Sunday, October 19, 2014

Compassion in the aftermath of violence and hate

Today's sermon about murder and hate was very powerful. It is a subject that has been on my heart for a while, as I wrestle with trying to tip the scales on the side of love, peace and joy, to heal the cracks caused by violence: be it physical, witnessed, heard, spoken & even the extremes of murder & suicide.

If our cup can run over with joy & love, then it is true it can also run over with despair & bitterness. I believe we have a very limited capacity for violence - physical or emotional- before the consequences of it change from a limited pain to an infection. And like a physical infection, it has to be diagnosed and healed to stop from spreading to the person right in front of us, even the ones who are taking care of us & loving us.

I thank God for His healing presence, and that He stands between me and those that have hurt me, & those I have hurt, loving each one of us & willing to provide exactly what we need.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Teens on Missions

Can I just stop and say how proud I am of the teenagers who give up weeks of their summers to go on mission trips, and to give their hearts to their work?  This year, we took 5 teens to Honduras, and 2 of them had not long returned home from another mission trip in Michigan.

It's wonderful to see them working for Christ in such meaningful ways.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Manuelito Project growth

It's important to share how much the Manueltio Project has grown in just the 13 months since we were last there. Prayers, time, finances, gifts, love have been given and it's always good to know if people are giving in the right ways, if their prayers are being answered, if the money is being spent well. Do they kids even benefit from it?

Here are just a few things I saw in my last visit to the Manuelito Project:

- The children seem to be more content, more mature, more settled. This campus has been in place for about 8 or 9 years, some kids there the whole time, others new. All the kids have suffered, some in terrible ways, and they don't have the resources for professional counseling and therapy. But they are loved and taken care of, and that shows.

- The school has grown in two ways:
  •  In addition to the 40 kids living at the project (3 more than last year), they provide schooling for the poorest kids in town - kids who sleep on floors, who collect recycling from garbage so their family can eat, who would otherwise beg on the streets and never see the inside of a school.
    Last year they helped approx 40 of those children, this year they help 74. They come to school & are entered into the appropriate grade. Older children may be put into an accelerated program to cover 2 grades per year. Their education is good - their 8th graders were learning algebra just like ours.

    As an aside, I wanted to point out some of the extras that these teachers do. Not only will they stay after school for tutoring, but they will help the children with things they wouldn't get at home - such as the Kindergarten teacher staying back to wash the children's hair after school.
  • The new school started to be built this year. Phase 1 will have 5 classrooms. This will accommodate the extra children (currently some classes sit outdoors). The walls are half up already. It's a long process. While we were there 2 builders worked on it, with old building techniques (even whittling fixtures by machete), helped along by us slower non-handy Americans ;)
    This school project began with funds donated by First United Methodist Church, Butler in 2014.
    From November the kids have their 3 month break - I wonder if they will start the new 2015 school year in the new classrooms!
- Health & Hygiene. While we were there last year, Jason began a project of attaching metal screens to the kitchen windows. In the past year other teams continued that project on the cafeteria and the kids' dorms, almost eliminating the flies from the eating areas and the mosquitoes from the bedrooms.

- Food. The kids were always fed a good amount - not what the American teams ate but a staple including tortilla, rice, beans, maybe egg, some meat a few times a week. Breakfast, lunch and dinner where often a combination on those. This year we saw the children eat more variety, the same staples but with additions of fruit salads and fresh vegetables.
Nutrition is so important - some of the children came to the project as teens but look 5 years younger due to poor nutrition.

- Rewards program. A small store was installed (prepped by Jason & Craig in 2013). This sells things like pop, cookies, t-shirts and so on. The volunteer teams use cash to buy from it (and so fund it), and the kids can shop from it with points they earn for good behavior. It is staffed by one of the older girls on the project, Josselin, during lunch and dinner times. The kids love it and it's a great incentive for them to be doing extra chores and working on behavior issues.

- Staff & Volunteers. The Project had a little overhaul of staff, finding teachers, house parents for the dorms and volunteers that are passionate about the work done in the project, that truly care about the future of the kids and that are fully invested in bringing Christ-like love and compassion to their lives.

There are so many more ways that we saw changes in that short time, but these are the ones that stand out to me the most and I hope reassure you, as it did us, that the Project is moving forward in tremendous ways, providing a hope and future to many kids in Honduras.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The light of Christ

Getting to know more of the stories of these kids, one cannot deny the power of God working here. You see the Holy Spirit giving strength alongside the compassion of the volunteers and staff. You see the light of Christ in many of the kids.
It is a place filled with hard working, passionate people who give up luxury and a 'normal' life to give these kids a good hope and future. To let Christ work through them.

It was a greater pleasure, even more than last year, to be here and be part of that. These are not perfect people and they have struggles, but they let God lead them. I am thankful to have had this time with them.

Some of us spent several hours a day working on the new school. No doubt many people could have worked much faster than us, but the Honduran builder Carlos and his helper Eric were so good natured and patient with us, and we found ways to communicate through the language barrier. Carlos is a pastor of a nearyby church and is one example of the great kind of Godly men that the street kids get to have in their lives.

Today we head to Tegucigalpa. It was an emotional farewell for everyone. We built wonderful relationships that I pray we can sustain. 

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Passing days

Despite cold showers, burning sun, no coffee and swollen ankles, this is an incredible week.  

Knowing some of the tragic stories of these kids then seeing the love they still have to give and the smiles of joy they have, is a great testament to the wonderful work done here. 

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday at the project

An amazing day!  The school now takes 114 kids, 74 kids from the nearby town, some walking 5 miles to be there and having classes outside because of lack of space. 
The new school is being built! 

So much great work is done here and it is easy to see the Holy Spirit present. 

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday at the project

What a beautiful day here at the project!   It has been amazing to see how much has progressed here that I will share later. 

Today was about the Sabbath, worshipping and praising with the kids, followed by a walk to the cross and then a birthday celebration for Maria, now 7.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Team

We have two teams traveling to Honduras, one week after the other. Most of us here, receiving prayer from our congregation.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Packing donations

Last week we sorted the donations! Lots of crafts, school supplies, games, toys and candy! 
We divided it out for suitcases. Mine alone was over 50 pounds. I have some creative packing to do!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Calling prayer warriors!

A friend asked how she could pray for our trip to Honduras, so I thought I would share here so you can join, if you wish!

I expect God to be ever present, as He always is. When you do His work for His kingdom there's always a good chance that the enemy will do his best to stop it. For me that usually involves bogging me down in unnecessary details, distractions and various trials from every direction. For the past few months, there have been plenty of those - health, work and in other areas.

But I see God present in so many details. From the 'to the penny' fundraising, to the filling of spaces when some of the team had to bow out due to health reasons, to the coincidental coming together of planning and organizing.

For specific prayer, said with trust and expectations, please be praying that we travel safely, and with a servant's heart, we remain flexible and open to whatever challenges lay before us, for blessings of good health within the team and on the children and staff at the Manuelito project.

Needless to say, specific prayers will be needed along the way. Like like year, I hope to keep the blog updated with pictures and information, so stay posted!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

2 week countdown!

Being a tad tired & weary, I posted this on the eReader blog yesterday by accident. LOL. But since writing, I did get a good 9 hours sleep so I have no excuses now!! 

Time goes far too fast. I think if I had another 6 hours each day, I'd still have a full to do list. We do that, don't we? Fill our time, no matter how little or how much we have of it. We fill it then want more. Sometimes I forget to look up, soak in the light, dwell in the moment.

Today, Jessica arrived home from a 1 week mission trip in Michigan. She was with her youth group and had a wonderful time, with tears in her eyes telling me how God moved through them during the week. What a blessing for her and the others!

Now home, time for her to rest and get ready for Honduras!  Bag unpacked into laundry & straight back to bag for the next one! 

As for the Honduras teams, we have a lot to get prepped. With two teams, one from Aug 2-9, the other 9-16, we're co-ordinating a fair amount.
With the trips themselves now paid for, we're collecting donations of items (or money to buy items) to take. Goodies for the kids and things for us to do with them: crafts, games, sports and so on.
Then prepping crafts. That can be a time killer - cutting fabrics and such ahead of time so we can do them more easily there; thinking ahead what may or may not be available for us to use and so on. Um, and you know I can't do crafts, right? :)

We're planning for 60 kids - though only 40 live on site, they do have kids come in from town for school, sometimes siblings visit and of course, kids of the staff who may be visiting.

We also plan to take small gifts for the support staff and volunteers there. The people that live & work at the project, day in and day out. Cooks, teachers, dorm 'parents', security as well as the long missionaries and so on.

I'd better get on with it!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Missions collection!

I have a request for anyone who may have physical goods they want to donate – things sitting in craft closets or left over from a kids party etc. If you have any of the following, we’d be glad to take them to the kids in Honduras. 

- 18x18 or 20x20 squares of girly material so we can make no-sew purses with the girls. 
-any new hair accessories for girls including brushes, combs, etc.
-school supplies. We have plenty of pencils though.
-small items to be placed in treat bags. Ex. toy dinosaurs, toy jewelry.  Nothing looking old and worn out, please & thanks!
-any candy, just nothing that will melt!
-individual size peanut butters.
- soccer balls
If you have anything else you would like to donate, we are taking for 30 girls and 30 boys.

The kids are grateful for everything they get & we like to make them as fun and nice as possible.

  If you want to shop but don't have time, Walmart gift cards are great, we can get the items too. 


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Fundraising in the sun

Lovely day yesterday at an Artisan Market at Meridian Station Gifts. After a rough 2 weeks, I didn't feel like the early wake up or spending my day working, but I am glad I did. Not only did I close the gap for our fundraising total, but it was gloriously sunny day with delightful company, as Gretchen and I shared a tent and she sold some handmade jewelry and Mary Kay.

I sold Jason's soap and some other goodies. If you'd like to order some, there are still some left!
Order a set of 5 for $16 at

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sponsorship thank you gifts!

We have been selling soap and t-shirts to raise money for the trip, but now we're also offering them as "Thank you" gifts for certain levels of donation!

Prayer Level: $10 donations, we will add you to our prayer list with thanks.

Postcard Level: For $25 donations we will send you a postcard after the trip, featuring a photo of the kids at the Manuelito Project.

T-shirt Level: For $50 donation, we will give you a mission trip t-shirt (blue color). Just let us know your size. These are for donations made before end of May as we order the shirts in early June!

Soap Level: For $100 donation, we will give you a set of 5 of Jason's handmade goat's milk soap, fragrances based on availability.

If you require the t-shirt or soap to be mailed to you, we do ask for shipping cost also (within US, $4 for the t-shirt, $6 for the soap).

How to donate? You can do it through this site with paypal or a credit card, or to reduce our fees, by check. If you make it by check, please put the Sponsorship Level in the memo line to get your thank you gift!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fundraiser Event updates!

We have a couple of events coming up.

Next Saturday the team will be at Wendy's. Clearview Mall for a car wash. Pray for a nice weather day!!!

Then on May 31, Gretchen and I will both be selling at an Artisan Market at Meridian Station Gifts. I will be selling goat's milk soap, copper lanterns, some of our metal art and more.
Gretchen will be selling her handmade earrings and Mary Kay cosmetics.

Please come and support us at these events!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fundraising update! T-Shirt sales!

We were very blessed recently when our church agreed to sponsor half of the cost of our trip! That is extremely exciting and we are very grateful indeed!

That puts us around 75% of the way through our fundraising (plus a little more to raise for our daughter Jessica who is also heading out of state for a week-long trip with her youth group!) 
We'll also be collecting for items to take down with us to Honduras: treats, gifts and things to do with the kids in Honduras. More on that soon.

Our latest fundraising is our team t-shirt. We have a t-shirt that everyone on the team will be wearing, and we've decided to also offer it for sale to anyone who wants one!  Carco, a local company who makes a lot of t-shirts to support the church, are supplying them and we're selling them for $10 each. 

As always you can still support us directly with financial donations or buying soap! See the Support page for details.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Good Friday's example of bold compassion

Last week my family faced a difficult day, an anniversary of a tragedy that happened a few years ago. I was too absorbed in that this year to focus on Holy Week, to reflect on the transition Jesus made from exalted One on Palm Sunday to the doomed One on Good Friday to the resurrected One on Easter Sunday. Though through a Good Friday breakfast and Easter services, a radio sermon or two, little by little I was able to slow down and think about it.

My Pastor reminded me what the week was about, that the cross is a place where I could pour out agony, and the empty tomb a reminder that even life-altering grief does not have the final word.

I was also reminded of the bold love and compassion shown by Christ in His final days. Every step of the way, He knew what was coming. He sweat blood as He prayed in fear, seeking an alternative. As He was flogged, spat on, His brow, hands and feet pierced, His body broken, as He cried out to the Father with His last words, I have no doubt that warm fuzzy feelings of love were probably not bubbling up to the surface.

But even so, He still sought forgiveness for His persecutors. He still went ahead with something He could have stopped - I can only imagine the angels just waiting for the slightest nod to step in and stop the injustice. But He did it all anyway because His love and compassion for us are bigger than the most excruciating torture that He suffered.

His love came through, not as something He felt, but as an action He chose to do in spite of everything else.

This is what we are called to do, to love as Jesus loved - sacrificially, our own desires put aside while we tend to those around us, family, friends, neighbors. Even enemies.

 This is not easy. And it is even harder in an increasingly narcissistic world that tells us "If it makes you happy, then do it."  "If it doesn't hurt anyone else, do it." Are they really our new bars by which we set our standards? Our own happiness or the lack of pain we inflict? I cannot agree to that. Because so often our happiness is dictated by temporary feelings that deceive, temporary fads that fall away like quicksand, leaving us lost and wondering what to seek next.

And of course, 'not hurting someone' is a good thing but is it really the decision maker?  If all my action does is keep me happy and doesn't hurt anyone, what a selfish isolated person I become. I challenge myself to step beyond that. Step beyond what I want to do today, and find a way to be bold and compassionate in ways that might not make me happy. It might mean I am not in control of everything and have to play second fiddle. It might upset someone's status quo. Both opposite to today's mantras of the world, but in line with real love and the world's greatest example of it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fundraiser fun!

We had fun at the fundraiser party today!  Thanks to all who supported us, in so many ways!
We don't have all the numbers in yet because you can still place orders, but I think we did pretty well. The Chinese auction was popular, with a few items being especially sought after!

If you'd like to order, you have a few more days!
Pampered Chef
Origami Owl
31 Gifts
Silpada Designs 

Perfectly Posh
Jason's Goat's Milk Soap & the Menu Planners

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