If you’ve ever driven through the dry, flat land of Texas, you can imagine this area of Honduras. With mountains surrounding in each direction, this flat, hot stretch is filled only with the toughest of plants. You know the kind: scraggly, sharp plants that exist in the most parched areas. We turned off the main […]
If you’ve ever driven through the dry, flat land of Texas, you can imagine this area of Honduras. With mountains surrounding in each direction, this flat, hot stretch is filled only with the toughest of plants. You know the kind: scraggly, sharp plants that exist in the most parched areas. We turned off the main road towards the mountains in the west, but we only went a short distance before turning on a tertiary road in which there are more potholes than pavement. Quickly arriving in an area populated with concrete homes and dark eyes staring from the porches. The only semblance of a town is the small yellow catholic church squeezed between the houses.
It was there we met our hosts, two small women with three children scurrying between them. They directed us down a quaternary road (is there even such a thing?) between more concrete houses, progressively moving into less concrete and more mud, or adobe, as we call them, seemingly making them sound more grandiose than they actually are. It’s mere mud, dried into blocks and stacked into four walls with tin tacked on top to serve as shelter for these families. The brightly colored laundry hangs on the line over the barrels used to collect water.
We go a little further, by foot, on a trail that goes between the last of the houses and the “wilderness beyond.” The barbed wire and wooden post fence struggle to hold back the spiny thorns that want to encroach upon these inhabitants.
My hostesses greet me so graciously and invite me inside to sit in one of the few plastic chairs considered furnishings of this home. The children are given small slices of watermelon as I am handed a plastic bowl full of some fruit with cobblerlike consistency. My first thought is, “This was probably not made with purified water.” But my mind quickly turns to the generosity with which it was given, and I bring the spoon to my mouth. Peaches! It is peaches! Where in Honduras do you even get peaches? If it had been banana or mango or orange, no second thought would have entered my mind, but peaches? I haven’t seen any peach trees, all I know is that a can of peaches in the grocery store costs almost five dollars. Quickly, the children realize that my treat is very different from theirs as they peer at me with those big, dark eyes. So, naturally the spoon is filled and refilled as its contents are placed in a different mouth each time. What a treat!
On the drive home, the memory of the moment overwhelms me. These people, who have so little, were so willing to share their best with me. They loved on me with smiles and kisses and peaches. They so graciously gave me a part of their lives, their stories, their best. All I did was show up. I continue to be humbled by their generosity.
Perhaps you question, why were you even there? What prompted you to follow the roads until they narrowed to a path? These women had known of a child who was born, who might not have a family. They sought him out to see if they could give him a home, full of love, and joy, and kisses, and maybe even a peach or two.
What a busy week last week! A group of 17 men from South Carolina came down for a “visit.” What fun it was to be a sideline participant, watching these men. They came wanting to help, but that was not their main goal. They truly focused on worship and growth as much as service (if not more than.) Three times a day they circled up, worshipped with song, shared the word, and prayed. Lydia and I sang along from inside the house as the men’s strong voices came through the window. We didn’t intrude on their time together (although we did share a few meals with them.)
Sometimes these sessions would last an hour or more, and the driven side of me would think, “Are they ever gonna get started on the work?” I didn’t have to worry, though. They WORKED! They busted concrete, dug ditches, laid pipe, hauled debris, painted, built awnings, and even improved our internet. (Not to mention the kitchen crew who kept them all well-fed.)
I also got a chuckle watching some of the “grown boys” get excited when they pulled down the decrepit old roof with rope. Then, of course, some had to play with fire, and shoot fireworks. I even saw a few riding a scooter. Yes, they had fun! They teased and joked with each other throughout the week. One guy seemed to get a lot of ridicule because of his foot phobia. He hates feet. And you know how most close-knit groups are, if they find out your weakness, they are going to tease you at every opportunity. All in the name of fun, of course.
Thursday morning, as the men were circling up, Brian came in with a huge tub looking for hot water. Naturally, I had to question why this was needed just before devotional time. He said, “We are going to wash feet this morning.”
Did you guess it? God had convicted the man with the foot phobia to wash the team’s feet that day. And he obeyed! What an act of service and love! I just cried the whole morning as I peered through the window, watching man after man sit in the receiving chair of this powerful action.
Obedience. Sometimes God asks us to do some crazy-sounding things. Sometimes he pushes in on our weak spots. He has a way of stretching us in ways we never imagined. He seems to take our fears and challenge us to really believe, to trust that he is good, to know that he is faithful. We can come up with a thousand excuses; we can rationalize our thoughts; we can create imaginative bargaining techniques. But what is required is obedience, submission, trust. It isn’t always easy, and often it doesn’t make any sense. Are we going to live for God or just do what’s comfortable? What is God asking of you? Your act of obedience may be the life-changer for someone else.
And, thanks guys, for being the hands and feet of Jesus! We love y’all.
As I sat on our porch this morning watching two toddlers explore and play, I thanked God for the opportunity to love and nurture these two little boys. Their smiles and laughter and curiosity bring joy to our lives. Often though, I feel a twinge of sadness. I once had two little toddlers named Ethan and Noah, who also brought much joy. And now they are grown and out in the big world experiencing life on a much grander scale than a porch. Isn’t that what we all want as parents? But I feel a sadness because I can’t be there to celebrate their triumphs and encourage them through the rough times. Oh yes, I am so thankful for Skype and internet and Viber because I can remain in contact and at least get the outline of how their life story is developing. Yet, I still feel like I’m missing the details. And I’m not really a detail person but I still wonder, are they feeling neglected? They are forced to manage more on their own than the typical college student. Moving in/out, dealing with car issues, making sure their taxes get done, and deciding where to go on long weekends. Yes, there are plenty of family and friends who have been so generous to help with many things. And I am so thankful. But that does not remove the sadness.
Speaking of sadness, I found a bargain in my list of suggested books from Amazon a few weeks ago. The reviews all said it was a must read for pastors and counselors. A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser. I bought it. Who can resist a “must-read” at a bargain price? There’s a catch though, the subtitle reads, “How the soul grows through loss.” After reading a few chapters, I began to worry. Did God direct me toward this book because he knows something I don’t? Is there a big loss in my future for which he is preparing me? I posed the question to Brian, “Why do you think God has me reading a book about grief?” His quick response was, “Because you are grieving, Charity.” Really? Nobody has died recently. Yes, but….there’s been a loss, well, a lot of loss. Not as big as death, but many smaller losses: my culture, my youth, my role. And yes, my nearness to my oldest children.
Do not think, however, that just because there has been loss, that life is miserable. Do I believe that God has lead me to this place? Absolutely. Would I agree that the losses have been worth the gain? To answer this, I must ask what is the gain? You can look at the joy of these two little babies, you can see the new friendships, you can measure the growth in my faith, you can see the new opportunities on the horizon. But I am lead to the verse: “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake… you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8)
So the truth is, I want to give it all up. Yes, all of it, my youthful appearance, my comfort, my closeness to my family and friends, my entire life. For God. He gives and gives. His love is abundant, and he gives life everlasting. This reminds me of another quote (adapted for the situation), “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather skid in sideways, …body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!” THAT’S IT! I want to push this life to the max, give it all to him, the gains, the losses and everything in between. My dad often quoted this verse from James, “Life is but a vapor.” Which is true. This life is oh, so fleeting. But there’s eternity on the other side. Since I’ve accepted God’s great love given to me through Jesus, I want to please him with my life. And I want the same for my children.
I thought it sort of ironic that also this morning on the facebook scroll was this quote, “It’s not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” (Ann Landers) So, I pray that I have taught you well, Big Boys. I pray that God will fill in the holes. And I hope you remember the most important thing: “Love God and accept His love and relationship through Jesus.”
Have you ever asked yourself why we The Scotts in Honduras do not post things every day? The truth is that a lot of what we do is really pretty mundane and not that exciting. If we posted every day the posts would read as follows:
Today Isaiah and Lydia worked on their computers the biggest part of the day finishing their school
Last night we got up once with Baby x and twice with Baby g to feed them bottles. Today we changed Baby x and Baby g’s diapers four times each, two of which were number twos.
OR, the ever exciting…
Today I spent an hour in the bank waiting in line to pay my water, light, and cable bills.
I AM posting that I spent time writing a blog post today and I had to stop a few times because Baby x, our mobile foster child was no longer at my feet and I know he likes to sneak in the bathroom to try to play in that large ceramic bowl full of water or pull all of the clothes off the shelf in the bedroom onto the floor.
We often feel like we have to have mountaintop experiences or great explosive worship to experience God, so our mundane lives can make us feel like God is distant. It is true mountaintop experiences are great ways to experience God, but God does not just live on the mountain top.
The Psalmist writes:
Psalm 121: 1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber…
According to Psalm 121, where do we find the Lord? God is not on the mountaintop where He would be of no help. He is at the feet of the believer in the middle of our mundane circumstances guiding our steps.
In the New Testament Jesus does not make His disciples find him. He seeks them out and invites them to follow him along the way as he interacts with people in their mundane lives: Matthew at his tax collector’s booth; Peter, Andrew, James, and John at their fishing boats; at weddings that were running out of supplies; at funerals filled with mourners; and with the woman at the well as she gathered water at the hottest part of the day.
So in changing diapers, cleaning house, standing in lines to pay bills, helping our kids with school work, AND the occasional mountain top experience, we experience God in many varied ways.
As we have posted on Facebook, we are seeking to join Mission on the Move in helping start and staff a children’s home. We are starting the mundane task of setting up house on the property. We will be moving into a strip of small apartments to oversee construction, hire and train staff, and eventually oversee the foster families on site.
Though setting up a house is not all that exciting, it is necessary to do the work God is calling us to do, and we need your help. We need $7000 to renovate the rooms, put up safety rails to protect the children, and buy furniture. Will you please pray about how you can help us do what we need to do to bring children out of dangerous situations or to prevent them from going to large group homes?
Please pray about how much you can help. If you want to help, make your checks out to Scotts in Honduras and put “renovations” on the “for” line. Then send your donations to Clearwater Church at 2524 Newman Rd, Mobile, AL 36695. Thank for helping us turn the mundane into Christ experiences. Thank you for helping us glorify God in all areas of our ministry. In Christ.
Isaiah 40:28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
She was beautiful in her little box. I know it is a cliché to say that she just looked like a baby sleeping, but that is exactly how she looked. I had not planned to spend part of my afternoon with the emotional roller coaster of helping with the funeral of a four month old baby girl, but that is exactly what I was asked to do.
Her name is Tania and she was born on May 12, 2015. You did not read about her birth in the newspaper nor hear about it on Fox News or CNN, but she was born none-the-less.
She lived out her days in a transitional home for abandoned and orphaned children waiting for placement with a foster family. Our connection with her was that we were asked to consider being her foster parents in August, but her multiple health problems and care needs made us realize we were not capable of giving her the care she really needed. This past weekend she was examined by a neurologist and it was determined that her brain had not developed and she only had a functioning brain stem.
Today, September 21, 2015 Tania died. You did not read about her death in the newspaper or hear about it on Fox News nor CNN, but she died none-the-less.
As I had my friend Jorge Garcia read the Isaiah 40 passage above to the staff members of the transitional home who had gathered to mourn and as I spoke a few words of God’s grace over little Tania’s body I was reminded of exactly what we were doing.
Over the bodies of the deceased we say that though we are committing the body to the ground, we are commending their spirit to Almighty God. We are proclaiming that we are not entombing a lost soul into the ground. Rather we are releasing eternal souls to the God who created them. We are expressing our faith that Christ has set them free.
On the first Easter morning, the empty tomb in which Jesus was buried is a sign of the freedom that is in Christ Jesus. It does not matter if anyone anywhere ever knew Tania was born. It only matters that God knows. Without God, her life and anyone else’s life is meaningless. Because of Jesus Christ her life is meaningful and beautiful and valuable and more eternal than the stars of the heaven.
What about you? Where does your faith lie? Is it at the bottom of a whole filled with dirt, or is it at the entrance of the empty tomb of Christ?
John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. Amen, amen, and amen.
Matthew 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (NIV).
If you have children you will understand this statement,” A baby changes everything.” After Charity and I had been married a few years God blessed us with our first child, Ethan. I remember sitting and holding him in our living room after our family and well-wishers left us alone and thinking, “Now what do I do?”
Everything about our lives changed. No more relaxed days doing whatever we wanted to do on a whim. No more restful nights of undisturbed sleep. Then came Noah, Isaiah, and Lydia, and things continued to change. Though life would have been more simple, there is no way I would choose to undo those changes each of our babies brought because of the joy and pride each one brings to me.
A few months ago our lives were changed by a baby once again. At one month old we received our first foster son here in Honduras because of neglect and abuse. It had been about 13 years since we had to worry about bottles, diapers, altered schedules, and sleep interrupted by 1 o’clock, 3 o’clock, and 5 o’clock night time feedings. Despite the obstacles raising a child brings, I have loved seeing our boy reach his bench marks of smiling, babbling, rolling over, starting solid (at least semi-solid) food, and giving hugs.
Babies change a lot of things. Some of those changes bring hardship and struggle to the parent or guardian of the child, but most of the changes are pure joy. Far more times they open our lives to more opportunities than they hinder us. One instance happened the other day when our family went out to the nursing home we are serving here in Honduras. I had met the residents a few times and they have been nice, but a little wary of the stranger who does not look or talk like them. But Charity walked up with our boy and things changed. The little ladies began to tell us about their children or their regret that they never had children. They laughed and asked to hold him and have pictures made with the baby and with us. He opened a door that would have taken us much longer to open if we were on our own.
Not long ago, Tara Garcia of I M Loved who oversees us as a foster family reported that child protective services has promised to begin proceedings to have our son declared abandoned so he can be adopted by his forever family. I have been praying for this because, as much as I have enjoyed seeing him reach his developmental goals, I have at the same time felt a pinch of sadness because I want his forever mom and dad to be able to celebrate these victories. But when Tara told us the news, I felt a tug of sadness.
I feel sadness because I know how much it will hurt to let him go, but I also feel sadness because when we turn him over, I will lose all control over his care. I will more than likely not see him start school. I will not likely know what he becomes when he grows up.
But, would I trade what I am doing to avoid the pain? By no means! Any time we risk loving someone else, we risk having our hearts broken. But, as someone else has told us, our son deserves to have someone take a risk by loving him. Our son deserves the chance to be loved unconditionally, without strings.
In all of this, I am reminded that when humanity was at our greatest risk, God sent baby to change everything. No matter the cost God shows that we are worth the price. When His son Jesus Christ died on the Cross, so did all our sins. And when He was raised from the dead, those of us who believe were raised with Him.
Upon seeing this child, we are told in the passage above, the wise men left their gifts for Jesus. In the same way, when we interact with the almighty God through our relationship with Jesus Christ we find we cannot help but lay our gifts before Him. For the Scotts in Honduras part of our laying our gifts before Jesus is caring for at-risk Honduran children and at-risk Honduran elders. You may not be called by God where we are, but if you are not driven to pour yourself, your family, and all you have at the feet of Jesus in service and witnessing to the world, then you probably have not gotten close enough to Jesus. Unless everything about you is changing by the grace of God, then you need to step a little closer to Jesus in prayer, scripture reading, worship, and service in His name.
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
A Few Lessons I Have Learned in While in Honduras
1. Motorcycles and cows have the right of way.
Anytime you go to turn or change lanes, make sure there are no motorcycles in your area. If you slow down you will probably be passed by two motorcycles on your right and three on your left. Besides being constantly on the lookout for motorcycles, one must constantly be on the lookout for cows. The other night we were forced to take a side road behind the local soccer stadium because one of the national soccer teams was playing in town. Any hope of gaining time bypassing the crowds of people was dashed by the 12 year old boy driving a small herd of cattle directly toward us. This would have been ok if the cows had been staying in their lane. Needless to say, cows do not follow the rules of the road.
2. All times are variable.
If you are a punctual person who requires punctuality of other people, stay out of Honduras. A friend of ours always says he will meet us at a place at a particular time in this way, “I will be by your house at 6:30 HVT.” HVT stands for “Honduran Variable Time.” That means he will be there at 6:30 OR possibly 47 minutes later.
3. Car Horn is a language unto itself.
A short horn toot means, “Watch out I am coming around you.” A couple of short blasts at someone’s house or business means, “I have arrived. Come on out.” A little longer solo honk at a pedestrian or the car next to you means, “Hey man, I haven’t seen you in a while. How’s your family doing? Did you catch that soccer game last night? That was a great game!” A Long sustained honk means… well, I can’t repeat what that means.
4. All traffic laws are optional… except for #1.
The law says, “No right turns on red.” Well, all that rule does is help point out who the Americans are since we are the only ones who actually follow this law. Also, at any stop light you will see many people treat it more like a stop sign than a traffic light. If you are stopped at the light and can beat the other guy who has the green, then you take it. The other guy can always hit his breaks and of course, blow his horn. Just do not forget that motorcycles and cows have the right of way.
5. A background check means you have not been arrested since you moved to Honduras.
When we got our background checks to become foster parents, we had only been in country for 1 month. Since we had succeeded in not getting arrested for an entire month after our arrival here, you will be glad to know our record was clean.
6. The greatest lesson I have learned here is nothing new, but it is something that I seem to forget and need to be reminded of day after day. God will not call you where His Grace will not sustain you. Why am I surprised that God is always there when I need Him?
God, in the midst of my daily comings and goings, help me to remember that no matter where I am, there you are. Help me remember that whatever my surroundings, You are always my greatest need. Amen
Matthew 3:1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
Siguatepeque is a city of speed bumps. To attempt to slow traffic in certain areas, the city places speed bumps in random spots. Many of the streets in our town are not paved and in addition to the city sanctioned speed bumps, some people construct their own speed bumps out of the dirt and stones in the street to make sure traffic around their houses moves nice and slow. Most of these speed bumps are not marked because you cannot paint dirt. If you are not watching you can come across a speed bump you did not see and take out the axle, and possibly lose a few teeth in the process.
This city is filled with other road blocks not found in the street. Trying to get registered as a foster family leads you into some of these road blocks. There is one particular medical physical form that you must have a physician complete on every person in your home. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? You go to the doctor, get and exam, and then he pulls the form up on his computer and fills it out… right? The answer to that is “No.”
First you have to go to the bank and buy the form. Yes, that is right, the bank. The problem with this is that no one can give you a straight answer as to which bank has the form you need. So we started going to banks and stood in long lines. When we got to the teller at the first bank and asked for the form, she told us they do not have the form we need. When we finally found a teller at another bank who knew which bank has the right form we went to THAT bank and stood in line.
When we finally got to the teller to ask if they have the form, he told us, “Yes, but it can only be found at another branch.” After we finally got the right branch and the right form, we then went to the doctor, waited in line, and then let him/her fill out the form. AND that was just for one of the forms. That does not count the background check form that we had to buy at another bank and drive to another city to get filled out.
Speed bump after speed bump really tries one’s patience. It is only by remembering that God has called us here to serve these people that I relax, smile, and let it all just wash over me like cool river stream.
The passage quoted above tells about how John the Baptizer was sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus, to help clear some of the speed bumps to help Jesus (the Son of God) do what he was sent to do; to do more than just remove a speed bump for us. Jesus created a path to God that had once been destroyed by sin through His death, burial, and resurrection. Think about this, this happened in part because John was sent to remove some speed bumps for God.
I was reminded that we all need people to remove speed bumps from our lives from time to time in the last few days. Yesterday we got a call from Tara Garcia who told us that she and her husband Jorge were coming through Siguatepeque and going to meet with the Honduran version of the child welfare system.
Their desire was to meet with us and take whatever paperwork we had with them to help expedite the process. We made a mad dash and put together much of the paperwork we need. One speed bump removed. We needed reference letters for the process, so we called and emailed some folks and within a few hours we had the letters we needed. Another speed bump removed. That which was going to take a few months to gather was done in an afternoon and morning.
In life we have the choice of whether we are going to be a speed bump or remove speed bumps from the lives of other people. Thank God for good Christian friends who, “prepare the way for the Lord (and) make straight paths for” Jesus to pour His grace into my family’s lives each day. Jesus help me do the same for others in your name as well.
I spent the afternoon at a friend’s house doing laundry b/c she has a washer & dryer. These are things I took for granted in the states, and even complained about the chore.
My guess is you might be similar, so I’m offering a Lenten Challenge. For the days leading up to Easter, put a nickel, quarter OR EVEN a dollar in a jar every time you do a load of laundry. (Hey, and all the change you find in the washer/dryer too!) Each time, say a short prayer of thankfulness for the modern conveniences that we enjoy. Then during Easter, give the money away…to your favorite charity 😉 (Whomever that may be!)
May the Lord bless you with a happy heart and clean clothes!