Monday, September 17, 2012

Has it really been 6 months?

Shhhhh.  Do you hear that?  No, really, wait.  Hear it?  That’s silence.  Like what’s been going on with the blog for the last 6 months.  My apologies!  Time has certainly flown by, and now the leaves are changing color and I’m going to be 50 years old in 10 days and I’m really wondering just where all the time has gone?

Yup, 50.  It’s really kind of freaking me out.  That’s a half a century after all, and with me being the analytical, statistical type you know that I know that means 2/3 of my life expectancy has already passed by.  Poof, gone, just like that.  My mother always used to tell me that time would seem to speed up as I got older, that the years would not always crawl by like they felt they were doing in my teens, but that someday I would wonder where it all had gone.  She was right, like moms sometimes (usually) are.  I mean seriously, I qualify for AARP?  Are you kidding me?  Those discounts aren’t enticing me, though.  Well, maybe a little, but not enough yet to sign up.  But hey, you didn’t come here to listen to me complain about turning 50 or to witness a midlife meltdown.  You probably wanted an update on Honduras and our transition home and just what is going on with all that.  So I’ll do my best to bring everyone up to speed on what’s been going on over the last 6 months.

Most of you know that we moved back to the States, to Tigard, in June.  Getting the things that were coming with packed and out was a challenge as we were unable to find a shipper taking domestic cargo from Honduras to the states.  So, we rounded up a bunch of less than 62” boxes, packed them to the 50 lb weight limit, and started sending them home as passenger cargo with teams and people visiting from the states.  I think we are down to just 5 boxes still stranded in Honduras but they’ll get here eventually. 

The majority of our household items were given to Ana, cook and teacher at Micah.  Many of you participated in helping to build her a house in Villa Linda Miller which she was able to move into in July.  Ana stopped me the day before I left Honduras and asked if we could talk.  I assumed she wanted to say something about the furniture, but what she said instead completely blew me away.  She told me that she had been at Micah when I had shared my testimony (about 9 months earlier, I had no idea she was there) and that by hearing how God had rescued and restored me from the sexual abuse I suffered as a child, she was given hope of healing.  She said that for the first time in her life she did not feel dirty, or like she was a “bad” person.  She went on to say that she wanted us to understand what the home furnishings really meant.  You see, she and her 2 children had lived in Barrio Buenos Aires for years.  And for years they had prayed that the Lord would find a way to get them out of the danger that the barrio is.  As each year passed by, her children lost a little more of their faith in God, until they had almost none left.  Pray, why pray?  God isn’t going to do anything to help us.  Then teams came, and a house was built, and now they each had their own room, with their own bed, and for the first time in their lives they weren’t going to get rained on at night while they slept.  God did provide, in His time, and the faith of her children had been restored.   

Do not underestimate the impact you are having on others.  Give with abandon. Share your story transparently.  Leave the results up to God.  The blessing that Ana gave me, by sharing a 15 minute conversation of how her life had been impacted, is immeasurable.

The next day I boarded the plane with 3 of our 4 kids.  Brian had left a couple of days earlier with Jake and flown to Albuquerque New Mexico, where they drove Jake’s truck and a U-Haul trailer to Oregon.  Traveling with a dog, a 10 year old, a 14 year old, and a 17 year old girl that can’t speak English was, uh, interesting.  Oh, and the 16 bags we had with us.  Yah, that was fun. 

We arrived to our home in Tigard on June 12th and for those of you that weren’t in the house when we did, Pastor Steve shot a short video of my complete break down.  We have always known how incredibly blessed we are to be a part of such an amazing group of believers.  But when I walked in and saw this house, this perfect house for our family, filled with furniture, and dishes, and spaghetti in the refrigerator so I didn’t have to cook that night, it was so overwhelming.  The burdens and stresses of the previous 6 months preparing to come back burst the damn and I was a sobbing, snotting mess.  Mary Hunter had the mucous laden shoulder on her sweater to prove it.  And just to echo what I said previously, do not underestimate the impact you are having on others.  Your generosity, in time and possessions and prayers blessed us beyond anything we could have ever hoped or dreamed of. 

That’s when “transition” began.  I think that’s a strange word for it, though.  Webster’s gives the definition of transition as:  movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change.  To me that conjures up an image of a flowing type of change, which is not what the first 6 weeks here in Oregon proved to be.  I had convinced myself that while it might not be a piece of cake, coming back and settling in, that transition would be no problem.  Instead, it was more of a jarring, abrupt, smack in the face, and I found myself wandering around in a fog, a very unrealistic kind of reality, wondering if I was dreaming or if the last 3 years had been a dream.  It was very disorienting and unsettling and, well, I didn’t like it. 

But life doesn’t stop when you’re in the middle of a meltdown, so here we were opening up a business on July 1st, just 3 weeks after our arrival.  Technically the shop, 3G’s Automotive, wasn’t open until August 1st, but cars began rolling in from day 1.  We’ve been busy, steady, and that is a good thing.  The 8 am – 6 pm grind is another challenge to get used to, as I have been wired for several years to be at home with my kids.  Being here this summer knowing they were at home by themselves was a little tough.  But they’re older now, and it is what it is, you know.  All in all we really can’t complain.  There could be worse things than having work to do, right?  Like not having work, or a way to make an income.  Thankfully I have a husband that has a trade that can earn us a living anywhere.  And God is good.  He has blessed us with smooth sailing and work when we need it.   

Now 3 months after our arrival back in the good old U. S. of A. (and it is so good) the fog is beginning to clear.  Reality doesn’t seem so unrealistic anymore, and I’m starting to get into a rhythm of life.  The kids are back at school, loving it but beginning to see the benefits their time in Honduras gave them.  Ministry is not finished, Micah is not finished.  I am still involved almost daily with the Mama Jo’s Bakery, trying to smooth out the bobbles and bumps they’ve experienced.  We will continue to support and advocate for Micah as we believe in the work being done there.  The Lord has given us a daughter in Nohelia that stretches me and my understanding of the world quite a bit (give me a break, I have 3 boys!).  And now Marvin Morazan is here living with the Gellingers getting ready to see what God has in store for him.  It’s all very amazing, very humbling, and yes, somewhat unbelievable. 

We spent just a little over 2 ½ years in Honduras and a lot was accomplished.  Micah Tech was built and is a huge success, with Franklyn in charge and 22 students enrolled this year.  The bakery is up and running and we hope to see it become a viable business that will change the lives of these single moms.  Nightstrike was modified to include elements we practiced at Bridgetown.  Feet were washed.  Houses were built.  Tears were spilled.  And we were forever changed.  

If you were to ask me to summarize what I learned from Honduras it would be this question I have for you.

Do you know Jesus?

A week before we left we attended the funeral of Emerson, a 14 year old boy that had been a part of the tech program for awhile.  He had been murdered the day before, shot in the back of the head and found in a field outside of town.  I had never gone to any of the funerals before, but I made myself go to this one, and I observed and took in everything I could from that scene.  From the soccer coach who told me of Emerson’s great talent that was now lost, to his brother who was completely stunned; the sister brought in by 3 armed policeman in handcuffs, freed from jail for a few minutes to pay respect to her dead brother’s corpse; to the street kids high on glue claiming they were the one that had killed him, to Belen high on glue sleeping on a bench in the funeral home instead of in the dirt on the street.

As I looked at Emerson’s body I thought about all that had been “accomplished”…the Tech school, the bakery, Nightstrike.  All of it.  I thought of all he had done, or possibly done in his life, from robbing people to using drugs.  And as I stared at that pale face I realized that none of it mattered.  None of it.  The only thing that mattered was whether he had met Jesus before the bullet.

He had.  One month before his death Stephen Kusmer (Micah missionary) had the joy of seeing the Holy Spirit break down the walls of Emerson’s heart and make him a new creation in Christ.  Knowing that I could truly say Rest in Peace, Emerson. 

So we’re back and like I said, ministry hasn’t stopped, I doubt it ever will.  We are developing an idea for Tech Night here at the shop reaching out to at risk youth.  I was taking some pre-req’s in the hope of returning to school, but that will have to be on hold for now.  And we’re waiting.  Waiting to “transition”, to heal, and to see what God has in store for us next.

We are so thankful for each and every one of you that has prayed and paid for us to do the work God had in Honduras.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  May God pour out His blessings on you all. 





Tuesday, March 27, 2012

10 weeks to go

Ten weeks.  That is our time left here in Honduras.

Boy, it has been a long time since I made a post and I sure do have a lot to report.  So, let’s dive in:

Micah Tech – Most of you know that November saw the first 5 guys graduate from Micah Tech.  After a short break, most of which was spent building out the kitchen for Mama Jo’s, Franklyn and Edwin got started on their first year of being “the guys”, the director and lead instructor for the school.  Brian helped them develop the curriculum for the year and plan out projects, adding two new components to the school – mechanical drawing and electrical.  Mornings are spent in class and working on projects with the 18 students enrolled (some Micah guys, some from the barrio), and afternoons are spent working on for profit projects and beginning to put a plan together to turn the school into a for profit venture.  A few weeks back someone commented that “Brian Wiggs had worked himself out of a job” and I just smiled.  That was the point, after all.  Time to decrease so they can increase.
Mama Jo’s – After the tech guys did a fantabulous job building out the commercial kitchen in Villa Linda Miller, Mama Jo’s officially opened for business January 16th.  Just a little more than 2 months later we have several regular clients including school cafeterias, coffee shops, and the Chamber of Commerce.  We are generating approximately 1/3 of the needed revenue to be self supported.  A large client is in the works with only pricing approval pending from the purchasing department, and we will be meeting soon with the owner of the largest chain of coffee shops in Tegucigalpa to begin carrying our products in their stores.  There have bumps in the road, for sure, and every day brings a new challenge.  It is exhausting at times, but we press on because we believe this business is not only viable, but has the potential to expand and grow into other cities in Honduras.  Nine people are now employed and on their way to financial independence! 

Family – Brian went to the states for 24 days in February and March to speak at all of our supporting churches and outline what is coming down the pike in 2012.  His calendar became filled up very quickly with coffee, lunch, dinner, and meetings.  He was pleased to hear how receptive and positive everyone is about the move back to the states and came back encouraged and felt confirmation that we are going in the right direction.  He continues to work with Franklyn and Edwin in the tech school, lead short term missions teams, and minister to those in the market district.  He is praying about employment options when we return to Portland and is very interested in finding a small space to rent to do auto repair, allowing him some time flexibility to travel back and forth to Teguc over the next 3 years as needed. 

Natasha – Got the opening of Mama Jo’s kicked off in January and work with the moms and Karen to make adjustments and changes as needed.  Anyone who has started a business knows that the beginning is a nightmare and you have to be in constant tweak mode.  That is flying by the seat of your pants to allow for all the little unexpected, unknown, unplanned things that bombard you on a daily basis.  BUT, wow, I’m so proud of my moms.  They have stepped up to the plate, sometimes coming in at 1 am to make sure the products are baked in time for 7 am deliveries.  They are learning how to resolve interpersonal conflicts an put the business first, and they are all very happy to be receiving a paycheck twice a month.  This is going to grow, and grow big. 
In addition to starting a business in January and being mother to 4 kids and wife to Brian, I decided to go back to school signing up for a full load with PCC’s distance education program.  Math, medical terminology, and cultural anthropology, and I got straight A’s!  It feels so good to be studying again, my brain is alive!  And now, I can actually help Michael with his algebra because we’re studying at the same level.  Yes, I’m doing 8th grade math all over again.  *sigh*

Jake – Jake has been wrestling with the Honduran National team since November and had the opportunity to go to Panama to compete in a tournament.  He has gained 25 lbs of muscle since arriving, has gotten his life back on a good path, and is also taking a full load at PCC with his goal being to transfer to Oregon State and earn a degree in athletic training.  He has added a wonderful dynamic to the family with his fun and witty personality, and Brian and Michael love having their big brother here.
Michael – Michael is also now wrestling with the Honduran team, learning the basics, and in the weight room 3 days a week.  He is getting good grades this year and is on the year book committee.  He is looking forward to moving back to Oregon, though, putting mental tick marks on his wall counting down the days.

Brian James – Brian is the 3rd Wiggs boy working out with the Honduras wrestling team.  Can I just tell you how funny all that white looks in the middle of all that dark?  Don’t go sending me any comments about being racist, okay, because seriously, my kids need some sun.  And we have it every day, it’s just not making a difference.  They glow out there on the mat.  Anyway, the work outs are just what Brian needs to burn off the unbelievable amount of energy he has.  He loves being part of it, with his brothers.  It really is kind of cool to see the 3 of them out there.  Brian is doing well in school, getting good grades, and spends time with his friend Diego.  He is also looking forward to moving back to Oregon.
Nohelia – the daughter I never expected.  Nohelia and her 2 younger brothers changed schools this year and it has turned out to be a positive move for them all.  They fit in well with the demographic and have made a lot of friends.  She has grown by leaps and bounds in her faith and attends a Spanish speaking church every Sunday as well as participating in youth activities.  She would like to come to the states with us when we return, and that is our hearts desire as well.  We have applied to the intensive English program at PCC and are awaiting their approval.  If she is accepted we will need to apply for a student Visa before we have the definitive yes we’re hoping for.  So far the process is going incredibly smooth, but we would appreciate your prayers for the doors to fling wide open along the way. 

The MOVE – As time winds down some of the things that stress me out the most, are things that have to wait until last to take care of…like finding a rental house, or selling the stuff we have here.  We would appreciate your prayers for the right house, a 5 bedroom, in our price range, to come available mid to late May. 
We will be giving most of our furniture and household items to Ana whose house in Villa Linda Miller will be completed about the time we leave.  We have a prospective buyer for our car.  And now just to find a shipping company to send our 30 boxes of clothing, photos, and a few other things.  Again, please be praying as this seems to be our biggest obstacle at this time.  All of the cargo carriers we have contacted are not accepting domestic household shipments from Honduras.  I assume this is because of the narcotrafficking problem, but am not sure. 

We also need to find a good home for our German Shepherd and 2 cats, so prayers for that would be welcome too. 
Whew.  I guess that is what happens when you put 2 months between posts.  Thank you all for your support and encouragement through all of this.  We look forward to seeing y’all in just a little while. 

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