In our last newsletter we closed with previewing how difficult Ruben’s first few weeks of therapy would be. Well, they have indeed been difficult, but also fruitful. Rubén spent two and half years in an uncomfortable bed unable to care for himself after being shot in the neck and left for dead. While his family and others did as much as they could Rubén was losing weight and losing hope because there was nothing else that could be done for him in the community where he lived. Because of the sanitary issues and skin ulcers from being in bed unmoved for too long he suffered regularly from various infections. Some were very serious, and quite frankly, medically speaking, he should not still be alive. But alive he is and we are grateful to be able to give an update on the results of his first seven weeks at La Casa De Rubén.
At one time Rubén had as many as five skin ulcers but as of last week the last one is completely covered with new tissue. Dr. Maria is heading up the continued efforts to improve his care and hygiene so that combined with not having skin ulcers will reduce the amount of infections. Because some of these things have gone on for so long his body has become very antibiotic resistant so things have to be managed differently going forward.
It is equally amazing to see how his body has reacted to only seven weeks of physical therapy. He is sitting much more upright in his wheelchair. His head used to slump over to one side because of the way he laid in bed and the loss of muscle mass but after a few weeks of therapy and a steady nutritious diet he has regained strength in his neck, shoulders, and arms. He can control and hold up his head and stretch out both of his arms fully. He is even regaining small amounts of control over his midsection so that he is now starting to sit up by himself although only for a few moments. Before the shooting he weighed 132 lbs and had gotten down to as low as 98 lbs with most of that loss being muscle tissue since he was lean to begin with. We haven’t weighed him recently but we know he is gaining weight and we estimate him to weigh somewhere between 105-110 lbs.
Dora, his therapist, is teaching him to focus his mind and use it to re-teach his body how to send signals to the muscles in his legs. He has no control of his legs; they move involuntarily and his knees and muscles got super tight due to lack of movement. However, already it is much easier for Dora to stretch out his legs than it was a few weeks ago. She tells him to relax his leg muscles and many times when Rubén really concentrates on this his legs extend and stay relaxed and longer for periods of time. The two biggest milestones in my opinion are the fact that with the help of a “stander” Rubén was able to stand up for the first time in 2 1/2 years. And just a few days ago he began using his arms to move his wheelchair. He can’t go far yet but we know that soon enough we might not be able to keep up with him!
So we’ll conclude this post much like we did the last-please pray for us and for Rubén. Despite the progress he has made he has a long way to go to gain mobility and independence. His hips are twisted and his back and shoulders are seriously out of alignment. He needs to receive Botox injections to loosen up various parts of his body to advance the physical therapy and we need get a new neck MRI for the neurologist he is now seeing. This is in addition to the routine supplies that he needs.
Also please pray for us as we continue with this ministry. We need much wisdom to build and grow this ministry properly. And please pray about making a financial donation to help us keep operating and expanding La Casa De Rubén. There are others we know who need to receive the same kind of care as Rubén but we need more space and resources. Without the generosity of others we will not be able to help Rubén and others like him. If you have questions about La Casa De Rubén please contact us and we’ll be glad to explain in more detail the opportunities and the needs.
Thank you all so much, God bless.
Please read below for updates on previous prayer requests, new prayer requests, and praises for what God has done.
Prayers and praises so often go hand in hand that it can be hard to follow when they are split between different sections so we have combined them by topic. Where combined the prayers will be in black and the praises will be in red.
It has been so exciting and fulfilling to minister with the clearer focus that the Lord has helped us to develop over the last several months. We are so thankful for the ministry partners who have chosen to come alongside of us and commit their efforts and resources in the particular communities and projects that the Lord has shown that are for us. Please pray and rejoice with us in the following:
In the last newsletter we shared a picture of our old Mazda with the hood up behind a chain link fence in Santa Rosa. I had written a post about God’s perfect timing, even in the mechanical failures of our truck. Well, I suspect you’ve already figured out what has happened since then. We were very blessed to be able to purchase a new truck.
Jean and I let go of the dream of ever owning another brand new vehicle years ago. That happened even before we left the U.S. to serve full time in Honduras. When our old Mazda gave it up we began looking for a high quality used Toyota. We received several leads on used trucks that came with very good references regarding the condition and maintenance.
We quickly found out that it is much better to be selling a used Toyota than to be buying-the prices of the used Toyotas were very high. A missionary friend of ours here in Honduras saw our Facebook post and reached out to us. We told her about the leads we had and how much we were hoping to spend. She asked a most unexpected question, “Would you be interested in buying a new Toyota if it didn’t cost that much more than a used one?” We said sure, but how much is “not that much more”?
It turned out that it really wasn’t all that much more. We thought and prayed about it and said yes, we believe we can do that. The used trucks had many more bells and whistles than the new base model truck we bought. But they also already had anywhere from 12,000-31,000 miles. Our truck had almost 0 miles and it came with a 3 year factory warranty from Toyota. So while it did cost a little more on the front end, minus the fancy stuff, it has everything we need, and we think it is a better long term investment for our ministry.
Through the sale of the old Mazda and the very generous donations we received (you know who you are-thank you, thank you, thank you!!) we raised over 50% of what was needed to purchase our new Toyota very quickly.
Through the entire time with our old Mazda, breakdowns and repair bills included, and receiving our huge blessing of a new Toyota we have experienced the goodness and faithfulness of God our Father. His timing is always perfect, He always knows our needs, and He is always faithful to provide. So we thank God and we thank each of you, Dios les bendiga.
We had so much fun hosting our largest team of the year during the last week of March and the first week of April. These folks come from several churches in the Oldham-Trimble County Baptist Association. These churches have been faithfully sending teams to different parts of Honduras for nearly 30 years. They have already left quite a legacy here and we are glad that they are still building on that legacy by continuing to come and serve with us.
The first week was spent in and around La Campa, and at La Casa De Rubén in Gracias. Several members of the team served in medical clinics in three different communities. While the medical team was caring for their patients, the children’s ministry team ministered to the kids while they and their moms waited to be seen by the doctors and nurses and to make a visit to the pharmacy. There was also a women’s ministry event in Monqueta that was very special, two showings of the Jesus Film, and a fun family movie night in Torre Fuerte where we showed the movie Courageous-complete with fresh popcorn and soft drinks. The construction guys spent most of their time at La Casa De Rubén helping Pastor Tulio build the two extra bedrooms and bathroom that we need. They also got roped into helping raise a humongous power pole for the new transformer the owner was having installed.
At the end of that week we packed up all the gear, moved most of it back into storage, and then headed to Tela to work with Pastor Franklin and his family in their ministry. We dropped off some of our friends to return to Kentucky after the first week and picked up several more for the second week. There were medical clinics with children’s ministry, a showing of the Jesus Film, a women’s ministry event, and more construction. The guys replaced a 36 year old roof on one church and put the first roof on a new church building.
Many, many lives were touched that week; Lenca, Honduran, and North American. We are not really big on numbers and score keeping but sometimes it is important to share statistics and we think this is one of those times. Over the course of the two weeks almost 1,000 people were served at the medical clinics. During the week in and around La Campa 23 people that we can confidently report made commitments to follow Jesus and 21 more did the same in the communities around Tela. There may or may not be more but we’ll leave that up to the Lord, the One who truly knows the hearts. The pastors and local churches are following up with each of them to help them along in their new path that they’ve chosen. Jean and I are grateful to God first and foremost, but also to our friends from Kentucky for a great two weeks of ministry.
In our last newsletter we introduced you to our newest project La Casa De Rubén. La Casa De Rubén is a place for people who live far away from Gracias in the rural communities we serve to come and stay so that they can receive the physical therapy they need to regain mobility. Healthy bodies are great, but it’s even better to have a healthy mind and soul to go with it so programs will be offered to assist in these areas as well.
We signed a lease for the house at the end of March and began officially renting it April 1st. The owner did a lot of things to make the house ready for us including installing a new transformer bringing a much needed upgrade of the electrical service to support our needs. The house was also painted inside and out using colors very suitable for the purpose of the house.
The house has three bedrooms with a private bathroom connected to each-very unusual here. In order to maximize the use of the house for our guest patients we are building, with the help of our friends from Kentucky, two extra bedrooms and a full bath behind the house for the La Casa De Rubén staff.
Speaking of staff…Actually the word staff is inadequate to express the relationships we have with the people who will be running the house. First, we have Maria Mercedes as our foundation director, and she will also serve as the manager of La Casa De Rubén. We have hired Pastor Marco Tulio and his wife Lourdes to be the primary caretakers of the guest patients and the house Monday through Friday. A woman from La Campa named Angela whom we have come to appreciate greatly will be doing the same on the weekends. We’ll be sharing more about them in future blog posts.
Besides the staffing we have been busy managing the construction, buying supplies that we need to get started and meeting with carpenters about building cabinets and shelving units. We just finished our policies and procedures and will be finishing the design on other signage that is needed for the inside of the house.We’ve accomplished much but there remains much more to do. But ready or not, Pastor Tulio, Lourdes, and their little girl will be moving in on April 22, and then on the 26th Rubén and his younger sister Marlen will be moving into the house. We can’t wait for the 26th, this is a day we’ve been looking forward to for a long time.
We will be posting updates about La Casa De Rubén here in our blog and in our newsletter but we also have a Facebook page. Please look for FHD Honduras on Facebook to keep up with the latest updates on the progress and needs. When you go to our page please give us a “like” if you haven’t done so already, and share it with all of your friends.
Please pray for us, this project, and for our first guest patient Rubén. His first few weeks of therapy will be very, very demanding-much more than he probably realizes. We are also in need of financial support for this project. If the Lord has touched your heart and you have been blessed with the ability to give, and you are looking for a new ministry project to support, we would really appreciate your choosing La Casa De Rubén. Please contact us with any questions.
Thank you all so much, God bless.
It has been quite some time since we sent out a formal list of prayers and praises. As we were thinking about everything that could be shared two thoughts came to mind. First, there is a lot to share, but, we need to be more focused and to the point. Second, the prayers and praises so often go hand in hand that it can be hard to follow when they are split between different sections. So we decided to try combining them by topic. Where combined the prayers will be in black and the praises will be in red.
To get the “rest of the story” that goes along with the prayers and praises please visit:
Many of you know that we began a season of assessment, change, and growth in our ministry towards the end of last year. It has been a challenging but worthwhile process to go through. The Lord helped us to assess our purposes for being here more closely which led us to develop a clearer focus and vision for our ministry. He confirmed the things that we are to continue doing, opened new doors for us, and revealed areas and projects we needed to disconnect from in order to focus on the ministry He has for us where He put us. Please continue to pray for us to hear clearly and be obedient.
In other posts we’ve shared about our first mission teams and how much of a blessing they’ve been. We also shared about our truck challenges that have occupied a fair amount of our time, emotional, and mental energy. But while all of this has been happening we have been busy with other projects that we are very happy to be able to share with all of you.
It’s not news that Family Health & Development Foundation Honduras, FHD Honduras for short, has been established as a Honduran non-profit organization. What is new is that we just received approval from the state of Georgia that our complementary U.S. based non-profit organization, FHD Missions, Inc., has been incorporated! FHD Missions has been established to support the projects and ministries of FHD Honduras. We have a strong board of directors in place for FHD Missions and we are very excited about serving with them.
We are close to finalizing the website that will serve for both FHD Missions and FHD Honduras and will be announcing it’s launch very soon. We still have some work to do in regards to documents and obtaining our 501(c)3 tax exempt status, but while that is going on we are working hard to get the first two FHD Honduras projects off the ground.
The first is developing a sustainable fund to be able to offer assistance to families in crisis. There is no safety net here and economic opportunities are hard to come by so it doesn’t take much for a family to suddenly find themselves struggling with food, medicine, or other basics. This is especially true for the pastors here since they rarely draw any salary from the churches they lead. Because of their level of dedication to their people they often have less time available for other work. So initially we will be focusing our efforts on helping them and their families, but as our capabilities grow so will our ability to help other families.
The other project that is very near to our hearts is The Ruben House. Some of you know Ruben, the struggles he has, and how much he has touched our lives since we first met him. He has been an inspiration to us and we are so blessed to have discovered a way to help him get the therapy and spiritual care that he needs. You’ll be able to read more about Ruben and The Ruben House very soon.
Thank you for all your prayers and support of our ministry. We would not be where we are without you. And we can’t get to where we think God wants us to go without you. As you can imagine, our ministry needs are changing so we would like to ask you for three things:
-Please continue to pray for us, and both boards of directors, as we continue in the projects and ministries that the Lord has given us.
-Please pray about helping us financially with these new ministry opportunities and message us with any questions or ideas you have.
-Please pray about those you know who might be interested in getting involved with us and these projects and tell them about us.
By working together we can continue making a difference. Thank you so much for your friendship and dedication to serving the Lord by being a part of what He is doing in and around La Campa.
We know that is true, but sometimes it seems more like a question than a statement of fact. We have been going through one of those times.
Many of you will recall the struggles we’ve had with our old Mazda for the last year or two especially. We’ve experienced a few roadside breakdowns and major repairs. While roadside breakdowns are never welcomed we’ve been blessed in the timing of those in that we’ve never had a team relying on the truck at the time; they have occurred only when it was us relying on the truck. The expense of major repairs is never welcomed either but until this month we’ve been able to weather the storm of major repairs.
Earlier this month our truck had been giving us some hints that she might need a little attention so another trip to our mechanic in Santa Rosa was planned for the 5th. We had plans to drive about 3 hours to the annual HFMM conference we attend for missionaries serving in Honduras on the 7th so we wanted to make sure she was up for the trip. Even more so because the team from OHC was coming down to serve with us on the heels of the conference.
On the way to the mechanic the truck overheated. It had done that while idling the afternoon before so I was ready with water just in case. I popped the radiator cap off very carefully to let the steam escape, then added more water. At that point I was hopeful that maybe it was just a bad thermostat. I was 2/3 of the way there so I figured everything would be ok for the rest of the trip. However, that wasn’t the case. Within two minutes of starting the truck the temperature and pressure in the cooling system shot up almost immediately. I shut it down before it red lined and then I started making phone calls. Fortunately I was near a great little coffee shop I hadn’t been to in quite some time. The coffee, baleadas and ticucos were fantastic.
Shortly after rope-towing the truck the rest of the way to Santa Rosa, and a quick review by the mechanic, it became apparent that there were serious internal problems in the motor. Considering all that we had already spent trying to keep her on the road and the overall condition, it became clear that the time to say goodbye to the Mazda had come. It just didn’t make sense to invest that kind of money to put her back on the road.
Missionary friends of ours helped with transportation back to La Campa and then to the conference. We are so thankful to them for helping us so that we did not have to miss the conference this year because it is an important time of learning and refreshment mentally and spiritually for us. Then our friend who we rent trucks from for our teams brought one of his rentals to us at the conference on Saturday afternoon so we could leave Sunday morning to meet the OHC team in San Pedro Sula.
So far God’s timing is pretty perfect. We began to look for a gently used Toyota Hilux (the gold standard here for quality and reliability) and quickly discovered that having a used Hilux to sell is much better than needing to buy one-the prices are nearly that of buying a new one. You might not get as many bells and whistles with the new one but still… We don’t need bells and whistles anyway. We need a big enough truck for teams with the durability to serve us in ministry where we live.
A friend of ours began to help us go down the path of buying a new, base model Toyota that comes with a 3 year warranty. So many other of our friends and supporting churches began taking up offerings to help us with the cost of the truck. Within a few days of the breakdown we had the truck picked out and began the purchasing process. The process is where the period was replaced by a question mark on the title of this article.
Why did the breakdown happen when it did? Why is it so much more complicated to buy a new truck here than it is in the U.S.? Why are so many papers needed? Why do you learn about all the papers that are needed one or two at a time? Why, why, why? Nobody, not our friends who helped, not the people at the Toyota dealership, not the people at the banks both here and in the U.S. did anything wrong. The process just is what it is, and sometimes the process takes longer than we want or need.
Our new truck was finally released from inventory and available for us to pick up on Saturday February 23rd. Because of the big festival in La Campa it was not really good for us to leave on Friday afternoon, spend the night in SPS, and come back Saturday evening. Why did it have to happen now? Why did we have to spend so much for the rental truck? More whys. Can you imagine how tired God must get of hearing us ask Him “Why?” all the time?
The bottom line is that God never promised that life as a follower of Jesus would be easy. And He never intended for us to be able to understand why (there it is again) He does and\or allows things to happen the way they do. Based on who He is, He has asked us to trust Him, to believe that He has our best in mind, to believe that He knows what He is doing, and to have faith that He will work things out in His timing. So that is where we have been for the last few weeks-whipsawing back and forth between resting and trusting in Him and His timing, and freaking out because it is taking sooooo long.
Despite the timing of all of this, God’s greatness has been on display for us through all of the help and encouragement that we’ve received, and all that we’ve learned. Not only what we’ve learned about the process of buying a new truck in Honduras and international banking, but more importantly, learning on a more personal and deeper level just how much God loves us and how perfect is His timing-even though we don’t understand everything.
I’ll skip the happy new year greetings since we are almost at the end of February already. We arrived in Honduras on January 7th as planned, did our shopping to restock the pantry and freezer, and made it home on January 8th.
January 25th Meily and Josh, two of our Frontline Missions coworkers, brought the team from Redeemer Church in Michigan to come and do medical clinics with us. Some of you will recall that this team was unable to come to Honduras in January 2018 because of the political situation. Since we didn’t get to see them last year it was extra special to spend a week serving with them this year. We don’t get into the numbers thing very much, but this team attended to 297 people at three medical clinics, and we can confidently say that 14 people chose to follow Jesus and trust Him with their eternal life. Thank you Redeemer team!
Our friends from One Heart Church had to cancel their mission trip last year because of a different political situation and came to serve with us earlier this month. Like the Redeemer team, it was extra special to see them here this year since we missed serving with them last year. This team shared the gospel in three different schools in the La Jagua area during the day through stories, songs, and other activities. Over the course of three evenings in Torre Fuerte, our home church in La Campa, they taught about discipleship, with emphasis on financial stewardship, spiritual growth in community and fellowship with other believers, and music and sound mixing techniques. Prior to coming to La Campa they spent some time ministering with Pastor Wilmer and his church in San Pedro Sula. Thank you One Heart Church!
We are so blessed by our friends who come to serve with us on short term mission teams. They are such a strategic and important part of our ministry to introduce people to Jesus, help them grow spiritually, and meet physical needs in sustainable ways. We are currently making plans for our friends from the Oldham-Trimble County Baptist Association near Louisville, KY to come and serve with us for two weeks at the end of March into the first part of April. Please pray for us and our teams as we prepare for the ministry to be done.
Now that July is upon us it has forced me to realize that half of 2018 has already passed. Where does the time go? June was an extremely busy month for us as we hosted four consecutive mission teams from the U.S. here in Honduras. As you are thinking about 4th of July celebrations, and maybe a family vacation, I’d like to share one story with you about something that happened during a visit from one of our June teams.
Every year we are blessed by a team who comes down and ministers to children in schools, works on a construction project-usually a new church building-and shares the gospel while distributing water filters. As you might imagine there is a lack of safe, filtered\purified water in much of Honduras.
While we want to bless families with improved physical health we are ultimately interested in their spiritual health. As Christians we believe that we are eternal beings as we have been created in the image of God himself. According to the Bible the choice is ours where we will spend eternity; either in God’s presence in a place of perfection, peace and rest, or, in a place completely separated from God’s presence where there is nothing but pain, suffering, and regret.
As important as is our physical health much more important is our spiritual health. These water filters are a great evangelism tool because they serve as simple illustrations, and great segues, that help people give a clear presentation of the gospel. For example, the Bible says that Jesus is the Living Water so it is easy to move the conversation from purified water to Living Water. Another example is that the water filters are a free gift just like the gift of salvation offered by God through Jesus.
So much for the short introduction. Last month with one of our teams we visited a very materially poor community about four hours from La Campa and near the capital city Tegucigalpa. One afternoon after a great morning spent ministering to children in a small school we went door to door with our buckets and water filters in the community surrounding the new church we were building. We prayed together and then set out on foot from the construction site anxious, in a mostly good way, to see what God had in store for us that afternoon. We walked for about fifteen minutes until we reached the first house. As soon as we got started I received a phone call from one of our interpreters at the construction site. Something had come up and the vehicle I was driving had to be moved.
Just as we were starting I had to walk back to the construction site and move my vehicle. I was a little upset about this, mostly at myself because I should not have parked the van where I did. While on my way back a woman with a small child asked me if she could have a filter. She lives in the opposite direction of where the team was going but I told her we would do our best to come and visit with her and continued on my way, still a little upset.
Since it was late in the afternoon I decided to bring the van with me to where the team was since we were going to leave together anyway. The woman I had talked to earlier decided she wasn’t going to take any chances on me and went to where the team was. In addition to her a few more families had gathered at the first house.
There was an older woman named Cristina in the small group and she was not wearing any shoes. While this was an obviously materially poor community someone without shoes does not necessarily mean that they don’t have shoes. In the rural parts of Honduras, like rural parts of the U.S., some people like to go shoeless. However, we learned that this was not the case with Cristina when, after the presentation, she asked us if we had any shoes for her.
Our first thought was no, we have water filters but no shoes. And then we remembered something. One of our previous teams had left a grocery bag in the back of the van under a seat and inside that bag was a pair of slightly used gym shoes. Unknown to me Jean had asked multiple times if anyone from those teams was missing a pair of shoes but nobody claimed them. We pulled the shoes out of the bag and gave them to Cristina. We still don’t know whose they were but we are so grateful we had them.
After dinner we always have a time for the team members to share and reflect about the events of the day. Like many of our teams this team was divided into two groups. About half served at the construction site and the other half did ministry in other locations. Since we can’t be in two places at the same time there are a lot of things that happen that everyone does not get to experience directly. Because of that the evening share time is almost always a special time to hear about the things God did at the other locations.
The evening of the day that we gave the shoes to Cristina was no exception. Several members of the team shared about the different ways they had seen God at work throughout the day and how they had been impacted. But then Karla, one of our interpreters, said she had something to share. I thought to myself that there would be nothing new or exciting because I had served with her all day in the same places. I thought that whatever she had to share I already knew about.
But, our God is a God of surprises and He often humbles me when I think I know everything that He has been up to. Karla began to tell a shoe story. She began by saying she met a woman who asked her for a pair of shoes. I thought to myself, ok, she is going to tell the Cristina shoe story. But then she said she went to the woman’s house by herself so I knew this was a different shoe story. The woman Karla talked to has a son and he had outgrown his gym shoes. He needed them for obvious reasons but she said she did not have the money to get him new shoes and asked if the team had shoes.
The team did not have shoes. Water filters yes, but shoes no. And we had already come up with a pair of shoes for Cristina. But God, as He always is, was at work in this situation long before us. While Karla was at home packing and preparing to spend two weeks serving with us and our first two teams she saw an old pair of gym shoes. She heard that still small voice tell her to pack the shoes. Like most of us, she questioned the Lord about what she had heard. Why should I take these shoes? I don’t have the room for them in my suitcase. What need of another pair of shoes do I have? Imagine that, questioning the Lord of the universe who knows everything! But we all have.
The Lord was very patient with her as He is with all of us. And every time she questioned why He simply said to pack the shoes. Karla finally agreed and packed the shoes. When she went to the woman’s house and heard her story and need she then understood why the Lord had been so patiently insistent about her packing the shoes. The shoes were the exact size that the woman’s son needed.
I don’t know about you but so often I am looking for the big thing that the Lord wants to do with me or through me. There are times in our lives where the Lord does big things in and through us. There are times when He asks us to make big, life changing decisions. But there are so many more times that He asks us to do little things like pack a pair of old gym shoes. I am afraid to think about all of the times I have heard His still, small voice, and ignored Him. Or let myself get distracted to the point that I forgot about what I heard. Or questioned what I heard to the point that I talked myself out of doing what I heard Him tell me to do.
Our God is a God of the big things but He is also a God of the details, of the little things. Little things like old shoes. When you hear that voice, His quiet, gentle voice, telling you to do something that seems insignificant, I encourage you to be obedient immediately. Do what He is telling you because while it may seem insignificant to you, it is of tremendous importance to Him, and to the person He wants to bless through you.