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.”
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.
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!
Acts 28: 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!
Now that we are back in Honduras we have begun the task of setting up house, renewing friendships, and beginning the ministries to which God has called us here in Honduras. Setting up house and renewing friendships is easy. The hard part is beginning the ministries.
The ministries to which we are called are (1) fostering children and exploring starting a children’s home of some kind and (2) training pastors to start new churches. These are both things that take time to establish. Working with children requires establishing legal residency and meeting federal legal requirements for working with children. Starting churches is a labor intensive process of making local contacts, seeking people called to helping start churches, evangelism, and meeting legal requirements for establishing churches.
We know in part what we want to do and are called to do, but what do we do in the in between time. That is the time in between our arrival and when we really get to start our ministries.
The scripture listed above comes from the last chapter of Acts where Paul is in prison waiting to go on trial in Rome. In the “in between time” Paul does not just sit idly around waiting for his trial. Even though church tradition teaches us that Paul loses his life because of it, he continues to show hospitality and to “(proclaim) the kingdom of God and (teach) about the Lord Jesus Christ…” as he waits to go before the court.
We too are engaged in seeking ways we can proclaim Jesus as we are in the in between time in our ministry.
We have talked to our back door neighbors about the possibility of doing some devotions together. Brian is meeting with some retired Americans for breakfast a few days a week to see if their is a possibility of starting an English speaking church for them. We are also exploring the possibility of starting an English service for missionaries and their families because they have expressed a desire for this. We are interviewing missionaries to learn from their experiences. We are taking this opportunity to practice and learn more Spanish. As this blog is being written, we are preparing to take part in a missions conference here in Siguatepeque to make more connections, explore our calling, worship God, and to learn as much as possible.
Sometimes we get a little anxious and aggravated as we wait upon God’s timing, but we are certainly not idle.
We really appreciate all of you who are praying for us. Please continue to pray for us in the in between time as we pray for God’s direction and provision. Also pray about what God is calling you to do in your in between time, that is the time between now and Christ’s second coming. Be bold, seek God, and move forward in His grace.
Because of His Extravagant Grace: The Scotts in Honduras