In Hines Sight...

Starting Off Randomly

January marks the beginning of a new year. In the waning days of the old year many of us reflected on the year that passed and began thinking ahead to the soon arriving New Year. While there is nothing more magical about January 1st than December 31st it certainly has symbolic meaning. It is a time to begin doing things differently. It is a time to execute plans. It is time to get serious. Well not for me, at least not as far as this article is concerned.

My primary spiritual gift is encouragement so the Coffee Talk articles lean towards the serious side because I really like to help, and well, encourage others. While I don’t make official New Year’s resolutions there are serious matters that need to be planned for and there are things I have identified that must be done differently this year. But before all of that I just felt like writing about some things that have happened to us recently. Some serious, some not so serious, but either way hopefully this article will be encouraging to you.

Last year was our first full calendar year of living in Honduras. We moved there in May of 2015 but came back to the U.S. in mid October and stayed through Thanksgiving. So we actually only lived in Honduras for about 5 months of 2015. We experienced our first Christmas and New Year’s away from our natural families but with our new La Campa families. Then shortly after Christmas things got busy with mission teams and continuing to learn about life in Honduras.

One thing that is occasionally a source of humor but more often a source of fear in Honduras is driving. In the cities there is pavement, traffic lights and signs, and sometimes even lines on the road that you can see. I remember one day last year driving into downtown San Pedro Sula and, for the first time, actually being able to see all of the traffic lights because the lenses and bulbs finally got replaced. I don’t know what the useful life is for those things but they had been used many, many years beyond the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Vehicle lights are usually treated the same way. It is rare to encounter a vehicle with a full complement of properly functioning lights. This is one of the reasons we rarely drive anywhere at night, and never drive at night on the main roads. But often even when the lights do work, specifically the headlights, there appears to be some kind of conservation effort at hand.

We were driving up the mountain to our house early one evening. It wasn’t completely dark yet but it was dark enough that you would have had your headlights on even if they hadn’t already turned on automatically (not a common feature in Honduras). There was a motorcycle behind us and there was a large truck coming towards us that was actually on its own side of the road. Of the three vehicles ours was the only one with headlights on.

The motorcycle driver decided that we were not traveling fast enough for him so he swung out to pass. In the near dark. With no headlight. He may not have had one or the batteries in the flashlight that he rigged up to replace the headlight may have burned out, I can’t say for sure. But when he swung out to pass the truck driver was somehow (probably because our headlights were on) able to see him so he flashed his lights to warn the motorcycle driver that he was there. At least the truck had working headlights. The pass was narrowly made as they usually are and we all continued on our way. Why didn’t the truck driver just leave his headlights on you might be asking? We’ve asked the same question and it seems that most Honduran drivers consider headlights important for seeing and less important for being seen.

2016 was a year full of firsts, with plenty of highs, but plenty of challenges and some lows too. It was our first full year with full responsibility for all of the short term mission teams who came to serve with us. By January 1 last year we had a nearly full schedule of teams for the year, with most of them concentrated in June and July. Why we thought scheduling 7 straight weeks of short term mission teams in June and July was a good idea I’ll never know.

I guess the Lord knew this wasn’t a good idea so a couple of those teams cancelled their summer trips. Then at the end of April my mother in law had the first of a series of strokes that brought her into the presence of the Lord on June 27th. Jean was blessed to spend much of that time helping her mom while I stayed in Honduras to keep things moving forward there.

One of the highs was that we had planned a long weekend at the beach at the end of July after the last mission team for the year went home. Even though we underestimated how tough seven straight mission teams would have been, we at least were smart enough to know we would need some time to recover afterwards.

In February, while with one of our mission teams, we discovered a great little beach hotel that is very nice and very affordable compared to the resorts on the popular island Roatán where all of the cruise ships stop. The team leaders, who are dear friends of ours, asked us if they could come down and join us for that long beach weekend. What a blessing it was to spend that time with them. We played games, we read, we talked about important things that had happened, and we talked about silly things too.

Our fall trip to the states is an important part of our ministry because this is the time when some of our churches host missions conferences and everybody is starting to make plans for ministry in the upcoming year. Because of the passing of Jean’s mom there were extra things for us to do last year so we planned a longer stay last year that included all of October, November, and part of December. While this was an enjoyable trip for us it was not a vacation. There are many, many, meetings, presentations, conferences, etc. and we log thousands of vehicle miles during this annual visit.

Last fall was really a neat time for us to be in the U.S. We got to be here to see the election of a new president and to see the Cubs win their first World Series championship in 108 years. For me especially, that was just another proof that God cares about us and delights in the details of our lives. The Cubs winning the World Series has no eternal value that I can identify, but it provided a bit of happiness for Cubs fans like me who have endured a lifetime of disappointment. I would be remiss to not tip my hat to Cleveland fans because they have likewise suffered for a long time. God doesn’t care less for the Cleveland fans so I believe their year will come soon.

We looked forward to our long visit to the U.S. last year and then, just like that, it was over, almost. We had a complication with our flight and ended up having to stay for a long weekend before we could get on another flight, but God had a purpose for that unexpected delay. We had run really hard during that trip last year. We knew we would have to do that but we were hoping to also have a little quiet time to recharge our batteries.

However, we were not intentional about making plans to set aside time specifically for that. And the result, unsurprisingly, was that there was very little time to recharge. After we got over the surprise change in our plans and the economic impact of that change, we decided that perhaps this was God’s way of making us stop so we decided to do just that. We stopped for those four days and recharged. This turned out to be one of our personal highs in a year that was full of ministry highs.

We are excited about the ministry plans that have been made for 2017. But one other thing that is exciting, and that we are being intentional about this year, is planning for times of rest so that we can recharge our batteries periodically. We learned that it doesn’t have to be a lot of time, just the long unplanned weekend of rest we had at the end of last year did wonders for us. So if as you enter 2017 you feel like you are burning out and that your light isn’t shining very brightly please make time to rest and recharge. The time will be made for you eventually, one way or the other.

 

January 2017 Prayers and Praises

PRAYER REQUESTS

  • Please pray that we will be able to finish all of the details for our three teams arriving in January and our one team arriving early in February. These teams are the reasons we planned to return in mid December to have enough time to make the final arrangements. However, the Lord has been faithful to help us accomplish what needs to be accomplished in a much shorter time.
  • Please pray for successful medical clinics January 16,17, & 18, that not only will we be able to help people here with medical needs but that they will become followers of Christ as a result of the ministry that takes place at these clinics.
  • Please pray for our second team who is coming to visit family coffee producers in the Cruz Alta area, and maybe other areas. Please pray that this is an encouraging time for the team and for the families they visit.
  • Please continue to pray for three un-reached communities named Mezcalillo, Arcamón, and Mataras de Caiquin (different from the Mataras de La Campa where there is already a thriving church). God is opening doors in all three of these communities but there still remains much work to do.
  • Please pray extra hard for Arcamón. The work there is very difficult and the resistance to our efforts is increasing. We are not surprised by this but it is a matter of more intense prayer.
  • Please pray for two more communities we’ve recently learned of with no evangelical church or outreach taking place, Nuevo Cedros (we visited briefly last year), and Poso Verde.
  • Please continue to pray for San Cristobal; the work has been restarted and we are beginning to see some fruit. Please pray for the church to grow, that the Holy Spirit will move mightily, and that more people will choose to follow Jesus.
  • Please pray for wisdom as we share, and for people to be receptive to the message of love, forgiveness, and salvation available through Jesus Christ.
  • Please pray against a spirit of fear that controls a lot of people we meet. Many people hear the truth and know they need to make a change but they are afraid for lots of different reasons. The reasons aren’t that important, just that they find courage and strength to not be scared or intimidated by others.
  • Because of the delays in our return to La Campa and two extra visits that we weren’t planning for in January and February we will not be able to work with the Spanish language tutor in January. Please pray that we will have time in February to get this started because it will take practice and formal study to get us to the next level(s). In the meantime please pray for the “OJT” to keep us moving forward as it has done thus far.
  • Please pray for an enjoyable and refreshing time at a conference for missionaries in Siguatepeque in February. This will be right after our first wave of teams so the timing is perfect.
  • Please pray for safety and protection for all of La Campa during the annual festival that is held here during the last week or so of February. It is very crowded here, with thousands of people from other parts of Honduras and Central America. Unfortunately there is also a lot of noise, partying, drinking, fighting, etc. It is not an enjoyable time to be here, and not as safe as it is the rest of the year.
  • Please pray for the continued encouragement from our friends and family in the states. It is amazing what a blessing it is to receive even a short note from loved ones.
  • Please continue to pray for us to have wisdom and discernment to know what projects and ministries the Lord wants us to participate in and which ones we should leave alone. There are so many opportunities that it can be overwhelming trying to know how to choose. This is still an important request since we have more projects than we have resources for at the moment.
  • Please pray specifically for two projects we are very interested in starting in La Campa. They involve medical and education-more details coming soon.
  • Please pray as the Spirit leads for the following pastors, their families, and the churches represented: Pastor Wilmer (San Pedro Sula), Pastor Emilio (La Campa), Pastor Jose Maria (Santa Teresa), Pastor Arturo (Gracias), Pastor Samuel (Mataras), Pastor Roberto (Gracias), Pastor Modesto (Gracias), Pastor Marco Tulio (Cruz Alta), Pastor Amilcar (Monqueta), Pastor Rosita (Gilguarapez), Pastor Jorge (Caiquin) and Pastor Marco Antonio (Olominas), Pastor Walterio Cruz (Tegucigalpa), and Pastor Arnoldo (Coalaca).
  • Finances (see praise below). Please pray for our financial support to continue coming in strongly and consistently.
  • Please pray for our personal prayer lives to grow stronger and stronger. We can run around and do a lot of things, but without prayer we will not bear lasting spiritual fruit.
  • Please pray that we don’t neglect to maintain our relationships in the midst of doing ministry, the most important one being with our Lord, then with each other, then with our friends and family, while we continue to establish ourselves and our ministry in Honduras.
  • Please pray for our faith to stay strong, and grow even stronger, for continued protection from spiritual attack, and for strength when the attacks do come.
  • Please pray for us to be bold and courageous, to not miss any opportunities to glorify God, and to draw people closer to Jesus.

PRAISES

We have lots of praises this month to share with you!

  • Praise God for a very successful trip to the U.S. at the end of 2016! We had many, many meetings with pastors and missions leaders, the plans for ministry in 2017 are very exciting. We are praising God for a surprise opportunity to install 2 water purification projects as a result of one of those meetings.
  • Praise God for the surprise collections of goods that He blessed us with while we were in the U.S. One group got busy collecting coats, sweaters, and jackets that will be given to the children in one school in Coalaca. Another group collecting a whole bunch of personal care items that we can use at some general wellness clinics we want to host later this year.
  • Praise God for the time we got to spend with friends and family while in the U.S.
  • Praise God for the unexpected extra days in the U.S. because of travel challenges. While we really wanted to get back to Honduras at our originally scheduled day (Dec 15th) the Lord knew we needed some down time and a little extra time with family, especially with Jean’s sister and brother in law, at Christmas this year.
  • Praise God for all of the teams that have committed to coming to serve in Honduras this year, more details to follow.
  • Praise God for the ability to affordably ship some of our remaining things in the U.S. to Honduras. We were able to organize and transport the things that we can ship to a warehouse in MS using this program while in the states. As a result we were able to move the remaining things into a storage unit a little less than half the size of the one we had saving us quite a bit of money per month. Little by little we are getting close to our goal of having no possessions in the U.S. except for important records.
  • Praise God for our friends in La Campa who worked very hard maintaining our home and property for us while we were gone. It is such a blessing to know that we have friends whom we can trust completely in these things. Because of them we do not have to be concerned at all with our things in La Campa while we are gone.
  • Praise God for enabling us to finish all of the business of Jean’s mom’s estate. The sale of the house closed on November 4th with no delays or surprises and the estate sale was a huge success. More importantly, we are praising God for His presence during this work. It was difficult, but it was also a time of good memories as well as we worked together with Jean’s sister and brother in law.
  • Praise God for the ministry in Jonesboro, GA that provided us with very affordable cars to use during our visit to the U.S. The folks at Macedonian Call Foundation were so helpful and flexible we can’t praise and thank them enough.
  • Praise God for our most generous friends who allowed us to stay in their homes and took such good care of us while we were in the U.S. While a nearly three month trip is expensive it was much less expensive because of our friends who allowed us the use of their homes.
  • Praise God for the increase in our language skills in the short time we’ve been back. And praise Him because we were both very pleasantly surprised that we had not lost much, if any really, of the language we had learned after being away from Spanish speakers\speaking for so long.
  • We continue to receive encouragement from so many of our friends, praise God for the encouragement from our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Praise God for His continued faithfulness to provide for our needs through our friends and partner churches that faithfully and generously support our ministry.
  • Praise God for the great friends He has brought into our lives in La Campa, San Pedro Sula, and El Progreso. We are especially thankful for Pastor Emilio and his family, the Perez family, Pastor Jorge and his family, Pastor Wilmer and his family, and Tony, Juanita, and Rommel-our Hotel Plaza Victoria family in El Progreso.
  • Praise God for all of our prayer supporters because we can’t do what we do effectively without the prayer support of all of you.
  • Praise God for all of the little things we learn almost daily about life in La Campa and Honduras. It is so much easier to be effective when you know the rules.

 

September 2016 Prayers and Praises

PRAYER REQUESTS

  • Please pray that we will be able to finish all that we need to finish in La Campa in preparation for our annual fall visit (we leave La Campa on the 28th and arrive in Atlanta on the 29th)
  • Please pray for us to be able to focus and organize all of the meetings, conferences, and two other large projects that we need to complete while in the U.S. this fall.
  • Please pray for the Lord to provide us with an inexpensive vehicle to use for the Chicago leg of our trip (see praise below for how He provided a vehicle for the first part of the trip).
  • Please continue to pray for three un-reached communities named Mezcalillo, Arcamón, and Mataras de Caiquin (different from the Mataras de La Campa where there is already a thriving church). God is opening doors in all three of these communities but there still remains much work to do. We are going to visit Arcamón and Mataras de Caiquin on September 21st with Pastor Jorge, please pray for people to be receptive to the gospel.
  • Please pray for two more communities we’ve recently learned of with no evangelical church or outreach taking place, Nuevo Cedros (we’ve visited briefly earlier this year), and Poso Verde.
  • Please add San Cristobal to the list of communities to pray for; the work has been restarted and we are already starting to see some fruit. Please pray for the church to grow, that the Holy Spirit will move mightily, and that more people will choose to follow Jesus.
  • Please pray for Jean to fulfill her responsibilities as executor properly and efficiently. We are in the home stretch; our goal is to finish everything during our annual fall visit.
  • Please pray for wisdom in deciding what to do with her mom’s things. There will be an estate sale but we still have quite a bit of sorting to finish the first week of October. Pray for lots of good memories and comfort during this work.
  • Please pray for wisdom as we share, and for people to be receptive to the message of love, forgiveness, and salvation available through Jesus Christ.
  • Please pray against a spirit of fear that controls a lot of people we meet. Many people hear the truth and know they need to make a change but they are afraid for lots of different reasons. The reasons aren’t that important, just that they find courage and strength to not be scared or intimidated by others.
  • We will be working with a tutor from a language school here in Honduras in January and February. Please continue to pray for us as we continue to learn the language. We both have made much progress this year but it will take formal studying and practice combined with “OJT” to get us to the next level.
  • Please pray for the continued encouragement from our friends and family in the states. It is amazing what a blessing it is to receive even a short note from loved ones.
  • Please continue to pray for us to have wisdom and discernment to know what projects and ministries the Lord wants us to participate in and which ones we should leave alone. There are so many opportunities that it can be overwhelming trying to know how to choose. This is still an important request since we have more projects than we have resources for at the moment.
  • Please pray specifically for two projects we are very interested in starting in La Campa. They involve medical and education-more details coming soon.
  • Please pray as the Spirit leads for the following pastors, their families, and the churches represented: Pastor Wilmer (San Pedro Sula), Pastor Emilio (La Campa), Pastor Jose Maria (Santa Teresa), Pastor Arturo (Gracias), Pastor Samuel (Mataras), Pastor Roberto (Gracias), Pastor Modesto (Gracias), Pastor Marco Tulio (Cruz Alta), Pastor Amilcar (Monqueta), Pastor Rosita (Gilguarapez), Pastor Jorge (Caiquin) and Pastor Marco Antonio (Olominas), Pastor Walterio Cruz (Tegucigalpa), and two new pastors we’ve recently started working with-Pastor Lorenzo Mateo (La Meande) and Pastor Arnoldo (Coalaca).
  • Finances (see praise below). Please pray for our financial support to continue coming in strongly and consistently.
  • Please pray for our personal prayer lives to grow stronger and stronger. We can run around and do a lot of things, but without prayer we will not bear lasting spiritual fruit.
  • Please pray that we don’t neglect to maintain our relationships in the midst of doing ministry, the most important one being with our Lord, then with each other, then with our friends and family, while we continue to establish ourselves and our ministry in Honduras.
  • Please pray for our faith to stay strong, and grow even stronger, for continued protection from spiritual attack, and for strength when the attacks do come.
  • Please pray for us to be bold and courageous, to not miss any opportunities to glorify God, and to draw people closer to Jesus.
  • Please pray for the Lord to open doors for us to speak in new churches during our fall visit to the states. We would love to have as many opportunities as possible to share what He is doing in Honduras and invite others to join Him and us in the work.

 PRAISES

We have lots of praises this month to share with you!

  • Praise God for a very successful medical clinic in San Cristobal last weekend (9/17). Lots of seeds were planted and goodwill generated.
  • Praise God for the completion of projects at our home in La Campa this month to correct leaks, runoff, and erosion problems. While the roof is not perfectly leak free it is much better now.
  • Praise God for our first harvest of corn from our property. We picked the first corn today (9/20) and there is plenty more for two families we are very close to here in La Campa to share while we are gone-The Perez family, and Prudencia and her four kids.
  • Praise God for how miraculously He worked out the sale of Jean’s mom’s house. There was only one counteroffer to arrive at a very good price so the house was under contract in about 2 weeks. Besides the price being good they did not want to close until November 4th which was a blessing for us. That gives us enough time to finish all that needs to be done and we did not have to alter our travel plans in order to do so.
  • Praise God for a ministry in Jonesboro, GA that offers cars to missionaries on furlough-yesterday we learned that our application was approved so we have a vehicle for the entire time we are in the southeast U.S.
  • Praise God for our generous friends through whom He provides places for us to stay when we come and visit. We already have a place to stay in KY for that part of the trip and we have several friends who have invited us to stay with them for the GA part of our trip (which is the longest part).
  • Praise God for the rains that we continue to have here in our part of Honduras. While it makes the travel difficult, and sometimes impossible, everybody’s corn (including ours) looks great so people will have more to eat this year.
  • Praise God for the doors that have been opened with the 30 cases of dehydrated nutritionally reinforced food that we have given out this year.
  • We continue to receive encouragement from so many of our friends, praise God for the encouragement from our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Praise God for His continued faithfulness to provide for our needs through our friends and partner churches that faithfully and generously support our ministry.
  • Praise God for the great friends He has brought into our lives in La Campa, San Pedro Sula, and El Progreso. We are especially thankful for Pastor Emilio and his family, the Perez family, Pastor Wilmer and his family, and Tony, Juanita, and Rommel-our Hotel Plaza Victoria family in El Progresso.
  • Praise God for all of our prayer supporters because we can’t do what we do effectively without the prayer support of all of you.
  • Praise God for all of the little things we learn almost daily about life in La Campa and Honduras. It is so much easier to be effective when you know the rules J

August 2016 Prayers and Praises

PRAYER REQUESTS

  • Please continue to pray for two un-reached communities named Mezcalillo and Arcamón. God is opening doors in both communities (see Praises below) but there still remains much work to do.
  • Please pray for two more communities we’ve recently learned of with no evangelical church or outreach taking place, Nuevo Cedros (we’ve visited briefly earlier this year), and Poso Verde.
  • Jean’s mom went home to be with the Lord on June 27th. While we miss her we rejoice because we know where she is, Who she is with, and that we will see her again because of what Jesus did on the cross.
  • Please pray for Jean to fulfill her responsibilities as executor properly and efficiently. She is leaving for the states on August 2nd to spend time meeting with attorneys, real estate agents banks, etc. and to start working with her sister on going through and cleaning out the house.
  • Please pray for a fast sale of the house and that it sells for a good price. Please pray for wisdom in deciding what to do with her mom’s things. It will be a difficult time, but there will also be good memories too. Pray for lots of good memories and comfort during the sad times.
  • Please pray for wisdom as we share, and for people to be receptive to the message of love, forgiveness, and salvation available through Jesus Christ.
  • Please pray against a spirit of fear that controls a lot of people we meet. Many people hear the truth and know they need to make a change but they are afraid for lots of different reasons. The reasons aren’t that important, just that they find courage and strength to not be scared or intimidated by others.
  • Please continue to pray for us as we consider language school options. We both have made much progress this year but it is time for us to accelerate our learning and proficiency.
  • Please pray for the continued encouragement from our friends and family in the states. It is amazing what a blessing it is to receive even a short note from loved ones.
  • Please pray for us to have wisdom and discernment to know what projects and ministries the Lord wants us to participate in and which ones we should leave alone. There are so many opportunities that it can be overwhelming trying to know how to choose. This is still an important request since we have more projects than we have resources for at the moment.
  • Please pray as the Spirit leads for the following pastors, their families, and the churches represented: Pastor Wilmer (San Pedro Sula), Pastor Emilio (La Campa), Pastor Jose Maria (Santa Teresa), Pastor Arturo (Gracias), Pastor Samuel (Mataras), Pastor Roberto (Gracias), Pastor Modesto (Gracias), Pastor Marco Tulio (Cruz Alta), Pastor Amilcar (Monqueta), Pastor Rosita (Gilguarapez), Pastor Jorge (Caiquin) and Pastor Marco Antonio (Olominas), Pastor Walterio Cruz (Tegucigalpa), and two new pastors we’ve recently started working with-Pastor Lorenzo Mateo (La Meande) and Pastor Arnoldo (Coalaca).
  • Finances (see praise below). Please pray for our financial support to continue coming in strongly and consistently.
  • Please pray for our personal prayer lives to grow stronger and stronger. We can run around and do a lot of things, but without prayer we will not bear lasting spiritual fruit.
  • Please pray that we don’t neglect to maintain our relationships in the midst of doing ministry, the most important one being with our Lord, then with each other, then with our friends and family, while we continue to establish ourselves and our ministry in Honduras.
  • Please pray for our faith to stay strong, and grow even stronger, for continued protection from spiritual attack, and for strength when the attacks do come.
  • Please pray for us to be bold and courageous, to not miss any opportunities to glorify God, and to draw people closer to Jesus.
  • Please pray for the Lord to open doors for us to speak in new churches during our fall visit to the states. We would love to have as many opportunities as possible to share what He is doing in Honduras and invite others to join Him and us in the work.

PRAISEs

We have lots of praises this month to share with you!

  • Mezcalillo Update: The road dried out enough earlier in July during a brief break in the rains that we could go and visit Gloria Marina and three of her sons. This is the family that will be the foundation of the new congregation in Mezcalillo. We are praising God that we got to visit them again, please pray for them and the continued ministry in this community.
  • Arcamón Update: The work continues, there are a couple more families of believers that have been discovered there and slowly we are moving towards an evangelical church in this community.
  • Praise God for over 50 new believers as a result of the ministry and medical clinics in Cruz Alta and Nueva Esperanza in July.
  • Praise God for the successful mission teams who came and served with us in Honduras this summer. There were two teams from FBA and one team from KFBC. As is usually the case, there were challenges faced by each of these teams but our God is greater than the challenges, He revealed himself and provided for each of these teams in the exact ways that were needed.
  • Praise God for progress being made on bathrooms in Mataras, a Sunday school classroom and kitchen in Cruz Alta, and continuing progress towards completion of the church and bathrooms in Coalaca, and the completion of the concrete floor in Olo Minas.
  • Praise God for the rains that we continue to have here in our part of Honduras. While it makes the travel difficult, and sometimes impossible, everybody’s corn (including ours) looks great so people will have more to eat this year.
  • We will be handing out the last of the 30 cases of food we received earlier this year by the end of August. This food has been a blessing to those who can’t plant and work in the fields, and it has also opened doors for the gospel to be shared.
  • We continue to receive encouragement from so many of our friends, praise God for the encouragement from our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Praise God for His continued faithfulness to provide for our needs through our friends and partner churches that faithfully and generously support our ministry.
  • Praise God for the great friends He has brought into our lives in La Campa, San Pedro Sula, and El Progreso. We are especially thankful for Pastor Emilio and his family, the Perez family, Pastor Wilmer and his family, and Tony, Juanita, and Rommel-our Hotel Plaza Victoria family in El Progreso.
  • Praise God for all of our prayer supporters because we can’t do what we do effectively without the prayer support of all of you.
  • Praise God for the financial blessings that two of our supporting churches sent us to help with the airfare to the states for Jean’s mom’s funeral. Through the generosity of so many God continues to prove himself to be more than faithful in matters of provision.
  • Praise God for all of the little things we learn almost daily about life in La Campa and Honduras. It is so much easier to be effective when you know the rules J
  • Garden Update: While we have harvested some food from our first garden it would be inaccurate to claim that it was a complete success. We know that we will learn the growing seasons here and the right kind of products and methods to use to increase our production. Another complication is that we are trying to grow some things that are not native to this area so that will take a little trial and error to figure out. But we are still praising God for the yellow summer squash and okra that we did harvest J

The Road Goes Further

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like being wrong. What I like worse than realizing I am wrong is admitting that I am wrong. While my sense of pride is hurt when I realize and admit to myself I am wrong, it gets hurt a little more when I have to admit openly to others that I was wrong about something.

There is nothing to like about being wrong, especially at first. But when I move quickly through the recognition and admission phase, successfully push down the ugly part of my natural self that wants to rationalize, make excuses, cover up, and pretend that I wasn’t really wrong, learning and growth take place.

In April 2015 I wrote an article titled “Winding Roads” and in that article I told you the story about how we found a village called Caiquin and that Caiquin was at the end of the road. I was wrong about that. The road goes further.

During a meeting with Pastor Jorge last August I asked him if he knew of any other communities where we could begin new outreach that would hopefully lead to the raising up a of new pastor, congregation, and church building. He thought about that for a few moments and then told me that there were actually three more communities that fit this description.

This always excites me because one of the things I love to do most serving in missions is to jump in the truck and head deeper into the mountains to visit new communities. I asked him where these communities were located and he told me they were in the mountains above Caiquin on the road leading out of town. This was my realization that the day was coming for me to admit in another article that I was wrong-the winding road to Caiquin actually goes through Caiquin.

From my perspective at the time the road did not really appear to go much further than Pastor Jorge’s house. That combined with not asking the right question and jumping to a conclusion led me to draw the wrong conclusion. Maybe one day I will stop jumping to conclusions and learn to ask the right questions first instead. Now that we have all of that out of the way lets continue on with the story.

In late August last year Pastor Jorge, Jean, our friend and interpreter Lourdes, and I went up to visit the first community he mentioned called Coalaca. We met a young man named Pastor Arnoldo and the leaders of the house church and outreach activities taking place in Coalaca under the guidance of Pastor Jorge.

While sitting on some rocks under a tree Pastor Arnoldo told us the story of how he heard the Lord during prayer one day tell him to donate the property we were sitting on to the church. This property was a piece of his family’s land that had been given to him for his future home and family. He told us about how he was afraid to do this because he did not have a lot of money and couldn’t just go and buy another piece of land. But he chose to be obedient and donated the land.

After hearing his story and learning about the ministry that was already taking place in Coalaca we were sure that the Lord was leading us to help build a new church building there in 2016. So we continued on in this direction and a team from Kentucky came to Honduras and spent a week helping our brothers and sisters from Caiquin and Coalaca build the new church in March of this year.

After we finished our meeting in Coalaca we continued on to Arcamón which is another 20 minutes or so up a very steep and rocky road to the top of a mountain. The views are breathtaking from up there. We learned that this has been a very difficult community to reach. Pastor Jorge had visited here once or twice before but had become discouraged and stopped going. We talked about that and just spent some time there that afternoon planning and praying.

Afterwards we went part of the way back towards Coalaca and Pastor Jorge pointed out a steep, muddy, heavily rutted trail that went up another mountainside. I asked what was up there and he said that a small community named Mataras was up there. He had not spent much time at all in this community but asked if we wanted to go visit. Of course I said yes even though the trail was very intimidating. We had a brand new set of mud tires on the back so we put the truck in four wheel drive and headed up to Mataras for the first time.

Like Arcamón the views are absolutely stunning. We only spent a little time there because it was getting late in the afternoon and we needed to start making our way back to Caiquin and La Campa. Since these visits we have been working very diligently in Arcamón and we are starting to see some fruit from our labor. We have not yet started any outreach in Mataras but we plan to do so once things are further along in Arcamón.

Since we have our hands full with the work in Coalaca and Arcamón, and we have plans to begin work in Mataras soon I have not yet inquired much about the roads and communities beyond these places. The road narrows significantly and goes at least a little ways out of Arcamón in one direction; there is one very small community close by that we will visit one day. But for now I am not making any definitive statements about where roads end. While there is plenty more I will be wrong about in the future I do at least try really hard to not repeat the same mistakes over and over.

In the case of Caiquin the road went further even though that did not appear to be the case at first. That may be the case in these other locations too. But sometimes the road does not go further, at least as a road. Earlier this year we drove out to Nuevo Cedros while on another one of these adventures. We reached a point where the road came to an end, however, a trail continued on in the same direction. Perhaps one day we’ll set off on foot to see who and what we find along this trail.

All of this recently got me to thinking about the end of the road in a sense other than geography. Often throughout our lives we reach points where it looks like we are at the end of the road. It looks as if there is no way to go forward. The road has turned into a path and the path has narrowed and become dimly lit and very difficult to traverse. Perhaps we press ahead a little further until we can’t see anything at all and are completely out of options. We know we can’t turn back, and yet we can’t go forward either. What do we do then?

These are the moments where, if we will trust Him, God will show us that the road does indeed go further. Oftentimes it takes us getting to this point of desperation that will allow God to step in and show us the way. God loves us so much that He will not ever force himself into our lives. Think of that. God loves and respects us so much that He will patiently wait and let us reach the end of the road, the end of ourselves, before He will step in and shine His marvelous light revealing that we were not at the end of the road at all. As a matter of fact, it turns out that we had only reached the beginning of His road that He had already planned for us.

While the end of our road brings us to the beginning of His road, His road may not necessarily go further in a direction that we would choose to go on our own. But when God is leading us we have nothing to fear. When we are in a right relationship with God the Father through Jesus we have promise after promise in the Bible that God is with us, that He is leading us, and that He is guarding us from behind so that nothing can overtake us. Even though there will be experiences not of our choosing on God’s road, He allows them for our benefit. If we trust and follow Him He will, either in this life or in the life to come, allow us to see and understand better what He was doing.

 “…Just as I have been with Moses I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”Joshua 1:5b, NASB

 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9, NASB

Here is the new church in Coalaca, one of two communities further along the road beyond Caiquin.

Here is the new church in Coalaca, one of two communities further along the road beyond Caiquin.

Meet the Perez Family

Greetings from barrio San Matias, located just outside of the city of La Campa in the Department of Lempira, Honduras. Many of our friends have found it hard to believe that the information provided in the previous sentence is as close as we get to an official address in this part of Honduras. When they inquire further about how to send us a care package they are more surprised to learn that there is no mail delivery service here either. It makes sense when you stop to think about it though. If there is no mail delivery service why should anyone have formal mailing addresses? Or if there are no formal mailing addresses how could you have mail delivery service? Sounds a little bit like the chicken or the egg question, but regardless, we send you our warmest greetings this month from our new home in Honduras.

Earlier this year I introduced you to Pastor Jose Maria and his family. They’ve had to endure more challenges in the first half of this year, so if you believe in the power of prayer, please include them in your prayers today. This month I would like to introduce you to another very special family, the Perez family.

Sometimes you can look back and remember the exact moment you met someone who later became a very special friend, but sometimes you meet people who you never imagine at the time will become very special to you, but that is exactly what ends up happening. That is the case with us and the Perez family. I can’t tell you exactly when we met them (other than sometime in 2010), but they are such special people that it seems like we’ve always known them.

Eusebio and Olympia have four children, Martias is their oldest daughter, Antonio (not pictured) is the next oldest, Sandra is their third, and Belky is their youngest. Like many Lenca families, they are very hard workers. They own a small family business making traditional Lenca clay pottery. The pottery is made completely from materials found in this region of Honduras. The pottery is very simple, but also very pretty, and functional.

Olympia makes most of the pottery but all of her daughters are learning the trade. Eusebio helps with the wood fired oven drying and polishing. The entire process is done by hand, without a potter’s wheel, at their home using whatever tools they have available, including old toothbrushes, various shapes and sizes of rocks, and even old plastic pens. It is amazing to see what beautiful pieces of pottery they can make with rudimentary tools, lots of skill, and patience.

In addition to helping with the family pottery business, Eusebio is a man of many talents. He is very knowledgeable about basic construction using adobe blocks and other materials and methods common to rural Honduras, and he is an excellent farmer and gardener. He grows many different flowers, fruits and vegetables. And of course, he knows how to grow coffee. His son Antonio is following in his father’s footsteps and they get to work together quite often.

It was about two years ago that we started building our home in La Campa. From the perspective of the American planner, it is incomprehensible that it would take two years. While the house is large by Honduran standards, it is just an average size American home. And it is a very simple home that does not even have central heat and air. So why did it take so long? Jean and I are both the typical American planner types so we have struggled with this too at times. As with any construction project I’ve ever been involved with there are always mistakes, decisions that get made and changed, then changed again, which causes delays. Add to that the dynamics of managing the project from about 1,500 miles away, cross culturally, and it becomes a little more understandable why it took so long. But there is more to it than that.

There are many things that were learned during this project, but I think one of the most important spiritual lessons God taught us is that He is at least as interested in the process as He is in the end result. God has two primary goals for each and every person created; first, that they understand and accept His love and gift of forgiveness for them that was revealed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The second goal He has for us is that the longer we walk with Jesus, the more we resemble Him in our daily lives. So clearly the end results are very important to God. But the process of achieving these goals is important to Him too. We don’t just all of the sudden become Christ-like. It takes time, it takes us making mistakes to learn, it takes longer than we want or expect. But if we go through the process with a humble, teachable spirit, God will help us to reach His goals.

The other related lesson we learned is that God always has much more going on in every aspect of our lives than we are able to realize at the time. Our focus was on completing this construction project so we could move down here and start engaging in the ministry that God has for us. There was nothing wrong with that focus. As a matter of fact, our desires were perfectly in line with God’s plans for us. But the God we serve is the all knowing, holy, Creator of the entire universe. With that in mind it seems obvious that He would have more than one thing going on at a time. Our construction project turned out to be a perfect example of this. While we were so preoccupied with the details of the project, God was using the project to build relationships with people like Eusebio, Olympia, and their family, which is the exact thing we want to do here.

While Eusebio is skilled in basic construction there was a lot about this project that was more than he could handle so we could not hire him as our general contractor. However, as we got to know him better, we learned that he is a hard worker who does everything with absolute integrity. If you ask him to do something he will do it, he will do it well, and he will do it in the right amount of time without having to be checked on constantly. We also learned that he lives out what the Apostle Paul stated we should always do, and that is to put the interests of others ahead of our own. As soon as you give him responsibility for something he will take care of it as if it is his own. He and Olympia have taught these lessons to all of their children and they all appear to be great students.

One afternoon Jean and I were working hard trying to get the house cleaned up and set up enough so that we could start living there. It was the first day that everything in the house, meaning the electricity, water, and appliances were all working. Eusebio was working on some projects outside the house that day. My Spanish is still not very good so I didn’t fully understand when Eusebio told me that the rest of his family was going to come by for a visit that day. It did not matter that it was that day or any other day because they are always welcome in our home.

A little while later Olympia and the girls came walking down the driveway so we took a break to sit down and talk in the house. Or try to talk since, as I’ve already mentioned, our Spanish is not very good yet. Not only did they come by to talk, but they also came by to give us a gift for our house. It was a flower pot that Olympia made, with a plant that Eusebio had cultivated for us. In our best Spanish possible we thanked them for the gift and told them that we would put it on the front porch so that every time we entered and left the house we would see that plant and be reminded of them. We also promised them that if they gave us a few more days we would be able to offer them coffee, tea, soft drinks and some snacks because, at that time, all we had was a couple of bottles of water in the refrigerator.

Before they left we gathered together in a circle, held hands, and prayed for one another in the dining room. Not only are they honest, hard working people, they are also spiritual giants, and we are honored to be friends with them. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to meet these very special people. Please keep them and us in your prayers as we grow closer together in friendship and ministry.

Olympia and Eusebio (rear), Martias, Sandra, Belky (front from L to R) Not pictured, their son Antonio

Olympia and Eusebio (rear), Martias, Sandra, Belky (front from L to R) Not pictured, their son Antonio

The Perez family giving us our housewarming gift that will always have a prominent place on our front porch.

The Perez family giving us our housewarming gift that will always have a prominent place on our front porch.

June 2016 Prayers and Praises

PRAYER REQUESTS

  • Please pray for us as we work to finalize plans for our summer mission teams that begin arriving on June 18th. From June 18th until July 16th we will have non-stop mission teams visiting.
  • Please continue to pray for two un-reached communities named Mezcalillo and Arcamón. God is opening doors in both communities (see Praises below) but there still remains much work to do.
  • Please pray for two more communities we’ve recently learned of with no evangelical church or outreach taking place, Nuevo Cedros (we’ve visited briefly earlier this year), and Poso Verde.
  • Please pray specifically for Jean’s mom who is 87 years old and recently had two strokes. At the same time please join us in praising God for a quicker and much better recovery than we imagined possible at the time the strokes occurred. She has been moved into a nursing home where her recovery is continuing. She will need to work hard with therapy to recover enough to be able to return to her home. But even then she will require some home health care services. Please pray for a spirit of acceptance and cooperation. Please also pray for Jean and me during this time because Jean is spending time in the U.S. helping her mom while Greg is in Honduras keeping the ministry and coffee business moving forward.
  • Please pray for wisdom as we share, and for people to be receptive to the message of love, forgiveness, and salvation available through Jesus Christ.
  • Please pray against a spirit of fear that controls a lot of people we meet. Many people hear the truth and know they need to make a change but they are afraid for lots of different reasons. The reasons aren’t that important, just that they find courage and strength to not be scared or intimidated by others.
  • Please continue to pray for our Spanish language skills, and that we will make the time daily to study. We both are making progress and we are confident that this will be the year that our Spanish skills increase exponentially.
  • **Please pray for our residency again** Because of a mistake that was made we were only given one year of residency which expires at the end of this month. The renewal process is not supposed to be as difficult or lengthy as the initial application, and the process is underway, so please pray that we get at least two more years of residency by the end of May. **Residency Update** We were granted temporary papers extending our residency for another 90 days beyond May 29th while our paperwork for the next two years of residency is being processed. Please pray that the paperwork gets processed and that we receive our residency cards for the next two years quickly so we can put this behind us and keep moving forward in other areas.
  • Please pray for the continued encouragement from our friends and family in the states. It is amazing what a blessing it is to receive even a short note from loved ones.
  • Please pray for us to have wisdom and discernment to know what projects and ministries the Lord wants us to participate in and which ones we should leave alone. There are so many opportunities that it can be overwhelming trying to know how to choose. This is still an important request since we have more projects than we have resources for at the moment.
  • Please pray as the Spirit leads for the following pastors, their families, and the churches represented: Pastor Wilmer (San Pedro Sula), Pastor Emilio (La Campa), Pastor Jose Maria (Santa Teresa), Pastor Arturo (Gracias), Pastor Samuel (Mataras), Pastor Roberto (Gracias), Pastor Modesto (Gracias), Pastor Marco Tulio (Cruz Alta), Pastor Amilcar (Monqueta), Pastor Rosita (Gilguarapez), Pastor Jorge (Caiquin) and Pastor Marco Antonio (Olominas), Pastor Walterio Cruz (Tegucigalpa), and two new pastors we’ve recently started working with-Pastor Lorenzo Mateo (La Meande) and Pastor Arnoldo (Coalaca).
  • Finances (see praise below). Please pray for our financial support to continue coming in strongly and consistently.
  • Please pray for our personal prayer lives to grow stronger and stronger. We can run around and do a lot of things, but without prayer we will not bear lasting spiritual fruit.
  • Please pray that we don’t neglect to maintain our relationships in the midst of doing ministry, the most important one being with our Lord, then with each other, then with our friends and family, while we continue to establish ourselves and our ministry in Honduras.
  • Please continue to pray for our short term mission teams who are preparing to minister with us this year. Three teams have already been here; there are 3 more coming this summer, and one or two more coming this fall. **Update, although we don’t understand what the Lord is up to we trust Him knowing that He has all knowledge, and perfect knowledge. We’ve had three of our six teams who were planning to come down this summer cancel for various reasons. There is a small team coming in August that developed a few weeks ago, and there is the possibility for another team to come down later this year. So we are not discouraged although we’d be lying if we said we don’t wonder from time to time about this 
  • Please pray for our faith to stay strong, and grow even stronger, for continued protection from spiritual attack, and for strength when the attacks do come.
  • Please pray for us to be bold and courageous, to not miss any opportunities to glorify God, and to draw people closer to Jesus.
  • Please pray for our families who are in the U.S. There are situations that are challenging, and perhaps a little more so with us being here and them being there.
  • On a somewhat serious, but not as serious as other requests, please pray for our first garden. We started out small and planted some yellow squash, okra, honeydew melon, watermelon, cucumber, and sunflowers this year. On a more serious and related note, please pray that the rains continue sufficiently so everyone’s corn and beans will do well so that people have enough food to eat this year.
  • Prayer and Praise: We received 30 cases of dehydrated, nutritionally fortified food from our friends at Networking Honduras to help people who are hungry. We’ve distributed some of this food in Mataras. Arcamón, and La Campa and we still have more to give out. Please pray for the families receiving this food, that not only does it meet their physical need, but that it also is a way that they learn about the God who cares about them and desires to meet their spiritual needs too.

PRAISE:

We have lots of praises this month to share with you!

  • Mezcalillo Update: God, through the ministry of the Hoy Spirit, is continuing to move and work in Mezcalillo. We had our first church service at the house of Gloria Marina and her family (this is the family God revealed to us during a day of home visits in January) recently. Pastor Samuel and several people from Mataras joined us, along with several other people from Mezcalillo. That day we learned that there is a piece of property that will be donated for the construction of the new church when the time comes.
  • Arcamón Update: We had a great afternoon of visits on April 28th and did in fact have church service that evening in the center of town outside the community center. Many people from the community were there and the gospel of Jesus was proclaimed for all to hear. There were not any conversions that we know of that night but praise God for the opportunity, and pray for us to continue to serve Him there in faith, knowing that the time will come for people to begin following Jesus.
  • The church service Jean and I spoke at in Caiquin on April 27th went very well. Praise God for a man who came forward and chose to become a follower of Jesus Christ. A community leader from Caiquin visited for the first time that night and came forward requesting prayer for her family. We do not believe she is a follower of Jesus so praise God for her visit and pray to God for her and her family.
  • Praise God for a new believer named Rosa in Arcamón, and the other new believers listed on the February prayers and praises, and for all of the new believers in Mezcalillo (see above).
  • Praise God for the 3 confirmed summer mission teams coming to minister with us this June and July, and the one or two other teams that may develop in late July and August. We are so thankful for all of our short term mission teams who come and serve with us.
  • Praise God for the completion of the new Torre Fuerte building and the beautiful dedication service that we got to participate in at the end of April. It is such an honor for us to be a part of what is happening in Torre Fuerte. It is also humbling to learn of the history of this church, the faithful believers who have contributed so much to the legacy of this church, and for us to have the privilege of sowing and harvesting alongside our Torre Fuerte brothers and sisters, and also so many friends from the U.S. who have sown far more than we into the life of Torre Fuerte.
  • Praise God for our friends Alan and Don who were able to bring several bags of things down for us earlier this month. Besides the positive economic impact of not having to replace these things by purchasing them here it is such a pleasant surprise to receive familiar items from our previous home. It’s funny, in a good way, the good memories that come to mind as you unpack something familiar from a different place that you have not seen in a while.
  • We continue to receive encouragement from so many of our friends, praise God for the encouragement from our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Praise God for His continued faithfulness to provide for our needs through our friends and partner churches that faithfully and generously support our ministry.
  • Praise God for the great friends He has brought into our lives in La Campa, San Pedro Sula, and El Progresso. We are especially thankful for Pastor Emilio and his family, the Perez family, Pastor Wilmer and his family, and Tony, Juanita, and Rommel-our Hotel Plaza Victoria family in El Progresso.
  • Praise God for all of our prayer supporters because we can’t do what we do effectively without the prayer support of all of you.
  • Praise God for all of the little things we learn almost daily about life in La Campa and Honduras. It is so much easier to be effective when you know the rules J
  • Praise God for a generous financial gift that allows us to help with five different construction\ministry projects. This gift was given by a man simply because he heard reports about what God is doing in and around La Campa and decided that he wanted to be a part of it. **Update**Praise God that the four construction projects are all in process right now, this money is helping to fund construction of church bathrooms in Caiquin and Mataras, pouring a concrete floor in the church on Olo Minas, and construction of a Sunday school classroom for the children in Cruz Alta. There were also some funds to put towards new seating in Torre Fuerte, our home church in La Campa.
  • Praise God for four straight days with rain, our garden is looking healthy, the mountains are turning green again after a very, very dry year so far, and our first rain barrel is already full of water for our garden and flowers.