Monday, May 4, 2015

The Detention Center

The weather has dried up a bit for us and the rain has calmed some, so a few of us decided to hike up the mountain early this morning. It's literally right outside of the back door of our lodging and the trail goes to the peak of one of the mountains. Once at the top, you can view the ridge line and two different sides of the city. It was a fabulous time of fellowship, praising God for the beauty of His creation, even amidst the dense fog that covered the ground, and how we can encourage one another to grow in our faith. 

Today's ministry experience was unlike any other opportunity that I've had before. We visited the girls detention center which is basically a jail for teenage girls (girls 13-18 yrs old) who have committed anything from murder, rape, extortion, prostitution, attempt to kill, unbelievable things from young girls. We had a chance to share the Gospel, pray with them, eat lunch and fellowship with them. Each of our team members was able to partner up with at least one of the girls to pass the day and do a puzzle, braid hair, and for some of us, we had the chance to get their story. 
For me, I met "C." She was 17 years old and 2 months pregnant. She just arrived to the center on Friday and was sentenced to 4 years. She was fairly open with me and was told me that her mom died of cancer 4 years ago. So immediately we had a bond. We sat for a while and then She unveiled more of her story. She was extremely remorseful-to tears-but at the same time, told me that she wanted to go ahead and plan her escape. She didn't want to raise her child in the jail. And she broke. And she allowed me a moment to pray with her. These girls are so strong they don't have emotions. But Cáterine was weak today. Please continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to work in her life, to cause her to act with good behavior while at the center and to keep her baby in safety in the months ahead. 

Please also pray for another girl "N" who has a pretty wild story but had wonderful English and Erin had the whole afternoon to hear her story and share some important encouraging moments with her. Pray for this special girl as she desires to be with her family and be in a better situation but has many days ahead of her filled with trials. 
So many other girls in the place who could be kept in your prayers this day and in the days to come. They find such joy in knowing they are loved and prayed for, so you joining in prayer can help accomplish that too. 

The Sabbath

"This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Today, being the Lord's day, we set out for worship together. I was thrilled to join the congregation, to be a part of a service in Spanish again and worship with the people of Alvin's church. 
Here is the church, up a steep hill. Hard to tell, but with a gorgeous overlook of the city once at the top. Once inside, we enjoyed about an hour worth of praise music and dancing by sweet young ladies. 

Then our team was able to introduce ourselves before Philip had the opportunity to preach. 

From Romans 8, he was able to share that we are all born into spiritual death. But thanks be to God for the sweet news that only in Christ, do we have HOPE to live. From his preaching in English that was translated to Spanish by Brother Alvin, many were encouraged by the Word and by the fellowship we shared this morning. 

After worship and breaking bread together around the table with some of the Canadians friends we have met who are also church planters retuning back to their "new home" about two hours away today, we headed toward one of the national parks that houses one of the grandest statues I've ever seen....of Jesus! Though odd and awkward in its construction, the view it offered was quite unbelievable. Built by the Catholic Church and the government back in 1998, it is something that many come to visit. The trek to it was quite interesting. 

Once we were there, my heart was overwhelmed, because overlooking Jesus' turned out palms was the large city of Teguc. in all of its poverty, crime, and hopeless. I couldn't help but pray for these people and for the country that we've come to love in just three short days. So moved by the display of God's creation in this place, there are just no more words left to describe it. The pictures alone don't do it justice. 

Tomorrow we will visit one feeding center and the detention center. Pray for the children we will meet at the center and for the women who we will interact with in the afternoon. Thank you for continuing to pray for our safety and team unity. We are incredibly grateful to serve together!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

El hospital-Saturday May 2

(I feel asleep while writing last night so it's a day late post....oops!!!)
This morning we spent time around the breakfast table and were able to discuss with one another more about what it means to be in "missions" and "ministry" together. What exactly does that look like for you and me and why in the world are the 8 of us here in THIS city when we could be in our comfy homes with just one step out side to a local food bank to help someone in need?! Instead, we were prayed for and financially supported, paid money of our own, and given support from so many others to come here to these people of this town in a different part of the world to help. Talking to his disciples, Jesus tells us in Matthew that "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me."(Matthew 25:35-36 ESV)
So, we were encouraged early this morning simply in our mission. By doing whatever we were going to do in love-whether visiting, clothing, or feeding-our ministry would be in the name of Jesus. 

So we set out, headed for one of the 9 hospitals in the city. This one boasts about 15,000 babies born each year, roughly 60 per day. We pulled in to the parking at this building and climbed four floors and prepared ourselves (I in particular was certain I may be fairly emotional seeing as I'm the "young mother" of the group and knew there would be young moms and sadly potentially moms in a new stage of grieving a child who was unable to make it through the birth.)
We had prepared bundles of gifts for the boy and girl babies filled with three newborn onesies and a cloth diaper or blanket. 

We were going to distribute these to each of the babies as gifts because most of these new young moms come into deliver their baby without any belongings. No diapers, wipes or clothes. So these items in themselves were an abundant gift to them. 

The hospital layout in itself was something so different that what I expected, thanks to American culture. there were about 7 large rooms on the floor that held 6 single beds that were fitted with a sheet and a cover sheet. One sink in the room. One bathroom at the end of each hallway. That's it. So when we walked in a room, we would find the new moms sitting or lying on their beds holding their babies or with them lying beside them wrapped in the bed sheet. We offered our gifts and words and blessings from God and others offered smiles in return. In some rooms there was an odd sense of sadness that overcame when we were trying to figure out how many boys and girls were in the room. There were three girls that had to respond by saying "se fue" or "se murió" which meant the baby didn't make it. For one mom, it was her 7 month gestational twins. MY HEART ACHED as I was able to pray over these women who had so much ache in their eyes and the pain was running so deep into their heart. Our deepest prayer is that they would see hope and would be able to still find joy in this time of such sadness. 
Pray for Lauren and the two other ladies who have left the hospital already who had their babies, but they did not live so they aren't talking home a child with them. Pray that they would seek out the church and they would find strength and hope in God. 
Pray for all 68-72 of those newborn babies that we got to dress and wrap into little burrito babies :). Pray that their homes would be filled with love and that their mothers would be confident in knowing God will provide all that they need. 
Pray also for the one young mother who will probably be escorted back to the detention center with her 2 day old baby today. We saw the police come to check on one of the patients and that's probably what will take place. 
The Presence of God was definitely in that place with us today. And the blessings and peace of Christ were shared. There were smiles shared between those ladies and the women on our team and now we know how we ought to pray. 

After we left the hospital, we were able to spend the afternoon in a community called "Valle de Ángeles" (valley of the Angels). There were small shops, cafes, townspeople, etc. it was a more "rural" experience for us and a chance to see more of the culture. The sweet children walked the streets selling dulces (homemade candies) and the men who hand crafted wooden boxes were probably my favorite. 

we tried to get a quick shot with the landscape in the back-I can't get over how beautifully designed God made this place!! 

Thank you for joining in this ministry by praying with us. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Estamos aquí

¡Hemos llegados a Honduras! After most of us waking up by 3 am this morning US time, we drove on bus to the airport, got on one plane, waited to board another, flew on another plane and anticipated our arrival into customs. Though uneventful our travel was smooth and we felt the Lord's presence and gracious provisions through your many prayers for us all. As we asked through customs at the Honduras gate, all went well for the most part, and I was only questioned a bit more than my traveling partners and stopped to have my baggage checked. All in all, it didn't slow us down, and we made it to meet Alvin (our partner missionary for the week) and we all piled in a van and experienced the ride of a lifetime on the streets of Teguc to make our way to our quarters for the week. We captured a bit of the city and its history and beauty and saw this beautiful view upon our arrival. 

Since we've eaten lunch, we've had much of a time of rest since our day has been so long and filled with travel. And the Lord, being gracious, has sent the spring rains to water the earth. There is a tin roof on top of the home where we are gathering and we have been able to rest in quiet, in fellowship with our team and new Honduran friends and having a bit of orientation for what the week holds and a bit of expectation. 

This has only sparked our excitement even more to see how the Lord will work in the lives of those we meet and in our own hearts to be molded with compassion, kindness and gentleness. 

Pray for our team that tonight would be restful for each one, and that our ministry time in the morning would be fruitful in the opportunities we have to meet the new young mothers at the hospital. 


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Yo me voy

The time is set before me, and God is preparing the days ahead for great things. In less than 30 hours, I (along with 7 other partners in ministry) will go wheels up and head to Tegucigalpa, Honduras for a week of short term ministry. 
I'm about to catch a glimpse of this beautiful city and its inhabitants. 

While the idea of short term missions and foreign travel isn't "foreign" to me, after much travel after high school and in college, the last trip I took was to Rio Verde, Mexico back in 2010 when I was pregnant with Miriam. J and I both went with dad. It was a fantastic trip for growth, gospel sharing, and adventure. But in my heart depth, we (and maybe me secretly more than him) have been praying fervently for more opportunities for traveling outside and abroad to reach the nations as Jesus commands in Matthew 28. 
The Lord has been gracious and so filled with promise: and all along orchestrated THIS season for a time to travel once again to Honduras on a short term mission trip. 

So with that in mind, there lies such a great responsibility in the 8 days of being present with the sweet people of Tegucigalpa and the community of friends there. We will be visiting feeding centers meeting families who need nourishment, spending time with children in orphanages who long to be loved by parents, loving on sweet newborn babes who's mothers are so young themselves, serving men who's lives may be twisted and turned in a direction they can't even find out and the list goes on. Our prayer is that we are able to share the HOPE we have and that JESUS would shine in all that we do. 

While I felt the call to physically labor in this mission, many of you have been called (and have been faithful to answer that) to support our team. Some have given of your time in helping us organize the details of the trip. Others generously gave of your wealth to offset our personal costs for the trip. Others of you have provided necessary items that we will sharing with the children there. And most importantly, you've all promised your prayers. 
I know that God delights in our prayers when we come to Him and ASK him and SEEK him, and ASK Him specifically, so what are some other things you can pray for in these upcoming days???

1. Our travel!!! We are going to be up EARLY!!! on our departure day for a long morning of travel and will hit the ground running. Pray that in our goings and in our comings that God's presence would hover over us. 
2. Pray for our TEAM HONDURAS unity. 8 members:4 from one church, 4 from another church. Most of us don't know one another. We will meet on the field in the most of flexible situations :)
3. Pray for the established church family and community where we will be serving. We get to partner with the ministry leaders there and work with them in their outreach to be extra hands and feet while we are there. 
Here is my church team:

4. Pray for the beauty of the Gospel to be shared in numerous opportunities, and that we would be BOLD in doing so. Whether it be to a woman nursing a newborn baby, to a child who 
The Bible lessons that we will be teaching. I will be doing the bulk of teaching (in Spanish!! Eek) on Creation (Genesis) and Becoming a New Creation in Christ. I'm excited to use some super awesome cute visuals to help me with creation and some gorgeous photos of butterflies that I have for the other lesson. 

It seems a bit of a task, but pray that the Holy Spirit would annoint the words that are spoken and that they flow with fluency well to share God's right and true word (Psalm 33:4). 

5. Personally, pray for my family. You know, the cute Ghent girls and the fantastic wonderful husband who supports his wife in God's calling. They have a village caring after them since J has to work and travel most of the week, but the girls will be fine. We've talked about what I am doing and why I am going. And I know they will pray for me. This is a "first" for all of us-I've never been apart from the girls more than 3 days and certainly never out of the country without my husband. It. Will. Be. Fine. Right? 

I can't wait to see how God teaches, humbles, instructs, encourages, protects and provides in the midst of this week. I pray that you, too, would be encouraged through His work. 

Looking forward to sharing the beauty face to face with you. 

Hasta luego 

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Trial: a test of the performance or suitability of someone or something

The first time "trial" really meant something to me was July 2007 in a doctors office with my mom (4 months post brain tumor diagnosis) and dad. She was a partially decent candidate for several clinical "trial" studies for treatment of her GBM. I guess you realize in those times that standard protocol treatment for a terminal cancer just isn't going to cut it. You're really willing to go out on a limb and risk something to gain your normalcy of health back. (I say all of this as if I really know that's what my mom thought...but at least that's what we thought for her!)  many of the trials only accepted 1-10 new patients/phase or year, or only had a <10%survival rate because there were only 4 people that had completed the trial case at the time. But the goal is for these mad scientists to prove that something can be effective. And they push the envelop as far as they can until they realize it can't be pushed anymore and then they back off to find the perfect ideal solution for harmony and killing the tumor before the tumor kills the patient. Most patients say, "well, what have I got to lose?!" They know the cancer will eventually kill them, why not try a treatment that might cure them?

So we started looking at trial studies. 
For some reason, I had been given much peace about one particular study her doctor had placed before her. And it was far out. Mom was the only patient to enter the study in the area. She would undergo a second brain surgery to have a catheter inserted right on top of the tumor bed, and a flap of her skull would be removed. From this catheter a little port would stick out that could be accessed on a weekly basis and she would recover 3-6 doses (it was a lottery draw on her dosing!) of a drip of medication that would be forced through the port into the catheter straight to the tumor. The meds....get this....GIANT YELLOW ISRAELI SCORPION VENOM! Along with some radioactive junk. It apparently was supposed to go crazy on the tumor. So we signed up. Two weeks after surgery she got the first dose. Problem. Second dose, same problem. It didn't want to stay in and it kept, grossly, leaking out of her incision from the surgery. After a couple of ER trips and re stitching, a unanimous decision was made for SURGERY #3 just about a month later to remove the catheter. We felt as if we had gotten no where. Two unnecessary brain surgeries made for more difficult recovery. It meant there needed to be a new trial. She proceeded to move through two other clinical trials, one of which was granted FDA approval shortly after her death (and she was a POSITIVE statistic on it bc it was helpful) but we rejoiced that she was able to be a part of such a great movement (WOOOOOHOOOOO). 

That was 6 years ago. It's unreal how much life and science changes and how technology grows. I was absolutely floored and glued to the tube tonight as we watched 60 minutes (yes, it's kind of a family thing on Sundays) and they did a story on GBMs and treatment...a new trial, using the polio VIRUS to anielate the tumor. And it apparently works. Like, for real. 

One girl, tumor in 2012, recurrent in 2012, it's gone now. Unbelievable. I was emotional the entire time. Sad that mom could get that treatment. Happy for the patients that can receive it. Disheartened for those patients who have hope in the suitability and performance of it, but it proves too wreck less on their body and the cancer kills them anyway. It brought back such memories of those moments of having to make the decisions of whether or not to join the team of this trial case or that trial case. It was our choice. 

But most often, we don't always get to make the choice for our own trials that we face. In fact, if we had it our way, we would mark our name off every list and hide in a hole and never test out our performance at anything so we wouldn't cause our own selves to fail. 
But I'm reminded tonight of one evening that I sat in a bunk bed at the hospitality house across the street from the hospital after that last surgery wondering "what's next?!" and I was reading my Bible I turned to Peter's encouragement to his friends who were scattered and feeling a little helpless themselves and he tells them this: 
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV)

The suitability and performance of something may fail....but HIS praise shall forever be on my lips. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

In step

I had a chance to run the other night so I stepped out for a quick 2 mile jog. I pushed hard and was able to keep up with myself and even sprinted the last half mile. I was such an avid, GOOD runner before kids. I ran a half marathon in 1:45. I loved to run. Now, I average a run in every 6 weeks. I certainly can't claim the title of a runner anymore. I've lacked the training, so it's hard to keep up.  Maybe one day I'll have a chance to get back into it. 

The scripture I've been praying through this week comes from Paul's letter to the Galatians and he encourages this:
"If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit" (Gal 5:25)
So I've been praying that God would show me what it really means to live by and keep in step with the spirit. And what that really means, is The Lord just uncovering every single piece of nasty rotten sin in my bones. 
"Amanda, you can't keep in step with the spirit when you aren't being patient with your children. 
"Amanda, you can keep in step with the spirit when your pride gets in the way of serving others."
"Amanda, you can't keep in step with the spirit when your gentleness is replaced with harsh and quick bitterness and your "slow to anger" goes flying out the window."
"Amanda, I have called you to maintain unity and peace in your family, among tut friends, in your work place, and all around you."

I was especially convicted of my shortcomings in this (mainly my child rearing in these last days) after reading what is such an encouraging note of reminder to the Ephesians. If I fail to recognize my need for this training and aid from the Spirit himself, I'll never stay in step with the Spirit. But here's the ultimate promise:

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (Ephesians 4:1-4, 6-7 ESV)