here.”

Brayan, exasperated: “You mean we went all the way there and had to come back?”

Me: “Yes. And now we’re in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, and nobody knows where to send us because we don’t really have anywhere to go. What do we need?”

Brayan: “Jobs.”

Me: “Ok, maybe, but we’re all children. What do we need?”

Brayan: “Medical care.”

Me: “Maybe, but even more essential than that – what do we need more than anything else?” My eyes searched the table to see if anyone was catching on.

Jason: “We need somebody to help us.”

Me: “Ok! Help! What kind of help do we need?”
Gleny in a wobbly whisper: “Hospit…”

Me: “What?! What, Gleny?” My eyes narrow in on her as she begins pronunciating the rather cumbersome H-word that we use quite frequently.

Gleny triumphantly: “…Hospitality!”

Me, my facial expression growing wild: “Yes!”

Diana, poised: “For someone to open their home to us.”

Me: “Absolutely! Right?! We need a place to live. And what kind of people do we hope offer us hospitality? Really bad people, right?” I say, probing them.

Jason, eyes widened by my preposterous question: “Good people.”

Everyone agrees, excited that they seemed to have found the right answer on our long verbal search.

Me, breathing deeply: “Ok, we have said all of this to arrive at the following point: the six of us – Pa and I and the four of you in real life, have been given the opportunity to do exactly as you yourselves just suggested. I received a call a couple days ago to see if we would consider opening our home – offering hospitality – to two children coming from this exact situation. We don’t know if they will be boys or girls, and we don’t know how long they will be staying with us – it could be a very short time if they are able to find their biological families quickly, or it could be a very long time if they are unable to. They will be treated like extremely special guests. How do you feel?”

Brayan, eyes lighting up: “Hey! It’s just what you all did when I moved in, opening up your home to me because I didn’t have one! And also for the three of them,” pointing to Jason, Gleny, and Diana.

Me, an infectious joy spreading across my chest, “That’s exactly right, Brayan! That is what Christ would have us to do! Open our home to someone in need!” Thank you, Lord. My heart sank into God’s goodness. Brayan may not be able to read fluidly or multiply decimals, but He seems to have a firmer grip on God’s reality than most.

About an hour later, after dinner concluded and we were cleaning the kitchen, Jason asked out of the blue, “Are the kids Christians?”

“I don’t know, but we are going to show them God’s love,” I answered, and with that, he grinned contentedly and asked no more.

Minutes ago as I tucked Jason into his bottom bunk, the top one now empty after Brayan moved into his own room a few weeks ago, Jason looked up and said in his nasaly, 7-year-old voice, “One of them could sleep here,” eyeing the empty bed above him in his simple understanding of God’s love for the lost.

I agreed and kissed him on the forehead as our porch light leaked in though his windows, praising God in my heart for granting these children a practical understanding of what it means to treat others as they themselves would like to be – or have been – treated. Thank you, Lord, for Your unmistakable presence among us and for the mighty work you are doing in their hearts.

 

 

The photos used on this post can be found at the following online sources, along with informative articles related to the current Central American migration crisis:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10990062/Central-American-leaders-to-meet-with-Barack-Obama-over-immigration-crisis.html

http://guardianlv.com/2014/07/border-crisis-complete-medical-breakdown/

http://www.latintimes.com/child-immigration-crisis-guatemala-el-salvador-ask-mexico-treat-central-american-minors-196130

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/07/140723-immigration-minors-honduras-gang-violence-central-america/

http://time.com/3034030/immigration-border-girls-violence/

http://www.jacarandafm.com/post/us-immigration-crisis/

http://www.wjla.com/articles/2014/08/about-2-200-unaccompanied-immigrant-children-now-in-md-authorities-discuss-options-105781.html

Prayer Support

If you are a person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ, we ask that you come alongside of us during this season in prayer for the following needs. There are others that I would like to include in subsequent posts, but for now I will include only the most urgent ones.

  • We are currently in a legal battle over the 17-acre property where we live at the Living Waters Ranch. The property is fully paid for and was bought with the full intent of it being used for the purpose it is currently fulfilling, but at the time it was purchased several years ago it was bought under the name of another non-profit organization. As we are currently trying to pass the legal title from that organization to ours, they are pulling out all the stops not to pass the title, and there is suspected foul play involved. Please pray for the physical protection of this mission, and that the hearts of those involved in making the decisions may be attuned to the Lord’s call for justice. We know that ultimately Christ has already won the victory, so we place our faith in the fact that God cares for the widows and orphans and will not leave us without a home for the children under our care.
  • We are facing several thousand dollars in upcoming legal fees and fines because the Living Waters Ranch is behind on filing its taxes for 2011, 2012, and 2013. Teresa Devlin, the elderly missionary who was at the helm during 2011 and half of 2012 got behind due to extremely ill health (later passing away in October 2012), and when I arrived in Honduras as a single woman in June 2012 no one taught me the ropes of the Honduran legal system nor advised me that there were certain taxes that needed to be filed in the capital city each year. I did not even find out about these taxes until a few months ago, and now we are facing large government fines plus the overtime salary of our accountant who has been helping to get everything organized and ready to be sent. Please pray that all goes well when we travel to the capital city of Tegucigalpa to submit the forms in the upcoming weeks, because Darwin already traveled over seven hours by bus last month and tried to submit everything, but the government office would not accept any of our paperwork because they said the format needed to be changed along with our board of directors (which is a whole other long and exhausting process that we are currently waist-deep in and that needs to be resolved legally before we can even return to the capital and try to re-submit the tax paperwork). If we do not get everything in by the end of September the government will release a national publication saying that we are no longer allowed to be in operation, meaning that our children would be taken away. Please pray for efficiency and mercy for the government officials involved, and peace over our home during these very uncertain times.
  • I have been struggling with intense insomnia for over a year, and although I have improved drastically after having gone to a naturalist doctor weekly for treatments (IV fluids, acupuncture, massage, injections, medications, and other therapies) since March, I am still very weak physically and get fatigued in the daily work we do, spending many nights still struggling to get decent sleep. At my weakest point for about nine months I was spending between five and six nights per week awake the entire night. Due to such poor health I have had to quit my part-time teaching and coaching job, drop out of a private Spanish class, spend much more time resting than I would like, and stop working out (which I previously did about 2-3 hours per day). Physically (and therefore also emotionally) this has been the most difficult year and a half of my life, and I ask that you would pray that the Lord would provide me with healing and that He would reveal the roots – emotional, physical, or spiritual – to this issue. Please also pray for financial provision as we have spent a large portion of our personal savings and income on the ongoing medical visits and treatments for this problem.
  • Our children have received many generational curses they have inherited from their biological families, which we face daily in parenting them. Among the many struggles, there is lying, stealing, inappropriate sexual behavior, abnormal fears, personal uncleanliness, hatred, and sloth. Through many hours spent in prayer – individually and with the children – and the help of our Christian psychologist, many victories have already been won, but many remain on the forefront. Please pray that the Lord would strengthen us spiritually so that we may discern what is required to fight these generational curses, and that He may grant us abundant patience and love to always remember that we are not fighting against the children (or even their biological parents), but against unseen powers and principalities.
  • There are many changes on the horizon of Honduras’ national child protection agency, which our children are under and with whom we work closely with. There are many rumors going around about possible negative changes, government corruption, and other children’s homes being shut down unexpectedly due to nuances in their paperwork and files. Please pray for justice within the government entity as far as it is possible, and peace, strength, and an eternal gaze for those of us who care for Honduras’ orphaned and abandoned children and are facing many changes that might affect us drastically.

Please understand these photos as a flash of brilliant hope in the midst of very turbulent times. This is the renewed hope that we have in our Savior each and every day, whether we live in poverty or in abundance, whether we are hungry or well-fed. Let us rejoice in His goodness!

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Grandma Karen’s Adventures

“The other night I saw Brayan run out of the kitchen after dark with a knife…” my mom, a suburban hairstylist from Texas visiting her Honduran grandkids for the first time, said as I interrupted her — “Wait. I’m going to write all this down,” so I took out my laptop and began typing as she talked. The ensuing conversation went like this:

Mom: “So the other night I saw Brayan run out of the kitchen after dark with a knife, so I instinctively ran after him to see what we were doing.”

Me: “Ok, then what?”

Mom: “The two young milking goats [attached to short ropes because they are notorious for escaping] were wrapped tightly around a couple trees in the yard. In Brayan’s mind, cutting them loose was the perfect solution, but obviously he skipped the afterthought of what rope we would be able to use afterward to tie the goats. So I figured out how to unwind them by looping them in and around each other, and I carefully handed Brayan a rope in the palm of his hand [mom taps the palm of her hand several times for emphasis, eyes wide to communicate the focus involved], so that he had the first goat. But that worked for half a second, if that. As he was intently watching me unwind the second goat, he forgot he was holding goat number one.

And when I looked up, there was a goat running away.

So then the goat race began.

…So I didn’t know what I was doing pulling those goats by their horns.”

[Me: laughter]

Mom: “Well I didn’t! It was dark and they were scared! And make sure you mention they were really spindly trees! I had to jump them back and forth, back and forth.

And mention that I had no head lamp, and there were no lights out there. And there have been known to be poisonous snakes out in that grass.

…So I ended up herding two goats and Brayan all the way to the shed.”

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