Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Winter Hollywood Style!

Michael and Brian James with 2 of the boys from Friday soccer.

Brian washing feet.

Feliz Navidad!

Here it is, the first newsletter written from our home in Honduras. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year as we head into 2010. We landed on the gound in Tegucigalpa on November 17th after having a wonderful family vacation in Disneyland, and then visiting family in Phoenix. The last year had been such a blur of activity to get all of the details accomplished so we could leave on our target date, we were desperate for a little R & R. When we arrived in California it was a foreign feeling to just go have nothing but fun for 5 entire days. We hit every coaster and ride in California Adventure and Disneyland, spent a day at Universal Studios, and then went back to the two big theme parks to hit our favorite rides again! California Screamin and Space Mountain were the favorites by a mile. We visited Rodeo Drive (yawn) and the Walk of Fame…if you are a people watcher this is definitely the place to be.

From California we headed to Phoenix to visit with Brian’s mom, sister, and brother, and with my mom. We had an early Thanksgiving dinner and got to catch up with nieces and nephews. Brian and the boys hiked to the top of the “mountain” in Quartzsite where my mom lives and explored and old mine shaft. And we finally got to eat at Sonic and Chick-filet. MMMMM.

Life 101

On November 17th everything changed. After a frenzied couple of days buying furnishings for our house we began to see the reality of living in another country. We used to be two capable people, able to handle our own business, communicate well with others, and travel anywhere we needed to go; we were the ones that others came to for help. But now, in this new life, we are the ones that need the help, feeling about as adequate as 4-year olds. Our language skills are limited, we don’t know the city, and we don’t know what’s culturally “correct”. We fall into bed exhausted every night from the stress of trying to navigate the streets, trying to formulate simple sentences, and trying to understand what’s being spoken to us. We truly were not prepared for the amount of mental effort required to get through each day. Grocery shopping in itself is an ordeal, trying to figure out how to maintain some kind of resemblance to our regular meals with the ingredients that are available. Convenience foods (packaged) are limited so it’s back to scratch for many things and I have yet to find cilantro, sour cream, or whipping cream. Utility bills are paid at the bank and can be an all day affair as gun wielding security guards stand outside, wand you with a metal detector, check your purse, and then let only a few people at a time enter the bank while the rest wait in a line outside the building. Gun toting security guards are everywhere, including all the fast food restaurants and it is amazing how quickly it becomes no big deal to see guys with automatic weapons wherever you go.

The Work Begins

Ministry, however, does not wait for anything and we jumped right in with Brian heading to La Ceiba with all the Micah Boys 6 days after we arrived for a jungle trip. Hauner, one of the older guys, was not able to go on the trip due to disciplinary action so he stayed at the house with me and the boys.

After they returned Brian began joining Hector (one of the older Micah guys) for street ministry in the marketplace twice a week, then street kid soccer on Fridays where we rent a field in the heart of the city from 4-5pm. December 3rd the boys and I attended the Friday soccer game for the first time. Kids with glue bottles, teachers from the International School, and Micah missionaries all get in the mix for an all out soccer game. The field itself is very nice with Astroturf, high fences and a fenced roof, but it sits next to the river and the smell of garbage and sewage is overpowering, bringing me to the point of nausea many times. It was difficult to imagine living in that stench, smelling like that, day after day with no hope of ever getting out of it and I understood, if only for a minute, why the kids would want to forget about life in the fumes of glue.

December 11th we began implementing changes to the Friday night outreach to make it more of a Bridgetown type of event. The first week the only change was to a home cooked meal but the next Friday we were able to add hair cutting and foot washing to the night. What a blessing it was to make 4 gallons of Karen Shelley’s white bean chicken chili and to feed the boys until they were full, to see them sit down and enjoy the meal, to see Mil-Anos, who just 2 years earlier pulled a knife on the GPCC team, sitting calm and quite with his feet in a tub of warm water, and to see matted hair become nicely cut by a professional hairdresser that came to volunteer.

The changes were well received and in the coming weeks we hope to find a way that the boys can wash more than their feet and get some clean clothes, along with making the event completely drug free by requiring them to lock their glue bottles in a box until it’s time to leave. We hope that giving them an hour or two away from the fumes will help their minds clear enough so that they can begin to truly hear and see the gospel being preached with our actions. The light of Christ is able to penetrate into the darkest life and that is our prayer, that through our efforts some will see and believe.

Up Next…

In January we will have Hannah Rogers coming to stay with us for a 10 week internship. Hannah is the daughter of Jonathan and Carolyn Rogers who attend Riverwest and were very instrumental in bringing the church on board as supporters. Jonathan is prayerfully considering his response to being asked to become the President of the Micah Board of Directors.
Doug Winn will also be visiting in January and he and Brian will be meeting with the high rollers in the auto industry to grow the relationships that have already started there and to seek out a more formal commitment for equipment and support from those leaders. They will be evaluating available sites for the school and seeking to determine God’s will for placement of HIS school. Once a site has been obtained plans will then be made to build and/or renovate and to have the tools and equipment shipped down.

The boys and I will continue with home school and Friday night soccer, as well as seeking the Lord’s will as to how and when to begin ministry with the puppets. We’re hoping to talk Cindy Gellinger into a trip down in 2010 when we have our first performance scheduled!

Other than that, it’s just walking it daily. Amidst the difficulties we find that we are blessed to be so dependent on our Lord and to see His abundant provision, grace, and mercy for all we need. In one of my blog posts I talked about whether I truly believed all that I have claimed to or not, and came to the conclusion that what I had was Hope. But Oswald Chambers said it perfectly – “Belief must come from the will to believe. There must be a surrender of the will, not a surrender to a persuasive or powerful argument. I must deliberately step out, placing my faith in God and in His truth. Trusting in my own mental understanding becomes a hindrance to complete trust in God. I must be willing to ignore and leave my feelings behind. I must will to believe.” And so we do, each day, choose in our minds and hearts that we will believe in Him, to believe that He has a plan and purpose for our lives, and to believe that He alone is worth everything.

I want to close with a quote by Joseph Bayly that Ann Riddell blessed me with:

Praise God for Christmas. Praise Him for the Incarnation, for the Word made flesh. I will not sing of shepherds watching flocks on frosty night or angel choristers. I will not sing of stable bare in Bethlehem, or lowing oxen, wise men trailing distant star with gold and frankincense and myrrh. Tonight I will sing praise to the Father who stood on heaven’s threshold and said farewell to His Son as He stepped across the stars to Bethlehem and Jerusalem. And I will sing praise to the infinite eternal Son who became most finite, a Baby who would one day be executed for my crimes. Praise him in the Heavens. Praise Him in the stable. Praise Him in my heart.

Merry Christmas!

Prayer requests:
· For continued strength and stamina as we adjust to daily life.
· For our formal Spanish lessons twice a week with a tutor.
· For growth and impact in the street ministry, and deeper relationships with the Micah Boys.
· For the Lord’s leading in timing and all areas of the technical school.
· For continued health for our entire family and for more friends for the boys.
· For peace amidst the storms.
· For additional monthly financial supporters to replace “matching funds”.


The Micah Project said...

Very, very well written, Brian and Natasha! We are so blessed by your presence here in're already having a transformative impact! As the language gets easier and you get used to driving through Tegucigalpa's chaotic streets, you won't be quite so exhausted every night!

Feliz navidad,


Laurie said...

I'm happy to hear you are getting settled in. Soon I will get to see u in person. Blessings for the season, Laurie

DK said...

I love the picture of your boys after playing soccer! That is so beautiful! I am so excited for what God is doing with your family!

Cindy in California said...

Somehow I stubbled upon your blog. I've just returned from spending Christmas & New Year's in Tegus. I've been going a couple of times a year for about 15 years. I hope to live there at some point in the future to be involved in some type of yet-to-be-determined ministry.

Although I don't live in Tegus I know the frustration of looking for food items. I was looking for sour cream during my recent trip and found none. In July I found it at Hyper Paiz at Cascades Mall. It's often available at Mas por Menos...but be ready for sticker shock. It's about L80 for 16 oz. last time I got it (in July).

Whipping cream is readily available but it's in the stable shelf packaging...8 oz. I think. Sometimes it is in the refrigerator section but often in either the baking ailse or milk asile of the grocery store. I buy some almost everytime I'm there for various desserts I make. It often comes out of the carton as a really two parts...really runny and really thick. It always beats up just fine.

It seems like cilantro is readily available. I haven't bought it but the Honduran family I stay with often does. We had it on New Year's Eve with our carne asada.

I enjoy your blog and the mix of "adjusting to life in Honduras" and spiritual insights. Thank you for sharing.

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